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Advent for Grown-Ups

2010 December 13
by Pamela

 As I wrote in a previous post, I put quite a bit of prayer and effort into our girl’s advent calendar, working hard to make sure they were grounded in why we celebrate Christmas.   I prayed that they wouldn’t get caught up in the materialism and that they would really get it.

Unfortunately I didn’t put any effort into preparing my own heart. 

This sad fact dawned on me the way a brick might land on your head.  So I scurried around the last couple of weeks, looking for resources for myself to read.

In year’s past I wouldn’t have even come to this conclusion because we were just another family spending money we didn’t have, but thankfully our credit card company did.  We bought too much, ran around too much, spent too much, and hardly thought about why we were doing what we did.  If we felt guilty we would put an extra few bucks in one of those red buckets as we hurried past a bell ringer to buy more stuff.

Then I lost my job.

Then we met a really wonderful family who was about to be evicted from their house due to circumstances completely outside their control.

Then Bob’s family started drawing names for gifts rather than buying presents for all the nieces and nephews, which significantly cut down on our Christmas expenses and need to shop.

Then Bob got really fed up with me running around stressed out all December and said he didn’t even want to celebrate Christmas anymore. 

Then we were introduced to Dave Ramsey through the Harpers and realized we didn’t have to go into debt to get into the holiday spirit.

Finally, I watched this one minute video on Advent Conspiracy and was jolted awake.

We didn’t have to live like this anymore  Christmas didn’t have to be stressful.  If it was stressful it was a sign, a wake up call, that we weren’t focused on Him. 

And so we started living more quietly and deliberately with our spending and time. 

For me, the pace of my life is usually in direct correlation to my time with God.  When I am busy and stressed out, I’m not reading or praying, not able to hear Him.  And so I put myself back on the list.

These are some resources I’m either using or flagging for next year and wanted to share with you as well.

Christmas Change is a website designed to help us focus on what Christmas is about.  I am reading the blogs daily.

Ann at A Holy Experience is one of my favorite bloggers.  She absolutely loves God and her words are so rich with him.  This post kicked it off for me and I am making a point of reading her daily this month.

If you are struggling like me and want to do one thing to focus on His voice instead of the buzzing commercials and chattering, I would try to start reading Ann’s blog

I am praying before and after reading the Christmas story to our girls, praying that it would come alive in their life AND MINE.

Tonia, another one of my very favorite bloggers, linked to her new church.  When I clicked on it to read more I found this free Advent Family Guide that I can’t wait to look at more.

Going back to Ann’s blog, when she says you should buy a book, you should really buy it.  Here is one she is recommending for Advent and I will definitely be purchasing it for next year.

Mark Buchanan’s Spiritual Rhythm

So I guess you can tell from all these links that reading is a compass for me.  But slowing down my life is the only way for me to make sense of the compass. 

The things that have made a difference to me have been:

1.  consuming less – going to less parties, spending less money, eating less cookies, avoiding a lot of media – lessening consumption in all forms.

2.  giving more – more money namely, but also more of our other resources like time.  God has brought a special circumstance or family into our lives every year that we have gotten to help.  A couple of years ago Bob decided we were going to give away the same amount of money that we spent on ourselves.  I wish I could tell you all the cool ways this money has come to be disbursed. 

3.  deliberate focus – I can talk all I want about not wanting our girls to be swayed by the media, but I’m the one who was at Toys R Us at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving in the pouring rain while 7 months pregnant.  It’s like I need to constantly detoxify.

If you have a resource or thoughts about this season that have helped you focus on what Christmas is and is not, please share in the comments on this blog post. 

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Karin Bentley-Kozlo permalink
    December 14, 2010

    Thank you for this. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I find myself feeling like Bob at times this year…I no longer want to celebrate. However, I think these links will help me refocus. I tried to click the one minute advent but it wouldn’t work. I did read the Christmas Change link and that was helpful. I love the idea of giving more and consuming less. These are all things I need to reflect upon and put into action in my own life. Thank you and again and Merry Christmas!

    • Pamela permalink*
      December 15, 2010

      Hi Karin – Thanks for letting me know the link didn’t work. It’s fixed, I think. These changes have all been gradual in our lives, taking about three years, I guess. And I still struggle with it as you can see from my post. I think it’s so important to create the environment for change – for me that had to happen first. I admire people who can go at a crazy pace and still have a quiet time for reflection. That’s never worked for me though. :)

  2. Schatz permalink
    December 15, 2010

    I find that as time goes on, the gap between us and the media grows wider. We haven’t had cable for a long time. I like it that way. My youngest daughter smiled shyly at me the other day and asked if we could start wrapping gifts to put under the tree, “… if you’re giving us any this year.’ We stopped the insanity Christmases years ago. Sometimes they got only a gift from Santa- something nice, very hoped for, something I hoped they’d treasure. And we went on a family trip. This year, it’s Philly. This year, I’ve been particularly vulnerable to it. I did the black Friday thing. I purchased mostly clothes. But I still feel like I got too caught up in the materialism of Christmas. I’m looking forward to a quiet and loving holiday with my family. And we give all year long, as often and as much as we can. Of our time, our talents, our treasure. I love that I can connect with people who share our values and the hope of the season. Thank you.

    • Pamela permalink*
      December 15, 2010

      Hi Schatz! I LOVE the idea of a family trip! I read another blog ,Pleasantview Schoolhouse. and they do that very thing for each of their children. Instead of a big family trip they tailor weekends or overnights away which each individual child based on his or her interests. It is so much more meaningful and will be remembered long after the toys are broken or discarded. I love the idea of not having cable too! The station our girl’s watch doesn’t have commercials and it’s really helpful in that regard. But just recently they’ve started watching another station and I am shocked at how sucked in they get to the advertising. Thank you for commenting and sharing your ideas.

  3. Tim permalink
    December 16, 2010

    Hey Pam,
    You might want to pick up the book “Skipping Christmas”, it’s just a fun read, one of Susie’s favorites. The movie “Christmas with the Kranks” is loosely based on this book, so if your feeling lazy just watch the movie.
    Tim

  4. Clare permalink
    December 22, 2010

    Thanks for the ideas! I’m going to spend some time sifting through the links.

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