Tag Archive | advent

A Season of Hope ~ Week Four

Today marks the beginning, and the end, of the fourth week of Advent.

The theme today is Love.

I’ve written about love before. I’d like to say I’m an expert on the subject, as a writer of Inspirational Romance, but I’m not.

The only real expert on love is God, who gave us his Son. A son who came as a tiny baby born in a manger who 33 years later, would suffer and die on a cross to take away all of our sins.

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There are many kinds of love. The ancient Greek language has four distinct words for it – agape, eros, philia, and storge. Eros gets its name after the Greek god of love, and refers to passionate, intimate love – the kind of love felt towards a spouse. Philia is the love between friends – loyalty and community that binds us together as a human race. Storge is the love of parents for their children, or a patriotic love for one’s country.

And then there is Agape. Divine love. The one love above all others. God’s unconditional love for us. When Jesus gave his commandment to love each other, he speaks of this kind of love.

It is the hardest kind of love to give, because it requires us to be completely selfless. To set aside our wants and desires and to wish nothing but the best for everyone in our lives.

As we journey together into Christmas, hold on to that love. Spread it to those around you. Of all the gifts we will give each other, there is none more precious than love.

“For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  ~ John 3:16

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A Season of Hope ~ Week Three

Here we are, in the third week of Advent. This week the theme is Joy.

I won’t lie. It took a while for me to get to the point where I could write this post. Between sickness, a car battery that died when I was getting ready to pick up my kids from school, and a lot of sleep deprivation, I’d had enough. As I spiraled into a depressive state, all I could think of was how little joy I had in my life.

Oh, how wrong I was.

After a good cry (and we all need a good cry now and then), I stopped and forced myself to think about what I had in my life that I could be joyful about.

It wasn’t until I paged through my Bible that I found a passage which reminded me of a time when I felt joy. It’s the first entry I did, almost a year ago.

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In the spring, summer and early fall months, I am blessed to see the sunrise on my way to work. These moments, being witness to the dawning of a new day, always fill my soul with peace and comfort. It reminds me that through all of my trials, God’s joy in my life never ends.

I continued. I started to count my blessings.

My family. My friends. A roof over my head. Food on my table. And even though I might be sick, I could be worse. I have so much to be thankful for, but the momentary sadness overtook me to the point where I couldn’t see the joy beneath it all.

You’re probably thinking to yourself – “What’s this lady thinking? How can I be happy all the time? Even when I’m sad?”

Joy, real true joy, isn’t fleeting like happiness or pleasure. It is a constant, a flowing presence. It’s being content with where you are in life. Knowing that there is a purpose for everything. Knowing that God loves you, even when your world is falling apart.

We all just need to stop, to pause sometimes to remember that it’s there.

So if you’re feeling a little blue, go ahead and count your blessings, so that even when the day seems cold and dreary, underneath it all, you will find your Joy.

Just like the rising sun on a new morning.

A Season of Hope ~ Week Two

Here we are, the second week of Advent. The theme this week is Peace.

Less than two weeks remain until Christmas, and I don’t know about you, but it’s usually around this time when I realize just how much I need to get done. With a myriad of items on my to-do list, what fills my heart can hardly qualify as peace. It’s actually the opposite. With Christmas cards to send, gifts to purchase, cookies to bake, my life becomes a flurry of last minute activity.

And yet, like many people, I often neglect the one thing I should be spending the most time on – preparing my soul.

The readings at Church on Sunday were all about preparing the way for Jesus. The gospel is one I practically know by heart.

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My message today is a short one, and yet powerful. 

While going about your holiday preparations, set aside some time to prepare your soul. Cast away all of the sadness, fear and hatred that is holding you back. For me as a Catholic Christian, a good way to do this is going to Confession. For you, it might be an act of service, or an apology to someone you have hurt. Whatever you do, let God’s love guide you. Let his peace and mercy fill your heart. 

Then, when all of the presents are wrapped, the cookies baked, and the cards sent, you can rest knowing that another item has been checked off your to-do list.

The most important of all – readying our hearts to receive Jesus on Christmas day.

 

 

A Season of Hope ~ Week One

For the next four weeks I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the season of Advent. One part of Advent is a Christian tradition involving the lighting of colored candles on a wreath. Three purple, one pink, and sometimes, one white candle in the center. Like this.

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Each candle on the advent wreath holds a particular symbolic significance. The first candle symbolizes hope.

The first week of Advent has been a difficult one for me for the past few years. I don’t know why, but I always have a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Stress and anxiety over purchasing the perfect gifts for those on my list gets the best of me. Between that and planning my daughter’s birthday, which is just a few days after Christmas, I get overwhelmed to the point where I just want to crawl in bed and not come out until spring.

You know, hibernate. Like a bear.

But every year, when December 1st comes and I flip my calendar for the last time, I pull this out of storage and smile.

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For those who may not be familiar with this particular Christian tradition, this is a Jesse Tree. This one in particular was made by my grandmother for my mom. My sister, brother and I took turns reading passages every night and snapping the felt images onto the tree, learning about our Bible history. When my son was two, my mom passed this precious heirloom down to me to share with my children. It’s a fun way for them to learn about stories in the Bible, and each year, as they grow, they have more questions about it. A few days ago, while reading about Abraham and Isaac, my son gasped when he realized that Abraham was about to kill his own son. It provided a good moment to share the similarity between that moment and God’s plan to sacrifice his own Son for us.

So, you may be wondering, why is this called a Jesse Tree? Who is Jesse?

Jesse was the father of David. The founder of the “House and Family of David” that Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father, came from. I’m sure Jesse thought he was just an ordinary man, that he never thought of what kind of impact he would have on our history.

But Isaiah knew. 

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He could have been speaking of David, or perhaps he spoke of Jesus, the one who was to come. The one whose birth in a lowly stable would cause the Angels in heaven to rejoice.

Whatever the case, it provides us with some valuable insight into God’s plan. That he didn’t just decide one day to send his Son to Earth to save us. He planned it for centuries, for generations.

Giving us hope.

So if you, like me, have been having a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit this year, remember that even the most ordinary days, and the most ordinary people, have their place in God’s plan. 

All we need to do is open our eyes and our hearts to see it.