Preparing our Hearts for Advent

The Advent season is once again upon us! The story of a less-than-ideal birth, a cherished baby, an awe-filled mother trying to absorb it all, the promise fulfilled, a glorious message of hope…oh, joy! There’s always a huge celebration when a baby is born, how much more so when that baby is our promised Savior! I’m thankful we have the chance to celebrate that same birth, the turning point in history (in my history!), every year. I’m so in love with that little baby in a manager.

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But, sometimes it’s hard to keep the focus on Jesus when things are so hectic. That’s why I love our simple Advent traditions. They keep my heart coming back to the reason for the season.

Here’s what works for us and maybe they’ll inspire your own advent adventure!

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent. One of my favorite traditions is our candle advent wreath. I found the idea in “The Adventure of Christmas” by Lisa Whelchel. (On a side note, it’s a great book! It has festive and colorful pages with many meaningful craft and baking ideas for the Christmas season. If you have little ones, I highly recommend it.)

 

Advent Candle Wreath

 

What you’ll need:

3 purple candles

1 pink candle

1 white candle

a mirror stand

any variety of evergreens, holly, pine, ornaments, bells, etc. to decorate around the candles

Arrange candles on the mirror stand. Put the white candle in the center since it’s the last one lit, on Christmas Day, and represents Jesus, with the other candles in a circle around the white one. The circle represents God’s love that lasts forever, it has no beginning or end.

The first purple candle, the Prophesy/Hope candle, is lit on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and represents the hope we have in Jesus.

The second purple candle, the Bethlehem/Peace candle, is lit on the third Sunday before Christmas, and represents the Prince of Peace born in Bethlehem.

The pink candle, the Shepard/Joy candle, is lit on the second Sunday before Christmas, and represents the good tidings and great joy of the Christmas story.

The final purple candle, the Angel/Love candle, is lit on the Sunday before Christmas, and represents the heavenly hosts and their glorious message.

And finally, the white candle, lit on Christmas Day, represents that love has entered our world through the birth of Jesus Christ.

 

Advent devotionals are another great way to keep us centered on the Christmas story throughout the month. Here are my family’s favorite Advent devotionals:

 

If you have little ones…

Ann Voskamp’s “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” – this devotion has short, meaningful devotions for each day in December. But my favorite part of this devotion is the artwork; it is simply beautiful.

 

If you have older children…

“The Advent Jesse Tree” by Dean Lambert Smith – this devotion has longer, more in-depth, devotions that are great to read with older children. Our entire family was greatly blessed by this devotion.

 

And finally, a beautiful advent prayer: “May this entire Advent season bring us back to your manger, back to your cross, back to your empty tomb; and moving forward with you into your new creation story.”

That prayer reminds of me of the one question I used last year as a guide for my holiday season: What is bringing me closer to Jesus this holiday season? It seems like everything else falls into place when this is the focus. I’ll be asking myself the same thing this season.

Regardless of what craziness this holiday season brings (and there will be craziness! As I’m typing this, my kids are running around the house screaming in excitement about putting up Christmas lights! Heaven, help me! ), I pray we all have a “peace that transcends all understanding.”

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