The Longest Day

It’s the time of year when many of us reflect on all the events of the previous year: the highs, the lows, the mundane, and the unexpected. As many of us look back on 2020, we are likely to see more time spent in the valleys than on the mountaintops. Storms ravaged my state followed by a pandemic that put the globe on pause, yet despite all this year has thrown our way, one day stands alone as the most unforgettable day of the year and perhaps, my life. August 20, 2020. My family and I have kept the events of that day close to our vest because honestly, it kept us all reeling. We’ve spent months trying to put the pieces of our brokenness back together, to undo the damage of careless words, overlooked pain, and a heart so heavy and hopeless that it wanted to die.

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Don’t Waste the Wait

As I was walking my dog Lion this morning, to keep my mind off this horrible cold, I was meditating on the idea of Advent, of waiting. The Holy Spirit gave me two phrases to turn over in my mind: Don’t waste the wait and anticipation not distraction. It struck me as odd at first. Don’t waste the wait. Anticipation not distraction.  

This year has been a year when many of us seem stuck. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s difficult to see progress in our own lives when it feels as if we’ve been stuck at home, stuck in neutral in our careers, stuck in a muddled present as we eagerly await a future that’s free from lockdowns and quarantines. For some of us the waiting isn’t to be free from Covid but like me, it is waiting for God to act in a situation, waiting to see Him work in someone’s life, hoping against all hope that He will step into the situation bringing restoration and revelation. And so this brings me to Advent.

After Malachi penned his last Spirit-inspired word, God fell silent for 400 years. No visions. No prophetic words. No burning bushes or flakes of manna. Silence. Perhaps the Jews thought He had forgotten the promise of the long awaited Messiah. As they sweated and toiled in their daily routines under the watchful eye of an empire they despised, they waited. They wondered. Did they hope or had hope failed? We know that Simeon and Anna clung to hope. We know that Zechariah continued to serve in the temple, waiting, watching, wondering. Then after 400 years as suddenly as God fell silent, He spoke into the darkness. He had been there all along orchestrating His perfect plan in His perfect timing. Advent reminds us of the ache of anticipation, the woe of waiting. 

But how we wait matters. The wait isn’t a time of idle thumb twiddling. It’s an opportunity for soul-searching. Like the psalmist we can cry out, “Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Waiting can push us away or draw us closer. It can embitter us or it can empower us. We can choose grumbling or we can choose gratitude, but the choice is ours. When we wait on the voice of God to pierce the darkness in our own lives do we waste the wait or receive the revelation He is offering us as we draw closer in faith even when can’t see Him clearly?  

And are we waiting with anticipation or are we mastering the art of distraction? We live in an era of distraction. It’s an art form. We can scroll our phones for hours and never reach the bottom of the page. We can binge watch every episode of every show ever produced. We can drown our drudgery in a deluge of distraction, or we can eagerly anticipate what’s next. We can tune out through distraction or we can tune in through anticipation. As I wait, I often find myself seeking the amusement of distraction, so I don’t have to do the hard work of dealing with the discomfort of discovery, of sorting through my own emotions. Distraction means we don’t have to face what needs changing in our own lives. We can put it off for another day. But waiting with anticipation turns our focus outward and upwards. We give our brokenness, our fears, our messes to God and with faith and hope we wait with the anticipation that He is at work, even when we can’t see it. We do our part to grow more like Christ as we eagerly await for Him to reveal Himself and watch with anticipation the work He is capable and faithful to do while we wait.  

Advent means the in-between time doesn’t have to be unfruitful. If anything it reminds us that even in the silence, God is at work. Even in the mess, God is making miracles. Even when it seems all hope is lost, a baby’s cry pierces the silence and when He becomes a man He pierces our heart with His light and love, reminding us that we never have to lose hope again. Hope is ours and it is everlasting. Don’t waste the wait and anticipate don’t distract.

A Letter to My Daughter on Beauty

My dear sweet girl,

I didn’t really expect to discuss this with you at the tender age of seven, but when after watching The Voice with Mommy for a mere ten minutes, you suddenly came downstairs after a commercial break with your hair down and brushed dramatically to the side just like a few of the contestants, I felt a lurch in the pit of my stomach. Your innocent pony tail and head band had been replaced with a Lauren Bacall peekaboo. What I thought sis1was an innocent, innocuous singing competition had already begun to teach you what our culture values as beautiful, and you didn’t even wait until the end of the show to model their ideal. Despite a steady diet of Veggie Tales and Gigi: God’s Little Princess, despite having never allowed “fashion” magazines into the house, I have realized that I can’t always protect you from “the world,” and since I’ve noticed that most retailers think seven is the right age for little girls to look like grown women, I think it’s time we had a chat about what true beauty really is.

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