Advent Day 27: Snuggle Time

Advent drawing 12-25-15.jpeg

Snuggle Time
Researchers tell us that newborn babies need time laying on their parent’s chest: skin to skin. This helps the baby in their early development, balancing their body temperature, and even helping the mother’s milk to come in.  Even as the child grows this times continues to be important. One of my favorite memories as a young dad (and now a grandfather) is laying on the floor with a baby asleep on my chest. That warm feeling of a tiny person snuggling in close is an experience I treasure. I am sure that Jesus and Mary, and hopefully Joseph, spent many hours in “snuggle time.” We are told in Scripture that Mary wrapped Jesus clothes and laid him in a feeding box. I have a feeling though that Mary knew to hold Jesus close on her bare chest to help him adjust to cold of the stable. Mary treasured those moments.
My prayer for today is that I can take a few quiet moments in the midst of opening gifts, eating special foods, and drinking homemade eggnog, for some quality snuggle time with Jesus.

Today’s contribution is from Corbin Hillam. Corbin has been an illustrator for over 35 years. His drawings have appeared in over 200 books, mostly for children. He has been painting public murals since 2006. He works in both chalk and paint, indoors and outdoors. www.corbinhillamdesign.com

ButtonMerry Christmas! Thank you for joining us this season as we prayed through Advent together. I so appreciated all the voices who joined to make this series diverse and thought-provoking. All of the contributions are compiled here.

Advent Day 26: Thrill of Hope

This season, the Christmas hymn, O Holy Night has been stuck in my head. It’s not usually one of my favorites, but it seems to be the theme of this year’s Advent for me.

smoEsokanaqjiMpm_e1gHyZHR7abtKbTUDlB6f526IE
Image courtesy of Debby Hudson.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Lord, as we feel helpless and hopeless at unending horrors, give me ways to see, to hear, to help. Give my soul its worth as I reflect your light.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

I am thankful for those who show me small ways to do great acts of love. Who give me a glimpse of hope in the weariness. Who help me see a glorious dawn.

Truly he taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.

As we look toward the light of Epiphany and the hope of a newborn King, I pray we remember to keep a law of love and a gospel of peace. That our mission is to spread love and hope.
ButtonJoin us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.

Advent Day 25: Spirit of Waiting

In the spirit of waiting.

When I first graduated college I quickly got a job at an insurance company. It was good, steady work that adequately provided for me. But it was never my passion and I decided to return to school to pursue a degree in animation. To follow my dream of creating art.

After graduating, I worked on unpaid projects and in a coffee shops. And finally got work in my chosen industry making video games. Only a few months had passed and the I felt like my wait was over. My patience and hard work had been rewarded.

But it wasn’t a good fit and I had to start looking for my dream job again. And when that didn’t happen I looked for a job where I could be creative. Then I looked for any job that would take me.

I’ve been waiting for a long time. Waiting and praying for that glimmer of hope. Waiting for that moment where you know it’s finally over. Waiting to finally see the sun on the horizon and know that it’s finally here.

Until then I continue to wait.

During Advent, we wait for the birth of Jesus. Like those in the old testament; they knew the savior would be born and had to wait. Sometimes we wait like them. A waiting without knowing.

We pray for the patience to wait, and the wisdom to see his presences when he finally arrives. We wait in the excitement of things to come.

Today’s contribution comes from Bradford Hillam. Brad lives in San Francisco where he pursues his dream job and is known for an exceptionally good holiday eggnog. You can see a sample of his work at BradfordHillam.com.

ButtonJoin us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.

Advent Day 24: Gentle Waiting

What is Advent?

One online dictionary defines Advent: a coming into place, view, or being; arrival:

crxYWLjwqz1iXoiEJLIWdloP-DX25aX_k6fWbpiQVWY
Image courtesy of Debby Hudson.

I’ve often thought of it as a time of waiting. I love that.  “A coming into place”.

Our greatest plans and dreams don’t just appear. Some dreams are those things we merely wait for while others are born of hard work and planning.

For us, Christmastime comes every year. Our western culture seems to forget that the coming of the Messiah had been prophesied a few hundred years before. Those who believed had waited through generations for something that had not yet happened.

This year has become a year of waiting for my family.

A loss of position as well as a stepping away from our faith community has us wondering when the time to take our next step will arrive.

The Umpqua tragedy here in Roseburg has shaken the once secure feeling of our precious town. When will our sense of well-being return?

