God’s Gifts and Our Dreams

God's Gifts and Our Dreams- www.nourishingsimplicity.org

“God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.”

As we find ourselves in the final days of Advent I really like this quote from Elizabeth Barret Browning.

A few days ago I was reading my Advent devotional, the author used the quote in reference to Zachariah and Elizabeth. Never could they have dreamed that God would use their years of bareness to give birth to the forerunner of Christ.

I’m sure their dreams were for a household of children and grandchildren, but God (those are two powerful words don’t you think?) had other plans. He chose them to be the parents of one special child, John the Baptist.

God had bigger dreams than they could possibly imagine. Zachariah’s response more than clearly shows that he could never have dreamed of such a great gift, that he didn’t understand even when an angel was there telling him!

God's Gifts and Our Dreams-www.nourishingsimplicity.org

I would be the first to admit that I have gone through seasons of feeling barren, thinking that God’s gifts and plans couldn’t possibly be better than what I had imagined.

Time after time he proves me wrong. It may take me a few months or even years to see that but in the end, I see that my dreams are nothing in compare to what God’s gifts are.

Even now I don’t always see it but I continually get a glimpse of what I wanted and what God gave in different seasons of life instead.

I’ll be honest, I’m struggling with it again, but God has gifts that he wants me to open that I can’t even begin to imagine. For me, the struggle is generally the desire to marry and have a family.

Being single at 30 isn’t easy but then I look at the faces of the girls he gave me to raise for 10 years and I remind myself that these gifts of mine were so worth it. I wouldn’t wish the chance to raise one of these girls away, how could I?

God's Gifts and Our Dreams-www.nourishingsimplicity.org

What dreams are you clinging to?

Is is marriage?

Is it the desire to finally hold a baby of your own in your arms?

A home of your own?

That promotion at work?

Don’t let go of those dreams, keep praying for them but hold them loosely beloved ladies.

God's Gifts and Our Dreams-www.nourishingsimplicity.org

The wait is excruciating and heartwrenching at times. It is so hard when we don’t see the bigger picture; when we don’t have God’s lenses to look through.

It is okay to grieve but don’t let it eclipse what God is doing. Take time in the here and now to embrace the life he is giving you to live now, even when it doesn’t make sense. God’s gifts and our dreams may not be the same, but those gifts will be worth it!

God's Gifts and Our Dreams-www.nourishingsimplicity.org

What devotional am I uses right now? Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift“.

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6 Simple Ways to Create an Intentional Advent

 

6 Simple Ways to Create an Intentional Advent-www.nourishingsimplicity.org

Thanksgiving has passed and the Advent season has begun. It is a season of waiting, preparing, and anticipation.

Advent is one of my favourite times of year a we celebrate the coming of our Savoir. We spend the short days of winter in the dark anticipating the coming light of Jesus. We are reminded of the darkness of our sin and the light that salvation brings.

Advent seems to be a lost tradition on many who grew up in non-liturgical churches. Though I did not grow up in a liturgical church it has been a tradition carried on from my maternal grandparents passed onto my mom, and now myself.

Intentional celebration does not mean adding all you can to your month. Often it means simplifying and cutting back. Over the years, I have found 6 simple ways to create an intentional Advent that I would like to share with you.

1. Light an Advent Wreath

Advent wreaths are simple, yet meaningful addition to our celebration. For many families it lighting the candles each Sunday. Others, myself included light the week’s candle each night. A popular theme is hope, love, joy and peace.

I attempted to color my own soy wax candles with crayons. You can see my “failure” on Instagram. Next year I may buy these bee’s wax candles, or even buy a DYI kit to roll my own.

2. Go Light on the Decorations

Have grace on yourself, your house does not be decorated from head to toe. Choose decorations that reflect the spirit you want to show. In all honesty for years I was not able to have a tree most years so my Advent wreath and nativity were the focus of my decorations.

3. Read an Advent Devotional

There are so many wonderful devotionals that focus on the why of celebrating.

