Merry Christmas // preparing your heart for the coming of Jesus
We’re slowing down during this Advent season to take time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. We made a goal to have all of our gift shopping done before December, so this whole month has been a time for us to focus on family and the coming of Jesus.
// Side note and our Advent recommendations //
We’re doing The Wonder of the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp with the girls and I HIGHLY recommend it - it’s short and simple and beautifully written/illustrated - it also has a Christmas tree with an ornament each day so the kids get to decorate it as the month goes on.
Ben and I are going through Richard Rohr's Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent - again, it’s short and simple, but to add a few minutes of focused meditation to our day makes such a big difference.
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Advent means “coming” and is a time of intentional focus on the coming of Jesus - His arrival into our world, the most amazing display of love ever known to mankind.
On our first morning of meditation we prayerfully meditated on the question, “what demands and expectations can you let go of to be more prepared for the coming of Jesus?” I think this question sets the tone for the whole Christmas season. How can we prepare for the coming of Jesus - Love in the flesh, as a tiny newborn baby - into our world? How do we prepare our hearts to celebrate the most amazing gift ever given to us?
The Israelites were in a similar situation as they prepared for Passover each year. To remember and celebrate their freedom from Egypt - the night that God came and passed over their homes to spare them from death - they had a strict purification process. Their cleansing included purifying their homes, their food, and their bodies. Today our process is a purification of our hearts as we prepare to celebrate and remember the coming of the Lord.
This looks different for each one of us.
When I read the question that first morning of Advent, I knew immediately what God was asking me to do in order to purify my heart. I’m 17 weeks pregnant (surprise!) and if I’m honest I can say that fear + anxiety have controlled almost the whole pregnancy so far.
Being pregnant after miscarriage carries a whole new host of feelings. Anyone who has experienced this can testify - it’s so much harder than you ever imagined it could be. On top of being sicker than I’ve ever been, my hormones and emotions are more all over the place than ever too.
First there’s fear. Fear of losing another baby. Fear of forgetting about the baby we already lost. Fear of letting down my girls one more time.
Then there’s guilt. Guilt for not being as excited or hopeful this time as I have been in the past. Guilt that I got pregnant faster than other friends who are still trying to get pregnant. Guilt that this baby is surviving and our other baby didn’t get to. Guilt that we are replacing Baby Bear somehow by having another baby.
There’s intense sadness. Sadness about being SO sick, (and then guilt for feeling sad for being sick when I should just be thankful for the blessing of the baby). Sadness for not being able to get out of bed these past three months and take care of my girls the way that I should. Sadness that so many other close friends never made it this far in their pregnancy.
There are a whole lot of of unexplainable emotions - like, I cry (I mean SOB) during every single tv show I watch - I can’t make it through an episode of Girl Meets World with Rayne without losing it. I get angry that Alaska is a state. I try to explain to Ben every night why Alaska shouldn't be one of the 50 United States (it should so obviously be a part of Canada), and I get mad at him for not agreeing with me. Yesterday I drove by a sign that said “New Years Eve Fireworks Show” and burst out in tears - I will never know why.
The emotions that I haven’t felt very much of are hope and joy and excitement. Brene Brown calls this foreboding joy - when we expect the worst in order to protect ourselves just incase the worst does happen. She explains,
“When something good happens, our immediate thought is that we’d better not let ourselves truly feel it, because if we really love something we could lose it. So we shut down our ability to completely enjoy so that we can also shut down our capacity for feeling loss.”
Since every good and perfect gift comes from our Heavenly Father, then we know that joy and hope are from Him. Fear and anxiety are distractions from experiencing His goodness. So of course this is what God was telling me that first morning of Advent - in order to prepare my heart for His coming, I need to clear out the fear and anxiety and make room for hope and joy.
These past weeks and days have been a time of intentionality for me - I’ve allowed myself to get excited about the baby. I talk to the baby. I embrace every little kick I feel. I let the girls hug and kiss my belly and sing songs to the baby. I dream with Ben about what we’ll name the little babe. I pray prayers of thankfulness. And as I’ve done this, I've begun to realize something - maybe the most important thing that God was trying to show me in the whole process ::
As we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, we begin to experience his coming in every single moment.
Christmas day might be the day we celebrate His original coming - but the Kingdom is here. The Kingdom is now. And if our hearts are attuned to His Kingdom, our eyes are opened to see that beautiful Kingdom everywhere and in everything.
So, Merry Christmas! May this be a season of experiencing the coming of Jesus, and not just on Christmas day, but in every little corner of your heart and your life.
Ben, Jenna, Rayne, Bradlee, and "Baby Beluga"
fun fact :: we took these photos when it was six degrees outside. In between every photo we ran to our heated car to warm up!