Friday, 22 November 2013

family Advent calendars and traditions

It's that time of year again. When I try to come up with creative, fun little ways to celebrate the Advent season.

I've blogged about various Advent calendar ideas in the past:

* Advent calendar crazy
* Advent calendar ideas

Last year we had a photo Advent calendar.

And there are just so, so many wonderful ideas online. Like:

1. Hallowe'en candy wrapped up, one for each day of Advent.

2. Small treats in 2 regular muffin tins = 24 days, 1 mini muffin tin = 24 days, with covers attached on each opening that you peel off as the days go by.

3. A tell-the-nativity-story calendar with items that remind kids of the various pieces of the Jesus Christmas story.

4. The one-bottle-of-wine each day of Advent calendar. Adults only.

5. Another idea I had was to take some moments of quiet every day - as a family. Maybe we'll reward ourselves with a chocolate afterward. I don't really need more ideas to busy myself up. I'm really good at that already. I need ideas for how to clear some space to wonder, reflect on the year, anticipate what's coming, and wait for the light.

Advent Wonder is what I'll be reading each day Monday and Friday throughout December. I really loved their Lent stuff, and I'm looking forward to these little free nuggets too.

What are your Advent traditions?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

collect manna

I've had these post-it notes stuck to my bedside table lately. They're the first things I see when I wake up.

Because too often I wake up with a vision of scarcity. Never relating to food or money - those would actually be important worries to have. My worries are more to do with a feeling of scarcity of time - time for myself, time to get work projects done, time with my family and friends. Too much on my plate, not enough space in my mind. I worry about needs like meaningful connection with others, Sabbath rest, and time to create. I crowd out God and any kind of "enough" space from the moment I wake up.

So I've tried having this as my mantra lately:

God will provide. 
There will be enough.
Collect manna.

Those wandering Israelites were whiners like me. But they were actually complaining about where their FOOD would come from. But every day, they woke up to fresh manna bread on the ground - enough for that day.

I look back on my last blog post which was written an age ago, and I think WHO WAS THAT HUGE SCAREDY CAT? It reminds me again of how we become what we dwell on. I was dwelling on fear, and that's what I was becoming. I was Fear. I do not want to be Fear. I want to be Brave.

There was a word that kept coming back to me, and I wrote it on this puzzle piece as part of a women's retreat that I facilitated in beautiful British Columbia: OPPORTUNITY.

[By the way, if you ever have things you need to work through in your life, just sign up to facilitate a retreat for others. It really helps! That whole thing about when I teach, I learn is so true.]

Back to opportunity, I want to seize our next Costa Rican chapter this winter as opportunity. Because it is. And now I can see it, and I'm excited about the possibilities.

I want to go into my days looking for God's divine fingerprints - looking for evidence of manna provision all around me. It's there - I know it is, when I take the time to look.

Photography helps me to seize those manna moments - pausing to consider small things in nature or in my family life, to realize that God is in these moments, and that God is providing each day - if I take the time to notice. Bottling manna moments.

Here are some of my manna moments over the past couple of months: (oh, how I love fall...)

morning mist

plunging into a northern lake on Thanksgiving weekend

lone pine


reflecting the light

gift of water

I just have a thing about mushrooms. Isn't this one a beauty?