The Weight of Waiting: A Giveaway

Last week we finally had our first frost and I was forced to abandon waiting on those last green tomatoes to turn. I picked the vines clean, tomato and pepper, marveling all the while at such a bounty in the second week of November.

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November. How can it be November, I mused? I sat at the kitchen table with a filled-to-the-brim colander in front of me and watched the leaves drop off the walnut trees. They fell from the branches in huge clumps, looking like birds dropping down to the earth.

I’d hoped to can this final crop but I knew the busy would catch up to me first. So I bagged up a poke of chilis and sent them off to a friend—another lover of growing things. It felt good to give away something long-awaited.

I’m attempting to lean into waiting seasons,” says my friend Kris Camealy, in her Advent devotional Come Lord Jesus, “to let God grow in me, a holy promise for the things promised but not yet revealed.”

Advent begins November 27th, and I can hardly catch my breath thinking it. Tomorrow we will pick up our boy from college—the nest will be full again for a short time. My hungry heart beats joy at the thought of kith and kin gathered around the hearth again. Thanksgiving ushers in that season of waiting in the sweetest of ways, stoking our hearts with wonder for the most common moments.

Advent always stirs that deep longing, fills with expectation. I strain my neck to see the manger, but also look inward to find Christ in me. I look ahead to the day when all will be made new in this tired world. Sometimes, it’s hard to let that work begin with me, let my fingers slip from the tight grip with which I hold it all. Waiting is hard.

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John Calvin said that the world is a theater of God’s glory, that he is “inclined to allure us to himself by gentle and loving means.” In his book Ravished by Beauty, theologian Belden C. Lane says, “[P]raise is a matter of studying in minute detail the footprints of God in the world.” He is referring to nature, but I have followed God’s footprints through the ways he is working in the lives of those I love of late. Some things are worth waiting for: watching my boys become amazing young men, feeling the bloom of marriage open into full blossom, friendships that weather the long storms …

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The past two weekends our church hosted a War Chest Boutique party for WAR International. If you’re not familiar with that ministry and its good work, by all means, read about it here. They are fighting human trafficking, among other things, and helping victims of this atrocity rebuild their lives by training them to in the craft of jewelry-making and the like. We sold over $1800 of merchandise. I find it a fitting thing to give away some of that beauty as we prepare to usher in Advent. Purple is the color of Advent, so we have a purple theme going on. If you’d like a chance to win a signed copy of Kris Camealy’s Advent devotional Come Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting, a beautiful purple clutch purse, an Amethyst chip ring, and a lovely  handcrafted Christmas ornament, just leave a comment on this post. I’ll announce the winner next Friday, November 25th.

This year I will step into Advent with thanksgiving and wonder and awe. This is how I feel God grow in me, this is the gift of waiting: the giving back of what has been sown and waited for, the giving away of that which has been tended with love.

Morning Moon

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This morning, the pregnant moon lowers herself slowly into the bed of morning. Her glow leaves me breathless, and I run out onto the frost-glistened deck in my bare feet to try to capture her beauty. But my skill and my equipment are not enough, and I end up standing with my camera held aloft, trying to memorize the way her white-orbed face dresses up the sky. Some types of beauty can only be seen with the naked eye.

She lingers long, showing off her rounded body over my neighbors rooftops, robed in cloud and tree limb, hovering in the tendrils of my breath. It is only the cold that pulls me away, my feet turning blue and cheeks flushed. When I return to the warmth of the hearth, my youngest is waiting for me.

“The moon is beautiful,” he says, face pressed up against the glass of the French doors. This child has my heart, my eyes for the lovely. I smile and touch his cheek, words stolen by my time with sister-moon. I will drive him to school this morning, as his brother had to leave early to meet up with the math field day team. I need to hurry and get dressed.

We pray together, on the way, just as we used to when he was small. And the familiarity of it wells up inside of me. We pray for Teddy, at math field day. For their daddy, that he would find joy. And for the work of the day that God has set before each of us.

