It took five years of marriage and a stressful season of our lives to finally select a nativity set. As a child, I loved (and still love) my parents' glass nativity. On a lighted Christmas mantel, it shines. No. It doesn't shine. It glows and is brilliant in its incandescence. As you might imagine, it was a tough act to follow. I wanted an equally gorgeous and significant nativity to grace our marital home.
It was during our fifth year of marriage that we decided to put our first home on the market. We were, at this point, still nativity-less. While everything else in the Denver area was flying off the market, our little neighborhood was stagnant. Houses languished for six, seven, and eight months. We were just far enough out of the city that people didn't like the distance. Additionally, builders were rebounding from the recession. Brand new show homes three doors down from us were fierce competition.
We found our forever home almost as soon as our old one listed. We walked in and knew. Looking back, it was almost a soul connection. I stayed in the kitchen for a solid 30 minutes, caressing the counters and dreaming. The island, I imagined, is where our current and future children would eat breakfast before school each morning. There was room for a kitchen table for art projects, pizza parties, and casual dinners. Oh, my heart. The kitchen alone was perfection. The heart, soul, and energy of the home were everything.
I nervously checked the listing every Friday and Monday to see if it survived the weekend. The longer it lasted, the more we hoped it was meant to be ours. Our starter home went under contract three times before finally selling. In a story burdened with detail, we endured quite the home selling process. The owners of the forever home suffered right along with us. They also knew it was meant for us and faithfully waited. Eventually both properties changed hands and the forever home was ours, but it was in that grueling process that our nativity found us. On a random weekend afternoon, there she was. On a random, low Kohl's shelf, we found our perfect nativity set. Except it really found us. Its timing could not have been better.
It spoke to us because it was perfect for the new home. We bought it for the future. Yet contracts fell through right after we bought it. It was the end of November and we were heartbroken. Decorating for Christmas was brutal because we weren't supposed to decorate that house. We were supposed to be packing and moving.
As I arranged the new nativity on the piano on that heavy November day, I knew it symbolized many things: faith, forward movement, and acceptance. What I didn’t realize was that just a few days later everything with the homes would come together. I also didn't realize the nativity's symbolism would grow again a mere three years later. I didn't recognize until today that the nativity was supposed to reign in both houses.
I almost fondly reminisce of that difficult time when I pull the nativity out of the box and triumphantly position it on its white shelf. I wish we could say we acted in faith and patience through that time, but we did not. Although it had been made clear time and time again that we would buy the home, with each stumbling block we floundered. We acted in fear, panic, and even anger.
Once again our lives are in a state of transition. Some days I would say it's a state of confusion. It has been ongoing for months and at times our faith waivers into a roller coaster of emotion.
Today was one of those days. Right now we are being taught difficult, important lessons. Most days I move forward in faith, peacefully aware that this is part of the process. We are being groomed for that next stage of our lives. I know this is a finite experience for us, but today I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.
Instead I left lunch simmering on the stove, grabbed my coffee, and stared out the dining room window. I looked at the half decorated tree beside me and could not muster the will or desire to complete it. Another Christmas season, I thought, where my joy is lacking. Desperately seeking comfort, I began praising God for our blessings and praying that He please ease our burden. I asked how much longer this particular struggle would remain. In the midst of it all, I want to know that when He says "soon," he means my soon, not His, because I am an impatient human who is growing weary. Answers were not forthcoming in that moment so I went to the living room to play with the kids.
As my eyes wandered through Christmas decorations, the nativity caught my eye. In a flash, it told me its story. THE story. Then it reminded me of that trying, stressful time three years ago. "Remember the panic, anger, and pain you harbored then - despite my promise? Remember asking me those same exact questions then? Most importantly, do you remember the struggle you endured when you could have chosen to walk in faith?"
Some things come to us slowly. With time they arrive. Perhaps we need certain experiences first. Maybe our time is intertwined with someone else's. It's often a deliberate yet hidden process. A dance, really. It is opportunity, even when it does not feel like it.
Parallels were suddenly drawn between the two life seasons. I flashed back to the home selling period. Quite clearly, as I stood on the back deck of the forever home during its inspection, God said, "Everything will change here." Oh, how that stuck with me. Even though my relationship with Him was not as strong as it is today, I heard it. Our lives DO look vastly different than they did then, and in many unexpected ways. His words have been a life line these last few years. It is confirmation that our path is the one He intended. It is reassurance that He has a plan. He is guiding and even carrying us when we need carried. It is His promise that all will be well. The chosen path is not always an easy one, but it is the right one.
Right now I know a new season is almost upon us. I can feel it. We will continue this faithful dance and strive for those days when we are completely at peace. We pray, give, and love as much as we can. Our eyes have been opened and see in ways they never did before we began this journey. Why this story is coming up on Christmas just like the last one still remains a mystery; although I choose to see the beauty of it and hope this blessing is also imminent. This afternoon I was quietly reminded to act in the same faith He's asked of us time and time again. "Hold on," I constantly hear. "Just hold on for a little bit longer."
"The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy." Psalm 111:7 NIV
I pass these same words on to you. If you are struggling with something, hold on to your faith. Hold on just a little bit longer. When you come up against a wall of hopelessness, pray and hold tighter. Count your blessings as you go because there are always blessings to count, whether big or small. Even when it feels like you can't bare to hold on for another moment, look to our triumphant God, trust, and release it to Him. Just as He has my family in His hands, He also has you. He sees you. He hears you. He loves you.
Love & Blessings,