My annual Advent-al thoughts post.

The library emailed me yesterday to let me know the copy of Crystal Paine's (aka money saving mom) book Goodbye to Survival Mode was available. I don't remember putting it on hold but I guess I did. So I read the first two chapters and decided to return in. Not because its bad, its just I realized that I'm not the target audience. I have said goodbye to survival mode. I don't need to read about boundaries and saying no and leaving margin. Just another way God has blessed me through my Hashimoto's. My life is very pared down now. It's how we survived this pregnancy. And its why we are thriving right now. And we are thriving.

Last week I had a really bad case of laryngitis. It's been going our the mom circle here so perhaps I should have known better than to pray for the ability to not yell at my children when I ran out of patience. Because I certainly was not yelling at them last week, it was rough. And for about half a day I panicked. This is the busiest week of my month, I can't get sick! But then I calmed down, took out my bullet journal and took a look at the calendar and to-do list. And yes, it was the busiest week but I had enough margin. Only one thing got canceled, a trip to the dentist, and only because I didn't want to expose them to my germs. We did postpone St. Lucia's day to this weekend but its not on the kids calendar and what they don't know won't hurt them.

So even a virus can't stop me from having a great advent season. I really like living a liturgical year. It's something my mom valued when I was growing up and even though we are in a much less liturgical church now, it's still something that I enjoy being a part of our family culture. But I was still having a hard time figuring out how to teach it by just living it. Sometimes felt like all I was doing was trying to push back Christmas because I was supposed to. And we do need a bit of that type of patience in our culture but its more than that.

This year I feel like I personally am having a season of Advent and that's enough. The kids will get what they get. I don't mean that none of it is kid-centered or fun, but its all real stuff. Friday we have plans to go drive through the Nativity Story in lights and a few days after that is our annual trip to the Living Nativity down the road. And on the worst afternoon of my sickness last week, I threw some Nativity themed pattern block printouts at them, put the bucket of shapes on the floor and told them Norah and I were napping and to play nice until daddy got home. Advent themed homeschool activity - check!

But I've just been able to enjoy this season so much (laryngitis aside). I'm not normally one of those people who picks a theme verse or a word of the year that God is speaking to them. But I do feel like the last two years of Advent were times when God worked with me on the idea of waiting. And I was leaning on Him to help me wait and clinging to all the patience and peace I could manage to grab by the tips of my fingers while hanging off a cliff. I'm not sure if that analogy makes sense at all but its what it felt like. If some well meaning person had quotes me a verse like Isaiah 40:31 (But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint) or sing Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, I would have wanted to punch them. Hopefully I would have been able to restrain myself but the thought would have been there either way. 

This year, my focus has not been on the waiting aspect but instead the penitence side of things. God has clearly showed me a few areas I was dropping the ball on and need to change things. Which doesn't sound very enjoyable but true to His nature, it was revealed in a "I love you too much to let you stay in your sin" way. And that's what Advent is all about really. God loving us so much He couldn't let us stay in our sin and had to send a Messiah.

I feel no condemnation in that. Sadness, yes.  Sin is sad, no getting around it. But no guilty following that, just hope. And peace. Because the peace that I was clinging to so tightly earlier is here all around me now even when the fingers of my soul are unclenched. When I see that Isaiah verse now, I can recognize its truth. Because something being renewed meant that at one point before the renewal, it was low or old or in need of refreshing. That was me. And I waited. And now that I have strength again, God is guiding me forward and continuing to refine me. So much hope is in that thought. And I want to remember that feeling so that next time, and I'm sure there will be a next time, whether that's a relapse of my Hashimotos, other health problems or something else entirely I don't know, but next time I want to remember that yes, I will eventually get to the renewing part.

So knowing I'm at a point where God has energized me enough to work on these sin is encouraging. But being reminded of the truth that I am in need of refinement and lots of it is a gift too. If I wasn't in need of savior, then Jesus would just be some baby in a manger and Christmas wouldn't be necessary. Being reminded of the need for the gift of Christ only increases my desire to celebrate his coming. But I am and he is. He is coming. Christ is coming! Christmas is coming!

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