This first Sunday of Advent, we set out our nativity pieces around the house and put the green paper up on the wall to fill in as our Christmas tree this year. Small living spaces require alternative solutions for holding to tradition. The ‘tree’ went up on Saturday actually, but the lights were too heavy on the paper and it began to fall down right about bedtime. Seeing as our son sleeps at the foot of that particular wall, I couldn’t risk the rest of it peeling off on top of him during the night – so down it came for the night. After the tree was up properly the next day and lights were twinkling, we let Kaiser open his first gift of the season – a LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar. And, yes, we saved for three weeks to get that thing. The first window held lego pieces that made a little R2D2. How cute. How cool. How crazy. How luxurious. I swing back and forth between embarrassment of its opulence and sheer excitement of watching Kaiser open the next window. We showed it off to Grandma and Papa and Auntie Em on Skype this morning – it’s that exciting.
When I watch my son’s face light up with the excitement of anticipation rewarded each morning, I recognize the powerful pull from my own experiences. Waking up the morning that we’re going up the hill to get our Christmas Tree with Dad and the brothers. Waking up the morning we’re heading up to Cooper Lake for huckleberries and perfect fishing. Waking up the morning we’re heading down to Colorado for the summer. Waking up the first day of school (yes, weird children can look normal on the outside). Just writing about these memories makes my heart skip a beat remembering the flood of anticipation. I know that for my 4 yr old, the time that passes between opening each window in his advent calendar is about the same as the passing of a year for me. Anticipation builds. Consumes. Causes some strange comments throughout the day…..attempts at masking hope, I presume. But hope cannot be masked on a 4 yr old. It shines brighter than the lights on the Christmas tree. Hope that Mom will declare today the 5th, 6th and 7th of December – and it’ll be the 8th of December by dinnertime!! Wouldn’t that be fantastic!?
I really do love how anticipation grows and consumes every thought. It really was meant to do just that. My difficulty is in managing where my anticipation lands. It’s easy to set my heart on things that are pretty and fun and, I’ll be honest, tasty. But most things that fit into those categories are either quick to disappoint or quick to satisfy with disappointment growing on your hips. When I see my son’s anticipation and recognize its pull, my heart cries out to the Lord that He would hold our hearts fast. I want to long for Him. I don’t always long for Him. But I want to. One of the most precious aspects of Advent for me is how it gently holds my face, like a Mother with two hands under a child’s chin. Its time and focus demand that my attention remain on Christ and Christ alone.
Each morning now, we pull out our Good Dirt Devotional and Bible, sit together on our bed and set the pace for opening our hearts to the Lord. I’ve found some of the questions difficult to navigate with my wee boy. “What is one way you can welcome Jesus into your day today?” We settled on thinking about Jesus being with us during Taekwondo class. At the end of the day we reflected, “Were you able to welcome Jesus today like you planned?” Um….. “Was it easy or hard?” Yeah, it was hard. Did we forget? Yes. Not only that, it was difficult to imagine how Jesus could be there with us when he wasn’t running the drills and practicing His 품새, too. Is Jesus a purple belt like me, too, Mom? But the biggest blessing we’ve received so far is the daily consideration of His Word. We read the suggested readings twice each day and it soaks in deep. I pray that as we listen to the way Jesus calls us to follow Him – what He requires of His disciples – our anticipation will become steadfastly set on doing just that. Following Him.
And we’ll see what He says about R2D2 coming along, too.