Ever get the feeling that God is intentionally slowing you down? Well that’s where I’m at this 2015 Advent season. I started out on a roll, getting the tree up before Advent started… then…
I caught the same cold that my four year old has had THREE times now since early November. We’ve been down and out for over a month now with this stuff and it’s no fun. I missed another academic co-op today and we are back to checking the homeschool lists off at home and doing “what we can” instead of going full speed.
Funny, I read Professor Carol’s Advent today for Day 3 and she mentioned that Advent is a season of fasting. Maybe God is helping us fast from the normal fast pace of life – because I certainly feel like that’s what He’s doing. Not just through slowing us down with sickness, but through little things like the book that showed up on my porch this past week… sent by my friend Dianne in Colorado, who thought it was too good not to share:
I read this part last night as I was fighting off my scratchy throat and inhaling as much diffused essential oil as I could before bed:
“Our entire lives are like this: We live without limits. And while that freedom can seem fun at first, after a while it gets to be too much. We don’t have enough room for everything. We can’t handle the stress of trying to do everything. We just can’t fit it in our lives, no matter how much we’d like to do so. It weakens us in so many ways. It dilutes our power and effectiveness. It spreads us too thin. It tires us out so that we don’t have the energy to handle the important stuff. A life without limits is taking a cup of red dye and pouring it into the ocean, and watching the color dilute into nothingness. Limited focus is putting that same cup of red dye into a gallon of water.“
Preach. I don’t know about you, but that speaks volumes to me.
My 16 year old came to me yesterday before I started feeling really bad and asked me to give her a list of everything she needed to finish high school, too. She wanted to make her own lists from here on out, taking that responsibility off of my shoulders. She’s starting a new job next week, too. And the 18 year old was talking college options with dad over dinner, seriously considering a lengthy college stay in a state that takes FIVE HOURS to FLY to (not drive). My world is about to change, and I think God is calling me into a place of stillness to prepare me. A place where less is vying for my time and I can be present in the fleeting moments we have left.
Reminds me of Chris Rice’s song – Show Me the Power of a Moment…
It seems like the only time I have to get on my blog and visit with you is when I’m sick, too. Did you ever notice that sometimes you chat more with your mom on text and your friend on Facebook when you aren’t busy doing all the busy things you think you need to get done? A slower life is a more connected life – one that allows you margin to be a better mom, daughter, friend, sister… you name it. I was able to email a childhood friend whose birthday was yesterday because I was slowed down enough to log in to my Google Calendar and pay attention to the fine details.
I also notice that I’m aware more when life slows down and I get sick or am forced to wait for something that I PRAY MORE.
I pray more, and… I think more. I dream up ideas more. I play more. I rest more. I read more. If you really think about it, there are silver linings to setbacks.
So while I’m sucking on cough drops and cleaning my desk off, I thought I’d share a few random good things with you that I discovered while purging my email box (a task that often gets overlooked for years when I’m not going slow enough):
1. It’s Advent! I’ve got a few Advent links for you in case you were wanting to catch up and start with me on day 3!
I try to use a different study each year so that Advent never grows stale. Right now I’m reading through Professor Carol’s Advent emails (linked above – and they are free). Last year I let them pile up in my box, but I decided I would read them this year after finding them in my quest for Inbox Zero (deleting thousands of emails these past few days). I’m using them as an idea springboard because they are written for older kids or adults. She had a neat idea to have an Advent wreath with candles on Day 1 — and if you don’t celebrate Hanukkah, this would be fun. I think it’s neat that with Advent, Hanukkah and Christmas celebrations, they all have lighting of candles.
With the kids I’m going through Advent & Christmas in Family Worship by Douglas & Amy Hayes and we are reading out of the bible and reading a Christmas picture book each night. We are also reading and praying along for each request from Christian Aid Mission’s monthly Prayerline for December 2015. I think one night during Hanukkah the gifts under the table will be a donation from us to Christian Aid. We’ll read the Sparkle Box that night (which is a story about giving gifts to Jesus through showing kindness to others – fell in love with this book last year at Hanukkah).
2. Hanukkah starts this Sunday night at sundown. Wonder why Christians might celebrate Hanukkah? Need some ideas to cook for your family? Some book suggestions, links and resources?
I have been reading an awesome book called Celebrating Biblical Feasts: In Your Home or Church to help us get to know the biblical feasts so we can begin to celebrate them as a family. I’ve found a lot of joy and deep meaning in them. I was sad to note that this book doesn’t include Hanukkah (since it wasn’t a God-created, but rather a man-created celebration), so I’m looking at getting another Christian-based family guide on Hanukkah this year from Amazon. Last year we checked out library books on Hanukkah for kids and we used online how-to tips from sites like …
Robin Sampson of Heart of Wisdom has created a set of free printables and lists a ton of resources and books that her family uses to celebrate Chanukah. She even includes a fun Light Unit Study that would be great fun to do over the month of December. You could turn a dark winter month into a celebration of light — which is what Hanukkah and Christmas have in common: Festival of Lights and Jesus’ Star and Him as the Light of the World!
Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12
If you just need some ideas for Hanukkah or Christmas for that matter (including crafts, recipes, etc.) you can check out my Pinterest board here:
3. I know about this great deal… Black Friday is something we don’t advocate or participate in if we can help it, but saving money for Hanukkah and Christmas presents by purchasing a few things on Cyber Monday (and their extended deal dates) is definitely worth it. One discount in particular, I wanted to pass on for those photo lovers (like me) out there…
Easy Canvas Prints (which I have used and love for a few of my own portraits of our family) is having a 85% off sale with free standard shipping through Dec 6th. Can’t beat it. Had to share.
4. I love it when good news comes across my email… (especially good news about BEES). This week I found out the bees are getting a break.
In a statement to Center for Food Safety, Pop Secret (owned by Diamond Foods) committed to “removing 50% of its neonicotinoids usage in 2016, 75% in 2017, with a long-term commitment of further reducing usage by working with agricultural universities and those companies supplying neonicotinoids to the seed industry.”
Now it’s up to us to make sure they do it. I’m already keeping my local bees safe by not using any pesticides.
I’m going to go eat a snack, sip on a warm cup of tea with lemon, and curl up with my book now. You have a fantastic Day 3 of Advent – or Thursday, or both!
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