hearts, disaster, desire, time

Here are four posts I appreciated this week on preparing for Advent. Click through to read the posts in their entirety.

Prepare Our Hearts - Addie Zierman

"This year, I will watch as many sappy Christmas movies as possible and give myself two points for every former child-star from my youth that appears in a starring role. I’ll drink hot chocolate every night, screw the calories. I’ll choose only simple Christmas crafts to do; nothing that requires a “tutorial.” 
...When it all comes down to it, I think I’ve had too many years in a row of trying to conjure up the perfect Christmas. This year, I’ll settle for merry. I’ll settle for good, for less-than-picture perfect. I’ll settle for not-quite-how-it-was-supposed to be."

Preparing for Disaster - Ragan Sutterfield

"We who are ready to welcome this new kingdom of God should be like those small farmers who are learning how to plow with a mule or grow food without synthetic fertilizers, not as some abstract hobby, but as preparation for the world that will come. But how do we do this? We get some hints in our epistle reading where Paul prays, “may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all” and “may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” 
Our task now is to gather and become communities of agape, outposts of the kingdom where we learn to love each other and move our lives ever more closely to the pattern of Christ. Our churches are where we start this work—calling each other to get off the couch of the world as it is and preparing for a world where God reigns in justice, love and goodness."

Advent is About Desire - James Martin, SJ

"Desire may also be difficult for some people to accept in their spiritual lives. One of my favorite books on Ignatian spirituality is The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed, written by Katherine Dyckman, Mary Garvin and Elizabeth Liebert, three women religious.  In his classic text, The Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius Loyola repeatedly recommends praying for what “I want and desire.”  For example, a closer relationship with God.  Or a particular grace during a meditation period.  The three authors astutely note that this dynamic may present obstacles for some women. "Women may often feel that paying attention to their desires is somehow selfish and that they should not honor their desires if they are being truly generous with God."  The authors strongly encourage women to resist that tendency and to "notice" and "name" their desires.  To claim them as their own.  
Why all this emphasis on desire?  Because desire is a key way that God speaks to us, whether in Advent or the rest of the year.  Our holy desires are gifts from God."

"What if your story was somehow ordered by a larger Story?  What if you could relinquish the frantic need to master time, and relax into a more sacred rhythm?  What if this season of Advent could mark a renewal in your life, a renewal of your time?"

As I write everyday through Advent, sharing some of my thoughts and yours, I will be meditative, not instructive.  I'm not going to offer tips and tricks for doing Advent with kids.  I'm mostly just going to listen and reflect on advent in my own life. 

That said, here is a list of my favorite resources for Advent (affiliate link); here is a post I wrote two years ago about advent traditions in the family; here is a great resource  for preschoolers that I'll be playing with this year.

What are your favorite books or resources for Advent?  Please share!