Guilt, Checklists, & Freedom

CoffeeCupThere’s this undercurrent that reappears where I feel stifled in my spiritual life. It feels tight. I feel guilt for not reading my Bible enough, not praying enough, not talking to people enough, not being still enough. Not being enough in general. That does not come from the Lord.

God is not sitting in heaven wagging his finger at me, disappointed that I’m doing something wrong. I’m not even doing something wrong!  [An aside for all the people ready to say, “But we all sin! Every day!” Yes, we do. But I’m not talking about willful sins, sins of omission or commission, but the weight of extrabiblical laws and how they intersect and are raised to the level of biblical commands.] I’m still praying and reading my Bible and thinking on things, but not in the two-tone, one-dimensional, pink-hued way so often described. I still carry so much baggage from, perhaps well-meaning, Christians on what it looks like to be a good Christian, especially a good Christian woman (can I get an amen?).

“If you really love God, you’ll do this…If you really love God, your life will look like this…” You’d read your Bible everyday, first thing in the morning. You’d have a special prayer list for every day of the week. You’d have a list of gratitude. You’d regularly enter into praise and worship. You’d bring meals and help out every time you’re asked. You’d always be joyful with a smile on your face. You’d always be able to say how God is working in your life at any moment. You’d share the gospel with x number of people each week. You’d only watch movies with a PG or less rating. You’d only read Christian novels. You’d only listen to Christian music—and the gospel must be explicitly spelled out in each of these or you’re compromising your witness, polluting your soul.

It’s no wonder why Christianity isn’t appealing. We’ve made it tepid, boring–lifeless. We’ve sucked the life out of the freedom Christ bought for us with all the rules and opinions. And anyone who colors outside the lines runs the risk of being labeled as immature, testing the waters, a rebel–or worse, they’re laughed at and labeled a heretic.

So many rules and regulations, so many boxes to check. How can we keep up? How can we ever please God?

I’ve been reading Colossians for a women’s ministry workshop I’m going to and it’s felt so dry, so restricting, like a wool turtleneck that won’t quit itching. But when I realized I was carrying all this unnecessary guilt to the Word. Guilt over whether I was doing it “right”–the right way, the right attitude, the right answers, the right time of day, the right translation. I was carrying so much guilt and so many checklists to reading the Word in order to “be good enough,” pleasing to God.

But I already am.

As a redeemed child of God, I don’t have to be “good enough.” I don’t have to meet a checklist. I don’t have to, I shouldn’t, approach the Word or the throne of Grace with trepidation, fear of automatic disapproval. That’s not how God has called us as his children.

This isn’t new. It’s a cycle I regularly find myself in. I’m guessing I’m not alone.

“You were running well. Who prevented you from being persuaded regarding the truth? This persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.” Galatians 5:7-8

When I realize it’s not God who is holding a ruler to me and finding me lacking, but man made rules, regulations, and guidelines the Word unlocks, it frees. As it should, as it does. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). That’s a litmus test unto itself, isn’t it?

Is what is being preached, be it book, article, sermon, song, opinion, blog post, testify to the freedom of Christ?

“For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Or do the checklists, to dos, rules, and regulations led you into guilt, keeping you from coming to the table and fullness of life in Christ? Do they breed the life of Christ in you or is it a mask of holiness and humility under self-made religious mandates?

“If you died with Christ to the elements of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? All these regulations refer to what is destined to perish by being used up; they are human commands and doctrines. Although these have a reputation for wisdom by promoting self-made religion, false humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence.” Colossians 2:20-23

As believers, aware and in awe of God’s goodness, holiness, love, and mercy we will naturally be drawn to the Word, prayer, and service. It’s often in our desire to please God in innocence we go looking for how we may better please him. We add to what doesn’t need adding to, we accept as normal what is added on, we find guidance in guidelines and before we know it the Truth and man-made rules are so blurred we can’t see the borde lines. We find our identity and position before God chained to what does not lead us into freedom.

“For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Freedom in Christ is much more than we think, more than we can ask or imagine.

But that is more words for another day.

