My Hot Mess Advent

Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of blogs I’ve read lately feature the theme of peace, quiet and calm reflection. It’s the season of Advent, a time of patiently waiting for the coming of the infant Jesus.

Normally, I’d be all over it. My tree would be up, with Christmas cards bought and ready to mail. In the evenings I’d spend time reflecting on the holy days ahead, as I bask in the glow of my pre-lit tree. Christmas music would play softly in the background, with candles lighting every corner of the room.

Yeah well. That’s not my reality this year.

The kitchen and family room renovation is getting done, but we’re not quite there. My husband doesn’t want the tree up until the walls are painted, and that makes absolute sense…but I do miss it.

The carpenter is stopping by tomorrow to do some finishing work. The plumber comes on Tuesday.

Every day this week, I’ll rise early to get over to my dad’s condo and let the painters in. Then return to make sure they locked up at the end of the day…one step closer to getting it ready to sell.

Naturally, our semi-new Samsung washing machine was one of the models recalled, so we had to have a guy out to fix it.

Everyday, we move more boxes from the basement up to the kitchen to unpack. A slow process because: a) we didn’t thin the herd when we packed it, so: b) as we unpack, we have to decide what to do with each item.

My back decided it needed a vacation, so it went out. The doctor says I don’t have nerve involvement, so it’s medication (which helps) and physical therapy (which starts this week) for me.

I’m sporting a second degree burn on my right hand because I misjudged the heating element in the stove on Thanksgiving weekend. It’s on my dominant hand, so it’s hard to keep clean and dry, but Lord knows I’m trying.

Honestly, I’m up to my eyeballs in crazy. I feel like I’m chasing Advent instead of abiding in it. Quiet moments? What are those? I reach the end of my day, sitting in a chair with pillows packed against my back, failing miserably to get ‘in the mood’. Why can’t I settle into reflection and peace?

Of course, I’m not the first to have a hot mess Advent. Jesus’ mother had her ups and downs during the first one too. Her betrothed wanted to leave her. She spent her first trimester helping her cousin after walking days to reach her. And then, just as she was ready to deliver, she had to leave her Nazareth home for Bethlehem. On a donkey.

Mary sure handled her challenges a lot better than I have. I would love to get to the place of calmly accepting every unexpected, confusing turn. She lived knowing that God would never leave her, as she patiently awaited the birth of her son.

Yes, I’ve got a crazy busy Advent, but Mary inspires me to accept and own it.

It’s all going to be okay. Even if I never have one candle-lit, music filled evening, God is still with me. And my Savior will still be born.

On that day, there will be peace on earth…and in my heart. Believe me, I’m longing for that. And maybe that’s enough.

Maybe longing for Christ is exactly what my Advent should be.




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56 thoughts on “My Hot Mess Advent

  1. A wonderful reminder of what’s important!

    “Mary sure handled her challenges a lot better than I have. I would love to get to the place of calmly accepting every unexpected, confusing turn.”

    Somehow I imagine Mary getting a kick out of this. “Is she talking about me??” 🙂 Joseph, too.

    • Hi Sandi! I hope Mary is enjoying it! She is my heroine for sure. How she accepted everything and moved on to become the mother of the Lord…amazing.

      I had to find some meaning in all the crazy, and I think feeling a longing for Jesus is a perfect attitude. I will enjoy that all through these days leading up to Christmas.

      Hope you had a great Monday!

  2. Longing for Christ . . . Yes, Ceil, that is what Advent should be about.
    So sorry to hear about all the craziness you’re enduring this holiday season, but love how you were able to connect with Mary’s situation, helping us all to realize that no matter what we’re going through, God is with us in the midst of it all.
    Feel better soon, my friend, and may those quiet moments find you!

    • Hi Martha! That longing is going to be my motto for the rest of Advent. No matter what is swirling around me, I know I will have that in my heart.

      Thank you for your good wishes on my current challenges. You are so right, God is in it! I’m with you though, I’d love a few minutes of quiet to find me. I have a feeling I’ll get them…but I might have to wait a bit 🙂


    • Hi Lulu! In spite of everything, Jesus is still coming. Nothing can stop that, not even my busyness. It’s a very comforting thought. And so is resting easy in Jesus, thank you for that advice Lulu. I think it’s the best way to peace of all.

