Thursday, November 16, 2017

Seeking Stillness // Advent 2017

The bright autumn colors are fading. Colder winds are blowing these days; leaves fall softly to the ground. The earth seems to slow as winter nears. My soul feels it, too. I need to slow down.

This is the refrain I hear God speak to me: "Be still and know that I am God. . ." (Psalm 46:10). I need to seek quiet as the noise regarding all the things that have to be done to make the holidays a success crescendos. I need to step away from the harsh brightness of my iPhone screen and spend time with the One who is true Light. I need to breathe deeply of the Lord's presence and be filled by Him. 

The good news is: Advent is coming. This time in the Christian year when we are called to refocus our gaze, to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Christ, is such a gift. And I really need it this year.

Have you thought about what you might do to celebrate this Advent season? Might I share my simple plans with you?


Of course: the Advent wreath. Ours is somewhat non-traditional with white candles, and purple + pink ribbons. I usually end up making it with some branches trimmed from our Christmas tree, or from the tree stands around town. (Side note: One of my favorite things about city life are the pop-up Christmas tree stands on any given street corner at this time of year. Sometimes I go out of my way just to walk through one and take a deep inhale of that blessed pine smell.)

I am so looking forward to diving into God's Word with the Blessed is She community this Advent. My friend Laura Kelly Fanucci – one of my very favorite writers – wrote this year's Advent journal. I mean it very sincerely when I say her words never fail to touch my heart. The Advent journal is a way for me to keep myself centered and focused on what matters in the days leading up to Christmas. They are bound to get a little crazy, and I know this will help me stay close to the Lord. In the journal Laura writes,

"There is nothing to achieve this Advent. There is only ourselves to surrender."

That's exactly the kind of Advent I am hoping for this year. If you'd like to join me, you can purchase your copy here.

This may seem like a given, but we actually have not had a Christmas tree in our apartment since 2014. Between having a baby crawling around, lack of space (hello, NYC living), and traveling for the holidays, we just haven't done it. This year, however, we have freed up a little room to have one. We can hardly wait for the joy we imagine it will bring our toddler. I mean, is there anything quite like twinkle lights on a fresh pine tree?

We have a couple nativity scenes that we will set up around our home, waiting to put the Christ child in the manger until Christmas morning. (The set pictured above belonged to my late grandmother, and we also have this beautiful one, which we received as a wedding gift.) My son also has the Fisher-Price Little People nativity set, which he adores.

And that's really it! Of course, there will be Christmas gift shopping to do (gift-giving is one of my love languages) and holiday baking (of course!), but overall we hope to keep it pretty simple and just seek the JOY!

While the world shouts that we need to do more this holiday season, the Lord says otherwise. May we spend this Advent season seeking His presence in the stillness, and may we quiet our hearts enough to hear His voice. For then we might hear Him whisper just how deeply we are loved.

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  1. My favorite Advent tradition is endless amounts of family time and praising together! and getting/ decorating our Christmas tree together :)

    1. "Praising together" — yes! So beautiful, Emily.

  2. We set up our tree in stages. The first Sunday of Advent we set up the tree. The second Sunday of Advent we add the lights, but don't turn them on, and the star. The third Sunday of Advent we add Advent colored ribbons and beads. The fourth Sunday of Advent we add the ornaments. Then on Christmas day we light the tree!

    We also have a paper chain countdown. My daughter's birthday is Christmas day, so we get really excited for her birthday, too. We also have a mini birthday tree for her, with birthday ornaments!

    1. These are such beautiful traditions! Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. I think my favorite tradition is the advent wreath. Something about lighting candles every evening really makes the prayers we say and the meal we eat special.
    Also, we go upstate every year and cut down our Christmas tree. We started this tradition before we had kids and they are finally getting old enough that they look forward to it too. :)

    1. I love that you go upstate to cut down your tree!! So fun - what special memories you're making.

  4. This is my first married Christmas, so I am looking forward to making new traditions with my husband. I bought a beautiful nativity scene a few weeks ago and I’ve been dying to put it up!


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