Preparing for Advent

Advent Calendar Printable

I often feel anxious. Some days it’s because I feel stressed about work or money. Some days I wonder if I’m doing enough, while other days maybe too much. Some days I’ve just had an extra cup of coffee. Some days I can’t quite put my finger on a reason at all, but I can’t ignore a nagging restlessness that keeps my mind and heart from being still.

Advent is coming. What a wonderful reminder, these weeks leading up to Christmas, that our lives are not about us. We do not hope in ourselves, we hope in a God who makes all things new, a God for whom all things are possible. So we join in the anticipation of the Israelites, of Mary, of Simeon, who knew something incredible was going to happen that would change everything. Advent is more than a countdown to Christmas. It is a time when peace and hope and joy can break through our anxiety. God sent his Son to save his people, and he has promised he will do the same for us.

That anxiety I feel so often, maybe it actually is more than a caffeine overdose. Maybe at its root, it is a physical longing for the peace and deliverance that God promises us through Jesus. A peace that for now feels just out of reach while it is clouded by earthly circumstances and sin in this life.

While we look forward to Jesus’s birth during Advent, we have permission to stop dwelling on ourselves, our stress, our sin and imperfections. Instead we can focus on the Giver of all good things who promises perfect joy and redemption for those who will take it, and with the wonder of a child look forward to His coming.

Advent is a deep breath.

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Make Your Own Advent Calendar

Of course no post is complete without a DIY, so I’ve come up with an easy one for you. Print this, cut out the cards, and string/tape them up above the fireplace, on the fridge, down the hallway, wherever you’ll see them. Advent begins on December 1 this year. We’re planning to draw a picture (Alex) or write a phrase (me) from that day’s Scripture reading on the back of each card.

Advent Calendar Printable

I hope this project helps you and your family enjoy a meaningful Advent season.

Advent Calendar Printable

The Friendly Beasts

I’m a little embarrassed to be posting this publicly. Although Alex is used to being on stage, I’m not one to sing for an audience. But Alex and I had fun recording this little song (animal noises and all), so press the play arrow in the audio player while you watch the slideshow below…

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Of all of the gifts Alex and I made this year, this book and song combo for 2-year-old Lukey was probably the most fun to work on. I love Alex’s whimsical drawings, and this might become an annual tradition, even if we just keep the books around for us. I uploaded the pictures into slideshow form here, but we actually gave him a printed book compiled on Shutterfly…

Here’s how to get more out of Shutterfly.com than a plain old photo book (muah ha ha!):

  • Choose a song or story, or write your own. We loved the simplicity of The Friendly Beasts.
  • Write and illustrate. While Alex drew, I wrote down the words of each verse.
  • Scan each page. We used our nifty home printer.
  • Go to shutterfly.com and upload the scanned images (just like real photos).
  • Place them in the correct order, and viola! A printed book on your doorstep in 3 days.

I feel pretty lucky to have a husband who knows his way around GarageBand AND a sketch book. I certainly don’t, so he gets lots of credit on this project. But even if you know nothing of software or sound editing, make this idea yours.

  • If you can’t sing, read a story out loud, or skip the recording altogether.
  • If you can’t draw, use real photos or have a kid in your life draw pictures for you (they’re not as scared as adults of not being good at something).
  • If you’re home printer doesn’t have a nifty scanner, take your pages to FedEx.

Make it a family project and I promise you’ll have an enjoyable Crafternoon. Especially if it includes a fire in the fireplace, hot chocolate with a little something extra, and 10 episodes of Parks and Recreation. Not kidding.