Rushing Christmas

So I put up my Christmas tree yesterday. Yep, Veterans’ Day…November 11th, and the Christmas tree is up. I have seen alot of ill-will and shade thrown this year about the Christmas décor and music coming too early.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving. I have done multiple years of thankfulness projects right here on this blog. Thanksgiving morning I have a tradition, and this year I’ll be running a 5K to add to it. Me and Macy’s parade are bffs and I watch it all while I begin prep work.

But there’s something about the spirit of Christmas that I want to pull in close. The hope. The joy. The peace. Especially this year. I yearned for that sense of awe in a year that has seen change and hurt and worry sweep across everyone’s hearts and lives. I want to wrap up in the holidays this year. Last year I said no to so much to slow it down and create space for my heart. This year I wanted to usher it in fully and be known and to know the season deeply. To rejoice and be filled with gladness.

I may be wrong but I feel as if the world is groaning for the holiday season, for the Christmas season. The anticipation of drawing into the birth of Christ, to remember the thrill of Hope, our weary world rejoicing at Him coming to be with us. I have this sense of pulling in close to His with-ness and seeing the hope abounding. To celebrating His desire to be with us, and our response of awe and wonder. Our coming to give Him the gifts that can never match the Gift of Him.

So I have my tree up on November 11th, and the filling of a heart drawing into the Christmas season knowing His with-ness is reason to rejoice. A reason to push the season a little earlier and usher in joy, peace, and Christ Himself a bit closer to this world-weary heart.

Worshiping Today

“I worship at the altar of today’s circumstances, thinking they’re the most important and most pressing of all.”

-Lore Wilbert

I just came upon that quote this week and the magnitude of it struck me pretty deep. You see I think that’s become the norm for our lives, myself included. I cast aside the reminders of faithfulness, obedience and truth for today’s stuff. It may be a home renovation, encounter with a coworker (or your boss) or the lack of evening plans.

Whatever it may be, today’s calendar and the circumstances those don’t often capture become our intent focus. We lay every bit of it at the altar to those, all of ourselves, our emotions, our thoughts and our focus right there in front of today. We have slowly but very easily given up the long-run for the short-sighted of now, right this minute and immediacy.

As believers, we know a different time frame. One that looks at the long run, the marathon, the eternal. Our hearts yearn for it but our culture, our lives rush to be at the feet of today. It leads to doubting God, not taking Him into every circumstance and instead asking Him to rubber stamp our plans, actions and words. We rush to judgement, to pickup lines and to dinner. Instead we are called to be in presence with Him, to fully engage in relationship and conversation, to consultation and discernment, to the holy of each moment.

Y’all, I cannot tell you how I long for the holy of each morning, of time spent breathing in Him, His goodness and truth so that I can then breathe out His love, mercy and grace. The holy of time spent seeking His direction and will rather than my own, time engaging with people rather than ticking them off my to-do/to-meet list, to seeing the heart of the eternal in each and every person I interact with daily, from coworkers to strangers to my roommate.

Just for today. Maybe this weekend or even through the remainder of Lent can we lay down the idol worship of today for the invitation of the eternal into the present? Can we choose to give up the immediacy of our lives for the ever-guiding will of God in each circumstance?

Just for today, y’all.

The Gift of Snow

We got hit with Snow Storm Jonas in Nashville on Friday. It packed more of a whallop than expected and gave us all a free day to play. When I woke up Saturday, there was still this beautiful calm of white (it ain’t going anywhere for a few days with close to 7 inches where I am) so I wanted to grab a few photos to remember the fun, the joy, and the beauty of a day spent sledding, getting to know the neighbors and resting.

Wherever you are today, I hope you are able to take today for what it is-a gift of presence. Be abundantly aware of what you have been given today, a day to be fully aware of every moment and every experience. You don’t have to be what yesterday or last week or last year were, you can be today. Afresh. Anew.

Today.

“Let go of dead yesterdays and unborn tomorrows.
The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today, makes the strongest falter.”

Yesterday I read those words.

They hit at a time where I was struggling to find words to encourage a friend because I too was hanging on to both dead yesterdays and unborn tomorrows. I was living not in the present, but in this in-between where both were being weighed against one another and loading me down.

I don’t know about you all but I bypass today. I look to tomorrow, the to-do list that didn’t get done yesterday, and the fret begins. I am always hanging on to past regrets, mistakes, faults to drag them to my tomorrows that always seem to have anxiety and worry attached preemptively.

It’s hard to live in today, as much as we want to do just that. So I leave those words above simply because I struggle with the exact same thing-even in this moment as I weigh thoughts and actions.

Mini-Break Holiday

I don’t normally take advantage of a three day weekend to go out of town. I am not sure as to why but I often just look at it as a way to accomplish more with the extra day, whether errands or around the house. For the last year a friend had been living in Atlanta, and I had been attempting to make plans to visit. It seemed at every turn they got cancelled by weather or illness or scheduling (my part).

Finally last month we settled for the MLK holiday weekend, that way we both were off for an extra day and could have a very chill break.