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Remembering on Infant Loss Awareness Day

SONY DSCMy mom gave me a stuffed animal monkey when we found out we were pregnant with our first baby. A few weeks later I would hold this little monkey as we lost our first baby, thinking of all the things we’d never get to experience. Never would I have guessed the years would add two more babies to that list.

Today is Infant Loss Awareness Day. One in four women experience infant loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death). It’s a staggering number for a topic that doesn’t get talked about much. Today I’ll be sharing a bit of my story—the grief, the journey to healing, pregnancy after miscarriage, and why so many of us are talking about it. It doesn’t have to be a lonely journey.

Why do we share?

These babies are real. They may not have been wrapped in blankets snuggled in arms of love or breathed on their own, but they were ours and their hearts beat inside of us. Woven together in our innermost being they bore the mark of their Creator, whether their lives lasted 9 weeks, 19 weeks, 39 weeks, 2 hours, or 3 days. We share because we want you to know they existed. They’re real.

Wearing the badge of 1 in 4, women often feel the weight of being the sole bearer of their remembrance. If we don’t remember them, who will?

We don’t share our pregnancies before 12 weeks to make you uncomfortable. We share because we know life is short. We don’t share our losses for a pat on the back for bravery or even for your sympathy. We share because we want your empathy, your understanding (this could be you—your sister, co-worker, best friend, your mother). We share because we want to remember our children who’ve left no mark on the world. We share because we want to know we’re not alone.

We had lots of plans for our first 5 years of marriage. Children were 2-3 years into that plan, so when we found ourselves married for 5 months and pregnant it was a surprise. A welcome surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. It came as a shock when two months later I began to miscarry. I knew it happened to some women, I just never guessed it would happen to me.

I went through the stereotypical cycle of grief—denial, bitterness, anger, and on. Denial to the point I was convinced the doctor and the blood tests were wrong and I was still pregnant. It didn’t help that the pregnancy symptoms didn’t exit as soon as the baby did. It was two weeks before I could even confess this to my husband.

I remember the day the anger broke. An older family friend stopped me at church one day, she’d never been able to have children herself, and all she said was, “I just remember getting to the point where I wanted to go to a baby shower and be happy for the person.” It didn’t change my situation, but it broke something in me and I realized I wanted that too. Being bitter and angry is exhausting.

I came out of that season with a greater trust that God was good…even in this God was good. I believed it to my core.

Thanksgiving a few years later, with a 3 year old and 10 month old, my family pointed out my exhaustion seemed to be more the pregnancy variety than the general motherhood kind. Sure enough I got home and the test was positive. I was about 8 weeks along.

The first week of December I miscarried that baby. I was in utter shock. I’d already had my miscarriage. This wasn’t suppose to happen again. It was Christmas. We were getting ready to visit family on both coasts for 6 weeks. We were going to Disneyland. Losing another baby wasn’t part of the plan.

I slowly realized I had made a one sided deal with God. I had my pocket testimony, my experience to be able to comfort others. I wouldn’t have worded it then, but I thought I had “learned my lesson” and God was done dealing out pain.

I didn’t know what to do, so I shoved it all down and tried to be happy. It was this day at the beach (pictured) nearly 8 weeks later that I felt anything. The water was awakeningly frigid, my boys were experiencing their first touch of the Pacific. It was a spark of hope, the first light of joy. I wasn’t so naive anymore to think that pain and suffering was a one time deal. I began to pour myself into the God who would heal all things, wipe every tear, render every wrong right, and be hailed as “Worthy!” Life wasn’t so much happy-go-lucky anymore as it was deep mysteries to be pondered.

A few years later, mom of a 5, 3, and 1-year-old, I found out I was pregnant again. The same day as a dear friend. We instantly began to imagine growing babies together. A week later I lost mine. This was the hardest yet, not just because I watched my friend’s pregnancy, but it was the first time I really began to ask the question, “Why?”

Why me, God? Why again? How many more times? What other pain do you have for me? Why do You heal some and not others? Why do You have the power to heal—with just a word You could do it, why do you choose not to?

It felt like everywhere I looked in my real-life community and online there was story after story of God healing and answering prayers. Why didn’t he do that for me?

