Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

This Sunday marks the start of the Christian season of Advent. When I was a kid, this meant some countdown candles would be lit on the church Advent Wreath, and I’d get to open the first cardboard door of my German Advent calendar to reveal a chocolate treat (whoo!).

Advent holds more meaning for me these days (although I gladly welcome chocolate into any type of celebration, religious or not).

The word Advent is derived from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Of course we Christians look forward to Christmas Day when we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, but that celebration can be even richer with a solid observance of Advent.

Advent is a season of waiting, hoping, and yearning. But let’s not allow that to mean waiting in lines, hoping for the best deal, and yearning for a moment of peace!

Here are ten ways we can focus our minds and quiet our hearts to prepare for a rich and meaningful Advent season.

1) Decorate – The day after Thanksgiving (and not a moment sooner!) is the day we decorate our home for the holiday season. We’ve pared down over the years to include less items with more meaning. We put up a Christmas tree, Nativity set, white lights, and this year, we’re adding an Advent wreath. Home is hands-down my favorite place to be when it’s bathed in pine and candlelight!

2) Enjoy Simple Rituals – I purchased our simple Advent wreath and taper candles to count off the Sundays before Christmas, and a book called “We Light the Candles” that includes family readings for each day of the Advent season.

Harri10 Ways to Get Your Advent On!

And with the help of an advent activity book, we’ll be making a Jesse Tree with the boys to help them better understand the tradition of Advent too.

3) Sing– I’m a bit of a Christmas music junkie. I must have twenty different Christmas albums that play non-stop from the day after Thanksgiving until, oh, maybe Valentine’s Day? I’m totally jazzed about caroling with a group of friends and singing in the church choir.

Music is such a no-brainer way to get in the spirit, especially if you make sure to include some Advent songs like O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.

4) Create Something Together – Creating something beautiful and festive is a wonderful way to connect and share the season’s wonder.

It’s fun to include kids on baking a delicious treat. (Just don’t leave them unsupervised with the Kisses).

10 Ways to Get Your Advent On!

We have a blast swooshing out a yard full of snow angels and cutting snowflakes from white paper to scotch tape all over the windows.

5) Create Space – Some of us shudder a bit over the idea of holiday gifting because of how drastically it can up the clutter factor (especially for families with multiple children!)

In the weeks before Christmas, I plan to keep an eye out for extras that can be purged in order to create space in our home to breathe, and to prepare a bit for the influx that seems to come with Christmas. I’ll be especially resolved to donate desirable items like Christmas decor, warm clothing, and toys to our local thrift stores at the time they’re needed most.

6) Be a Peacemaker – This can be a tricky time to coordinate family visits and holiday schedules (wait, is that an oxymoron?) Maybe we can help one another out by entering the season with flexibility and grace!

And while we’re at it, let’s pinky swear not to be those Christians who are loudly offended by the secularization of Christmas or having Facebook hissies about people who only go to church twice a year.

Focus on making Advent and Christmas meaningful for you and yours, and your light will shine!

7) Relax – I’m not going overboard on Christmas shopping this year, and I always try to have it done before Thanksgiving. ( I CANNOT do the Black Friday madness. My armpits are sweaty just thinking about it.)

 Instead of shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving, I’ll be decorating and wrapping so that when Advent arrives, I can kick back and revel the season. There’s nothing I love more than drinking cocoa in my garish pink reindeer pajamas beside a glowing tree.

8) Be Choosy – There are dozens of parties and galas and events to attend, but wouldn’t it be something if we only participated in the ones that foster joy and connectedness?

My friends and I enjoy a monthly girls’ dinner with a crew of awesome ladies, but for our December gathering, knowing we are all doing a lot of partying and dinners out, I decided to host a girls’ night IN where my friends can show up in the pajamas for popcorn, wine, and a Christmas movie by my tree. I’m so looking forward to a cozy, low-key evening with my best girls.

9) Reflect – Last year, on Christmas Eve morning, I rose early, grabbed a cup of coffee, and lit my Swedish angel chime. As I flipped through the stack of Christmas cards and photos, I was swept right up in gratitude for the beautiful people in my life. I plan to do this again this year, declaring it a quiet new tradition for myself. In the midst of activity, we all need moments like these to meditate on all that is good.

10 Ways to Get Your Advent On!

10) Meet a Need – We’ve seen some hard times this year, haven’t we? It’s evident that the whole world is, in some way, waiting, hoping, and yearning. In a time of year that can be overrun by consumerist culture, let’s remember to pour out gifts of love and goodness above all.

Ring a bell. Bake a cake. Open your doors or set an extra place at the table. Show the world that on the other side of waiting, hoping, and yearning is love.

Do you wish for more meaning in your Advent season? How might you embrace the season of Advent to prepare your heart and home for the coming celebration of Christmas?


So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Stacy Harrison

Stacy Harrison lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her husband, three sons and a Goldendoodle who wasn’t supposed to shed. When she’s isn’t moonlighting as a wrestling referee (Living Room Floor Federation), Stacy enjoys writing non-fiction, primarily to-do lists and grocery lists. Visit Stacy’s blog,

What Happens to the Mamas When Their Children Are Grown?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Five children walking hand-in-hand, color photo

A friend came up to me the other day after church and commented, “I’ve never seen you alone. I had to make sure you were okay.” It’s true. I’m never alone. I usually have one or two children hanging onto me and three more milling about with my husband close. But at that moment, my husband had stepped away to collect the younger ones from the children’s service, and my older two had run off with their friends. I was standing alone. And as I stood there, one thought crossed my mind, “This is what it will be like when...

