Thoughts from December 17-22, 2017

Once a week I compile the reflections I’ve offered on Facebook into one blogpost. Here are the thoughts from the past five days:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

This past week has been a week of ordinary hard stuff for us. Snow days and delays, one kid with a sinus infection, another throwing up, all in the midst of preparations for both of them to dance in the Nutcracker (see photo–it was lovely). I woke up in the middle of the night and tried to coax myself back to sleep amidst the worry about getting a talk ready for Monday and getting Christmas presents wrapped and ready and getting my book edited in time for the next deadline.

Today’s Advent post is about welcoming God into the ordinary hard stuff of every day life: “But right now, as I prepare one more time to welcome Jesus into this world, into our home, into our family, I need to learn about expecting God to show up not only when our life is in crisis but also in the every day. I need to learn about contentment in the midst of broken computers and children crying out in the middle of the night and not just broken bodies and broken dreams.”

I wrote those words years ago, but I am still learning what it means to live them out. This week, God did show up. My editor gave me an additional week to finish this draft. I was grateful to read the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke and reflect again about Mary and Joseph and their raw humanity. It snowed three times and made our landscape into a fairyland. We laughed together as a family. We also welcomed a young woman with Down syndrome into our home for a conversation about faith in (and anger with) God, her loneliness and her joys, her hopes and dreams. Family and friends showed up to cheer our girls on in the Nutcracker. God’s love was present to us in all the simple stuff of everyday life.

I still go into this final week of Advent a little bit anxious. But I also go with expectation that even in this ordinary life I am living, we can welcome the God of love and grace.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I gave a talk on Monday night for Stanwich Congregational Church in anticipation of Christmas. I talked about remembering that this time of year we are preparing for a party–a huge birthday party to celebrate the gift of light and life and love that came into the world. So as we make our final preparations (and for those of us who aren’t actually fully prepared for what’s coming), I’m glad to be reminded of something I wrote for Monday’s Advent reading:

“If I try to make myself ready for Jesus, I will never be good enough. But just as he was willing to enter the mess of a stable, he is ready to enter my life as it is.

I will never be fully prepared to welcome God into my life.
But He is always ready to come in.”

I am so grateful that even if I am not ready, He is ready, and waiting, for me.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

“I want you to know, because I know you are watching, that I would not change you for the world, but I will change the world for you.”–says Amy Wright, mother of two children with Down syndrome. Read more: “Advocate for disabled workers is 2017 CNN Hero of the Year”


Thursday, December 21, 2017

How do you know that someone loves you? Whole books have been written on this subject, but I think it’s pretty simple: the people who love you show up when you need them to.

A few days after Penny was born, when we were still in the midst of a really hard time of processing her diagnosis and what it might mean for us, two of our best friends showed up at our door. They didn’t send flowers or wait until we were “ready” to talk to them. Instead, they put their own 4-month-old in the car and drove five hours. We took a walk, we talked, they held our baby girl. And then they got back in the car and drove the five hours home on I-95. They gave up work that day. They endured at least ten hours on the highway with an infant. And they made sure we knew that they would be there for us throughout Penny’s life, come what may. They loved us that day, and it helped us know they would love us in the days to come.

Or to take a less personal example: when Father Greg Boyle, author of Tattoos on the Heart (a book I highly recommend), first moved into a poor neighborhood in Los Angeles, he sat in his office and waited for the people to come and tell him their needs. But they didn’t come. Then he started taking walks around the neighborhood, but he noticed that people either scattered or froze. He finally started to visit people in the hospital and in prison. He started to show up for the people in need. He started to inconvenience himself and put himself in uncomfortable positions. He started to show his neighborhood that he loved them, not when they were on their best behavior, not when they were in church, but when they were in need, when they didn’t have it all together. And that’s when they started to trust him. That’s when some of them started to love him back. And that’s when some lives began to be transformed.

John writes, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Another way of saying this would be “God became human and moved into the neighborhood.” On Christmas morning, God showed up. He showed up in the person of Jesus because he wanted us to know that he loves us in our times of need.

It’s up to us whether we will receive the love that shows up. But the offer is there. And if we let that love into our lives, it will change us forever.

That’s why we have a party on Christmas. Because the God of time and space showed up and said, “I love you.”


Friday, December 22, 2017

Light in darkness. Throwing a birthday party for Jesus (complete with gifts for him!). The reasons we have to throw a party. These are the themes for the final days of the Advent ebook.

But most of all, since today will be my last day on Facebook until the New Year, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!

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