As Thanksgiving is fast
approaching the lists have no doubt already begun. Grocery lists,
gift giving lists, to-do lists. Whether they are on paper or spinning
madly in our heads, they are beginning to accumulate as these seasons
of celebration are upon us.
I live in Canada where we
celebrate Thanksgiving in October. It always feels a little strange
since I am an American by birth and grew up celebrating American
Over the years, though,
this early intentional moment to pause and give thanks has left more
time to focus my mind and heart towards Advent, the season of
anticipating and remembering Christ’s birth.
It hasn’t always been
so, this intentional focus and planning.
It wasn’t until my kids
began to get a little older that I began as a parent to question and
be challenged about how we celebrate these wonderful seasons of
Thanksgiving and Advent.
Kids have a way of doing
that, challenging what you believe to be true and how that is
intentionally played out in our lives and homes.
This season of celebrating
can be defined by busy, frantic planning. Activities that can leave
us feeling depleted and unsatisfied. Hunting for the perfect gift can
be fun, but exhausting. The expectations of family and friends, who
may want more from us than we can actually give, can leave us
paralyzed with worry.
I have worn heavy
expectations of this season—heaped on by myself. Too many good
things, too many fun things. Too. Many. Things.
The laughter replaced by
the barking, fueled by unmet expectations. They have robbed me, and
those I love, of peace and joy. Squelching the delight of ushering in
a spiritual season that can be so full and rich for our children and
Where is the room for the
wonder? The miracle? Somehow the road to the manger can become
clouded. Is this why God gave the Magi a star? He knew we would need
a bright sign to show us the way.
As moms we have choices.
We may feel like there are times when life becomes its own beast that
we are trying to keep up with and tame, but the reality is we may
have made choices that have led us on a path we may not want to be
running on. The path not led by the star. The joy and purpose of the
season, becoming completely lost in the midst of the must do’s.
One of the joys of being a
mother is that we can establish traditions and activities for our
families to celebrate this time of year well and with intention.
These things are meant to
come out of our own love and relationship with the Savior. Out of the
interests and giftedness that God has built into each of us.
anticipating baby Jesus will look different in your homes than it
does in mine. That is the beauty of living out of our own unique
relationship with the Lord and the relationships that He has
entrusted to us to steward in our homes.
Over the years, as I have
fumbled my way to celebrating this season with purpose, God has been
so faithful to show up and bring meaning and growth out of our
traditions and acts of worship. It has begun to get easier to plan
ahead and make better choices early that allow us to keep the path to
the manger less clouded.
As you begin to prepare
your families for Thanksgiving and Christmas may we remember how they
go hand in hand. As Ann Voskamp writes, “Thanksgiving always
precedes the miracle.”
As we take time in this
season to offer up our praises of thanksgiving let us anticipate the
gift of celebrating the miracle, Christ Jesus who came to rescue,
restore, and bring hope.
These are the truths he
wants to write on our hearts as we nurture them in our children’s
lives and hearts.
May this season be full of
his presence as you plan with purpose to make room for the miracle.
A Mother’s Advent Prayer
Lord, may we remember that
every good and perfect gift comes from you.
May we remember that all
of our planning will mean nothing if we have not bent low to seek
your wisdom and grace to prepare our hearts for celebrating.
May we remember that more
than anything else you long for relationship with us and with those
May we be women of wisdom
who seek to glorify you in this often full, precious season.
May we be cultivators of
peace and joy as we remember who and what we are celebrating.