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Shelly Henley Kelly ponders her own joyful preparation this Advent as her daughter travels home from a semester abroad.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)


Kicking off this third week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday reminds us to be joyful as we wait for the coming of Christ. Not only waiting to see Him as the humble infant born in Bethlehem, but also in His expected second coming. We prayerfully and joyfully prepare our hearts as we prepare our homes for the Christmas season.


child looking at Advent wreath


As I write this, I am joyfully waiting for my daughter to return from her university semester abroad. After four months away, I’m filled with the anticipation of seeing her, hugging her, and having her home. There’s even warm fuzzies as I anticipate a jet-lagged attitude, the closed bedroom door, and knowing she will furtively hide snack wrappers in strange places around the house.

Those of you with older children living away from home, at school, in the military, or even working in another city or state know this joyful waiting. When you aren’t close enough to see them regularly, the Christmas season is often the first opportunity for the reunion of mother and child.


child looking at Advent wreath


So I’m joyfully preparing her room, washing her sheets, wiping down her furniture, and vacuuming. Somehow, the succulent plant she bought last summer and left on the nightstand is still alive; Dad must have been secretly watering it. I’m joyfully making a space for her suitcases to be opened, anticipating clothes and gifts strewn out across the floor, the reverse of packing for her departure.


Where are you finding your Joy this Advent season?

As mothers, are we joyfully preparing – or are we adding “be more Joyful this week” to our already overburdened seasonal to-do list? Do we look forward to Christ’s coming with the same enthusiasm as welcoming a distant child? For we are His children, and I can’t help but imagine Jesus waiting for us with that same goofy happy smile and glory in His heart.


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As mothers, are we joyfully preparing – or are we adding “be more Joyful this week” to our already overburdened seasonal to-do list? #catholicmom

By the time you read this – God willing, with a negative Covid-test and 24 hours of travelling behind her – my daughter will be reading this on her phone, in her room, and rolling her eyes at me – at home.

For all of you waiting for God’s promise, whether it’s for a new baby, grown children to return home, someone’s improved health, or for hope, peace, and love in the coming year, I invite you to purposefully seek out the joyful moments in the waiting.

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart. (Zephaniah 3:14-15)


child looking at Advent wreath

Copyright 2021 Shelly Henley Kelly
Images: (top) Canva; all others copyright 2021 Shelly Henley Kelly, all rights reserved.