The theme of this year’s Advent devotion is: Do you see what I see? An array of St. Paul voices selected a photo or photos that hold very special memories to them, then sat down and reflected on what that photo means to them. What do they see and remember that others may not when looking at this photo? Through their words and stories, hopefully, you’ll see a little of what they see.
My confirmation verse: Isaiah 41:10 was inspired by this picture of my sister and me after Christmas Eve service and by the memory of my mother’s parents, Charles and Mary Ann Broders.
The verse reads: So, do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
What I see in this picture are two sisters who lean on each other in difficult times and enjoy the gift of laughter. If you know anything about Lauren and me, we are both very independent and
strong-willed people. At times, we drove our parents crazy because we argued a lot. Now that we are both in college, our bond grows closer knowing that we will also be there for each other, just like God is always there for us.
In the top picture, my sister is five years old and I am 2. This was the age when we spent the most time with my grandparents. Grandma used to make chocolate milk, with a lot of extra chocolate, and she and Lauren used to make fudge. Although they passed away several years ago, it is their continued love, support, and encouragement to face my fears that I still hold true. Just as the flowers surround us in the picture, God’s love and my grandparents’ love surround us every single day. Just as flowers continue to bloom throughout the Christmas season, God’s love blooms as well.
No matter if your loved ones are with you this holiday season or in your memories, know that God connects everyone together with the real purpose of loving and supporting each other unconditionally.
Olivia Schroeder is a freshman at Augustana College, majoring in religion. She grew up in Bettendorf, Iowa with her parents Matt and Leigh Ann, sister Lauren, and cats Oreo and Pepper.