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Lara is saved-by-grace, wife to a wonderful man, and the mama to two precious and precocious boys. Lara believes you are the gate-keeper, grace-giver, and cultivator of your home – a sacred space – and when you step into your God-given capacity you are capable of providing a delightful and life-giving education to your children. Lara has been officially homeschooling her own children for 7 years, and was blessed to be a homeschool mother’s helper to a Charlotte Mason mama for 3 years before having her own family. Advent is her favorite season and she is passionate about helping families experience all the joys and delight that family style morning time brings to home education.
Connect with Lara
- Follow Lara on Instagram
- Read Lara’s blog, Everyday Graces Homeschool
- Check out Lara’s Advent resources: A Gentle Advent, A Gentle Advent Jesse Tree, A Gentle Advent Colonial Christmas, A Gentle Advent Further Up, Further In! and A Homespun Hallelujah
Check out some of the resources Lara uses for her own Advent reflections
- Waiting on the Word by Malcolm Guite
- Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp
- Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson
If you prefer to reading to listening, check out the transcript below!
Aimee: Thank you so much for joining us today, Lara!
Lara: Thank you so much for having me!
Getting to Know Lara
Aimee: Would you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself and your family and how you got started with homeschooling?
I sort of fell into homeschooling accidentally. I was one of those people that thought all homeschoolers were weird and they all wore denim jumpers. And I ended up being a homeschool mother’s helper before my husband and I got married. God really used that to show me that it was actually a remarkable to way to disciple and educate your children and bring them up in the ways of the Lord. Over the years I was doing that, it really sort of shifted my perspective, and then to see how her children were thriving and how their relationship dynamic was so different. That’s kind of what interested me in pursuing that, and then by the time we actually had children my husband was fully on board too.
The Lord works everything out for his good purposes. My oldest has some learning challenges, and there really wouldn’t have been a good way for them address them even in a private school setting. And so we were able to use all these different resources that are available to homeschoolers now to help him overcome those challenges. It’s been a complete and total blessing.
I have two boys. One is 11, and one is 9, and they’re growing up way too fast. We have some animal things that we do around here, we have our homeschooling, we do a lot of gardening and a lot of things outdoors, the boys are very involved in Trail Life, so we have a very full but quiet kind of life that we are able to accomplish through homeschooling and through the things that we do around our home.
Lara’s Homeschool Approach
Aimee: Full but quiet is such a great descriptor for homeschool. I love that! Are there any books or teachers or thinkers that have influenced your approach to homeschooling? How would you describe your homeschool style?
Lara: We are very literature heavy. We love living books. I am a big fan of Charlotte Mason. And as far as parenting, I would say Sally Clarkson has been my mentor along with thousands and thousands of other homeschool moms in making sure that we don’t lose our mothering to the educator portion of our lives. Charlotte Mason’s whole philosophy is based on the great recognition that the Lord and the Holy Spirit are the imparter of wisdom, and we are just facilitating the planting of the seeds that the Holy Spirit helps grow. Those are probably my two biggest ones.
I’ve always been a reader, so any kind of booklist type place has also helped a lot with our homeschooling. Sarah Clarkson has a book of books. She’s got one for children, and then there’s also the one that she wrote more recently that’s for women called Book Girl. Both of those are really invaluable. Honey for a Child’s Heart. The Read-Aloud Handbook. There’s so many different books that have really helped us develop a very literature-rich but also diverse library and learning style for the kids. I would say all of those have been super effective as far as regular books.
My favorite, though, is still the Bible. I go to Proverbs everyday! That’s my favorite one because I feel like I always need the reminders of being wise and being gentle and being slow to speak sometimes, especially as we’re entering that tween age where the boys haven’t really developed that filter process yet, so if they get a little saucy about something that’s what comes out first. And so I have to have those reminders that I gently remind them, ‘That’s not how we’re going to do this.’ When you do that in love, they come back usually more gently, and you’re able to really sort of move through parenting with Proverbs.
Would you like some help identifying your own homeschool approach? Check out our free quiz, Discovering Your Homeschool Style, to find out which homeschool methodology is the best fit for your family!
Lara’s Advice to Those Just Getting Started with Homeschooling
Aimee: A lot of our audience, Lara, is people who are relatively new to homeschooling, and I wonder as you look back on your years of homeschooling so far if you have any advice for people who are just starting out.
