Advent Week 1 – Hope

Advent1-2

I wrote this post last year, a few days after the First Sunday in Advent, but I felt too raw to share it. This year has brought different challenges for most of us, both personally and globally, and I’m sure we’re all now feeling a bit raw from those. May hope enter into all our hearts throughout this season of preparation and contemplation. 

–  Jenna

 
We caught up on lighting the first Advent candle at home today. I was thinking of my Nana all the while, as I used her wreath and the last candles she bought for it. She passed away last January, making this our first Christmas without her.

I remember when I was very young she let me light one of the Advent candles when we were gathered at her house. We listened to her read, and I sang with her at the piano. I properly learned “I Saw Three Ships” that night. I don’t know why that detail in particular has stuck with me all these years.

Tonight Anastasia said, “I’ll bet Nana’s really loving it in Heaven.” She is, my sweet baby girl. I know she is.

We lit the Hope candle tonight, and as tearful as I was, hope was there with a certainty which, to be very honest, I did not expect, though I should have. It sustains me always. It is a hope that began before even the prophets, a hope that carries on beyond the Advent of our Lord, a hope that goes beyond the cross and the grave, through to the resurrection, and beyond.

More than hour has passed since we lit that candle, and I have pored over verse after verse trying to find just one to sum it all up. But the truth is that they are all so inseparable from one another, as the birth of Christ is inseparable from his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Still, the following passage struck a chord,

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,

And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.”
Psalm 130:5-8 NASB

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Glimmers

I feel like I’m always working these days. When I’m not actually at the café, I’m at home working on my business or working on the house. I’m finding that being deliberate about every use of my time is a must if my family’s needs are also going to be met.

The good news is, I’m not taking those precious times with my kids for granted. The books, snuggles, rambunctious play, the teaching, the laughing…it’s all getting stored up and looked forward to every minute. I am grateful for lessons learned in hard times.

There’s been a lot of disappointment already this year, for us and for those we love…but tonight in my wanderings I found so many small but bright reminders that God is in control. I need some time before I tell you what those glimmers were…but whether or not they work out I’m glad for them. I’ve missed a few great opportunities over the last few years, but what that tells me is that there are ALWAYS opportunities moving through our lives. Which ones work out is up to God.

In other news: we’ve received a date for our son’s Speech Assessment! Thanks for your continued prayers!

Phew…and Sorry

I really didn’t consider, before I said I’d write every day, just how busy I was going to be! And after the busyness, how much I would need time just spent investing in relationships, in prayer, in quiet…and important things like taking the kids sledding!  (Photo Credit goes to my wonderful sister-in-law, who was also a part of this Important Event).

Anyway, sorry, folks! Rest assured I wasn’t just avoiding this! Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?

I’m sure there are those of you wondering how our appointment with the Developmental Pediatrician went. I’m happy to say it went very VERY well. I am SO pleased with this doctor! She doesn’t believe in labeling for the sake of labeling, for one thing. She wants DS to get the help he needs to help him have a fulfilling, successful life, but feels that giving us a label for “what’s going on” would only be moderately helpful. So, we’re taking it one step at a time, observing him, getting him in with the Speech Language Pathologist…but for now not worrying about naming what it is he has. And it may yet turn out to be just a developmental “quirk”…there’s still so much we have to learn about child development and the brain!

Anyway, no real “answers” I guess, but to me that’s less the point. And I’d rather we all take our time instead of jumping to a pet diagnosis (something this doctor is extremely aware of as a danger). We left feeling that we were heard, that there is help available, and with a sense of reassurance that there are people on our side and next steps to take. So, praise God for that!

I must say that in all the craziness of the tough times we’ve been facing, God has been there every step of the way. I’ve been scared sometimes, but there has always been His comfort. There have been times when we’ve wondered whether things would work out, but God has come through every time with the right answer to the problem at hand. When I’ve been stressed, He’s given me rest. None of this has been according to my plan, but I’m at peace knowing that it’s all going according to His plan. God is so good. All the time. Even when times are tough. No, ESPECIALLY then.

Beginner

I’ve often felt discouraged as a relative beginner in my artistic field, even to the point of despairing at the prospect of never being any good at the art that is my passion. I have picked up my camera again and again with the knowledge that the photo I’ve envisioned will not be what I find when I get home and view my photos on the computer, and as hard as I work in the processing it never *quite* gets there.

The more I take that camera out, however, the closer those images get to what was in my mind’s eye…and I wish my current Self could understand what other strides Future Self will make (but that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?)

The following quote from National Public Radio’s Ira Glass has been blogged/shared a few times already, but it bears repeating for the sake of all artists feeling those “beginner’s blues.”

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.  And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass (emphasis mine)

So…I guess I’ll keep fighting.