He Was There

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I thought since I had shared all my goals and desires for the Advent and Christmas seasons that I should also share my struggle and the unexpected joy in retrospect, even though we’re well into a new year now.

It was Christmas Eve.  I was fighting an inner battle.  Fighting the sad feeling of what felt like loss in the two weeks prior.  Like so many, we had been sick with the flu and croup.

As I blogged about earlier, I had high hopes, a vision for the Advent season.  But my memory of many days during the Advent season— even now—was resting, laying cold cloths on my children’s heads, emptying bottles of essential oils in our diffuser, filling humidifiers, washing germ filled bedding and on the list goes. It can feel like lost time, lost memories, or even lost meaning.

I have a choice— even now— to see those weeks as lost or to ask, “Was God there? What was He doing?”

He was there.

He was there when I woke early to the glorious pink and purple sunrise after a restless night of little sleep. Oh how that moment spoke to me of his love, beauty, and care for me.

He was there as I lay awake at night with my two year old cuddled by my side listening to her barking cough and praying she would breathe steadily through the night.

He was there when I lay in bed with my two younger ones for days when we didn’t have the energy to stir.

He was there when we dragged our sluggish bodies to the table for a short evening of catching up on Advent readings.

And in the midst of it all, however lovely or unlovely I felt, I was reminded of His unfailing love.  In the midst of our weakness and sickness, our frailty and brokenness, He came…to rescue, to redeem, and to bring new life.

Did I see it then?  Not always. Often, I felt the sadness of not being able to fully engage. But as I ponder now, I see how how the whole family came to one another to serve, to love, and to sacrifice. We slowed down and looked in each others eyes, and asked, “How can I help you today?”  My sweet husband— spared our sickness— was always there in an instant to bring us soup or get up in the night to the aid of a crying child.

Just before Christmas, I had a tearful moment of feeling depleted and despairing about what felt like a loss of a meaningful Advent season.  As my husband gently embraced me, his thoughtful words stilled my anxious heart.  Glenn whispered, “You know, I wonder how Joseph and Mary felt on that night their blessed child was born?”  The first Christmas, after all, wasn’t a perfect scene.  And yet, there was peace.  He had come.

More important than my hope or desires for the Advent season is the radiant truth that Jesus came.  And he comes to us still, in our chaos and disappointment, in our sadness and sickness.

And I’m so grateful he does, in Advent, in Christmas, and beyond.

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My Favorite Advent and Christmas Books

christmas-booksAdvent is upon us.  It’s been a joy to see our 9 and 8 year old engage this season more than ever before.  We’ve been waiting for years to see glimpses of their understanding surround the idea of waiting and hoping.  The girls are running with the idea of giving to others this season.  Our second daughter, Norah, who lives and breathes art, created an Advent basket.  It is beautifully lined with ribbon and various cards waiting to be written on and handed out to neighbors and friends.  And Sophia, our story girl, has been asking, “When are we going to read the story about St. Nicholas?”

Over the years, a handful of Christmas books have become family favorites. And we continue to add more! I’ve just about maxed out my number of books on loan from the library. The good news for you is I’ve made some lists!

SO….Cozy up with your family on the couch, grab your hot cocoa, build a fire, and pick a book or two from this delightful list.  Enjoy the season!

Advent and Christmas Read Alouds

Family Favorites

Other Christmas-themed books……

  • Gift of the Magi by O Henry
  • The Polar Express by Chris Can Allsburg
  • Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray
  • The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter
  • The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
  • A Christmas Like Helen’s by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Coloring books

  • Christmas Around the World by Joan O’Brien (Dover)
  • Old-Time Christmas Village Sticker Advent Calendar (Dover Sticker Books)
  • Nativity Stained Glass Coloring Book (Holiday Stained Glass Coloring Book) (Vol i)
  • My Book of Little House Christmas Paper Dolls: Christmas on the Prairie
  • Nutcracker Ballet Paper Dolls with Glitter! (Dover Paper Dolls)

Advent and Christmas Devotional Books

What about you? What are some of your favorite Advent and Christmas books?