AdventPhotos 2018 – Journey

2 12 2018

 This afternoon a group of kids from our church sang Christmas carols and passed out little Christmas crafts to the residents of an extended care facility in our community.  I had some delightful conversations with those attending today, but one in particular has stayed in my mind.  She appeared to be one of the more senior ladies there, I would guess well into her nineties, and from her wheelchair she watched one of our little girls, Lucy, standing just a few feet away.  She complimented her pretty blue dress then squeezed my hand and said wistfully, “it all goes so fast.”  As I looked at her, looking at a little girl, I sensed that in that moment, in her mind, the journey from childhood to old age probably felt as though it had taken no more time than it would have taken for Lucy to step from where she stood to where we sat. 

I think I’ll slow my steps a little through this Advent season.  I think I’ll savor the journey a little more.





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 – 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.
  





Gift – Advent & Christmas Photos (2015#35)

6 01 2016

Another Christmastide has passed, the Magi have arrived at the home of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus with their gifts for the Christchild; the calendar moves forward to Epiphany. Such is the nature of time. And though we may at times wish for a way to slow its pace, I want to always be careful to view each day as a gift. A gift that was not extended to 151,000 souls. Each day will hold new challenges, I may have entered today as a caterpillar, and tomorrow will wake to discover that my world has forever changed, but I want always to see the arrival of another day as a priceless gift. A gift to be treasured, not wished away, not squandered in frivolous wastefulness that bears no eternal fruit. I will never earn the right to another day, I don’t deserve to have one more opportunity to experience the changing beauty that is this life, it is always, only a gift. May God help me to see its glorious opportunity, the breathtaking potential for me to fly. And may my attitude ever be one of joyful gratitude, for the gift of today.
  





End – Christmas & Advent Photos (2015#32)

1 01 2016

I love this passage of scripture. I’ve circled my favorite parts. See the red circles? I know it looks like I’m enamored with the word “day,” but that’s not it. See that little dot? Yes, the period. THAT’S my favorite part.  

If you ever listen to me talk, or preach, or pray you’ll notice that I talk with a lot (a lot) of commas. When I write, I am continually going back and editing out commas and adding in periods. The problem with a comma is it doesn’t let you stop, you just get to slow down a  bit. And sometimes, we need to stop, not slow down, not pause, but stop. Period. If you doubt that, just look at how God created this world to work.  

Certainly He could have gone from one creative act to another, but He didn’t. I mean it’s not like He wore Himself out, and dropped exhausted to the ground at some point each day, unable to go on. Of course not. He chose to stop, to create a break between one thing and the next.

Look at each creative series, “and there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.” “…the second day.” “…the third day.” I am SO glad that God put a period, not a comma after each day.  

One day ends. Stop.  

My tendency is to go, and go, and go. But, when I look at the way God organized His creation of time I am reminded that there should be endings to our days, to our weeks, to our years. The end of a segment of time allows us the opportunity to start something new! God intended for us to live with periods, not just commas.  

I don’t know if 2015 has been a year of celebration or struggle for you, for me it has been some of each. But it is incredibly exciting to know that tonight I get to put a period on this page of life. No more reviewing coulda, woulda, shouldas. 2015 was a difficult year for my health journey, but it’s done. Period. And in His strength, I made it! Breathe deeply, rest securely, celebrate the period that He has gifted to us.

  





Time – Advent & Christmas Photos (2015#31)

31 12 2015

Boy, thats a tricky one isn’t it? When you’re in a car with three kids in the middle of summer, and a broken AC, an hour is about 10 minutes shy of eternity. But sit on the beach, looking out over the Gulf of Mexico on an 80° day with a gentle breeze ruffling your hair, and your toes curling into the warm sand, knowing you’re flying back into a winter snowstorm the next morning – 5 hours goes past in what seems like the blink of an eye. We give credit or blame a lot on time. “Time heals all wounds.” “Only time will tell.” “Time is on my side.” But time doesn’t do anything, time just is. We do something with our time. The saying that takes the cake when it comes to misunderstanding time, is one that we’ve probably all said this week as we contemplate the coming new year and consider what changes we need to make; “I’m going to make more time for _______________.” The reality is, no mater how long we live none of us will ever make a single second of time. Time can be neither made, nor saved, only spent.

Regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, socio-economic level, time works exactly the same for each of us. Time is the great equalizer. My day today had the same 24 hours in it that yours did, no more, no less. Time is a resource given to us brand new every single day. None of us can ever replace a single minute. When I spend money, I make more to replace it, but time; time isn’t like that, once it is spent it can never be replaced.  

This photo is of a clock my parents purchased when I was young. Its chimes have marked the hours of my life throughout my growing up years. Every half-hour, a single chime, and every hour the number of chimes equalling the hour. Ticking off the minutes of each day, each one spent, never to be seen again.  

So how am I spending my time? Would I have joined an unscheduled trip into town to visit a baby with the shepherds, or would I have been too busy? Does a months long road trip for the singular purpose of worship, like the wise men made, sound slightly ridiculous? I mean, I’ve got “real life” that I’m living over here. 

What does it mean to do what scripture instructs and “redeem the time?” Surely, when viewed through the lens of the Nativity story we can see that it must mean more than the endless busyness that our culture fosters and promotes. Are the things I’m spending my resource of time doing bringing the Kingdom of God into my home, my family, my friendships, my workplace, my neighborhood and my community?

  

  





Amazed – Advent & Christmas Photos (2015#29)

29 12 2015

We used to have an Asian fusion restaurant here in town with the most amazing kimchi. The owner made it on-site, and it was on my top ten list of all-time favorite foods. If you’re not familiar with kimchi, it’s kind of a Korean version of sauerkraut, only chunkier, and spicier, and with a lot more flavors. Anyway, the restaurant closed, and I’ve been on a quest to find a replacement for Chandra’s kimchi ever since with no luck. So, I’ve decided to try and make it myself. I don’t know if you’ve ever made kimchi, but it’s a pretty fun process. You chop up your cabbage and carrots and daikon and onions and garlic, put it in a big bowl with lots of salt and proceed to beat the living daylights out of it with a wooden club – for a long time. Then you let it rest for a bit, add in some more salt, seaweed, Sriracha, red pepper paste and fish sauce. I like everything that’s in kimchi on its own (except the fish sauce,) but I’m telling you what – those ingredients taste nothing like kimchi. Even when they’re all mixed together, still definitely not kimchi. The next part of the process is where the magic happens. You put your mixture in a jar, cap it using an airlock, cover it with a towel, and wait. Mine has been sitting for about 10 days now. I checked on it today, and took a sample taste – and it’s happening!! All these individual ingredients are coming together to create something entirely new and wonderful. You really can’t rush it though. If I impatiently end the waiting process now, instead of allowing it to continue for another 3 – 4 weeks what I’m eating will probably taste ok, but it won’t be the world’s most amazing kimchi. That process of fermentation, where chemicals act and react on a set of ingredients to transform them into something entirely new and delicious, only occurs with time. Truth be told, life’s most amazing gifts are realized best, across time. Our culture is one of speed and efficiency. We rush from activity to activity, from one event to the next, treating time as though it were an adversary to be defeated, rather than an ally to assist in our transformation. Why don’t we slow down, and wait for a spell? He, the creator of all things, wants to take the disparate ingredients of our circumstances and make them work together for our good. Wait, and be amazed at the transformation in our lives, in our relationships, in our hearts.