“This is the order of grace. The personal blessings envelop you first. Then you are the blessing sent to the world. You will be experienced as a blessing – to the extent you have first experienced yourself as blessed. You must feel the fullness of your own pitcher before you trust the pouring out of yourself.” (The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp, p. 40)
I never expected my admission that I’m not doing Advent this year would strike a cord with so many other hearts. Thank you, friends, for your encouragement and feedback. I’m glad I’m not the only mom who feels the need to say “no” to good and worthy things during holidays and holy days sometimes.
The Lord has been repeatedly convicting my heart of the need to put myself first in the order of spiritual nourishment this Advent season. Us mamas – we can’t cultivate and grow the souls of the little ones entrusted to us if we are dry and empty vessels. We teach out of the overflowing of grace within our own hearts. Which means we need to prioritize those opportunities for grace in our lives – high on our list of priorities.
This Advent I’m using the times I nurse my infant each day to fill my heart with Him. I’ve stationed a couple books in the different places I nurse my baby… on the end table in our family room. In the nursery beside the rocking chair. Just a few minutes a day, but that’s okay. It’s a start. And it’s helping.
It’s my invitation to let God do Advent in me this year.
Here’s what I’m doing for Advent – for me:
1. The Book of Revelation
Soaking in the Word Himself. This December I’ve committed to reading through the Book of Revelation. These 22 chapters prepare us for His triumphal return at the Second Coming, which is what Advent is all about anyway. My favorite reminder so far is Revelation 3: the Lord’s chilling words to the lukewarm Church of Laodicea.
2. Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, by Sherry A. Weddell
My father gave the Hubs and I a copy of this book as a gift on Garrett’s baptism day. When Dad gifts a book to one of his children, it’s practically guaranteed to be good. The topic couldn’t be closer to my heart now that I have little ones. I can’t wait to soak this one in!
3. The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, by Ann Voskamp
Best selling Protestant author Ann Voskamp has a very unusual writing style – she’s practically a poet with her grace-filled words, and she speaks Jesus to my heart on each and every page she pens. The Greatest Gift is 25-day journey through Advent using the Jesse Tree. It’s beautiful, and each day’s reflection can be read in less than 5 minutes. Perfect for my busy life! I’ve only ready up to Day 6, but so far I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
4. The Magnificat
The monthly publication Magnificat is a SAHM lifesaver in my life. It’s the daily liturgy of the hours and daily Mass readings. I almost never make it through the evening prayer section, but I try to do the morning prayer and Mass reading every day. It’s big in my life – I’m so grateful for this resource!
5. A hot cup of tea in a Christmas mug.
This isn’t something I’m reading, but it’s what I do when I read! When us mamas try to find a few minutes of spiritual richness and peace in Jesus, it’s often hard to quiet our hearts in the midst of our family circuses.
We’re not just spiritual beings – our bodies, minds, and souls are intricately connected. And each of us has something that comforts and quiets our hearts. For me, it’s a hot cup of tea in a mug my Mom gave me. For you, it might be soft music, coffee, wine, dim light, a lit candle. Whatever it is, it helps us find peace and fill up.
…So that we can then pour profusely upon our children and families from the grace He has so generously given us.