He is coming! It is that time of year again when we get to be in awe of Christ’s coming. We’ve only been enjoying advent with our family for the past five years or so. But I’ve noticed, that when we devote our full attention to Christ, Satan will try to divert it, discourage us, and just make us give it up. (This is true during any season of life.) That’s why I want to encourage you as this season begins not to stress over advent, but enjoy it as much as you can. Here are some tips for a stress-free advent.
Tips for a Stress-Free Advent
#1 – Have a game plan that fits with your schedule.
We all have completely different schedules. It might be so awesome to hear what one person does, but if it doesn’t fit your schedule and you are trying to do what they do, stress will follow. So take a look at your calendar. Pray about it and set aside your family advent time.
Consider these questions:
- How often you will set aside to enjoy the advent season? Weekly? Daily? A few times a week? Fan the spirit the whole time?
- What will those set aside times include? Singing, Scripture reading, devos, ornaments, activities, etc?
After answering the questions above, maybe instead of doing a daily advent you do a weekly devotional activity that you can use as a talking point throughout the entire week. (Look below for advent devotional & activity ideas.)
#2 – Simplify Other Parts of Your Calendar
Easier said than done. December has become the BUSIEST time of the year. If we are running from thing to thing, our stress levels will already be high, and then adding advent to that, makes it feel like just another item to check off the list. When praying about your schedule, consider what you can cut back on during December to really allow peace to filter in. I love what Tracy stated in her post about what she wants for Christmas:
Sometimes we get the idea that just because an activity is a “good” activity, we should do it… Doing fewer things and doing them well not only helps me to be less hectic… it also helps me to actually be present and enjoy the activities we choose to do. Less truly is more: more patience, more attention, more grace.
How about we make more room to be able to focus on Jesus, who is the peace-giver, this month, instead of overloading ourselves with fun things that just leave us drained?
Now, I’m preaching more to my heart than to yours maybe. I tend to overload my schedule but have been working really hard to give our family breathing room, to experience Christ and his grace in our lives, instead of just reading about Him and moving on. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing Christ’s light shine brightly in the hearts that are before us. Let’s not rush their little flames so fast that we almost extinguish them.
#3 – Decide how you will focus your thoughts.
Many of you already have your Advent devotional book picked out for this year and you’ve got everything ready to go. Fantastic! But if you don’t, don’t stress. You can always pick one up, catch up, or just start at the day we are on.
Need some FREE ideas?
The Bible. Yes, you can just keep it simple. God’s word is beautiful and will fill you in on everything that you need. Read a few verses a day out of Luke, Matthew, John or all three. If you don’t have access to a Bible at home, use the Bible App on your phone or Biblegateway.com.
Family Time Training’s Advent Guide. This FREE guide will help your advent be memorable but not overwhelming. It brings the family together for Scripture and an activity once a week.
The Jesus Story Book Bible Advent Guide. This FREE guide comes with a daily reading guide, printable ornaments, and activities.
Great Joy. 25 Advents Meditations by John Piper. These short mediation thoughts are FREE daily and can be read (via blog or email) or listened to on iTunes.
If you prefer to have a beautiful book to read from, these are great options:
The Family Book of Advent by Carol Garborg. This includes 25 stories and activities to celebrate the meaning of Christmas.
Come, Let Us Adore Him: A Daily Advent Devotional. These daily devotions will help center you mind on Christ and be in awe of Him.
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp. These are beautifully illustrated devotional thoughts.
The Wonder of the Greatest Gifts by Ann Voskamp is a daily advent pop-up book
#4 – Set proper expectations?
This is what I envision:
Our family gathered together in our living room with only the soft glow of candles and the sparkling trees lights illuminating our time of singing and Bible reading. All 5 children are attentitvely listening and hungering for more. They are hanging on every word and can’t wait to hang the advent ornament on the tree. We will pray joyously and the kids will beg to do the craft.
But I have to expect that not every night will look like I’ve planned in my head. Right!?! And that is ok.
If we stress about having the perfect advent time, then we will be frustrated. But if we are flexible, have grace, and realize some nights we maybe doing our advent while driving in the car, or around the dinner table instead of in that perfect serene scene in our heads, then peace with follow it.
#5 – Keep it Simple!
If you enjoy doing all the extras then enjoy it. But the moment you start stressing about it, I encourage you to take a deep breath, take a step back and just enjoy Christ. The activities can get overwhelming for some of the advent devotionals out there. Keep it simple. Just because it has an activity doesn’t mean you have to do every. single. activity. Give yourself permission to be ok with skipping some of them. What I’ve done in the past is pick the activities I think we would enjoy the most or be the most thought provoking and do a couple a week.
Did you know there are no rules around advent?
It’s all about preparing our heart for Christ’s coming. We can use this beautiful season to start training our children and ourselves how to set our thoughts on things above all day and not just when we have a quiet moment. Then we will start to learn that any time is a great time to seek Christ, his love and wisdom. And we will start longing for him not only during the advent season but all throughout the year too. Because, he is coming! And he is coming soon!
May your hearts be filled with Christ’s peace and joy this season!
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Lord, we come in absolute awe of you! All you have done for us…all you left behind, just to set us free! Your love overwhelms us.
We pray that we will learn to be in awe of you of you not just during this season but throughout our lives. Let us not let the devil keep us “busy” doing good works so that we forget to focus on who is truly good. Let us be expectantly waiting and rejoicing in your returning, just as so many were anxiously waiting your coming!
It is with open hearts that we embrace this season to focus on you and encourage others to be in awe of you as well.
In the One who is the light of the world and is coming soon – Amen!
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I feel like simplification is the firat step in beating stress. My family is keeping things as simple as possible this year.
I really love your devotional suggestions. It’s so important to pull back and focus our hearts during this season.
I love that you said there are no rules for Advent! We have simplified this year and decided to just read straight from the Bible. This fits our schedule, and our lack of preparation.
I think when people put their eyes back on the real meaning of Christmas, it reduces stress. Several years ago, we stopped the rat race of Christmas and started being more simple with it and it really helped.