All is Calm

This has been the calmest December of my life.  No holiday parties, parades, or paraphernalia.  No white elephant, secret Santa, or cookie exchanges. This Christmas, all is calm.

But all is not bright.  We’re edging nearer and nearer to the winter solstice and the sun only feebly attempts to show its for a mere six hours a day.  All is calm, but all is dark.

The absence of a frenzy of festivities combined with long shadows make for a very different Christmas experience this year.  These dusky days are teaching me the importance of light and hope, a lesson that’s easy to forget in sunny San Diego.  My advent reading included this prophecy from Isaiah chapter nine – a beautiful reminder that it is in the darkness that the hope of Christ’s coming shines all the brighter.

Isaiah 9:2-4

2  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

I showed the original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” cartoon to one of my ESL classes yesterday.  It’s one of my favorites although I failed to anticipate the difficulty in explaining words like “bizilbigs” and “fliffer bloofs”  While most Christmas cartoons today center around a mad rush to save Christmas, this classic reminds us that a celebration of Christmas is not a collection of things but an expression of gratitude, love and hope.

Like the Whos, there will be no whoboohoo bricks or pankunas on Christmas morning this year for Luke and me.  We’ll be celebrating alone on the 25th, amidst a culture that doesn’t celebrate the holidays until New Year’s Eve.  Like much of our experience here in Russia, everything seems so different than what we are used to and yet the important things are still the same.

God’s love has not changed.  His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is still ours.  Our hope still rests in Him alone who has the power to create worlds and recreate our lives.  I’ll take that over roast beast any day of the year.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Wishing you a day filled with true gladness of heart for the life God has given us, now and eternally.

P.S.  You are welcome for not titling this one “The Reason for the Season”.  So tempting.

Divine Prank Calls

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    Back in the archaic days of landline phones, we used to get a lot of solicitors at my house.  Unlike most people trying to eat their dinner in peace, I found great joy after spotting company’s name on the caller id.  “Wallside Windows” it read. “Hello, this is Wallside Windows, how may I help you?” I chirped into the phone.  The confused salesman would mutter something about an extension problem and then hang up on me.  Reverse prank calling was my favorite.

    Going to a Christian college, the word “vocation” was thrown around like candy at a small-town parade.  You don’t need a job, you need a calling.  A divine purpose.  Which is great and definitely makes the job search process just as painful.  4 months out of college, and I’ve started to wonder.  Did God just prank call me?

    It’s the only logical answer to our little carefully laid plans starting to crumble.  The 5 year-plan just became the plan for only 5 days and the dreams might be clearer but the steps to achieving them just disappeared.

    But I just can’t believe that.  I don’t think God calls us to one place or job just as a joke.  I don’t think that we know our final “vocation” or “calling” at 21 or 22.  It doesn’t mean that the stints before figuring that out (shout out to my non-peers: do you ever figure that out?) are any less valuable, purposeful, or ordained by God.

    The next time we’re tempted to slam down the phone when it feels like “calling” just slid through our fingers again, think again.  God has us here (or in your case, there) for a reason which we may or may not figure out and our God does not want to know if your refrigerator is running.