Audacious Hope

EApicI miss the hush that comes over a place washed in white.  Like softly falling grace, snow transforms broken landscapes into testimonies of His beauty.  I might be a Florida girl, but I do love the quiet, shut in solitude and splendor snow brings. All in appropriate, convenient, limited measures of course.

How quickly autumn has marched on through thanksgiving to turn us toward the manger.  It seems before the fall leaves can even change color, Christmas is out in stores.  I am not that old but I remember growing up celebrating each season before racing into the next.  It seems society is in an ever maddening dash forward and it is our present that is lost in the scuffle.

I don’t want to do that this season. Rush through to Christmas.  The only way to lose time is by rushing through it.  I want to sit right here in my now and savor all of God’s incredible blessings and wander slowly toward Bethlehem.

I miss the slower pace of the bush.  I miss the tucked in wonder of snow days in Colorado.  I am truthfully a very happy hermit extremely satisfied with Jesus, my small circle of family and friends (including my studio assistant Charlie of course) and creating with paint and prose. I love my little 700 square foot sanctuary and I am grateful for where God has me.

But God doesn’t let me stay tucked away.  This love dance with Him includes times hidden and times stepping out to serve and connect and be stretched and learn new levels of trust.

Today we stepped a day closer to Bethlehem on an advent journey to celebrate His coming and His coming again.  The first candle lit radiates the audacity of hope in the face of situations that threaten its very existence.  Hope is audacious if it is anything at all.  It marches right into impossibility and bravely expects promises still unseen. 

My last 18 months have tried to strip hope right out of my heart.  Loss does that.  If we let it.  And there were days I did.  I couldn’t see beyond the pain in my heart. I felt like I left the best days of my life in the red dirt of war torn South Sudan and there wasn’t much point or purpose left.  There are seasons it is a miracle of grace just to stand and having done all stand.  His grace held me up when there was no strength left.

150785_10205455381810918_8024107357480221386_nAs a small candle flickers in my makeshift small version of an advent wreath, His hope is flickering again in mine.  I don’t know what lies ahead but I know God’s got it and it will be good, because HE is good.

I know this can be a hard, lonely season, especially if its coming reminds us of loss.  But this time of year doesn’t have to be lonely.  The One Who was born in a stable still comes to obscure, hurting places too crowded to welcome Him.  He longs to walk with us, taking us beyond tinsel and trappings to renewal and redemption.  To slow our race down to a stroll with Him, to remember and reflect, to see and expect, to follow the star once again to a Baby in a manger Who is still changing everything.

I look forward to sharing this advent journey with you friends.  May His hope be rekindled in your hearts today in every place it has been dampened by disappointment or loss.  You are loved.  And you are never, ever alone.