Keep Reading

8 Fight Songs for the Single Mom

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding earbuds in ears

They whispered to her: You cannot withstand the storm. I have had days when the storms hit me while I sat on the shower floor with my knees to my chest feeling completely defeated, letting the hot water beat down on my body. I have had nights when the storms hit me as tears stained my pillow. As time has moved on, I am learning how to beat the storms. This is only possible because of the family and friends that God has brought into my life. This is my fight song. These are and have been my take back...

Keep Reading

Your Brother Is With Jesus Now

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Brother and sister in yellow outfits smiling on park bench

“Thao is with Jesus now,” we told her, barely choking out the whisper. Jesus. This invisible being we sing about. Jesus. The baby in the manger? Jesus. How can we explain Jesus and death and loss and grief to a 3-year-old? And now, how can we not? We live it, breathe it, and dwell in loss since the death of her brother, our son, Thao. Here we are living a life we never wanted or dreamed of. Here we are navigating loss and death in a way our Creator never intended. What words can I use to describe death to...

Keep Reading

Even When You Can’t Find Joy, Jesus Is There

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Sad woman through pane of rain covered glass

The international church service was vibrant with voices lifted up in songs of praise. Many clapped their hands and some even danced before God. But I wanted to be invisible. Joy felt like a land depicted in a fairy tale. I had returned from the hospital the day before—a surgery to remove the baby who had died in my womb. Watching this church buzz with happiness unearthed my fragileness. I slouched in my chair and closed my eyes. Tears trickled down my freckled face. My mind knew God was in control, but my heart ached as yet another thing I...

Keep Reading

He Mends Our Broken Hearts

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Praying hands of woman with bracelets

Rays of soft sunlight streamed through the curtain onto the hospital bed. I stepped to the edge of the bed, taking a moment to soak in his face before gently holding his hand. Eighty-nine years is a rich, full life, and each passing day revealed more convincingly it was time for him to go. Grief and relief shared the space in my heart as I carried the weight of understanding each visit held the opportunity to be my last.  When he felt my hand, his eyes opened, and he gifted me a smile. Pop Pop always had a smile for...

Keep Reading

When I Feel Like a Failure, God Reminds Me of His Grace

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child hugs mother in sun flare

I’ve always been a teeth grinder, especially during times of high stress. Striving manifests itself physically through my teeth and jaw. I have even shifted several of my teeth from the grinding, moving my pearly whites to become crooked and a little unsightly. I should’ve known this morning that the night of grinding my teeth before was going to turn into a day of clenching my jaw. The spiritual warfare was intense, the temptations strong. I felt angry and burnt out.  After I finally laid my son down for a nap, I sat on the couch and told God, “I...

Keep Reading

My Father’s Faith

In: Faith, Grief
Man with grown daughter, color photo

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy lately.  When my dad passed away in 2011, I lost the most influential person in my life. He was sacrificial in his love for me and others. His heart was devoted to the Lord, and it was evident to all who knew him. His death marked me in a significant way, and I still struggle with grief 11 years later. But his life marked me in an even greater way, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. As I reflect on legacy, I think about the impact that my dad’s faith had (and still...

Keep Reading

He’s the God of Small Things In Motherhood Too

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman holding infant, black-and-white photo

Normally, on a Sunday afternoon during the girls’ naptime, I try to get some work done or lie down to rest. But a few days ago, I instead wrapped a blanket around my waist to keep warm and pulled cutting boards and pots out of the cupboard.  Before I had kids, I wondered what kind of mom I would be. In fact, I was pretty sure I knew. My outgoing and vivacious personality attracted kids to my side for years. Their energy matched mine, and we giggled and chased each other before collapsing on the floor. I pictured myself holding...

Keep Reading

Silence the Lie that Says You’re Too Much

In: Faith, Living
Mother and daughter smiling outside wearing sunglasses

As a kindergartner sometimes I tagged along to my mom’s work as a hotel housekeeper. While my mom worked, I played in the recreation room. Her boss checked on me and always had something fun to play with or a story to share.  One day, in a burst of excitement, I shared something special that happened over the weekend with the supervisor. The words bounded from my mouth like a puppy ready to play in the morning.  The boss chuckled, “Whoa, motor mouth! Slow down!” In a split second, my 5-year-old heart crumbled, and the lie that would follow me...

Keep Reading

Let’s Stop the Negative Talk about Marriage

In: Faith, Marriage
Square, wooden arch with floral and fabric in field, color photo

Growing up, I remember hearing many negative phrases used about marriage—on TV, by distant relatives, anywhere, really.  “The old ball and chain.” “All my wife does is nag.” “You’re happy in your marriage? You must still be in the honeymoon phase.” These are just a few examples of the many things I have heard for years that create a negative connotation around marriage. I never really thought much of it until I fell in love and got engaged to the man of my dreams. Can you guess what happened next? “Just wait . . .” I heard entirely too many...

Keep Reading