Lent Explained: Tune in, Tune up, or Tune Out?

Lent Explained: Tune in, Tune up, or Tune Out?

Here in Germany, we have five seasons. At least according to some, when referring to carnival as the fifth season. There are numerous festivities happening over several months, but it all culminates in the week before Ash Wednesday – and then, just like that, on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, it’s over. You may be wondering what is the point to Lent? Below you’ll find Lent explained.

 

Now, the festivities are not just fun for kids, but encourage people of all kinds to let go of the everyday seriousness and enjoy themselves. So much so, that German carnival clubs sometimes have an insurance in case one of the members impregnates a woman during the many days of celebration.

Lent invites us to slow down and look around. To see that life has come after death, and that everything will be made new.

Actually, carnival is a fascinating phenomenon from a socio-cultural perspective – which is not the topic of this post. One thing that is not a coincidence is that it happens right before Lent.

 

Ah, yes, Lent. One can easily draw the connection between the days of over-the-top partying and the forty days of austerity: before our 40 days of fasting, let’s have one more big party!

It feels almost natural. Like some kind of balance. We don’t want to become terribly stuffy and religious, so let’s even out the fasting with some crazy celebration.

Tune Out?

In a time when Christianity in the West is not taken seriously, and unceasing progress lets us look with disdain on centuries of old thoughts and practices, many of us may choose to simply tune out Lent. Perhaps carnival was loud, maybe you’re just overwhelmed with your day to day obligations. It’s tempting to just skip over the “undue” hardships of Lent and save ourselves the hassle of doing anything special before Easter.

 

I wouldn’t be writing this post if that was my perspective. Because I know that Lent is actually a great time to tune in.

Choosing to Tune In

Similar to Advent, though with the difference that the days are getting lighter and warmer, Lent invites us to slow down and look around. As nature awakens from its wintery slumber, it serves as a visible and audible reminder of the truth we’re celebrating at Easter: that life has come after death, and that everything will be made new. That is the song of the Spring flowers and the warm rays of sun and the fresh blades of green grass and the hundreds of chirping birds.

We tune in into the majestic reality of God, who turns out to be a serving friend instead of a demanding dictator.

2 Questions For You to Reflect On

Lent also invites us to look inside: where are we at? With Easter ahead, it gives us opportunity to locate ourselves on a timeline, rather than drifting or floating through the year – and our lives. And since we see what’s coming, we can ask ourselves: Am I ready?

Lent: An Invitation to Rebalance our Year

The subtle irony is that we don’t need carnival to balance out Lent. Rather, Lent was put in place to balance out the rest of the year. Yes, religious people can have crazy ideas, but Lent wasn’t one of them.

As we tune in into Lent, we tune in into life. Into the mystery that surrounds us and underpins our very existence. We tune in into the majestic reality of God, who turns out to be a serving friend instead of a demanding dictator.

Our Need for Quiet

Much of our life distracts rather than focuses us. Or focuses us on the wrong things: the irrelevant, the transitory, the disproportionally elevated. Lent helps us to regain perspective. To breathe fresh air. To escape the trap of this-worldliness that has no place nor appreciation for the spiritual dimension.

The Danger of Lent

Of course you can turn Lent into a soul-killing act of self-denigration. We humans are capable of misusing almost anything to our own detriment. Taken seriously, though, and engaged in with some wisdom, Lent will actually help you tune in into the pulse of the living Christ, into the heartbeat of God.

That’s not all, though. Let me zoom in on a simple, practical way of how Lent can not only help you tune in, but also tune up – making sure your heart is in the right shape for the other 325 days of the year.

Lent Traditions and Practices Uncovered

A lot of traditions have developed regarding the 40 days before Easter. Catholics, for example, start seven weeks before Easter Sunday, because the Sundays don’t count as part of Lent (smart move, as you can still enjoy your Sunday roast and fix that sugar itch at least once a week!). When it comes to practices during Lent, though, all of the traditions have basically three things in common:

a focus on prayer,

a focus on fasting,

and a focus on alms-giving.