Lara: Don’t buy the curriculum first! That is definitely one where I see a lot of people stumble. They find something that they think is going to be great that often looks like school at home, and they don’t realize yet the freedom that homeschooling allows where we are able to create an educational environment without having to sit at a desk eight hours a day. I think people really struggle, especially so many people right now were just kind of thrown into the homeschooling thing. They saw they could get back time with their kids, and they liked that idea, but a lot of these people last year I think were doing public school online which was a convenient option at that point, but now that they’ve seen there’s so much more, they’re kind of moving into a more authentic home education experience. And so they I think tend to gravitate to whatever curriculum people are talking about in whichever Facebook group or Instagram influencer they follow along with.
That is such a stumbling block because you’re going off somebody else’s family at that point. I was guilty of that. We did of a couple different math programs that other people had recommended, and I was so frustrated at the beginning because I was like, ‘Why is none of this working?’ And it was a twofold thing. One, it wasn’t a good fit for my child, and two, we were dealing with learning difficulties that I didn’t know where there. You get to that frustrated point and you kind of want to throw in the towel, and that’s I think where a lot of parents send their kids back to school.
And then you’ve got the other side. I am stubborn. I am a very stubborn person. The Lord is working on me still! But I dug my heels in, like ‘We are going to do this. We are going to figure this out!’ And that’s really when I started reading more Charlotte Mason.
When you become a student of your children, you are able then to figure out what will appeal to them, and you can find a happy medium between how they learn and what feels most comfortable for you teaching wise. And when you just give yourself the time to learn how they learn, to learn their interests, to really get to know them as God created them to be with their particular strengths and passions, you can make better choices in creating that educational environment. So I really wish early on somebody had sat me down and told me, “Don’t start with the curriculum. Start with your child. Start with how they learn. Start with how you teach. Have fun together, and gradually start adding academics into that.” Because if you try to just start, it usually does not end well.
Even now we school pretty much year round so we can take breaks when we want them, we can go do things when other kids are in school, but it also allows us to have consistency which is something else that a lot of homeschoolers struggle with. There’s a lot of homeschoolers that do a four-day week. Because we homeschool we aren’t tied down to that schedule. Just sort of breaking free of the mindset that I have to have a curriculum, we have to be five days a week, we have to go nine months in a row and then take a three month break. If you can get away from all that first, you’re going to have a much smoother start.
Aimee: Yes! I absolutely agree, and I love that encouragement to be a student of your child. That’s something that has come up on this podcast over and over again. That’s such a great way to embrace the freedom and the flexibility that comes with homeschooling. You can’t just look at someone else is doing and copy it onto your own homeschooling. You have to work with the pieces that God has given you. Thanks for sharing that!
We are coming up on the Advent season, and I know that’s one of your favorite topics to talk about. I would love if you could tell people a little bit if they aren’t familiar, if you can just explain what Advent is all about.
Lara: Yes! I love Advent. It’s got very deep liturgical roots that go back throughout church history. The purpose of Advent is to reflect and to remember and to study the prophecies and the first Advent or arrival of Christ as our Savior, and then to look forward to His advent coming back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and our future with Him and God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the new heaven and the new earth. It is just a remarkable time that we can sort of shut out the world and really focus with our families on the beauty of what’s really been offered to us. There is nothing else in the world that can compare to what Jesus has done and what God is doing and the Holy Spirit working in us and through us and so Advent is just a time to really savor our faith.
We do the Advent wreath, and we do a lot of extra hymns, and we do a lot of Advent activities, but we use it as a very focused time for our children to understand that not only was Jesus here as a person living sinless and dying for us and rising again, but He is coming back and we can see how He’s working.
Celebrating Advent together as a family has become sort of a restoration time for our family where we refocus and refuel, and it’s just a beautiful time to spend really at the feet of the cross and waiting on the return of our Savior.
How Lara Came to Love Advent
Aimee: That’s so beautiful, Lara! Is this something you grew up with, or did you come to this as an adult?
Lara: I grew up in a very small Southern Baptist church, and every few years somebody would put an Advent wreath on the top of the organ, and that’s really all I remember about Advent growing up. I think for a long time I wasn’t even sure what that wreath was for! So it was definitely something that happened as an adult.
My group of friends from different faiths was growing. I have friends from the Catholic church, I have friends from the Anglican church, from the Orthodox church, we have friends that are Messianic Jews, and so there was this rich heritage that all of these different denominations had that we had never really participating in. So it got me to where I was studying more and trying to understand why.
