Keeping focus on the season with new Advent traditions

AdventIn years past, we have attended church regularly during Advent but never celebrated or carried the Advent candle tradition on at home. This year my home church, Grace Community Church, held a women’s event last month called “Prepare the Way” during which we worshipped, listened to encouragement about centering our hearts on Jesus during this time, made an Advent centerpiece to use at home, and received a copy of “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. I believe this was His “gentle” nudge that this was the year to start some new traditions.

We have a week under our belt, singing, reading, praying, lighting the candle together. Standing singing in our kitchen felt a little awkward at first, but we quickly got past that. It was an emotional experience for me, mostly because I began to really think why haven’t we been doing this all along….. This Sunday we will light the second candle.

In addition, my quiet time every day involves working through each day of “The Greatest Gift” and building my Jesse Tree. Each day there are words that jump off that page to me, and I am reminded so much of the things that really matter.  It’s arranged as a devotional, with a reading, questions and maybe a small activity along with adding to your Jesse tree for each day during Advent. If this interests you, check out Ann’s page at

As moms, we feel like the burden of the holiday falls on us, the cooking, the shopping, events, pictures….the list goes on. The rest of our families will follow our lead, the tone we set for these next few weeks. Society has made this confusing for our kids, and for us. There’s so many commercial distractions, so much Santa. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying eliminate all of that….but shift the emphasis. The more we keep the focus on the true reason we celebrate, the more the real gift becomes unwrapped. Adding in a tradition like the Advent readings and wreath, or you spending some time alone in a devotional, help you keep that focus in sight. Some of you reading this may agree, some of you may not understand, and some of you may not know the story of this baby Jesus born on Christmas, and that’s ok. All I hope that when you read this you will take one step further from where you are right now in understanding exactly why there’s something bigger to celebrate at Christmas. -m


Time….would you slow down, because my GIRL IS ALMOST NINE!


This weekend (Sunday, actually) marks Dani’s ninth birthday. Are you kidding me? Last of the single digit years. It can’t be. But it is!

I lost my own mother back in 1997. Dani would have captured her heart just as she has mine. Now I can understand every emotion I saw my mom go through when I neglected to do what I was supposed to or didn’t come home when I was expected. All out of love. When I first became a parent to this little girl, I couldn’t even dream of the love I have for her. Life changing. She is absolutely the best thing I have ever done with my life. When her dad removed himself from first my life, and then hers, I couldn’t imagine what I was going to do. Many days I questioned, but then I saw her. It wasn’t about living for just me anymore. In the darkest times, she is why I keep going. More than anything she needs to learn that life will knock you down, but you keep standing back up. Keep trusting God. Keep praying.

This kid. More personality packed into one place than should be allowed. Enthusiastic, generous (well except with ice cream), compassionate, and intense. Makes you laugh even when you don’t want to. This year has been a big one for her…. baptized, elected to student council, taking her first year of ballet. I seriously cannot wait to see how God uses her and what is coming next.

Dani, I am so proud of you. I love you very much and we are going to have such a great weekend celebrating you! -m