Advent is a season of waiting, but one of my favorite things I learned about waiting a few years ago is that it’s actually an active verb. It’s a time of preparing for what’s ahead.
Just like Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem as they waited for Jesus’ birth, and we tell others the good news while we wait for Jesus’ return, we get to do what Beth Moore calls posturing ourselves in a stance of hopeful expectation. I love that.
This year as we move through advent, the hubster and I are asking how we can actively anticipate God’s presence in our lives. So instead of wish lists, we’re making a different kind of list.
In a nutshell, we’re asking where has God given us the power to change our lives for the better? Where should we do things differently? Where could we be praying for “explosive blessings” (as the hubster quotes) that we’re currently not? Where are we seeing God lead in our lives, and where could we stand to be obedient and follow?
This is not a name it and claim it or prosperity gospel moment. This is asking, “Lord, how are You bringing Your Kingdom to bear in our lives and how can we better follow You?”
I’m calling it “advent-uring” into the future God has for us, instead of spending another year bobbing along. There are some big changes we want to see in our lives next year, so we’re using this time of advent to anticipate where God’s leading and what He’s doing.
Some of the questions that are helping us are:
Where can we do a better job of taking care of ourselves and each other?
For us that looks like specific set of things that we both typically already do every single day, but each of us is better in some areas than others. The hubster will skip his vitamins when he feels like it, and I’ll wimp out of exercising if I get the chance. So I whipped up this family goals list to put in an 8×10 frame in the bedroom and check off with a dry erase marker. I gave them cute titles so we don’t feel like we’re checking off yet another to do list at home. And I started with routines that we’re already doing so we can feel like winners at the outset as we add new goals down the line. A little pat on the back never hurt, right?
Where can we change our schedule to improve our lives?
On a good day we get up to four awake hours at home outside of our work schedules. One of those is for quiet time and getting ready for work in the morning, one of those is for getting ready for bed at night. The other two are usually split between making and serving dinner and chores or commitments. One of the things that’s totally changing our lives right now is blocking out a few hours on our weekend to do all the cooking and lunch packing for the week, so we can revel in our new found freedom at home.
How can we invest in each other more?
If the world had its way, the hubster and I would be so busy or so obsessed with making ends meet that we’d forget to have fun. Not gonna fly in this family. In the past month we’ve been practicing leaving our phones away at home (except for Instagram, because someone has to document those cute cats!), going to bed at the same time at night so we get to chat, and making sure we get a date night once a week. Right now we’re picking random neighborhoods in NYC and trying a new restaurant once a week, which we budget for every month. Our favorite so far was a Peruvian rotisserie chicken spot that served us a feast for four for only $20. We ate well that night and the next day, too, and we got to focus on each other without the TV or kit kits or chores in the apartment to distract. Long term on our list is dance lessons, ice skating, and Tai Kwan Do.
What can come off of our plates?
This was the hard one, because it meant giving up some of the things we like doing since we can’t give up some of the things we don’t like doing (a girl can dream though, right?). After a lot of prayer, I realized I had to step away from leading an online small group for women with chronic illness that I’d been part of for the past year and also cut down my writing time to an hour a week. As hard as those decisions were, it’s been awesome to have more time to just live as a family at home without something to do all the time.
I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. (Psalms 119:10 NLT)
What about you guys? Are you making any changes for the year ahead or did you make any changes this year that helped you?
Picture of NYC MTA Subway Map adapted for this blog post by Stephanie Oh.