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Advent Awakenings

When I first decided to start a blog, I thought I was being original and innovative…. and then all of a sudden I saw how just about every other girl on instagram had a blog of her own, wrote far better than I did, expressed herself much more eloquently, and had such awesome photography to boot. But in a way, this is original because it is my voice and my thoughts, so I rested in that fact to motivate me to be unafraid and even excited to share myself through this media.

əˈwāk(ə)niNG/
noun
  1. 1.
  2. formal
  3. an act of waking from sleep.
  4. 2.
  5. an act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something.
  6. “the war came as a rude awakening to the hardships of life”
adjective
  1. 1.
  2. coming into existence or awareness.
  3. “his awakening desire”

I never think too long on the title of my posts, but I had to google the word awakening just to make sure that I was using it in the correct way. Ever since coming into my faith in a much more profound and personal way, I have begun to discover the richness of my faith’s traditions (and there are so many that sometimes I get v overwhelmed). I have never celebrated advent before, so I was really looking forward to taking it on and learning more about it.

I knew a little bit about the advent wreath thing (and by know about it, I mean the fact that I knew the candles used were purple and pink — that’s it) but I wasn’t sure just how to go about embracing advent. Thankfully I am not alone in this desire because Blessed is She (I adore this ministry!) was producing an advent journal that I quickly ordered online. I have never truly appreciated the different liturgical seasons of the Catholic faith until I realized how necessary they are. We are a people of seasons (in fact we are kind of obsessive; I mean Walmart wins in terms of seasonal overkill). Even in my own conversations with friends, I find myself sharing that “I am in a different season of  my life, of my singleness…you know the part where I’m like Ok God… now what”? So I was refreshed by the fact that I could enter into a season of anticipation, reflection, and wonder.

Advent was truly an awakening for me. A way to become suddenly aware; to awaken from a groggy sleepiness that had taken over my heart and into the realization that sometimes the season God has us in is the season of waiting; but that He will never leave us there. He desires much more for us, but He knows that in order to receive something truly wonderful, we have to empty our hands and our hearts first. And it has been one of the most quiet but transforming journeys so far. The beautiful thing about advent is the smallness of it. The simplicity of it. It is a time of preparation and repentance. Of deep reflection in the darkness of this world, our hearts, and our minds. It invites us to acknowledge that in and of ourselves, we cannot produce our own light, no matter how hard we try, and instead points us to look at The True Light. Here are 3 short reflection points that I learned on my journey and would like to share:

  1. Be JOYFUL in the waiting season — A lot of us are always waiting for something to happen; a new job, a new relationship, a new role in life – engagement, marriage, motherhood, a higher degree, etc. Through the lives of those included in the Advent Journal I had the chance to read and study the examples left for us in the beginning of each Gospel. One thing that struck me in particular was the joy shown by every single one of them; Mary’s & Elizabeth’s joy, the shepherds after seeing baby Jesus, the joy of the prophet Simeon and prophetess Anna. There is always great joy ahead, but the beautiful thing is that we can choose to take on that attitude now before the next big thing comes our way.
  2. God is going to interrupt every single plan you have. He’s just gonna crash right in actually — After seeing this in my own life (nothing looks like I thought it would a year ago, and sometimes I get a little freaked out at how much everything has changed) I began to see this same principle at work leading up to what God was preparing for His people. He completely crashed into Mary’s life. Here is a girl who is probably day dreaming of life with her future husband. We can imagine that she’s pictured how she wants her house to be arranged, what she wants her wedding to be like, how she sees it all playing out in her head. But because she is Mary and not me, she replies with these beautiful words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” This is something that I also learned along the way that I just never possessed before — a deeper admiration and respect for Mary. I was also pretty weird about the whole “Catholic Mary thing” but when I truly began to uncover what the faith actually teaches, I began to see and realize that Mary always points us to her Son, and shines as an example of humility and trust.
  3. Our Yes is SO SO SO IMPORTANT — This was something that took me a while to wrap my heart around because many times I feel like my choices are insignificant in terms of things on a grand scale. But no. The Lord’s Word shows us time and time again that this is not so. We ALL have a key role to play. This is not to say that I don’t think God can’t use you if you know, you throw multiple no’s at Him cause I have totally done that and still do that,  but I saw the sheer magnitude and DANG RIGHT BEAUTY of countless yes’s (yeses? yes’s? yes’? grammar peeps help me out here)  and what fruit they were able to bear for the Glory of God; In particular one person stood out to me the most — St. Joseph. We really don’t get to see much of him in the Bible, but he just kept coming up in prayer. His yes to take Mary as his wife. His Yes to move away from his home. His Yes to becoming a father, a husband, despite the fact that he was sure to feel judged and ridiculed. And how his yes ultimately fulfilled the prophecy that Jesus would come from the house of David. !!!!

I have a tendency to act like the countless people mentioned in the Bible are simply characters. But this advent I made them PEOPLE. REAL PEOPLE. And that has changed everything. Their witness has become incredibly powerful for me. I challenge you to do the same. Because what we all await, and what will be here so soon, a Savior, a birth different from any other, has to change us. If it is true, then it changes everything.

Happy last days of Adventing!

Izel 

I wanted to include a picture of the beautiful Advent journal, and encourage you to check out https://blessedisshe.net if you are looking to connect to an amazing network of Catholic women who seek community and push each other to pursue goodness, beauty, and truth!

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