Advent: A Time for Reflection

“You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time, Want us to wait. For the right time in which to discover Who we are, where we are to go, Who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank you … for the waiting time.”
John Bell, quoted in The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers

Do you think of this time of year as a time of reflection or a time for shopping? I confess that for most of my life I’d never even thought about the weeks before Christmas as something separate from the actual holiday (which I rarely reflected upon either).

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The dogs are reflecting upon how much they love blankets.

So what is there to reflect upon? For Christians advent is not about waiting to put the porcelain baby in the tiny manger on Christmas, but about waiting for the second advent when Christ returns. Non-Christians may find this a foolish notion, but I wonder if there is a person alive who doesn’t feel that humanity needs to be saved.

Social media and “the news” —  no matter the flavor — ask us to take sides in the battle to save children, animals, foreigners, neighbors and the planet because we all know in our bones that we need saving and that there is something of value to save.

This year I find myself at loose ends (the perfect time to reflect).

I wonder about blogging. I’ve made some great friends.

Yet …

I feel constrained sometimes.

Years ago at college I took a journalism course called Minorities in the Media. The professor loved my political writing, and I loved the praise. At the time, I was marching behind banners supporting terrorism in my spare time. I embraced a victim-hood that wasn’t even my own because I had an Irish last name. For a brief time the badge of victim-hood got me good grades and a seat at the university activist table. It also meant that I cared little for the people who might die for disagreeing over the issues I marched for in complete safety. In short, I was young, naive and ignorant of the complexities of human nature and history — so much so that compassion disappeared.

I remember one young man who dared question the narrative. He was Jewish and had living relatives who had survived the Holocaust. He refused victim status. The professor often stood back as the mob shouted him down. I remained quiet more out of cowardice than anything else, but that one boy’s stand against group-think made an impression on me.

In the books I’ve written I have never considered shying from controversial topics, yet more and more when I blog I find myself second-guessing writing about things I really believe in. The idea of offending someone and having to spend a day defending an off-the-cuff remark just seems so boring and useless. Politics and religion are fascinating subjects but the idea of writing about them in the present environment is so fraught with anger and hysteria I find it difficult to wade in.

With a few exceptions the internet is becoming a cultural desert for me. People are told to write how-to-blog/how-to-write posts to get more followers. People are told to stay away from religion and politics. Or to write about religion and politics to create extreme controversy and buzz.

I am guilty of it all. I’m guilty of chasing followers. I’m guilty of insincerity and of paying too much attention to the repetitive promptings of how-to-write/how-to-do-life blogs which at this point all blur into one another.

So why blog?

To build a platform? (when do we feel the satisfaction we are hunting for?)

To meet only like-minded people? (doesn’t this get so very boring?)

To trash opponents? ( I admit I  too often find reading this stuff entertaining — but such a waste of time)

To offer advice? (not always — but often — the advice is copy and paste)

To bring something of value to the world? (isn’t this what we all hope to do?)

I suppose we all value different things, but for advent I’m reflecting on Saint Paul’s admonition:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

But, my friends, I’m at an impasse.

Where does opinionated fit in? Where do political rants find their proper place? How is boredom cured? How is fear of man dispelled? Have I been so tainted by the world that I can’t come up with things that are interesting and “good”?

This may all be Lyme-induced brain fog. Who knows …

Or maybe we just have to occasionally question why we do what we do.

One thing I do know is that I’m hungry for beauty, depth and inspiration. There are many blogs I really enjoy (but I want more!). Three that come to mind are:

Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare

retrospectivelily.com

A.M. Pine – Hearth Ridge Reflections

 

I would love to know what blogs you follow for your fix of positivity. Please leave your recommendations in the comments!

 

 

 

 

26 Comments Add yours

  1. I understand how you feel, Adrienne. I guess it’s the Psychology major in me that keeps me blogging for both the relationships and to hear people’s stories. I love to learn about the backgrounds of bloggers, where they’ve lived or worked…things like that. Since hanging out with blogging friends is a way for me to relax, I avoid politics or discussions on religion. People can get so angry and say such hurtful things…I don’t need that. I’ve found the nasiest people are the one who are so closed minded to other opinions, I wonder why they’re on Word Press. I’ve been fortunate to find a nice comfort zone here on Word Press. I can’t say the same about Facebook. I’ve thought about shutting down my account, but I’d like to keep my author page and you can’t do that without a profile.

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    1. P.S. I love that photo of you on the sofa! I was trying to count all of the dogs and wondered if there was one underneath the blanket! 🙂

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  2. Lily Pierce says:

    Hi Adrienne, I loved reading this post. I liked what you said about reflecting on life during the Advent season and how you reflected on some things from the past and present. I also went through an intense political phase in college, and I enjoyed reading about your experience, especially with the guy who went against the group-think. I appreciated the questions about why we blog; I ask myself the same things. It reminds me of the repeated phrase in Ecclesiastes that everything is vain/pointless. It’s my form of expression and way of building community. When the writer of Ecclesiastes said we should essentially enjoy the little things, I guess this is my version of that, hehe. Thank you also for the shout-out! I enjoy your blog, too. 🙂❤️

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    1. You’re so right about remembering to enjoy the little things. Every day lately I keep thinking I should just go down and hang out with chickens for a while, but then I get busy and feel stressed and annoyed that I’m not getting things done.