After 85 years of a beautiful life we are cherishing every lingering moment my daddy has left on earth.

Our lives feel so very heavy right now so we are holding on with every last bit of strength that remains.

I see Advent as a gentle waiting. An anticipation of those things we know are coming or have already come. We light the candles and pray for promises to arrive soon. Like a child whose nose is pressed to the cold window as the snow slowly blankets the ground. We count every moment as a snowflake and wonder when enough moments will be enough. We wonder when the waiting will be over.

Advent is a time for contemplation. We remember that Christ is our Emmanuel or “God with us”. He’s walking through the waiting with us.

He is our Prince of Peace. He fills our heavy moments with peace. A peace that brings strength beyond anything we can imagine.

He is our Counselor. When the prayer of our hearts stay quiet or even as they roll off of our tongues, He hears us.

My prayer this Advent season sounds something like this:

Our precious and most gracious Father, Remind us to walk in the peace you bring. May we encourage others with the joy that only you will pour into our lives. Our hope has already arrived, wrapped in humility and grace. He came through a woman who believed in you with every bit of her soul and she followed you wholly during the waiting.
Let the lighting of each candle remind us to lift a prayer of praise. As each flicker breaks through the dark winter night, bring us through our waiting with hearts of gratitude.
More than anything may we really know our Emmanuel is with us in the waiting.

Today’s contribution comes from Jemelene Wilson. Jemelene is a Jesus loving storyteller who married her FedEx man just a year shy of earning her spinster status. She is  Mom to her two daughters and Mama Jem to just about everyone else. In the past few years she has come to understand the true beauty of God’s grace. Jemelene.com is her own little corner of the web where she writes about faith, hope, love and food.
ButtonJoin us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.

Advent Day 23: Finding the Way

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you that these young women, these young men, chose life.  They chose to care and love for the child you put in their womb.  Thank you.  Help them raise children who are loved, who value people and justice.

I pray that they will find their way.  That they won’t give up.  So much in their lives works against them, help them keep going.  I pray they find friends and mentors and encouragers along the way.  They need wisdom.  May they reach their dreams, ones that You planted in their hearts.  May they start with daily choices, like going to school.  May they break the cycles in their families that lead to destruction, and start new cycles that lead to life. May they change the world and raise a generation who will change the world.

Thank you for schools and programs and the people that support teen parents.  May they flourish.  And may those teens who need this help, find it.  Bless the leaders, the teachers, the counselors, the health care workers, who do so much for these young people.  Give them strength, wisdom, and love for these young women and men.  May they be examples of Your love.

Finally, I pray they know a Savior was born.  For them.  I pray they know Jesus.  I pray they experience the miracle if this little baby born to us.  To give us life, hope, and joy!

Today’s contribution is from Erin Scheu. Erin teaches at New Legacy Charter School, a school committed to impacting two generations: teen moms and their babies. Today’s prayer was inspired by the women at New Legacy.

ButtonJoin us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.

Advent Day 22: Grace, Hope, & Peace

be1gra6VZgEk--JK5sG3Lc6IsJuTlNgapDO2_Gad_rM
Image courtesy of Debby Hudson.

To wait in anticipation, to eagerly await an arrival. Lord, the world waited in anticipation for your first arrival and waits again for you to come. Some days are filled with longing, some filled with despair at the waiting and still others are filled with hope. You gave us a blueprint of your character to practice with each other until you return.

Some days we do so well in living out your character and grace and others, oh my, we need so much more practice! Waiting can be so hard yet you’ve given us much to do with our time here. I want to show others the magnitude of your grace, hope and peace. As I pass your character on to those in my life, may they catch a glimpse of what is to come and wait with joy.

Today’s post is from an anonymous contributor.
ButtonJoin us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.

 

Advent Day 21: Surrender Ideals

8tiKapjeQIZUG5q0b8ldYE-UkcJY3VK06qZ3KLjzmZM.jpeg
Image courtesy of Debby Hudson.

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmade of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

As I read in the news about politics I agree with and disagree with – both in my own country and abroad – I surrender my ideals of a perfect nation; a perfect world. I trust that what I do in my own life – from how I spend my money to how I cast my vote to how I teach my children – will bring peace and justice to our world.

 

ButtonJoin us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.

Advent Day 20: Gift of Water

When Bea was tiny, she hated baths. And, being nervous new parents, we hated giving her baths. I think the longest we went was a bit more than two weeks. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to get her screaming and babies aren’t really that dirty, right?

