Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent for Normal People

When we talk about the liturgical seasons of the church, I think lots of people are immediately intimidated.  I don't see Advent, Lent, and Pentecost (plus lots of others) as outdated, traditional responsibilities for the church.  Rather, I see them as fresh opportunities to look on my relationship with God and walk with others as they do too.  I can't tell you what colors the altar cloths are supposed to be, what the Biblical texts are for every week, or even how long some of the seasons are.  In fact, this post is fully void of an accurate information or facts - and I'm okay with that.

So why observe them?  Why Advent?  People talk a lot about preparing their hearts for Christmas, but how do we do that?

Have you ever reach December 26 and realized you're surrounded by brown tree needles, broken ribbon, and a fridge full of leftovers?  And that's it.  Nothing has changed about you.  Nothing about Christmas has effected your soul.  The past month hasn't made you more like Jesus.

Advent, of all seasons, should be the time of year when we take advantage of the opportunity to  to grow up in Jesus' love and be filled with his spiritual wisdom.  If there is any season when we should sense the Holy Spirit at work, it should be Advent.  Shouldn't our hearts be turned towards God during this time?

I love the story of Mary and Elizabeth.  I tried to talk about it with our 5th and 6th graders on Wednesday, but they just giggled when I said the word "womb" and all comparisons were lost.  But think about what happens when pregnant Elizabeth sees Mary (who is pregnant with Jesus, but nobody knows):

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 1:41-45)

Our 5th and 6th graders thought it was hilarious that a baby could leap in someone's womb.  So that's as far as we got.  But when I think about Christmas: God coming to earth, God making himself like us, God revealing himself to us as fully as he could, God giving all of himself for us - shouldn't something within me leap with joy?  No, not a baby.  But something?  My affections, my heart, my contenance?  Shouldn't this season be about a perpetual leaping with joy because of the promise of God being fulfilled?  Our redemption is here.

I am kind of a blog addict.  I used to follow a lot of home decor blogs (and by used to, I mean I haven't checked one in ten minutes).  They were like the gateway drug to other blogs: blogs about life, ministry, babies, crafts.  And I was hooked.  Recently, I have discovered bloggers who are challenging my faith.  Crazy huh?

Jessi of The Naptime Diaries is part of something called #SheReadsTruth.  Bloggers came together to do devotions and share their insights on Instagram and Twitter (which is totally optional).  Starting Sunday, they will be doing a daily Advent reading.  If you have a smartphone, you can download the Youversion app, look up the She Reads Truth plans, and start the Advent one Sunday.  OR you can go to their website and sign up for a daily email with the Scripture and devotion in it.  This year's reading has a beautiful set of daily Advent calendar cards to go with it, which you can buy in Jessi's shop here.  Aren't they awesome??  I'm attributing 80% of their awesomeness to them being designed by someone whose last name is Connolly (even spelled the right way, Mom and Dad)!

I'm so excited to do the reading and have our family follow along with the Scripture cards.


As part of Advent, lots of families are doing a different activity every day so that they will savor the season intentionally.  I love this idea.

One of my big-sister-type heroes talk about putting more Jesus in Christmas and I love her ideas. Jessi talks about what her family is doing here, and it kinda makes me want to be her adopted child.  Another blogger puts a unique spin on this concept. Laura makes a list of random acts of kindness that they will do every day of Advent.  In the future, we hope to combine these two ideas into helping our little family focus on growing closer to God together, and sharing Jesus with others in practical ways.

Don't let Christmas pass you by without letting the greatest Gift of all change your heart.  Over and over again.  And leap with joy because you know the Savior is coming!

Friday, November 2, 2012

High Five for Friday!

I'm linking up with Lauren here.  It's Friday, and I'm glad for it.  Here's what's getting me excited this weekend:

1.  It's November.  I'm super pumped about that.  I love a lot of things, but don't love October 31.  The main reason?  I'm the biggest pansy in the world.  I don't like anything remotely scary, and I'm glad to be able to watch commercials again, and not think about creepy crawlers, zombies, or blood.  Yuck.  And November means Thanksgiving, heavy sweaters, scarves, and Not Your Mama's Craft Market!

2. I got my first Stitch Fix in the mail yesterday!  I'll give you all an update on Monday, but it was definitely fun to see what items were hand-picked for me.  I'm excited to update my profile and get the next box (it's definitely going to take some restraint to hold off on that ...)

3. A few nights ago at dinner, Emmalyn reached out both of her hands, and made Eric and I hold on for a good three-four minutes, long enough for Eric to snap this photo.  We have no idea what caused her to do that, but it was definitely cute!

4. Tomorrow at church, we are having a youth area cleaning day.  This shouldn't be so exciting, but I am so ready to have our stuff sorted out.  It's a little late in the year to say, "we had a busy summer and things really piled up", but I'm still saying it.  Get off my back.  Here's a sneak peek of the "before". (In all fairness, an Eagle Scout is building storage for us and cleaned out our closets and put everything in one room.  Still.  It's a lot.)  What's your favorite thing in the photo?

5. I finished a Beth Moore study this week!  Okay, so I still have some book sessions to do, but we finished the videos.  I did it with some women from church and it felt good to finally follow through on doing a Bible study with other women.  We did her study on James and I loved it.  She came make you laugh hysterically and go to tears in about a twelve-second turnaround, and then mull over the lesson all week long.  Good stuff.