Tag: Advent (page 1 of 3)

You’re Invited to Sit With Jesus This Advent

It’s 6 a.m. I sit in the dark, looking out the window of Starbucks at the twinkly white lights and a few snowflakes lazily dancing their way to the ground. It’s only the beginning of November, but if I’m not careful my mind can hopscotch right over Thanksgiving and land on thoughts of   goals for  stress about Christmas.

It’s coming. And we want sososososo much for it to be all about Jesus being born in us, meeting us on dark starry nights, overshadowing the chaos of the world with His peace that passes all understanding.

The Christmas our Katy was almost 2 years old, one day she took me by the hand and dragged me over to our manger scene that was set up by the fireplace hearth. (bottom left corner of the picture).

She pulled me down to sit in front of baby Jesus.

“Sit. Stay. Watch.” she commanded.

Ahhh such a precious invitation!

I believe Jesus will meet us anywhere we seek Him (yes, even in line waiting to see “Santa” in the mall), but He’s a gentleman and won’t barge in where He’s not welcome. As we approach the start of Advent, maybe we could respond to His invitation to sit with Him.

In June my friend Heather and I dreamed up a little project and prayed it would help people to meet with Jesus – really meet with Him, instead of reading a devotional with second-hand thoughts about Him. It was a “first effort,” and we’ve been working on creating an even better resource for Advent.

We want to get our new Advent Devotional Cards in your hands to help you press into Jesus this season.

Each card has a verse on one side, like the one above. On the flip side there is a longer reference if you want to read more in context and then a couple of simple invitations of ways to talk to Jesus about the verses. There’s white space if you want to draw or write your thoughts.

Here’s what I promise you:

They are simple.

They will invite you to look at, listen to, talk with Jesus.

They are portable and can be used in a variety of ways:

  • At your desk at work.
  • In the car.
  • Around the dinner table with older kids.
  • As scripture memory cards on your fridge.

“How can I get them?” you ask!

  • At Church. If you live in the Minneapolis area, you can buy these Advent cards at Pathway Bookstore at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina. This way you can avoid mailing costs!
  • In Person. If you are going to be at an event where I’m speaking, I will bring some with me that you can buy for $17 🙂
  • On Line. If you live elsewhere you can order the cards by clicking on the sidebar for $20 (which includes tax and mailing) and we’ll send them to you asap! For bulk purchases (3 or more), contact us for shipping costs. (you can preorder today)

And if you’d be so kind…. If you receive these as a gift, we would love it if you might post a picture of yourself using them on social media with any (or all!) of these tags:

#adventdevotional

#shareadventdevo

@lauracrosby

@inspired.desire.co

Thanks so much and have a blessed Advent!

You’re One Breath Away From a Peace-filled Advent

This is a post I edit and reprint every year because I need it. Hope it’s helpful to you too.

really wish I liked Yoga more. It’s healthy.  And it’s so in.  But I’m not crazy about it.

Here are the only things I like about Yoga:

  • the comfy pants that are like legal pajamas,
  • the fact that you do it in a group with great people, and not, for example on a stationary bike in your basement (like a crazy introvert),
  • the corpse pose (where you lay still with soft music playing)…

And one more thing…

They remind you to breathe.  In fact, I think that’s the only part I consistently get right when I go.  I mess up all the poses.  And I can’t make myself pretzely like my friend Brooke.

But then they say, “Don’t forget to breathe.” and I think “Yes!  I’ve got that down!  Score!” (Can you tell I’m better at competitive sports than contemplative ones?)

Sometimes the best I can do at Yoga is to just keep breathing.  Sometimes in the Christmas season it seems that way also.  You too?

Our to-to lists are too long.  We drop balls and forget to follow through with details.  And our regular spiritual practices and rhythm of time with Jesus may suffer.

But no matter what happens in the next few weeks, most (hopefully all) of us will still be breathing when we get to the New Year.

So what if breathing became a spiritual practice?  It’s one many of you are probably familiar with.  Breath prayer. Continue reading

One Practice to Make Today More Meaningful

Advent. Just the word rolling off your tongue, and the feels it conjures up, are such a contrast to “holiday hurry”, “cyber Monday”, and kids insisting “I NEED this for school TODAY!”

