Getting my Heart Ready for Christmas

December is HERE.

There are a few things that mark the beginning of December each year:

1. Christmas music is playing.

2. Christmas-flavored everything.

3. THE BUSYNESS

The busyness. I’ve especially noticed it the past few years. December 26 comes around and I’m standing there thinking, “Wait how is Christmas already over?”

In college, I’ve been studying for finals or working on final projects right up to nearly the week before Christmas. Everyone knows what the busyness feels like– whether its parties or shopping or any end-of-year stuff, this is just a busy time of year! Some of it is not necessarily fun, like all-nighters on final projects ha, but some of it is really fun– like decorating the house and making cookies for friends.

I’v been preparing for so many things lately. I’ve been preparing for finals. I’ve been preparing my house by decorating. I’ve been preparing by doing my Christmas shopping. I’ve been preparing for traveling home to Louisiana and making those plans. I’ve been preparing for work things. Lots of preparing, lots of busyness…But I started to get this feeling…

I started to get this feeling that I needed to start preparing myself spiritually for Christmas. I think it was the Holy Spirit prompting me to start now in preparing my heart and preparing myself spiritually for what this time of year is truly celebrating- the first coming of Jesus to earth. To slow down and reflect on what this time was like so long ago with the coming of a savior and what that means in my own life. To slow down and simply reflect on Jesus.

Simultaneously I was hearing “advent.” Several friends on Instagram were talking about it and then at church. And I started to link the feelings I was having and this idea together- Advent. Maybe you’ve grown up celebrating advent and its nothing new to you! But I have never known what it was actually. We read the nativity story every Christmas morning growing up and went to all the Christmas church events, but I had never heard of advent other than an advent calendar, but really didn’t understand what that was. I brought it up the other day to John Luke and he agreed he’d been hearing it especially a lot this year. So I’d been hearing about it and finally read into it to see what it was all about.

I think John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy explains it so beautifully. Heres a few excerpts from the book to give you an idea…

“Advent is for adoring Jesus.”

“Its an annual season of patient waiting, hopeful expectation, soul searching and calendar watching marked by many churches, families, and individual followers of Jesus.”

“Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Easter and ends Christmas Eve.”

“This is our goal in these Advent devotionals. We want together to see and savor this Jesus whose first “advent” (coming) we celebrate, and whose second advent we anticipate. This is what Jesus prays for us this Christmas: “Father, show them my glory and give them the very delight in me that you have in me.” Oh, may we see Christ with the eyes of God and savor Christ with the heart of God. That is the essence of heaven. That is the gift Christ came to purchase for sinners at the cost of his death in our place.”

Those things summed up: It’s the period of time starting 4 Sunday before Christmas through Christmas Eve where we spend some time each day focusing on Jesus and adoring him.

So we are celebrating Advent this year and already I can say it’s brought a sweetness of being in awe of Jesus. We decided to start participating in it after it was already started so we are still catching up, but I totally would suggest jumping in because theres still nearly 3 weeks left before Christmas. It just started on Sunday so you really won’t be far behind!

So what are we doing?

I’ve been super interested in Advent so I have been reading about it when I can, and found 3 resources I am simultaneously doing.

1. Good News of Great Joy by John Piper

This is the one I already mentioned above. I have so enjoyed this one and even in the introduction found it so informative. This one you can download the ebook for FREE and read it in your Kindle app or Ibooks. My goal is to read this one by myself in the mornings during my quiet time.

.2. The Bible Project’s Advent plan on the Bible app or here.

This one is only 4 days long. I assume the idea behind there being 4 days is so it can be done the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas. That’s why I think it could be done with another! I love this one too because it’s quick but super informative and interesting. It’s going over some of the Hebrew words associated with Christmas.

3. The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

We ordered this one because I’ve had several friends raving about it and it just came in yesterday. This one you can buy the kindle version as well! I’m excited to read this one! John Luke and I are reading this one together out loud at night.

