You did it. WE did it! Hooray for us! 24 days of reading God’s word. 24 days of devoting a little time to learning God’s voice. I’m so proud of you and me!
Take a moment to scroll all the way back to Day One. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil and jot down the websites, books, Instagram accounts, Music, Photography, Email subscriptions, Apps, Artists, Podcasts, Places, People, Recipes.
Then, take note of what struck you most – was it the beauty, the pain, the encouragement, the community?
Finally, we should list all the scripture from the posts. The Bible still blows my mind with all those words written so long ago and somehow still very alive and so powerful.
You know what ALLLLL this tells me?
God will stop at nothing to get YOUR attention.
These 24 days have just been a glimpse of how relentless God is trying to grab your attention.
Christmas gives us the sweetest example of this. Immanuel is God with us.
Jesus IS God with us.
But wait, the story doesn’t end here. There’s Good News! Jesus wasn’t just born, end of story. Jesus lived a life full of friendship and story telling and healing and teaching and loving. There’s more to learn. Jesus didn’t just live for you and me. He also died for you and me.
Today we celebrate His birth but there’s so much more.
And hey, if you’re reading this you’re alive too which means God’s not done with you. Your story with Him might just be beginning. Or maybe you go way back. Either way, keep walking with Jesus. Read His Word. Learn His voice. Look for Him.
Remember how we started this journey with Gods word as a “lamp for our feet”? Today let’s celebrate because the light is here. Jesus – God with us – is here “to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:79)
Thank you for being with me this Advent. You have made it so special for me.
In all my years of parenting, you know something that still makes me tilt my head to the side, scrunch my eyebrows together in wonder and just nod? How a kid who gets raving comments on his/her report card can ALSO be the kid who rages in the pantry over my “terrible” grocery choices. Or how the same kid who skips off the school bus can transform into a punk the moment they step foot IN the house.
“You should feel good about it. It actually means they trust mommy that much that no matter what you’ll still love them.” How many times did I hear that? Did it comfort me? Imagine me now and you’ll know the answer- chin to my chest, eyebrows raised and a smirk across my face.
They trust me enough to dissolve into grumpy messes? Yes, yes they do. And yes, I still love them (sometimes I may hide but I still love them).
What in the world does this have to do with Advent?
The “Thrill of Hope“- we all long for it a little extra right now. If you were to look up the definition, you would see Hope is not just an expectation but also “a feeling of trust.”
2016…I’ll never forget Dr. Collins telling me and Joseph to head straight to the ER so Joseph could have a spinal tap. We nodded, gathered our things and left her office in silence. But just as we got to the car, we raged. Literally. We kicked the tires, screamed, cried and then hugged. Joseph looked up and yelled, “God do you even see me? I’m sick and I’m scared. Do you even know?” Watching my little boy trust God enough to get angry and ask questions felt like Hope in action – full, innocent and sincere trust.
Kids teach us an important lesson in what trust looks like, don’t they? Open handed, open hearted, guard down trust. And sometimes it gets messy. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14
Advent is a season of HOPE when you trust God does hear you, God does love you. His love is so big He can handle your good, your bad and your ugly. If God feels too distant for you, look to Jesus and look to the children.
So, listen up punk, we’re on the last few steps of our journey through Advent together.
For Day 23, I’m hoping you to step into your mess, open your hands and your heart and trust God, wait for Him and let Hope thrill your weary soul.
Jenna and I met a few years ago but I think our hearts have always known one another. I honestly believe God was smiling when Jenna and I met. FINALLY GIRLS! FINALLY!
Jenna is aware, eyes open, heart ready – She lives and loves her 4 boys and wonderful husband that way. She cares for and counsels her friends that way. And lucky for all of us, she points and shoots her camera that way too.
Look through her pictures on her website or on Instagram and you can see it. Her perspective is not just a physical position but a heart posture. Jenna loves Jesus, the one who is “like the light of morning at sunrise.” – 2 Samuel 23:4 And that perspective is reflected in the special-ness of her photographs.
His fever was at 104 for 3 days straight. His cough had gotten worse. But when Joseph looked up at me and his eyes were crossed; we went to the ER. Joseph (then 7 years old) would stay in the hospital for a week and then leave with a tube coming out of his chest and a battle ahead. The next 365 days we spent traveling up and down Charles Street for medical appointments – Spinal taps, MRI’s, MRA, MRV, bloodwork, Ophthalmology visits… His brain was swollen, messing up his cranial nerve and crossing his eyes. His white blood cell count was through the roof. He’d lost 14 pounds, was working through brain fog and we kept going. An MRI revealed Joseph had 11 lesions on his brain. My boys brain was presented during Grand Rounds in neurology and they “couldn’t figure him out.” That’s when we switched to The Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP).
Pediatric MS or Spinal Cord Cancer. That’s what Jason and I were told. “Joseph either has Pediatric MS or a sneaky Spinal Cord Cancer. We’ve ordered a spinal tap, MRI and bloodwork to confirm and we’ll move forward from there. We’ll be in touch with the results.”
Let’s take a breath from the story for a moment and jump to present time. The message series at Church right now is “Ordinary Everyday Miracles.”
August marks the beginning of our own Miracle. And if I didn’t write about it, well, I wouldn’t be me and you wouldn’t know about it. The alignment of this series at Church plus the anniversary of our miracle is enough prompting for me to start typing.
Okay, here’s the overview Father White gave us and I love it. Looking at these 3 miracles, we see a progression for the Apostles (Jesus’ closest friends). At first, they get to witness a miracle. Then, in the Calming of the Sea, they are in the midst of the miracle. Next, the Apostles get to participate in the miracle of feeding thousands of people off 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
Hearing all the different ways the Apostles had access to MIRACLES that happened right in front of them, for them, by them was beautiful because Jesus is offering so many ways to see him.
Reading all the different ways the Apostles reacted TO miracles with Jesus RIGHT NEXT TO THEM gives me hope. Matthew 14 verse 15 says they were irritated, verse 26 says they were terrified and didn’t recognize. In Luke 8 verse 24, they were freaking out, forgetting Jesus was with them. In Luke 9 verse 13, the Apostles were straight up sarcastic.
I don’t know where you stand with God or miracles. But, the fact that the Apostles fear and sarcasm and forgetfulness is written in the Bible reads like gracious encouragement from a big God. Doesn’t it? It’s as if God is saying, “Look, these ding dongs were right next to my Son and still didn’t get it. And they still freaked out. It’s ok. You will too. And, I love you.”
Back to the story of our miracle… Terrified? Sarcastic? Freaking out? All of it. We were promised test results and an action plan in 2 days. But instead of 48 hours, we waited 2 weeks.
The doctor called to say, “Mrs. Smithberger, I apologize for the delay but we just had to make sure. There’s no medical explanation for this but Joseph doesn’t have anything. The 11 lesions, gone. His white blood cell count, normal. The swelling on his brain, gone. Even the marker for Lymes, gone. I had to go to hematology, oncology, ophthalmology, neurology to verify. There is no medical explanation for this.”
This ding dong was crying.
There is no medical explanation for our miracle. I still poke Joseph from time to time. I don’t want to forget.
The gift of being in and going through something hard can be that you develop a new way to see things. Looking back and writing, for me, keeps my eyes open as I move forward.
Don’t miss your miracles.
You’re a ding dong too and God will stop at nothing to get your attention. And if you get freaked out, scared, doubtful – keep looking. You might be witnessing, in the midst of or participating in a miracle of your own. Look back, look ahead – God is there.