“Ours is the God who is drawn to those who feel down. Ours is the God who is attracted to those who feel abandoned. Ours is the God who is bound to those who feel broken.” – Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Central Virginia is an interesting state when it comes to winter weather. Any threat of ice or snow sends the local weathermen into hysterics. Having lived in northeast Ohio for several years, we find this laughable.
Sunday we suffered through a “paralyzing” ice storm that left a lot of moisture on the roads and a few icy patches. It was rather anticlimactic. Of course, those who don’t consider the fact that you must drive differently even in mildly icy conditions end up in ditches and become BREAKING NEWS at 11PM. It became an over-hyped, rather lame non-event.
The benefit is this; sometimes the world slows down. We leaned into better-safe-than-sorry and cancelled Sunday morning church services, and local schools had a two hour delay this morning. There was room to breathe, in this span of frigid day into night and day again. 
The ice settled around the landscape; branches and boughs dipped toward the dirt. Some snapped under the weight of the precipitation. The morning looked heavy, burdened; and yet, it glistened.
Lately, I have been contemplating the stories of the Bible as grand metaphors, giving myself permission to sink into the narrative and allow it to expose a new perspective of The God Who Saves. I cannot wrap my head around this, cannot fathom the depth and breadth of a God who Always Was and Always Is and Always Will Be. I can read and believe, I can give assent to intellectual and philosophical content. I can follow. 
But I bump into walls, bang my head against contradictions and controversies and the things for which I simply have no explanation. I think we all do. 
And then we choose. We can bury our heads and stomp our feet and cling to what must be true, stand firm. I have done that. I continue to do that, sometimes.
But I cannot escape this great mystery, that in and around and above and below the stories and the proclamations and the declarations, there is One who was and is, and is to come. 
Not just is to come, but has been here, already, born helpless and hungry. 
Born just like us.
The stories of the gods throughout history are many. Ours is not the only flood story. Ours is not the only exodus. 
But uniquely ours is a God who came to us, who offers rescue. 
It is very, very different. 
The broken, heaviness of our world glistens, like the cedars bearing the burdensome glaze of frozen moisture this morning. It shimmers and shines with hope.
Our salvation has been here. The One who saves, he put on human skin and came.
For us.
Thanks be to God; I just can’t get over it.

December 8 – His Presence

‘The greatest gift God graces a soul with is His own presence.’ – Ann Voskamp

If that’s not true, I don’t know what is.

And it’s the truth that I find the hardest to make real, the most difficult to remember. I have lived all these days upon this earth and there are some things I know.

But this…this blessing of presence that fuels and fills; this is the thing that slips beyond my grasp, all too often.

Today, I had the gift of time. Long, luxurious, uninterrupted. And I think to myself that if only I could live like this…then I would feel that I had a life. Something that mattered.

And then I think to myself that is nonsense. Your life matters.

And it does, of course. I do meaningful work.

I’m just not paying attention.

I don’t feel like A Woman Who Does Too Much, although it is true; I am always busy, always in motion, always working in snippets and snatches of time. But these days, they feel so differently to me. The ebb and flow of what seems like a grown-up world, where the moments are ordered according to me and my schedule – rather than that of my children – this feels unusual. And freeing. But harder, a difficult freedom.

Here’s the problem I am seeing, slowly, as the light of Advent burns just a bit brighter: The real, raw work of motherhood – though it stretched and tore me at times – was manageable and measurable. Place to go, conversations to have, projects to finish. Things To Do, with collaborative feedback and a walking, talking, living evaluation. Tangible results, in the children born to my arms. Granted, I am still a mother; but they are all older, and it is different. The needs are different – not necessarily lessened, but quantitatively on a whole other level.

And so what matters? I see it and feel it, but in fits and spurts. I soak in it when all my offspring surround me. I ache for its absence when they are gone. And when you have five children and the bulk of the last 23 years has been grounded in the raising of those five kids, the sudden ‘freedom’ opens up to a lot of uncharted territory.

Ann Voskamp quotes Charles Spurgeon in The Greatest Gift“It is no use for you to attempt to sow out of an empty basket, for that would be sowing nothing but wind.”

Well aware of that concept, I am. But in these waiting moments, in this Advent, God whispers a new setting for me, a new call to be filled and to be still.

To be with.

To be made new.

This, exactly, is what I need. It is the emptiness, defined.

It is the fullness, promised.

“…lingering enough to really listen – to everything…”

I am waiting.