Let me just tell you, if you don’t live in the Southern US (and some of you don’t so hey Canada and Ireland!) that the weather this weekend was superb. We don’t see mid-60s in January. We just don’t around these parts, but we did for three glorious days. It even looks like we’ll get up there today. My friend and I ate ridiculously great foods, imbibed on some adult beverages and I did some damage at Ikea. I also put the media cabinet together upon my return home yesterday, like a boss.

Why am I sharing all this today? Because we simply need breaks in life. I know I just returned to work off a Christmas holiday vacation, where I had my wisdom teeth removed and an abbreviated visit home. Something about this weekend had an extra touch to it, whether it was the spring-like weather or being in another city that I feel at home in.

We need moments where our phones get put away, we enjoy the person we’re with and the environment we are in. Did I check my phone on occasion? Yes. But I didn’t feel it necessary to stay glued to it, as I often push myself to do. I realized that this mini-break holiday is needed in all our lives for a breather. To take a pause and remember life and appreciate it for what it is-fleeting. I could check emails in my off-time or I could indulge in a walk around a beautiful park in the middle of downtown Atlanta.

This mini break holiday put a bookend on the last year for me that brought about alot of internal dwelling and thought, alot of frustration and tension. It closed the door on a chapter that I had been lingering in for far too long, attempting to write my own paragraphs. When all I truly needed was a break, space and to breathe in the newness of it all.

A new chapter.

A new mindset.

A new appreciation for life that is to be lived, not worried or fretted over.

May you get a mini break holiday in your life if you’ve not had one. To become unsettled and renewed. To gain joy that is lost and peace in the midst of it all.

His Presence

We long for the whispers in the stillness and quiet. We desire to be in the face of the rocks when the storms rage and hear Him pass by. We want the shouts of answers or the wrestling matches with Him where but a touch leaves us forever changed physically.

But we don’t leave room for Him

I say this looking at myself as well. In the every day, I don’t leave much space for the working of the Spirit to breathe into me. In the busy season we always find ourselves in, we don’t leave much space for Christ’s love to be poured out onto us. We just don’t have the capacity for God, if He could but just see our schedules.

We face the same situation all over again, as if we are the innkeepers when Mary and Joseph approach us asking for space in our lives, to house the One-our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. We think it has to be tidy first to allow Him in, that we have to get a few worship services and a small group added to our plate before we could possibly be available to Him.

Then they become the routine, but are they giving us room for Him? for even more of Him? Or are we checking those off of our list for the week, leaving unchanged and even more harried at our growing list of things to do and places to be?

Even in the quiet, do we find the space for Him? I know I can find a million things to do at home in order for it to be the right time and place for Him to be present. We point to the external circumstances or distractions when in fact it’s to appease the rising guilt and shame from within as we know it’s in our control and it’s within our realm of free choice, yet we choose the other.

I think on this ever more at this time of year and wonder after the fact how the innkeeper and his wife felt. If they even knew the opportunity lost to be present and in the presence of Christ? When I dwell on the wonder of that moment and His encapsulating presence, I recall times when I have made myself available and chosen to be present with Him. Those were beautiful times that only He and I share, that only He can put words to as I am still left in awe of His power and wonder.

There will always be things, people to take places, to-do lists to be completed, distractions to take our focus away but in the present we have the choice of being fully engaged in Him. He’s chosen us for just such a time, so why won’t we choose Him above the rest?


Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
 Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!

Psalm 105:3,4

A Listening Heart

As I sat across the table from my friend, I stilled my mind to intently hear what was said. Not for a lesson for him, nor what I could learn in what he was sharing. No, I was there to simply listen.

Hours before I had prayed over this meeting, the conversation and what would be talked about because I know my friend needed to talk. He needed to share and be heard, something I don’t think he feels is happening with his life presently-either with colleagues, friends, family or even God.

My nature as someone who empathizes with others is to often listen to fix. To figure it out and discern what God is trying to teach-maybe to them but often to myself. I want to hear them but only as I prepare to mindfully respond to what they are saying.

God had other plans as He calls us to walk this life in community. To not just listen with our ears but with His heart, to the cries of His children. To the moans of the earth, and respond appropriately.

A listening heart means that sometimes you don’t respond verbally, but in repeated prayers. A listening heart means you don’t sit and think on how to respond immediately but actually hear the heart of the other person opening up. This was a vulnerable conversation I had with my friend, one in which I shared with him in return something I do not talk about very often (actually rarely). It was an opportunity for God to use me to hear but also for my friend to speak.

A listening heart allows vulnerability to take place and be present, it provides an avenue in which friendship is grown without pretense or expectation. A listening heart bears the burden without judgement. And a listening heart allows time and thoughtful consideration to the person speaking.

I hadn’t fully prepared my head and heart for the conversation that transpired and the heavy weight my friend is carrying presently. However I know God needed me present and listening for my friend more than He needed me to suggest solutions or fixes. He needed me to share a prayer with my weary-hearted friend hours later rather than in that moment. God needed me present and listening with my heart, just as my friend did.

It is a joy to be used and available in such a way…as I am ever so thankful to have rediscovered a listening heart within that Christ fills with His love and compassion.