When you actually start looking into what Advent really means and why people celebrate Advent, and why you’ve got this huge 24 days of Advent and then follow it with the 12 days of Christmas. It’s just this beautiful connection. It reminds you that we have this great cloud of witnesses around us that have already been through all this. They’ve already gone on to their sleep in Jesus before He returns, and so we have this time to sort of celebrate and really focus in.
It grew on me. And I wanted it to be more tangible for my children, and that’s when I started creating a resource for us to use because I am one of those people if I don’t plan it out beforehand, it’s not going to happen. And so having that planned out, and having something where I knew each day something that we could do that would really help my children understand and start this tradition early, of both looking back and looking forward. It’s been a really big blessing to our family. I now understand why so many different traditions do the Advent traditions.
Why Advent Deserves a Place in Your Homeschool
Aimee: What do you love most about celebrating Advent with your family? I know as homeschoolers we have so many different resources and curriculum and materials that are available to us, sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. Why have you found this is worthwhile in prioritizing in your homeschool?
Lara: So we actually because there are so many resources, we stick to what I call holiday schooling. From the week before Thanksgiving until the first week in January, we drop everything but math and whatever we’re doing for our holiday studies. We do our Advent activities and our Scripture studies. We listen to a lot of audiobooks. We do a lot of family service projects (one of our favorites is we ring the bells for Salvation Army). We do a lot of cooking for neighbors. We have the boys do a lot more cooking in the kitchen with us during the holidays. They’re learning different parts of our traditional family meals that they can make, so they’re really a part of it. And they are coming up with new ideas or looking up recipes for things we can make for neighbors or take to the police station and the fire station and things like that, and so it’s enabled a service mindset that the older they get the further carries out through the year after the Advent season.
I think that’s probably my favorite part. I see them grow. I see them grow in their faith. I see them grow in walking it out. We have a lot of activities and things, but we start each day with our Scripture study. It’s really remarkable over the years to see how their theological questions change and how their interpretations change and how they enact in their everyday life the things that they are learning. You can really just see the Holy Spirit working in them, and from year to year that just grows and grows. That would probably be my favorite part of Advent study, just being able to see how they are becoming men of God slowly but surely. It’s exciting! It’s also a little scary because of the times that we’re living in, but it’s really exciting to see them growing in their faith.
Aimee: It just speaks so powerfully to the impact of those little seeds that you plant over and over and over again. If you take just one day in isolation, it doesn’t necessarily seem like it’s making that much of a difference, but when you consistently keep planting those seeds over months and years, God uses that in such a powerful way.
Lara’s Advent Planning Process
Aimee: What does your Advent planning process look like? How do you decide what you’re going to do in any given year?
Lara: That’s a great question! It varies from year to year.
I start my Advent planning usually in October, just to make sure I have a full season, and I do actually stick with a 24 – 25 day rotation, so it’s technically just from December 1st to December 25th. This year Advent begins on November 28th, so our family Advent readings would start then, but we probably wouldn’t start our activities until the 1st. But I also am not perfect. Shocking, I know! I don’t think anybody is. But where the season is usually kind of busy, I count the Twelve Days of Christmas, which goes from Christmas Day to January 6th which is Epiphany, I count those as grace days. So whatever we don’t get done in the 24 – 25 days, we do over the next 2 weeks, which has also helped a lot because that does relieve some of the stress because you’re going straight from Thanksgiving (because most of us spend the week before getting everything ready and cooking) to going straight into Advent. And so if everything’s already planned and taken care of and I’ve got most of my supplies by a week before the week of Thanksgiving, I feel nice and calm and prepared. That doesn’t mean it’s all going to go the way it’s supposed to, but I at least feel like I’m in a good starting spot. I’ve always tried to get the Advent planning done early. It keeps everybody feeling the stress of Mom being stressed trying to get things ready.
Aimee: I don’t remember where I first heard that idea of the Twelve Days of Christmas being an actual part of the season that extends beyond December 25th, but that was so liberating to me as a Mom because I would always get to Christmas and think, ‘There were all these other books that I wanted to read, and we didn’t quite finish this activity!’ but having that extra grace period built into the season takes some of the pressure off. You don’t have to have everything wrapped up and done by Christmas Day. You can just kind of linger in that spirit for an extra week or two, and that’s been really helpful for our family.
How Lara Guards Advent as a Sacred Time of Quiet and Reflection in a Frenzied Culture
Aimee: We think about Advent being all about slowing down and rest and quiet and reflection, but then we’re embedded in this culture that has so much frenzy around the holiday season. I wonder how you’ve found ways to be intentional about Advent without getting swept up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.
