Advent Photo-a-Day 2017

olive chan —  November 26, 2017

Advent is a season observed by many Christians as a time of preparation and expectant waiting for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The term comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” For the last two years, every Advent season, I have followed a list of photo prompts to help me reflect and prepare for Christmas. Many people like to go through a set of readings during Advent but at this stage of life for me, it feels a bit daunting to find time to sit, read, and reflect every day. Having one word to contemplate throughout the day and looking for an image to capture that word allows me to practice Advent in a simple, accessible, and integrated way that flows with the rhythms of my life. This year, I am planning on also involving our daughters in this practice – something I’m really excited about.

The practice of taking one photo a day throughout Advent has enabled me to live with eyes wide open, in both a physical and spiritual sense. In the midst of the hubbub of December, it has allowed me to slow down and be attentive to my life. It has been such a rich practice that I wanted to continue it this Advent. I wasn’t able to find any list of prompts online this year so I created my own.


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When our first daughter was born almost six years ago, I was the better parent. By a mile. Not to brag, but I was more prepared, more excited, and more skilled. That’s just the truth. But somewhere along the way, either before or after our second daughter was born, Olive caught up and then passed me. This is less of a story of what makes a “better” parent, and more of a story about how grit and effort beat out talent and skill.

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“What are the toddler years like? I’ve heard they’re really challenging.” I was recently asked this question. My response was that yes, they are challenging, but there are resources and ways of thinking about this season that can empower you as you navigate it. As I write this, we have an almost 6-year-old and a 3-year-old. So we’ve weathered one stormy toddlerhood and are currently in the midst of the second.
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For a long time I hadn’t really understood what the big deal was about potty training. It was simple! At least it was for my first child. But when we were a month into training my second-born and still having regular accidents, I could see how potty training earned it’s reputation as “dreaded.”

As I reflected on this particular experience of potty training, I learned several things about myself. They weren’t new discoveries – more like patterns I’d already known about myself that surfaced in a new context.

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I turned 36 today. 36 years on this Earth. 36 years as a Canadian citizen. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I learned the truth about this land that we claim to be our own. The Indigenous Peoples in Canada have suffered immensely, and for the most part, their story has been untold until recently.
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Our Word for 2017: STEADY

olive chan —  January 7, 2017

“As we start this new year, I am sick, worn, and weary…” So began my journal entry on January 1, when Tim and I had our 9th annual Blue Day. For those unfamiliar with what a Blue Day is, we set aside a day to dream, to listen, and to plan for the year (you can read more about this practice in our free ebook, Fight With Me). This year was the first time we actually did it on New Year’s Day.
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This Advent, I’ve decided to do a series of photo reflections based on the Advent Photo-A-Day guide put out by AliveNow magazine. I did a similar series for Lent earlier this year and I found the practice to be enriching, both in terms of allowing me a creative outlet each day and also giving me a word to focus on as I listen to God and prepare my heart for Christmas.
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[We recently celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Thinking back, attending a marriage conference was one of the memories that stood out to us. This is a guest post by our dear friend, Monica Garibay, who incidentally attended the same marriage conference we did.]

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Christian marriage conference. My husband and I decided to go not because we had a particular problem to solve, or because we were on the edge of divorce. Rather, we saw it as an opportunity to get away and work more on our relationship. I believe that human beings are social beings. However, interpersonal relations are the hardest to keep healthy and strong on a continuous basis unless we make a conscious effort of doing so. When my friends ask my opinion about whether or not attending a marriage conference is worth it, I tell them about my experience.

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I considered it a grand experiment. How would a mother of two young kids and wife to an entrepreneur manage to take a whole month off to rest? That was the big question.
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[Trigger warning: sexual violence]

Thirty-five. The number of years of life I am celebrating.

Thirty-five. The number of times she is forced to have sex with different men a day. She’s only 7 years old.

Let that sink in.
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