      Have a peaceful night!

  3. Ceil, first of all, may I say that I offer you my sincerest prayers right now. I pray that Our Lord may be with you this very moment to console you, heal you and give your His Divine Peace.

    I am so sorry to hear of all the difficulties you are suffering right now, this Advent, which should be a time for peace and anticipation to the celebrations of Our Lord’s birth. It really does not matter Ceil, if the painting or other housework is not done, if the tree is not decorated or the cards written and sent. I know we all get caught up in the Christmas moment with so much to prepare and do just because it is expected of us. But right now, just stop, and join me in prayers that you and your family have a peaceful Advent and Christmas and that your health problems are soothed by Christ’s healing hands.

    God bless you and yours.

    • What a beautiful comment Victor. Thank you so much for your heartfelt prayer for me, and for your thoughtful words about what really matters in this season. It’s been very hard to get my mind wrapped around Advent this year, and that’s just not normal. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry!
      But you’re right, it all ends in Christ (and begins too), and prayers to him will sustain me. I know he loves me, and knows my heart so well. I think he truly planted the thought that hoping and longing for him is really what the season is all about. I know I’ve got plenty of that.

      You are a wonderful blog friend! God bless you always, and bring you peace and joy,

  4. I am sorry to read about your hand. I cut my finger chopping in my kitchen 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and I know how just a wrapped index finger throws one out of commission! I pray for your healing of your back too. I am grateful for Scripture that tells us the truth as you wrote regarding Mary. She inspires me too because looking at her is the real Christmas with all the challenges of birth, relocation and traveling plans gone wrong! Jesus is peace and may you find supernatural peace as you find your relaxing niche this Advent season!

    • Hi Mary! It would be great to have that ‘relaxing niche’, I hope it comes. It just seems like I am running from one thing to another and just trying to catch up. I know life can be like that, it’s just unusual that it should happen now. I love Advent! Oh well…

      How’s your finger? I hope you’re all back to normal. I have this wonderful cream that I started using a few days ago on my burn, and it’s actually improving. Still throbbing like crazy, but it’s getting smaller. I think I’ll be find by Christmas.
      God bless you Mary. May your name sake bless us both with her peace,

  5. I can so identify. I don’t have any decorations up yet. I can’t bring my big tree in the house until someone comes to help. if it does not get done , perhaps it doesn’t matter…Mary did not have a tree that first Christmas either! In answer to my Blog…I’m all too human, but I am so thankful for God’s grace.

    • Hi Freda! We can be sisters then, the sisters who can’t quite catch up! But we are also sisters in knowing that Jesus is coming, and even the lack of tree won’t stop that. What a comfort!

      I am thankful for grace too, because without it, I’d really be a mess. (I mean even worse than now!) We all struggle. We all fail. But then, we do fly and soar at times too, when we can engage that powerful grace. I hope we both have that soaring experience this Advent season.
      Blessings sister!

  6. God is always with us and He knows what we are going through, and what we are able to handle…and what we cannot. Thank you so much for sharing, Ceil, and I hope that just writing this and sharing it has helped you in some small way. Sometimes it can, and it often does. Blessings.

    • Hi Linda! You know what, it really did help. I noticed the day after I wrote this post I started to feel a little lighter. Isn’t amazing? The power of writing never fails to impress me.

      It was lovely of you to thank me for writing this. I hoped that it wouldn’t sound like whining…I am just in amazement at how this Advent is for me right now. It’s a first for me, that’s for sure. As you say, God knows all about it, and waits for me to shoulder the load with his help. I’ll get there with Mary’s help!

      Thank you for your very kind comment Linda,

  7. Oh yeah, Ceil, I’ve had more Christmases like yours than I’d dare to count. They left me crazed, disappointed, impatient, and exhausted.

    You’re amazing ’cause in the midst of the madness you’re discovering stories, lessons, and invitations that you’re sharing with just a whiff of humor.

