Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Advent 2017 # 19: When Grinch and Scrooge Threaten Christmas


The tree is up and the greenery's on the mantel. Advent candles are in the holder, surrounded by fresh-cut rosemary. Gifts are wrapped and under the tree. 

I've made a start on "Christmas," but the fall door decoration is still up, all the nativity sets are still safely stored in boxes, and I doubt either of those will change.

I've worried there might be a little grinchy, scroogeness in me this year. Usually, I'm deep in Isaiah, finding profound truths to share and having amazing God-experiences that delight my soul and drive me to write. 

But not this December.

I'm deep in Isaiah, but it's driving contemplation, not words.

Ten weeks ago, Sam and I ate lunch together at my favorite Thai restaurant. I marveled that an 87-year old man who'd never heard of Thailand would embrace cuisine so different from the peas and mayonnaise he preferred. We laughed and talked as we lingered over our plates. Sam insisted it was the best food he'd ever eaten. 

My life changed radically, and permanently, during the weeks following that meal. 

There's been a lot of good. I had a great trip to the Middle East, led three Whisper Gatherings while I was there, and enjoyed my first medical mission outreach in years. I gained a terrific new literary agent and a great literary agency. My manuscript won its division in the ACFW First Impressions competition. God met every need, and He was generous beyond anything I deserve. 

I should have plenty of fodder for impassioned blog posts. After all the emotion of the Caregiver Chronicles, though, it seems as if I've run out of passion. My writing feels bland. I can't even move my own heart with my words.

I've worried about the slump, fretted that I'm losing my spark. Finally, I went back in my memory to the day the blog began. "Faith lived out loud," was the theme back then, and it still is. "Lord," I prayed. "What am I supposed to do? I don't have it right now." 

The answer from that still, small voice was so simple. "Keep living your faith out loud." 

This year, my life is quite different than last, with hard and very positive changes. Both will require adjustments in my routine. Neither require an outpouring of emotion to make the transition. 

For now, I'm in a season of quiet, of being still, knowing He is God, and savoring His presence. My writing's not broken. My spark's not gone. This subdued Leanna is only temporary, but it's still "faith lived out loud." 

Not everything about a Christian's walk of faith is exciting or emotional. Even Jesus needed times of stillness in the wilderness with His Father. He didn't preach any sermons while He was there, but He always left the divine quiet with fire in His words and love pouring forth.

Isaiah wrote about what I call "soul fatigue." (another Leanna paraphrase coming up:) God's the only One who never gets tired or needs a nap. The rest of us easily become completely worn out. There's no need to panic when that happens. Wait on God. He'll give strength in ways we can't even imagine. Before we know it, we'll rise up like an eagle, powerful and capable again.

I haven't turned into Scrooge or the Grinch, and I don't have writers' block. I'm simply walking through a normal season of life. Grief and change happen to us all. If we're wise, we'll take time to savor the good times and grieve the losses. We'll be still until the work of quiet is done. We'll wait until God renews our strength. 

In Advent, joy comes when the night is over and the delay is done. Our Savior lives and He's still on His throne. No matter why we're in a holding pattern, the solution is the same. Be still. Hang on. Remember, He's not finished yet, and His plan is worth the wait.

If you've never been through a season of quiet, I hope you'll be patient with me and learn from my experience. When it's your turn, take the time to process, to grieve, to grow. It might not be convenient, especially at Christmas, but it'll be worth it somewhere down the road. 


"Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary." 
             Isaiah 40:31 nasb
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In case you haven't heard of Sam before, here are a few posts that will help: 
Where We Are Now, Love That's More than Words, When Sam Couldn't Stay and I Had to Say Goodbye, and Life After Sam.

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In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link:#18: Harvesting the Sweet from the Hard

Here are links to other posts in this series: #17: Church and the Mattress Set,
#16: Taking Our Confusion to the One Who UnderstandsWhen Rest Isn't Optional and Christmas Has to Wait#14 When Decorating the Tree Was Almost Too Hard to Do