All I could cling to was Peter’s words, “Where shall we go? You alone have the words of life.” I poured myself into the words of the old dead guys, stories of depression and despair where God still loved and led his people. I listened to songs of brokenness and trust, hopelessness and faintest light. I needed to know even this was broken I wasn’t alone.

They call a baby born after a loss a rainbow baby. I’ve got a full rainbow. It’s a hard one to swallow. It’s a mix of grief and blessings knowing if the babies I lost had lived I wouldn’t have two (almost three!) of my children. I’ve struggled with immense guilt of loving the ones I’ve lost, wishing to meet them and loving the ones here.

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But a rainbow…is a sign of God’s covenant to keep His promises. And sometimes those promises are hard. Sometimes those promises mean heartache and struggle, but—He is still who He says he is.

I’ve been reading Jeremiah this week and over and over God tells his displaced people, “I will restore your fortunes” (Jer. 27-31). “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).

It’s bittersweet. The pain and the joy co-mingled. Part of me doesn’t want to accept good from the hand that allows pain. But, I always go back to this…”I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know who You are—You have a father’s heart and a love that’s wild, and you know what it’s like to lose a child” (JJ Heller, “Who You Are”).

There will be a day we’ll stand in the Kingdom of Light and all will be made new, all will be redeemed. No more death or mourning or tears. Fortunes will be restored.

Addison Justice. Joseph Allen. Otto Augustus.

Jordan Ebenezer. Olivia Jane. Riley Glory. Victoria Irene.

Why talk about infant loss and grieving?

We need to know we’re not alone. We feel alone so often. We need a culture that’s willing to talk about grief and enter into pain. We often don’t know how to help ourselves. Our grief is often tempered against a time limit—aren’t you over this yet? is the message we get. No, we’re not over losing our children. I doubt we’ll ever be.

But…we want to know how to live in this new normal. How to experience joy and pain without denying one over the other. We long for fullness of life, but are often sucker punched with grief out of nowhere. We need a community and culture that’s willing to acknowledge this dichotomy. That will talk about it.

And if we don’t? We’ll continue leaving generations of women to keep their loss quiet, to fend for themselves in pain, to struggle to find their way out of the darkness on their own. We’ll continue to leave mothers bearing the scars of loving the lost and the living and the guilt that’s so warped between the two. We’ll leave children missing chunks of their childhood, whole pieces of their mothers from the pain and struggle of daily functioning after loss, simply because it’s easier to not talk about it.

There is no one size fits all action plan and I don’t know what it’d even look like, but we do have a voice. And as painful as it is to share the loss of our children, the grief we bear, and the mistakes we’ve made floundering in this unknown territory, we need to talk about it. Infant loss won’t be eradicated, but we still want to live. We want to be happy without denying what we’ve lost.

The darkness cannot be made light unless someone is first willing to light the candle. And there’s a throng of us holding out our candles.

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Miscarriage: What to Say?

Lingering Grief of the Named Unspoken

Coming Up for Air: Facing the Deadness Because He Lives

The Journey of Miscarriage: Traveling from Risk to Grief to Bitterness to Good

Songs for the Brokenhearted

The Willingness of Motherhood

Motherhood is a Risk

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Miscarriage: What to Say?

In our miscarriage story, I shared how I felt lonely and that few people spoke with me about it. It was painful. At times it made me feel that my family and friends didn’t care. As I began to let go of my bitterness, I stopped holding these people to a standard of giving me comfort. I forgave.

But I also realized something. About a month after the woman stopped me in the hall at church, my sister-in-law spoke to me after a church function with another women by her side (this woman had 5 miscarriages before having her first child). She apologized for not saying anything or asking me how I was dealing with the miscarriage. She couldn’t imagine what I was going through or what it was like to lose a child….she didn’t know what to say.

For some reason compassion swelled in my heart. I was blessed and freed by her apology. But it also opened up my eyes to the other side of a miscarriage. Many people keep quiet simply because they don’t know what to say. To be honest, I know I would have been in the same boat prior to losing Addison.

