If you try to change status quo, be prepared to find blessing, even when things get bungled. It’s in the messes that Christ blesses.
I didn’t plan on celebrating Advent with my four year old. It just didn’t occur to me. In my quiet time, I celebrate Advent as an inward preparation to bend in a spiritual posture to receive Christ.
I just did not envision doing anything so meditative in nature with my four year old TJ, around a flame or anytime past dinner. Usually, we are winding down the day and reading Bible stories quietly in bed, tucking in prayers along with the covers.
I figured we have plenty of traditions that point to celebrating Christ — Christmas singing, Christmas readings, and Christmas crafts, eating and baking. TJ is so Christmas’d, he literally evangelizes the meaning of the season on the preschool playground.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
The Reality of Simple
But, then I read Ann Voskamp’s post 3 Simple Practices for a Peaceful Advent. Her photos of Advent with her children were so beautiful, it made me want Advent for TJ. I read through her suggestions.
Hey, I can do this! Her ideas did sound simple. I would soon find out, in my case, how different simple turned out in reality.
While my younger son Baby CJ napped, I scrounged around for a make-shift Advent candle wreath. I matched a motley crew of candles with a plastic wreath, downloaded an online Advent devotional for kids, and got everything set.
Visions of a peaceful candlelit evening danced in my head.
TJ sure was excited to get word that he wasn’t going straight to bed after bath time. Jumping like a kid in a candy store, TJ couldn’t wait to have some cinnamon apple tea with Advent.
As Hubby and I explained that “Advent means ‘waiting'”, TJ spilled, slurped and giggled. We wiped, shushed and started over. Several times.
With ants in his PJ pants, TJ chomped at the bit to light the candle.
“Can I light the candle?” he’d interrupt, every other second.
“Yes, after we talk about what the candles mean.” Back to twitching and squirming.
When we shared the devotional story of Abraham and his nomadic life of waiting, I drew a tent and a camel.
TJ’s response? “Can we go camping, Mommy? … Is that a camel? … It looks like a horse.”
After a few spills and close calls of the candle getting shoved into the plastic wreath, I crumbled inside. There you go again, getting all sentimental with your lofty ideas..
I was tired from a long day gone rogue, regretting I ever tried to attempt such a feat as Advent with child. I hurried to finish up with prayer. I asked everyone to share one thing God gave us, that we had to wait for.
As if suddenly awaking, TJ blurted his answer first: “I thank God because I prayed for a baby blother.”
I sat up inside. I knew God was laughing at my stressed out nerves.
I underestimated the reality of God by my bias and human intellect.
Inspired by the Avent candle of Hope, we finished out our circle of prayer by offering our individual hope-requests.
TJ ended the night perfectly by asking with a yawn,
Dear God, I hope Christmas comes quickly. Don’t let it take so long, please. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
That night, I humbly learned by lighting candles with my four year old son, the true message of Christmas: Jesus brings hope, even in the presence of disbelief and doubt.
What other areas of my life am I leaving status quo, that God may want to make anew?
What are your hope-requests?
Let us offer up them up in joy and be ready to laugh in disbelief.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.” ~ God (Is. 42:9)
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.” ~ God (Is. 43:19)
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Very sweet, Bonnie. I love watching my young ones grow in their faith. It’s hard sometimes to make sure you’re doing the right things with them, but at other times, they teach me.
I’m still caught off guard by the blessing behind the mess.. and grateful that they’re there. I hope I get better at going with the flow. Otherwise, I’m not gonna make it. 😉
Oh the bounciness of a 4 year old boy – what fun! (for everyone, but the parents 🙂
Kudos to you for being flexible enough to see the joy/gift of the evening even if it didn’t go the way you originally planned.
With my bounciest son (slightly ADD) I learned that when his body was moving, his brain functioned best. I let him spin in circles/do somersaults/etc. when I read to him or told him stories.
Today at age 16, he’s still that way … always moving. I know he’ll do something big someday with all that energy – I just hope it’s good!
That is great encouragement — ’bout your 16 yr old. I hadn’t thought of letting him spin in circles/do somersaults while I read to him! You must be a laid back mama. I want to be more of that.
