936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
It happens every year. Feelings of warmth and glow and cozy and together gather up all at once and unleash after Thanksgiving, and, along with them, pressure. Guilt. A bit of panic. Advent is here, and I am altogether unready. My mind flashes back to a seven-year streak of Good Advent Intentions unraveled.
I want to draw out the significance of Advent. But how can I manage a silent, holy, calm and quiet season in the midst of squabbling siblings, mountains of laundry, and stretched-thin budgets? We try to slow down, while the world around us refuses to accommodate any lesser a pace. This time of year can feel far from sacred.
Slow and silent and holy is hard-pressed in the rush and loud and messy. And yet, that hard-pressed place is what the baby Jesus entered into.
Each year as Thanksgiving gives way to the Christmas season, I find myself wanting to make more space for Christmas in our home. To decorate more. To do more. To celebrate more. Each year I wonder if this will be our year to make it all the way through a habit of Advent, a whole calendar or book or countdown of sorts. We don’t. Seven years now… and counting, because I know that we won’t this year, either.
For eight years I have been carrying babies in my womb, nursing babies, juggling naptimes, teething, tantrums, and a forever-messy home. And yet, the first Advent wasn’t all that clean or tidy or put-together, either. Weren’t Mary and Joseph weary and frightened and uncertain of their parenting, also? And yet they welcomed Jesus. The only holy in that stable was the baby Himself. Everything else was quite messy and imperfect. And so it will be in my home, also.
This is not my decade for attention to decorating, cookie exchanges, or a perfectly executed Advent calendar.
This is my decade for cradling babies, just as Mary and Joseph did. This is my decade for watching candle flames dance in the eyes of a babe. For reading a few favorite Christmas books with kids snuggled up next to me. This is my decade for a few inherited decorations juxtaposed by toys left sprawled about the house. This is my decade to let Christmas be what it was created for, the welcoming of a perfect Babe into a very imperfect home.
I am a failure at Advent. And in the very same breath, I have discovered the deepest of Advents. An Advent that stretches beyond this month. One that counts down to Jesus every day. One that welcomes Him into my mess, because otherwise I’d never let Him step in.
The good news is that the Good News fits into our messy and imperfect reality. Every time we talk to our children about the perfect Babe born to rescue us, Advent happens. When we miss a day, or four, in the Advent countdown devotional or ornaments, we bring Advent back in through bedtime prayers.
“Thank you, God, for the greatest gift of Jesus. Immanuel, God with us. You gave us Yourself through that little baby. We want to know Him more, amen.”
Advent is the name of Jesus in our home.
Friend, here is your invitation to side-step the overwhelm of Christmas expectations. Say no this year to the plans that overrun into the margins of your calendar, or make your chest tighten with anxiety. Instead, speak the name of Jesus in your home. Let that be your Advent this year. Here are some simple ways to make it happen:
First, decorate your home in the Gospel. Rethink your decorations this year and adorn your home in gospel conversation starters.
Then, reframe gift-giving:
Whatever you do or don’t get around to over this next month, take heart in knowing that every time we speak the name of Jesus, Advent unfolds in our homes. The holy babe born in a messy manger delights to meet us in our messy homes, too.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!