I remember the struggle I went through this time last year. Covid-19 had been wreaking havoc in our lives for the entire year. We had all been wrestling through pandemic measures; isolations; quarantines; physical distancing; separation from family and friends. We all did our due diligence with respect to local health guidelines hoping that by Christmas, things would have gotten back to normal and we would be able to celebrate with family. But that was not the case. Despite all of our efforts and hopes and prayers, Covid-19 continued to spread like wildfire and our provincial leaders implemented a ban on social gatherings over the holiday season. Households had to remain separate. And with that mandate, my boys were not able to come home for Christmas.
I was angry. I was bitter. And in my heart, it felt like Christmas was being cancelled. I cried a lot. And if I'm being honest, I yelled a lot, too.
But somewhere in the midst of my grief and anger and hopelessness, Jesus got ahold of my heart and reminded me that, as important as family is, and as much as He loves when we gather together with the ones we love to celebrate His birth, Christmas is so much more than that. Christmas is a time for us to look deep within ourselves and be reminded that the God of the universe took on human flesh, and came down to this broken earth to save us; to save you and me, from death.
As Jesus did His work within, I began to examine my heart, and I decided that I wanted to experience everything that Jesus had for me during that Christmas season, regardless of what was going in the world around me. For the first time in my life, I decided to embrace Advent in the way it was meant to be observed. I decided to center my heart around the truth of Christmas and allow Christ to begin a transformation from within. It was the best thing I ever did. Jesus did, in fact, begin a transformation that has shaped my heart so that I look an little less like me, and a little more like Him.
"The great challenge left to us is to cut through all the glitz and glam of the season that has grown increasingly secular and commercial, and be reminded of the beauty of the One who is Christmas."
This year, I want Him to do another Christmas transformation in my heart. I've taken a few of my favorite ideas from last year, created some fresh, new ones for this year, and put them together in a kind of BINGO style Advent calendar. The idea is that, you get to choose which heart mission you'd like to do on any given day. The aim is to complete each of them. Ideally, one for each of the 24 days before Christmas but, if you miss a day here and there, that's okay. You can double up if you need to. The point is not overwhelm you, but to help you prepare your heart for all that Christ wants to do in you.
As you settle into the Christmas season and embark on these practical and fun activities throughout Advent, my hope and prayer is that Jesus will move deeper into your heart, and that you'll experience all the joy and hope the Christmas season is meant to bring.
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Much love and many blessings,
The Barefoot Warrior