If you were to search this blog, you would find perhaps many Christmas posts. I’ll link to some of my favorites at the end below. Looking to the past, you would see Christmas is a difficult time of year for me. I don’t generally manage expectation and stress well, so the Christmas season with all its many demands easily overwhelms my sensitive soul.
My oldest daughter’s birthday also falls on December 2. Throw in the shopping, planning for parties, and extra demands for time and attention, and I get frazzled. Since we just celebrated my daughter’s 12th, it is fresh in my mind what could happen.
I get frustrated with my writing life sometimes and especially with blogging to the point of wanting to quit. But the truth is, were it not for writing and blogging, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Blogging led me to find out more about Advent which is a faith tradition I was unfamiliar with but which literally saved my Christmas seasons. I plan to write a few Advent thoughts or devotions this month. I am going to change up my format for blogging a little.
My goal is to write:
- how I need the Gospel today
- an Advent thought I am pondering, and
- a list of everyday joys.
I wrote a little devotional for my church’s Advent guide, and when I share it later this month, I may not follow this format exactly.
Here are some wonderful Advent resources:
- Come, Lord Jesus by Kris Camealy
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper
- The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
How I Need the Gospel Today:
My oldest daughter turned 12 this weekend. Parenting her has always been difficult. She does not think herself ungrateful or unkind, yet I am easily overwhelmed by her ingratitude and her sassy tweenage attitude. The truth is I want to find parenting easy and not hard. Yet, parenting is hard. I miss the joy of it many days; I fail to see how all this gnashing of truth is going to produce joy or the thing I am hoping for, which is a daughter who loves God deeply.
It hit me during another spell that I act entitled and ungrateful to God sometimes. I miss him because I am looking for my way instead of submitting to His way. I thought about how maybe that’s the point of all this difficulty in parenting. My own sanctification — my own visual reminder of what I often am to Him. The truth is I sometimes find truly loving my children difficult. Love means self-sacrifice, and I don’t want to do the work of self-sacrifice, of saying the thing that needs to be said, of being gentle instead of harsh, etc. Despite all of my evil ways, God chose to act in love for me when He allowed Christ to die on the Cross. Because of this act of love, I can love my children even when difficult and grow in God’s grace and glory too.
How did Jesus meet you in your everyday? and how did you need the Gospel today? What grace do you need from Jesus today?
An Advent Thought I am Pondering:
Today’s church service kicked off Advent today with a musical, worship service interspersed with scripture and responsive readings. It was during the responsive reading that I had an epiphany about God’s work for me in a fresh way. This may be an unusual way to start Advent, but it is what God initiated in me.
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. Matthew 27:24-26
I sing songs about being “covered in the blood” and “nothing but the blood of Jesus,” but sometimes I am asking the question hidden away, “How am I covered?” I mean, I understand how Jesus is the Lamb and atoning sacrifice, but I wanted to understand even more. I don’t know if I will be able to fully convey what Jesus did in me as I listened today, but I will try. Pilate does not want to kill an innocent man, but the people are okay with having His blood on them. They were willing to take the blame for His death. In doing so, they were covered in His blood. They were guilty of murder. They were also willing to take on the sins of the one they murdered.
Because Jesus was an absolutely perfect man, he had no guilt in death. He had no sin, so the very ones who murdered Jesus and took the guilt of doing so could now be washed in that blood to freedom. A sinless man has no guilt to pass on.
Traditionally, Advent starts with Adam and Eve and Hope. What Advent thought are you pondering on today?
- A wonderful, beautiful Advent service uplifting to my heart.
- My daughter and my son singing in the choir.
- The gift of Christmas earrings from my mom.
- Seeing my mom today.
- Seeing my mother in law today.
- Beautiful decorations.
- Having Advent family time.
- The gift of laughter even when due to naughty children.
- The gift of time with my daughter.
- Watching Christmas movies.
- God blessing me with good seats even though I was late and did not deserve them (twice).
- Seeing old friends and new friends.
- Friends that want to walk with me.
- Friends that pray for me.
- Listening to my daughter play in her first band concert.
- Making plans with friends.
- Time to talk to my husband.
- Knowing that my daughter has friends who truly care.
- His blood and that it is on me
- A body that works (I had to dig deep for this one, as I renew my diligence in caring for how I feed my body.)
- Another day of life – the air I breathe.
- That gravity is exactly 9.8 m/s2, nothing more or less.
- That I have not been hit by a meteorite, though the only known person was from Alabama.
- That I was not hit by lightning exactly when our home was a few years ago.
- The kindness of God that I take for granted.
*#22-24 courtesy of conversations with my kids.
What blessings or joys did you have today? You may have to dig deep, but they were there.