 But Shouldn’t We Be Doing that Anyway?

You might say: That’s just everyday stuff! Shouldn’t we be doing this all the time?

Answer: yes – and. Yes, we should be doing this all the time. As a busy parent (and a very analytical person), I am quite aware of the things I should be doing – and at least somewhat aware of the things I do instead. Of course prayer is not just for a season a year. Of course fasting has a high place in the teachings of Jesus and the early church – our affluence in the West might simply blind us to that when we read our Bibles. And of course generosity should mark our every interaction, with giving (or abstaining from consuming) so that others, especially the less fortunate, bear lighter burdens or may even prosper.

 

And.

And this is why we need this yearly tune up. To actually do what we should be doing.

Why Do You Fix Your Car?

Think of a car, if you own or drive one (or ever saw one). In Germany, we place a lot of value on cars. And not just on their looks, but also on the state of their internal workings. So every other year, every car in this great country needs to get a check-up to make sure it is still fit for the road.

Guess what happens when this time comes around? Right. Suddenly, people ring up a garage they hadn’t thought about the previous 23 months, and have them prepare their car for the big test. Headlight not working?

Fix it. Engine’s not running smoothly? Fix it.

Too little oil, tires getting old, brakes a bit rusty? Fix it.

Because you want to pass that test, since you want to drive your car!

 

Of course, this check-up isn’t meant so that the rest of the time you drive around a broken car.That would be a very odd – and silly – understanding of the whole thing! The point of the check-up is to make sure that the things that need fixing will get fixed at some point – and not never! And to find out early if something is going the wrong way before it gets worse and endangers your car, you, and others.

Your Lenten Check-up

Lent has a lot of similarities with that. Now, there’s no human authority that will give you a sticker that declares to the world that you’re still fit for Christian living. As you may have noticed, you could be a wonderful Christian right now even though you have never observed Lent!

The point is: Lent gives us some very practical ways to check where our heart is at – and at the same time they are they ways that can get our heart back into shape.

 3 Ways to Get Your Heart Back into Shape During Lent

1. Prayer

How is my prayer life? Do I pray? If not, what hinders me? Do I enjoy prayer? What would better describe my prayers: a sporadic monologue or a conversation between friends? And what do I want it to look and feel and sound like?

 

During Lent, many churches offer special prayer times. This can be a help for you to receive prayer, hear others pray, or lean into the century-old prayers of our spiritual predecessors. It can also help you pray for others, whether near and far, and so revive what might have become a stale habit of asking God to bless you, period.

 

2. Fasting

Ouch! Well, fasting does mean to give something up – and that something is food whenever fasting is mentioned in the Bible. Which provides the necessary oomph by affecting our physical existence as we ask: Who or what is truly important in my life? What do I think I cannot exist without? How might someone feel who lacks what I take for granted? What place does my physical existence have – and where do I need to adjust my priorities when it comes to self-care?

 

The way to go here is: experiment. Do try and fast food (that’s the opposite of fast-food, by the way). Do use common sense, though – medical conditions, pregnancy etc. can make it a bad idea to not eat! You can do that alone or with other like-minded people.

Also, abstain from something else. Some churches encourage fasting plastic during Lent to help us become more sensitive towards ecological sustainability and adjust our habits.

Or you may fast consumption: consider not buying anything (yes, anything!) except for groceries and gas during these 40 days.

 

3. Alms-giving

Where does my money actually go? Does my budget reflect the importance Jesus, His church, and my neighbor has –  or does it reflect my ability to spoil myself without noticing it? Who around me is actually in need? What can I do to find out? What are ways I can give to others that don’t involve money – or may come alongside giving money, in order to deal with root issues rather than symptoms?

