Crowning 2020

2020. That’s really all I need to say about the last year. For years to come, I’m sure when something completely, absurdly ridiculous happens, our response will be, “That is SO 2020.” And everyone will know exactly what we mean!

This year was chocked full of hard pathways. And many times we felt like we were on no less than 872 of those hard pathways simultaneously. There were moments when scarcity felt like more of the word to describe what pathways overflowed with. But hindsite. It really is 2020. (Honestly, the irony here is just…ironic)

Lost school days, lost sports seasons, lost lasts, lost celebrations, lost lost loved ones. So much loss filled so much of the first half of 2020. The second half allowed us to return to some normalcy, but still held challenges. But in all of it…the losses, the challenges, the uncertainty…there was abundance.

In this house, family game nights became a regular thing. Daily walks with my people (sometimes one with each of them!) became a regular and highly treasured addition. The loss of events meant the gift of time. The absence of busy invited more focus and intentionality. The slower pace, while sometimes a little maddening, allowed for rest and refreshing.

Was it hard? YES! Will we all very enthusiastically bid farewell to 2020? YES! Will we ever want a repeat? Absolutely not!! (2020, your name is Felicia, and I’m sayin’ BYE!)

But these pathways? They’ve pretty much all ended in abundance. You just have to choose to see what abundance means for that pathway. Ending this year? I’ll be surrounded by my people. That’s my bountiful harvest. Too often we define “abundance” and “bountiful harvest” in material or monetary terms. This year, more than ever, my abundance is in time well spent with my favorite people. My bountiful harvest is my people. The ones that share this house with me and the ones that share my heart.

We did it, y’all. We got out of 2020. Maybe a little bumped & bruised and maybe a little weary, but we did it! Happy 2021, everyone. Praying a year of abundance and bountiful harvests for you all!

The thrill of hope in this weary world

Christmas is always one of my favorite times of the year.  Christmas music, Christmas movies, colder weather, Christmas parties, Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, Christmas cookies, Christmas EVERYTHING.  I love it all.  I’m one of those people who would listen to Christmas music all year round if it was socially acceptable or even just acceptable in my house!  I keep a nativity on display in our home all year round.  I LOVE it.

But for as joyful as this season typically is for me, this year there’s definitely an element of weary. Isn’t it there for all of us?  So often the pain of a lost loved one, of distance between families, of fractured relationships, of missed events becomes real and raw during the holiday season. And 2020 has added a whole different level of feelings of loss and confusion and weariness.

Life, and a pandemic, doesn’t stop because Christmas is near.  There’s not a sudden 30 or 45 day reprieve from pain and heartache and fear that the road of life brings because we’re nearing the celebration of the Savior’s birth.  Hearts break, dreams shatter, souls become weary.

But isn’t that what Jesus came for? The weary soul? My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night.  One night, one birth that changed the world forever.  A Savior born so that you & I could have the hope of eternity.  “The thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices.”  But Jesus didn’t just come for the world and for eternity.  He came for the single soul that is weary from the road of life.  He came to be personal, real and relevant to me.  To you.

He came to bring hope, to anchor us in hope, so that our weary souls can rejoice.  So that in the midst of raw emotion, we can experience the thrill of hope that Christ’s birth allows for us.  Hope that on the other side of eternity, we will be reunited with those we’ve lost.  Hope that a doctor’s prognosis holds no power to God’s healing.  Hope that the most fractured of relationships can be miraculously restored.  Hope that a weary soul can find reason to rejoice.

If this Christmas season is one that finds your soul weary, cling to that thrill of hope that the Savior’s birth brought to this world.  Cling to the hope that He extends to you now.  Let your weary soul rest in Him and find in Him the thrill of hope that causes your weary heart to rejoice.

True Confessions of a Christmas Junkie

I was asked to write for our church devotional this week. And now that it’s been shared there, I wanted to share here!

Confession: I don’t like Hallmark Christmas movies. Well, any Hallmark movies, if I’m being honest. But I love Christmas. So this week, in the midst of the turmoil that’s on most other channels, I decided to give Hallmark Christmas movies a shot. Surely this Christmas loving girl could find a way to love a Christmas movie…no matter how syrupy sweet and predictable the plot is.

Friends, I’m here to tell you that after watching 3 of them, I’m even more resolute in my dislike of this brand of Christmas movies that so many of you love. I tried, I really did!

Isn’t it interesting how one thing can be perceived so differently by different people? How our experiences, upbringings, relationships, passions, convictions and so many other unique things craft our perception? These movies that so many love and watch any time they can make me want to just turn my tv off!

I think, for me, it’s that every single one is wrapped up so neatly in a bow. With a perfect ending. And that’s not life. We go through hard things and sometimes the end is ugly and messy, not pretty and perfect. Life is complicated and doesn’t follow a romanticized script with a sweet beginning, sticky but endearing middle and picture perfect ending. But it’s an escape for millions.

I’m more of a football game approach to life kinda girl. The beginning is exciting. There are ups and down, bumps and bruises, small victories and losses in the middle. And even if you end with a win, you still might end frustrated. But, just like those syrupy sweet movies, those football games (or any sporting event really) are my escape. I can hear the cringe that many of you Hallmark movie lovers worked up while reading that.

Isn’t it interesting that the differing perspectives on two wildly popular things can vary? But isn’t it also interesting that we need the different perspectives to keep the world spinning?

It’s a lot like the church. We’re full of personalities, big & bold and mild & meek. The play callers that want to move things along and the musical montage makers who want us to sweetly remember things past and present. We’re full of opinions and plans and traditions and progression. And we need each and every one of those things. Each and every one of those people. The church is one of those unique places where all of the differences can be laid to the side because of the one common focus: Jesus.

Jesus, who tells us that each of us, in our own uniquely created way, are vital. Are worthy. And necessary. Jesus, who calls us all by name to be there with Him in the end, if we’ll just follow Him. It’s messy, it’s beautiful, it’s hard, it’s rewarding. And the end makes it all worth it.

I guess at the end of it all, Jesus really does wrap it up in a pretty bow. And also makes it feel like a Super Bowl win.