Advent Stories

The day didn’t go as I had hoped.

The first Sunday of Advent was swallowed up in busy-ness and here we are–at the end of it already. As I hastily try to put together our Advent readings, something else comes up. I sit on the stairs while the boys brush their teeth, the sound of electric toothbrushes not loud enough to drown out those old voices.

You can’t do anything right. What kind of mother are you?

Tears start to leak and I cover my eyes. I know it’s more than this day. Just too many days of trying to be too many things to too many people.

My Little Man comes up behind and wraps his arms around me.

“You’re the best mommy in the world,” says he, unbidden.

I hug him back, through watery smile.

I turn expanders, clip toenails, and settle boys in. It’s their reading time, but I won’t be joining them this night. I tuck Teddy in with this book, hug Jeffrey into this story. Then I go downstairs to tend the other matter.

Just a bit late, I return for lights out.

There he sits, on a sea of white blanket, with This Book spread out before him. We always read it together…but here he is, hands caressing Living Words alone.

“It’s the first Sunday of Advent,” says he. “And I wanted to read about Jesus. I read Matthew one through seven.”

I turn out the lights and snuggle in beside him. We talk about the words he read in the dark.

And I see.

Sometimes I need to get out of the way so the Holy Spirit has room. I can make all the plans in the world…but His are better.

A joyous Advent Season to you, my friends. May the Spirit move within.

More Advent Sweets…

It’s amazing what a quiet day at home can do for the spirit.

I spent yesterday nursing my Teddy through this stomach virus, and the Lord ministered.

There was quiet.

There was rest.

There was watching this boy-child sleep fitfully in the middle of the day.

And though I would never wish this illness on my dear ones…what a gift the Lord gave me through this day.

He took away the distractions. He tendered my heart.

He touched me.

He knew.

He always does.

I am filled with the sweet anticipation of Advent once again.

So…

I thought it would be fitting to share an Advent treat with my friends.

This is one of our favorite holiday treats. We make if for every occasion–because M & Ms conveniently come in seasonal colors!

My sweet neighbor, Sallie (who has since moved away), first introduced me to this little treasure. It’s simple and easy to make, and sinfully delicious! We make this for teacher gifts, put it in pretty tins or decorative boxes for neighbors…

It’s always well-recieved!

I pray you enjoy!

1. You will need a bag of mini-pretzel twists, 2 bags of white chocolate chips, and a bag of seasonal m & ms.

pretzel ingredients

 

2. Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave. Be careful not to overcook the chocolate! I always defrost for a minute or so before melting.

3. Stir in the pretzels gently, until coated.

pretzels in bowl

4. Now your ready for the M & Ms! Make sure your chocolate is sufficiently cooled so the colors of the M & Ms don’t run.

m&m pretzels

 

5. Spread the pretzels out on wax paper and leave until the chocolate is hardened.

more pretzels

 

6. Enjoy!

 

Bless you all, my friends! I’ve loved sharing my Advent sweets with you!

The Candle of Joy

The church is all dressed up for Christmas…

So we meet here.

Listen to young voices read scripture…

And fill the air with song.

Go Tell It On the Mountain…

My heart has been tender all day–since the morning, when the Advent candle of Joy is set aglow.

This tiny flame ignites my spirit … and His Joy floods my soul. This aching joy, this gentle throbbing joy, this warmth spreading from within…

This is the knowledge of Immanuel.

He is with us.

My eyes are soft with moisture all day long as I tenderly carry Him with me.

But when we return in the evening and find Him waiting there…

It wells up inside…

For there is no greater love than this. (John 15:13)

The joy of the manger is in the truth of the cross.

For this reason, emotion is raw.

Joy, grief, awe, gratitude, shame, and sorrow…these are the shades of Advent.

The beauty in each moment reflects the beauty of His sacrifice.


Heralded in by angel’s song…announced by lowly shepherds…

Born, lived, died…

For me.

How?

How can this be?

The mystery of Advent is His love for me.

Blessed Awaiting

Come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel!

I awoke this morning with longing.

The bleak winter days are upon us. The sky is gray and heavy with clouds.

