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Still Practicing His Presence: Advent

When my Mom died this past June, to say my world was rocked would be an understatement. I was flailing. My Mom and I used to talk on the phone AT LEAST once a day, if not more, and this just 6 miles apart across town. Sometimes my Mom made me crazy. I didn’t always understand her wisdom, discernment, and prophetic insight. I still don’t entirely, even looking back. My Mom had a very close knowing of her Lord, the way two best, heart-to-heart friends would sit…that’s how it was with my Mom and God. Why? She was liked and loved by everyone who knew her, so it would be safe to say God loved her, too, but that’s safe to say about all of us, so I’m not certain it’s a favorites thing.

I think they were close because she drew near to Him.

She knew better than to trust that just by simply reading the Bible, she’d “get to know Him,” though she read it over 30 times in her life. People read books about other people every single day…it doesn’t make them BFF’s.

No…she sat still. She listened, because He speaks. And I observed her doing this day after day and year after year. She also candidly let Him into the deepest parts of her heart and let loose all the good, bad, and ugly, willing to accept His ability to see and know all things. She never bought into the cushy American gospel with its frills and whistles, abundance and sought out manifestations. Even if surrounded by it. Even when it was preached from the pulpit. Even when she and my Dad were kicked out of their “church” because they wouldn’t financially invest in a Ponzi scheme...in the name of Jesus.

Nope. My Mom drew near to Him. She called Him and asked Him if He wanted to hang out…just as friends do…and, not a big surprise, there was always room for her.

She didn’t allow ever-changing circumstances to change the God of the Universe. The ebbs and flows of trends and mood swings and popular famous Christians throughout our American Christian journey did not sway my Mom into believing the God who made her and loved her was as fickle.

My sister gave me a FaceTime tour of our parent’s house the other day, how beautifully she had decorated it for Christmas. I cried as she narrowed in on some of my favorite ornaments from childhood, red velveteen birds with nests full of clustered eggs, clipped among the branches. The whole tree reminded me of my Mom…not really what a Christmas tree is supposed to conjure up if you think about “The Reason for the Season.” But I’m grateful it makes me think of my Mom because above all else and anyone else, she was in love with Jesus, her dearest, heart-to-heart friend…and it brings it all back around for me.

This ornament was sent from my Grandma to my Grandpa while they were young teenagers in love...it is from the 1920's.
This ornament was sent from my Grandma to my Grandpa while they were young teenagers in love…it is from the 1920’s.

You see, 8 years ago we spent Thanksgiving and Christmas at Children’s Hospital of Denver with our son, Noah, and with family and friends who gathered…and I still look back on that year and think of those two holidays, plus my birthday, as among my favorites. It was when my heart died to the First World dream of a Christmas tree filled with toys made in China under more toys made in China, and it came alive to what ANYTHING, not just Christmas, but LIFE really means!

We can try as we will to draw parallels between the original Christmas story and our very abundant First World Christian lives, but I’m long over that. It’s not about trees or Santa or a church Christmas play or gifts or lights or choirs or gingerbread or candles or parades or wreathes or any other beautiful holiday season token…none of these bad in and of themselves.

Specifically, in my heart, anyway, these days of Advent leading up to the celebrated birth of Jesus long ago are about the question: Is there room? Is there room at the Inn? Is there room for God’s unconditional love in my life? Is there room at our tables and margin in our calendars? Is there space for others to feel welcomed and loved? Is there room for one more, or two, or three? Is there room for generosity and warmth and sharing and grace? Is there room on my shoulder? Is there room in my heart?

This Advent season, and every day, is there room…?

 

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