We usually talk about Jesus’ birth in the most neat and tidy and sterile way. One minute Mary is pregnant and the next she is holding a clean, swaddled little baby, sound asleep and sucking on a pacifier. When we skip over the actual birth part, we end up missing the most important piece of the Christmas story.
Advent has seemed darker than usual this year. There have been a series of horrific events, instilling fear and robbing us of peace. Simultaneously, the political climate is increasingly hostile, and disciples of Jesus are divided and suspicious of one another.
I’ve been praying since I could talk. I was never taught; never guided. I was simply told to have a conversation; to speak my requests. I’ve prayed for a new cabbage patch doll at Christmas time, acceptance into college, and for a miraculous A on a test I didn’t study for. I’ve prayed for jobs, for pregnancy and childbirth, for healthy children, for healing, and for safe travels.
Millions of people tuned in to watch the infamous wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton. You’re probably well aware that Prince William is second in line to the throne, and you maybe even waited impatiently as the world awaited the birth of Prince William and Princess Catherine to give birth to their first child.
I zoomed in, and in, and in, until I could closely see the cuts and curves of a blade of wild grass. Everything behind it blurred and blended into the background. Chiggers gnawed at my ankles as I circled around the shot, trying to capture the desired hue of orange and magenta bursting through the empty spaces in the frame.
It’s the age old question.
It’s the question that keeps me up at night, begging me to think of anything, anything else. It turns my stomach into knots, tightening, twisting until I think I’ll be sick. I've studied it. I've dissected it. I’ve theologized it. I’ve shoved it under the rug and washed my hands of it a thousand times.
A little over 10 years ago, I was antsy to pack up all of my belongings and move far, far away from Kansas. The busy, exciting city of Chicago was calling my name. I settled in to this new life without a hiccup. I loved everything about the noisy, fast-paced, windy city.
A little of this. A little of that. Mostly looking for God in the ordinary. In people. In place. In the world. These books are certainly opening my senses to the mystery, grace and presence of God everywhere I turn! I also can't resist sharing a few of my favorite blogs as of late.
It’s time to admit that Summer is over, and fall is settling in. The morning air is crisp and the leaves are beginning to fall. You know the feeling of a season about to change, like it’s instinct. It feels programmed in us.
The first Sunday at our new church I walked into the nursery to leave my toddler, and she ran to a pile of raggedy stuffed animals. She grabbed and kissed and wiped her nose all over them.
Imagine a fleet of 20 boats out at sea, with a limited supply of fuel and resources. We could send all 20 boats on their way with the hope of getting to shore, each with their own idea of how to get there.
It was the end of August 2012, and I was seven months pregnant. My husband, two daughters and I loaded up a U-haul truck and watched Chicago disappear in the rearview mirror. We drove west 700 miles until we hit Nebraska.
It seems we’re always looking for God to show up in some dramatic way. Our eyes are in search of a burning bush or a parted sea. We love it when things are dramatic, because we want a good story to tell. But the more I listen to people’s stories, the more I’m becoming aware of the subtleties of God.
The day after the funeral is the hardest. The days following the death of a loved one are overflowing with friends and family, phone calls and text messages, meals and cards and hugs and stories. But the day after the funeral, it all stops.