And my heart fills with anticipation.

For this week, we begin Advent.

This season of prayerful watching, this time of silent awareness…

How it fills me with joy, awakens my sehnsucht, and breaks me all at once!

On this Advent Sunday, we sang our first Christmas carol in church.

As my husband led us worshipers in O Come Let Us Adore Him, I was moved to tears by this:

Do you see her?

The tiny baby curled up against her mother?

She was happy to be there, amidst the music and the voices. She did not stir, so long as her heart was pressed up against her mother’s.

It fills me with wonder that Jesus came to us this way, Dear Ones.

But even more so that He curls up to me this way…that His heart beats against mine…

I wait.

The wind blows, the sky grows dark, and the birds are silent…

But I wait.

I do not wait alone, for His Spirit lives inside me.

Happy Advent, Dear Ones.

May your waiting be blessed.

Away in a Manger

I don’t have much time to write this morning, but I wanted to share a special moment with you, Dear Ones.

The Tucking In is a special time at our house. Especially during holidays, and on the weekends, because we let the guys sleep together during those times (They giggle too much to do so on a school night). I love that they love to sleep together. They are getting older, and times of togetherness will be fewer and fewer in the coming years. I shared a bedroom with my sister in my early years and I have such sweet memories of nighttime talks in the dark. Something happens to our inhibitions when the lights go down. Our other senses are awakened…including our sense of mystery and wonder.

I always wiggle in under the covers with my boys before we pray. It’s so delicious to smell their freshly washed hair, and feel the warmth of their skin! I try to talk to them about their day, or plans for the coming days. Last night we talked about how we would spend our holiday time. Oh, I just want to hold on to these moments and carry them with me in a box with a big red bow into my twilight years. The thought that one day my mind will be too feeble to remember how they smelled, or how their young voices sounded in the dark breaks my heart!

Anyway, I guess I was feeling very sentimental last night, because I got a little carried away in our prayer. One of the gifts that my mother gave me was a strong prayer life. She encouraged us to pray regularly when we were children, and she provided a good example. But the personal nature of my prayer life has grown as my relationship with the Lord grows. It is one of my strongest desires that my boys experience the presence of God deeply through their prayers. Sometimes I see the fruit of this desire. Last night was one of those nights.

I was thanking the Lord for sending His Son to earth to us. I exclaimed at His brilliance, at how He did it in such a way that mankind would never expect. A manger, Lord! I exclaimed. Who would have thought? And I went on to say how we are too small, too human, to understand His Plans, His reasons for such a humble birth, but that we trust in Him, and we know that His plans always are better than our own.

When we were finished praying, Jeffrey wanted to tell me why he thought God sent Jesus to be born in a manger. He said, “I think it was because God wanted Him to have such lovely surroundings.” Spoken like a child who has seen too many neat and tidy nativity scenes. I didn’t want to ruin his lovely image with descriptions of the smells the animals probably made, or the discomfort of sleeping straw, that probably bugs and rodents sharing that straw with Mary and Joseph, or descriptions of how bloody giving birth can be and how difficult it must have been to clean up afterwards. No, his sweetness was so touching that I would like him to keep this thought for a while. And who knows, perhaps God did make the surroundings lovely that night. He can do anything, right?

So, I simply said, “Do you know why I think He did it that way?” (Meantime, Teddy is saying, “I don’t think so, Jeffrey). We went on to talk about the mysteries of God. How He often does things in the way we would least expect it. How He loves to surprise and astound us. We talked about humility, and how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples right before His death, commanding them to serve one another. We talked about how Jesus taught that true greatness came through humility and servitude, and that perhaps, being born in a manger was one way God wanted to powerfully illustrate this truth.

I felt Jesus right there in the room with us as we talked. He snuggled in under the covers and wrapped His arms around us all. Ah, Beloved, I still feel Him with me as I share this with you.

This conversation opened the door for other deep questions the boys have had on their hearts. (Teddy wanted to know about the poster downstairs in our church that says something about thousands of teens being turned out of their homes because they are gay. But that’s another blog.)

I treasure these times, Dear Ones. It’s all part of the AVENTure of Advent.