    No wonder we all love you so much!

    Sending hugs of comfort and joy your way this evening, dear friend …

    • Hi Linda! It’s actually quite a comfort to know that this is not such a rare occurrence! I guess it just is for me. I love Advent! But this year, I’m just not in the groove, and I may never be. But isn’t it great that Jesus will be born again whether I get there or not? I love that.

      Thank you for your wishes of comfort and joy, I think I won’t hear that song the same way again. Come on over sometime for a cup of tea, and we’ll entertain each other with our crazy experiences. That would be fun!
      Have a peaceful night,

  8. OH, my! You are surely going through a hard time, bless your heart. I do trust things will calm down soon, your back will feel better, and your hand will heal quickly. It is so hard to have something wrong with a member of the body that is used so frequently. God bless you and hold you close.

    • Hi Cheryl! I’m sure I’ll be back to normal in a few weeks. At least that’s the plan. I was thinking today how amazing our bodies truly are. I finally got some really good cream for my burn, and it’s healing very well, which I am so thankful for. It’s like a miracle.

      I look forward to the day when I can sit in peace, but until that day, the chaos will have to do. As long as I remember that God is with me always, and Jesus is coming no matter what, I’ll be fine.
      Thank you for your good wishes. You are such a good blog-friend!

  9. It’s good to always remember that Christmas really didn’t start perfect. It’s all really mess to begin with. But it ended gloriously. Same can happen to us! 🙂

    Beautiful, Ceil.

    • Hi Lux! How nice to see you again, thanks for visiting!

      What a wonderful hope, right? It might all look pretty bleak now, but the end of the story is yet to happen. And as I said, even if my life stays crazy, Christmas will still come, and peace will reign in my heart. I can’t wait for that!


  10. Yes, Christmas still comes doesn’t it? And the spirit of the season just needs our spirit-filled participation that just requires us to show up and be, doesn’t it? I’ve been debating to start a ‘whose got the messiest decorated tree, room, or most broken cookies’ contest. I think it could be a blessing almost to be in chaos as then we have to let go of the performing and doing the season can entrap us in–the opposite of what it means! May your hand and back have a speedy recovery Ceil. Hugs!

    • Hi Lynn! I love those ideas! I also love the idea of chaos being a blessing. I didn’t think about it that way, thank you for that thought. It’s certainly not perfect over here, let me tell you that!

      Thank you for your healing wishes. I got a new cream for my burn, and it seems to be speeding the healing, a great relief. PT starts in a few days, and I’m hoping that will get me on the right track. I’m doing what I can, now I wait for Jesus to heal me.

      Hope you had a great day 🙂

  11. Sweet friend, thanks for your candid words about where this season finds you. As I was reading, I found myself thinking about such years in my life. The circumstances were different, but the results were similar. The Christmas my sweet hubby was in Vietnam would count as one. Another would be when his younger brother committed suicide on Christmas Eve. There was also the crazy busy Christmas season when our son got married as well as so many years when one of the kids were sick. Our adult children would be sure to mention coming home for Christmas several years to discover something went wrong with the hot water heater or the septic system and suddenly we were without water or bathroom facilities. Life doesn’t stop happening during Advent just like what you shared about Mary’s life, but the season isn’t really those trappings we usually enjoy so much and when we have a year like you’re having, I think that becomes so much clearer. Holding you close in heart and prayer

    • Hi Pam! Oh my gosh, you really have insight to how I feel. You’ve had many experiences of a busy, crazy Advent. My heart hurt for you just reading about them!

      I am certainly learning on a deeper level how much this season is about the faith in my heart, not the decor on my walls. It just can’t be this year anyway, so God is using this time to teach me this valuable lesson yet again. Just writing about it has given me a measure of peace, as well as the comments here. That includes you my friend. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself to help me, it’s invaluable.
      Blessings to you always,

  12. Aw, Ceil, so sorry you are facing these challenges and distractions this Advent–and yet you still find time to encourage your readers and recognize God’s hand. You are an inspiration. Saying a prayer for you, my friend.

