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The Greatest Celebration

Preparing for the birth of a child leads to a time of great celebration.

I’ll never forget preparing our home for our first child. We didn’t have the internet to tell us what we’d need to prepare for our first child. Today you can go to several websites that give you lists to help you prepare. The list starts with the crib, mattress, waterproof mattress cover, sheets, blankets, side pads, and crib mobile. Then comes a dresser, changing table, changing pad, wipes, diaper rash cream, diapers, diaper pail, cotton pads, and trash bags. To leave home you need a diaper bag, car seat, stroller, stroller rain cover, car sunshades, baby carrier, baby sling. Bath time includes a baby bath, baby soap and shampoo, wash cloths, baby hairbrush, soft hooded towels, baby lotion, and baby powder. If you are nursing you need nursing blankets, nursing pillow, nursing bra, nursing nightwear, breast pads, and breast pump. All babies need baby bottles, bottle drying rack, bottle cleaners, and sterilizer. Don’t forget a baby syringe, nail clippers, baby thermometer, eye dropper, baby monitor, pacifiers, baby toys, night light, teethers, and play mat. You also might want a bassinet, rocking chair, and a baby swing.

We had a lot of fun collecting these items – some borrowed and many purchased. It was an exciting time in the Shallenberger household.

While collecting these items, and to add to the anticipation, my wife, Cheryl and I chose a theme for the nursery – Disney characters – and then painted the walls, bought a rug to match the theme, hung curtains and decorated the room.

During the entire pregnancy (and likely before), we had been devouring baby books, discussing baby names, and getting counsel and advice from everyone we knew (including those who had never had a child), and we spent a lot of time praying because we just knew we weren’t ready.

At times it seemed a bit overwhelming, but that didn’t compare to this being a time of great excitement and anticipation. We knew almost every aspect of our life was going to change, and we wanted to be as ready as we could – all the time knowing all our preparation was never going to be enough because we simply didn’t know what we didn’t know.

Cheryl and I thoroughly enjoyed this time of preparation. We loved talking about baby names. We talked about the things we read in the pregnancy and baby books. We discussed how to raise a child, how to teach our child about God, how to love our child, how to discipline and train our child. We discussed how our priorities were going to change. We talked about the kind of music we wanted in the house, the kinds of books we wanted to read to our child, the things we wanted our child to experience.

As the time got closer, we thoroughly cleaned the house – or I should say, Cheryl cleaned as I’d never seen her clean before (I understand this is referred to as nesting) as we got more and more excited for the big day. And then our greatest gift came – Kayla Grace. She was perfect. And as all parents know, her birth was just the beginning of our celebration.

And this, my friends, is what Advent is all about. It is looking forward to the greatest celebration known to humanity – when God became flesh and dwelled among us. When the Son of God, Emmanuel, became God with us, God among us, God like us. The birth of Jesus changed everything.

Let’s not rush through Advent in anticipation of the celebration of the Incarnation. Advent reminds us that the Messiah was prophesied. He was the greatest hope for all. It reminds us he ushered in the kingdom of God to a world that desperately needed to be healed. It reminds us he will return again to fully restore all things. The themes of Advent remind us that Jesus is our hope; he is our peace; he is our joy; he is love. Advent is preparation time for the greatest celebration we call Christmas.

Rick Shallenberger

3 thoughts on “The Greatest Celebration”

  1. Hard to come into grips with the fact that soon it will Adven/Christmas. Along with Easter, the most important celebration in the Christian calendar.

    “Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent; one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other- things that are of no real consequence- the door is shut, and can be opened only from the outside.”
    ,Letters from Prison – November 21, 1943” ― Dietrech Bonhoeffer

  2. Thank you for this article as it brings back many memories of bringing a child into your family whether it is the first one or the last. It is truly a miracle from God.

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