For years, my girls in Mexico and I read through Ann Voskamp’s “Jesse Tree” devotional. She converted it into a beautiful full cover hardback called, “Unwraping the Greatest Gift“. Every day we added a new ornament to our tiny tree and read a devotion that wove the story of salvation from Creation to Jesus’ birth. You can make your own “Jesse Tree”  and ornaments like we did.

This year I am going through two. I have one on my Kindle, “Unwrapping the Names of Jesus” by Asheritah Ciuciu from One Thing Alone. (Right now she has an Advent Bundle Giveaway going on!) What better way to prepare our hearts for Christmas than focusing on who Jesus is and why each name is a part of who he is?

My second devotional is Ann Voskamp’s, “The Greatest Gift”. I’ve had to keep myself from diving into it too soon!

6 Simple Ways to Create an Intentional Advent-www.nourishingsimplicity.org

4. Carefully Choose What Events to Attend

As it gets closer to Christmas the invites and activities we can participate in pile up. Trying to go to every.single.one can get weary and take away from family time. Just because it’s a good thing does not mean we have to do it. Give yourself a break a pick just a few. It makes the season more relaxed and allows you to more fully enjoy the things you do participate in.

5. Create an Advent Play List

I love listening to Christmas music, I am definitely guilty of listening to some of it year round. (Jesus wasn’t born this time of year so why not listen to it in the spring?) As much as I enjoy Bing Crosby and bit of Jingle Bells I have come to crave the songs that focus on Jesus himself.

This year I have been working on an “Advent Playlist”. I am looking forward to celebrating Advent with songs of waiting and anticipation. Songs that remind us that we were once in darkness and now are in the light because of Jesus. (Maybe if I’m on top of my game I can put it up on Spotify in a few days for you.)

I am planning on saving more of the music focused on Christ’s birth for closer to Christmas, that way I can enjoy it through Epiphany as well. I enjoy celebrating all 12 day of Christmas and ending with a Rosca de Reys (Mexican 3 Kings Cake).

6. Keep an Advent Calander

Advent calendars are a fun way to count down the days till Christmas. Traditionally they go from December 1st through Christmas Day. The calendar I grew up with was a cloth one where a little bear moved from room to room in a house.

The calendar I created for my girls in Mexico was a long string with muslin bags attached. Each day had a different activity ranging from drinking hot cocoa to doing an act of kindness for someone.

 How do you create an intentional Advent?

Experiencing Lent- Savoring the LORD

a time for a cup of coffee

PhotoCredit:OiMax

 

Lent snuck up on me this year and caught me unaware. I almost brushed it off and decided to forget it.

I’ve gone through different seasons in life. As child my family never missed a year of giving up something for the Lenten season. I was surprised that my friends didn’t observe it as well. Most had never heard of it or considered it an archaic tradition.

The attitude of my heart has changed year by year. The young child  (almost) eagerly surrender my favorite treats. The preteen only participated half heartedly. The new adult struggled to find its place in my heart. This year I realized I need Lent.

There is a need set apart more time to contemplate my Savior and his redeeming work. Time to prepare for remembering his victory over death and bondage. This year mt soul craves to be reminded to slow down and enjoy him.

I’ve never been very good at fasting. I get sick and dizzy, my blood sugars get out of balance. As a mom of 12 I need to be functioning. This year I feel called to Lent. To give up, even if the sacrifice is only a simple one. The simple life I crave is kicking into full gear as spring approaches. Yet in the stillness of the early mornings or late nights I am carving out time for God and savoring him.

Open Bible - Resurrection Chapel - National Cathedral - DC

PhotoCredit:dctim1

This Lenten season I am forgoing coffee. In those quite moments at the start or close of the day I find myself brewing a cup to feel the warmth in my hands as I curl up and savor the moment. Instead I want to savor my LORD. So for the next forty some days the french press will once again be filled with healing herbal brews and the coffee beans will make their way to the freezer. Each time I think about making a cup it will remind me to think of my Savior.

As I drain the dregs of my last cup of coffee I look forward with anticipation to the morning. The time to set aside to bask in my Jesus, to lean on him and shower with him my endless love and thanks for his ultimate sacrifice, the spilling of his blood.

 

Do you observe Lent?