Advent is here!

It's Advent again. This is my very favorite time of year. I love dropping degrees and adding layers. I love planning for presents and making menus. I love the sweetness and the anticipation of the birth of the Christ. It's the one time of year I am encouraged by the waiting.

He's come once; He'll come again.

Our sweet little tree went up tonight. Our sweet little Puff is, at this very moment, attacking it viciously. She loves it almost as much as I do.

And as we decorated ... untangling yards of lights and ribbons, tying little bows and hanging little balls ... we played our favorite hymns on repeat, some with a Christmas-y flair and others that just express the constant longing of our hearts.

This Christmas season is a funny one for me. Professionally, I've been up to my elfin ears in Christmas since mid-August, studying and editing and writing about all of these funny traditions we have and helping to point children and parents and children's pastors back to the root reason for this most joyful of holidays. "Why the presents, why the trees, what's with Santa, who is he?" (See here if you want to know more about my 9-5 these past few months.)

And so we're approaching this season with all kinds of new knowledge. Like how Christmas trees point to Jesus. And so does Santa Claus. And now I really want to put up a menorah this year, because Hanukkah is a pretty important part of our heritage. And I've been constantly, incessantly, irrepressibly confronted with one song and one word and one truth this whole season: Emmanuel.

So it's been an extended season of waiting, of sorts, and I am so very happy to finally be here, in Advent, with a shining Christmas tree and hymns of hope and of being able to celebrate that for which I am so indescribably grateful, often doubtful and altogether unworthy.

Here's a passage from tonight's reading in our Advent devotional. This gave me chill bumps. Read and be blessed on this sweet night, and throughout this beautiful season.

The mystery of the Incarnation brings us an eternally new, uniquely real message - a message that points us to the sole fundamental solution of the problem facing all mankind; pure spirit penetrates dust-born life, leaves aside all temptation, accomplishes the whole Passion of the divine Spirit in an unspiritual world. and returns to eternity pure. But we plunge right and left into every temptation, every challenge, every folly - and the wages of sin are paid to us every time, without fail.

{Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster}