Welcoming Advent

blog advent

I have this dreamy mindset of Advent.

I think of warm socks, lots of homemade cookies, sipping red wine and watching the lights twinkle on the tree.

I might be watching the lights twinkle right now.

I think of gathering people I love in our home around our table, breaking big loaves of homemade bread and dipping it into soup.

I think of walks outside admiring neighbors decorations, even when it's cold. I think of wrapping my hands around a warm mug of tea.

I think of dark chocolate.

More than food, I think of talking to God more. I think of sitting with Him as I would a good friend and asking Him all the many, sometimes conflicting questions on my heart.

I think of choosing to rest in the peace of not understanding all of His ways verse choosing to fight. Sometimes, it's really hard to choose rest. I think of trusting that His ways are good even with fists clenched tight and struggling to surrender. I think of thanking Him for the many blessings and expressing my deepest most sincere gratitude for the gifts He has given me.

The gifts He has given all of us.

I also think of sitting with Him in the pain and suffering of all that's happening in the world. Because I have to believe it must break His heart too.

Advent has never stood still long enough for me to really breath it in deep. It's as if I blinked and the season showed up again. Do you feel that way?

Last year we tried to slow down and take in the season but I kept giving God my leftovers.

And if I'm learning anything, it's that life isn't going to just stop turning and stand still for us. It's going to keep moving - really fast. We have to carve out space for the stillness and sit in it, even as the world tells us not to.

Truth is, I've never fully embraced the season. And more than anything this year, I want to hold on to Advent a little tighter. I want to understand what it means and why it matters. I want to be quiet and just listen.

I want to love bigger, better and crazier than before.

This endeavor required assistance. And even more, this little space on the web isn't really about me but it's about all of our voices. So I've asked a few women to share words or pictures about what this season means too.

I am really excited for them to share what's on their heart. Because while this season has a common theme woven throughout - a steady heartbeat, what it means and how it's celebrated looks different for each person.

And I think that might be my favorite part.

So join us as we hold on a little tighter. Sit in this with me a little, will you? And please, tell me what you're learning too. What might you be wrestling with?

What is your God saying to you?

I am so grateful for this season because it feels fresh and brand new. I need a fresh start once in a while. I need to know that our character and story is evolving and ever changing. I need to know that if parts of my most authentic self have been in hiding, it's okay to shake things up and bring those into the light.

Bring your whole self into the light dear one. We need your light.

I hope this season so far has been sweet. And if things have been hard or messy or not quite what you imagined, I hope you know you aren't alone in this. I hope you know there are people rooting for you.

I am rooting for you.

Happy Advent my friends. I can't wait to celebrate this together.

xoxo

We're all a bunch of signs

I saw him standing at a stoplight. There was a white poster in his left hand and a rosary in his right. He wore a hat to shield the sun. I couldn't see the front of his sign because his back was to me and my curious nosey self fidgeted in my seat, wondering what it said. I've seen plenty of folks holding signs. But the sheer fact I couldn't see his, made me want to park, get out of the car, and go take a look.

FOMO is real.

He turned when the light turned green.

"Is it a choice or a child?" That's all it said with a picture of a fetus.

I was impressed by this man standing all by himself in the hot sun. He didn't have a big crowd rallying behind him. He didn't even have a chair to sit down in when his legs got tired.

It made me want to write a sign too. Particularly now, as debates run rampant on the internet [I've learned to stop reading the comments].

I think my sign might say, "You are loved. Like, all of you. That bag of junk and mess you're carrying? He loves all of that."

Truth is, we all wear signs.

Some are more visible than others - things like mother, married, white. Those ones are easy to point out.

But what about the ones we don't wear written on a t-shirt or wrapped around our finger? The ones that run deep in our veins and are embedded in our story and history and experience.

Things like survivor, adopted, addict, lonely.

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Our church had a women's night a few months back. A chance to go beyond the weather and what you do, to the things that make your heart beat.

In all honesty, I was reluctant to go because small talk really drains me. I've never been so good at it. I get awkward and uncomfortable and way too emotional.

It's the reason I stopped asking "How are you?" in college because I always got the same answer, "Great!"

And maybe, more than half the time people really were great. But it made me empty and tired because we're not always great, we're not always good. So I changed the question. I started asking, "You doing okay?"

I have those three words to thank for showing up late to many classes senior year. I always left those conversations uplifted and encouraged and not so lonely.

Because some days, I wasn't okay and it scared me to think I was the only one.

Of all the parts of that night, the moment that stuck were the signs. Women held large poster boards, walked across the stage, turned to the audience and showed their sign.

"I had an abortion."

"I struggle with an eating disorder."

"I lost my child in a car crash last year."

"I have an anger problem."

The posters kept flashing, one after the other. A guitar played softly in the background.

These women ripped of the facade, giving you a glimpse into the deepest, darkest, most heart wrenching parts of their story. The facade we so often wear for protection, particularly at church. The very place we're told and tell others to come just as you are.

It had to feel like standing in front of a crowd completely naked while you give folks permission to point out the parts they don't like.

I remember such tension in my heart because I'd see a sign, look up at the woman's stoic face and think, her? I thought I had her all figured out.

We think we have folks figured out real quick. Sometimes, we'll judge way before an actual interaction. Simply by the way they order their coffee.

I remember wishing that we always wore a sign.

Even though there is a reason we don't divulge every little thing to every single person. But I couldn't help but wonder, would we be less inclined to judge? Less inclined to compare and choose jealousy?

Because we are all fighting a battle. Each battle is different and unique but each is heavy and significant. Each deserves someone to grab your hand and say, "Hey, I see what you're carrying. And even though my battle looks different than yours. I promise to fight with you and for you if you want."

We are all a bunch of walking signs.

And I want to be better at this friends. Because it's so easy to choose judgement. It's so easy to look another woman up and down and think we have her all figured out. That we know the threads that make her whole.

And I think all of this is heightened with the way our lives are compressed into pictures with captions and hashtags and filters.

But I don't blame social media for this. At our core, instragram or not, we'd still judge.

So maybe it starts with sharing your sign. Maybe it starts with celebrating the sweet and the bitter.

I'll go first.

I quit my job. I quit a full-time with benefits job to do something weighing on my heart to try and give in too. And that terrifies me because it feels so counter-culture. It feels wrong. It feels like I should constantly be striving for more, reaching up high, gaining a new title, striving for new benefits and perks. But there goes that ugly game of comparison again, you know?

And truth is, I hate quitting things. It makes me feel like I am letting people down. 

I quit for a lot of reasons. One was to try a new role in a profession I've felt pulled towards. Another was to provide more time, right here with you, in this space. And to some, this is just blank white space. But to all the writers out there, you know it's so much more.

It's where I find purpose and direction. It's where I find God. 

Some days I get scared that I made a huge mistake. While others, I feel so good and hopeful and filled up in a way I haven't in a very long time. Truth is, I've talked to God more in the past two weeks than I have the whole year. And He's stripping things away. He's helping this restless beating heart grow. He's making it less about me and more about Him. And that all seems worth it.

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Some days, things are really great. I'd rather choose joy and gratitude than heartache. But we can't deny the heartache.

And I think something happens when we share. When we turn our sign around and give folks a chance to read. Because chances are, there are words written on their sign too.

Words that need to be shared and heard and felt.

So, what would your sign say today friend? What might it look like to share that with someone?

xoxo