When Advent Doesn’t Go As Planned {31 Days to Holistic, Christ Centered Living Day #12}

We go on a nature walk–all five of us girls–through the tall, thick brush of the edge of our backyard. After tripping and pushing through weeds and briars taller than us, we finally come to a clearing with beautiful pines reaching up to the sky and patches of late afternoon sun streaming through forest green spiny branch shoots and pine cones.

I boost Lorna up next to a maple and she pulls down some branches with blood-red leaves and we snap them off for our mantle. We pick up pine cones and find a furry baby cedar tree that will be perfect for our Advent tree. So, after we come back to the house for a saw, we troop out to the woods again and cut it down and bring it into the house to our buffet table in the dining room.

We set the miniature tree in some water and my oldest asks me if we can all watch Nativity Story together. I sense her pure heart in her desire and I want a heart like that,

a heart that wants to behold Christ’s birth, to slow down and really see. But I am too busy with laundry, cooking supper, baths and making Advent ornaments to make it happen.

One evening when Mr. Simmons is at home after working a lot of overtime for a few weeks and being away, she asks again because I have promised we will sit down and watch. We all do baths, put pajamas on and eat supper and then we light our candle on the advent wreath and do our devotion.

We are way behind because we have forgotten to do Advent everyday and the babies are whiny and don’t want to sit still and my pre-teen crosses her arms in defiance.

I try to be patient and I read in low tones so they will listen and somehow, with an extra dose of grace, we make it through.

Then we finally sit down all together to watch the movie that depicts the Savior’s coming. Immanuel- God with us, a baby come to save the world.

When the baby is born and Joseph holds Jesus up in the glorious light–the Star of Sharon–streaming down on them as if from Heaven, something that is not from this world swells in my heart and the hot tears boil over.

When the first Magi places the gold in front of the baby and says, “Gold for the king of all kings,” I think of this majestic king, only a babe sleeping in a feed trough for animals.

Then the second Magi steps up and whispers, “Frankincense for the priest of all priests.” and the tears threaten again as my head fills with the image of this High Priest who will rip the veil into for me, who will go before the Father and will intercede on my behalf and will make clean all my filthiness.

Lastly, the third Magi comes forward–the one who had trouble believing in the Messiah–and he lays the gift of Myrrh on the ground where Mary is holding the baby. “Myrrh to honor thy sacrifice,” he reverently speaks it, his face betraying his obvious awe and faith.

But this is really what hits me: when the lonely shepherd leans over to see and touch the baby, the Christ-child, the gift–he pulls back in hesitation and Mary tells him softly,

“He is for all mankind,” and hands the baby Jesus over to his empty arms.

Now the damn breaks, my throat burns and the well of emotion rolls hot down my cheek.

I look over at Husband and see his eyes moist, and I glance at my oldest daughter, her eyes transfixed on the screen.

She is just taking all this in.

Simply beholding.

Yes, I want a heart like that–one that simply beholds, simply looks to Christ with the awe and faith of a child.

And I think–though I feel that I have failed at Advent and we haven’t been committed to the devotions every night and we forgot to hang the ornaments every day, didn’t plan a trip to a soup kitchen to ladle out food to the poor–

still, I think how far we have come and maybe, just maybe our Advent isn’t a failing one after all.

Because I want a child-heart that seeks Him, born this happy Christmas morning! Isn’t that the whole point of it really?

The point isn’t for us to do it perfectly, because we never will attain that. But it is a successful Advent if in our waiting and beholding, in our quiet devotion times and in our loud, boisterous, kids-running-around-the-house-breaking-things times–if in all of this we really *see* Him.

Come and let us behold Him like little children. Let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Join me at Ann’s for more thoughts on Advent and preparing for Christmas?

One thought on “When Advent Doesn’t Go As Planned {31 Days to Holistic, Christ Centered Living Day #12}”

  1. Nacole, I read your e-mail before Christmas – and I wish I had read this before Christmas, too – because there are moments, I, too, felt like I had failed. I did a Jesse Branch. We started late and so some nights, we read four scriptures. And sometimes, the boys would dissemble and not respond with seriousness – but I think it was a seed planting time, reading, learning. We didn't watch The Nativity – I so wished we had – the boys are at an age now where it's like pulling mules to things like these. They want to go there on their own but aren't always disciplined about it.

    Neither of us gave up – we took our children down the path the best we could – and I'm sure you're planning next year to do it more gracefully – but I think God knows the heart of our gift, of trying to instill in our children the true heart of the Christmas season – and I think He would grieve if we beat ourselves up. He knows the challenges we each face. He knows the exact level of our energy. And, He knows the desire of our hearts!

    Your story reminded me so much of mine – I need to be more graceful in handling dissembling sons:) I will prepare to better handle that next year.

    Wishing you beautiful blessing and joy in the New Year, dear friend!


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