Saturday, December 19, 2015

When Christmas Seems Cruel

Several times since Thanksgiving I have turned on the Christmas music only to immediately punch it off again, opting for silence over seemingly superficial merriment. Usually, Bing, Nat, and Dean are chums I welcome each December.  This year, however, their cheery voices have at times felt more intrusive and mocking than merry. Because the mess of life doesn't vacation at Christmas.  People still senselessly kill other people, disease tears apart families, and the world aches with longing for a Saviour.

I've seen and spent more tears the last month than seems fair for this time of year ... A friend chokes out a dire prognosis, family quakes with incomprehensible tragedy, elderly eyes puddle as a woman explains she's outlived her loved ones, the news announces another shooting rampage.  And Longfellow's words penned in the thick of loss 150 years ago flit through my mind, and I sigh, identifying.

And in despair I bowed my head.  
"There is no peace on earth," I said.  
"For hate is strong and mocks the song 
of peace on earth, goodwill to men."  

I start to explain to the kids why I don't feel much like decorating, why I'd prefer to pull my blankie over my head, stick my fingers in my ears, and sing "la la la la la".  But even as the words are on my lips I realize that's not fair to them.  They need a reason to celebrate.  We all do.

A. W. Tozer said, "It is doubtful God can use anyone greatly until He has hurt him deeply."  I partly recoil, partly rejoice hearing that.  Afterall, who asks to be crushed, wounded, broken?  But in the truth of Tozer's statement, lies hope.  Hope that at least this pain has a purpose.  That it's not wasted. That beyond my limited understanding and vision, there is a sovereign and loving God who still has all this turmoil under control .... and even more has a great and glorious plan in it all.  The end-story has been written.  And it ends well.

Like a whisper across snow, it occurs to me.  I have more reason to celebrate this year than perhaps any other.  Because 2000 years ago, a wee babe was born in a dank, dark stable descending into our dank, dark, sinful world to shine a light of hope.  And that Light is still shining into our dankest darkest situations, delivering purpose, light ... hope to the pain.  Celebrating Christmas this year may look and feel different.  It may be done with a bittersweet ache, a true sacrifice of praise.  But because of the Christ of Christmas there is reason to celebrate!

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead, nor does He sleep
The wrong shall fail
 The right prevail 
With peace on earth, good-will to men!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Celebrating the Moment

A friend commented today that I hadn't written in a while.  I hadn't realized that it has been nearly a year since my last post.  Gadzukes!  I used to hear my grandparents comment that the older they got, the faster time passed.  I thought it was a quirky quip of my elders.  Now, I'm discovering they were right.

While I have had many periods over the last year of feeling like I had nothing to say, more so, I have realized that I am most inspired in the crisis moments.  God has a tendency to show up greater when I'm floundering and at my whit's end (or more accurately, coming to the end of myself, I can see Him).  I stopped writing in those moments because I didn't want people to think that my life was just one crises after another, that I was some sort of drama queen craving attention.  But perhaps that was wrong.  Perhaps I was silencing my original intention with this blog ... that God would be glorified through the messes in my life.  Maybe I lost sight of that.

This year has been one of learning to be thankful for and in the moment.  Of looking for the gift even in the yuck.  Of floating my way through life like a balloon, unburdened by worries or cares because I have cast them on Him.  I would love to announce that I have learned the lesson, can check that one off my list and move on to the next.  Not so.  Every day presents a battle, some bigger than others, and God seems to offer frequent opportunities to practice the lesson He wants me to learn.

Today, thankfully, I am at peace.  Because I know so well the restlessness of fear and anxiety, peace's presence is so, well, peaceful!  Circumstances may be anything but peaceful with outstanding medical tests, unrest in the east, tragedy in Paris, etc yet I serve a God who offers a peace and rest that we, in our finite minds, cannot comprehend.  How grateful I am for that gift.

So this evening, I will rejoice in the little things ... the gift of song, croakily crooned by a sick boy cuddled on the couch playing Lego Star Wars; rich comforting soup on the stove; a reprieve from the gray drippy skies; coffee with a good friend; the dog at my feet ... and I will give thanks for the rich, abundant life that is mine, only by His grace.

Friday, January 9, 2015

...her floors are sticky and she laughs a lot

It's Friday night, the fireplace is ablaze, and I'm curled on the couch, legs and feet tangled in a blanket with those of a lanky seven year old.  I think a stuffed snowman is cuddled in here somewhere too.  Empty pizza boxes litter the counters, paper plates scatter the floor.  Jammies replaced jeans much before bedtime and the kids and I are settled in to enjoy our end of the week movie night.

It has been a long week of sick kids and late nights, unfinished to-do lists and traitorous hormones.  I have spoken out of turn, given stress the upper hand, forgotten 2 Peter 1:3.  I need this cozy down time as much as the kids.  And so, I have given myself (and thus the rest of the family) a (guilt-free) gift this evening:  the luxury of paper plates, take-out, and each other.  The list of chores can wait until tomorrow (or Monday!).  I am relishing the peace of the undone.

This summer when we were traveling, I ran across a mug with this quip:

"apparently she gave up on being perfect because her floors are sticky and she laughs a lot."  

While witty and cute, it resonated.  How many memories have I soured or missed because I was focused on messes or chores, needing to finish one more task, wanting everything "just so"?

So potential visitors beware ... I am learning the art of dancing on sticky floors.  If you come to my house, you may find dishes in the sink, dog hair on the carpet, and clothes in the laundry baskets ... and laughter in the halls.