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Eden's Mirror

Looking into the mirror of God's story

Shattered Expectations

It’s a Covid Christmas for us.

After an accidental Covid exposure, we are home quarantined, streaming our church’s Christmas Eve service from our computer, and it feels all too familiar to Christmas of 2020. And I’ll be honest, I had to work hard to hold back the tears, streaming that service. I wanted to be with my people; I want to be with my people when we celebrate tomorrow and all next week, and now all hangs in the balance as we wait for Covid tests and pray for a symptom-free Christmas.

If you’ve followed my blogging journey at all, you know that I have walked through wildernesses with the Lord before, but the loneliness this year runs deep, and my heartaches along with it, particularly as I see others wading through their own muddy waters too.

I was ready to ride the tide, I told the Lord. (And I told you all, if you saw my previous post). I was ready to let the world bring me along in their Christmas joy while my heart felt weary and weighed down by all the sorrow around me. And now, here I sit on Christmas Eve, huddled around a screen and wishing I could hear the voices of the crowd ringing in the Christmas cheer.

But you know what? Covid can’t take away Jesus. And I have Him. And so once again, I find myself saying here in my weary wilderness, that I CAN live by every word of God that proceeds from His mouth. And that word is Jesus. For…

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Hebrews 1:1-2

He IS the Word of God. And when I find my soul bereft of all I would long to fill it with, I find I still have Him.

It doesn’t feel great, being without my friends and extended family this Christmas Eve. The wilderness doesn’t feel good.

But hope isn’t what we feel. It’s what we have when all our feelings scream the opposite. Hope is what we hold onto in the dark, even when our hearts are failing to feel it.

“My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

I don’t know what will happen this year for our family. May we will be graced with negative Covid tests and still be able to celebrate next week with our extended family.

But either way, once again, God has given me the greatest gift of all: the sustenance of His Word, Himself, Jesus, God incarnate, Emmanuel: God with us.

Merry Christmas 2021.

Advent Ponderings

My daughter loves to celebrate. If there’s an occasion, she’s ready to create all sorts of festivities surrounding it. No surprise, Christmas kind of takes the cake for her. Every day, she’s either inquiring about our festive plans or creating her own. We nickname her the Count because she always knows how many days exactly until the holiday!

I absolutely love her festive spirit and try my best to encourage it but as an introvert homeschool mom of three, I welcome the days where nothing is on the calendar and find myself often at odds with her enthusiasm.

Christmas is no different. It’s usually a jam-packed month, filled with more opportunities to celebrate than we have time to fit in. The “no’s” are painful but sometimes the “yes’s” are equally so. I’m certain I’m not alone in the weariness of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, nor am I alone in the challenge of seeing Christ as the Reason for the Season.

My social media scrolling today stopped me at a random post spoken towards mamas to stop and enter into their children’s enthusiasm over the holidays. Truth be told, I can’t even find the post again, otherwise I would share it here. But the point really got to me.

It’s not just my busyness that’s makes it hard to celebrate. It is so easy for the many burdens and sorrows and griefs in this world to overshadow occasions of joy and celebration. I’m at a stage of life where it’s normal for people I love and care about to be under duress of varied sorts and less normal for people to just be “coasting along” in life. If your hearts and eyes are open, grief and sorrow are every day realities not just for those across the world, but for your closest friends and families.

How do we enter into joyous songs and stringing lights when our hearts are truly weighed down and weary?

The invitation is for us to learn to enter into the joy of others.

God in His grace has allowed this celebration to permeate an entire month of the year across culture and time. God has allowed the world to be swept up into a season of joy and celebration. And we have an opportunity to ride that titanic wave, ride it high, let it beckon our weary hearts upward towards the reality that no suffering is too great to not find its hope in The Savior of the World. Get off the drowning tide for a time, allow your heart to hope, embrace the enthusiasm, let the joy of children and adults alike stir your heart towards wonder and praise, adoration and repentance. Towards Hope Himself.

Christmas is a time to celebrate. And this year, I refuse to miss it.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining.

It is the night of our dear Saviors birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Til He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.

