AdventPhotos2016 – Play

3 12 2016

Emmanuel did not come as a person of power and position, although he certainly could have. He came to this existence the same way we all come. A baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager. He was not God junior for the first few years waiting for the “real” God part to kick in like some sort of divine puberty. No, He was always fully God. God was digging makeshift roads in the dirt, running, climbing; playing.

When I have the privilege of watching a child play I’m always inspired by how unconstrained their narrative is by time, place, or resources. If they are on a flat, sandy beach with a plastic wagon and they decide they want to play bird catcher – missing gear, lack of knowledge on birds, or even the absence of any visible birds are in no way preventive to their play.

I don’t know exactly when it begins, but it does happen. We start brushing away the pieces of our child self, eager to do whatever we must to be considered an adult rather than a child, and one of those pieces seems to be our ability to really play. The capacity to see what is not as though it were; the creative imagination, our hope, becomes subordinated to what already exists. I really don’t think that playtime is something we were ever supposed to outgrow, and there is no easier time to decide to play again than the season of Advent and Christmas. I mean, if you ask yourself “WWJD?” sometimes the legit answer is, play:-)

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Light

2 12 2016

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Proclaim

2 12 2016

Proclaim: to make known publicly.

I just got back home from the annual district Christmas Dinner for Pastors & Spouses up in Holmes county, widely known as Amish country. When you’re in that part of the state a one-on-one conversation isn’t necessary to identify the Amish. Their lifestyle, attire, and transportation choices make very clear the fact that they hold to and live out the values and beliefs of the Amish faith tradition. Of course, there are ways other than driving a horse & buggy whereby one proclaims their beliefs and values.

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Listen

30 11 2016

I took this photo last month when we spent a couple of weeks visiting the kids down on Florida’s gulf coast; we brought Bill’s parents down with us this time. I couldn’t tell you which day this was, mainly because at some point every day Bill & Dad were sitting in conversation. I don’t think I know of any two people on this planet who enjoy conversing more than these two.  In this pic, they’re out on the balcony. They usually start in the main area with everyone else – the T.V.is on, there are lots of voices, dishes are clattering – but at some point they’ll get up and go into another room; just the two of them. It’s too hard to listen to just the one voice with all the other voices, noises, and activity. If and when I want to get Bill’s attention when he is with his dad, I don’t usually get a response from him on my first call, it’s at least two (sometimes more); “Honey” “Honey” “Bill” before his head pivots around to respond. In those times he’s listening for only one voice, his dad’s.

Advent is my balcony. A space separated from the normal clatter and chatter of everyday life. A place for me to listen, really listen, for His voice.

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Renew

29 11 2016

This was in my mailbox; an invitation to renew my magazine subscription. My subscription hasn’t expired yet; I’m still receiving a copy every month, but the point of the renewal notice is to ensure that my subscription will continue on without any interruption. That’s the ideal, but life can be hectic, the notice gets tucked back in the stack and tossed out. Or I open it, fill it out, seal it up, but can’t find a stamp so it eventually disappears to wherever all unstamped correspondence goes. Or I open it, think I’m gonna do that online right now, pick up my iPad and wow – 12 Facebook notifications… Three months later I walk past a newsstand; I see the current cover of “my” magazine and think, “I don’t remember getting that this month…ohhh.” Magazine companies are seemingly impervious to rejection, and undeterred by my neglect, forgetfulness, or disaffection. I can count on another renewal offer showing up in the mail letting me know that they want to begin my subscription again; there is no penalty, I just need to let them know that I want to renew.

Renew: to make effective for an additional period.

Renew: to begin again.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Time

29 11 2016

As a more task-oriented person, I’ve always had a pretty intentional and structured approach to managing my time. I tend to value time by what was completed within it. I order my next year’s Moleskine calendar in September because the possibility of them selling through the print run and me not having my calendar for the coming year makes me break out in hives. I’ve got a daily, weekly and monthly plan, and every year I do an annual time-block plan – all the major milestones I plan to complete, plugged into a set time frame. I just reviewed 2016’s plan so I could set up 2017, and for the 2nd year in a row I accomplished less than half of what I intended to accomplish with my time. Chronic illness doesn’t play nice when it comes to respecting my time. But the longer I sit in this space, the more I come to understand the the importance and value of slow time. Time that adheres to priorities that I did not set. Time that has space in it to see, to listen, to think. Time that sits in surrender to a purpose greater than my own. Time that has learned to rest in the hope of what will be. Waiting time; Advent.
  





AdventPhotos2016 – Shine

27 11 2016

I took today’s photo at church this morning. It’s Reggie and her foster mom, Connie. Reggie has a clothes esthetic that I happen to quite agree with; shiny is always better. Today her shirt has a blue and silver sequined heart, and the ankle straps on her shoes are covered with silver studs. Last week her shirt said “Glitter makes me smile!” written in glitter, of course. That girl rocks shiny.

There is a difference though, between shiny and shine. Shiny can only reflect light from another source. Shiny is environment dependent. It is limited by what is around it. If Reggie goes into a dark room, her shirt isn’t shiny anymore, it can only be shiny when it’s around light. Shine however, can be a verb. Shine can act on, and change its environment. It is environment independent. When a light shines into a dark room, the darkness is altered.

Connie doesn’t typically wear shiny clothes like Reggie prefers. But, Connie shines. As a point of reference for anyone who has not participated in the foster care system, it is not typically a space filled with rewards, affirmation or compensation. It’s not a space filled with light. Connie chooses to extend a mother’s care and love into dark places where she is not obligated to go. Connie shines when she does the seemingly mundane, unspectacular tasks of washing laundry, shampooing hair, packing lunches, reviewing homework, and soothing troubled sleep. She shines when she sits down to lunch at a Mexican restaurant and orders a big plate of nothing but french fries because she knows that is what Reggie likes, and what Reggie likes matters. She comes into a dark place and rather than being defeated or discouraged by the darkness, she shines; changing that dark space into something that allows a little girl to fall in love with shiny sequins and glitter. Shine enables shiny.

As I light the candles each week on the Advent wreath symbolizing the arrival of The Light, in an environment marked by the darkness of division, fear, hatred, and anger both in our country and around our world; I am reminded that the choice between dependance on the environment around me, or acting on and being an agent of change within that environment is a choice that rests with me.  I want to shine.