This blog is a chance for us to tell our story and shine the light on the God who wrote it.

It is also a place for me to bring into the spotlight the millions of orphans around the world who are waiting for the Body of Christ to fulfill God's command to "care for orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27)

Soli deo Gloria... (All Glory to God Alone).


He Came Anyway

It's one hour before Christmas Eve and one more day before the end of my favorite time of year.  Advent.  Those few weeks leading up to Christmas where we slow our lives and light the candles each night and we prepare our hearts for His coming.

This year was going to be the best.  I decided this one week before Thanksgiving when I bought a Children's Advent devotional just released by my favorite author.  Ann Voskamp and Advent.  Be still my heart.
This year we would slow and breathe and seek Him.  We would make space and read our devotions (almost) every night and I would not give in to that stress that everyone says "just comes with the season".  Looking back I can see I wanted so much to "get it all right"- my version of what it looks like to "prepare Him room".  And my intentions were (mostly) pure.  Truly, at the heart of it all, I don't think it was about performing but really came from a deep desire to welcome Christ into our home and our hearts this season.

Which is why, in His grace, He saw what I really wanted in my heart and blew my carefully laid plans out of the water.

This is what my actual Advent looked like...

I am going to give you a mental picture that perfectly epitomizes our Advent season.

Picture me.  Stressed-out mom trying to run this mothership.  One week into Advent and I am failing real good at this slow and peaceful thing and feeling pretty guilty about it.

Now picture me driving my Zoe-girl home from ballet one evening.  As we pull into the driveway a song comes on the radio and I catch the words and my mind stops going in a thousand different directions. I am reminded of grace and drawn back to Jesus.  So I just slow down and stop in the driveway and turn up the music and listen and forgive myself.  I remember how gracious He is and what this is all really about.  I smile at how God's glory can come into our craziest moments and I let Him come.

Now Zoe is dancing in the yard to the music.  And she is beautiful really, and I remember how blessed I am.  And how can I just keep going and going and forget to be thankful?  Awed.  Her dance just fits the music and it feels a little heavenly and I'm tearing up some.  This is what I wanted my Advent to look like.  

Now if you could just close your eyes here and picture beautiful Zoe dancing free and flowing and rejoicing.  The music fills the air-

Hallelujah, hallelujah 
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world 
Hallelujah, hallelujah 
Son of God, Servant King, 
You're here with us 
You're here with us 

And then it happens.  That perfect Advent scene comes to a screeching halt.  As one of Zoe's graceful leaps goes terribly wrong.  Now she is on the ground crying out and clutching her foot and this is the kind of cry that means something actually happened.

Indeed my Tiny Dancer had landed on her brother's foam sword, which caused her to twist and subsequently break a small bone in her foot.  One week before she was to perform in the Sleeping Beauty ballet she had been rehearsing for the past two months.  Awesome.

I give you this mental image to characterize what our entire Advent looked like.

Now here is an actual visual image of what our Advent looked like.  A hot mess.

That is our Gingerbread House we made this year.  Impressive, eh?

This Advent was hard.  And messy.  Really messy.  

But He came anyway.

I am dancing along all free and joyful and then I fall.  Over and over.  And He comes to me.  Over and over.

And I see it now.  I don't want to miss it.  I was never going to have the "perfect" Advent.  No, He loves me too much for that.

He knew from the beginning we'd miss more of our Advent devotionals than we'd make.  That we'd be a mixed-up, broken-down mess this year.  That I would fail time and again in so many of the ways I was trying to make a quiet, clean, sacred space for Jesus to come in.

But the reality is that this Advent He came to me exactly the way He came into our world two thousand years ago.   It wasn't like God didn't know where Mary and Joseph would be when He sent His Son- Himself- into our world.  In fact, He planned it that way.  It may not have been Mary's "birth plan" but it was His.  The long journey away from home, the messy stable, a feeding trough for a crib, and rags for a layette - these were all a part of the Divine Plan for how God would come quietly into our world.

 There wasn't any space for Jesus when He came then.  No room in the inn.  No quiet, clean, sacred cradle in a warm home to welcome Him in.  

But He came anyway.  And maybe it wasn't quiet and clean but He made it sacred.

He planned that He would come right there into that mess and maybe He still does.  Maybe He came that way- made His grand entrance that way so that we would never doubt He could come into our mess, our broken places.

Down here on earth we build cathedrals and play organ music hoping to find ourselves a space where we can just meet God.  A place where He might come.   If we make it beautiful and reverent, won't He come?
And He does.  He does often come there and it is expected and all we have to do is construct it, right?

Look, I am all for creating sacred spaces to meet with God.  I read all these books with titles like "Sacred Rhythms" and "Sanctuary of the Soul" in the hopes that they will give me insight into practices that will deepen my fellowship with God.  And sometimes I practice these things- like meditation and listening prayer- and He comes and I am thankful.

But a lot of the time, I don't.  And He comes anyway.  And it is unexpected and takes my breath away.  And it's why I love Him so much.

Truth is, He is bursting in on the scene whether we've got it all together or not.

It's not quiet and clean here.  But let me tell you this... It is sacred.  Holy.  And I won't try to clean up my mess before I let Him in.  Because I just might miss Him.

Jesus, you are welcome here.

Right here.

I'd pictured you coming near in those quiet moments as we gathered around the Advent wreath.

Instead you came this Advent season in those quiet moments where I wept and cried out to you with friend betrayed, another heartbroken, a marriage grabbing for some lifeline, a child fighting depression, a loved one thinking it might be better to just end it all.  Because we're all bleeding here.  And you just keep coming into our mess with your redeeming love.

And again, you came last week when I gathered up my son and drove him to the same ER where last year we were told we could've lost him.  And you were there when the traumatic memories came flooding back.  And I felt peace.  Not peace that came from lighted candles but from the Light of the world pushing into my darkness.  This isn't singing-Kumbaya peace.  This is Emmanuel, God-with-us-in-the midst-of all-the broken-and-hard peace.

You were there when I got too busy- again- and put silly temporal things before Eternal You.  And when I repented and felt like an Advent-failure, you reminded me that you came just for the likes of me.

Look- (this is going to come as a shock to those of you who know what a Domestic Goddess I am... ahem)- my Advent isn't going to be on Pinterest or featured in "Perfect Advents for Christian Families".  For the love of Pete, I already showed you our gingerbread house and I just looked up at the star on the top of our tree and it is tilted at almost a 90- degree angle - (which is 45 more degrees than the tree is leaning so maybe it balances it out?).  Scott has had walking pneumonia for a week and several of us have succumbed to the Puke Plague.  We are limping into Christmas here people.  Limping.

My Advent might not have been pretty.  But my heart is ready for Him this Christmas.  There is no doubt in my mind eighteen years after I met my Savior that I still need Him just as much now as I did then.  I wonder if I'd gotten it all "right" and this season had gone as I'd planned, would I love Him less?  If He came in all those "perfect" moments I'd expected Him to, would I be filled with all this awe and wonder... and a deep, humble gratitude?

Emmanuel- God with us.

We weren't ready for Him then and truth be told, we aren't really ready for Him now.  

But He.came.anyway. 

He comes anyway. He comes over and over into our world in a thousand broken but sacred places. 

There is no greater Love.  No greater Gift.  I am Held.  We are Loved.  Christ has come!