Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Good Enough Advent: No more Advent fails

This time of year, as advent draws to a close, it is easy to have a heavy heart about what I call my Advent Fails.  The advent wreath that was lit once (yes once), the mad scramble to purchase gifts, spending more time making sure thing are even and balanced under the tree than on the thoughtfulness of each gift, the prayer journal that has many, many more blank pages than it does completed ones, and the utter exhaustions that comes from running at sprint speed for a marathon season.

But take a minute (just a minute because you have cookies to bake), and give yourself a break.  Look into your heart and ask yourself three questions –

Have I spread Joy?

Have I sought Peace? 

Have I shown Faith? 

Have I brought Hope?

God doesn’t care if your advent wreath was lit each night.  God doesn’t care if your packages have perfect bows. God doesn’t care if your house is adorned in Christmas lights.  What counts this season is what is in your heart, and how you show that to those around you. 

Today I was determined to bake gingerbread men with my girls. Why? I don't know. It seemed like a good idea.  We are gluten-free so baking in rare and more complicated and generally less satisfying that it used to be. But I found a recipe... and two hours later I was near tears. Stupid stupid stupid gingerbread men. I don't even like gingerbread. I don't know how people make them so pretty.  Mine are sticky blobs. And then my sweet third-born said "Mama that is the best gingerbread Santa I have ever seen!" My girls didn't care that they were ugly blobs. They were having fun.

Intentions count. So does attitude. God knows what is in our hearts.

I am not saying blow off Advent, quite the opposite - Strive for more, but strive for the right things and the right reasons and realize that there is no such thing as a perfect Advent because should all be striving towards more. Strive to have peace in the unrest. Strive to keep perspective about gifts and giving. Strive for what is really important. So we didn't get the nice lights up outside. Oh well. Maybe we can take some walks around the neighborhood instead and enjoy their lights. 

Strive to do a little more, but also a little less of the stuff that distracts you from preparing your heart for His coming. If we do this right, then each year we may feel like we want to do just a little bit more spiritually than we did last year - and that is a good thing. 

Be intentional about what you do today. Maybe you bake gingerbread cookies, maybe you don’t.  Chat with the Lord throughout the day. Pray while you bake or wrap or shop. Buy a little meal for the guy on the street with a sign. Don’t make it complicated. Spread joy, seek peace, show faith and bring hope.

And hey, if you don’t light your wreath this year, finding Advent candles will be one less thing you will have to do next year when the season comes back around.

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