So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

By all accounts, 2020 has been a rough, rough year. It’s no wonder so many of us started getting our Christmas decorations out in October. We are craving joy and comfort. And since we are spending more time at home than usual, we long to bring that sense of peace into our lives that comes from a softly lit Christmas tree, the sound of carols, and the smell of cinnamon.

It has been said that we need Christmas now more than ever, and I get that. I do.

But I would also argue we need Advent now more than ever, too. 

In the secular world, the Christmas season has traditionally commenced right after Thanksgiving. Although, through the influence of clever advisors, it seems we are urged to begin the season earlier and earlier each year. From a marketing standpoint, this makes sense. The more days there are in the “Christmas season,” the more days people are shopping. And while I’m not suggesting we don’t get our shopping done early or that we shun all Christmas fun until December, there is something to be said for giving Advent its proper due. 

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas—which is usually the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Advent is also the beginning of the Christian year, according to the liturgical calendar, which is observed both by Catholics and by many Protestant denominations. 

Advent is a time of waiting and of preparation.

While the rest of the world is focused on shopping, parties, and decorating, Christians have traditionally used these days before Christmas to prepare for the coming of Jesus—as a baby in the manger, into our hearts today, and at the end of time. 

In many churches, scripture readings during Advent are focused around the theme of hopeful waiting. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus reminds us to be watchful and alert. Saint Paul encourages us as we wait on the coming of the Lord. We hear the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah, and we read in the New Testament about John the Baptist and how he prepares the way for the Lord.

In our homes, we light the candles around our advent wreaths. Some families put up a Jesse tree, which tells the story of God’s relentless pursuit of us from creation until the birth of Christ. Many of us read a specific advent devotional book or say specific prayers. And while Advent is not a penitential season like Lent, in order to prepare for our celebration of Christmas and for Christ’s coming, Christians are encouraged to reflect on our lives during Advent and repent of those things that keep us from following God’s will. 

In some families, most of the trappings of Christmas—decorating, listening to carols, hosting parties–are delayed until closer to the 24th. One point of this is to add to the sense of anticipation and, as a result, to add to the sense of joy when the big day finally arrives. 

This time of waiting for Christmas also mimics our life as Christians. Because of Jesus, we have hope, and we have joy. But our hope is yet to be fulfilled, and our joy is not complete. By waiting to fully celebrate the coming of Jesus until Christmas, we are reminded that the joys and sufferings of this world are nothing compared to what is to come. Advent encourages us in hope and in perseverance. 

That’s why this year we need Advent more than ever.

That isn’t to say we can’t go ahead and put up our trees or that we have to hold off on listening to our favorite Christmas playlist. We want and need to celebrate right now. But no amount of twinkle lights or Christmas music will really heal us. Advent is about our hope that Christ will lift us out of suffering and darkness. Christmas is the celebration that has He already lifted us by coming to live among us and that He will in finality when He comes again. Advent is about hope, and Christmas is about joy. We need both right now. And the better we prepare in hope, the better we will celebrate in joy. 

The good news is that, although liturgically speaking, Christmas doesn’t begin until December 24, it also doesn’t end for 12 whole days when it wraps up on the Feast of the Epiphany. So, not only does following the Christian calendar and traditions give us time and space to prepare for the coming of Jesus, it gives us a Christmas that lasts more than just one day. That is something 2020 could definitely use. 

This year we absolutely need Christmas more than ever. We need Christmas trees and holly and presents and fudge—lots and lots of fudge. But in our rush to seasonal joy, let’s not forget to prepare for our ultimate joy. May we all have a blessed Advent and a Merry Christmas!

Read our beginner’s guide to observing Advent to get started today!

Laura Hanby Hudgens

Laura is a junior high teacher and a freelance writer. She lives on a buffalo farm in the Arkansas Ozarks where she enjoys cooking and baking, which is also the key to bringing her busy family together. Her work has appeared on The Washington Post, Huffington, Post, Grown and Flown, Aleteia, ChurchPOP, and elsewhere. Find out more about Laura here.

While I Wait for Another Door to Open, I’ll Hold One For Someone Else

In: Faith, Living
Woman teaching another woman by computer

I’m waiting for another door. All my life, I’ve been told that when God closes one door, He opens another. And here I am, staring at the imminent end of the business I’ve built from nothing. Closing down what I started up from sheer willpower, too much caffeine, and the bold determination to work for myself. Scratching out what I made from scratch . . . and it feels horrible. God didn’t just close this door. He slammed it shut, boarded the whole thing up, and hammered the nails in where I cannot pry them open. Believe me. I’ve tried....

