12/24/13

A Christmas Prayer






May I be like the prophets willing to listen to the voice of God.
May I be like John the Baptist, willing to point others to Him.
May I be like Mary, willing to accept the Lord’s will.
May I be like Joseph, willing to bring other people’s trials into my own home.  
May I be like the Shepherds, willing to drop everything to worship the King.
May I be like the Wisemen, willing to offer my gifts, no matter what they may be, even if I find Him in the most unlikely place.

12/22/13

Enough





One word, over and over, rolling around in my head like a lone sock in the dyer.

Enough. 

Each time my heart starts pounding, my mind racing, the questions blooming faster than I can answer them, that still small voice echoes. 

Enough.  

My doubts, my fears, my insecurities all answered in this one question. 

A lot has gotten left by the way side this Christmas season.
Cookie supplies left in the pantry.
Christmas gift fabric left on the sewing table.
Activities scratched off the to do list. 

Enough.

Curbing my tendency toward over doing. The gifts we have already purchased are enough. 

Enough.

Over and over again I am reminded that our “enough” is someone’s abundance. 

Enough.


Showing up, in my spit up soaked pants, fully present, not distracted by unrealistic undone to-do lists, just resting in the waiting of Advent. That is enough. That is more than enough. It’s all that is asked of me.  

12/17/13

It Didn't Feel Like Christmas





Meetings, messes, school schedules, homework, dirty floors, dishes to wash, toys to pick up; it doesn’t feel like Christmas.

A new girl in town, body swollen with child, doubled over, ready to give birth, young husband by her side; it doesn’t sound like a holy invasion. 

Love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, humble yourselves; it didn’t sound like a revolution.

Blessed are the meek, the humble, those who hunger and thirst, those who are persecuted and belittled; it doesn’t sound like salvation.

They were looking for a Savior. A political hero to rescue them from their oppression. Someone to get them out of the horrible mess they were in. 

What they got was the babe in the manger. Emanuel, God with us, not a savior from our circumstances, but God walking beside us, in the middle of our mess. 

Emanuel,
God,
The WORD,
The Light of the world,
With us….

12/15/13

Advent So Far



Advent so far has been lovely. Simple and slow. Not a ton of rushing around or "have to be there". Last year we had three or four parties, a show every weekend, a pile of custom orders, company in and out of town. This year has been full of last minute activities and engaging in whatever activity strikes our fancy in the moment.


Since I wasn't participating in shows I actually got to attend some this year. I had a wonderful time going to Vintage Lynchburg and Arts v. Craft today. Afterwards the girls and I went out to lunch at a favorite local restaurant of mine. I love introducing friends to new favorite places.




Other than that we have been staying in, baking cookies, drinking tea, practicing rolling over. Enjoying simple moments of the season. Over and over again I have been reminded of those who are dealing with loss this season. It has made me so thankful for this small little moments with those I love.

I am excited for 2014. I'm excited for the projects I am going to be working on and the stuff I'm getting involved in. But, for now I am enjoying the right here, right now, with a side of hot tea.

12/6/13

Behold The Lord's Maidservant

This is something I wrote quite a while ago, nine years ago I think. I am re-posting for Josh because it's one of his favorite things that I have written. He often says it's one of the reasons he fell in love with me. Please understand when you read this it is the fictitious musings of a college girl. I am not claiming that anything I wrote was historically or Biblical accurate. It is simply a day dream about what it might have been like to be Mary. 




She shifted awkwardly in her seat. She was uncomfortable after sitting so long for so many days in a row. She wanted to ask him to stop. To let her stretch her legs for a bit. But they had already stopped so many times she didn’t want to inconvenience him any more. She let out a small sigh as she reached a hand up to rub at her sore neck. The sigh caught his attention and he turned his head to look at her. He smiled knowingly and looked lovingly at his bride. He didn’t say anything but let his eyes linger on her stomach. 

His silent was reassuring and calmed her a little bit. As strong as her physical discomfort was it didn’t even compare the emotional turmoil of the past few months. Her heart tugged as she thought about her parents, so trusting. So convinced that she was a special girl.  It was difficult knowing that she was leaving them behind to suffer the ridicule of the community. 

