The win here is that Advent is TWO DAYS AWAY. In other words, while I am caught by surprise, I’m also TWO DAYS AHEAD. (Hey, it’s something!)

So here’s a hodgepodge of some new stuff and some old stuff in case you’re caught by surprise too. 🙂

Surprised by Advent and Resources to Help - Sarah Reinhard Snoring Scholar

— 1 —

The Good Deed Manger


I heard about it and actually ordered it while I was talking with Allison Gingras recently on her radio show, “A Seeking Heart.” It seemed like just the thing to help us actually DO that whole “fill the manger with straw” thing. (Last year, we used actual straw in the nativity barn I have. And all I ended up with was a big strawy mess. For weeks.)

When it arrived, my 8-year-old and 4-year-old (who are ALL ABOUT opening packages that come in the mail!) were SO excited. My 8-year-old wanted to claim Jordan the Donkey (“But Mooooommmmmm!” she wailed, when I said NO to sleeping with him) and my 4-almost-5-year-old wanted to read the book. Twice.

Will it work for us this Advent? Well, we’ll try it. It’s cute and appealing and while my 10-year-old may roll her eyes, but she’ll play along.

— 2 —

Advent Books for Mom (and Dad)

As it happens, I have a few books that are Advent-specific and perfect for my own Advent devotions.

Sacred Reading: For Advent and Christmas 2015-2016

cover-sacred reading advent 2015

This bills itself as “a new and unique guide to the seasonal use of lectio divina through a simple six-step process that provides prayerful and imaginative exploration of the daily Gospel readings and helps readers deeper their prayer lives.”

I can’t help but ask, “Can this be done in five minutes?” And I know the answer: Yes. God will take whatever you can give him, right? Yes, he will. And there’s this encouragement from the introduction:

One of the ways we can better understand and respond to the Lord during this holy season of Advent is by rediscovering, along with Christians all over the world, a powerful, ancient form of prayer known as sacred reading (lectio divina). What better way to deepen one’s friendship with Jesus Christ, the Word of God, than by prayerfully encountering him in the daily Gospel? This book will set you on a personal prayer journey with Jesus.

The six-step process is straightforward and it’s also outlined each day. Yes, I’m going to try it.

Advent with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections and Prayers

cover-advent with pope francis

“Let the words of Pope Francis guid your Advent journey,” reads the back cover of this small book. Each day has a passage from Scripture, a selection from one of Pope Francis’s homilies or speeches, questions for personal reflection, and a prayer.

It looks like it could take two minutes total.

And it also looks like just what the middle of my day needs: a dose of Jesus and Papa and a reminder that this season, while we wait in joyful chaotic expectation, is about something more than just ripping into gifts and getting-giving-doing.

Advent Christmas Grace

cover-advent christmas grace

In this book, members of the Daughters of St. Paul have shared the fruit of their lectio divina, with the insights and reflections they’ve had on the daily Gospel readings of both the Advent and Christmas seasons.

I love this idea, and while I’m not sure I’ll get to it this year, I do think I’ll tuck this into my Advent pile. The reflections I glanced through are insightful and probably just what I’ll need when I do pick it up.

— 3 —

Chocolate Advent Calendars

I was at a friend’s house for her daughter’s Confirmation party when what to my wondering eye should appear but a high school cousin, selling chocolate Advent calendars for her German Club. Why yes, I did buy three of them (because she didn’t have four available, sadly, so the baby will have to go without).

— 4 —

Blessed Is She Advent Reflection + Journal and Jesse Tree Calendar

One of my friends and I were going to try to go to a Blessed Is She Advent Gathering, but the one in our area was canceled. I did end up purchasing their Advent Reflection + Journal and the Jesse Tree Calendar, though, because, well, they look lovely, don’t you agree?


The journal includes a reflection for each Sunday and then space to write each day of the week. I haven’t been so good about much of any kind of regular devotion since Birth Of Killer Baby, but I like the idea of inserting silence into this season. Combining this with the Sacred Reading book above, I think I may have something to try and grow with…


The Jesse Tree Calendar is about the size of a deck of cards and includes a quote/prompt on one side. On the other side, there’s a Scripture passage reference and then a prayer.

My 10-year-old is enamored with them, so I think this may be something her and I do (the others may be too young to appreciate it, though I’m sure they’ll nose on over to see what we’re up to). I might combine this with the Jesse Tree ornaments we have, but I’m not completely sure. (Did I just imply that I would wing it? Indeed I did.)

From the Introduction card:

The Jesse Tree custom has been used for years by Christians to prepare for Christmas in a whole new way: by depicting personages in the Old + New Testament to show how they tell the story leading up to Jesus. We start with Jesse, who was the father of King David, and lead all the way to the birth of the Christ child.

Our goal with the Jesse Tree Calendar is that you would read every day’s bible verses as well as the short reflection to prepare in a special way for Christmas.

Prepare the way, sisters.

— 5 —

No Panic Needed

I was cruising through my archives and I found a few great reminders about Advent.

There’s a lot of DOING that is a necessary part of Advent preparation. Let’s not add to it and make ourselves dread this season of joyful anticipation. Let’s savor the moments and keep things as simple as we can. There’s always next year…and if there’s not, what is there to gain by making this year a rat race?

I was also reminded about this series by Karen Edmisten, appropriately titled “The No-Panic Advent Series.” If you haven’t read it, consider it my little Advent gift to you, dear reader.

And have I plugged Praying Advent yet this year? No? Well, consider it plugged. It’s a site I stumbled upon years and years ago and one I come back to again and again.

— 6 —

Advent at Ephesus (and other Advent Music)

advent at ephesus

Foregoing Christmas music is getting harder as my kids get older (and love the sounds of the season, despite my insistence that it’s not Christmas yet!). I do plan to set my Advent playlist, with Advent at Ephesus getting pride of place.

— 7 —

Welcome Baby Jesus


It’s been enough years since I wrote Welcome Baby Jesus that, honestly, it’s a new adventure for me, too. One of my kids asked if we were going to do it again this year, which made me laugh. When we tried to do it last year, it fizzled and sputtered and died well before Christmas.

But maybe Advent is about trying, not about succeeding. Maybe Advent isn’t about perfection. Maybe Advent is about remembering the Baby who made it all possible…

YOUR TURN: Got a plan for Advent? I’d love to hear it!

Kelly’s not at the lyceum, but she is hosting the quick takes fun. You won’t want to miss hers. Trust me.