Keep Reading

Separating Work From Home is a Must For Me

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mom with baby smiling

If I close my eyes and let myself, I can still see the 11-year-old boy with his pale feet sticking out from under the blanket, on his way to the morgue after a gun accident.   If I close my eyes and let myself, I can still see the still, blue form of the 3-month-old who passed away in his sleep. We gave CPR and all the medicines “just in case,” but that baby was gone long before his caregiver brought him in through the door. If I close my eyes and let myself, I can still see the 3-year-old...

Keep Reading

When Teens Are Hard to Love, You Love Them Harder

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Teen boy sitting with hood up

I lay face down on the floor, praying. Praying in the loosest sense of the word. Praying in the Romans 8:26 way—you know, when the Spirit “intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Because I could not utter any actual coherent thoughts at that point. I was weary and beaten down. Day after day I had been in combat, battling an opponent I didn’t anticipate: one of my children. My own child, one of the people I had lovingly grown inside my body and loved sacrificially for all these years, had staunchly and repeatedly put himself in opposition...

Keep Reading

In This Stage of Marriage, it Feels Like We’re Roommates Who Share the Same Kids

In: Faith, Marriage
Distant couple on phones in bed

How do you get it back? How do you get back the love you once had? Everyone told me marriage was hard and having kids was hard, but I had no idea it would be this hard. I thought everyone was lying because our relationship was solid before marriage. We were best friends. Some days I feel like we’re roommates who share the same kids. It disgusts me even to say that, but it’s the truth. Marriage is hard and has ugly sides to it that everyone seems afraid to talk about. RELATED: Keep Showing Up Even When Marriage is...

Keep Reading

You Are the God of Details, but God These Details Don’t Make Sense

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Window open with shutters

That was not the plan. What just happened in there? We walked out a bit defeated. More than a bit. I felt deflated. Things were supposed to be different by now. This wasn’t what I asked for or expected. This wasn’t even what they told me would happen. We cross the street in silence. Headed to the car and as soon as I shut the car door, I could no longer hold it in. I let the tears flow. All this unknown. I don’t understand. This is life. This is foster care. This is what we chose. That doesn’t make...

Keep Reading

I Am a Good Enough Mom

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother kissing toddler

I came to motherhood knowing nothing about the job. My mother’s example wasn’t an example at all, more of something to forget, and maybe even get therapy for. My own son was the first newborn I’d ever held. When I became a mom, I was 23 and clueless.  Because of my personality, I wanted to do everything right and parenthood was no exception. I read all the books on parenting I could. I talked to older moms and soaked up all the advice they gave me. Having no idea what I was doing made me look to outside sources to inform...

Keep Reading

God’s Plan For Me Wasn’t What I Expected

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman walking with children silhouette

I grew up in a family where we knew who God was. We went to church, and we were involved in church. However, when we weren’t at church, time spent in the Word fell to the wayside. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were wonderful people, but we didn’t make that a priority in my house.  Going into adulthood, I realized I had deceived myself into believing I had a relationship with God. I knew God loved me, but I questioned whether I loved Him. I wasn’t living life in a way that was glorifying to Him. I’m not only...

Keep Reading

But God is Still Good

In: Faith, Living
Woman looking out window

“I can’t afford a new one,” I thought to myself as I shampooed another stain. This can’t keep happening. Maybe I made a mistake. I have to make this last. And the couch. And the clothes. And all the things. We are done having babies. The price of food has doubled. It’s astronomical to fill the cars with gas. Things are closing in on me. How can I best serve my family? Survival mode engaged. When I read the news, when I follow the headlines, when I listen to the conversations around me . . .  I hear fear. Loss....

Keep Reading

Jesus Helps Me Smile Through the Weary Moments of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman holding toddler girl, color photo

“Mom, why aren’t you smiling?” My 4-year-old took one look at my face, and like an open book, she could read me. Sometimes I wish I could hide it better, tucked behind an infinite smile or a pasted-on happy face. Sometimes I wish my beautiful children—so young, free, and fun—wouldn’t see my face on a day like today. RELATED: Motherhood is Hard, But Loving You is the Easiest Thing I’ve Ever Done You see, it’s just so hard—all of it. And I am just so tired. Between working a job, trying to keep up with being a supportive wife and...

Keep Reading

The Guilt of an Angry Mother Meets Grace

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and son hug at home

“No one’s perfect,” I think. I’m mopping up my overspilled anger like the remnants of an erupted chocolate volcano that hit the kitchen floor.  It was the last bucking whine of “I don’t want chocolate in my milk” that did it. The culmination of about one million “I want chocolate in my milk”s ended with a sticky muddy river of it from highchair to floor.  After reasoning with my toddler, which never works well, I gave in to his adamant refusal of white milk for a chocolatey exchange. He responded to my surrender like a 2-year-old. He revolted. Little feet...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.