Lara: I am ruthless when it comes to protecting our family time. If we have something scheduled for our family night, or if an event comes up that would interfere with us having our family dinner together, most of the time I say, ‘No.’ And that’s a really hard word for moms in general. We feel sort of guilty when we say no and we turn things down.
I think there’s just too many options at this point in our culture. There’s Christmas parades, there’s all these Christmas activities, there’s church events, there are neighborhood events. We have all these opportunities to stay busy. I believe it’s Heidi St. John who said, ‘If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.’ And because for us I feel like this is a very sweet and special and slow and sacred time, I guard it, and I think that is something that is definitely a matter of conscience, but I think as Christian mothers we really have to be prayerful what we allow through the gates of our home and what we allow to take the time up from our families. So it’s got to be something that I think is super worthy and beautiful and good and true for us to add it to our schedule during the holiday season.
There are certain concerts that I will always take my children to. If we get the chance to go see the Messiah, we will go see the Messiah. There was a show a few years ago that was local that was ‘Ahmal and the Night Visitors’, and it was a phenomenal operatic version talking about the three kings. There are things that are worth maybe breaking out a little time from your schedule, but there’s also a lot of things that are not. You don’t have to go to every light show that happens in a 50 mile radius.
Home for us is the important part. It’s where we are shaping our relationships, where we’re loving well, where we have this refuge set up for our children to experience as much childhood in a loving way and to experience the tough things with parental guidance. Our holiday season is much the same. It is a very focused time where we want to spend the majority of our focus on Jesus, on loving like Jesus, on living like Jesus.
One of the things several of my classical homeschool friends like to remind us of, especially this time of year, is Memento Mori. Everybody is going to die. It’s not meant to be a morbid thing, but it’s a shorter Latin way of say, “Teach me to number my days that I might have a heart of wisdom.” This time is numbered time for us. We know that our children are growing fast. When you look at it through that lens, it’s much easier to say no. We have this tradition, and this tradition is fostering growth in all of us, so this activity doesn’t fit with us taking time from that. On the flip side of that, this activity is worthy, it’s beautiful, it’s something that will build us up, let’s take time to go do that. So viewing everything through the lens of numbered days and making wise choices with our time really helps cut back on the busyness and the frantic feeling that a lot of us get during the holiday season.
Aimee: Yes! And just keeping pace with the Holy Spirit, right? His pace for us is restful, and it’s simple, and it’s often much slower than what our culture is telling us we should be doing, but I love that word, Lara, just to keep that sacred space for our family, and that we need to protect that. Sometimes it is a battle. We’re creating these outposts of the kingdom of God in our homes, and that’s something that’s worth fighting for.
Lara: Yes, and we have to fight hard for that sometimes.
Aimee: One thing that has been for our family is to think through (I think it’s Pam Barnhill that talks about, what are your homeschool must-dos) and I think of that in terms of the Advent planning as well for our family. Just writing down a couple of key anchor points for me has been really helpful so that I don’t just look at all of the things that I’m not doing. I can realize, ‘Oh yes! We did these things that are really meaningful to our family.’ But we can’t do it all.
Lara: No! I think we have that push to do everything. We are told by our culture that as women we can work all the time, we can raise a family, we can make huge amounts of money on side hustles, we can decorate the house, we can cook everything from scratch all the time, and there’s this push to pull yourself up by your boot straps, and I don’t see that in Scripture anywhere. I really don’t! I try to remind myself a lot that the Proverbs 31 woman, that was her lifetime! That wasn’t a week or a day. That was her lifetime. And so not every good thing is meant to be ours, and not every good thing is meant to be ours right now.
Lara’s Favorite Advent Resources for Families
Aimee: Lara, I would love for you to share some of your favorite resources for using in your family during Advent, and some of the things you’ve created for families to use.
Lara: Absolutely! We create A Gentle Advent Resources. We have A Gentle Advent which is sort of a traditional morning time, art study, copywork, poetry teatimes. That was the very first one that we created. It is a little bit more academic. It’s like Holiday School Lite.
And then we have A Gentle Advent Jesse Tree which follows the lineage of Christ. There’s a little ornament everyday that goes along with the Scripture and the Scripture journaling for the day, and it’s got a lot of really fun hands-on activities. And it’s good for the whole family. Most of the activities in there we have sort of a younger version and an older version.
