6 Practical Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Advent
- Jeanne Doyon Crosswalk.com Contributor
- 2014 27 Nov
As the autumn leaves dance and twirl, I'm reminded that it won't be long before we celebrate the holidays. To avoid the last minute hustle it is good to think ahead.
Many shop early and get their Christmas cards ordered and signed. Others bake Christmas cookies for weeks to prepare for guests and gifts. Whatever we do to prepare for the holiday when we are intentional it can reduce stress.
Preparing our heart and keeping our focus on Jesus takes planning too - otherwise the weeks fly by in a blur before we rein in what's important. Using an advent devotional or activity is a wonderful way to engage the whole family with the central message of why Jesus came.
The advent season reminds us of his coming - both as the Messiah, born as a baby - and as the Coming King of Glory. We anticipate the second coming of Jesus just as the Jewish people watched for their Messiah.
How does your family prepare for the Advent season?
When my children were very young we had an Avon advent calendar so our children could count the days to Christmas Eve. We also read the Christmas story together from a children's Bible and other story books.
Others have used the Jesse Tree with symbols of the Christmas story. These are depicted on tree ornaments along with short devotionals to read each day.
Whatever you do to focus on the deeper meaning of Christmas, it will take some planning. Here are some other ideas (And, I'd love to hear yours):
- List the characters in the Christmas story.
- Describe some of the obstacles they faced.
- How does their trust and belief encourage you?
- For each character, choose a word to describe them.
- Why was it important for Mary to believe the angel?
- What could have happened if Joseph didn't listen to his dream?
- Draw a picture of this story.
- Create a timeline of events using a roll of brown postal paper or some butcher paper. Illustrate it as a family.
There are many resources available whether you have children or looking for something for yourself. I discovered this wonderful one from Focus on the Family and want to share it with you.
Focus on the Family's Advent Resource - For Parents and Teachers
If you have children, Focus on the Family has a free advent resource for you to use this Christmas. It is filled with downloadable activities. It's called, The Journey to the Manger.
Visit their website here!
Our church is using these resources from Focus on the Family for the children's bulletins. I'd love to hear how your family incorporates them in your Christmas preparations.
Having a plan for your family celebrations minimizes stress and helps you to focus on the things that are important to you. Asking yourself questions during this season of your life will help you to focus as you celebrate from the heart. Questions like:
What traditions do I value most during this time of year?
This may be a family party or a cookie swap at your church. You may enjoy the live nativity or reading Scripture on Christmas Eve. Being sure to put these on your calendar first will help when responding to other invitations and opportunities.
What other events will I include in my celebrations?
This includes church events, concerts, school plays, community events, parties and gift exchanges. When we are purposeful in deciding on what is included on our calendar, we will have more insight into what we can and cannot do.
What things can I let go of because of busyness or a change in my life situation?
This may be something like in the past you’ve spent days baking dozens of kinds of cookies for cookie trays but due to finances, change in family dynamics, a new living situation, or illness you can’t do this the same way. Every season of life is different and we need to give ourselves permission to adapt to the changes.
How much decorating will I do this year?
When my children were all at home, they helped with the decorating. Since my husband and I have an empty nest, I have simplified. I love a wreath on the door and candles in the windows. I decorate my hearth and have a tabletop Christmas tree. I find it is easier to set up and quick to take down after the holiday. Simple can also be festive.
How much will I spend on gifts for each one on my gift list?
Being realistic about our resources alleviates stress. Planning ahead may give you time to save for gifts or decide that you may try giving more handmade items.
Am I able to do all the cooking for dinner guests or do I need to ask others to contribute items to the feast?
Asking family dinner guests to bring an appetizer, vegetables, dinner rolls, beverages or a dessert can help with your many dinner preparations. Simply provide time for everyone to pop their dish into the oven for warming.
Being intentional about your preparations – for both heart and hands will create a more peaceful celebration as you ponder the true meaning of the season. I hope this will bring you joy as you usher in all that Christmas means as a believer in Christ.
Let every heart prepare him room!
Adapted from an article which originally ran on The Stream's Edge. Used with permission.
Jeanne Doyon loves encouraging others to draw nearer to the Lover of their souls. She connects the Truths in Scripture to the ordinary events of life and shares her reflections on her blog. Jeanne enjoys photography, tea with friends, creating with beads and looks forward to being a grandma. She and her husband, John enjoy their empty nest but wish their children weren’t so far away. Email Jeanne at email@example.com and find out more about her speaking topics at JeanneDoyon.com.
Publication date: November 27, 2014
Let go of the busyness and stress of the holiday season and open your heart and mind to peace by experiencing the joy of Jesus' birth as you use 12 Advent Prayers! Finding quiet time during the holidays will help you reflect on the reason for Christmas and preparing our hearts to celebrate Christ's birth. Let us know in the comments how you are preparing your heart!