Advent Fail

This year we were going to get it right.

We were going to make Advent a focused and intentional time for our family. December 1 has been sort of sitting on my heart with some quiet anticipation. Our children are growing. We are trying to share our faith with our children and help them to share their little hearts with us. We fail and we succeed, and we hope we’re doing something right each day. Advent felt like a good time to dig in deeper with the kids.

Then today was another day just like all the other ones.

Mateo (8) woke up tired. He started in on breakfast and then just couldn’t. He was cold, he said, as he went to lay down on the couch with blankets. Fever, chills, sore muscles, headache. The flu knocked him out all day.

Glenn worked today, finishing a job before we get hit with a blizzard. Once upon a time he was a worship pastor in a church. Now he is a roofer and work does not wait for Sunday to pass. So he worked and tomorrow while the blizzard rages will be our Sunday.

There were arguments over dinosaurs today. And then this magical thing happened where Andreas (6) and Olivier (3) played dinosaurs and did dinosaur puzzles, and got along for half the afternoon. I’m still trying to figure out what happened. Andreas is a literal, black and white kind of thinker. Olivier is like what Fantasia would be if it were a person instead of a trippy Disney movie. They are at odds, often. But they learn from each other too, and that is a gift that nobody will appreciate until they are grown except for me.

Rosalie (22 months) was full of life today. She spent half the day roaring at me like a tiny deranged dinosaur and the rest of the day chasing the boys and poking poor Mateo as he slept on the couch.

Rosalie & Mateo
Rosalie & Mateo

I kept wondering when I was going to feel it. Advent. Shouldn’t I be feeling miraculous today?
Maybe if we’d gone to church.
Maybe if Mateo weren’t sick.
Maybe if Andreas and Olivier weren’t fighting over dinosaurs.
Maybe if Glenn hadn’t been working.
Maybe if Rosalie would just sit calm down and be still.
Maybe if I could calm down and be still and stop fighting and put down the work and feel better.

I was kind of half-heartedly apologizing to God for failing at Advent this year, because to look at my Facebook news feed you’d think everybody is just kicking ass at being full of awe and wonder and the miracle of the season. And here I am, all missing the boat and not feeling like we were ready in time.

Then God reminded me of something.

Nobody was prepared for Jesus.

Mary wasn’t planning to be a pregnant virgin.
Joseph wasn’t willing to marry her.
The city of Bethlehem was too busy with the census to notice them arrive.
The inn was full.
Jesus was born in a barn.
The shepherds were startled.
The wise men were late.
Herod wanted the child dead.

They were off to a great start, the whole lot of them.

And the angels were singing anyway.

 I’m not prepared for Jesus. He messes up my plans and changes my will. I’m busy, my plate is full, other people might be startled if only they knew about Jesus in my life, I am slow, and because of me, He ended up dead.

Maybe you are like me.

Maybe like me, despite all the things we’re getting wrong, there is still room somewhere for Jesus to show up. Maybe there’s a barn shaped place in our lives where He can be born.

Maybe this year, we can get it right. Maybe this year, we can sing with the angels because this Jesus baby is still a miracle.

We sat the kids down before bed thinking we were going to at least manage 15 solid minutes of getting Advent right. Glenn quickly gave up on Rosalie and put her to bed, while I coached Andreas to read a Nativity story for toddlers to Olivier (and let him look at the pictures for crying out loud!), and Mateo just stared at us from his bed. Then we traded and Glenn read another story to the boys while I answered the door. Then we all read a passage from Matthew and I paraphrased it for them and Glenn prayed. And it was bedtime and the angels were probably singing for that too.

Andreas & Olivier


I’m thankful that this season in the church calendar gives us a month. It looks like we are going to need it.


copyright (c) 2013 Jenna Pelias // all rights reserved

8 thoughts on “Advent Fail

  1. i absolutely love the way you express yourself!! you can make me laugh and cry at the same time lol…your pure honesty is a breath of fresh air…coming from many church circles i indeed understand the complexity of the way things can be viewed, which allows for many different visuals.
    you’re like the “spoonful of sugar” that helps the medicine go down!
    keep blogging, you’re a delight to the soul 😉


  2. Jenna,
    This is absolutely beautiful and so well-written. And thankfully, God doesn’t care how we celebrate advent, even if it is only fifteen minutes.(: You are doing a wonderful job! I love reading your posts and cannot wait for the new one!(:


  3. I love your honesty, love the image of the barn shaped hole in our lives. I think Jesus shows up in the mess when we’re unprepared because it makes it more obvious that we need him! So keep up the good work of not being all that you’d love to be but striving for it any way for his names sake 🙂


  4. I love your pragmatism. I really really do :). Keep it, water it with tears and laughter, and let it blossom. It will help you and your beloveds go far with healthy grace.

    You’ve made me decide to post about how my young family observed Advent, now. So – I guess I will!

    Hugs,- Dodi


  5. You have the most prolific insight. The angels are singing Jenna; singing over you that you ARE living Advent everyday. Thank you for sharing your heart. You are helping this 47 year old from Indiana soften more and more each day.


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