A Deliberate December

 

Thank Heavens for Bob Evans

How is it December already? There are still Thanksgiving leftovers in our refrigerator!

As in past years, it was a laid-back holiday, right up until the meal was served. The turkey was carved, and then there was the usual mad dash trying to get all the dishes onto the table while they were still hot. After years of serving cold mashed potatoes, Bob Evans made his inaugural appearance last Thanksgiving. Problem solved. He’s been a frequent dinner guest ever since.

Finally the candles were lit, the blessing was shared, and the long-awaited meal was before us. I looked around the table and my heart was full. My husband and children were beside me, and my brother was with us too. He stopped to visit Mom on his way to our house. Her absence was on our hearts, but we knew she was safe and warm and where she needed to be.

God has blessed my family in so many ways. His grace is sufficient for me.

🕊🕊🕊

Advent Arrives

Today we begin the Season of Advent, in watchful anticipation of our Savior’s birth. Immanuel . . . God with us.

Each year I vow to slow down and be part of the season, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the stress of it all. That’s no easy task. Amen?

It’s a rainy First Sunday in Advent, and I am quietly sipping my coffee while admiring our Christmas tree. It has become a family tradition to decorate the tree after Thanksgiving dinner, simply because we’re all together. And knowing that my brother might be tempted to not have a Christmas tree this year, I drove to his house yesterday and we decorated together. As we unpacked his ornaments, we talked about past holidays, and happy childhood memories when life was simpler — and slower.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could slow down the month of December to a more leisurely pace? It would be fun to attend every tree lighting ceremony, Nutcracker performance and choral concert I could squeeze onto my calendar. I’d like to have several weeks to decorate my home too, instead of an hour here and there. And I would love to wrap my gifts long before the task becomes completely overwhelming.

“But,” I remind myself, “it’s only the First of December!” For a moment I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge when he realizes that he didn’t miss Christmas after all — there’s still time!   

After church today, I intentionally planned my afternoon to include a little shopping, a little decorating, and a few more leftovers. I have a new devotional to read and ponder each day during Advent, and at the end of the coming week, we will once again be participating in One Starry Night in Bethlehem at my church. Now in its fifth year, there truly is no better way to share the joy of Christmas!

How will you slow down and enjoy the coming week?  How will you celebrate this wonderful Season of Advent? I’d love to hear all about your plans!

One Starry Night

Oh, my, it has been a busy week! I began my “joyful journal” on Monday and kept adding to it almost every day. Had I not been looking carefully, I might have missed some of the more simple joys of the season, such as seeing the Downy Woodpecker at our suet feeder, or the colorful twinkling lights on our street.

Heartwarming joys mid-week included delivering Christmas gifts to a homeless outreach program, and providing clothing for a young boy in need. There is no greater joy in this season of giving than helping others who are struggling through difficult times.

A very special joy came this weekend, as we participated in “One Starry Night in Bethlehem”. Now in its fourth year, this event has become an annual tradition — not only for our church — but also for many families in our community. For two nights, our church is transformed into the town of Bethlehem, as we imagine it might have appeared on the night of Jesus’ birth.

I was particularly excited last evening because our daughter joined us for the first time. She played the role of a potter named Leah, demonstrating how to fashion small bowls from clay.

My husband and I look forward to sharing the Christmas story with our visitors each year. Yes, we are the innkeepers — the ones who turned Mary and Joseph away because our inn was full to capacity. We tell the children how we led the couple to our stable, and there Mary gave birth to a son. She wrapped him in swaddling cloths and placed him in the manger, right beside the animals.

The children love hearing the story, and they sit wide-eyed as my husband shares how the shepherds followed the star and came searching for the newborn King. Later in the evening, the families will visit with Mary and Joseph in the stable, and see baby Jesus before leaving Bethlehem. It is wonderful that we are able to tell the Christmas story in a way that brings it to life!

Isn’t it amazing how one starry night brought such joy into the world, and continues to shine in our hearts today?