    • Hi Pam! You are being very, very kind. Thank you. It’s funny, but just writing about it has been a very healing thing, not to mention the wonderful support of people like you, who really do care. Thank you so much for being connected through our blogs.

      I love that you are praying for me, that’s the best thing of all.
      Blessings to you always,

  13. A hot mess Advent! I have had plenty of those in the past. I love how you say you are just going with Mary and owning it. Great attitude to take.

    I am one of those people who lived that kind of season every year but have intentionally tried to slow down and invite God into my day. I am a definite work in progress but there are days I capture the peace and quiet. That’s better than none at all. Good luck with the remodeling and I am praying your back and hand heal quickly.

    • Hi Mary! Maybe this whole ‘hot mess Advent’ is a little more common then we thought.

      The idea of living it with Mary came in a flash when I was in prayer. What a fabulous way to bring some sense to my senseless days. I am so happy that you have found peaceful and quiet days, enjoy them! Thank you so much for your prayers, I really appreciate that so much. I did find some new cream for my burn, and it’s helping a lot.

      May the peace of Advent continue in your days,

  14. Ceil: i understand your stresses. I remember having to work outside of the home, one hour away from where we lived. I was the one who did most of the Christmas shopping, plus the usual chores I had. It wore me out. I began to dislike Christmas. Also, for a few of them, I was acting in place of my supervisor who took the who;e month of December as her vacation. Slowly things worked out for me. But, Jesus was there for me, even when I was too rushed to see Him.

    • Hi Cecelia! I think we both know about hot mess Advents! All the busyness is really kicking at me, much like it did for you. I take a lot of comfort in knowing that it worked out for you, and that you know that Jesus is always there. I think that’s what he wants me to learn too.

      Thank you for sharing your experience and your wisdom,

  15. I just read this on a friend’s FB page and felt I should share :)”We often feel Christmas should be a ‘sugar plum’ day with no touch of sadness. We feel we mustn’t let the sad parts of our lives into this special day. Suffering spoils it. Let only gladness fill the air.
    But consider another approach: Instead of avoiding all the sadness and trying to create a Hallmark Christmas, savor the richness of a savior born into a broken world, for broken hearts, to bring healing.
    This is the feast of a God who so loved this world – my world – with its better and worse. Let the love of this feast touch the better and the worse, and I’ll find a deep down joy that can bring tears to my eyes. This mixture fits the feast. The event at Bethlehem wasn’t a Disney World experience. It was a time of both bliss and sorrow.
    The joy of Christmas is that light overcomes darkness. It’s the good news of the angel to the shepherds: Today a savior has been born for you…for all that is happy in you, and all that is sad in you. Don’t hide the sad feelings. For some, it is the first Christmas with a newborn child or grandchild. For others it is the first Christmas without their mother, father, husband, wife, child, close friend. For all of us it is Christmas celebrated in imperfect lives in an imperfect world.
    When we remember who Jesus was and why he came, we can let him come into our real life, and then experience what it means to have a merry Christmas”
    ~taken from “the Little Blue Book”, Advent and Christmas Seasons 2016-2017, Six minute reflections on the Infancy Narrative of Luke.

    • Oh my goodness Patty…this is just perfect. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it here. The mixture of better and worse absolutely speaks to me, as well as this being the first Christmas without my dad. I wonder how much of my crazy is influenced by that sadness?

      I certainly embody an imperfect world, and isn’t it a comfort to know that all that simply doesn’t matter. I’m loved, and Jesus is coming. That’s the good news that keeps me grounded.

      Happy St. Nicholas Day to you and your family! You certainly left me a treat in my ‘shoe’. Bless you always,

  16. Hi Ceil! I’m struggling too with preparing for Christmas–nary a card written or sent…(some have been received though), tree isn’t out (it’s small, think the tree on the Peanut’s Christmas movie), and no other decorating either. While things aren’t a “hot mess” for me, I find myself struggling–the why remains elusive. Now with the weather getting colder that may help me get in the spirit, so to speak?

    “Maybe longing for Christ is exactly what my Advent should be.” This sentence spoke to me–that, I think, is the point of Advent–longing for Christ, being prepared in our hearts, while waiting for His return.