      I’m feeling the need to really deal with my perfectionist tendencies. LOL.

      Your blog always inspires me, Lily!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Natalie Scarberry’s blog is one of my favorite inspirational https://sacredtouches.com/ Your quote from Scripture keeps me inspired, motivated and grounded too, Adrienne–“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 Thanks for sharing…

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    1. Thanks for your suggestion! I hope all of your writing endeavors are going well, Bette!

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    2. P.S. Sacred Touches looks like a perfect place to get inspired! Thanks again.

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  4. Speaking of thinking about the Lord’s return at Christmas — most people don’t realize that one of our favorite “Christmas carols” — Joy to the World — was actually written about the Second Coming. So that song has always reminded me that the manger was just the first step.

    And absolutely with you on the “whatsoever” list from Paul. Amazing how thinking on those things increases joy and reduces stress. May you find a world of things that are lovely and “of good report” to fill your days this season.

    As for things that gladden my heart, your blog certainly contributes. But I also often go to YouTube and look at word studies on The Bible Project channel or listen testimonies on One For Israel. Always drives home how perfectly everything is planned.

    Blessings on you this Christmas and in the New Year.

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    1. I didn’t know that about oy to the World! That’s so cool! Yes, I need to actually take Paul’s advice more. 🙂

      Okay, I’m excited by your suggestions … I’m going to look at them tonight over tea!

      BTW, I was thinking of you last night because I’m reading about how the soldiers cooked during the Civil War. It’s so funny.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was the first American war that featured canned food. However, the can opener wasn’t invented until later. 🙂

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      2. It’s also why sailors went crazy after because the cans were sealed with lead. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It sometimes amazes me that the human race survived some of the things we’ve done to ourselves over history. Lead pots in ancient Rome, lead-based makeup in Renaissance France, lead seals on cans. And it is thought that the reason Benjamin Franklin’s ethereal and lovely musical instrument, the “glass armonica,” went out of favor was because of the lead glass — the musicians went crazy. And that’s just lead.

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      4. How about the wonder drug mercury!

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      5. Indeed. And mercury is also why one became mad as a hatter — hatters used mercury to process the materials used for making the hats. It has also long been used for gold prospecting, to help separate out gold from other minerals — and still is used used in developing countries (big problem in Brazil). Yep — amazing we’re still alive.

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      6. I imagine in a hundred years people will be saying the same about us!

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      7. I have no doubt about that.

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  5. carlamcgill says:

    Great photo of you and the dogs! I love Advent, and just today I pulled out my Advent candles from the Christmas boxes. While I find scripture invaluable during this season, I also like to read encouraging things on other blogs (especially blogs about writing). I can’t imagine that most of us get enough encouragement, and it is as much of a blessing to offer it as to receive it. You love history, and I think learning/studying/researching is a great enrichment as well. I follow too many blogs, while my own has been dormant for a time (hoping to revive it very soon). I follow Jill’s, and Luanne Castle’s WriterSite, and several others as well as yours.

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    1. We run in the same circles. I love Luanne’s too. Yes, I love blogs that offer encouragement. And i don’t hate how-to blogs but for a while I was getting too caught up in the here’s how I gained 5 million followers and sold 500 million books. LOL.

      I think I’m still in a funk over finishing writing my book series and dealing with Lyme disease. Blah. I probably just need to kick back and read more for a while. 🙂

      I hope you do start up blogging again because I’d like to read your posts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. carlamcgill says:

        Thank you, Adrienne; that is encouraging! Sorry to hear about the Lyme disease! May your symptoms disappear and never return! Congratulations on finishing your series. What a wonderful accomplishment!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Great pic with your doggies !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  7. An excellent reflection-provoking post. Have you come across JoAnna, Anything is Possible!

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  8. I love this: “but I wonder if there is a person alive who doesn’t feel that humanity needs to be saved.” So true!

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  9. Adrienne, you really run the gamut of experiences in your posts. From Christmas and advent reflections to remembering your very young college self (I cringe over who I was in college and how much opportunity I wasted, but I have no regrets over my social and political activism) to suffering with Lyme disease (and this is something I hope you recover from soon) to wondering why in the world we’re here at all.

    And then blogging – the blog grind is beginning to get to me as well yet I’m loathe to give it up. I started mine because I was told I needed a platform to present my books for when an agent moseyed on over to see if I’m a serious author contender. Obviously that has not happened. One compelling reason for continuing is that I keep meeting wonderful people here, writers who immerse me in different worlds and ideas I’ve never considered.

    So when I came to the end of this post, I was rather stunned to find my blog mentioned . Thank you, I don’t know what else to say, as this was an unexpected compliment.

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    1. A compliment well-deserved, Shari! I’m always inspired by how much thought you put into your posts, but especially the kindness and encouragement you show your readers. You bring so much wisdom into the lives of others and I can tell you that your followers/friends consider you a real gem!

      Oh, the platform! Yes. The thing I do still like is making the blog look pretty. It’s like decorating a house. But where I’ve always fallen short in blogging and real life is being so obsessed with busyness that I don’t enter into conversation enough. Later never comes, does it.

      Sometimes I hold back what I want to write because I fear if I give it to the blog it won’t have anything to write in books … yet like you I do enjoy when I meet people who like talking about interesting things — so I probably won’t be giving up any time soon. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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