Why I didn't take home the Advent Card

November 28, 2017 | Emily Espinosa

If you’re anything like me, you constantly feel pressure to conform to the systems, routines and techniques that social media stars, neighbors, and TV shows suggest to us daily. If your children follow this recipe, you’ll produce optimum, happy little humans.

Most of the time, when I’m introduced to another “something” that provides a new item to add to our daily routine, my heart starts beating faster and I’m ready to toss it before I can even read it.

For years, this is how I felt about Advent. Yes, it sounded lovely and beautiful when other families talked about their candle-lighting tradition. But if I’m honest, I’d just convince myself that reading the Christmas Story on Christmas Day was a win. My kids read and hear the Bible plenty without adding another item to our list.

Spending a few extra minutes one month of the year for my Savior who died for me seemed inconvenient.

Even writing that is difficult. In those moments, it felt like another “something” to remember to do nightly. Evenings full of signing homework sheets, listening to beginner reading (we all know how much patience that requires), checking homework, sports practices, packing lunches, checking book bags for hidden toys, preparing clothes for the next day, getting dinner on the table…the list goes on and on. Adding five extra minutes to these evenings?

Absolutely not.

Then a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon Ann Voskamp’s book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas. In the mornings while the kids ate breakfast, I would tell them part of the Christmas story as they colored the included activity pages. It was not a lot and it was not every day.

But recently the Lord has been teaching me an important truth in my life.

It’s NOT all or nothing.

You don’t have to know you will be perfect before you begin. You can do your best and your family will treasure the time you invested. I mean, showering once a week is better than never, right?

Sometimes you just have to start. Do something instead of nothing.

It’s easy to get stuck, feeling that we can’t conquer anything well. Instead of going to that Bible study once a month when we can, we decide we don’t have room in our life for community. Instead of doing something, we end up doing nothing.

This Advent season, do one thing.

You may only get through lighting the first candle when a little one sticks a tiny finger into the hot candle wax. You may have to field deeply theological questions about the final destination of deceased pets, once your kids realize this allows them to stay up past bedtime.

Even when it seems like a waste of time and no one is listening, start the tradition. Next year when the kids ask if it’s time to start Advent, I guarantee they won’t remind you that you missed the Hope week last year.

We plant the seeds. We do what we can. And God is faithful to do what only He can.

Take your time. Take it easy. Enjoy the season. And take home an Advent card this year.

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. –II Thessalonians 3:5

Download the free 2017 Advent Resource Printable here.

Emily Espinosa is Children's Director at New Charlotte. She and her husband, Luis, have three beautiful children who keep them pretty busy. Emily loves people who like to volunteer, time with friends and family, and long walks on the beach.