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Advent... a time to prepare, a time to look ahead, to start anew... the perfect time to make plans.
And then God laughs.
Makes me wonder why I even put plans to paper.
Then, I think of Mary and Joseph. I'm sure they had nice plans to settle in quietly at home, awaiting Jesus' birth. But no... Caesar jumbled up their plans big time, and they found themselves traveling.
Did they complain? By Biblical accounts, no, but being human, I find it hard to imagine there wasn't a grumble or two along the way, or at the very least, a long, heavy sigh of weariness. Traveling is hard. Traveling while pregnant is even harder. Traveling on foot and by donkey while pregnant? Forget it.
All my plans are just that... plans. While it is nice (and sometimes even fun) to make plans, the most important aspect is the end goal. The goal isn't achieved because you make a plan and stick to it. You achieve the goal by adapting and adjusting, by continually having faith that you'll reach that goal, by doing the best you can right where you are at in this moment of life.
I wish I could say I was as mindful of that during these past few weeks as I am today.
I love Advent. I love sharing it with my children. Yet, Advent is also one of the darkest spiritual times of the year for me. I have so much to be thankful for - and I truly am thankful - but to live in a faith-divided home is so very difficult, especially around Christmas.
I know for many that this time brings grief and longing, a spiritual emptiness, and even physical sufferings.
But Christmas is a time for miracles as well.
Give me faith to believe in miracles, faith to heal the hurting, faith to share in God's love, faith to live my life in a way pleasing to God, despite those around me.
O Mother of our Advent, be with us and see to it that he will remain with us in this difficult Advent of the struggles for truth and hope, for justice and peace: He, alone, Emmanuel.