Something else our pastor recommended us all to read and reflect on is The Magnificat, Mary’s Song, in the Bible. Luke 1:46-55. This is where Mary is magnifying and worshipping the Lord. When our pastor recommended it I loved what he said with it, “Let’s wash our minds with truth that brings joy!”

 

We can’t put all of life’s requirements and things on hold and we may still be really busy, but we’re tying to slow down where we can and spend some time everyday intentionally focusing on Jesus leading up to the day we celebrate his birth. So this is what we’re doing this year and I am really excited and expectant to see God come in and make this season even sweeter for us as we direct more of our attention to His Son.

There are so many different ways to go about this and I would LOVE to hear if there is anything YOU do for Advent?!

just a disclaimer: most comfy sweater, but if you get this sweater, I suggest sizing down!! I’m wearing a small and wish I would’ve sized down!

 

 

 

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13 comments so far.

13 responses to “Getting my Heart Ready for Christmas”

  1. I love this ❤
    This is my first year married and in my own home, not going to my parents home for the holidays and I’m definitely trying to figure out how to start traditions and what that can look like practically.
    I as well am doing the John Piper Advent reading and am loving it.
    I am totally going to propose doing a study with my husband too. Thank you 😊

    • marykate says:

      I feel like this can be such a sweet and special time for you two to be able to establish what you want Christmas to look like! Excited to hear you’re doing to Piper one as well 🙂

  2. Emilee Berry says:

    Love this!!!!!! We use AnnVoscamps advent wreath that her son, Caleb, makes! It’s called “the cradle to the cross”. The two guides my hubby and I love are The Village Church and Austin Stone! I also love “God is in the Manger” by Dietrich Bonehoeffer!

    • marykate says:

      Ohhh this is all so good to hear! Going to look into all of those…especially interested in the one by Bonehoeffer! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Halle says:

    An Advent wreath! You light the first candle on the first Sunday of advent and then add a candle each Sunday up to Christmas! 🙂

  4. McKenna Esper says:

    Thank you so much for this! I also found you can download the PDF of the book, Good News of Great Joy.

  5. Casey says:

    Love this, Ive always celebrated advent out of tradition but your post helped me to view it with fresh eyes. Also, random question, I absolutely love your dining room table, where is it from?

  6. K says:

    I love this so much! We have been hearing advent a lot this year too. I think we are going to read through the greatest gift using the Scribd app since it’s free (with $8 monthly membership) on there! This is seriously such a great article! Thank you for sharing. You just motivated me to slow down this season!

    Ps I think you have a typo in the article. At one point you say advent starts four Sundays before Easter and ends Christmas Eve. This was so confusing until you reiterated later in the article it starts four Sundays before Christmas!

  7. Katie says:

    I absolutely LOVE the greatest gift! I did it last year, but I’m reading it again this year and still learning new things. Also, your garland looks so cute!

  8. Macey says:

    My church and my family have never really put an emphasis on celebrating Advent either, although as a family we do read from a Christmas Carol book that has entries for every night leading up to Christmas. I also decided to celebrate Advent on my own this year, and I’m reading that Advent plan on the Bible App as well! It’s been beautiful to start my day with special attention given to the true meaning of Christmas and reading about the many different aspects around the birth of our Saviour x

  9. Faith Ison says:

    Awe how special. Our family started celebrating advent a couple years ago. (we always had just read the Christmas from Luke 2 on Christmas mornings.) we listen to john pipers audio of the devotional each night, and it’s so nice! It helps me slow down and just rest in His presence.

  10. Alizée says:

    Well-watered women did an advent study this year ! Maybe it’s a bit late to order it, but you can check some of it on their Instagram 🙂

  11. Marissa says:

    I felt it was too late on your Instagram to tell you what my favorite Christmas movies are so I’ll do it on here. “It happened on 5th Avenue” black/white, “Christmas Card” Hallmark, and of course a “Wonderful life”. Hope you have a Merry Christmas.

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