An Unexpected Advent-Guest Blog

I am in love with Christmas time. 

I have always felt this way about December.  I attribute most of my Christmas obsession to my dad.  We like to call him Mr. Christmas.  He worked hard to create special traditions every year.  One tradition I loved was when he got the Christmas movies down from the attic.  He would hide them away all year long and the day after Thanksgiving they would come out of hibernation.  He would be standing on the ladder, box in hand, as I shouted for White Christmas and jumped with glee.

My dad also made sure that we knew the real reason we celebrated Christmas.  We would be sure to go the church in our Christmas best.  I have fond memories of matching Christmas dresses for me and my sister and cool crisp mornings walking into the church on Christmas Day to celebrate our Savior’s birth.

With all these memories dancing like sugarplums in my head through the years you can bet your bottom dollar that I had big plans for December.  Advent activities, hot chocolate parties, cookie baking, and of course some Pinterest crafts were all on the docket. 

Most importantly, I had planned on using these activities to teach The Bug, my 2 ½ year old, who gets mad if I leave the ½ out, about the reason we celebrate Christmas.

But then, something unexpected happened…life happened and my plans got put on the back burner and then the burner behind that one. 

Being a mama to a 6 month old and a toddler has taught me over and over again to let go of my daily expectations.  I have learned that to thrive I need to embrace the unexpected.  Otherwise, I walk around thoroughly disappointed and downright cranky…teaching things I’m not intending to teach.

Ironically, coincidentally or providentially, it seems that it is when the unexpected hits and expectations are held loosely enough to be forgotten that the lessons I desperately want learned find a way into my ordinary circumstances.  His unexpected cameo in the midst of my “big plans” always steals the show.

It was one of these unexpected interruptions that has caused this Advent season to be one I will never forget.

A week ago, Sunday, after soaking in my guilt of failure from another week not being what I had planned it to be I heard a whisper.  We were at church and the Bug was in my arms. 

“Take her in the Sanctuary.”

I shooed the thought away like an annoying gnat or an absurdity I gave a second’s worth to.

Again, the thought rang in my ears.

“But, that’s breaking the rules.”  I said, answering the quiet tug. 
(Kids have to be 3 and up to come into the adult worship service.)

I couldn’t shake it.  So, I snuck my 2 ½ year old into the sanctuary.  We stood in the back.  The Spirit of worship was thick.  I couldn’t help it.  I raised my empty arm and closed my eyes.   I engaged in the moment. 

A few minutes later I opened my eyes, and what did I see, but my sweet Bug, hand in the air just like me.

Unexpected.  Beautiful.  A lesson I so desperately want her to learn.

She can tell me that it’s Baby Jesus’ birthday.  She knows that the wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh.  She can name all the figurines in our nativity.  For this I am grateful, but it was the unexpected lesson she learned that I will remember most from this Advent season.

My Bug learned a posture of worship.  I know that you don’t have to raise your arms in the air to worship God but I also know that the posture we take in our worship is important.  I raise my hands because if I don’t I will burst.  Some days it’s my posture of praise and thanksgiving other days it’s my posture of grief and desperation.  Either way, it is how I turn to God and say, “In this mess, I am yours.”  The Bug saw my posture and something made her decide to try it too.  I always try to remember how my kids will learn from my example but this lesson was so…unexpected.

Christmas time with little ones is magical.  Their enthusiasm and excitement can be so contagious.  Their smiles and belly laughs light up our home like a Christmas tree.  I can’t wait for even more memories as future Christmas’ come and go.

However, I will never forget that one moment I had with the Bug.  There weren’t any Christmas lights, there wasn’t any hot chocolate and the Advent calendar was at home collecting dust.  But, she still learned an important lesson in spite of my plans going awry. 

My Christmas wish this year is that her sweet moment of mimic will turn into a heart that worships with abandon and I will continue to unexpectedly teach her so.

Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. Psalm 28:2


I'm just your average prodigal daughter who went looking for love, fame and fortune in all the wrong places. When I finally came to my senses I was lavished upon. I am passionate about life and my relationships: my husband, whom I call "fly," and my sweet children, "The Bug" and "Little Man," and the people who still love me in my messiness. I have a strong infatuation with musicals, Shakespeare and 90's top hits. Nothing makes me more angry than injustice, especially when it's done to "the least of these." I believe with every ounce of my being that God takes our messes and creates here's to my beautiful mess.

Read more at Allison's blog A Beautiful mess


  1. The Lord loves us ragamuffins and we love Him. Thanks for sharing this Jann....a glorious reflection of His grace and our need to slow down and follow His leading.

  2. Exactly what I needed to hear this week as things just don't seem to be going as I plan. I have been stewing in frustration as my sweet little girl is watching me. Thanks for posting Jann and thanks Allison for writing what was on your heart!

    Steph England


Thank you for visiting, Praying that you are blessed today. Jann

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