A Weary World Rejoices

One of my all time favorite Christmas songs is Oh Holy Night.  The words, the build-up, the music itself – it goes right to my heart.  I’ve been fond of it even since I was small.

As a child, I couldn’t have comprehended the holiness of that night.  The Bible stories as told to children tend to focus on the pomp and circumstance, the manger, the star… that inn-keeper that said he had no room.  Those are the details I remember.

Many years later in my wise-old-age I hear these words over and again in my head…

The weary world rejoices…

It has only been in the past few years and even more so now that I can understand the weariness of this world.  A world so broken, pain filled and craving a hope that there must be more.

In this year we’ve walked through our own story that at times felt like a valley.  We’ve seen friends walk through loss that I cannot even imagine.

My heart has broken in many pieces as I’ve watched a close childhood family lose their father, husband, grandfather, friend.  And just this week as another close family has lost their wife, mother, caregiver, angel.  Mothers and fathers that have buried children.  Marriages have come to surprising ends.

I find myself feeling a heaviness this Christmas, the weight of grief for those who would give anything for one more day, one more touch, one more hug or just one more chance.

I’ve spent much of my life doing anything I can to avoid pain, not just my own but others’ as well.  But I’ve been invited to be fully human, experiencing the pain and loss that life holds.  As I’ve allowed myself to enter pain and walk with others I find my prayer more and more being, Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel.   Lord be present, Lord be comfort, Lord be peace in the midst of these broken dreams and loss of life.

Friends, I have been humbled as you have walked with us through our story of foster and adoption, the ups and downs of our life.  I want you to know that I consider it a privilege to be a part of your lives as well.  I pray earnestly for peace and comfort for those of you that have an empty seat this year at Christmas, those that this is not your first Christmas following loss but your heart hurts no less.  My eyes have filled with tears many times as I have considered your stories, the courage you carry, the grief you’ve walked through and continue to embrace.  May the Lord bless you and keep you, may you experience his peace that is beyond our comprehension.  And remember…

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

As we celebrate the season of Advent and the fulfillment of hope on Christmas Day let us remember it doesn’t end there.  May we remain in wondrous anticipation of the day when all tears are wiped away and the weary world rejoices, once and for all.

My Story, Uncategorized

It’s gonna be worth it

Hope came alive your very first cry…
-lyrics by Nate Kelly

There’s this story, you might have heard it, about a world in despair. Hopeless. Waiting. Wondering if the words spoken would ever be fulfilled.  Then one night in Bethlehem a child was born and the hopelessness lifted.  “Hope came alive your very first cry… on Christmas Day”.  This was the one they had waited for.  Hope for every man.

Sitting in church on Sunday I heard this song of a friend and this one line put perspective back in my heart.  How long had they waited for the fulfillment of this prophecy?  How many generations hoped they would see the Messiah? How many times did they wonder “did we really hear him?”?

My waiting… my wondering… the tension I live in every day… it pales in comparison.

But let’s be honest here.  I live on the good side of that Christmas story – the retelling side.  I live right smack in the middle of my story – the wondering side.

I’m writing this post mostly for my mom… and for all of you whom she has frantically emailed for prayer support.  Good news, I haven’t jumped ship.  I’m still here and I still know there’s a God.

The past 10 days have been an emotional roller coaster.  Nothing about roller-coasters is fun to me. Somewhere in the past 6 months I allowed myself to really hope this adoption thing could happen this year.  Last week we received news of a new road-block that will prolong us even more than what we were already facing.  It was a blow to the heart.

As I briefly shared the news with my family I followed it with… I’m probably not going to answer my phone.  I had to shut down. I couldn’t think about it, I couldn’t talk about it, I was trying to do everything I could to keep from that ugly cry.  I was devastated.

There are things about it that felt threatening to our hope for sure.  But I’m realizing what was most painful for me in the moment was the disappointment. Letting go of the hope that finalization could be soon… that broke my heart.  Recognizing that finalization isn’t even guaranteed – well – we’ll see what God has to say about that.

Thank you to all of you who have sent messages, written notes, checked on us and prayed for our hearts.  There are points that I clearly recognize I am standing purely by the grace of God and your support.

So to tell you how my heart is… it’s pressed but not crushed… perplexed but not abandoned… it’s holding on to hope and truth and driven by love.  I am humbled by the support of those around us and those we don’t even know are praying.  I cried today just thinking about the sweet load of gifts that were given for baby girl, just out of the kindness and generosity of a stranger that “adopted” our angel from a tree.

We do not battle alone. Thank you for fighting with us and for us.

Where am I in processing the disappointment and the delay?  Well, I can’t help but wonder what God is up to in this story.  Where things seem like he could easily move on our behalf, it’s not moving quite so easily.  I have to ask, “what is it you want to be for me right now?”

I regret some of the questions I’ve asked in the past week… the honest, gut-level questions that make my mom wonder if I’m in a crisis of faith.  (I’m not.)  I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s pulled out her rosary and lit some candles 😉

I think what the enemy has meant for harm, to bring us down, to shake us… will actually strengthen our stand, solidify our hope and secure our trust.  Yes, there are moments that I don’t feel or sound strong… but as I wrestle through my questions and choose to believe, I’m getting stronger.

One day, I know I will see the beauty in this journey.  The glory in the pain.  Right now, I just feel exposed.  I feel like I’ve put my whole heart into something that I have no control over the outcome and it gets hit with arrows on a regular basis.  I guess that’s the risk you take when you choose to live whole-heartedly.  I can’t say it’s fun… but I will say it’s worth it.

To those of you that are holding on to a word, a dream or a promise, I’m right there with you.   One thing I recently heard from a teacher on living in God’s promises that has given me courage is:  “do not let your circumstances challenge the prophecy when the prophecy was given to challenge your circumstances”. 

Don’t give up.  There will be songs of joy.  Maybe some wise-men will even show up with gifts.  This waiting, this wondering, this hoping… it’s gonna be worth it.