Clean sisters
Clean sisters

Now, three years later, Bea adores baths. We’re not nightly bathers, but I do use the tub as a way to calm her down. This is especially helpful during tax season when Frank is working late. After we’ve exhausted our post-nap activities and right when I need to start getting dinner ready, I’ll fill up the tub and she’ll spend about 45 minutes playing and splashing around.

The other day, as I was getting a bath ready, I reflected on how fortunate I am to use baths as a distraction. Yes, we take our twice-weekly you’re filthy! baths, but in between, to fill a tub with water just so I can get dinner ready? What a privilege. So many families around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water, let alone water to play in.

Lord, I recognize my own privilege. As I fill my glass with purified, filtered, clean water, I remember the families who cannot turn on a tap for a drink. I remember children who die from waterborne diseases. I am thankful for those who work toward building wells and teaching sanitation and I pray that I never take for granted this gift that keeps me and my children healthy.

(Learn more about safe water and how you can help at www.water.org.)

 

ButtonJoin us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.

Advent Day 19: Tie Hearts Together

Life as a military family is different. We have certain fears we must work through when our loved ones are deployed. There’s uncertainty during the time of separation. Will he (she) come back alive? What will life look like when my better half is home again, ready to be re-woven into the fabric of our family?

Christmas military bootsMilitary families face obstacles the civilian population doesn’t always understand. Especially for those families who live far from extended family, holidays can be lonely days. Our children sometimes have a difficult time adjusting to one of their parents being gone. The security they’ve felt dissipates like the dust whipped up at the ascent of a jet. Kids have a way of acting out their insecurities—sometimes in volatile, hurtful ways.

And for the spouse who’s been deployed? Sometimes, there’s a tearing in the soul, feeling the need to be spouse and parent, yet needing to fulfill the calling of the job they’re tasked to carry out. The distance between family members taxes relationships and heart connections. Many military personnel chose their profession, but it’s still hard, sometimes, to ignore the feeling of being torn between honor to country and honor to family.

Lord, as military families walk through this Christmas season, tie hearts together. Give our active duty military men and women a sense of Your presence, comfort in the truth that You’re watching over those they love most in this world. For those men and women who risk their lives to provide our nation with the freedom to live life, to celebrate Christmas without fear of death or injury . . . who step into danger so civilians don’t have to, we lift them up to You. Please keep them safe, give them wisdom in the ways they carry out their jobs. Be their protector. 

Go before the spouses and the children left behind, Father. Fill the empty spaces in their hearts during their time of separation from their loved one. Bring alongside them friends, family to ease the burden of being mother and father, caring for the emotional well-being of children. Move on others’ hearts to invite them into the celebrating in this season. Comfort them when loneliness and the missing presses heavy upon them. Give them Your peace, Your joy, Lord.

Give these families chances to connect with each other. Strengthen the family bonds. Most of all, Lord, let each of these families know Your presence, Your peace. Be a protector for those who are defending our freedoms in dangerous situations. Give them wisdom as they do their jobs. May they know Your love, especially during times of separation.

For the children missing a parent during this Christmas season, please comfort them as they deal with the insecurity of that deployed parent. Ease the fear of the unknowns. Lord, give them Your joy during this season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Father, fill their days with reasons to smile.

Aug 13 447 jpg copyToday’s contribution comes from Jeanne Takenaka. Jeanne writes contemporary fiction that deals with real life issues with a heart to draw women closer to God and to those around them. She is wife to one amazing man who is her real life hero, and mother to two exuberant boys who hope to one day have a dog of their own. She loves being God’s girl always learning about His grace, hanging out with friends and enjoying a great cup of coffee. She and her family live near the mountains of Colorado. You can connect with her on her blog, Facebook and on Twitter.

Join us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.

Advent Day 18: Genuine Joy

12366706_1038492049534523_2008292505_n.jpg

Is there genuine joy of giving in the way I handle Christmas shopping and gift-giving? What do I need to do to make my Christmas giving a source of joy for myself and others?

Henri Nouwen, In Joyful Hope: Meditations for Advent

Painting contributed by Shannon Maddox. Shannon is an artist and musician who lives in Alabama. She blogs about health, crafts, art, and life at Iron Diva
ButtonJoin us this season as we pray through Advent together. I have some beautiful guest posts and there’s space for your voice, too. I hope you join us – either by contributing or on your own.