Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Season of Advent

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent, and to me the beginning of the Christmas season. Though our neighbor's have had a "Countdown to Christmas" clock in their front yard since October 1 (no joke), it is on this day I begin to anticipate the coming of Christmas.

Here is a devotional that we shared as a family tonight as we began to consider the Advent season upon us. May it encourage you this holiday season...

"The Church centers its attention these days on a season we call 'Advent,' a season of preparation and hope. We are summoned in the first week of Advent to be on guard, to be ready, and prepared for the coming of the Lord.

Unfortunately, this holy season gets lost in the shuffle of preparations for Christmas, already begun in our secular society. A maze of glitter and frivolity highlights the material aspects of a feast that is long off, and misses the true spiritual meaning of the event.

So we need the Advent season to help us focus our attention on a spiritual preparation of the celebration of this greatest event of history, the birth of Christ. All too quickly Christmas day will be here. It will have much more meaning for us if we have prepared for that day spiritually.

I invite you to take a moment each day to reflect on our reason for hope this Advent season. Take out a little time to enter into the season with hope in your heart, awaiting this coming feast as the people of Israel did...You will find as they did, that God comes in a special way to the people who steadfastly hope for his coming."

Monday, November 22, 2010


I confess...I like routine. The predictability of a day, the ability to anticipate what's coming, and the comfort that comes in knowing what to expect. Of course, parenthood has rocked my routine through the years (the 3 a.m. wake-up call by a sick little one; the "forgotten" science project due tomorrow; impromptu sleepovers and playdates.) But I try to maintain some routine despite demanding days and changing times.

Lately, I've been reminded how it can all change in the blink of an eye. And I'm not just talking about a glitch in the schedule. One's entire world can be forever altered with one decision, one phone call, one conversation. Tim and I have seen this happen a lot lately in the lives of co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Tragic decisions, heartbreaking situations, and lives turned upside down.

Just last week we were walking our puppy around the block when we noticed some men building a ramp onto our neighbor's back deck. Earlier this month the teenage son was in a car accident resulting in the amputation of a foot. They haven't returned home yet, but the house has begun to be prepared for their arrival and all of the changes now required for this young man's daily life.

A friend's wife has left him, and he's left figuring out what it means to split custody of their only child when she's moved two hours away.

Another friend's long-time boyfriend died of a heart attack. He was 42-years-old.

What is our response when we witness such events? Surprise. We just can't believe it when we hear about couples who are divorcing, friends with sick children, or an unexpected death.

The increase in these surprises over the course of the past few months is...well, surprising. What's going on? Perhaps it has to do with our age (we've both just crossed over into our 40s this year) and where we are in life. Midlife...or so they say...and it seems that either illness and injury lay in wait or way too many people are indulging in the "crises" they believe are due them.

Perhaps we live in an ivory tower and have forgotten that it is situated smack dab in the middle of a lost and broken world? I think we all too often think that everyone's tower is ivory too, and we either don't believe such calamity can fall our way or we fail to consider the hurts that the tower walls may contain.

Let me dispel any myths about our own tower...We cling to each other (and many times we push each other away). We laugh together (and we cry, sulk, and stew). We love each other (and we often wound each another too). We forgive (and we try to forget). We are thankful (but sometimes neglect to offer thanks).

Today I say thank you to the One who has provided it all...our family, our health, our joy, and our hope. And I cling to the one sure thing in a world that offers constant change: "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever" (1 Chronicles 16:34).