Long time, no blog.
The season has come and almost gone, and I've been crazy busy at work and Kyler and Savannah have been home a bunch, having finished classes at Eastern weeks ago. I can't write when they are here for some reason. I need silence to gather my thoughts.
I am home alone this morning. Asia has left for work. Kyler and Ethan are housesitting together. Savannah is in Leavenworth with her boyfriend's family.
It's just me and Gracie.
And frankly, I'm sort of forcing myself to sit and write. Because even when there's not a topic pressing it's way to the tip of my fingers, itching to find it's way to the page, I find release and peace when I write. And I can't think of a better time of year to lean into those two things.
Christmas is this interesting thing at our house...
Asia doesn't really care for the holidays... having never really experienced strong traditions as a child, it's a season he'd really rather just skip over. A bit of a scrooge, he still somehow manages to be a great, generous gift giver. But going caroling? Driving around to look at lights? Decorating? Torture for the man. I've learned, after spending 24 Christmases with him, to let him off the hook a bit and not let his lack of pleasure impact my enjoyment of the traditions I love.
Kyler was born on Christmas Eve, which presents it's own set of challenges. We've always wanted to be really careful about making his birthday separate and special. My grandpa had a December 21st birthday and always grouched about it being so close to Christmas. You didn't dare wrap Grandpa's presents in Christmas wrap... I think this made me extra sensitive to making Kyler feel like he had his own special day. But in reality, it means I'm scrambling this time of year to make sure I have TWICE as many fabulous, thoughtful presents to give him.
This year in particular has been difficult, because we're walking into a pretty massive change in our source of income and aren't completely sure what our financial reality will be in the coming year. This makes me want to be REALLY careful with how we spend our money. Which can feel sort of grinchy and definitely makes my enjoyment of the season a little more challenging. I LOVE gift giving and pride myself in finding just the right thing - which is harder to do when you're trying to be frugal. I am a person who REALLY cherishes security and who feels safe when I know there's a steady/dependable source of income and we're about to give that up. That scares the crap out of me and can definitely be a joy-stealer if I give in to my anxiety. It gets really ugly really fast. I shouldn't be losing sleep over having spent $10 on stocking stuffers because I lack the trust to believe that God will continue to provide for us when we give up the security of a State paycheck every 15 days.
But as I sit here typing, I'm struck with the truth that none of that really matters. And that the thing I'm most excited about in the coming week is the idea of Sabbath. Rest. Quiet.
My favorite Christmas Carol of all Time is O, Holy Night.
Especially the line "The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices..."
Do you hear it?
Those words are the gospel.
It is so easy to be weary in this world.
And this year had the potential to be a really wearying year.
We have made it through a senior year and a graduation.
A year of Asia working two jobs, and 12 hour days/65 hour weeks.
A ton of travel for me and WAY more responsibility at work than I've ever had.
Our first full year with three teenagers. Enough said.
An intense year of counseling/supporting/mentoring dear, wonderful friends through REALLY hard, moment-by-moment "I don't know how I can do this" kinds of crap/issues/realities.
And yet - in it all, there has been hope.
I have witnessed over and over again, the calming reassurance that in every terrible/challenging life situation, there is HOPE.
In darkness, there is always the promise of Dawn.
And when I find myself weary, as I have many times in the past months, I have been reminded over and over again, of HOPE.
I have seen it in the eyes of women betrayed - as they can still, through their tears, say that God is Good.
I have seen it in my children as they out-shine all my expectations and walk through the world as functioning almost-adults with talents and character that far exceeds anything I could have ever taught them.
I see it in people at work that have learned to value themselves in new ways and are taking better care of themselves and living life more fully than they ever imagined they could.
I cherish it in my marriage - that somehow, through some miracle of God's grace - Asia and I have been blessed with deeper love each and every year and stronger resolve to prioritize our lives around the precious gift of a life lived together. I marvel at it.
I have held it in my arms - hope in the form of precious newborn babes - fresh from the womb - and I have been given the privilege of sharing hope with new moms who are flailing in their lack of sleep and that crazy, exhausted, overwhelming sense of "I'll never be able to do this" and "What in the world have I gotten myself into?" and "Will I ever find myself again?" Simply by being in the stage of life that I'm in, having survived their stage of life not once, or twice, but three times, I give hope. How's that for a ridiculous-easy way to bless others? I'm so honored to be a hope-giver in this way.
Friends, if I could encourage you at all this week of Christmas, it would be to lean into hope. To stop your self-focused weariness long enough to look for it.
It is all around us.
It is lying in a manger.
It is Jesus. Who came to end our striving.
Whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
He is the living word of God - the fulfillment of every promise ever hoped for.
The thrill of hope.
Blessed Christmas to you all.