Welcome to Advent.

The time of year where we wait, prepare and long for the coming of Christ. We wait with hope and expectation because we know we were made for so much more and we know somewhere deep within that only Jesus can fill that longing and expectation our hearts so deeply yearn for.

If you’re like me you vow each year that this year you will make Advent meaningful. You will focus on just the true meaning of Christmas and not get caught up in the frenzy that strips away meaning and leaves our hearts empty and longing for so much more, only to find yourself caught up in the frenetic energy of the season, later wishing you’d taken even one moment just to pause.

When you strip away all of the wrapping paper and the decorations, the hustle and bustle we are left with a heart that yearns for something so much deeper. A peace that surpasses any kind of understanding, a joy that fills us up to overflowing and a love that meets our deepest need to belong, heard and understood.

This year I hope you will take some time to pause to breathe deeply and to take in all that is Advent. Here is a small devotional that hopefully helps you to re-center and to reconnect with the very reason for the season.

A-Ask yourself what you want to be different this year. Do a soul searching inventory about what you’d really like this advent season how do you want it to be different. God is inviting you to stop whatever it is you are doing and live more fully alive, with deeper intimacy in this very moment…..my dear friend Paula Gamble-Grant in her new Advent devotional called A Wild and Precious Advent invites us to “pause….breathe deeply…listen to your wild and precious soul….what is stirring in you at this moment?….what do you want?” You matter and God cares about what you want so take a moment to ask yourself what you want to do differently this year and then…

D-Decide to do things differently. There are many verses about making choices in scripture but one of my favorite is John 1:43 “the next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee” He made a choice and then he followed through. I believe that the greatest gift God gave us is the gift of choice. We get to choose how we spend our time and what we do with our lives. Take a moment to stop and decide how you will spend your time and money the next few days and weeks. Make a time budget and make a financial budget. Taking a few minutes to do these practical steps will help to bring you a calm mind, heart and wallet. Once you make your decisions daily walk them out by…..

V-InVite Jesus into the season with you. No, really. Use this time to pray to really focus on inviting Jesus to join you. Ask Him to go shopping with you and help you choose the gifts, ask Him to come to the holiday parties with you, ask Him to fill you daily with His peace. Invite Him into all of the frenzy and folly and notice what might be different this year as you do. The truth is He is always with you but this time you are choosing to notice His sweet and calming presence

E-Express your desire to do things differently. After you’ve talked with God and made your decision, pick a night to share with your family. Ask them to write down what part of the traditions, food and activities are important to them and then take the papers, mix them up and pass them to a different family member to read aloud. As you read them aloud write down the most popular things on another list and then decide from that new family list what you will keep and let the rest go. This helps you and your family simplify and yet still keep the meaningful things as part of your Christmas traditions. This is a practical way to bring some peace and calm nights back into Advent.

N-Intentions…Set an intention to be more joyful, to spend less and to enjoy the people you love. Intentions are powerful as they set the course of our habits, days and eventually become our lives. If you want a more powerful Advent season set aside a few moments to set some intentions for how you’d like to spend the next few weeks, write it down and then review it daily to keep yourself on track with where you want to be in life.

T-Take time to be thankful. This is one practice that will change your life. If at the end of each day you will take time to write down three things you are thankful for and why you will change your life. This is this God’s will for your life for a very good reason. He knows that thankful hearts are soft hearts, thankful hearts don’t complain, thankful hearts are happy hearts. Take five minutes each night this advent season and write down three things you are thankful each day and why you are thankful.

Bring the calm and peaceful life Jesus promises into this Advent Season.

Ask yourself what you’d like to be different
Decide to do things differently and then follow through
inVite Jesus to be a part of everything you do this season
Express your desires to your family
Set an iNtention to do the things you value each day
Take time to be thankful each night before bed