advent in the heart and home (guest post by GraceLaced)

Hi there! I'm Ruth from over at GraceLaced. I'm a pastor's wife and a mom to five little boys.

Annalea and I are excited to bring you a month of inspiring posts about Advent in both our homes and in the hearts of our families. Today I'm welcoming you into my home, so come on in!

I can vividly recall years gone by, when my greatest intentions for a Christ-centered Christmas was disappointingly squelched by the hectic and frantic chasing after the "magic" of Christmas. That promise of warmth, cozy, festive, good-will, and joy...if you do, make, buy, give, or decorate in just the "right" way. Christmas and the Advent season became burdensome and stressful. I rarely felt magic...or joy.

Our family is simplifying this year. For years and years, we've had an enormous open house to celebrate Christmas each year. While we love a grown-up, dress-up, hors d'oeurves and chocolate-fountain party, we knew it was time to make memories with our kids---to leave them with a Christmas impression of peace, reflection, and simplicity. It's so easy to get caught up with impressing others, when the only impression that really matters is that of Christ upon our kids.

We're celebrating the Advent season by doing The Advent Jesse Tree
this year. A devotional reading and symbolic ornament each day serves to commemorate the coming of the Lord Jesus. 25 days of meditating on the Gospel story ushers in the true gift of Christmas Day. It's not just for the kids--it's for me too!

My boys love our annual reading through Jotham's Journey, a deeply engaging storybook for the Advent season. Some of us get teary-eyed when The Preacher brings the story to life in his nightly reading. :)

The Preacher built me a simple mantle this year over the fireplace. Though Santa doesn't get the credit for the special tucked-in goodies, we have fun putting up our homemade stockings anyway! Man-cub Number 5 has yet to get one of his own--Mama needs to get on the sewing machine!

My favorite piece of decor this year didn't cost me a thing! It's a piece of dead juniper from Grandma and Grandpa's house in the mountains, enlivened with two precious little repurposed cardinals. Don't you love it?

A large jar with a string of white lights serves as an alternative to a lamp this month--what ambience!

And...just a little tip about taking photos of lighted Christmas trees at night: Turn up your ISO-- waaay up! I shot this at f2.2, 1/20, ISO 4000.

I think if there's anything I've learned in recent years, it's that when my heart is fixed on the right things, my feelings will follow suit. While it may seem that what my heart desires most is warmth and the beauty of the season, it is ultimately the condescension and glorification of Christ that truly satisfies my deepest longings. May your Christmas be meaningful, and simply significant in every way.

Blessings to you this Christmas!

(where you'll find a guest post from me.)


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