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Great post, Bonnie.
I used to buy an Advent calendar each year, the kind with windows that open out to reveal a tiny gift inside. I looked for the most unusual I could find, and I often recycled them, using my own imagination to refill the windows, until they wore out. My son used to love these calendars, because the surprise could be magical. One year’s calendar held tiny figures, with the window secreting the baby Jesus the last to be opened. That one was a wonderful way to tell and share a story.
I hope to find an Advent Calendar, too. I think I’m too late this year. I’ll keep an eye out earlier next year. I think my boys will definitely take to the secret surprises.. and I LOVE planting surprises!
The Reality of Simple… Children
Your gift will make room for you even when the Inn is full of disbelief and doubt Jesus brings hope.
Yes, I am thankful I get the dose of simple every day! 🙂
WONDERFUL, BEAUTIFUL!!! It reminded me so much of how our first advent devotion with candles ended up playing out. My boys were 3 & 5 when we started, they had ants in their pants at that time and they obviously still have a few ants dancing around in their seat even now at 5 & 7! =) Thank You for sharing!!!
Okay! Good to know those ants might be staying for a few years. 😉 … and it’s not just my Advent experience. LOL.
I love this because it’s so REAL! Thank you for your honesty – -for telling the story complete with frustrations and bungles. That’s life with small children — my kids AND my husband get the ants when I read the Advent prayer before lighting the candle!
LOL. I love it! I am so happy that these frustrations and bungles are a common exprience … and we are all going through life with small children with a desire to implant Advent, in the face of ants in pants. Where children aboundeth, grace aboundeth more, right?!
Beautiful thoughts. God can do so much when we offer him what we have, no matter how old those watching us are. I’m glad you made the decision to do Advent with a four-yr-old. It blesses all in the house to hear his insightful comments.
Thanks, Lisa. Yes, I am still doing it, now a little more wiser and the devotional is cut “down to size”. I also some cookies and sweet treats to sweeten the pot, so to speak. Yes, it is a blessing hearing unexpected flashes of a child’s wisdom.
Our Advent wreath, complete with homemade cookies and readings, was my favorite part of the Christmas season for years. But we didn’t start doing it until my youngest son was 8.
Blessings to you on your new adventure!
Thanks, Cassandra. Sounds like I can save the current vision I have of Advent for later years and make our candle lighting shorter to be sweeter for our 4 year old. 😉
It always amazes me… the words from the mouths of little ones… so true, so close to the heart, so full of joy! Thank you for sharing your advent experience!!
I’m so happy that my Advent experience is apparently everyone’s too. That’s an encouragement. “so true, so close to the heart, so full of joy!” I love that phrase. It’s true, their feelings and words come straight from the heart. And it’s pure joy undiluted when inspiration strikes (at the most blessed unexpected times).
I love all the times our FatherGod spoke through my children to me! I learned so much…and still am through my granddaugher. He is truly amazing!
What a blessing you have an ear to your granddaughter — God amazes me through the clarity they speak about God.
out of the mouths of babes:)
what a lovely meditation
Exactly. Thanks, Suzannah!
It’s good to be reminded that we are living out our faith in our bungling.
Thank God that is His way — through our bungling, I am always fearful when it happens, then He appears and I’m relieved.
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Sounds like our advent experience 🙂 Except add some extra kids, a lot more noise, shuffling, scratching, itching, an irritated Mom, more movement. That candle that has about as much life as a birthday candle with our two year old saying, “PRETTY!” as he huffs and puffs and snuffs the flame out.
But as we slow…as we ask questions and share what we hear in each story it’s amazing the things I’m learning. It’s amazing to hear the little ones share what they are learning. Building moments.
LOL! You sure are a patient mommy! … “Building moments” .. I like the sound of that. A little bit at a time.
The Lord ministers to us through children in ways no one else could.
So … since I’m unfamiliar with your family, what’s the ‘rest of the story’ on the baby blother. Because when my husband and I thought our family complete, our five-year-old asked for a brother and he got one.
Oh, it’s not a “rest of the story” like yours. 🙂 .. But, I do have an interesting tale to tell with baby number two. You’re too insightful.. LOL. Ha!