Advent: A Flood of Troubles Calmed

Advent Essentials: Keeping the holidays simple and creating focus

 

Truth be told, I started working on this post before Advent started. Before our life took a sudden turn. I thought I knew what our Advent season would look like. I had a devotional in hand, the notion of daily quiet time, Advent candles at the ready, simplified Christmas goals & acts of kindness planned… we would quietly and joyfully anticipate the arrival of Christmas Day. An “ideal” Advent. But life is far from ideal, a lesson we have learned over & over.

All we can do is trust. Be present. And trust.

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Advent Essentials: Keeping the holidays simple and creating focus

December 4 ~ Help to Rise

It is often said that, God has not brought me this far to leave me. He remembers us, sees us, and know what we need. Always merciful to give it.

On the morning we found out that my mother-in-law had passed away, I picked up this devotional reminder from Ann Voskamp. We had been through floods of trouble before and I am thankful for them. Even in my journal that morning, I wrote my daily prayer to include, “Thank you for flooding my life with troubles and grace.”

Hours later, when I opened the front door to find two police officers, I had to accept a new flood of trouble. A new flood of stress. Right there, in front of me. A wave crashing into our home. A sudden loss of a loved one will do that.

Our Advent turned from quiet to turmoil. From calm to tears.

And yet, the truth, the plea rang even more real… remake my soul into someone better, not bitter. Better.

 

Advent Essentials: Keeping the holidays simple and creating focus

December 5 ~ Gift Upon Gift

To be blessed and be a blessing to others; to count our blessings and know that we are blessed. Ann Voskamp says, “He will not burden you. He will not break you. He will bless you” {The Greatest Gift, pg. 40}. When you are in those moments that seemingly want to break you, when you hear those words that confirm the death of a loved one, when an awful diagnosis comes through, when you have to turn away from dreams you had for yourself & your family, in those moments it can seem almost impossible to feel blessed.

But to take your next breath, to move on to the next moment, you have to see it all as blessing. I don’t pretend to understand His plan or His way. We can’t. We can only breath. Be present in His presence. Remembering that we are loved and these things are not meant to break us.

And that part about being a blessing to others… it will come, too, in His time.

 

Advent Essentials: Keeping the holidays simple and creating focus

Do Less, Make It Mean More

Though you want the world to stop in the midst of the flood, it doesn’t. Advent continues; Christmas Day approaches. And I don’t want to miss it. Miss Him. Has our Advent been everything I wanted? No, absolutely not. Have I spent time in quiet reflection with my devotional & journal, prayers and worship music streaming through the chunks of the day. Yes. The most important yes that there is in this season.

I made a very simple Advent wreath with my mom’s old candles, so we can observe the weeks as a family. And I have tried to spend any extra time I have crocheting scarves. My humble offering to the local homeless. We planned to hand out lunches & Christmas gifts to Calgary’s homeless downtown again this year, but we might just need to donate the scarves or scarf-bomb a park.

“Do less and make it mean more.” The phrase running through my mind the most this Advent. “Be Present” comes in close second. Everything I do is being checked against these two. Its meant less baking, less shopping, less gifting, less decorating, less family outings. More time spent in candlelight, soft whisper of worship music, quiet quality time with Sam. Less doing. Because the more you go, the more you do, the less you can truly hear & see.

What other floods of trouble have taught me, is that, if there is ever a time to listen and see, it is then.

Now.

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