Sunday, December 30, 2012

So it can be done.

For as long as I can remember, I have spent the majority of my adult years loathing the abrasive ways of winter.

I am not sure when it all started to be honest. I used to love it as a kid. So much so that coming in early from sledding was never by choice but always out of necessity due to either near hypothermia or encroaching darkness.

City living may have had something to do with it. Life is a pedestrian-commuter's dream for 6 months out of 12. You live in a euphoric state of bliss as you walk to coffee shops and book stores under an umbrella of waving trees,old buildings, and the golden nuances of each season. You see kids playing in sprinklers or an impromptu concert in the park under budding cherry blossoms and you tell yourself that you could walk the world forever all because "it's just so magical."

Then it hits. Winter arrives with her winds whipping off Lake Michigan. The minute you leave your door for work at 6 a.m and realize that you can't lock it behind you because your hands have, without your permission, adhered to your key, you forget all your dreamy memories and curse the day you ever thought Chicago-without-a-car was even doable. The once uttered phrase "it's all so magical" is quickly replaced with "this is all so ridiculous."

I'm not proud of being a winter hater for as long as I have been. Typically I would not label myself as a"negative" person...but if I do the battle with the cold has left me with a pretty long legacy of the winter blues.

Until recently.

A few months ago my husband and I found ourselves to be the proud adoptive owners of a 5 year-old golden retriever. It was one of those things we didn't plan on, in fact it all happened quite unexpectedly and providentially (story for another day.) And like most things that happen unexpectedly and providentially, with this new ownership has come quite a few new adventures and realizations.

Of course there are the little things. Like realizing "puppy talk" is not something I am cool enough to avoid. Or that I am actually able to function in the morning without making coffee first. There is some stumbling. Obviously. But my early bird adventures to feed and let out the dog in the wee hours of the morn have for the most part been successful. Who knew?

But my most favorite realization so far, is that this Ranger-Boy of ours, has broken down the icy fortress of winter-hatred and reminded this once reluctant girl just how fun this season of snow can be.

I can honestly say that if we never had him I would have never ventured outside the foot of my front door to get the mail this year, let alone take a long walk in below freezing temps. Which would have been really unfortunate. Because I would have missed so much. The crunch of each footstep after a fresh snowfall or the way moonlight is brighter this time of year. The smell of a fire or making snow angels in the fields would have been well off my radar along with so many other things.

On Christmas day the lone Ranger and I were able to slip out and take a long walk by the lake in my parent's town. Not a soul in sight, just the quiet beauty of the mid-afternoon sun reflecting off the water and the snow. After a good hour we simply sat. A passing car would have seen just a girl on a bench with her dog by her side and his head in her lap. But they wouldn't have seen the tears of gratitude and joy streaming down her face to be able to witness a still, winter day and think of her King and Creator.

Pre-dog... a moment like that I would have missed out on. I would have been curled up under a blanket in the name of "comfort".

I'm not attributing my dog with spiritual knowledge or foresight. God's Word is clear about how man is made uniquely separate from the animals. But what I am saying, is that God has used our Ranger-Danger to teach me something about Himself. That He is beautiful and all that He makes is beautiful all the time. And that we are to express gratitude for His creation with abandon. As much abandon as this dog has for walks, tennis balls, and chasing cats.

So the age old statement. Can't teach an old dog new tricks?
To that I say, that yes. Yes you can.
Because she can't wait for our next walk in this winter wonderland.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


This morning it is raining.
And while I know that this city is miles away from yesterday's town tragedy,
the heartbreak is surpassing state boundaries, falling on each roof top in a steady, sorrowful rhythm.

I think God is weeping. I know that is a grand statement to make. Some could make arguments against it, attributing my linking of the weather to worldly devastation as a childish literary device. But I disagree.

Scripture shows us over and over again the God we serve. He is a God who weeps over the death of one, cries out for a nation who He knows in days will crucify him, and tells his disciples to have empathy with those who are hurting.

The sky and sea belong to this great Comforter and I know he feels it. So I watch the rain fall and ask Him so many questions between silent tears of my own.

The fears and cries ascend to Him from everywhere.
Mine are not new.

A dark morning passes by in mourning...
The final question: What is to come, Lord Jesus?

Answered only by a lifting of my head to see our Nativity scene, with the word Emmanuel written beneath in chalk.

So it is.
And so we hold fast to this word more than ever.

Several Christmases ago I was led to pen the words below.
He called these words to mind, and I feel compelled to add one more stanza.

to the woman on the street-
smoking the dying embers of a cigarette
looking for the smallest trace of warmth...


to the downtown shoppers, with designer names and dreams, carrying all the anxiety of deadlines, of schedules,and of coming up short..


to the husband, looking into blue eyes of a best friend who doesn't remember.
Doesn't remember the date, doesn't remember watercolor paints,and doesn't remember the names of their children...


to the broken families, staring at where they would sit if they ever chose to come- meals divided over broken trust and broken hearts...


to the older brother and his sleeping sister,her white hands on white sheets, exhausted with the fight...


to the children singing with their bells, rosy cheeked and bright eyed, not knowing of the corrupt times in which they ring...


to the foreigner, miles away from his family, and worlds away from knowing his true Home...


to the doctor, silently bearing the grief and stoically bridging the void for three years since his passing, fighting back tears as she lays out the gifts alone...


to the soldier over seas, making the honorable commitment of a man while still being very much a boy...


to his mother and the loss of which she does not yet know.


to the career woman, alone on her catalog living room floor, with her catalog wine glass, and her catalog sweater, weeping over the things she cannot buy...


to the Honduran people. to the fatherless families crowding into their one room homes for one meal, wishing for one thing...


to the mothers whose very hearts were taken in blood, and the fathers whose angels now sing in heaven, back from school embraces ripped away by bullets


to all the weary travelers.
to all the broken vessels.
to all the empty hearts.




the darkness does not win,
nor does it understand,
how in the midst of so much sadness
true Light has entered in.

This Christmas I will cling to my God/Man Savior, who came to earth in the form of a babe for this very present darkness. I will cling to Him and think of this season, the promise that came. I will cling to Him and think of Easter, the promise that died and rose again. And I will cling to Him and think of tomorrow, and the promise that He. is. coming.