I mentioned early on that I am doing these Advent readings with my friends from my home MOPS group at Celebration Community Church in Denver. A group of us committed to reading a tiny bit of Scripture every day leading up to Christmas to keep our hearts close to the miracle that marks this holiday. We are reflecting on them in our closed Facebook group, but I’ve asked some of them to contribute their thoughts in the next few weeks here in my public spot. Here is my first (ever) guest writer, Annie Rim reflecting on today’s reading from Romans 15:4-13 as we begin the second week of Advent on the theme of preparation. If you’d like to read along with us we are following the Advent readings posted on catholic.org. And Annie blogs regularly at
At our house, we are preparing for Christmas. The outside lights are up (though not yet plugged in); tinsel and dollar-store ornaments decorate our two baby blue spruce in front. Our tree this year looks a bit different - ornaments hang from the top third, out of the reach of small, curious hands. In some ways, only decorating the top part of the tree is perfect. When we first got married, we decided to buy a souvenir ornament from each of our travels. We have the Liberty Bell, a thistle-snowflake representing the West Highland Way, a moose from Yellowstone, the Golden Gate Bridge, a carved nut from Botswana. Because we aren’t covering the entire tree, these ornaments are enough. Little did we realize that we had been preparing for this day: A day when, in adding to our family, we needed to decrease the decorations on our tree. I love that we can focus on our family adventures when looking at this tree.
Some days, I get bogged down in the life I had before becoming a mother. I traveled; we traveled; we had adventures. Last year’s ornament is a picture of infant-Bea printed on a snowflake. We didn’t travel anywhere because we had a newborn. It’s easy to look back on my pre-mothering life and wish for those adventures. Yet, in this day-to-day of reading, diapers, messes, and legos, I need to recognize the great adventure of helping to shape a small human. The words of Romans 15:13 ring true: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Joy - Peace - Confident Hope. These are all daily feelings of motherhood. The joy of Bea running to our tree, yelling, “Lights! Tree!” each morning. The peace of naptime, of snuggles, of nose-kisses and hugs. The confident hope that even on my worst days, I am raising a daughter who knows without a doubt that she is loved.
I think of Mary, moving from waiting to preparation on her journey to motherhood. After the initial shock of pregnancy, before the journey to Bethlehem, how did she prepare? The feelings of motherhood are timeless - I am positive she felt the joy, peace, and confident hope that comes with being a mother. This second week of Advent, we move from waiting to preparation. The anticipation of the coming of Jesus is still here, but we shift from stillness to active waiting.
How are you preparing for Christmas; for the coming of Christ?
Today’s reading Jeremiah 33:14-16
It’s all about promises kept.
Promises that took a long time to fulfill. But eventually kept.
I listened to the Doc McStuffins Christmas special as I made dinner this week. Girls curled up in front of the TV, totally happy to be listening to a conversation between the beloved girl who plays doctor to her stuffed animals and Santa Claus.
Santa told her what a good job she did taking care of her toys. How he was happy she cared for them when he was at the North Pole. I chopped potatoes and approved of the lesson I was overhearing. We are to take the responsibility of caring for each other seriously. I got lost in my thoughts about cartoons and lessons until Santa said something that pulled me back, “I make sure Christmas morning is perfect for every girl and boy.”
Hmm. Perfection? Is that the promise my girls are buying into? Is that what they think Christmas is for? That moment of joy of running into the living room to find that perfect gift? My cynical self took over at that point. Really, Santa? It asked. Then what? What happens when that moment is over? What do you promise then?
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
John 1:6-9 (The Message)
I now understand why so many parents have named their child John.
Simply put: I want to raise children who show the way to the light. Who “show everyone where to look”.
What points me to the Life-Light today?
My children’s smiles (cliché but true). Made in God’s image, he is no more clear than there.
The geese still flying south, made to instinctively know it’s time to move and where to move to.
Couples who marry young and years later find each other attractive with receding hair lines and age spots and extra pounds. Nothing points to purer love that soul-to-soul attraction.
And the evergreen wreath with the Advent candles. Chosen because it speaks of God’s unchanging nature, that evergreen that does not change with the seasons.
What points out the way to the Life-Light for you today?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.
Writers love this first verse. Because we love words. To think of God in terms of words, to think of words in terms of him, it is too mysterious and wonderful for our wordsmithing minds to understand. And we can’t ignore it. We must ponder it.
But what caught my eye today as I read was this last verse, the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.
When I first typed this verse out, my auto-correct must have changed “overcome” to “understand”, leaving me with “but the darkness has not understood it”.
I know what it is to not understand, to be confused. To hear words in a language that make sense to those who speak it, but have no meaning to me. I have studied and traveled and not understood plenty.
So it’s Day 2 of Advent already (and the day is more than half over) and I’m already feeling behind. That behind feeling is creating stress, which is EXACTLY what I’m wanting to avoid this Christmas season.
You see this year, I am NOT pregnant, I am NOT nursing a baby, I am NOT moving. All things I have done in recent years that have contributed to exhaustion and frustration that Christmas has brought with it a whole bunch of extras. And so I have felt this deep desire, need really, to prepare my heart for Christmas this year. To recognize and really celebrate the miracle that we are indeed recognizing, that God came as a baby so many hundreds of years ago, to reconcile the broken world with his heart of love.
And as part of this I wanted to write about Advent.
And I’m already behind.
I refuse to let writing about this miracle stress me out. So I’m doing my very best, (which might be somewhat pathetic) to write as many days as I can during Advent about my readings and my reflections. Not as another item on my to-do list to cause me stress, but as a way to NOT FORGET what this craziness is all about.
She asked me today about the airplanes, the ones that crashed into the buildings. I knew what she was talking about. Those twin towers that I never paid any attention to until they weren’t there anymore. They came down before I knew she would ever be real, before her big sister was even in my tummy.
I told her that.
“It was a long time ago”
“We have security now. You know when you need to take off your shoes.”
“You don’t need to worry about that.”
I looked at her in the rear view mirror. An eight-year old going on twenty-two, home sick from school for the day. And I wondered how it could have been twelve years ago, that day that was etched on my heart. Where fear took over and squeezed it and I forced myself to push through. We all did.
And I told myself I will have a moment like this twelve years from now, where I’ll wonder how she grew up so fast. How my heart was squeezed from fear that she might leave and never come back. I pray I will push through. That we all will. And that I’ll pay attention to her before she’s not there anymore.
And that I’ll let her fly.
For five minutes on Fridays (or really late Thursday evening depending on your time zone), writers gather to write for five minutes, no editing and post. I am joining the group led by my friend Lisa-Jo Baker this week and the word is Fly. This was my five minute offering.