The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoicing

For yonder breaks the new and glorious song:

Fall on your knees

Oh hear the angels voices

O night divine, o night, when Christ was born

O night divine, o night, when Christ was born.

Canyons

Torrential waters formed the Grand Canyon, they say. Fierce, mighty waters.

I watch your soul tormented by Canyon-forming waters too — the waters of sorrow that wet your eyes day after day.

Waters form the canyons, they say.

Your waters are doing that too.

A Canyon is not empty, it is open. Deep, wide, vast. That too is your soul. The more our tears flow, the deeper and greater we feel. Not just the sorrow, but the joys.

Our tears form canyons for love to fill, the kind of love that doesn’t package up tidy and small. No, this Love is vaster than the deepest ocean. It requires a place to flow.

I pray His love flows into all the crevices your sorrow has made, because when it does, you won’t regret the tears you’ve shed. The scars of your sorrows will be like the painted walls of the Grand Canyon, beautiful and strong, having withstood the greatest of torrents.

So stand strong in your sorrows, and let the tears flow. They are channeling the deepest cavern so that your heart may more richly know the deepest love.

In honor of a dear friend fighting hard for life and healing.

To Trust in Love

Little child, my precious girl, your heart is sad because your friends whom you love have to return to their overseas home. You don’t understand. You just want to be with them all the time!

Little child, my precious girl, I know. You love them. Love hurts, doesn’t it? It rips out your heart, when you least expect it. It tears you apart inside when it seems no one else is watching.

But little child, my precious girl, I see. And I want you to not give up on that love you have, even though it’s making you hurt right now. The temptation is to give up on love when it hurts, to silence it, numb it, don’t do it again. But little child, my precious girl, don’t ever give up on love. Because even though love hurts, it is also a bedrock you can bank on. Let me explain.

Little child, my precious girl, we don’t know when we will see our friends again, do we? That’s what makes this so hard! But here’s a question for you: do your friends love you? Is there any doubt in your mind? No, they’ve made it absolutely clear that we matter to them, they’ve made us a priority to be with in their limited time here.

Do you know what that means, my little child, my precious girl? It means you can count on seeing them again the next time. We don’t need to know when that is, because we know that they love us, and whenever it is, we can be assured they will make us a priority again. We can trust in their love for us.

Do you know it is the same with Jesus? We don’t know when we will see Him again. But we can count on it because He loves us, He made us a priority, and He cemented that reality by dying for us — you can’t love someone more than that. So we can be assured that when He comes again, He will make us a priority again.

Little child, my precious girl, trust in love, even when it hurts, because it also gives you confidence and hope like nothing else. Especially when that love is from a perfect, sinless, all-powerful God.

Death is Always Sorrowful

It used to be I only felt grief over the death of someone close to me, someone I had personal relationship with. But something in me has changed. I have come to recognize that death is sorrowful, no matter how near or far it is from you.

So for you, an old friend, whose heart was always gentle and kind — the gentlest man I have ever met — I remember you today and ache with sorrow at your death. It is your homecoming, and you are finally free of all your sufferings; but you left a wake in your departure. More than you probably knew are grieving today for our loss of your presence on this earth. I am looking forward to having an extended conversation with you in the new heavens and new earth some day. Joni Erickson Tada makes coffee dates with friends in heaven. Can we have one of those sometime in eternity? I want to hear all of how God was faithful to care for you here on this dying earth!

And to you, one of my many “Uncles” from childhood, the face of familiarity in a sea of unknowns, I remember your grin, full of jest. I remember playing human-size monopoly because you like to have fun! I remember being welcomed in your house as I played with your daughter. I always felt safe there, like I was one of your own whenever in your care. And later, years later, I watched you from afar as you poured out your life for the sake of others knowing and loving Christ. You were faithful to the end, and your example leaves a legacy. You have joined the great hall of many witnesses, urging us onward in the race home.

And to death, who has taken these two from our earth, and who knows how many more I don’t know about: you do not have the last word for those who trust in Christ. Your ending is just the beginning. So enjoy your endings for now, but know that this battle is already over, and you are literally on the losing side.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57: When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘ Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

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