 

When in doubt, there are hundreds of charities you can give to. The internet can even help you to find out if they are trustworthy. So can your friends or people at church. Do also make it personal, though. There is need in your neighborhood, your city, or your workplace – and it has a face and a name. Start meeting it.

Every now and then, I hear young Christian people contemplate whether they should have children. The implication, especially for the women, is that with children it will be impossible to radically serve God.

The point, again, is not to have a “spiritual high season” once a year. It’s to have that much-needed check-up to see where we are at.

To maybe fix it where things have gone the wrong way. And then, like a workout, start building those faith-muscles that enable us to actually do during the year what we should be doing. 🙂

Not because we want some kind of sticker that tells us we’re good enough. But because living tuned up for tuning in, we actually get what we truly crave: more life, more joy, more God.

Are you ready?

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

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Perpetua and Felicity | 3 Lessons Learned to Stop Idolizing Family

Perpetua and Felicity | 3 Lessons Learned to Stop Idolizing Family

Perpetua and Felicity aren’t names we are typically familiar with, especially in evangelical Christianity. But these two power-house women have a critical message for all mother’s today and the temptation to idolize the family. 

A young mother in prison, facing the death penalty under a bloodthirsty regime. Her father desperately trying to free his daughter; both of them heartbroken about the baby boy who might grow up motherless. It has all the trappings of an emotional court room drama.

Except that the young mother doesn’t want to be freed.

Introducing two remarkable women whose memory is celebrated today (March 7): Saints Perpetua and Felicitas. Looking at their story can help us regain some necessary clarity.

Let’s briefly visit North Africa in the year 203. After initially tolerating Christianity as a Jewish sect, the Roman Empire started to crack down on it. It now was considered a new religion – actually, Christians were considered atheists, because they didn’t believe in the gods (only in one God). What really upset the Roman Empire, though, was the staunch refusal of Christians to worship the emperor as a god. To many Romans, this was merely a symbolic gesture, a minor part of being a good citizen. 

But the Christians stood to the claim that only God is God, in a way the emperor could never be. Consequently, the wrath of Rome fell on them.

Which is why Perpetua and Felicitas found themselves in prison as they were preparing to get baptised. At that point, Perpetua was about 22 years old, married, and had an infant son. Felicitas, her slave, was pregnant.

In our day and age, the social media channels would be brimming with this story. We can imagine tear-jerking headlines and articles complete with photos of the young mother and her baby. Our heart would go out to them, and many of us would leverage what legal and political influence they have in order to free these women.

So the actual response of these women to their situation baffles us all the more.

Perpetua and Felicitas were not interested in being freed. Their sole interest was in being faithful to God in their situation. And if that meant death for their faith, then they were ready to face it.

[Reframing our thinking about family] provides a much needed corrective to the individualistic tendencies that come more easily to the nuclear family. It’s ultimately about following Jesus, not living out the ideal family.

“But what about their children?”, you may ask. Here’s their response:

THREE WAYS THESE WOMEN CHALLENGE OUR 21st CENTURY WESTERN PERSPECTIVE

1. Serving God comes before family

Perpetua and Felicitas were not cold hearted or without emotion. Perpetua’s thoughts and feelings are well documented in her personal journal.

Every now and then, I hear young Christian people contemplate whether they should have children. The implication, especially for the women, is that with children it will be impossible to radically serve God.

 

We know her heart was torn by her father’s pleas to consider the fate of her child. For a short time, she had her baby boy with her in prison, and it looks like she loved him like any mother loves her children.

But even for the love of her baby, there was one thing she would not do: deny Jesus Christ. Repeatedly, Perpetua declared herself a Christian before the Roman officials. Both she and Felicitas managed to be baptised before their martyrdom, and it is evident that Jesus was the real center in their lives.

How different is this from what you might see or experience today! Every now and then, I hear young Christian people contemplate whether they should have children. The implication, especially for the women, is that with children it will be impossible to radically serve God. On the other hand, we know families who keep Jesus as a part of their lives, like a beloved piece of furniture. But there is no element of risk, of going out of their way in discerning God’s call and obeying it, because “the children”, “school”, “too busy”, and so forth.