Then we have A Gentle Advent Colonial Christmas, which as far as the ones the whole family can do together, is probably my favorite. (It’s like children; I’m not really supposed to have a favorite, but I do! Not of my kids! Of my Advent courses.) The activities in Colonial Christmas are really fun. There’s some woodworking things in there. There are real colonial recipes. Colonial history has always been one of my favorite things, and I think it kind of shows because that’s the one I always gush over. But that one’s got a lot more history in it. Some of the activities are probably geared more toward 8 years old and up.
And then this year we have released Further Up and Further In! which is geared for ninth grade and up, and it’s based on Revelation and the second coming of Christ. It follows The Silver Chair and The Last Battle from the Chronicles of Narnia series. And so that one’s more of a deep study.
Some of the other resources that we really enjoy are books. We always either read through or listen to A Christmas Carol, and we have the version that has the Ingpen illustrations. It’s beautiful. There’s so many resources like that.
There’s also the different musical things. Everybody loves to listen to the Messiah at Christmas. We like going through and picking one Christmas carol and finding 6 or 7 different versions of it on Youtube just to see how different styles of musicians do the same songs.
We do a lot of piano. Both my boys play, and I play, so we do a lot of just singing carols around the piano. If you don’t play piano, it’s easy to find instrumental versions that you can sing with. Those are usually available online. That’s one of the things that we enjoy.
We do family movie nights. I love good family movies for Advent downtime nights, like if you have a Christmas party, and the next night you really want to keep it low key. We always every year watch It’s a Wonderful Life. We watch White Christmas. The boys absolutely love Elf. My youngest eats like Elf, bless him. If you don’t watch him, he will actually drink maple syrup.
We do a lot of fun things baking wise. We often will do the break-and-bake cookies. There’s a fire station about a mile down the road from our house, so we’ll take those sometime during the holiday season. And the boys love it because the firemen always show them the trucks. We’ve been doing it for years now. It’s one of the things they enjoy. A lot of times on Christmas Eve or Christmas we’ll take cookies and a couple boxes of Swiss Miss to the police station for the ones that are working over Christmas.
My boys have learned that before Christmas comes we always do a major cleanout of anytime that is still in good condition – toys that they just don’t play with anymore, clothes, whatever doesn’t need to stay in our home because it’s not being utilized that’s in good condition. And we’ll take it to the local homeless shelters. The Salvation Army here has a really big program for kids that they do every Christmas. And then we usually do one or two children on the Angel Tree from our church. Those are just different traditions that our family really enjoys.
We’ve loved celebrating Saint Nicholas Day. My kids know the whole story about St. Nicholas. We read about all the miracles attributed to him and discuss how some of them are probably not true. But there’s a lot of them that are really remarkable, and just the fact that he gave up so much so that he could serve. The stories about him at the Council of Nicea are also pretty funny.
We do the gold coins and the oranges and the peppermint sticks. In their shoe we always get them a new Christmas book on Saint Nicholas Day. And then on Saint Nicholas Day we always do a family service project together. Whether it’s ringing the bells. We’ve gone out and just returned buggies to the cart things in the parking lots. We’ve done stuff with the soup kitchen and the food banks. Just some way where we can all go and serve together. Sometimes it’s interesting if the 6th is during the week because we have to do it around my husband’s schedule. That’s one of the days that we always make sure we’re doing something service wise, and it starts out fun with the boys getting their gold coins and talking about Saint Nicholas, but then we go out and we learn about being the hands and feet, which is not nearly as glamorous as eating gold chocolate coins.
But all these little traditions are building anchors. When they’re grown and gone and hopefully someday Lord willing have families of their own, we hope that some of these little points that we have done, they will continue on in their own families. It’s very sweet as a mom to have those sorts of anchors. So I would encourage, whatever people want to do during the holiday season, I would encourage to have at least four different traditions for your family, whether it’s one family movie night, one night going out to sing carols with neighbors. Whatever is a good thing for your family, and they’re not all going to look the same. It’s just like curriculum. We’re not always going to have the same thing. but I would encourage people to do that, to have a couple traditions that you do every year.
And it’s never too late to start. Even if your kids are teenagers, it’s not too late to go ahead and start. And so I would encourage people really to make those anchors in your season, so no matter how busy the rest of the season gets still has those comfortable places that they can come back to.