This is one of the reasons why I am open to sharing about my experience with losing a baby. After we had our miscarriage it seemed women came out of the woodwork saying they’d had a miscarriage too. Some statistics say that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Still so many women say nothing of their experiences because grief hurts. Love is risky.

The problem with this is women grieving a miscarriage feel they’re alone. They need to be heard. They need to hear the experiences of other women. Now, when I meet a woman who’s had a miscarriage and I share I have too, there’s an instant bond. I don’t have to tell her what I experienced or how I felt. She’s been there too. She understands.

But where does that leave those who haven’t lost? I believe, they still have a role to play.

What do you say when a family loses a baby?

  1. The most important thing is to say something. That family, the woman especially, needs to know you’re there and willing to hear. So many people often avoid those experiencing loss, because it’s uncomfortable and they feel ill-equipped to help if they haven’t experienced the same thing.
  2. Be wise in your words. While most of the time saying something is better than saying nothing, be careful what you say. Comments about “Maybe next time will be better” or “I guess this wasn’t God’s timing” do little to help and can cause the couple more pain. Those statements feel insensitive and seem to diminish the pain of the family.
  3. Help them. Offer to cook dinner. If they have already collected baby items, gently ask them what their plans are for them, if they need help going through them, or offer to store the items for them. If they have older children, offer to babysit so that the parents can take time to talk and process their grief together.
  4. Grieve alongside them. If the family choose to name the baby call the child by its name. If there’s a funeral or memorial service–big or small–join in. This lets the family know you see their pain, you support them, and confirms in their hearts and minds that this baby was real.
  5. Understand that a new baby doesn’t replace the one they’ve lost. For us, Joey is a huge and precious blessing that we cherish all the more because we lost Addison. But in no way, shape, or form does Joey replace Addison. We still miss that child. We still grieve for that baby. Addison was a person as much as Joey is and neither can be replaced by another.
  6. Pray for them. Pray that God would heal their hearts and that they would see His character and perspective. Be gentle and patient here. Grieving is a process that ebbs and flows, sometimes it moves forward and then falls back. Don’t expect everything to be “back to normal” in a few weeks or month. Healing takes time.

I am so grateful for the outpouring of support I have received in sharing our miscarriage story. So many women have shared their experiences and how God has healed them.

I know there are so many ways to help and support those healing from a miscarriage. Let’s stop grieving from being an isolated experience. Help me help others know how to respond to a miscarriage or other loss, so…

If you have experienced a loss what is the best thing someone did or said as you grieved and healed?

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Motherhood & Spiritual Disciplines

Motherhood & Spiritual DisciplinesThis is how most mornings look around here. Some time between 6:30am and 7am I’m joined by at least one or two kids (this morning all four jumped in bed). I read my Bible between snuggles, baby dolls, blankets, often Legos, breakfast requests (Can I have my Valentine candy? No.), and voices that are not quite morning tones, but still I read and try to journal notes if someone hasn’t already stolen my pen.

There have been seasons I have allowed myself to get really frustrated that this “quiet time” (a phrase that can be so unhelpful) was regularly interrupted by my early morning risers and I struggled to find other times in the day to soak in the Word. I longed for the days when getting up early meant 6am and I could spend a solid 30 minutes to an hour to read and study the Word and pray in silence as it’s “suppose to be.”

Let’s take a detour here. Quiet time? It’s a phrase widely used across AmericanChristendom, coined to describe a spiritual discipline of beginning the day reading the Scriptures and in prayer. It comes with the connotation that this is the ultimate ideal. Before you attend to anything else in your day, you should be in the Word and praying. This is what godly people do if they really love the Lord. You’re giving the Lord your first fruits, filling up for the day, you’ll fail if you don’t, etc. It’s no wonder so many mothers are discouraged, disheartened, and believe they’re failing at the Christian life.

When you’re waking every few hours to nurse, rock a baby back to sleep, clean up accidents or vomit, awakened to a child standing over your bed asking for water/milk/food/a cuddle, it’s no wonder when the morning light starts to peek through they’re not ready for a morning coffee in their favorite arm chair next to a basket with their Bible, prayer journal, personal journal,  and devotional or Bible study. They’re exhausted. Nevermind that the day before they probably spent 16 hours on their feet serving their family in some capacity or another.  The thing they want and need the most–more Jesus–feels so far off in the constant demand of children and running a house. From my experience, it’s not a lack of desire that keeps women from the Word, but exhaustion and a framework of spiritual disciplines that are unhelpful.

