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snow

It’s snowing outside, and it’s my favorite kind of snow.  Soft, fluffy, big flakes.  And the sky is lit up by the snow.

There’s a quiet, a stillness that seems holy.

I had one of those days where I got too overwhelmed with my task list.  I got discouraged by the things not yet done.  By the busyness of the days to come.

And the snow caused me to stop.  Caused me to sit.  Caused me to REST.

I’m neighbors with some of my closest, dearest friends.  Friends that help you fold your clean laundry so you’re a little less overwhelmed, who listen to you for hours talk about this boy that you really like, who feed you dinner when everything you have is frozen and you don’t want to take the time to thaw it out.

Who listen, who laugh, who love, who cry.  I am so blessed by my friends.

We watched “White Christmas” and drank decaf coffee and RESTED.

So tonight, because I can’t fall asleep right away, I’m counting my blessings instead of sheep.

As I walked across the parking lot, back to my apartment, with snow up to my ankles, I looked up at the sparkling sky.

And I remembered.

My favorite line from “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

“No man is a failure who has friends.”

I am so blessed, so thankful, for my friends.

stillness…

Stillness…

 

Is something that I’m not very good at.  Maybe it’s my ADD.  I have a constant need for moving, for talking, for clicking my retractable sharpies.  For listening to music, watching a movie.  I am always needing some sort of soundtrack to my day.

 

But I’m getting better.

 

Stillness requires that you do one thing.  And this is the scary thing.  You stop.  You stop long enough to let whatever it is that you’ve been running from: any emotion, any circumstance, any fear, any joy.  You let it catch up to you and hit you.  And you must deal with it.

 

That’s why I’m not very good at resting.  Sabbathing.  Vacationing.

 

If I stop, if I sit, then all my doubts, hopes, fears, dreams come rushing toward me.  My insecurities and my victories.

 

I question who I am and my worth outside of what I produce.

 

And even though it is hard…. it is so.  good.

 

Because it is in the stillness.  In the quiet.  It is when strivings cease where the Lord’s voice becomes ever so much more clear.

 

“I am with you.”

 

“I’ve got you.”

 

“We’re gonna make it.”

 

“Trust me.”

 

“Trust me, Amanda.  Trust me.”

 

Is it hard to stop?  YES.  But it is in stopping, it is in stillness where I allow the Lord into the beaten and broken parts of me.  And I allow him to speak new life into me.  I ask him to take these pieces and put me back together.

 

So, here I am Lord.  The TV is off.  The iPod is off.  The MacBook is about to go to sleep.  I’m here.  I’m waiting, I’m listening.

 

And I’m ready to meet with Emmanuel, God with us.

 

 

 

 

I LOVE Christmas.  I always have loved Christmas.  Even this year, I was listening to Christmas music in September. (It’s a sickness, I know.)

But as much as I love the actual, real Christmas Day, the joy found in Christmas is not just in that day, but it is in the season.  The anticipation of the actual day.

So here we are, the beginning of Advent.  The day the universal church comes together in anticipation of the coming of Christ.  Where we take a few moments each day to stop… to breathe… to prepare for the birth of Christ.  To remember that we have hope.

There was no other fitting day but today to put up my Christmas tree.  My OWN Christmas tree in MY OWN place.  Not my mom’s tree.  Not the tree with the roommates, but my own tree.   And, can I just say…. It is absolutely breathtaking.

I splurged on the shiny tree topper that was out of my budget but, gorgeous. I wrapped green sparkly ribbon and purple beads around the tree.  I hung up ornaments.  Sentimental from my childhood, reject ornaments from my mom, and even new ornaments from this new season.  As you hang up your ornaments, as you remember where you got them and the stories behind them, take a second to reflect on where you’ve been.  Reflect on the seasons of your life that brought you immense joy and ones that hurt too much. Sit with it for awhile.  And remember that the same God who brought you through that, will be faithful to bring you through again.  There is always hope.

It is in this season of waiting, where I feel the most hope.

Because I know that whatever I’m in the midst of… Hope is coming.  It may not be an end to my present circumstance, but it is a greater perspective that there will be an end.  And end where we come out victorious.

This first week of Advent, we, the Church, shift our focus to the HOPE that is coming.

There is something powerful about doing this together.  Because when other people have hope, it spurs me on to have hope.

May you this week hope fiercely and fearlessly.  Trusting that despite your current circumstances, redemption is coming.

thanks

i’ve been mad at Thanksgiving since Monday, and vowed that I wouldn’t reconcile with it until the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes were on my plate.  Monday is my normal day off.  However, when the alarm went off for me to get up to go to work this past Monday, I became angry with Thanksgiving.  A little ridiculous?  Yep, I know it is.

Then, Thanksgiving came.  In sleeping in the super hard, not really comfortable bed in the craft room, and sleeping in til 11:30 am FTW!!!  My perspective has changed.  It’s amazing what a little bit of extra sleep (and some turkey) can do for one’s perspective on life.

So, in honor of Thanskgiving, and my reconciled relationship with this blessed holiday, i’m here to give some thanks.

A little bit of thanks can go a long way.  Thanksgiving forces me to stop.  To reflect on this past year, and give God the thanks that He is due.

So, thank you God for my family.  For a year of my mom being cancer free (And please!  let it stay that way!)  Thank you for my Torch family.  For using them every day to teach me more and more about what it means to be a part of the body.  Thank you for Apple.  For not only my Mac and iPhone, but the people that make me laugh every day, 5 days a week.  Thank you for my friends.  For the late nights at Starbucks, the hours on the phone, the pieces of pie at Bakers Square, the road trips to Minnesota, the joys of doing life with one another.

And thank you for the work you are doing.  The hope you are giving.  The grace you are overwhelming me with.  Thank you for the heart that you are softening.  The peace that passes all understanding.

I am way too blessed.

captured

tonight, i was yearning for inspiration.  after a somewhat monotonous day, I went down to my bookshelf tonight, and began pulling off of the shelf, my favorites.

when i read, i’m an active reader.  i underline.  i underline the truths that speak to me.  these underlinings speak so much louder after time has passed, and they are revisited.

i’m finding that words i underline in a book capture a moment of my journey.  they tell a little story of where I was at in that point of my life.

i first read lauren winner’s “girl meets God” when i was a junior in college.  story of conversion from judaism to christianity.  i am completely enamored with other people’s stories.  we are all on a journey, and i am convinced we all must be sharing what we have learned and are learning along the way.

we must share the pieces of ourselves that are shredded.  in rob bell’s “drops like stars” he talks about how in making a rug, traditionally, native american’s would leave a part of it, a corner of it, unfinished.

“because that’s where they believe the Spirit enters.”

it is in the unfinished, blemished, shredded pieces of ourselves where we find that we are actually in the process of being put back together again.

We have pain, yet we also have redemption.

We are wanderers, and yet we are also on our way home.

We have shreds, but we also have patches.

We must tell the stories of redemption, and grace.  Of joys and purposes, of triumphs.

i must tell the story of how i am lost and found.

in reading what i underlined, many years ago, i began to remember.

so here’s to remembering.  here’s to capturing life.  capturing the shreds, the patches, and the process of being pieced back together again.