Christmas Advent: How To Celebrate as We Wait

I didn’t grow up with the tradition of the season of Advent. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that it is a simple way to prepare your heart for Christmas.

Advent celebrates Hope, Faith, Joy and Peace as we eagerly await the light of Christmas.

First, we celebrate HOPE. Advent opens with an invitation to PAUSE.

We are offered the chance to pause the push of the holiday merriment . . . This is a small but significant cultural resistance we can practice in our homes, minds, emotions and relationships.

– Tsh Oxenreider, Shadows and Light, A Journey Into Advent

As I look back to my Advent HOPE notes from three years ago, I see that I hoped to learn something new during Christmas. I journaled that I was grateful to need so deeply so that Jesus could show himself to me so deeply. I desired to remember the oppressed with generosity and to savor Christmas.

I ended the week of HOPE with this entry:

God, you are working in the shadows. Even the dark is light to you. I pray for shadows to be revealed so that the light may come in and shine. You are so kind. Your ways are gentle. Your voice is like a homecoming every time. Help me be gentle and kind like you.

Second, we celebrate FAITH. We believe that something GOOD is on the way.

It takes a lifetime to sharpen the tool of faith with the belief that there is always good ahead. Do you have a realist in your life? I do. My realist often tells me the obvious, fact based doom and gloom coming on the horizon. I tell the realist that God has been good before and he will be good again. Everything will work out as it should.

I am a woman of faith + optimism + imagination for the good things of God. At the same time, I haven’t always believed my own words to the realist.

I have been up many nights thinking about the breadth and kindness of God. Do both extend to me in this set of circumstances? Will God use his power and love to work out this scenario?

There used to be an “off limits” part of my heart that gripped onto self reliance in case God didn’t decide to help. God has a good sense of humor since most of the important things that have worked out in my life have had little to do with me. God is funny that way. He changes our understanding of him without our help. I love that.

Third, we celebrate JOY as we ANTICIPATE the birth of Jesus.

Intentional joy is hard to pursue. Life has an abundance of commitments where we put others before ourselves. Serving others at home, work, in friendships and the community is a huge source of joy. There is, however, another side of joy. This joy springs forth from within. This joy is the difference between an internal self that resembles a parched garden and a well watered garden whose waters never fail.

The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose water never runs dry.

Isaiah 58:10-12

I mentioned that I found myself parched this Fall. The combination of low grade anxiety, sadness and tiredness brought me to pursue intentional joy. I aimed to replenish my joy one day per week with one small intentional act. My list may be small, but it has mattered to the state of my soul.

  • I walked with my mom in an outdoor nursery with calm music playing.
  • I ordered fun paper and embellishments to wrap holiday gifts.
  • I listed to the WHOLE original soundtrack of Mary Poppins in bed on a Saturday morning.
  • I wrote holiday cards to all of my Devoted sisters (my community group).
  • I filled an older purse with toiletries, food, cosmetics, two books and drinks. I am waiting to see a woman in need on the road to give it to.

I am pursuing joy in anticipation of the day of Jesus’ birth. He is the whole reason.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from that time and forevermore.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Fourth, we embrace PEACE as we dig deep into GRATITUDE.

Gratitude is a popular word. We hear it everywhere. We see it on the cover of journals. We are told by the secular and religious world that peace and joy grow from living a life of gratitude. To me, gratitude came alive in learning St. Ignatius Loyola’s Prayer of Examen. To break it down, each day we ask ourselves:

  • How has the Lord provided for me today? What am I thankful for?
  • How did I move toward the Lord today? How did I bring him glory through my words and actions?
  • How did I move away from the Lord today? Where did I miss the opportunity to bring him glory through my words and actions?
  • Listen and Respond

At the base of every difficulty that etches away at our internal peace, gratitude awaits. God sweeps in with peace as we count what we have instead of what we don’t. The last week of Advent is the time we express gratitude to him as we celebrate the Prince of Peace.

Sisters, I made for you an Advent Inspired Bucket List. I hope you enjoy as you embrace the season of Advent and Christmas this year.

Love always,


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Take the Exhale

Dear Sisters,

I hear you.

The slow pace was welcomed.

The discovery of a new rhythm was timely.

The mindset of daily gratitude revived you.

The desire for an exhale has arrived.

Acknowledge the desire.

Find out what you need to breathe.

I went to sleep Sunday night.

Full of Energy.

But for what?

I’m learning to name the unnamed thing.

I’m not that good at it yet.


I am craving my sweet spot. I am craving the intersection of service, content and community. My imagination always has to do with serving people, alongside people. I wrote a ton of letters to olders and to the women in my life on Monday. No, that didn’t do it. I am glad I did it, but that didn’t feed the desire.

I popped up on Tuesday morning and reached out to two leaders in my life and offered what I have to offer. I asked my bible study girls if I can plan a retreat for us. I set aside time with my mom to brainstorm about a creative business together. This began to tap the desire. I’m learning to name the unnamed thing. 

What is your desire? Can you name it?

I’m itching to start living again. My extrovert side is lonely. I’m already planning future dates and trips with friends and the kids.

I am grateful for so many things. But I need an exhale on the beach. Blessings and hardships are holding hands. I can choose the direction.

I am anxious and thinking about what is next. What is God teaching me? Trust and letting go.

I yearn for the beach and date night. I am sad for some of my family and friends. I miss my mom.

I am enjoying work from home and having my son at home. He is my last one!

Slow down was nice but now I am in a funk. I am leaning into the Lord. What is next?

What is your desire?

Write it down. Pursue it. With one small step today.

What is your one small step today?

Send a text to find out how you can serve.

Journal about what you will bring with you (into what’s next?) and what you will leave behind.

Figure out if your life is in line with your values. Any decisions to make?

What kind of courage may you need?

What is in your way? Consider the roadblocks.

Is it your mindset? Is it fear? Are you stubborn?

Is it time to let go of control?

Is it time to simply acknowledge the gifts of God in your life?

Is it time to do the thing you know that you are supposed to do?

Take the Exhale.

The slow pace was welcomed.

The discovery of a new rhythm was timely.

The mindset of daily gratitude revived you.

The desire for an exhale has arrived.

Name the unnamed thing.

Write it down. Pursue it.

Take the Exhale.

If I am helping your rewrite your life with joy, will you share with a friend? She can receive these letters to her inbox by clicking the button below.

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