Picture Perfect

I love the Advent season. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year… that is, until December actually arrives. Then I start stressing over making the holidays special, memorable, and the “best ever.” I know that my family needs to be focused on the true meaning. So I plan to do an Advent reading every night. I start on the 1st with such high hopes of actually being consistent this year, and it always goes great—until about the 6th. It is on that fateful day that I realize we have missed a day and now CHRISTMAS IS COMPLETELY RUINED! And actually, if I am being honest, the other days we did do the Advent reading contained a lot of me yelling, “Please. Be. Quiet. We are trying to learn ABOUT JESUS!!! Don’t you know He is the reason for the season?!? Stop asking about presents! If you don’t sit still you won’t get any!” And please, don’t even get me started on trying any craft. I am so horrible at anything creative that my kids have officially asked me to “stop trying,”—and no, that isn’t a joke.  I have often lamented that the thing that my kids will remember about the holidays is how stressed out I was over making sure they remembered about Jesus.

Picture Realistic

The truth of the matter is that the holidays are an incredibly busy time. It would be a great idea to carve out a few minutes to spend with your children reading an Advent devotional or a few Scripture verses to re-focus our heart; But we do that remembering that every effort we make to help our children see Jesus ultimately depends on the Holy Spirit opening their eyes. There is freedom there, sisters. There is joy there, sisters. We must make sure that we aren’t doing the devotional or reading Scriptures as a way to earn righteousness before God. I know I often want to check the “Good Mom” box at the end of my day so that I can feel good about myself and know that God is feeling pretty good about me, too. If I am doing Advent devotionals in order to make myself acceptable before God, I am actually completely missing the whole meaning of  Christmas: God becoming man in order to live the life I needed to live and die the death I deserved, to make me acceptable before a Holy God. Or if I am doing an Advent reading with my children in order to make a tradition that will save my children, I am again trusting in myself. I will end up being really angry with them when they are distracted or act like children. Beloved, traditions don’t save: only the Christ-child does that.

Perfect Picture

Focusing on Christ is a good thing. Take time to remember that He came to this broken world to make His people perfect; He came to forgive our sins; He came to bring us into his family; He came to show us how much the Father loved us. Finding ways to sit in those truths is the reason my mom and I wrote the Advent devotional Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles. We wanted parents to have an easy, grace-saturated, Christ-exalting resource that would help the hearts of families to find a place of rest in the craziness of the Christmas season. Our family has done the devotional for the last few years. We have found that the readings are just short enough to keep the kids’ attention, yet deep enough to point out the gloriousness of Christ. We also included some crafts (for families with moms that aren’t like me) to do together. There is a reading for the parent to do on their own, and a reading to do as a family. Our prayer has been that you find Advent time as a place to breathe, to remember, and to laugh. To look at our Perfect Picture, Jesus Christ, and remember all He has done for us. And honestly, if all else fails, the kids really do like lighting the candles, so you can know they will be interested in that part. Sisters, Jesus is good news, Christmas is good news, and missing a few days of Advent will be okay. He has got you. He has got this season. May we do every tradition for the glory of God. So you truly can rest, breathe, and enjoy,