How Lara Celebrates Advent Personally + Her Favorite Devotional Resources
Aimee: Do you have any resources that you use for yourself devotionally to help center yourself during the season of Advent?
Lara: Yes!! I really enjoy doing the study with the boys in the mornings because that sort of gives me extra to talk about with them throughout the course of our Advent season. I am a huge poetry person. I have always enjoyed poetry, and one of my favorites is Malcolm Guite. He wrote a devotional called Waiting on the Word. He’s got beautiful sonnets that he wrote to go along with the O Antiphons, which are the seven big prayers that liturgical churches do through the seasons. You can actually catch him reading it on his blog, which is phenomenal. He’s British so it makes it even more fun to listen to. I really enjoy Waiting on the Word. I’ve got Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp. That one’s a really nice one as well.
There’s a few people, Sarah Clarkson is one, but I’ve got a few people on Instagram that usually post poetry and artwork and things. There’s a couple different artists that I follow. They will post Advent specific posts during the season, and I really enjoy following along with those.
It’s a fun time to immerse yourself in all the things that you don’t normally take time for especially as a mom, and so the music, the candles, the simmer pots on the stove that make the house smell amazing, snuggled up under a blanket reading something by the fire whether it’s fiction or poetry. I tend to reread books during Advent too, not necessarily Advent books, but I’ll pick something that either I read earlier in the year and really liked and want to go back through again or something that I read years ago and want to go back through. The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge is one that I like to reread. Adorning the Dark which is by Andrew Peterson is another one that I like to reread, and it’s only been out a couple years, but every time I read it I get new stuff out of it. I usually try to go through at least one Jane Austen because every season calls for at least one Jane Austen book.
I try to set parameters for myself too, so that I don’t get caught up in the busyness, and honestly I can get caught up in the wrong kind of busyness. I can get caught up where I’m baking for too many people or volunteering for too many things. I have to make sure I’m reeling myself in as well. It’s not just protecting time for the whole family, but sometimes I have to remind myself, ‘You don’t need to do one more thing.’ The bonus part of Advent is that if you really immerse yourself in the season and in the study it helps you remember pretty far out into the year after Advent is over that there is a quiet growing time, not just for our children and their childhood, but there are seasonal quiet growing times for us. We have Ecclesiastes as a reference for that. There is a time and purpose for everything. There is a time to rest. Advent gives us an extra opportunity if we will take it that we can rest and we can center ourselves around our family and we can all look to Christ together and find hope and refreshment and refueling that will carry us through the rest of the year when it’s not such a season of quiet and rest.
It’s just a beautiful time to let go of things that you don’t necessarily need to be doing. I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, but a lot of times over Advent I will realize that there are things that I have been doing that maybe I don’t need to do. Certain activities or different curriculums that we’ve tried or methods that we’ve tried or just random things, and maybe that isn’t something that I need to be doing. We have this season of rest that allows us to reflect and to let go of the things we need to let go of and to really focus on what God has in store for us. We may have dreams that haven’t come to fruition yet. That doesn’t mean that they’re not God’s dreams for us. That just means that our timing is different than His, and so we have that practice of pausing and waiting and trusting. I think the Advent season is a great way to lean into that and remember that if we will trust in His timing, that sort of frantic feeling will also subside.
Aimee: Yes! You’re receiving Advent as a gift instead of as another thing that I have to add to my already way-too-busy life. We need those things – the candles and the music and the art and the beautiful stories – it does something for us if we will let it.
Lara: Yes! I think that’s one of the hardest parts of being a grown up is remembering that we are not in control. No matter how hard we want to be, we are not in control, and that is another really good benefit of Advent. It reminds us of how faithful God is. He’s not going to leave us where we are. He’s not going to make us suffer for nothing. It’s so remarkable to be able reflect on all the goodness and the justness and the beautiful aspects of God throughout the whole season. And His unchangingness. We live in a world where there’s so much turmoil, and there’s so much chaos, but we know that our Lord is unchanging. The reassurances of that come every time we open our Bible. If someone is out of the habit of Bible study, Advent is a great time to get back in it. I don’t think anybody’s ever too old to learn something new, and so I would encourage everybody to really dig in and learn more about what Advent truly is about and how celebrating it refreshes yourself and helps you remember that God is faithful and that He is coming again and that we can look forward to that day.
Aimee: This has been such a rich conversation, Lara. Thank you so much for sharing what your family’s Advent practice looks like and some of the traditions you incorporate and the heart behind it. If people would like to connect with you more, where can they find you online?