I forgot about you. Is that what you were thinking?
No, quite the opposite. This is the longest blogging break I’ve taken in our four years together and I’ve missed you. I hope you will forgive the silence for what I have to tell you.
On December 1st, after weeks of long writing days, I clicked send on the manuscript for my first book. The work is now in the hands of my editor (insert wild cheering and confetti).
H and I celebrated with glasses of bubbly, standing in the kitchen surrounded by dirty dishes. Well, I was jumping up and down over the joy of writing 59,000 words about the way God is changing people through Sabbath, and he was smiling (probably with some relief).
Unlike some of my author friends, I don’t have the capacity for blogging and writing a book at the same time, thus why I’ve been quiet here. However, if you are in the Sabbath Society, you know about all the details I’m going to share in the following paragraphs.
While I was sipping champagne, H said he had something to tell me that wasn’t as happy as finishing my first book; news he received while on the tube traveling home from work.
My daughter had a car accident.
She’s okay. But can I tell you how helpless it feels to be an ocean away from her trauma? I put my glass of champagne on the counter and proceeded to shape minced lamb into burgers for dinner.
Luckily, Murielle flew to London two days later and she is staying with us for a while.
Despite our moments of glory, life and all its mundaneness continues beckoning.
Before dreams are actualized, idealism fuels hope and hope pushes us into the future. Without hope, we are stuck in a world we have created for ourselves. And God is the Creator.
Between a preferred future and everyday reality is the spacious place of grace. Because let’s face it, things rarely, if ever, turn out exactly the way we envision them.
Marriage, parenting, your first kiss, the first time you live in your own place, obtaining a driver’s license, pastoring a church, landing your dream job, adopting a child, traveling to an exotic destination and landing a book contract – never what you expect and sometimes, even better.
But if we hold on to idealism with a death grip, we desecrate the work of grace to do exceedingly; abundantly above all we ask and think. God is greater than the future we envision. And He is jealous for our undivided attention.
The outcomes to life situations are not determined by how hard you work or how well you follow the rules, but in how you anticipate His coming.
Even in times of sorrow, we can be hopeful knowing He is on the way.
The Jesus way doesn’t fit into a nice, neat journey with tidy endings because the mystery is what creates our longing for Him.
And we must long for Him to come before we can fully receive the fulfillment of the seeds he plants within us.
While I was writing my first book, I signed a second contract. A second book before the first one launches into the world is not what I envisioned, but better. This is the spacious place of grace. I have more to share with you about that in the coming days.
For me, writing a book requires pushing practical details to the fringes – emails, blogging, cleaning my house, buying shampoo, talking to people – in order to meet contracted deadlines.
I’m aware of all that needs attending but in order for the seed to germinate and bloom into something beautiful, I have to remain focused, otherwise, the seed shrivels and dies within me.
Shortly after I clicked send on the manuscript, I pulled the four Christmas boxes we brought with us out of the garage and began decorating the house. I have been cleaning as if my life depends upon it.
I am waiting for Jesus to come during Advent in the same way I am waiting for Him to come every week on Sabbath. And preparation seems to provide a spacious place of grace between the stress I am carrying and His ultimate fulfillment.
There will always be trouble in this world but Jesus says, “Fear not, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) This is my hope, not only for the unknowns my daughter is facing but for the hurdles in everyday life.
Preparation ushers in expectancy for Christ to come and it changes our attitude.
As I hang twinkle lights (or fairy lights in the UK) from garlands in the rooms of my house, the light feels cozy and reminds me that Jesus illuminates the darkness — not just sometimes, or whenever He is in the mood, or when we’ve done something remarkable, but always — because He loves us. And that is worth celebrating, yes?!
In the celebratory atmosphere of Advent and because these books I am writing wouldn’t be possible without the stories of those in the Sabbath Society and your blog readership, I am hosting a giveaway to say, Thank you for believing in me.
The generous people at Zondervan are making it possible for me to give away copies of the NIV Bible for Women: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today’s World, a new Bible for which I am a contributor. Published in September of this year, this Bible includes a forward by Shauna Niequist and devotionals throughout, written by a bevy of remarkable women. It retails for $36.99.
All you have to do for a chance to win is reply in the comments with one thing you are celebrating and one thing you are waiting for. I’ll pick two winners on Friday so check back. And this offer is only for those in the US, sorry to all my international friends.
As we wait for Jesus to come into our joys and sorrows this week, may we expect Him to abide with us in the spacious place of grace.