Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Preparation

This is my first year celebrating Advent. 

I have celebrated it the past few years with my daughter and her family,

but I've never done the candles here at my home.  I didn't grow up celebrating Advent and frankly, I didn't know about the celebrating of the four Sundays before Christmas until I was an older adult.

This year I celebrated it myself in my home with a book called The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. 

This book has devotional readings for every day, so you're not just doing the four Sundays, you are observing every day from December 1st to the 25th. 

This has made such a big difference in the way I've approached Christmas this year and the way I am celebrating it.  It has helped me to slow down and put the emphasis on what really matters.  It has helped me to keep the "Christmas Spirit" even in the midst of the busyness that I've been involved in.

Each morning after breakfast, I light the particular candle for that week -

The first week the candle represents Hope
The second week the candle represents Peace
The third week the candle represents Joy
The fourth week the candle represents Love

and then I do the reading for that specific date.  At the end of each reading there is an application to do that day - "Unwrapping More of His Love in the World" and then there are some personal questions to answer. 

I bought a special journal to write the answers in so I wouldn't mark up the book (I plan to use it over and over each Christmas). 
After I answer the questions, I hang the specific ornament for that day on my Jesse tree (Advent tree) and then I sing a Christmas Carol.

I can't begin to tell you what joy has filled my heart and what a difference this has made this Christmas season.  Usually about this time of year, I am pulling my hair out because there are more things to get done then there are hours in the day.  I am usually about now extremely tired, frustrated, wiped out and wondering where all the joy of the season went!!

I am still busy this year, that hasn't changed; there is always the next thing that needs to be done, but I have hope, peace, joy and love in the midst of it.  My spirit is calm and things are getting done -
I'm not coming undone!! 
He has quieted my heart.  And this time before Christmas has become more about preparing my heart to receive Him, then about all the preparations of shopping, baking, wrapping, etc.

"Let every heart prepare Him room.......!"

This - this is what Christmas is all about - focusing on the One who is Christmas.  Focusing on what brought Him to earth, what kept Him here and what caused Him to hang on the cross -

His love for us...
He is the Gift.

He is the Giver.
And as we receive the "greatest gift", we, too, can become "givers" by passing on the gift,
passing on the hope, the peace, the joy and the love He gives so unselfishly, 
passing on the grace, mercy and truth that He shares with us unceasingly.
This is Good News!! 
The news that
God is always good and we are always loved!!

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