Ideas for Advent Candles

Don’t have advent candles? No problem! You can make a set up of your own advent wreath/candles to enjoy a rich advent experience in your home.

For the past few years I bought “official” advent tapers from an online Christian bookstore and put them in a brass candle stick that holds five candles.
Adventweek 1

Certainly local stores have candles and wreaths you can purchase but a DIY option might be just for you. Traditionally there are three purple, one pink and one white candle. Each week an additional candle is lit. Weeks 1,2 and 4 use purple and week 3 uses the pink to represent joy. Finally the white candle is lit along with the others on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day

Variations for candles:
1. Some churches use red candles to match seasonal colors.
2. This year I am using all white votive candles as I really like their look and flexibility and we have plenty of them if some need replacement over the course of the season. Plus, I just want something different!

I suggest you use the color scheme and candle type that fit you and your home best.

There are many ideas for wreaths and candles and a few are on my Pinterest board.

Please share your creative Advent ideas…and don’t forget to extinguish your candles before you leave the house or go to bed,

With hope, ~Madge

Hope – Advent Devotional Week 1

Hope – Advent Devotional Week 1

“God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” – Catherine Marshall

As the advent of our Savior coming to earth is remembered and celebrated, the hope we profess is often tested and tried. The pains of life – Illness, loss, loneliness and wounded relationships, etc. can be magnified as the season ensues.

The hustle of preparations can distract us from pain until we stop and silence ourselves. Christmas music, decorations and family traditions may dull the pain of hopelessness…but our heavenly father sees and can disarm the power of this world’s pain with hope today as he did in many years past when the first Christmas was arriving.

What was young Mary thinking when she realized that she would bear the son of God? What would she say to her family as a young engaged girl who found herself pregnant? Mary had to wonder what would happen to her when the angel told her she would be with child. Surely anxious thoughts of embarrassment, fear and uncertainty crept into her mind… But hope prevailed. The hope that what the angel said was true, the hope that she indeed would bear a son and name him Jesus, the hope that her cousin Elizabeth would also be pregnant as the angel told her. By God’s grace the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt at Mary’s (Jesus’s) arrival! I can only imagine the comfort Mary felt as she was with Elizabeth.

Young Mary embraced her dilemma with grace and held to hope. Hope. Yes…Hope. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Cor. 13:13a

When we have hope we dare to love. When we have hope we step into situations that might be uncomfortable with a different perspective. When we have hope we can face fears head on and receive grace.

The first week of Advent is underway. Let’s usher in this sacred season knowing that we will likely need an intentional reminder of our true hope during the upcoming weeks.

My prayer today is that we have hearts that are ready to receive as we embrace our Savior coming to earth and that we have hearts that are determined to give. May we pray that we see the needs which God has called us and equipped us to meet and grasp the grace to humbly serve in them. Oh Father, show each of your plan for how we can give others hope this season. Help each of us to rest solidly with hope in you. Amen.

Below are a couple suggested verses for my scripture memory friends – if you haven’t joined us this year maybe you’ll consider memorizing some verses with us next year! It’s a powerful habit indeed!

He is the one we proclaim admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Col. 1:28-29

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.” Heb. 10:23

Surviving or Thriving?

Today I asked myself am I thriving or surviving?

This little question sparked some pondering. After all, it’s been a fulfilling year in so many ways and I lean toward a thriving answer! Why, even somber reflection illuminates where I have certainly walked in thriving shoes, even during some difficult times. But there’s that nagging question about the moments and issues where “survival” is the operative mode.

“How can I better do ‘survival‘ in the future, Lord?” I ask.

Isn’t “survival” the place we go when we don’t know what else to do? Some of us fuss, complain, and get irritated or maybe we trust and hope that we will make the right choices and reach our hand out for strength, wisdom, mercy and grace.

…The hand. The extension of an arm…a connection…help.  David speaks of the hand in Psalm 139:7-10.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there, if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea – even there your hand will guide me your right hand will hold me fast.

Hold me fast?” What does that mean?
Another translation (NLT) says “your strength will support me.”   – Yes! Your strength will support me!

Support.  Oh let’s take it, friends. When we walk in survival mode can’t we trust that his hand, his right hand,will hold us fast and support us?

Isn’t the journey from surviving to thriving the path of those who thrive?  As long we have his support we can hope in a positive direction.  Is that not where grace and mercy are brilliantly evident?

There are times when everything is wonderful and “thrive” is the name of the game, but there’s no shame in the survival areas of my life. They spur me toward greater satisfaction and fulfillment and gratitude if I let them and if I remember the “right hand that holds me fast”.

Sincere prayers that you cling to the supporting “right hand” whether it’s a thriving or surviving day! ~Madge

Fourth week of Advent – Peace!

It was September 1999 after Brent and I had dated for 2 1/2 years when, in typical female style, I wanted commitment. Although I was crazy about him, my peace with our relationship was waning. Brent was understandably cautious about taking the ‘marriage’ plunge with
anyone, much less a gal with my disability…yet I needed to get commitment or back off and regroup. That was when, after much prayer and agony, I talked to Brent about a ‘break’. It was a difficult but healthy time for both of us. When Brent called me a week after our ‘break’ started to ask me out it was almost impossible to say no, but God gave me the strength to do it. Test – passed!

Even though this ‘break’ was rife with sadness, I had peace. No matter what happened I knew we would both be fine – whether together or not.  My heart dealt with grieving the potential loss of Brent as well as the loss of my mom four months earlier.  It was my relationship with God and love for wisdom that gave me the strength to make a tough choice. I knew that peace within is not a mere absence of grief or difficulty, but an active experience of following God that promotes peace regardless of circumstances.

As we light the advent candles we remember that Christ’s birth set the stage to bring us life with hope, love, joy and peace. He is ever present in our times of grief and difficulty. I can’t help but pause to think of those who struggle to celebrate this season because they grieve.

The focus of peace reminds me to find gratitude and celebrate by making choices – wise choices – that may be tough but bear good fruit. Peace is present when we choose to thank, choose to let go of fear, and choose to trust the One and Only – especially in our grief and heartache – and even if it means a girl might never get married or never walk again!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Obviously, the story of our relationship ended in marraige…we took our healthy ‘break’ and after a couple months began to see each other again. To my complete surprise within two months Brent proposed! I think I said something like ‘Huh? Are you sure you want to get married?’ Oh yeah, then I said ‘Yes!’.

As we approach Christmas  ‘may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13 NIV

Would love to hear about your difficult, yet ‘peace-full’ circumstances…