Perpetua and Felicitas demonstrate that one thing, and one thing only, is ultimate: clinging to Jesus and honoring Him in every circumstance – even if that flies in the face of conventional wisdom and means heart-breaking decisions.

2. Spiritual family is real

Felicitas’ big concern was that she might miss the martyrdom with her friends. According to Roman law, no pregnant woman could be executed (side note: obviously, this ancient pagan culture had a higher view of life in the womb than we have in our Western nations today!). In the end, she didn’t; her baby girl was born shortly before the day of execution and given to a sister to nurture and raise.

This highlights an important fact: we are tempted to think of family in narrow, suburban terms of parents and children.

The New Testament, particularly the Epistles, challenge us to re-frame our thinking. Because all followers of Jesus Christ are declared brothers and sisters; they form one big family and are expected to live as such.

Perpetua and Felicitas were evidently much more sisters in the Faith than mistress and slave. And it seems that this meaningful bond extended to the four young Christian men who were to be executed on the same day as Perpetua and Felicitas. It shows us that spiritual family is real. It doesn’t supersede or replace the natural family. But it provides a much needed corrective to the individualistic tendencies that come more easily to the nuclear family. It’s ultimately about following Jesus, not living out the ideal family. When we are so inward focused and only concerned about our blood relatives, or aspiring to be the happy family that smiles at us from billboards and ads, we come dangerously close to idolatry: raising up something other than Jesus and giving it our devotion.

3. Happiness is an eternal thing, not a temporary one

After months in prison, and separated from their babies, one might expect Perpetua and Felicitas to face their martyrdom subdued and distraught. The opposite was the case: the two women and three men (one had died in prison) were composed and at peace when thrown into the arena to be killed by wild animals.

 

 Are our first thoughts regarding happiness pictures of smiling family members, in good health, pursuing our favorite activities … Or is there room for bliss that we can but taste here on earth?

Injured by a crazed cow, yet not fatally wounded, Perpetua even asked to fix her hair before her throat would be cut by a gladiator – because she didn’t want to look sad or in disarray on the joyful occasion of entering eternal life.

In this, she holds a mirror up to us. Where do we see true happiness located? Are our first thoughts regarding happiness pictures of smiling family members, in good health, pursuing our favorite activities – and thus thoroughly this-sided? Or is there room for bliss that we can but taste here on earth, a joy that is so surpassing that we know it will make our earthly happiness pale in comparison?

We do well to remember these precious women. They are examples of exceptional courage, but much more: they point us to the uncomfortable truth that Jesus is worth both living and dying for.

And they shake our assumptions, challenging us to consider whether we serve God, even as parents and families, or whether we use our families to avoid taking risks for Jesus.

 

 

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

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When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

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St Valentine’s Story: Chocolates, Flowers, or Your Head Cut Off?

St Valentine’s Story: Chocolates, Flowers, or Your Head Cut Off?

For February 14, do you prefer flowers, chocolates, or your head cut off? Below you’ll find out what St. Valentine’s story and those things have to do with each other.

 

Maybe Valentine’s Day doesn’t elicit more than an annoyed sigh from you. Or it puts you under pressure to have a Valentine this year, or do something especially romantic (and potentially especially expensive). Whatever your reaction to the impending February 14, stopping to wonder what a 3rd century Christian saint has to do with flowers and greeting cards may offer a fresh and unexpected perspective.

 

You might have guessed it: spending in the name of romance wasn’t on Valentine’s agenda. It seems that the connection between St. Valentine and romantic love wasn’t drawn until about 1000 years after his death – by famous English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (The Canterbury Tales). Since then, sending each other love notes on February 14 took off, until it evolved into the huge act it is today.

 So what about the actual St. Valentine?

