December 23, 2012
I am pleased to report that Gay is home! Miss Annie is even more delighted to share her home with Gay again. It will be good for both of them to establish their regular routines and make adjustments with what might be new patterns. Your continued prayers are, as always, deeply appreciated. There will be transitions and changes for Gay over the course of the next few weeks.
I regularly read a few blogs written by people who are well known. I often agree wholeheartedly with their words, but wonder, not so privately, "Does that person really practice this idea in his or her life?" That's one of the reasons I enjoy reading Gay's blog so much. I have the great privilege of knowing her well. Although admittedly imperfect, I know that she works on being authentic and genuine with her life and faith.
I am neither famous nor quote worthy. My last two posts, though, have been about God's presence in our lives. That said, I'd like to share a few experiences of my life with Emmanuel--God with Us--this past week.
I was aware like tinfoil on a filled tooth that once I dropped my daughter at school on Thursday morning, I wouldn't see her again until her dad returned her to my house on December 28th at noon. I accept that my choice to divorce meant both freedom and profound loss for me, for my child, and many others. Even with my full acceptance comes the reality of being without her on Christmas every other year. It's painful. I get to choose, though, what I do with that pain.
As part of my survival strategy, I planned a baking project. Not just any baking project. NO. I'd found yoga posing gingerbread men that I HAD to give to my instructors. There was no way in the world I was gonna pay $9.99 per cutter. No descendant of a depression era generation would pay that! So, I decided to MAKE the cutters as well. I couldn't decide which pose was the cutest, so I made all ten poses. I started collecting the goods about a week ago.
My Saturday afternoon included 7 feet of one inch aluminum hobby siding, six batches of gingerbread, five baking sheets, four batches of white royal frosting (three ruined, one almost right), three bandaids, two bulging trashbags, and sing along, "One extra trip to Wal-Mart." As I took my favorite and nearly perfect plow pose gingerbread man off the cooling rack, his head remained stuck to the edge of said rack. I'd beheaded my best one! I started bawling.
It was the full out ugly cry.
The chatter in my head sounded something like this...
"You can't do anything right!!!
Even in trying to distract yourself by doing something to give as gifts, you just make a HUGE mess!!!
and they don't even look good!!!
You've done what your cake decorating teacher in 8th grade said NOT to do all day! ---lick the frosting off your fingers. and now you're sick to your stomach to boot! You deserve it!!
You'll NEVER learn!! It will take hours to clean up the mess. and you stink at cleaning....Internal pause.
And MOST of all
YOU ARE ALONE!!"
Thus the ugly cry.
I looked at the clock and it was 4:00 PM. There was enough time to put on a shirt, comb frosting out of my hair, slap on makeup, and head to church. Focused worship would be my best option.
I attend a very large church in the Dallas area. In order to serve as many people as possible without needing a Cowboy stadium sized building, we have Saturday services. I attend regularly at 4:30. The parking lot was jammed packed. I'd forgotten until that moment that it was the Christmas Eve service. I sit by myself almost every week. It never bothers me. Christmas Eve service seems different, though. I quickly texted my dear friend to see if she and her husband and newborn would be there. Nope. 7:30 service. My heart sank and tears started clogging my ducts. I sucked them back and found one of only a few aisle seats that remained. I texted my friend again. "Should have planned better, I could just bawl. So alone.(sad face emoticon)"
The worship center was beautiful. The band included an upright bass, a cello, a viola, and a violin this week. They were playing and the large screens had moving visuals of stars and the night sky. Stunningly exquisite. I had all but stood up to sing the first Christmas carol when I could no longer hold back my tears. When the flood of tears escaped my squeezed shut eyelids, I felt slender fingers and a delicate touch on my shoulder. I turned to see a friend who had been in my small group back when Richard and I led the group together. She with such tenderness said, "Lori, we have an extra seat with our family, if you'd like to sit with us."
I know His voice and I recognize His touch. He just used precious, sensitive Julie to communicate His message.
I am WITH you, Lori.
I KNOW alone.
I am here.
Isaiah 53: 3
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering.
He went to a great deal of trouble to make sure we are never alone, didn't He? He accepted responsibility for our sin, my sin so that He could make a way for us to be with Him forever. In the here and now, He also made provision for healing.
But he was pierced for our transgression,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him
and by his wounds we are healed.
Tears of joy flowed easily throughout the remainder of that hour. It's rare that children attend our service because of our wonderful children's ministry. I laughed as the bow headed little girl in her ruffled red and green striped outfit danced in the aisle. During the next song, I saw out of my peripheral, three year old Jonathon, whom I'd just met, raise his little hand to mimic his daddy. That reminded me to stop singing. I love to hear the voices of little people. I can know something of that child by the way he sings. It makes me realize how much God must love hearing each of us. I leaned in a little closer across the aisle to hear a little boy sing Silent Night in the loudest voice he could muster. I noticed his 'r' sounded like a 'w'. Translation would be,
"wound young viw-iwgin mothew and child."
When we repeated the song I realized that little boy was not saying bright. He had omitted the ' b'. He thought the word was either white or right.
"Silent Night. Holy Night. All is calm. All is wight."
Yes. All was right at that moment on my Christmas Eve because of God's choice to be with me.
As if God hadn't communicated His message enough, He sealed it with a real hug and kiss. My doorbell rang about 7:00 PM. It was Annie Beth on the way to her church. She'd forgotten some vital accessories for her Kit doll. It couldn't have been more than a minute. It was more than enough.
As Gay would say, "Thinking with you again about Emmanuel. Hoping that you too, will keep your eyes and heart open for His presence in your life. He is with us and delights in our presence as well. See you next week."
Merry Christmas friends. ~lori