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.

From Frustration to Prayer

Sometimes I say “Oh Lord” when I hear about the shenanigans friends get into or when I glimpse the exasperating self-checkout where people who apparently have never experienced how to ring up things decide today is a good day to do just that…with their incredibly full cart.

Lately I have been listening to a lot of Lauren Daigle…while I cook, in the shower, working out, cleaning the house. If I could describe my current mood, it would be “Lauren Daigle” because she just seems to be singing what my heart and mind are feeling right now. One particular song has slowly become something I am praying instead deep within, and I find my cries of “O Lord O Lord” have been a welcome comfort instead of exasperation and frustration. It reminds me that He is right there with me, when I often like to lie to myself that He’s not, or He’s left me. He doesn’t. He hears. He meets me in my desperation, my loneliness and says “This will be made right.” It may not be mine to see, or experience, but it’s His.

So now when I cry out “O Lord O Lord” I know He’s already at work, but He’s there in the midst listening. I know my prayers are reflective of a God who is with me, a God who hears, who wants me to cry out to Him instead of in my own frustrations.


Part of Lauren Daigle’s “O’ Lord” is quoted below in how I have been praying it out. Maybe you needed it today or tomorrow. Maybe you needed to recognize your heart and mind have needed to cry out to God in a way that only you and He communicate. Whatever the means, know He’s listening.

Though times it seems
Like I’m coming undone
This walk can often feel lonely
No matter what until this race is won
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

Your strength is found
At the end of my road
Your grace it reaches to the hurting
Still through the tears and the questioning why
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!

Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face This I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

I will stand my ground where hope can be found!
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!

Oh! O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

In His Presence

We have some pretty spectacular sunsets and sunrises around Nashville. You’ll know it (if you don’t live in these parts) by the flooding of social media with people capturing the moment. I am known to do it too. It’s just too beautiful, too breathtaking not to share with the world. If you’ll indulge my sentimentality as well, it’s also where I often hear God loudest…where He gives a wink or a nod to something I have been praying through and a scene of a sunset reminds me He’s heard me, He’s got it. I can release my worry or fear and just rest in the knowledge of Him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Taken in March 2011 at Maryville College.  Photo owned by Sara Stacy, do not copy without permission.

It takes a certain level of presence of the moment to see it though. To be fully present I can’t be distracted by a phone or thoughts of tomorrow, I have to be fully aware of the moment I am in. I find in seasons that I am really present in the moments, each and every one ticking by and then other seasons I find that I just can’t quite bring myself fully into the present because I am dwelling in the past or creating worry for the future.

Lately it’s been the latter. There’s been unfounded worry about this, and created anxiety about that. It’s pushed out where my focus and my heart should be, in the present, pursuing His voice in the noise of it all.

This week I was able to see Hillsong United and Lauren Daigle in concert. My  heart’s prayer as the lights dim was a plea to be present. It came on suddenly and it was breathtaking. It was a cry from deep within to no longer dwell in the fear of something happening or not happening. It was a song to Christ of trust and reliance, toward God. I want to trust and release it all because He is there in the future, He’s in the past as well. He extends before and behind, something I forget all too quickly when I am not in the present.

So I felt this pull to the present, Christ’s arm extending to draw me close, draw me near to Him and trust the present to be. He does that when we allow Him. When we make ourselves available to the Presence of Him. The sunsets, the worship, Scripture and quiet. All of these bring me to His Presence in the present if I choose it.

Many times I don’t. I choose busyness, social media, television…all distractions simply because being present is work. It’s difficult sometimes and it’s much easier to relax into a comfortable posture of procrastination and distraction than pursuit of Presence. But I desire that Presence especially in my present. If I desire it, and it’s aligns with His will, doesn’t He promise to give it?

Y’all, He does. He gives Himself to us if we but desire it with all of our self. If we pursue His Presence in the moment over the other, over our self as well. Sometimes it’s worth not capturing that sunset simply because He meant it for you in that moment. Desire to receive the present, a gift of His Presence.

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.