Choosing Substance: An Advent Series (Day 1)

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substance: “the quality of being meaningful, useful, or important.” (mirriam-webster)

We entered into Christmas slowly this year, choosing to wait until my son’s birthday had passed. Seasons call for different traditions, and it just seemed the right thing to do this year.

And though we came to the party two weeks late, I’ve been watching the celebration from afar, enjoying a delayed entrance into the hustle and bustle. But when the world is racing — and you’re not — it’s not long before you have to do something, too. Your something just looks different.

So I went inward and fell into Advent’s story, wrapping myself tight with reasons for Christmas instead of its expectations. Hiding behind meaning, combined with deleting two personal social media accounts, well, I feel a little more free this holiday season. Maybe try going inward before taking your seat at the table next year — the Christmas table, that is.

Our tree is finally up, pregnant with memories from years gone by hanging from its branches. There’s a plan to still sprinkle a few outdoor lights on our home, and three holiday parties echo on this week’s calendar. Advent officially has its pull on us.

But might we stay wrapped tight in the meaning this year, refusing to let truth unravel? Once you’ve danced among the tension of reality and mystery and substance, it’s hard to let that all go.

Two years ago, a dear friend who always seems to challenge me asked, “How do you define a woman of substance?”

I thought and thought. “I’m not sure,” I replied, “but I want to be that. I just know that I do.” We each wrote and wrote and wrote and came back together over coffee.

See, I crave substance because I’ve chased after shadows. I hunger for complexity’s mystery and truth’s depth because I’ve settled for the shallow before.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… And so on and so on. Twelve rich days of gifts and professed love. I’ll take the love over gifts any day.

So here we are — 12 days out from Christmas Day. 12 days to drown in the urgent… Or 12 days to choose substance. 12 days to overspend and overeat and overthink… Or 12 days to wrap yourself tight in all your True Love has to give. 12 days to stop striving.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Philippians 4:8

Join me? Whether you’re old or young — I know you’re navigating urgency and striving and expectations. Gather here for the next 12 Days of Christmas to choose substance. Maybe it’s beauty or truth or virtue you’re craving this year. Let’s ask God to re-reveal Himself and His strength as we countdown to December 25. It’s His story after all.

So find a few empty pages in your journal or find a receipt on your kitchen counter that you can turn over and write on the back. Or maybe you’re the type that would rather ponder in your heart. Regardless, each day you’ll unfold your own definition of what “substance” means… and hopefully you’ll share your insights with us all along the way. By December 25, you’ll have your own library of thoughts shaped by the Word of God and those in our Repurposed cyber community. See you tomorrow.


Defining Substance (Take 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Answer 1, 2, or 3 questions. You choose. Or if you’d rather, just start tackling the final challenge listed here: “Define a person of substance.” You choose. )

  • Read the Mirriam-Webster definition of “substance” at the beginning of today’s post. In what what ways are you providing meaning to another’s life? What aspects of your story have been useful in drawing you closer to the Rescuer? What’s important to you (according to what you spend your time on each week)?
  • Read Philippians 4:8 again. In what ways are you specifically rising to each of Paul’s exhortations? How are you pursuing beauty and truth in your life? In your thought-life? Where in your story have you recently (within the past year) witnessed something honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, full of virtue, and/or worthy of praise?
  • Is the Christmas season a time when you typically feel more like a person of substance? Or less?
  • And finally, define a person of substance. (You’ll keep working at this definition over the next 12 days.)

photo source | cabin co interiors, australia

2 thoughts on “Choosing Substance: An Advent Series (Day 1)

  1. Oh… I’m hungry, too. “See, I crave substance because I’ve chased after shadows. I hunger for complexity’s mystery and truth’s depth because I’ve settled for the shallow before.” I’m just now getting caught up in your Advent series. Thanks for doing this!

    Liked by 1 person

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