She knew what they were saying. The kind ones whispered rumors that she had been raped. That one of the soldiers in her town had taken advantage of her innocents and attractive dark skin. Others were less gracious and spoke loudly when she walked by.  Speculating that she had betrayed her beloved.

She looked at him and tears welled up in her eyes. Her gaze lingered on his hands. Such strong hands they were. They had made most of the furniture in her fathers home. That is when she had first met him. She had been but a child of 10 maybe 11 joining her father on an afternoon trip to pick out wood. His hands had intrigued her then. They were so strong and skilled. Over the next few years her father’s home grew and Joseph's skills were often acquired to fill the rooms. He had watched her grow up and it had not escaped his noticed that she had blossomed into a beautiful young woman. 

And then everything changed. She remembered the day vividly. She had been in her mother’s kitchen working. She had been keeping her mind busy by pretending she was attending to her own home. It was a childish game perhaps but it kept her occupied during long days of chores. She was still glowing with the thought of her betrothal to Joseph. 

And then it happened. A light filled the room and she experienced the visit that had changed her life. During the visit she was filled with a peace. “May it be done unto me as you say,” she had told the angel. But then he had left. Leaving her in a dark room wondering what to do next. She had told her parents who at first had not believed her. However, as the weeks followed and her eating patterns had changed they were forced to accept the truth. Mary never was sure what made them decided to believe her but she was grateful they had. 

Her heart wrenched as she remembered the day her father had told Joseph. She had watched from a window as Joseph walked away from her fathers home. She was sure he would never return. She was lying on her bed still awake from the night before when she heard a commotion the next morning. She was sure it was a messenger from Joseph divorcing her. But it wasn’t. It was Joseph’s voice. And he was calling for her! He too had received a message from God! 

The next few months had been difficult. She was grateful for the support of her parents and Joseph.  It was their love and the memory of the angles message that kept her going. “Highly favored one” that is what the angle had called her. He had called her blessed among women. He had promised her that God would be with her.  She clung to these promises much as she had clung to Joseph after he had taken her into his home. 

There were nights when she doubted. When she would wonder if she had imaged it all. Maybe she really had been raped and had just come up with this story to cover it up. Maybe she was crazy! Joseph would often wake up and night and find her crying over such thoughts. He would come into her room pull her onto his lap and whisper to her God’s promises.

Joseph noticed her restlessness and stopped the donkey. “I need to rest,” he said as an excuse. His arms reached up and encircled her waist and helped her down. He held her tight against his chest for a moment before setting her on a boulder.

She felt weary. As a teenager she felt so young, so inadequate of what was asked of her. She felt like she had sacrificed so much already. Her heart sank at the thought of giving birth to a child so far from the love and comfort of her mother. She wondered what other sacrifices would be required of her in the future. 

A gentle breeze brushed by her face. A sweet fragrance surrounded her. As if right by her ear a small voice whispered, “Rejoice, highly favored one, God is with you.” She lifted her eyes to heaven and saw the flicker of a dove flying overhead. She let out a long breath and recited again the prayer that had been so readily on her lips the past nine months “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

12/3/13

Advent Low and Slow.


We are taking a different approach to Christmas this year. It started last year really. When I was curled up on a ball over come with morning sickness and desperately trying to finish custom doll orders in time to ship them before Christmas. I was so sick and overwhelmed that I ended up staying up till all hours of the night before we did Christmas as a family. I was desperately trying to finish gifts I had promised to make my girls and hadn't gotten around to doing yet. "No custom dolls next year," I said.

Fast forward to this August... a c-section baby and home from the hospital just 3 days before the school year started. I had wanted to do holiday art/craft shows but I hadn't sewn a single thing yet..."No shows this year."

No shows and no custom dolls means less income which means less money for Christmas gifts. 