I pause at a stoplight, in morning traffic and think about that tension between the pace of life today and the measured minutes in Nazareth and Bethlehem long ago.

500 years of silence. The plodding slowness of Mary and Joseph walking 90 miles over dusty roads towards a stable where Glory would be delivered after hours of labor. The time to reflect. The lack of iPhones or speed or 24/7 news cycles.

No it wasn’t quiet. Or easy. But there was a slower rhythm built into life.

A life where conversations happened in person. Experiences were chatted about and evaluated while walking rocky roads or while doing unending chores of water-hauling, bread-baking, seed-planting.

Slowly.

For us slow is counter-cultural. It takes a commitment to go against the flow. But what might we notice of God and ourselves if we entered into a different rhythm? Continue reading

Preparing to Prepare for Jesus

So I thought I was doing so much better with the jet-lag thing this time around, but maybe not. This morning I was awake at 4:00, up at 4:30 and out the door at 5:00. Problem is my Starbucks doesn’t open til 5:30. So I walked the long way, through the dark silent streets of my neighborhood, most folks still snuggled in their warm beds, dreaming of sugar plums or something.

It was cold and crisp and as my breath showed up in white wisps, it gave me a chance to pray and to reflect on the upcoming Advent season.

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The silence and peace of the early morning was such a contrast to the noise, and hurry that can dominate this season when we long for the “heavenly peace” of Silent Night –  to be preparing for Jesus.

It got me to thinking…What do you want for Advent this year? What do you love about Advent? What are your hopes? How do you make choices instead of allowing the world to squeeze you into its mold?  I wrote last week about having a plan.

So, two questions that lead to choices around Advent: Continue reading

Are You Sure You Want to be Blessed?

I’ve been thinking a lot this Advent season about the word “blessed”.

It all started with a post I read by Jamie Wright about the word “blessed” that quoted Inigo Montoyo from the Princess Bride: “You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

She wrote:

We’ve created a culture in which we measure God’s “blessings” in terms of dollars and cents, comfort and pleasure, wealth and well-being. So, if we’re happy and healthy and have everything we need, then we’re blessed, and we should thank God on social media. We tend to ignore the secondary message this sends to those who are unhappy or unhealthy, or for whom things are just generally crappy. Too bad, so sad, if your life sucks, you’re #NotBlessed.

The second thing that led me to focus on this word, “blessed” was that John and I were preparing to preach together on Mary, the mother of Jesus and there was that word again!  In Luke 1 it refers to Mary twice as “highly favored” and then Mary herself says: Continue reading

How to Untangle Christmas Lights Without Swearing

I’ve never heard either of my parents swear, but I have many memories of my mom, frustrated with a task, saying “I’m gonna swear.  I’m gonna swear! Close your ears kids!”                                                                                                                                                She never did, but she threatened to.  A lot.

There are some things that tempt a person to swear more than others. For me, the job of untangling Christmas lights brings out the worst in me.  I spent hours doing it this weekend, growling under my breath:

“I’m sure this must be a job people have to do in Hell.”

“If God really loved me I’d be rich enough to buy new lights every year.”

IMG_0597I was muttering, and resenting my husband who was off doing “spiritual” things, having “spiritual” conversations with colleagues, while I was relegated to “unspiritual” homey decorating chores.

As I glared and growled, and pulled and unknotted, and muttered some more I got to thinking about Mary (who had no lights to untangle btw) and how spiritual she felt during the 9 months that Jesus was being formed in her. Continue reading

Four Names to Change Your Day

As I write this it is still dark out.  I woke up like I was walking into an action movie in the middle – my mind spinning like a kick boxer doing a roundhouse (not sure how I know that!). As I drove first to Starbucks and then to my little “office” I thought how preoccupied my mind is with “to do’s” and how much I long to be preoccupied with Jesus.

This is one reason why I love being outside in the morning when it’s still dark, the stars quiet, and sure. It reminds me of the bigger story – the one that shrinks the to-do list in my pocket.  The expansive night sky helps me right-size. God keeps the world spinning while we sleep – amazing.  It reminds me of my smallness in a good way.

Unknown

Part of the process every Advent of creating space for Jesus to be formed in me is focusing on His names from Isaiah 9:6.  It’s another way of trying to “right-size”.

