One of the things I love most about this time of year is the reminder of the “Why”?  Christmas brings the hope, the reminder of life and the reconnection to who we really are at the core of our being.  One of the ways that I get back to that place is Advent. 

Since I don’t have kiddos at my house that process looks very much more “grown-up” than the way many celebrate, but that time will come.  So, for now I gather close.  I light a few candles to illuminate and I read, reflect and remember. 

This year to help me stay on track I ordered a couple books –

One I added to my wish list and now I wish I had was

Some apps I found helpful –

  • Advent Daily Devotions – produced by Saddleback Church Retreat Ministry it is designed to “prepare your heart for Christmas”.  Each day includes a passage, scripture reflection and prayer. 
  • The Expected One – this is put out by LifeWay Press and is designed as a family activity, it even has suggested songs and links up to your iTunes account to purchase them if you don’t already have them.  Its designed to facilitate family conversation and ties into the Gospel Project curriculum the children are doing in Sunday School, including color pages, concentration and jigsaw puzzles.  Great way to move the family together through the modern conveniences of our electronic devices!
  • The You Version Bible App had several reading plans.  Several of my friends did the “She Reads” plan focusing on Emmanuel.  Its great because you just see one day at a time.  So its not overwhelming if you miss a day along the way.  Mandisa also had a plan and there are some focused on singing through the holidays, the stories behind many popular carols and the traditions we celebrate.  Some stretch the full 29 day season and some are only 5 days.  You can find the plan that fits your time and your area of reflection this holiday.

One reason I love celebrating Advent is I love dreaming and thinking about the characters standing around the manger.  What did that moment really look like from their perspective?  My mom has several nativity sets up this year and each one is different.  Some are hand painted and very realistic.  Some are plastic and some are ceramic and require lots of carful attention.  Some come with wooden stables and some sit on a pallet of snow.  But each one has the same characters. 

 A couple years ago, I painted a new nativity for my mom. I really overstepped my bounds on this one, but as I painted each little character, I was caught with the way they cast their eyes.  “Wonder” and “reverence” is the only word that can come to mind when I think about the wide-eyed look that each on held.  And while I cant imagine casting a mold for a ceramic nativity set, I would like to believe that “wonder” and “awe” is what I would want to capture. I heard someone giving a lecture recently talk about her nativity set where all the character “lean” in towards the manger.  LOVE THAT!!!

Oh and I’m looking for a “stable” to give my dad for his snow village.  If a church is a must, a barn/stable is a must as well….a little white one to match all his other figures.  Its such a mental picture I have that I want to capture.  Even now, in the business of the “census” taking place in our city.  Do we have room for Him?  If he showed up here would we offer him the 21C museum hotel, the number 1 hotel in the world, or would we offer him the kataluma, the first floor of our home where field animals gather to keep warm? 

Link up your Advent post.  One you already did this season.  Show us how your family celebrates advent.  Do you do activities, have a wall calendar, evening readings, church celebrations? Anything goes, love to see how everyone handles the message and activity of this season!