 Turns out we don’t even know for sure whether the saint we are referring to was one person – or rather two different persons who were both martyred on the same day. Supposedly Valentine was a bishop who either healed a blind girl and subsequently converted a prominent Roman household to Christianity, or he secretly married young couples even though that was against the law, or both. And he wouldn’t keep quiet about the Christian faith. Which is what got him killed.

 

In light of the lack of information we have about his life, what can we glean from this saint as we look forward to February 14, the day his martyrdom is remembered?

For one, if the accounts of him secretly marrying couples in Rome are true, then this speaks to us about the nature of love. In today’s dating culture, you can have a “Valentine”, a “love interest”, or any other option from among the many forms or stages of “significant other”. The tendency is to use the word “love” loosely, and handle commitments to each other also fairly flexibly.

 

However, when Valentine married couples against the emperor’s edict (yep, we’re remembering a lawbreaker here!), he implicitly stated that marriage is the way to go for men and women who profess that they love each other. It makes an important point on the nature of God’s love, actually: namely, how does God love us?

 True Love

Quite often, we immediately connect the word love with a sensation, a feeling, a rush of hormones. Since God-Father and God-Holy Spirit do not have bodies and therefore no hormones, it begs the question as to how their love for us functions (and we can include pre-incarnation Jesus into that as well). As Scot McKnight has wonderfully explained here, the Bible shows us a God who loves us through commitment. God’s love is a rugged commitment to be with his people and for his people, so that their lives would be infused and enriched and transformed by His.

 

So you may know people who wouldn’t hesitate to send a text or a note that say “I love you” to someone they might have met yesterday. What we need to realize is that this is a far cry from the Bible’s beautiful perspective. From the vantage point of the Older and Newer Testament, we can see how God’s commitment to His people – before and in Jesus – lays the only foundation that can bear a lifelong relationship with all its complexities and surprises and mistakes.

 St. Valentine, Breaking the Law for Love

So when St. Valentine, through his actions, declared that the covenant of marriage was more important than the emperor’s law, he was making this statement: that love is first of all a commitment, and only this commitment is the foundation strong enough for true intimacy and relationship – feelings ebb and flow, and romantic hopes can be dashed. Committing to each other in marriage is the way that shows forth God’s own character, and the actually best option to see our dreams of lifelong romance and faithfulness fulfilled.

Another thing we can observe in St. Valentine is his personal commitment. We don’t know whether he was married (probably not), but that’s not the commitment I am talking about.

Valentine was outspoken about Jesus and the need to commit (!) one’s life to Him. Depending on the source material, he even urged the emperor himself to become a Christian. Unfortunately, the emperor didn’t like that suggestion and had Valentine beheaded.

 

Being Committed

Here is something to think about: do I show the same commitment in my walk with Christ? To stick with my Lord even when threatened with dire consequences? How much easier is it to just keep quiet for a moment and avoid ruffling the feathers. After all, there are plenty of other people who would be more agreeable to the message of Jesus – right? Maybe I’ll just wait to share the Gospel with them…

 

Even in today’s supposedly tolerant world, there are plenty of voices that take offense with the Gospel message – and consequently with its messengers (read: you and me). As one of the many martyrs (the word simply means “witness”) is remembered this Valentine’s Day, maybe we can rethink where we stand. Are we more prone to bite our tongue at the slightest opposition to Jesus – or are we growing towards a wise and courageous sharing of Jesus’ message, regardless of whether we step on proverbial toes?

Feel Free to be Romantic!

By the way, if you are in a relationship, by all means go and get the flowers, the chocolates, the dinner and dancing, or whatever your time and budget allow. Romantic gestures are important – especially when you are committed to someone.

But in light of St. Valentine’s example, let’s reflect for a moment: if love is primarily a commitment, then how committed am I – to my partner, my neighbour, to God?

