Advent, Prayer, and a Rant

Ok, I think I’m a really positive person.  99.9% of the time.

I have a policy that I will never use this blog to post anything negative.

Well, I’m about to break that rule.

There’s something that’s driven me crazy for years and I think Advent is the time to bring it up.

We see examples of people in the Bible challenging, whining, ranting and raving to God as well as thanking, praising and asking.

Now I know we can say anything at all to God in prayer.  Just like a toddler can say outrageous stuff, a parent still loves to hear them talk.  It’s all good with God.  No matter what you say He’s not going to vote you off the island.

But there’s a phrase I hear people use all the time that doesn’t make sense to me. Continue reading

The Chorus of a Bleak January

I’ve been doing something weird lately.

It’s January and I think most of us are feeling a bit schizophrenic.  Relieved to get back to the predictable routine of catching the bus to work, and grocery shopping, hair cuts and t.v. shows and recycling.

But there’s also the let down of ordinariness and a bleak winter (for those of us in Minnesota at least) stretching out interminably and we’re thinking it would be kind of nice if there was one more gift to unwrap that was forgotten in the rush.

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So I’ve been listening to Christmas music.  In January.  I’ve left my Pandora Classic Christmas music station on, and it’s been like with all the noise of other Christmassy stuff muted til next November, God’s voice has a chance with me.

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Christmas Funeral

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                            I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, planning to post it today.                                             And then the Connecticut shooting happened.                                                                     And we’re reeling, wailing, mourning, grasping for answers and comfort.  No words are adequate.  So I want to be clear that this post is not in response to recent events, but nevertheless, I pray may be some small encouragement.

Here’s the thing.  I hate funerals.  I avoid them like a cat avoids water.  I really don’t like them.

I know they’re important and showing up to grieve with the family is good, but still…I’m just being honest.

Friday I had to go to a funeral.  The son of some friends of ours was killed riding his bicycle.  We love them and our kids grew up together.  It was just a freak accident, as they say.

Corey was a troubled young man who struggled with mental illness all his life, and so, in a sense, his death was a relief from his torment, an escape to peace with Jesus who he had claimed as his Savior.

Still…Both John and I had a hard time getting through the service.

As the words of Mark Shultz’s song “He’s My Son” bounced off the windows of our beautiful sanctuary decorated with greens and twinkle lights for Advent, we thought of our own girls, our own prayers, our attempts to protect them, our parenting mistakes…

I’m down on my knees again, tonight.  I’m hoping this prayer will turn out right…

Can you hear me?  Can you see him?  Please don’t leave him.  He’s my son.

How do you make sense of it all?  How do you survive the death of one of your babies?

I just don’t know.

But here was the biggest thing about Friday and that funeral...  In the midst of that tremendous, palpable pain at church, there was also an overwhelming sense of ….Emmanuel.

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On Mary and Getting Ready

It’s coming on christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace.

Joni Mitchell’s been singing those lyrics in my brain today.

It’s coming on Christmas…

and we’re in “getting ready mode”.

John’s been gone at meetings in Houston so I’ve been using the time to get the house ready for Christmas.

And, as I wrote last week, our daughter Maggie got engaged and would like an early summer wedding, so we’re getting ready for that which means constant g-chats and texts with the girls in D.C., and phone calls to check dates with…well, everyone.

And then over the weekend the “to do’s” of Christmas hit me.  You know, like when you’ve noticed that it started snowing but then you don’t look outside for awhile and when you look again you can’t believe how it’s piled up.  There’s a lot that I’ve promised to do that has snuck up on me like a silent snow drift.

And I’m grateful for a full life, but I need to get ready for all of it.

This morning, in between doing all this getting ready stuff there were several distinct moments of silence and solitude when it felt like God said, “Hold it.  Shhhh.  I’m here.”

And in those moments I wondered what getting ready for Christmas really looks like.

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Hormones and Ham, Messes and Mis-understanding

One of us in our family had a meltdown Friday night.  It might have included an ugly cry and talk about budgets, Christmas cards, ham, and insensitive comments.

My husband and I both worked really hard to understand each other, but OK, honestly John worked at it a lot harder than I did because, well, not to be sexist, but I’m a girl.  And he feels really bad when I cry.

On this night our discussion was kind of like a Christmas movie marathon that seems to go on forever and eventually the stories seem to start blurring together and you get really tired.  But John persisted and kept asking questions and listening until he finally said something and I grabbed him and yelled with great joy, “YOU SAID IT RIGHT THAT TIME!”

I felt like he finally got it.  He understood.  And he felt like he had vanquished the Abominable Snow Monster, guided Santa’s sleigh through the blizzard, and saved Christmas in that moment.  He was my hero again.

It made me think of what Joseph must have gone through with Mary.  I mean really.  Jesus was fully human AND fully God, but Mary was just human!  She was hormonal, and still in her teens, and unmarried and poor.  And an angel had beamed down to have a chat with and her fiance.

Think of the conversations Mary and Joseph must have had as they navigated this crazy journey of morning sickness, and gossipy friends, and a long “road” trip without McDonald’s bathrooms!  There must have been tears and confusion.  Trying to understand what each other was feeling.  Trying to support each other.

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