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.

Wrestling with Rest

Do you ever pray for rest and then when it comes despise it?

No? Just me then?

For a few years I felt the overwhelming sense of busy and hurried in my life. It felt like I was sprinting for an entire marathon, and my entire being was just slap out of energy. I felt drained, emptied out fully in every part of my life. It as so bad that my emotions couldn’t be kept in check on anything and I was at a point of no longer caring if they were in check. I poured out to God that I just needed rest, I needed the breath that could only come in Him. I needed carrying and I needed the quiet of Him.

What I didn’t bargain for was an equal amount of wrestling with having rest over a particular season. The resting season He gave me and that I have found myself in for longer than I had drawn up, was turning into a bit of a wrestling match with Jesus. That I was done with the rest, the seeming quiet and the landscape that felt more like a desert than a dream.

We plead for rest and then when it’s given to us, it’s not how we expected it to be. We start wondering if God’s forgotten us, we doubt He has any good in this time for us, we question whether He is even with us in the quiet, the seeming silence of life. And so we start doing, start filling life with busy again because we have become people who cannot be still and know. We can’t revel in the rest He gives us, that He beckons us to with Him. We would rather carry the burdens than take on His yoke of of easy, His burden that is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Learning about rest in Him means that I am not in control, and let’s be honest, I never have been, but I like to lie to myself that I do have control. Learning from Him in a time of rest means I am taking on a gentle and humble heart, just as He spoke in Matthew, one that doesn’t continue in the fretting, one that knows that I am the star nor am I in any control. What we find in rest is waiting. A silent waiting where security, our security, isn’t dependent upon us but fully in Him.

Rest isn’t thrashing about, pointing fingers and accusing God of leaving us. It’s joy and gladness in being with Him in the waiting, in the giving of this time He has graciously bestowed. It is the very words of David that we can see as rest, what we are capable of in rest instead of wrestling with Him.

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will You let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your Presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. “

Psalm 16:9-11 (NIV)

It takes learning to be in rest with Him, and not wrestling with the feelings of abandonment or aloneness. It takes choosing to rest firmly and securely in Him rather than attempts at a hostile takeover of my life. It means waiting in silence instead of lobbing doubts of His character at Him. The irony is that we were built to rest, and yet when He gives it to us we wrestle so hard against it because the world tells us we shouldn’t be waiting, shouldn’t be silent, shouldn’t be still. But stillness is where we know that He is God…where He is our security…where are filled with joy….where we are in His Presence.

The Reality of Life.

Yesterday I failed masterfully at my blog post. I could blame alot of things but truly I copped out. 31 days of writing is difficult, I cannot overstate that enough, and I applaud those who write professionally because it’s a tedious, draining piece of art. So no more cop-outs. Let’s get in to today’s post, k?

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I think I could be accused of having whatever the opposite of delusions of grandeur is. The majority of those that know me or have worked with me in my profession can attest to this. I have seriously issues of what I lovingly refer to “realism” in my life. It finds a great partner in negativity and often pessimism joins in the club meetings.

I pushed hard for a couple of months to pursue writing more, and when life got a little too real and I was confronted with my own words, I stepped back. I started hearing the criticisms and voices direct my writing. I wrote from their place and not my own. It’s never good to write from someone else’s voice. Every writer will tell you it leads down a dark path to a very scary forest filled with doubt and fear.

Unexpectedly I had a friend email me and another encourage me over the last week in my writing. Writing that I felt was dry and forced because I just couldn’t drum it up. I couldn’t make the funny come and I couldn’t bring the cheer. I realized life isn’t always cheerful. There are days and weeks when the reality for many is just getting out of bed to do it again. Their cheer is found in surviving another day. Their joy is getting through a meeting without crying.

Sometimes you just need to acknowledge that life is real. It is difficult. There are moments when the smile is forced. There are days upon days that end in tears. There are weeks where rest won’t come. There’s no secret to gaining back the cheer or the joy. There’s no logic or understanding in it.

But there is one thing. One thing I know I can do in the realness, in the moments when phone calls leave you flustered and words do hurt. That is this:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your path.

Proverbs 3:5-6

There is no adding to or taking away from that statement. There is simply living in it’s truth. I acknowledge Him in the days when joy just doesn’t seem to come, when life gets more real than I think I can handle. I acknowledge Him for what His work is and what He is doing to make straight my path.

Let Your Words Be Life…

It’s Wednesday…it feels like it should be Saturday. I woke up and could not really take that it was only Wednesday. This week has already been very draining, and I know for certain I am not the only one feeling that drain. The weather is the redeeming factor thus far. It’s given me an extra pep in my step to get out the door and to get back in the door each night.

Currently, I know of people struggling through a serious injury that happened over the weekend, children being in NICU and in the pediatric units in hospitals, of friends standing alongside their loved ones as they grieve the loss of a wonderful woman, and those wondering if they will ever find a job. Right now life just seems to be forcing itself onto us with unhappy gains. I had a dear friend and mentor just this morning post about her mother in law having a severe heart attack…as they sit in Germany as foreign missionaries. There is so much hurt, grief, and fear in so many lives right now. I ache for those individuals

And then there are those who willingly inflict undue hurt onto others. As if this world needed more ugliness and strife. Those who use venomous words to lob insults at people and create a haze of grime to cloud people’s days. I keep coming back to Proverbs with the thought that our words have such power to either encourage joy or inflict pain. While we say actions speak louder than words, people’s words reflect their character. It’s a two-for-one deal. What you say and what you do go hand-in-hand. Your character matters, and so do your words.

You can impart life or death with your words. You have the responsibility with them. Choose wisely.

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. 

Proverbs 12:18 (HCSB)

Do you create or reduce hurt with your words? What are ways in which you can encourage instead of inflict? A writer friend, Annie Downs, has a new book out called Speak Love that talks directly to using words that matter.

Worn.

I don’t know what season of life you are in but lately it seems like many of us are in this time of weariness and wornness. (Not a word I know, but I’m making it one) I have been knocked down with a bad sinus infection/allergy attack/cold trifecta for the last week and a half. Work has been feeling very work-like in a sense, and life in general just seems to be taking a beating.

Much like this song says, “Life just won’t let up.” So today, I am just posting this song from Tenth Avenue North. It’s helped provide solace, a place of rest and quiet. Maybe you need that too today. Sometimes we just need to say “I’m worn” and leave it there.