Which of these names do you need to be reminded of most this Advent season? Continue reading

When Jesus is Not Who You Thought He’d Be

I grew up in a predictable world.   It was “Mayberry”, complete with sidewalk games, little league baseball, and town parades.  Everyone was nice.

My dad got the 5:40 commuter train home to our little town from Chicago every night.  Each day ended with my loving, family gathered around the dinner table joining hands to pray before eating. We went to church.  We did the “right” things and we were “blessed”.IMG_8824God was predictable.  He was safe.

In my world “good” things happened to “good” people.  Trust came easy.

It was hard for me to relate to the 99% of the world who lived with chronic pain, and hard for them to comprehend the “It’s a Wonderful Life” snow globe I lived in.

All this delightful predictability made my crash all the more dramatic. Continue reading

Yoga, and One Goal for Advent

Confession:  I skipped church yesterday.  I didn’t skip because I wanted to have brunch with friends, or catch an early football game.  It’s just that I had been with people constantly last week over Thanksgiving and I knew I needed some true silence and solitude. 

I wrote in my journal, “I need to breathe…have a Sabbath removed from frenzy. I need to listen for Your still small voice.  I need to fill up with You.  Speak into the silence, Lord. Come Holy Spirit.”

I’ve started to copy an acquaintance of mine who signs her emails: “Breathe deep. Lean hard. God’s love holds.”  I need that reminder

It made me think of this post…

really wish I liked Yoga more.   It’s healthy.  And it’s so in.  But I’m not crazy about it.

Here are the only things I like about Yoga:

  • the comfy pants that are like legal pajamas,
  • the fact that you do it in a group with great people, and not, for example on a stationary bike in your basement (like a crazy introvert),
  • the corpse pose (where you lay still with soft music playing)…

And one more thing…

They remind you to breathe.  In fact, I think that’s the only part I consistently get right when I go.  I mess up all the poses.  And I can’t make myself pretzelize (is that a word?) like my friend Brooke.

But then they say, “Don’t forget to breathe.” and I think “Yes!  I’ve got that down!  Score!” (Can you tell I’m better at competitive sports than contemplative ones?)

Sometimes the best I can do at Yoga is to just keep breathing.  Sometimes in the Christmas season it seems that way also.  You too?

Our to-to lists are too long.  We drop balls and forget to follow through with details.  And our regular spiritual practices and rhythm of time with Jesus may suffer.  But no matter what happens in the next few weeks, most (hopefully all) of us will still be breathing when we get to the New Year.  So what if breathing became a spiritual practice?  It’s one many of you are probably familiar with.  Breath prayer.

Think for a minute…What is a name for God that is especially meaningful to you this season?  Abba Father, Gentle Shepherd, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, Light of the World, King of Kings…

As you breathe in, silently say this name.

Then… What sums up your need or desire of your heart this season?

Peace?  Healing? Guidance?

Construct a short phrase that expresses this.  As you breathe out, pray this phrase.

For a long time, I felt out of control in many areas of my life, so my breath prayer was, “Abba Father” (as I breathe in).  “Do what only You can do.” (as I breathe out).

These days it’s “Loving Shepherd, show me the way.”

Or maybe you might pray something like Mary did “Holy One, be magnified in my life.”  (Luke 2:46-55).

Or, “Prince of Peace, calm my anxious heart.”

In heavy traffic.  Breathe.

In crowded stores.  Breathe.

In tense family situations.  Breathe.

Sitting in front of your Christmas tree. Breathe.

On a walk alone.  Breathe.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Just.  Keep.  Breathing.

Advent, Prayer, and a Rant

Ok, I think I’m a really positive person.  99.9% of the time.

I have a policy that I will never use this blog to post anything negative.

Well, I’m about to break that rule.

There’s something that’s driven me crazy for years and I think Advent is the time to bring it up.

We see examples of people in the Bible challenging, whining, ranting and raving to God as well as thanking, praising and asking.

Now I know we can say anything at all to God in prayer.  Just like a toddler can say outrageous stuff, a parent still loves to hear them talk.  It’s all good with God.  No matter what you say He’s not going to vote you off the island.

But there’s a phrase I hear people use all the time that doesn’t make sense to me. Continue reading

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