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

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When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

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Why We Don’t Do Santa

Why We Don’t Do Santa

No, we are not humbugs, nor miserable human beings. In fact, we LOVE Christmas. We just really don’t like the big guy in red (or lying to our children). Check out the above video to find out why we began a rebellion against lying and why we don’t do Santa Claus in our house.

St. Nicholas Day (or Feast of St. Nicholas)

 

Did you know that there is an actual day to celebrate St. Nicholas? December 6th! In  Germany (and many other nations) celebrate the Saint Nicholas of Myra who was an early Christian Bishop.
In Germany, we all put our boots and shoes outside to be filled with oranges, nuts, apples, and chocolates. Which reminds me, this year we are spending Christmas in Canada so I’m going to miss my mother-in-laws amazing “Nikolaus” bag of goodies she gives to us.

What a pity.

Continuing with St. Nicholas…
This man was incredible and known for his generosity. Though very little is actually known about him, his life and remembrance are surrounded by fantastic legends of miracles he did. He is a father of our Christian faith, and even attended the Council of Nicea!

 

Besides the couple of legends I mentioned in the video, he is possibly most well known for his gift of a dowry for three impoverished sisters. Today, we read  Story of the World Vol. 2 book that Nicholas actually threw bags of gold coin down the impoverished family’s chimney. Perhaps that’s where the whole tale of Santa going down the chimney comes from?

 

Do You Do Santa?

 

 Share below whether you “do” Santa. Why or why not?  I’d love to know!

 

 

 

Are you ready to have a more intentional and quiet Advent?

 

Sign up for the FREE simple email challenge. Every Sunday during Advent you’ll receive an email from moi. This challenge is designed for you to remember and prepare yourself for the King!

 

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

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Why is Advent Important?

Why is Advent Important?

What is Advent and why is it important? Before we dive in, I want you to imagine yourself as the president (or prime minister or head of state) of your country. Ready?

What do Presidents and Advent have to do with one another?

Imagine you, Mrs. President, are visiting a foreign country, flying in with a host of dignitaries and attendants. The plane lands on the airstrip, the stairway is attached, and as the door opens, you step out, hand half raised to wave and greet the waiting crowd,

and you see – no one.

Did they really forgot this important visit? It’s inconceivable! But imagine how much more embarrassing it must be for the country you are visiting. No frantic scramble can make up for the fact that they utterly failed to receive you with due honor. Whatever they manage to quickly put together as a formal reception will be piecemeal, hastily assembled, and lacking the careful composition and foresight that would normally be expanded for guests of honor.

Now, I have never heard of a case where a country’s political leadership forgot about the visit of a foreign dignitary. Probably because they all have a very important tool – a calendar. In a way, Advent is like that.

 

A Brief History – The Origins of the word “Advent”

 

Maybe you found it challenging to imagine yourself as President or Chancellor, and you were wondering what that might have to do with Advent. It might surprise you – as it did me – that originally this time was named “epiphaneia”, and this word means the arrival, presence, or visit of a dignitary, particularly of a king or emperor. (January 6 is still celebrated as Epiphany for that reason.)

 

When Latin took over in the Western church, the name for the weeks leading up to Christmas was called tempus adventus Domini – the time of the arrival of the Lord. Hence we got the name Advent for this season.

Maybe you are interested in Advent trivia such as the fact that until 1917, Advent was a time of fasting in the Roman Catholic Church, comparable to Lent. And that this period once used to range from November 11 until January 6 (so no stuffing yourself with sugar cookies all through December).

 

What is Advent and Why is it Important?

Whether such facts intrigue you or not, one question remains: why have such a time at all? Couldn’t we just celebrate Christmas and be happy about it?

It seems to me that the Christians in the first centuries were at least as wise as we, if not wiser. Maybe they saw the danger of Christmas just sneaking up on us and catching us unprepared. Or maybe they thought along the lines of preparing for an important dignitary, making sure that everything – inwardly and outwardly – was ready for his arrival. How embarrassing it would be having to scramble on the last day, and how shameful for the honoured guest to be treated with such a lack of anticipation!

