Don’t we all just long for our feet to stay steady on the ground, as the hustle and bustle of Christmas season swirls around us?
We yearn for anchored, thankful hearts and peaceful souls, as we attempt to make space to receive Christ anew, and bless loved ones with tokens of our love.
Don’t we all wish to approach the 25th with light steps and full of grace? To wake easy to the joy of God with us, and to an idyllic Christmas dream? To the smell of pine and the warmth of fire? To smiling and grateful children greeting stockings in a row, and neatly packaged presents under perfectly trimmed tree?
But in real life, advent is often packed full of overlapping parties and school events, financial stress and long lists of things that need to be done. Your little people still get tummy aches and runny noses, and toddlers shatter ornaments on the hardwood floor.
In real life, children sometimes forget to say “Thank you,” and we sometimes forget all about Jesus under piles of wrapping paper.
This time, I’m fighting hard for slow. This year, making quiet for God’s voice to be heard and receiving his peace, is at the top of every day’s list. I still get swept away by my To Do lists and the internal pressure to make my family’s Christmas perfect, but I’m grabbing hold of getting to Christmas morning with a bit of peace.
Here are a few of my favorites…
1. Begin each day with a prayer, like this one, giving your day into the hands of the King.
2. Make a habit of stopping when the rest of the world is going. Every time the pressure says “go,” just do the opposite, even if just for a moment. Take a breath, and remember that we were never meant to carry the weight of the world, because we know the One who carried it all on our behalf.
Breathe out the demands, and breathe in Christ’s sufficiency. While driving to work or school or soccer practice, use red lights as a cue to stop not only your car, but your busy thoughts, as well. Take a moment to simply be smiled upon by your Father in heaven.
My most meaningfully productive days are those submitted to the King of Kings, who is “busy,” but never in a hurry. Friends, we were created as limited beings, so we can rest assured we are only meant to be in one place at a time.
3. Begin every shopping adventure – whether out-and-about or online – with a prayer for each person on your list. Ask God for his eyes for your loved ones, and let your shopping be sweetened with His presence.
4. Light a fire or a candle – perhaps while little ones are in bed – and let the subtle change in the atmosphere usher you into a readiness to connect with God. This practice simply slows me, and soothes my restless soul. The glint and dance of orange and yellow reminds me of the way the Spirit of God moves in and through and around us. I love to turn on a worship song, sit with a hot drink, and watch the flames flicker, while asking God to whisper to me about his love.
5. Every time someone in your home says (or screams) “Mommy!”… whisper “Father, Abba,” in the quiet of your heart. Let your children be an example of the way we are invited to call upon the Lord with the needs of our days. May their constant requests move you to ceaseless prayer.
6. Spread a little Christmas cheer by smiling at your family and passersby, every time you meet their eye. The busy of roads, malls, minds and hearts can steal anyone’s joy, if we let it. I try to keep this simple habit, especially through the holiday season, and it shields my soul from the raging currents of more, faster, bigger, and better.
Sister, we can be agents of joy, rather than victims of everyone’s bad moods.
7. Keep a notebook at the table to use mealtime as an opportunity for your family to write a list of the blessings in your lives. Take a moment to give thanks together. If you are feeling overwhelmed by complicated advent devotions and routines, this is a simple habit you can start any time. There is no right or wrong way to do it, and you can’t get behind. Praise opens us up to connect with God’s heart.
8. Watch your children often, in this season. Watch the blaze in their eyes as they sit near the Christmas tree. Watch their faces when they see lights lining the edges of a house. Soak in their sweet faces, and learn what it means to live with eyes of wonder.
Click here for a printable Advent Prayer.