Before he gets out in front of the school, he leans over and blows me a kiss. Just like he used to. For one slow, sinking moment, all the years of his life float before me in that kiss. Without thinking, I reach out in the air and catch it, press it to my cheek. Just as I used to so many days before.

As I drive home alone, I am thinking of how quickly the years fly. I think about the ways we wait for certain milestones, how it never feels quite like we thought it would when they arrive. In the Bible study my women’s group is reading, the teacher tells us about one of the Hebrew words used in the Old Testament for “wait”: Qavah. It means, “bind together,” she says. As in the twisting of strands, like when rope is made.

Yes, this is what waiting does. It binds us together.

I think about this as I pull away from my boy. And the moon slowly disappears behind the hills as I drive home alone.

Playdates with God: When Miracles Happen

We placed the gifts under the tree and stepped into the celebration. There were years of trying, innumerable procedures, tears, prayers and finally resignation. I remember asking God, “Why?”and hurting for my friend for the ache of the empty.
Prayers aren’t always answered this way, and waiting is not always so richly rewarded, but when we met for coffee that day and she glowed as she told us: God has truly worked a miracle…I laughed out loud with the joy of it all and marveled at the generosity of our good God: silent for so many years, yet, ever present in the midst—waiting for just the right time. The waiting, pale and withered, was given new meaning.
God was silent for over 400 years before the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and then to Mary. How the people must have despaired. How they must have ached with the empty. Who could have known? Who could ever guess that He would come so soft and small and helpless? The One who gave the waiting new meaning left his heavenly throne and stepped down among us as the desire of a mother’s heart.
For there is nothing so sweet as waiting for a baby.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. And come tell us about it.

Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

 
Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also: 

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And with Lindsay for Messy Mondays.

Mothers: The Watchers

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We learned about leil shimurim in Sunday school today. In Hebrew, this is the night of the watches and refers to Passover night or the night of the Exodus. Our teacher referred to the watching and waiting of the Israelites during the final plague—hearing the cries of affected households and waiting to see how the Lord deals with all.

…and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead (Exodus 12: 30)
But also, he spoke of how, during the night of the Exodus, the Lord was watching over the people and led them.
By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.  Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)
Our teacher drew the parallel between the watching on the night of Passover and Jesus’ words to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matt. 26:37-38)
On the Hebrew for Christians website, I found this interesting quote:
According to midrash, the phrase leil shimurim literally means  “night of the watches” (shimurim is in the plural) which appears twice in this verse [Exodus 12:41], and therefore it refers not only to the original redemption in Egypt (i.e., the Passover), but also to the time of future redemption by the Messiah (Shemot Rabbah 18). This explains why this night is guarded for all generations. The Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Rosh Hashanah 11a) further states: “In Nisan our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt, and in Nisan we will be redeemed.” In that sense, Nisan is called Chodesh ha-Yeshuah (חדֶשׁ הַיְשׁוּעָה), the  “month of the salvation,” both in terms of the physical deliverance from Egypt, but more profoundly in terms of the spiritual salvation given through the Messiah Yeshua, who was crucified as the “Lamb of God” precisely during this time…
We are a watching people.
In church today, the men in our congregation shared stories about their mothers–and other women who influenced their faith. Such stories that settle deep in roots and nourish from hidden places. I saw it happen—how the telling brought this mystery to light. I remembered how my mother taught me to pray. I wrote a note to myself in the margin of my church bulletin.
Call your mother.
This afternoon, I spent some time in the flowers–cutting back the spent lilac blossoms, pulling up the weeds. My boys played badminton nearby–their shouts of triumph and cries of injustice my background music. I sat in the shade of my lilac, breathed in the fading scent of love and watched them for a while.
It occurred to me that women live in the season of shimurim. Aren’t we always watching? There are good men who pass on their faith but isn’t it the women who plant those seeds deep in the hearts of the lives they tend? Isn’t it our hands that smooth out all the wrinkles, answer the hard questions, keep them in the corner of our eye at all times?
When I call my mom, we pretend it’s not Mother’s Day.
And it is so good to talk to her. 

Sharing with Michelle today: