Advent

In our country, Christmas is advertised before Halloween arrives. By the first of December, the Christmas season is in full swing. Holiday parties and greetings are everywhere you go. There is extra food, gifts in the shop windows, concerts, ballets, and more.

How different this is from the traditional Advent. Like the Lenten season before Easter, Advent was a time for fasting and preparation. Preparation for the coming of the Christ was the focus as you contemplated Christ’s first coming and looked forward to His second coming. The hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel reminds us of His first coming while Joy to the World anticipates His future return to earth to reign forever.

Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which was the first Sunday in December. The first Sunday’s theme is hope, hope that our Savior will be born to us, hope in God’s promises to us that He will send a savior, hope that the baby born in a stable will transform the world. This past Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, the theme was faith. Faith n the promises of God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to take away the sin of the world.

Each day of Advent, there are hymns to sing and Scriptures to read as we hope and believe, pray and prepare our hearts for the coming Messiah. Over the years, my children and I spent time each day reading about the promises of Christ’s coming, starting in the Old Testament and ending in readings about His birth in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Advent is from the Latin word, adventus, which means coming. Two ways of counting down the time are advent calendars, where you open a door in a calendar each day of December until the 25th. Also, the Advent wreath is a traditional way of counting down. Each Sunday of Advent, a different candle is lit. The four candles stand for hope, peace, faith, and joy. On the 25th, the center candle, the Christ candle, is lit, signifying that He has arrived.

It is a time to prepare fruitcakes and cookies and other traditional fare, which are then tucked away for the great day to arrive. Christmas trees didn’t become an American and English tradition until the 19th century. For many decades, the tree was put up and lit on Christmas Eve, partly because a live tree doesn’t last long and partly because Christmas itself was not celebrated until then.

There is a song called The Twelve Days of Christmas and we sing about the many gifts that the true love gave to the singer. However, we don’t think about the meaning behind the song. In medieval times, all of the preparation of Advent led to the twelve days of Christmas in which people celebrated the Christmas season. Starting on December 25 and lasting until Twelfth Night, there were feasting and stories and celebrations throughout the twelve days.

Christmas ended when Epiphany, January 6, arrived.

One of the things I often thought I’d like to do is to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas, even if quietly and without big daily feasts and presents, but to save up the celebrating and special treats until the actual day of Christmas and the days following.

This year, as you struggle to buy the presents and prepare the cookies and candies and treats and run around to the various parties, celebrate Advent by spending some time, quietly, reverently, wondering at the coming of the Christ, who came to give His life and save His people. Find time each day to think about that wondrous gift from God and pray and ponder Him in your heart as Mary did. You will find the season has much more meaning as you think about what it really means and how you can know this baby who is the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

Quote for the Day

Bookroom corner

 ” ‘I thank you, sir, I thank you,’ he murmured, and placed George Herbert between Spenser and Piers Plowman on the shelf. ‘You give me great wealth for the gift of a book is the gift of a human soul. Men put their souls in their books. When one man gives another a book then three souls are bound together in that most happy thing, a trinity. ”

From The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge.

Blogs that I love – Modern Mrs. Darcy

Knitting

Several months ago, I discovered that I was reading articles from a new (to me) blog: Modern Mrs. Darcy (MMD).   First of all, those of us who are Jane Austen fans can’t possibly resist the name, Modern Mrs. Darcy!   Add to that, Anne, the owner of MMD, is an engaging writer who covers so many topics I’m interested in.  From book reviews to articles about Myers-Briggs personality tests** to organizing life the Kondo way  to introducing services like ePantry, there is always something of interest.  Add to that, a weekly round up of favorite links and lists and lists of good books to read, and I was hooked.

While I read some blogs for moral or theological edification and others to help me organize or learn things I need to know for work, school, or my home, there are a few blogs I read just for the sheer fun of it.  MMD is one of my fun blogs.  I hope you all enjoy it, too.

Here are just a few articles to get you started:

Books worth binge reading

3 time management rules I wish I’d learned 10 years ago

My accidental capsule wardrobe

The perfect summer reading for every Myers-Briggs personality type

Grown-ups shouldn’t finish books they’re not enjoying

 

**I adore taking Myers-Briggs personality tests.  Even though I rarely deviate from the expected result, I still can’t resist taking it again, just in case I’ve changed, and then reading all of the various personality quirks, perfect jobs, and people like me articles that go along with my personality type.  It’s fun.  Give it a try.

Things I love: Planning and Organization

For many years I eagerly anticipated September, not just because it meant a new school year (like Hermione in the Harry Potter books, I was a confirmed know-it-all), but also because I loved all of the organization paraphernalia that went along with a new school year. New pencils, blank notebooks, perfect binders, a new box of crayons, etc. All of these things made my heart sing with joy.

When I graduated from college, I had to replace those lovely paper products somehow and turned to planners and calendars to scratch my paper/organization itch. I started with a fairly straightforward planner I found at a office supply store. Several years later, as a new mother, I found a lovely bound book for Christian women. One year I used a calendar I had bought at a museum shop, several years I used a Franklin Covey planner, and another year I downloaded one and put the printout in a binder for that year.

Then came the electronic age and a new smartphone. Suddenly I had a calendar that went everywhere with me and had multiple apps to keep track of my schedule, my task list, and notes. So last year I decided to go paperless. I downloaded Evernote for note-taking and a calendar app, which combined my two google calendars (personal and work) and my iPhone calendar as well as my task list.

I wish I could say that I am now proudly paperless, but I didn’t last very long without paper. I found myself writing down lists on the backs of envelopes (and promptly losing them), taking notes on pieces of paper that then floated away into a stack of loose paper, taking sermon notes on the weekly bulletin and sticking it in my Bible until I could hardly close it, and generally being completely disorganized.

Last spring I heard about bullet journals from a friend and since I had an extra blank notebook, I created a bullet journal. Some things I really liked about it: I could put anything I wanted in it—task lists, books to read, blog post ideas, sermon notes, work notes, menus, etc. However, I didn’t like the fact that I could never find anything without going to the index in the front and then turning to the page. It was annoying. I decided that I really liked the binder idea because I could put tabs in for different categories, but I didn’t like a full-sized binder.

My problem was solved when I discovered the Arc notebook system at Staples. I found a 9 x 6 notebook on sale and bought it. I can print out my own pages (there are numerous sites with free forms although I could also create custom forms in Word, if I want something I can’t find), put tabs between sections, and only have the categories I need without a bunch of things I will never use.

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The best part is that since it is completely customized, I was able to start using it immediately rather than wait until January 1—a definite plus. In addition, it has that new paper and notebook smell that is uniquely tied to Fall and the beginning of the school year. This new planner pleases me in so many ways that I’m bound to use it, if only to have the privilege of writing on a fresh page each day.

How do you like to plan? Do you use paper, electronic, or a hybrid?