Wait. Hope. Trust.

Every week, my wife and I work our way through a prompted dialogue. We talk about the coming week, what things are coming down the pipeline and what we need from each other. We express what we are grateful for and share how we are feeling. An open and honest evaluation of our hearts. Sometimes we’re on top of the world and other weeks we’re overwhelmed. This particular week, I’m confused, feeling the wonder of Christmas, sharing it with such a beautiful soul, and yet reminded that my kids live in a post-divorce world, where holidays are split between houses. While I realize that Christmas is not bound to a single day, there is a distinct absence felt in the silence every Christmas morning. It’s a thick and heavy silence, not like the kind that one usually appreciates in the midst of shopping, business, cooking and parties.

Ericka and I do our best to make up for it every year. The Thursday before Christmas, our blended family gathers around the tree to eagerly open presents. Five for each child: something to wear, something to share, something to read, something they need, and something they want. Then we put on our pajamas and head out for ice cream, before winding through neighborhoods to enjoy the Christmas lights.

Wait. Hope. Trust. All those feelings are there. Wait and allow God to work His grace through the kids’ lives. Through our lives. Hope that there will be a beautiful ending to this story. Trust that God is always at work, knowing Christ’ resurrection is always present in every story, including theirs. Easier said than done.

God told Zephaniah something similar:

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. – Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ESV

To put things in perspective, Zephaniah lived around 612 B.C. During his lifetime, Manasseh came into rule over Israel, and sowed confusion, hopelessness and a string of wretched practices into the culture, among which the worst was child sacrifice. These are the words God spoke over Israel in the fray they found themselves in.

My soul is reminded of how grateful I am for my wife, a promise God made to me after my first marriage ended. That though the holidays hold a heaviness, we as a family get to enjoy the moments together. If we’re not careful, the pain of brokenness will rob us of the gladness within reach.

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What Advent Means to Me

The season is upon us. A four-week procession into the heart of Christmas, steeped in tradition and festivities that beckon our senses to remember the birth of Christ. Candles will be lit. Stories will be told. Scents of cinnamon, nutmeg and fir trees will linger in the air.

It is the season of Advent.

It is the season of coming.

With eager anticipation, our souls are reminded that God came. He filled his promise. We were not abandoned. God came. In the midst of a confusion, despair, self-absorption, He met us where we are. He told us what was wrong. He provided a way out. God came.

Advent is Christmas and Easter. It is the sleepless night before a big presentation the next day. It is wrapped up in the hope & vulnerability of a marriage proposal. Because deep down inside, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve attempted to satiate this hunger to know with lesser things. We still need to know that God has come. That we were worth coming for. We’re scared how God might answer.

If we quiet our souls long enough to listen to God’s heartbeat, we will find that He already answered. God came.

So in this season and the next. In this chapter of joy or pain and the next, wait. Remind your soul, regardless of whether it is summer or winter, spring or fall, that Advent is appropriate in all seasons. God came. He loves you. And regardless of where you are, God’s grace is sufficient.

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.””

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hills & Valleys

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬

God of the hills & valleys. He sees what others do not. When you catch a glimpse of unrestrained joy, holding a newborn or moving into a new house, He rejoices with you. When others hurt you, there’s bias against you, or injustice strikes you, He protects you from bitterness with His love. When you overcome something that’s defeated you time and again, He exults you. For He is a good father and He loves fiercely, disciplines wisely & is faithfully present in every chapter of life.