30 11 2009

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent.  I’m not sure when I started getting excited about Advent, a season I never grew up celebrating, but somehow along the way it’s become my favorite time in the church calendar.  Because I don’t run in liturgical circles, few people I know really reflect on all that it means: a season of longing, hope and expectation for the coming of the light of the Christ child into the darkness of our souls and world.  Instead, this year it seemed that an abundance of my friends – more than normal – were fighting the urge to listen to joyous Christmas music before the Thanksgiving turkey was even in the oven.  It’s not difficult to understand why – I even found myself in the mood for harps and bells and boughs of holly abnormally early this year.  The addition of gold ornaments and twinkly lights seems to make even the darkest and coldest parts of our lives shine with a warm glow.

But I’d like to encourage all of us this Christ-birth season to not rush past the longing and waiting part only for the choirs of angels.  God’s to be found in the empty manger too.  I visited a church this morning that, to my surprise, made Advent a very central piece of the service.  They read scripture and lit the first of four candles to come: the candle of HOPE.  The pastor encouraged the congregation to live simply during this season, focused on the “holy day” rather than just another holiday.  We sat in silence pondering the meaning of Christ’s light in a dark world.

And then we sang “Joy to the World.”  Not much waiting.  In fact, the entire service was filled with Christmas classics.  And more are playing over price tags in every store.  And still more are streaming pleasantly on my Pandora Christmas station.

Don’t rush past the wait.  This week, sit in hope.  Let the hopes of your heart – the longings not yet fulfilled – rise to the surface in both quietness and violence, and let them fly to the light of Christ like a moth to a flame.  My spiritual director told me once, when I struggled (unsuccessfully) with all of my being to hear God’s voice, that our ache for God is often the strongest evidence of His work within us.  Before we numb our aches this spend-more season with gifts and gadgets we truly don’t need, listen to your inner aches.  Or perhaps, if you are brave, let Christ share some of his own with you.

If you want some help focusing, I’ve found Christine Sine’s morning and evening Advent prayers helpful.  And don’t worry.  Apparently those “12 Days of Christmas” are not just arbitrary days after all; they begin December 25th and are meant to celebrate the socks off of all that our True Love gave to us.


Unofficially a Washington Resident

1 11 2009

Well, this post is so overdue this is embarrassing.  A LOT has happened since I last blogged, and if you know me much at all, then this post will serve as an obligatory recap more than a deep thought on current events.

1.  I finished three wonderful years of coursework at Fuller Theological Seminary.  I have two Masters degrees to show for it, but more than that, a new sense of self, a new community of friends now spreading out all across the globe, and some very full iphoto folders filled with beautiful pictures that each represent breathtaking moments and silly memories.  To say these past three years were “full” or “rich” would be an understatement.

2.  I said goodbye to so many close friends (friends I consider family), to the wonderful view of the San Gabriel mountains I had from my 5th floor apartment and to the warm California sunshine and sunsets over the beach.  I’ve been discovering my true self over the past three years, and dreaming of what kind of life I am purposed for, and now I am faced with the difficult and wonderful part of the journey where I step into some of those things.  This is all well and good, but oh how I wish it didn’t involve so much loss too!  I said “goodbye” on September 17th when I left Pasadena in my Uhaul, but I’m still saying goodbye today, and I imagine the goodbyes will continue for a while.

3.  I logged in over 1,100 miles in a four-day roadtrip that included stops to see friends and family in Fresno, Sacramento and Portland before landing in University Place, WA.  Thanks to the company of my friend Janice and an activity bag from my friend Kacy, the time flew by.

4.  I started working again!  For those who don’t know, I moved up here to work as an Education and Life Skills Research Coordinator for World Vision International.  The organization is massive, with over 44,000 employees in more than 100 countries worldwide, so as you can imagine it is taking some time to get my bearings and find my place.  But there are days when I am reminded of the incredible work we do and am so glad to be a part of it.

5.  I’ve explored Seattle little bit – the city really is beautiful and there are tons of fun places to visit.  I’m enjoying spending time with the few friends I have up here and am considering moving into Seattle proper in the near future.  I’ve gone to a Mariner’s game, embraced the Fall season with a visit to a pumpkin patch, caught an indie-folk concert, and have ventured into a good amount of the many beautiful neighborhoods and districts around the city.  Keep praying for my search for a church and a more permanent home – those things are hard to find and my future location is still up in the air.

6.  I unsuccessfully attempted to acquire a WA state driver’s license, at which point I was told that I did not have enough valid documents to prove my residency here.  I tried to explain to the guy that I didn’t even want a WA license, and that I preferred to pretend I still lived in California anyway, but he was not appeased.  So, for now, I am unofficial…but I am here.

Here are a few pics from the past month or so:

At the Snohomish Pumkin Farmbeuatiful open road - en route to WAa serene Gig Harbor with Mt. Ranier in the backgroundi see a lot of these now :)at the Pike Place Fish Marketthe Space NeedleKrissy and I with our flowers in downtown Seattle