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“No one ever wants to plan anything during the holidays,” my friend said to me. “I guess it’s because we’re all so busy.”

Her sweet Louisiana drawl gave voice to the well-intentioned regret in her heart. We were trying to plan a play date for ourselves and our 6-year-old daughters. One or both of us shot down three successive suggestions due to our respective schedules.

Neither of us is a movie star, politician, nor high-powered attorney or physician. Perhaps these careers would explain our seemingly packed calendars. Nope. We are both suburban Moms doing the suburban family thing: job, school, extra-curricular activities, church, and family time if we’re lucky. Rinse and repeat.

My heart mirrored hers. Each time a date didn’t work for us, I laughed with my friend. But in truth, I was a little sad, too.

What has happened in this country? Why has “busy” overtaken “joyful”, “generous”, or even an existential “baby, it’s cold outside” as the primary descriptor for the holiday season?

My guess is that we could name a thousand possibilities. As far as I can tell, though, there is one main reason.

Because we have allowed it to.

There is one remedy to this holiday busyness, at least. Its name is Advent.

Photo credit: Archdiocese of Washington

Advent is the liturgical season that precedes Christmas. It lasts four weeks (four Sundays, to be exact). Its name stems from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. Advent is a time of prayerful preparation and expectant waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. If celebrated well, Advent can be a time of spiritual renewal and reconnection to God, or of responding to God’s invitation for the first time. We intentionally turn our hearts and minds to God during Advent, and seek the light of the Christ Child. For a stellar blog post by Kerri Wyatt Kent about making Advent more meaningful, please click here.

Maybe we run our lives at a quickened pace because we are afraid of silence. What will we hear? What won’t we hear? Lacking distractions, what will we be forced to face? Silence can be terrifying.

It may also be gratifying. In the silence God is known to speak rich treasures for our ears alone. The simplest message that God desires to share is also the most profound. God loves us…very, very much.

Unfortunately, a person constantly on the go likely has neither the time nor the capacity to receive this good news and the love that embodies it. Fortunately, we do have a choice. We are able not only to embrace God’s loving message, but also to allow it to sink into our very core so that it anchors and sustains us.

This weekend begins “Deeply Loved”, an Advent blog hop series that seeks to change significantly how we “do” the holiday season, particularly Advent and Christmas. It is named after a newly published devotional, Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus by Kerri Wyatt Kent (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2012)A solid group of Christian authors will join me in sojourning through Deeply Loved and Advent. I believe that you’ll enjoy their thoughts.

The Deeply Loved Advent blog hop series will span the four weeks of Advent — December 2 to December 25, 2012. We will be reading, praying, and blogging through Deeply Loved the book. You can purchase an ebook of Deeply Loved on iTunes for $9.99 USD. A reading schedule will be posted tomorrow. My prayer is that y’all will read, pray, engage, and come with the other authors and me on this timely journey. God willing we will, as the book’s back cover says, “fully experience the heart of Jesus’ love” for us.

What better time than now — when the birth of the Messiah is prevalent on our minds and hearts — to slow down and invite silence into our lives?

How does this sound — trading adjectives to describe our holiday-season selves? What if, when people ask us how we are, we answer “deeply loved by God” (and mean it), instead of our typical “busy”?

How might that change our relationship with God?

Our holidays?

Our lives?

The lives of people around us?

Tomorrow at “Woman, in Progress…”

Additional announcements about the Deeply Loved Advent blog hop series that you won’t want to miss, including…

  • An initial list of the other authors participating in the blog hop. I say “initial” because the list may grow as the series progresses.
  • A never-before occurrence for “Woman, in Progress…” that has the potential to make your Christmas sweeter.

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