The idea of a quiet time is good in and of itself, but the emphasis we place on it, particularly that is must happen first thing in the morning and how often the weight of sanctification is placed on that thirty minutes to an hour of time can be harmful. Strive for time spent in the Word, pray often. Yes, Jesus often went off by himself in the morning to pray and commune with the Lord, but neither of these things must happen in your first hour or two. They should permeate all of our day in different ways.

Detour ended. You may continue.

Motherhood & Spiritual Disciplines

Two things have helped me to just do it anyway, even if the circumstances aren’t my ideal.

First, a pastor’s wife I knew once told me a story about a young mom who prior to having children had long, in-depth, meditative quiet times between 1-2 hours a day and after having kids she tried to keep this discipline. She ended up putting her children in high chairs at the table, giving them snacks and toys, while she tried to have her old quiet time. They would cry and try to get out, clamoring and just being little kids. It left her exasperated. She couldn’t meet the Lord in the Word the same way as she had before, though she tried hard to force it.

I remember the pastor’s wife saying your quiet time is going to change when you have kids. It’s going to look different and that’s okay. Too often we put too much stock in what we think, or have been led to believe, a “quiet time” is suppose to look like and rather than just read the Word we get caught up in all the steps we think we’re suppose to do. Just open up your Bible and read.

Second, I’ve learned the hard way it does me no good to get ridiculously frustrated over things that are really not that important or I can’t control. Spills, messes, poop catastrophes, the crumbs after every single meal, children having needs, interruptions in my plans–and I use to let that stuff rile me up daily, to the point I felt offended that my children were, well, being children. But what good did that do me? It didn’t serve me or them. It did more to break our relationship and cause a greater divide, than endear my heart to them. Essentially, it raised a mom versus the children mentality, setting me up to fight my children rather than to love and serve them well. (And, yes, I still get frustrated and have an occasional bout of “Why me?!” along with “I’m quitting!,” but not nearly with the same regularity. Thank you, Jesus!)

My kids are early risers? So what. I’m not pulling out the Greek as much as I use to? That’s fine. Sometimes I have to reread a passage, because the noise is too loud for me to even know what I read. Other times the baby is bouncing on my lap grabbing the pages of my Bible. I may read a passage and have no idea what it means or how it connects to the bigger picture. If I’m doing a study, I may not get to all the questions I want to or even understand the question if little ones are hanging over me. Sometimes I feel I’ve lost some of my critical thinking brain cells in mothering. That’s okay.

These things will pass, but don’t wait until they’re gone to develop a spiritual discipline of reading the Word. It’s going to be imperfect and that’s okay. You may not feel warm fuzzies and the fire on the mountain. You’re reading the Word. You’re making a habit. Even if you feel you’re getting nothing out of it, do it. It’s not pointless. You’re laying the brickwork in your own heart that this is where you come to feast. These Words, these pages are the brook, the well to quench your thirst. No broken cisterns here, this is the green pasture of rest. These are the words of life and they are the light of men.

Don’t wait for your ideal circumstance to read the Word regularly. Do it anyways.

There’s so much more to say, but if you’re a mom you probably have a little one calling for you right now. Mine are about ready for lunch. So, meet back here in a day or two? We’ll talk about some practical resources and how to incorporate the Word and prayer into the rhythm of our days.

Don’t lose heart. He is faithful to keep you.

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Advent Resources for Families

Advent Resources for FamiliesIf you know me, then you know Advent is one of my favorite times of year and I will talk your ear off about how great Advent is.

I feel deeply that advent calls to the heart of a sojourner. The longing, the hopeful expectation, the crossroads of already, but not yet. It’s a mournful, yet still hopeful cry that says, Come, Lord Jesus, come!

The desire for all to be made whole, for Christ to come again and call his people home. Advent is for the wait. The reminder that as we come to celebrate Christ’s first advent, his birth as a baby, we are to look forward to his future promises in his second advent. We live in this tension of promises received, but still lacking our complete glorification.

