Redeeming Advent Blog Tour: Interview with Lucy Rycroft + GIVEAWAY! (**NOW CLOSED**)

A few weeks ago you might have seen that I had the pleasure of reviewing Lucy Rycroft's new devotional book, Redeeming Advent. What? Advent? Yes, Christmas has come early, BUT there are now only 24 days until the beginning of advent, so if you're wanting to step away from the chocolate calendars and actually assign some spiritual meaning to advent this year, then you need to start thinking about it pronto!

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a free digital copy of Redeeming Advent for the purposes of review, but was under no obligation to write a positive review. I offered to host Lucy on my blog to talk more about her book and Lucy has provided a signed copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader - clear? Good!

As part of Lucy's blog tour, we'll be having a chat in just a moment! After which, you'll have the opportunity to WIN a signed copy of Redeeming Advent all for yourself. And if you want to be in with more chances, then join the blog tour every day over the next week or so, because there's a book to be won at every stop! (Alternatively, order it here, highly recommended!)


So, on with the show!

Lucy, tell us a bit about yourself for those who don't know you.
Hello Emily and readers of LoveEmily! It's great to be joining you today. I'm Lucy, a fellow Christian mum blogger over at Desertmum. I live in York with my husband and our four kids aged 5-10, who have arrived by birth and adoption. Besides blogging and writing (and, let's be honest, mopping up spillages and mediating sibling disputes between my kids), I love to spend time making music, hanging out with friends, reading and cooking for others. I have a hopeless addiction to chocolate. 

Your book is about finding God in the chaos of our modern Christmas. Tell us about your funniest Christmas 'fail'. 
Oh my goodness - I'm sure there have been a few that I've made myself forget because I'm so embarrassed!

What comes to mind is a few minor 'fails' - things like: forgetting to bring the Christmas pudding to Christmas lunch at my in-laws (a two hour drive away, so not an option to go back and get it!), losing Jesus from the Nativity scene... oh, and the year when I drove my three month old baby boy to a car park, just so that he would sleep in the car and I could wrap gifts and write cards in the front seat!

What would your perfect Christmas look like... And what does it actually tend to look like? 
For me, it's all about family and add-ons. I really love a Christmas where not only my family has gathered together, but so have a few others who might otherwise not have anywhere to go. I love that they can just muck in and be part of our family for this important celebration. 

And the food is really important to me too - so a perfect Christmas would be one where everyone gathered, everyone got on well, all the food was perfectly cooked, and we all retired to the living room afterwards to play games and open presents and eat chocolates.

Of course that doesn't ever happen, does it?! Each person brings their own ideas of what should happen and when. The baby screams when it's time for the meal. An older relative drops off for a nap when others want to play games. And so on. Christmas will never be perfect!

I come from quite a 'low church' background, and I think sometimes the church calendar is a bit lost on me. I've never really given advent much thought (apart from having chocolate for breakfast). For the uninitiated, what is the purpose of advent and what are your favourite ways to recognise it?
Traditionally, Advent is a time of preparation and waiting. We are preparing to celebrate Christ's first coming (as a babe in the manger), but also preparing for his second coming. It's about getting our hearts ready for Jesus to come again, while we learn to wait patiently for that day. As we sing in Joy to the World (one of my favourite carols!): Let every heart prepare him room

I'm not sure I've always been massively aware of the purpose of Advent either, but when I became a Mum I started to think more about it, because I was so keen to use this period to help our children understand what we were celebrating. I mean - the world uses Advent in entirely secular ways, with Santa and snowmen and Christmas lights and so on - if we don't find ways of creatively celebrating Jesus during this time, then our kids could come out with a pretty warped message of what it's all about!

Our favourite ways to mark Advent are: opening a Nativity advent calendar (gradually constructing the scene day by day), having an Advent basket (you can read about that here) and telling the story in creative ways throughout December. This year, we're planning to do this via a Jesse Tree, which is a lovely way of sharing the whole story of salvation with your family (check it out here).

How did the book, Redeeming Advent, come about? (and tell us about the book!) 
Two years ago, this season of Advent was approaching, and I desperately wanted to use it draw closer to Jesus - but I wasn't very optimistic about being able to do so. I'd never been able to complete an Advent devotional. There seemed to be a huge disparity between the incredibly supernatural coming of Christ, and the incredibly un-supernatural busyness of shopping, planning, list-making and diary-checking that my December is filled with!

So I decided to write my own devotional, and this act became my own spiritual discipline. Each night I would sit down and write an anecdote or thought from the day, followed by a reflection on what God might be wanting to teach me through it.

After Christmas a few people asked if I was planning to turn these devotionals into a book. So I polished up a few and sent them to a local Christian publisher, Chris Hayes at Gilead Books - and the rest is history!

The book contains 24 daily devotions for December 1st-24th - but, hey, no one's going to shoot you if you miss a day! Each one is around the length of a blog post, very readable, with anecdotes from our own Advent, like the annual argument about when the tree goes up (December 24th for my husband - September 1st if our son had his way...). Or getting to December 23rd and being presented with a long Christmas list by your daughter - a list which bears no resemblance to the one she gave you three weeks ago, and to which you've been working.

Each anecdote leads in to a Biblical reflection, something thought-provoking and challenging, with suggested questions to ponder and a prayer. It's designed for busy people - parents of young families, yes, but not restricted to them by any means. If you struggle with spiritual discipline, this book can be your friend.

If everyone who read your book could learn one lesson, what would you like that lesson to be? 
That we can enjoy all the 'secular' trimmings of Christmas in a way that helps us glorify God and points others to Jesus. We don't need to let these traditions take over our worship of Jesus. But neither do we need to avoid every tradition which doesn't have its roots in Scripture!

As we discover more about the God who sent His Son into the world in a messy, chaotic, noisy way, we realise that actually our messy, chaotic, noisy lives are the perfect backdrop for celebrating Jesus. Christmas can be a fun time full of colour and sparkle, but with a depth which comes when we acknowledge God's great gift to us.

I'm a sucker for celebrating Christmas this way, and hope it comes across in Redeeming Advent.

You can find Lucy over on her blog DesertMum, and you can buy Redeeming Advent on Amazon here.

Giveaway! **NOW CLOSED**

So here's the exciting bit! Lucy has kindly given me a signed copy of Redeeming Advent to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is sign up to my mailing list here.

You have until 21:00 on Monday 11th November 2019, after which I will select a mailing list subscriber and the book will be on its way to them so they can get started in time for December 1st.  The winner will be given three days to respond with their postal address, after which a new winner will be chosen. The postal address will be used only for the purposes of sending the winner their prize, after which it will be removed from my records.

And don't forget to make your way over to the other blogs on the blog tour - where there will be more chances to win a copy in time for December 1st. There's still nine stops to go!


I hope you enjoy Redeeming Advent as much as I did!


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