Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lavish Love

It’s four days past Christmas.

And maybe you trimmed your home with sentiment and cheer this month…

Maybe you traveled or maybe loved ones gathered in your home….

Maybe you maked-and-baked in preparation for time together...

Maybe you shopped and placed presents under a tree...

Maybe you reminisced about the old days or made new holiday memories…

I heard a story on the news last week about a community of "Secret Santas."  Anonymous strangers who pulled out wallets at layaway counters nationwide.  Families who walked in to chisel at payments were shoved off their guard with good news: balance paid in full.  Wet faces and swollen hearts carried home presents...and hope.

As December packs up and 2011 waves goodbye, I'm thankful for a God who showed up, opened wide His heart, and slapped down payment...the gift of Himself.  Peace on layaway?  Paid in full.  Hope on layaway?  Paid in full.  Forgiveness?  Purpose?  Bright futures?  New tomorrows?  Paid in full.  Celebrity born to obscurity.  Majesty...lullaby-ed in a manger.  Creator, Author of Life, bent down low.  Vulnerable and weak, an infant - dependent on the tender care of a mother, the protection of a father.

Maybe you were able to breathe deep and soak it all in - family, traditions, friends, love, laughter - everything Christmas. Or maybe amidst the busyness of this holiday season your inner Zen stepped out on you.  Maybe now that the gifts are unwrapped, the magic is fading like a child grown up.

But Christmas isn't over. 

The Great Gift-Giver keeps giving and giving and giving.  He cannot help Himself.  He gives because He loves.  And He just keeps loving and loving and loving.

Maybe it was your first Christmas without him.  Maybe her seat at the dinner table sat empty.  He gives Himself.  Alpha and Omega, The One Who Never Leaves.

Or maybe the life you carried inside slipped from your womb to the grave.  He gives Himself.  His shoulder for your tears, the One Who Sees...Hears...Knows...

Maybe you found yourself alone again, when you thought for sure that this would be the year.  He gives Himself.  Protector...Provider...Husband.

God, squeezed into man.  The answer to all our hearts' questions; the fulfillment of every longing....asleep on the hay.  Emmanuel.  God

The people who walked in darkness 
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—light...
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants...
Is gone, done away with...
For a child has been born—for us! 
the gift of a son—for us!
He'll take over 
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor, 
Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
...there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
Isaiah 9, The Message

He gives Himself.  Happy for-God-so-loved-the-world-Christmas, all. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Red Rover

It's been a year...

I'm not sure where the time goes, but a little over a year ago we moved from our first home, off to adventure life in a new city.  Our move sputtered and stalled, four weeks turned into four months and crescendo-ed with a broken ankle - mine. 

I was looking at 30 just weeks prior, determined for newness, a list of resolves folded and tucked away in my heart...

  1. Listen for God.
  2. Less fear; more love.
  3. Try; it's okay to fail.
  4. Mess is good.
  5. Give grace.
  6. Use my words to empower.
  7. Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion...(Zech. 7.9).
  8. Treat all equally.  Be intimidated by and look down on no one.  We are all just people, after all.*

I never would have chosen this year of detoured plans and clipped wings.  But looking back, it was these very circumstances that watered my little list and made it shoot down roots to my soul.

If we let them, if we give them space and time, hearts and bones mend.  They come back stronger, more resilient, more sure.  And it is amazing to me how the good and bad of life can mold and shape...and then release us.  And while these seasons leave their mark, they no longer hold us.

This year, as I turned 31, I wanted guests for dinner.  Because when I wasn't sure how to keep up hope and see good, these precious people linked arms and deflected the darkness that tried to red rover my soul.  I loved them before, but now they are forever branded on my heart.

In a society that screams independence, that promotes and applauds the self-made and DIYers, I am thankful for a circle of friends, a small band of hope-ers who loved, full and fierce, refusing to let gloom break through.

Raise a glass to friendship
And to knowing you don't have to go alone
We'll raise our hearts to share each other's burdens
On this road.
Every burden I have carried,
Every joy - it's understood.
Life with you is half as hard
And twice as good.


Photo by Kenna.

Photo by Kenna.

Photo by Kenna.

Photo by Kenna.

Photo by Kenna.

Photo by Kenna.

Don't go alone.  Be seen, known.  Raise a's to going together.