 

Different Historical Advent Traditions

To be sure, the emphasis varied initially. Some highlighted the miracle of the incarnation, underscoring the unfathomable mystery that God entered humanity. Others placed the focus more on the fact that, just as Jesus came once as a baby, he will come again as king of the universe and bring justice and peace forever

Both are important, and both are much too weighty to ponder on single day, sandwiched in between meal preparations and family gatherings.

A Time to Long and a Time to Celebrate

Which is why we have Advent – a season to let the astounding truths of Jesus’ first and second coming soak into our very souls, to incite in us longing and gratefulness and praise. And a time to prepare ourselves for the joyful celebration. The celebration where we remember Him entering our world and becoming like us. And where we celebrate His impending return in glory.

Thank you to my fantastic husband, Simon Goeppert for this guest post!

If you like his thoughts and writing, be sure to check out our new Advent Devotional!

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

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Homeless for Christmas

As “I’ll be home for Christmas” is being played on the radio for the umpteenth time this December, most of us will not think twice about this - of course we’ll be home for Christmas! Meal planning, gift wrapping, church service - so much to take care of, so naturally...

7 Advent Facts You Probably Don’t Know

7 Advent Facts You Probably Don’t Know

Sure, what is Advent all about anyway? Is it a time to buy chocolate before we eat more chocolate? Or rather just a marketing ploy to buy more stuff in order to count down to more presents? Think again! In this video, we talk about seven interesting Advent facts that you may not have known.

Symbolic Themes of the Advent Candles

You might notice that in the video I didn’t go into detail about just what each candle can represent. Since there were at least five different variations I decided it would be better to list them here. These candles are traditionally on an Advent wreath but in recent years there has been a rise of more non-traditional forms of containing lighting the candles.

Variation 1:

  • The Prophets’ Candle, symbolizing hope; the Bethlehem Candle, symbolizing faith; the Shepherds’ Candle, symbolizing joy; the Angel’s Candle, symbolizing peace

Variation 2:

  • Hope–Peace–Joy–Love

Variation 3:

  • Faithfulness–Hope–Joy–Love

Variation 4:

  • Prophets–Angels–Shepherds–Magi

Variation 5:

  • Faith–Prepare–Joy–Love

 

As you can see, that’s a lot of love!

 

Family Advent Tip:

Last year we did our own mini Advent Candle lighting ceremony. We sang a song, and lit the candle. You can find many traditional Advent songs by doing a quick google search. Or you can check out this handy list of songs suitable for Advent: https://focusoncampus.org/content/10-advent-songs-to-remind-you-its-not-yet-christmas

 

3 Minute Advent Devotions

My awesome hubby and I recently released a new Simple Advent Devotional Ebook which we are very excited about. We focus on different Advent themes including longing, promise, and fulfillment.

 

DIY Advent Traditions

If you want to customize your Advent wreath and change up the symbolism, I’d say, “Go for it!”. As long as the Spirit of Advent is there and that is: Hope and Anticipation!

 

Are you ready to have a more intentional and quiet Advent?

 

Sign up for the FREE simple email challenge. Every Sunday during Advent you’ll receive an email from moi. This challenge is designed for you to remember and prepare yourself for the King!

 

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Instagram | Social media as a Spiritual Discipline

Today I'm handing over the proverbial reigns to a friend of mine, and a fellow sister in Christ, Christine. She is going to challenge us today to take social media to a new level as she explains her journey of developing the spiritual practice of using Instagram. Can...

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

When Our Baby Almost Died Because We Listened to God

A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two. Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults...

Homeless for Christmas

Homeless for Christmas

As “I’ll be home for Christmas” is being played on the radio for the umpteenth time this December, most of us will not think twice about this - of course we’ll be home for Christmas! Meal planning, gift wrapping, church service - so much to take care of, so naturally...