How to Find Hope this Christmas Season

It’s nearly December and Advent begins this Sunday.

Many of us come to this season feeling hopeless. Maybe you’re struggling with your children. You may feel you’re living a life you didn’t sign up for and you’re grieving the life you imagined you’d have. Marriages struggle. Sickness presses us down.

Sometimes darkness closes in.

In this place of hopelessness, Jesus comes. He steps down into the lowly places to be with us in our hardest moments, in our sorrow, in our shame. Nothing is too dark for Him.

He comes as the light of the world bringing hope and light to our lives.

On the first Sunday of Advent, we light the Hope candle. In order to hope, we have to connect with our hopelessness. Even in the times when God seems silent, He is present and that first light of Advent reminds us He is near.

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Each Sunday we light an additional candle and the light grows brighter as we anticipate and celebrate the coming of Jesus.

I’ve loved Advent traditions for many years, and have written numerous posts about the ways our family observes this special season. This year, all of a sudden, my kids are older and busier.

I’m thinking about how to hold on to what is dear while recognizing life is very different now. Our evenings are filled with basketball practices and games, kids’ jobs, and homework; often we’re not at the dinner table together.

While hanging an ornament on our special tree may seem childish in some ways, it roots us in our truth, that God’s redemptive plan for our lives has been in place since creation. This year we may read the scriptures and hang multiple ornaments each Sunday rather than each day. Imperfect is better than not at all.

We’ll use Unwrapping the Greatest Gift as a guide for hanging our Advent ornaments.  The Wonder of the Greatest Gift looks really lovely if you’re looking for a way to celebrate with your family. The pop-up tree is fantastic; scroll down the Amazon page to see pictures of the author’s daughter with the book.

We’ll also follow a free reading guide like this one available through LifeWay or this free pdf.

I recognize that if Advent is important to me, I need to put more effort into planning my personal Advent journey. I’m following the readings in The Advent of the Lamb of God.  If it doesn’t arrive on time, I’ll start with the older version on Kindle, Behold the Lamb of God. I just might light my own Advent candle each morning as I do.

Advent and Christmas also bring our family into our time of greatest grief; we lost Kalkidan four years ago on December 27th. This is all the more reason I need to press into Christ. My heart is so easily troubled and anxious. My mind runs to “what ifs,” what if we hadn’t stopped at the mailbox, what if we’d waited one more day to make the trip. And why, oh why, was there a car coming toward us on that cruel curve early that morning.

Jesus says, “Peace, be still.” Be still my heart and mind. Light the candle. Read the words of truth. Anticipate the coming of my savior, the Light of the World.

You might like more of my Advent posts:

Four Simple Advent Traditions

Finding Advent, Finding Hope

Advent: Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

My heart feels tender and tears are near as I write this morning. I know how very hard holidays can be when life feels tumultous and the days impossible. When relationships are broken and our hearts are low, when we feel shame or fear, it’s hard to hold on to hope.

I’m with you. I understand.

If you need encouragement, I have a free gift for you, Hope for Your Parenting Journey: A guide for adoptive and foster moms.

I send you my love,


This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Emily
    December 2, 2018

    This was the loveliest and most timely thing that I have read in a long time. Thank you for posting it. I need light in a dark place this Advent season. It is hard, and hope feels far away. I love your point about needing to connect with our hopelessness in order to feel the true power of hope. That is now my prayer for this first week in Advent (and beyond!).

    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 3, 2018

      I’m so glad it spoke to you, Emily. I needed to write it for me too. Much love.

  2. Amy
    December 5, 2018

    Thanks for your honesty, Lisa! I am struggling this year, dreading extended family Christmas celebrations due to very hard relationships. No change in 3 years makes it so hard for me to hope. I have posted a copy of the serenity prayer where I see it daily-so I can be reminded to let go of what I cannot change(adopted children) and not miss out on my biological kids who have given so much and still want relationship with me. Praying for you, too!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 5, 2018

      I love the Serenity Prayer and remind myself of it very often. We can’t change anyone but ourselves, but sometimes our hearts hurt and it’s hard to keep our thoughts going in the right direction. I am praying for you right now as I reply to your comment.

      1. Amy
        December 6, 2018

        Thanks, Lisa! I really appreciate how you respond and pray for those of us who comment. You are a blessing!
        PS. My bio kids keep asking when your book is coming out that addresses bio kids. They really appreciated having someone in the adoption world want their perspective. (So many times they are the ones who get left behind.)

        1. Lisa Qualls
          December 6, 2018

          You’re a blessing to me too, Amy. The sibling book is coming, but I need to complete the manuscript for my current book before I can fully focus on it. I’m looking forward to getting back to it soon in January.


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