    Blessings to you in this season of Advent!


    • Hi Kim! It’s a comfort to know that I’m not alone in the busyness of the season, but I’m really glad it doesn’t seem like a ‘hot mess’ to you. Not a fun place to be. Struggling with the ‘why’ is tough, but you know what I found? Knowing why doesn’t help me all that much. Being able to struggle and wait is the key for me, knowing God is there.

      Let’s focus on longing for Christ together. I think it speaks to both of us for a reason…I think he wants us to be joyous at his birth!

  17. Sorry it’s been such a stressful time, Ceil. Praying for healing for your back and your hand and that you know peace in your heart this Christmas season, even if it feels like circumstances are chaotic. It is encouraging to remember that the first Christmas was messy too and Jesus entered into the midst of it. I love your comment that “Even if I never have one candle-lit, music filled evening, God is still with me. And my Savior will still be born.” That is what really matters!

    • Hi Lesley! Thank you for your prayers, that’s exactly what I need the most.
      I did find some cream for my burn, and it’s helping it to heal. I start PT on Thursday for my back, and I know that’s going to help too. I’m getting there! But let me tell you, it’s been nuts. What a new lesson to learn about peace and the faithfulness of Jesus.

      I don’t have to be perfect because Christ is, and will come no matter what. Can’t wait!

  18. Oh Ceil, I’m so sorry about your back and your hand. I pray God will give healing. And I’m sorry things are so chaotic for you right now, too, with all the remodeling, selling your dad’s home, etc. But I love how you turn to how Mary must have felt. Also this – “Maybe longing for Christ is exactly what my Advent should be.” Yes! And He will still come! Advent blessings be with you! Hugs!

    • Hi Trudy! Thank you for your prayers and blessing, that’s what I need the most. It really has been such an unusual Advent for me, I hardly knew what to think. I know it was a gift to realize that Mary’s Advent was no picnic either, but it all turned out so well.

      I know Christmas is coming, and peace will be with us all. In the meantime, my longing for healing and peace will carry me through.
      Thank you again for your kind words, I really appreciate them.

    • Hi Bill! Thank you for your calming words Bill. This too shall pass comes to mind too. I just haven’t had an Advent like this in recent memory, and it’s really rattling me. I guess it’s a good teaching moment for me.

      Hope you are feeling better and better with each day, and feel like you’re making progress.

  19. Well, it certainly sounds like your advent season has been…um…interesting so far, my friend! The season can certainly be stressful just because it is what it is but when you add all of these other things to the mix, it is unfortunate! And there is nothing more painful than a burn…I hope it well on it’s way to being healed. You are right though, no matter what else is going on, aren’t we so blessed to know that our Savior is still there in the midst of all of the chaos? I hope the rest of your advent season calms down a bit. Hugs and blessings, sweet friend! ♥

    • Hi Debby! Yes, it has been interesting for sure. It’s really been a time of feeling unsettled, uninspired and overworked. Not a great head-place to be in this normally peaceful season. I think realizing that Jesus is still coming, I’m not the only one to have a chaotic time, has really helped me to accept it all.

      Thank you for your empathy with the burn. It was below freezing today and windy too, and my hand was so painful in that wind. Erg. Can’t wait for that to heal.
      Thank you too for your faithful FB presence. It’s great to see you there, I so appreciate the support.

  20. Hi Ceil,
    I think the best thing we can do when we are not feeling that well is relax, seek the Lord and not worry about what tomorrow brings. His thoughts are for our welfare and not to harm us. We have been in constant building situations in this house but it is surprising how the time has flown and much of it is done now. I too will pray for you for your healing and also for perfect peace to be in your life.
    God bless you Ceil.

    • Hi Brenda! You are a voice of reason in the middle of my chaos, so I thank you for that. I know in my heart that all will be well, I just miss the peaceful, prayerful Advent of past seasons. It’s just not where I am now, and I have to learn to accept it, and realize that God is teaching me now. His son will still come, and I will be fine.

