A Tender Shoot of Hope – Beginning of Advent 2013

It is December first. The last month of 2013, and another Christmas season. Another chance for change, for growth, for more healing. Ever since I discovered Advent, it continues to wrap around my heart a little more each year. Me, a kid from a Christless home (albeit blessed with a wonderful, loving family) who spent each Christmas waiting on Santa and reindeer, not knowing that it was about so much more. I was always looking for the magic and the mystery in the season; I just didn’t know what I was looking for, and that he was right there all along . . . that it had nothing to do with me being bad or good. The bad part was plainly obvious, and I figured out very early on that I could never be good enough. Then there was Christ and the biggest sigh of relief.

Advent means “coming.” So perfect as it reminds me of my own pregnancies. I remember that last month of eager anticipation, waiting for the coming of my new baby. There’s a sort of quietness, a contemplative state that falls over a heavily pregnant mama as she waits for the big event. This is my goal for this year – to be a little more quiet, to continue to step away from the hurry, the flash and the cha-ching of American Christmas and rather to continue to learn to embrace the quiet waiting for the coming of Christ.

For several years I have fumbled through Advent, falling behind on my 25 day studies, or forgetting to put the little ornaments on the tree; struggling to find the right Jesse Tree study for my kids and inevitably, botching it. I always felt this disappointment in myself that I just couldn’t get it together, and I get it now, where I went wrong – TOO COMPLICATED. Any quest I venture on for self-made perfection always ends in guilt, shame and disappointment. Not this year.

We will keep it simple. We will wait for the Christ child and wonder in the beauty of an amazingly messed up family tree that leads to Jesus.

For my Advent Study this year I chose to go with an author whose heart is inexplicably and recklessly abandoned to Christ, Ann Voskamp and her book, The Greatest Gift.

Today’s study ends with a moment of reflection: “In what ways do you feel like a lifeless stump, longing for a tender shoot of hope? What are you waiting for, yearning for this season? Where can you see new life and coming in what you may have considered dead?”

That question caught me in such a way that a lump rose up in my throat and tears pricked the corners of my eyes. And my honest answer is: Some days I very much feel like a lifeless stump as I don’t seem to have enough to give to everyone in my life that needs me. I feel a bit dried out and tired. Don’t we all in one way or another yearn for someone to say to us, “It’s okay, you are good enough”? When the truth is that only He is good enough, and He is the only one with the resources to be enough for every facet of my busy life that asks for a piece of my time, my attention, and my heart. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (NASB 2 Corinthians 12:9)

What I am waiting on this year is more healing of this worn out, wounded heart. I continue to wait on Christ to continue to revive this person who was very much struck down but not destroyed. I wait on so many of my loved ones struggling through similar hurts, many so much more fresh and raw than my own – stretching out my hand to beckon them to come to the only one who really heals, who really brings peace and restoration to the broken. He doesn’t give you back your old life. It doesn’t work that way; He is in the business of giving new life.

And here we are on December 1st, waiting. Not for presents or Santa or a bonus – and all those things are fine and good – we’re waiting on new life, on hope and the reminder that He makes all things new, bright and beautiful.

Here’s to the start of a wonderful Christmas and Advent season, my friends. Much Love!


3 thoughts on “A Tender Shoot of Hope – Beginning of Advent 2013

  1. Simple preparations just might be the very thing to insure we are actually ready for the celebration of the Advent with heart and mind. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Linda

  2. Wow. Had the same reaction here. I think I might need to get a copy of that book…. Thanks for sharing your heart so beautifully and humbly. I miss you!


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