Advent : a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. (Wiki)

Until about a year ago, I had never even heard the term "Advent." And until recently, I had zero clue as to what it meant. 

This year, I see the season of Advent being observed all around me, and I found myself becoming more and more curious as to what this whole thing was about. What I've found is something truly beautiful.

Without realizing it, I had forgotten to experience that sense of anticipation and hope of the coming Jesus and instead become clouded by "to-do" lists and Christmas-y expectations -- none of which are necessarily bad things, but are kind of pointless without the daily celebration of Christ.

I'm only a few days in (Advent started on the 1st) but already I am experiencing something new and different this Christmas. I am participating in the She Reads Truth: Emmanuel study, but that is only one of many! Another I recommend is We Will Wait - an email devotional guide by Heather Boersma which I actually got to participate in (see day 10!)

Day 1 || I found myself singing the words "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel!" and thinking about how destitute and in need of a Savior I am, just like Israel.

Day 2 || I was reminded that Christ wasn't God's plan B. That He always WAS. "Truly Truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

Day 3 || Rocked me. Isaiah 9 talks about the prophesied salvation of Israel and claims that they will "rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder."  Israel will rejoice like victors. Because we are victors! As believers - as children of God - we are victors!  And then verse 6 reads, "For a child is born to us…"  A Child. We are celebrating the victory of battle and harvest, for a child is born…  Seems so small and delicate for such a large victory. And I'm reminded again how intricate and all-powerful our God is. That a child (yes, the Christ child) has the power to make us victors. 

Verse 7 says, "His government and peace will never end."  And I needed to be reminded of that. This is an ugly world we live in. But here is the truth: His rulership and peace will never end. I'm finding such incredible comfort in that. It's not all lost. The victory is still His. Let me not forget that Lord.

Each day of Advent comes with an activity or application action. Day 3's was to take a moment to look to your past and see how God has brought good from a hopeless situation. God works all things together for those who love Him.

As I looked back, searching for the moment that felt most hopeless in my life, the answer was obvious - the day we miscarried. It was the hardest and saddest moment of my life. Gut-wrenching doesn't even begin to describe the feeling. It's a time in my life where I've never felt so helpless, and I think I can say the same for my husband.

But there is something that stands out in that memory that is stronger than the sense of loss and helplessness - and that is peace. In the midst of it all, Wade and I both felt this incredible peace. Not the kind that makes you smile or laugh, but the kind that makes you feel as though you are in an embrace with God. As though, through the tears and the memories you wish you could forget, He was holding us. And He was. Our relationship with God and with each other was made stronger in a day. A day that was filled with tragedy was also filled with restoration and comfort. 

Looking back, I'm so thankful to God for giving that peace to us. It felt so strange at the time, and a little un-allowed, but there it was. There He was. And because of Him, Wade and I are able to thank God for the child that we had and find joy in that story.

Just last night, I mocked up this Christmas card and asked Wade what he thought. It's our first Christmas living in Mexico/South Texas and I wanted to commemorate that in some way.

I asked Wade what he thought about sending out a card with a child that isn't ours.

His response was, "but he is ours!"

And he's right. He is. And so are the 30 other kids who spend 8+ hours at our house day-in and day-out. God has blessed us with tons of children to love and pray for and who's lives we get to pour into.
*yes, we realize they have actual parents (and really good ones at that!) but we are just so thankful that God lets us be a part of their lives.

"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him." - Pslam 127:3

We have been rewarded greatly.

Are you celebrating Advent - the anticipation of hope as we await our Savior's arrival? I'd love to hear about your experience! And if you're like me, and haven't heard of Advent before, it's not too late! Read back through the She Read's Truth devotional and get caught up, or sign up for Heather's study, or visit Naptime Diaries and download her Advent calendar to start doing with your family. Now is the time to celebrate! Let's not miss the opportunity to truly experience Christmas this year.