Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stillness and Joy

It has been a wild and crazy fall, my friends! My husband is taking some coursework for a few months at the University of Virginia, so we have rented a house and are here as a family for a bit. What a tremendous blessing it has been to cancel all of our obligations for a few months, load up the van with clothes and books, and drive halfway across the country for a new adventure! If we were not homeschooling, if I was not a stay-at-home mom, this would not be possible. But, it is!

And, joy! Joy is permeating everything, which is exactly as it should be during Advent, right? Actually, that's not entirely true. I am seeped in joy, a deep settled peace that isn't really wavering with the tween drama, toddler meltdowns, and brotherly battles that have accompanied me these past few months. So, I wonder if perhaps I am the only person in my family who feels this deep down wonder at it all. Truly, it is a gift.

You see, I do not have all of my stuff. I do not know a single soul IRL here in Charlottesville, and I have absolutely no obligations other than to love these people, these precious, perfect people that God has given me! I cook. I clean. I shop. I teach. I bathe. I read. I change. I pray. It is remarkable how every moment has felt like a gift, even on our challenging road trip, which I had to make on my own after dh had already arrived in VA.

There is a lot of talk on these interwebs the past few weeks about finding inner peace and joy and about what it is all supposed to look like on the outside, but I am finally discovering that Advent has nothing to do with what is on the outside. Duh! We do not have our gorgeous nativity set. We do not have our Christmas tree or ornaments. We do have each other. So, I am forced to make the most out of the traditions I was able to bring, and they are not really that important. Being together. Being truly present in the moment to one another is.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by what you have not done (yet) this season, please stop and breathe. Go read the wise, soothing counsel of Elizabeth Foss (she is offering an incredibly inspiring Advent workshop for free titled Comfort & Joy; it is not too late to hop on over and exhale with her) or the poetic, faith-filled words of Ann Voskamp and remember again what this waiting is all about. Focus inward on yourself and the people around you. Just do one thing each day to embrace Advent with your children. Let go of your dreams of doing it all: Advent wreath with prayer and signing, Jesse tree with homemade ornaments, picture books wrapped for each day, etc... and just let it happen.

We are lighting our Advent wreath at dinner but not saying any special prayers. We are reading Ann's gorgeous new book but not making the ornaments. We are reading our picture books, unwrapped, sometimes a few at a time, as we miss days. And Christmas is STILL coming! Jesus is waiting for us to be still with Him, over the kitchen sink as we do dishes, on the floor as we tie a shoe, in bed as we snuggle with our tired, worn-out husbands.

My prayer for each of you is that you can find the stillness and the joy that comes from embracing God's will each moment, even if that moment is not at all how you planned or pictured it to be. Each of you remains in my prayers during this Holy season, and I hope to write more as the days and weeks pass.

Bless Your Heart!

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