So here we are three days into Advent and things look a little different around here.
I am working on a few dolls.
A couple special dolls for returning customers that contacted me early enough to give me time to do them with out stress.
I decided on one or two special sewing projects for gifts, but not nearly as many as normal.
We bought some gifts, but aren't going crazy. Keeping a doable budget and expectations.

We have adopted a new moto for Advent. Low and Slow.

Low expectations
Low cost
Slow pace

Making time and space for what matters to us, and letting go of everything else.
Making a list of what matters, and letting go of half of it.
Making time for fun and activity and balancing it with times of rest and silence.

What does Advent look like for you?

12/1/13

Giving Thanks for Advent


Happy Advent!

Welcome to what is, in theory, one of my favorite times of year.

I really do love advent.
I love that it comes after a season of thanksgiving.
I love that it comes at a time when the physical world is still and our hearts are tuned toward gratitude and reflection.

My family lost a dear friend last week. Church had just ended and a friend was asking how I was when I got the news. A question I normally might have answered dismissively got a real genuine answer. I was sad, heartbroken for my brother, my sister, my parents all of whom knew this man well.


A few days later we gathered at my parents house for Thanksgiving. We sat around the table and ate good food and told stories and reviewed the year. It has been a hard year for many of us. But we were thankful we were together. Thankful for God's protection. Thankful for the memories of sweeter times. Thankful that we were all still here and all together.


There was laughter and tears and trips to Dunkin Donuts and introducing babies to aunts and uncles and cousins and watching the parade and eating my mom's cinnamon rolls and putting balm on the hurting places and welcoming the tears along with the smiles.


It was a reminder as we go into this season that for some, it won't be about artificial glitter and a stack of presents, but a time of loss and grief and pain.  It was a reminder of how desperately we all need true Advent. How we all need Emanuel... how desperate we are all are for God With Us.

"Advent gives us another option beyond false Christmas cheer or Scrooge. Advent says the baby is coming, but he isn't here yet, that hope is on its way, but the yearning is still very real. Sometimes, depending on what we've lost this year, Advent it what saves us from giving up on Christmas and all its buoyant twinkling-light hope forever. Advent allows us to tell the truth about what we're grieving, without giving up on the gorgeous and extravagant promise of Christmas, the baby on his way."
-Shauna Niequist




11/18/13

Story






We all have a story. I grew up understanding this fact. My dad is a pastor and my mom is an English teacher. I come from a family of storytellers. It's in my blood. The concept that we each have a story to tell was natural to me. 

It's seems like such a simple idea, however the older I get the more I come to understand the depth of this statement. See I am neither the author nor the main character in my story. Both of those roles are claimed by Christ. And, since we are creatures of community, I am a tiny part of dozens if not hundreds of other stories.



Right now I have a ring side view of a lot of stories. As I look around I am surrounded by people in the middle if water shed moments. At every turn I encounter people in the middle of major plot twists. 

Some of them are in crises. The outcome of the situations they are facing will forever change their lives. They will look back and mark everything else in life by “before” or “after” these moments.  

Some are being presented with situations they didn't see coming. They are facing plot twists that seem to come completely out of left field and feel like they have nothing to do with where the story was heading before this. They have to regain their footing in a new story line. 

Some are right in the middle of the thick of things. They are living those chapters of the book where it feels like there isn't much "action" but where you come to really understand who the character is and what they are made of. 

And some are facing new adventures. They are at that exciting point where things are just started to get interesting and you are holding your breath and crossing your fingers hoping that it all works out and everything thing ends with a giant musical number and a happy ending.


And in some tiny, itty bitty, miniscule way, I get to be a part of all of these stories. Even if just as a walk on a role. A supporting role to the supporting characters.  The mail man’s second cousin.
Some days it’s hard, when my own story seems to be primarily about supporting someone else in theirs. When you are a social person, and have a gift of encouragement you often find yourself playing a thousand and one supporting characters. But then I realize… I get to be part of it. I get to be part of this great, big, gigantic story that arcs over centuries past and centuries to come.  I get a sneak peek into what He is doing in dozens of story lines that all weave together to tell His story, and it is truly humbling.