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Posts in Advent
The Day After Christmas

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The annual anticipation has culminateFor at least a month many were elated

By the impending celebration of the birth of a baby boy

Or is that the real reason?

 

The trees, inflatables and lights galore

Stockings, sweaters and so much more

Shopping and Christmas movies 24/7

But now that it’s over what does all that matter?

 

Seems our focus is pulled in so many ways

We can watch TV or stay online for days

People might be all around us

But that doesn’t keep us from loneliness

 

As we begin to un-decorate from the season

Can we be intentional about our reasons

For the gifts, the cards and recognition

That we experience on Christmas

 

Perhaps as we return to the busyness of life

Our daily routines and unavoidable strife

May we realize that this is when the work begins

To make life better wherever we can.

 

For isn’t that the reason God came to earth

And came to life in human birth?

To make us one with Him

And make life better for those around us?

 

‘Tis true it’s better to give than receive

But can we for one moment truly believe

The work Jesus started in His 33 years

Will drive out darkness and many fears

 

There are no limits when we expand and grow

What He started in us so long ago

Let’s bring peace, harmony and love

And make this world more like heaven above.

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Peace, love and blessings,

Angela Hailey

 

Every December

IMG_9653 Every December I know what I want and I make plans.

This is the year I will read an Advent devotional every day.

I will light the candles in order on the wreath.

I will stop and look at the night sky looking for that sometimes-elusive bright star leading the way through the darkness.

I will send out cards with our picture perfect and edited faces, all dressed in red and green finery.

I will make my shopping lists early and give thoughtful gifts wrapped in beautiful paper.

Christmas baking will fill my kitchen with the best of all smells: sugar and cinnamon and butter and yeasty Birthday Bread.

I will go to sleep thankful and expectant of the gifts of the coming day.

I will . . .

But . . ..

This year I am behind in my reading.

I have not found the Advent Wreath to place it on the table, much less lit a single candle.

On my nightly walks the sky has been cloudy and the weather so cold I can only bend my head down into the cold wind.

Our family cannot find the time in our schedules to be at one place together at any single time dressed and ready to smile when we don’t feel like smiling.

Online shopping is frustrating and I chose something that can be stuffed in a gift bag.

It is hard to fill the kitchen with aromas of butter and sugar and cinnamon when you are on a restricted diet.

I fall asleep exhausted before I am able to start my prayers.

Advent is more than the daily reading, candle lighting, star gazing, picture taking, gift giving, Christmas baking experiences.

Advent is a slowing, taking a deep breath, sweeping the cobwebs out of my heart that have gathered in the last 12 months.

I entered 2018 with a bright shiny heart filled with love and peace and much hope, but ...

I enter Advent with an almost empty heart having gone through this life in this dark world.

Advent is smearing the balm of peace and love over the scabbed pieces of my heart.

Advent is practicing hope, that elusive gift that for some of us, seems to be just out of reach.

Advent is examining my heart and discovering the thin places almost ready to tear, allowing doubt and fear in, allowing that peace of God to flood and fill those places.

Advent is accepting the gift of the Child, once more filling my heart.

In the words of Ann Weems,

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to kneel in Bethlehem,

the air thick with alleluias,

the angels singing

that God is born among us.

In the light of the Star,

the wise ones and the humble.

I want to see them come,

bearing whatever they treasure

to lay at the feet

of him who gives his life.

 

What do I want for Christmas?

To see in that stable

the whole world kneeling in thanks

for a promise kept:

new life.

For in his nativity

we find ours.

 

I want the whole experience, the angels, the singing, standing with the “wise ones” and humble”, bearing my own gift of my heart, my hopes, my fears and receiving his greatest gift, love.

 

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Here we are again...I blinked and 2018 is almost gone!

AdventWreath-184927200-596509225f9b583f18154ca1 ThoughtCo Cstar55 Getty Images Here we are again, y’all. That most wonderful time of the year. But I’m feeling a little bah-humbug myself. The thought of Black Friday shopping makes me break out in hives. Crowds and spending money like it’s going out of style stress me out. Plus, I see all the “stuff” around my house and can’t imagine why we need to add more to it (I stayed home in my pj’s and watched old movies all day). *Sigh* So, I have to do my annual refresh on my thought process (and my heart process).

 

First up, it’s remembering that we are in the season of Advent. So what does that mean exactly? Well, good ole Wikipedia is here to tell us (do you sometimes miss those Encyclopedia Britannicas as much as I do? Yes, they were older than me, but they smelled heavenly and the heft of picking one up left me feeling like I’d certainly accomplished something):

 

Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas as well as the return of Jesus at the second coming. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning "coming". (Wikipedia)

 

Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. Luke 1:31 (CEB)

 

Expectant waiting…preparation…return of Jesus…second coming…It *does* sound exactly like how I used to feel as a kid just waiting (usually not so patiently) for Christmas to get here. That was rough! But the hope of what was to come kept me hanging on, feverishly anticipating what Santa might leave for me and for whatever was underneath all of that red and green wrapping paper. And that’s exactly how God wants us to feel about Him…living in abundant hope and longing for Jesus’s return with baited breath and a fervored excitement.

 

For me, 2018 has provided plenty of obstacles to living in that excitement and anticipation. And my horizon line still looks a little dark. So I long for the Advent feeling. Here’s the thing, though. That feeling came along with the Gift given to us all two thousand and some years ago. Our job here is to claim it. It slept softly under a blanket of stars, surrounded by the sounds of sheep and cattle, all while poor dirty shepherds and wealthy educated men bowed down side-by-side in reverence. When I finally get around to decorating the house, the moment I pull out my Maw Maw’s nativity scene, I will be overcome with the Advent feeling. It will breathe new life into me. I will feel the Hope envelope me and I will cling to it.

 

The truth is, I can live in fear/worry/fret ‘til the cows come home. Or, I can accept the Gift of Hope that this time of year signifies. I can hold on tightly to it (sometimes like a life raft). I can know that He is good, and I can believe beyond all measure that He is God.

 

God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (CEB)

 

I encourage you, Friend, to join me in remembering what Advent is, and embracing it this season. I am going to choose Hope. I am going to claim Hope, and proclaim it. May the God who loves us, each and every one, be with you this season and always. May the Hope of Jesus live in your heart, and radiate outward into the world.

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (CEB)

 

Merry Christmas!

♥ Jessica

(photo credit to Getty Images for the featured image above)