We sing,

Come, thou long expected Jesus,

Born to set They people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee.

It’s a beautiful season.

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Resources

Advent has definitely seen a resurgence in some Protestant denominations, but mostly in the evangelical camp. I’m glad our subculture is beginning to remember liturgy and traditions can be helpful means of remembering and teaching Christ in the life of the Church. I’ve found CRI Voice to be a good introduction to the season of Advent.

I wanted to share a few Advent resources and traditions we’ve done throughout the years, as well as a few new things I’ve found.

The Jesus Storybook Bible & the Jesse Tree

When my children were young, I tried reading through Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree devotional and hung the printable ornaments. The length of those devotions were a bit long for the little ones, but the ornaments were a favorite and became known as “hanging promises.”  We eventually started reading related portions of The Jesus Storybook Bible.

Many families have found this works well for them and you can find a variety of Advent reading plans to go along with The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can find more ideas here.

Advent Wreath & Candles

Our advent wreath is one of my favorite parts of the season. It’s a beautiful reminder of how Jesus is the light of the world and in light the darkness scatters. We get to see that beautiful truth as we light a new candle each week. At the beginning of Advent, it’s dark and we can hardly see the little faces peering around the table, but by Christmas Day the light is bright enough to shine throughout the room.

It’s a simple and beautiful way to show our children how Jesus makes the darkness flee and how darkness can be a representation of sin and in Jesus’s redemption that darkness flees.

The circle wreath reminds us God is eternal and is mercy and love is unending. The four candles on the wreath stand for the four hundred years between the prophets and the coming of Christ. They also symbolize the hope, love, joy, and peace Jesus brings (as well as many other things). Three of the candles are purple, symbolizing royalty, and one pink (usually used for the third week). The white center candle, called the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas Day in celebration of Jesus entering the world and being the Light of the World.

There’s plenty of options when it comes to Advent wreaths. I bought a frame from Hobby Lobby, stuck it on a plain wreath, and added a few sparkles here and there.

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Music

In some traditions, people withhold from playing Christmas carols, hymns, and songs until Christmas Day, which is the first day of Christmas and continues until Epiphany. The idea is to keep in the remembrance and mood, so to speak, of the Advent season, the already, but not yet, waiting to sing the more celebratory songs once Christmas arrives.

In our house we play both, but I do tend to lean more toward Advent songs in the first few weeks. Here’s a list of Advent songs.

I’m a big fan of Spotify, so of course I have our own Advent playlist on there. My goal is to find the perfect version of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, so right now there’s about 20 different versions. I might be exaggerated a little. You’ll also notice a lot of Andrew Peterson on my Advent playlist. These songs aren’t particularly made for Advent, but definitely have echoes of the season (I love me some AP music).

Advent Resources for FamiliesHere’s a few of my favorite Advent and Christmas albums:

Most of these are on Spotify and Amazon Prime, but a few are on one or the other and Behold the Lamb is on neither. But it’s good enough, you’ll want to buy it anyway. ;)

Traveler's Journey: Advent Letters for Young SojournersTraveler’s Letters

This is one of my children’s favorite things. One year we received a package on our doorstep from someone named Traveler. Inside the package were Advent candles, a few letters (and more came later), and a book, Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress for children.

Traveler's Journey: Advent Letters for Young SojournersIt’s been such a treasure and wonder for our family to dig into the Advent season as a sojourner and for our little ones to begin to understand this life of faith is a journey and to long for Jesus’ kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven as we wait for Christ to come again.Advent Resources for Families

You can find all the letters ordered and compiled, along with a few of our favorite hymns and poems below.

Traveler’s Journey: Advent Letters for Young Sojourners

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Books

There are so many Advent devotionals and readings out there I’m sure to leave out a few good ones. This is a list of Advent books that either I’ve used or have heard great things about from friends.

If this is your first time observing Advent or you’re looking to try something new, I hope you find something that works for you. But even more I hope you know the love of Christ and are encouraged to pursue him in the longing and waiting of Advent.

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