I'm thrilled to be guest posting today in Abby Norman's series, Sane for the Holidays. 

November has traditionally been a dangerous month for me.

It’s when people start blogging about their ideas for advent. In a single day, you can see dozens of ideas for advent devotionals and practices designed to help you anticipate Jesus’ birth. You’ll notice picture after picture of people adorning their houses with strings hung with artsy advent calendars. You’ll hear dozens of ideas for celebrating advent with kids.

And they’re all great.

So great, in fact, that I’ve traditionally wanted to do them ALL.

Every year, I’ve ordered the latest greatest advent devotional and started reading it with gusto. But then, life has gotten busy and by day two, I’ve been hopelessly unable to scrape together the 5-minutes needed to read that day’s devotion. So I’ve thrown it on a stack with all the other previously discarded advent devotionals and thought, “Some year”. I’ve allowed my good intentions to be swallowed by guilt – especially as I’ve watched my fellow bloggers and friends continue on their merry way with their advent traditions.

This November, I vowed, “Not again.”

As a new mom who also happens to be a Youth Pastor, my life is crazy enough at Christmas – without the help of the guilt that’s traditionally come from failing to practice advent the way I’d like to. So as soon as those helpful posts about what other people were doing for advent started showing up in my blog reader, I started hitting “Delete”.

Oh I know none of these practices and traditions are bad.

But trying to do them ALL is.

So I’ve stopped.

This year I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’ll probably never be the kind of mom who ties a string across her fireplace mantle and hangs a cutesy advent calendar from it.

I’ll probably never be the kind of wife who agonizes over setting the Christmas table just right.

I’ll probably never be the Youth Pastor who goes to every single Christmas concert and party she’s invited to.

Read the rest of this article here. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

Now Available!

A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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