Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thrill of Hope | A Family Advent

Boughs of greenery carefully laced, strategically stapled, to a 4 foot wide circle of wood; an
Advent wreath. I remember going out to the carriage house with my dad and four younger siblings,
dressed in coveralls, clinging to mugs of hot cocoa, as we brushed off the chill and began our
work on a yearly tradition.

We argued over the hum of the heater, the flicker of fluorescent light, about whose turn
it was to hold the stapler, the hot glue gun. "More branches over here!" "Leave room for
the candles!"
Working with our hands to create a symbol of hope, of promise - one we would
gather around for the weeks leading up to Christmas as we pray, wait. It was magic.
The stuff that starry sky over Bethlehem was made of.

It was always hung in the center of our family room. A massive display, gesture of remembrance,
that our world was once dark, but was made bright by a tiny babe born that first Christmas night.
As children, we would lay on the floor and look up through the center; noticing with each
passing evening of prayer, the room was getting brighter. He's coming - nearer, closer.
Anticipation. I remember the wreath would slowly begin to spin as more candles were lit -
casting the most beautiful star-shaped shadow on the ceiling, the walls.
Etching illuminated memories on our hearts.

This is what Advent is for. A time of waiting, preparation of our hearts and homes to
welcome again and again and again, year after year, the coming of the Savior. The mystery
of it all is endless; the wonder incapable of being contained. And we gather around the
green, light candles, purples and pink, unfold the readings for the Jesse Tree, devour the
goodness of the history of salvation, and once again we grasp at the beauty of Christmas.
Deeper this time. Take me deeper this time.

"Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which

is so necessary to man. Advent's intention is to awake the most profound and basic

emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became child.

This is a healing memory; it brings HOPE."
- Pope Benedict XVI


Here's a peek into what our family is up to this Advent season.
Sunday, November 30th, 2014 - it all begins!!!

Advent Wreath //

It doesn't have to be fancy. Simple greens + 4 candles to light as each week passes.
You light the first candle on the first Sunday of Advent, then light two candles on the
second week - so on and so forth. The pink candle is for the third week - GAUDETE SUNDAY!
Joy Sunday. A different color - a color of JOY - Christmas is getting closer!

We light the appointed candle(s) each night for family prayer time.

Jesse Tree // Bible readings + free printable ornaments

I keep the ornaments and reading prompts tucked inside envelopes for the kids to open.
Reading through the history of salvation, the cast of characters, the golden thread of
connection - never grows old for me or my family.

Nathan and I are also going to be doing the daily reading from Ann Voskamp's new book,
The Greatest Gift. She has amazing words to share each day that go along with the Jesse Tree.

4 Weeks of Waiting //

Growing up we didn't listen to Christmas music or put up our tree until after Mass
ON Christmas Eve. The build-up to that moment was so exciting, thrilling for us!
Since my own kids are still so little, and the idea of putting up a tree right before
Christmas is not exactly realistic for us -- we have been spacing out the celebration
for the past couple of years:

1st Sunday of Advent: Make Advent Wreath

2nd Sunday of Advent: Set out, arrange, discuss the Nativity scene

3rd Sunday of Advent: Buy and decorate a real Christmas tree

4th Sunday of Advent: Hang stockings and wrap presents


Wishing you all a blessed and holy season of anticipation - of Advent!

Would love to hear ideas on how you bring this part
of the liturgical year to life in YOUR home!

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned."
- Isaiah 9:2

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  1. Whoops! I guess I couldn't figure out how to edit and update my comment. What I was trying to say was, Brittany...

    My husband and I are celebrating Advent for the first time in our home. I felt lead by the Lord in my heart to do it this year. Neither of our families have ever made Advent wreathes and celebrated behind their homely walls. It's amazing what He is doing in our marriage and home. We don't have any children yet, so all of the children-oriented ways for celebrating Advent is on hold until we do. We went out to Michaels and Hobby Lobby to pick out garlands and goodies for our Advent wreath. It was also on my heart to read a devotional for this season, so we'll be going through 40 meditations that will extend beyond Christmas (obviously) from a book called "Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel's Messiah" by Handel, Foreword by Albert L. Blackwell. We will be seeing Handel's Messiah in concert as well to enrich this entire Advent season experience. I know this will bring our hearts closer to Jesus individually and brings us together in our marriage. We are both excited! Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We sure did. :-)

    1. BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing this, Megan!!! Sounds like you and your husband are going to have a blessed and fruitful Advent!!! YES - closer to Jesus individually and together-- I love that about marriage. Seeking the Kingdom hand-in-hand while still being "son" and "daughter" <3 Ahh all your ideas are so cozy, holy, inspiring!!! Be blessed!!! XO


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