      Thank you for your powerful prayers Brenda. That’s what I need most of all. You are so generous, thank you!

  21. We learn something in every season of our lives, don’t we? I struggle more when things don’t come together like I’d like. But I’m thankful there’s a purpose in it all. Praying things come together and your hand mends soon. Sending love and blessings your way!

    • Thank you so much Brenda, I appreciate your warm thoughts and blessings. You have a good point, maybe I’m so discombobulated because I feel so out of control. That’s a great time to rely on faith and hope in the Lord. Maybe I’m supposed to be learning that too?

      Thank you for your helpful comment, I think there’s a lot of truth to the control idea.

  22. oh wow what a mess! and I never thought of Mary having a hot mess Advent too. Funny correlation. Remodeling and change always stirs up chaos for me. I remember one of our major remodels a few years ago and I kept wondering why I felt so restless and disjointed until I realized the mess in my kitchen created a mess in my soul. Give yourself a Advent in a few weeks once everything has settled – I bet you will find it. Blessings

    • Hi Jean! Thinking about Mary’s challenges really helped me put mine in perspective. It was very comforting actually.
      So you’ve been through all this disruption too? It’s going to all come together at some point, but right now, it’s a challenge every day. I like the idea of a delayed Advent! Delighted actually. I don’t think God cares too much about timing, just the preparation. Perfect!

      You never fail to inspire me my friend,

  23. Life sometimes just doesn’t meet our expectations, and you wrote about it so graciously. I love how you shared about Mary, and how difficult her situation was, and if we can just understand that if it all isn’t the way we hoped it would be in our world, that the Lord can still make something beautiful out of it all. I’m so sorry to hear that you are nursing a sore back and a burnt hand, ouch! That alone is very tough, not to mention the renovations and keeping up with your dad’s condo, and grieving your dad. It does seem at times that when it rains, it pours! I think you have a great perspective on the whole of it all, and I pray that the joy of the season will somehow find its way to your heart in a special and joyous way. Many hugs to you today dear friend!

    • Hi MM! You have put your finger on it all, and it really has been exhausting and frustrating. I don’t know what all I’m supposed to understand, but I think realizing that everything doesn’t have to be perfect (including my prayer life) for God to move. Jesus will still be born, even as I try to deal with all the goofiness of my life right now.

      Thank you for praying for me, I really don’t take that lightly. I know I need them! May God bless you abundantly for your kind words and empathy. Wouldn’t it be nice to live closer? We could have some tea, and walk out to see the chickens together 🙂

  24. I love this, Ceil. Oh we can all Relate. Christ comes and we celebrate the undeserved gift. Ready or not, He comes. Hallelujah!

    • Hi Anita! What a joy to see you here tonight!

      I love that you phrased it as ‘ready or not’. That made me smile, and it’s so true. Thanks for saying that you could relate, your post reminded me of my situation, and I understood what you were feeling very well.

      I wish you every peace and blessing in the weeks to come, leading you to a warm and love-filled Christmas. Neither of us are having the experience we’re used to, but hey…ready or not, right?

      Love and hugs across the miles to you,

  25. CEIL!! I saw your comment on another blog and I thought “SHE’S BACK!!??”

    I just had to come say hello and welcome you back. <3

    And girl, I KNOW that hot mess. I've been in that boiling bowl quite few times too.

    I love how you ended this though. Chasing it- yes. And you can surely say "Tis the season" and honestly- it's just that, right? A season. Yes a magical, beautiful, sacred one- but with God we can make any season holy. You chase that peace right into spring and BAM… You will stack those pillows behind your back and suddenly feel "in the mood". 🙂

    And PS. Longing for Christ is exactly where we ALL should be.

    • Hi Chris! How nice to see you here! Thank you for coming over, and for the warm welcome 🙂

      You are so right. God can and does make any season holy, and that includes this one, even though it feels so different. You know what it’s like to be in ‘hot mess mode’, I know that! I think I’m supposed to learn that God is here, and with us, no matter what I feel. Longing for him hasn’t left, and that is a wonderful gift.

      It’ll be nice to get reconnected my friend! Have a great weekend,

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