It’s coming: a new month… a new season… a time of preparation

Yesterday was the last Sunday of the church year. Next Sunday we begin again. Advent — advenio, “to come to” – is a four week period when we prepare for the coming of the Christ. We prepare for his birth at Christmas, his coming into our lives, and his eventual Second Coming.

For many, this preparation also means getting organized for the December 25th celebration… gift purchases, food preparation, home decoration. My hubby has put up outside Christmas lights already, although he won’t turn them on until this weekend. I can hardly wait! I love the special holiday lights that sparkle through December nights. But none of them can equal the glory of God’s light.

This was sunrise a couple weeks ago while we were at our Cariboo cabin.

I began my NaNoWriMo month of writing there, pulling out my laptop every morning soon after dawn when the men left for their day of hunting. Without my usual daily distractions I accumulated words in excess of the daily average and returned home to post over 18,000 words on Day #10. Since then… well, let’s just say I haven’t quite maintained that average.

November 30th, and its conclusion of NaNoWriMo, is creeping steadily closer. I may or may not complete 50,000 words by then, but I will have made significant progress on the first draft of a new novel. I will be ready to change my focus from intense writing to a more normal pace which will give me time to also concentrate on Advent.

I love all the different preparations that will come with the new month. The house will have evergreen boughs and twinkling lights, and the fragrance of sugar cookies and shortbread. There will be family and friends visiting, special music playing, and wrapped presents under a tree. I hope there will be a little snow, too, although I know better than to count on it.

And there will also be time — time to ponder the coming miracle of God’s personal Christmas gift to the world, to me. Oh, the wonder of it!

What’s your favourite part of this season of preparation?

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Learning patience by birdwatching

(Click to enlarge photos)

Black caps and white cheeks flash past my windows as the chickadees flit to and from the birdfeeder, interspersed with the occasional nuthatch. They dart in to snatch a morsel, then swivel away on their rapid return to the trees.

I sit with camera in hand and try to catch a photo, but on the automatic setting and without my tripod it’s almost impossible. These tiny fliers are constantly on the move and most of the images show the birdfeeder, but not the birds. Timing is everything!

The stellar jays and juncos are a little more cooperative, sometimes stopping briefly on the railing as they munch a mouthful.

Sparrows and varied thrush have a different mealtime technique altogether, choosing to clean up leftover seeds from the deck rather than hover airborne. The different species often arrive at the same time, but take turns, obeying an invisible pecking order as they dart in for their meal.

There is so much I can learn about God’s care from watching the birds. They may seem like insignificant creatures with very basic needs yet God provides for them, although they must work industriously to take advantage of those provisions.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” [Luke 12:6 NIV]

Thinking of the earlier “timing is everything” comment, there’s a writing application here, too. When years of writing, revising and querying make us question our publishing dreams, it is encouraging to remember that patience coupled with vigilance and effort is important, and that “success comes when preparation meets opportunity.” [Henry Hartman]

To expect success in this particular challenge, I think I’d better go find my tripod!

What other lessons could we learn from God’s many creatures?

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