Waiting for the Light

This, this is the season of waiting.  Advent.  I adore this season.  The time of the year where the world seems to quiet in anticipation.  People are close.  Yet there is a strange dichotomy of bustling about, busyness and the incessant list making commercialism.  A stark contrast to the stillness of waiting.  Wondering when.  Listening.  Just how do the two coexist?  I will tell you they are both alive and well and within me.  A constant tug of rope between.  Which side usually wins?   It's a toss up these days.  I have been redefining the waiting season for myself.  Preparing my heart for the Savior King.  The night love came down.  Reflecting and analyzing the to do list.  Not for sake of efficiency or anything like that but so I give myself permission to choose that which brings joy.  The kind of rejoicing that is active and stems from a source not seen.  That is what I want more of this Advent season.  A heart which easily gives because it's not clouded with the unimportant.
And I pray that it be so.

I pray that it is so because the light always trumps the darkness.  And this light we are all waiting for, whether we know it or not, is coming in the form of a baby in a manger.  Humble beginnings.  Not so humble promises.  One being that those that walk with Him will NEVER, yes He said never, walk in darkness.  In John 8:12 Jesus says to the people, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life".  Let's not miss the irony here friends.  Jesus was speaking to the people right after the Feast of the Tabernacles.  They had celebrated on the mountain top and had walked down into the pitch black of night with their dimly lit candles.  Attention being drawn to the power their light had in guiding them.  Trying to make their way.  With help from the light.  See, irony is never lost on Jesus.  Jesus came to be our light.  The one that always shines and NEVER allows the darkness to triumph.   Here's what I need to remember this waiting season.  There are dark crevices in my heart.  You know, the stuff you never want to say out loud.  The secrets that might make you cringe in shame if ever repeated, if someone knew.  Well Jesus knows.  And He came just for that.  To be the light in the darkness.  He alone can shine light into those places where shame and doubt and fear and self loathing reside.  And He does it all for grace upon grace.  No condemnation.  He came for that and in spite of that.  What other light has that power?  

This Advent as we all search for the light let's recall the promise of His coming.  When darkness can feel so strong and the conflict rages allow the light to shine within.  The darkness we speak of surrounds daily, different for everyone.  Some like me, feel it in the busyness, others in the commercialism, the struggle to stay afloat, in hurt without family, lack of finances, you name the darkness and the one that brings it and then claim the light for your own.  That is our anthem this actively waiting season.  Present.  Hope.  Peace.  Light.  Allow the twinkly lights to mesmerize you without the guilt that nothing is getting done.  Really.  And then wait.  Wait for Christmas morning.  And remember that love incarnate was born and the world has not been the same ever since.  Thankfully friends, neither have we.

"Our darkness may be thick, but it is FOREVER transformed by the brightness of Christ".
Amanda Williams, She Reads Truth

And Then We Gave Thanks

Preparations for our Friendsgiving began the day before.  Our list displayed on our kitchen plate, ingredients scattered on the counter, aprons at the ready and my helpers willing.  At least that's what I told myself.  We had quite the list to conquer and that we did.  Thing 4 was in charge of corn casserole, Grandma Ellen's recipe, as he has been for the last few years.  Thing 3 took charge of organizing our morning and the Italian sweet potatoes.  Thing 2 had GF pumpkin pie and pumpkin pie cheesecake for her tasks and Thing 1, always pecan pie.  This time pecan chocolate chip pie with bourbon sauce.  Oh yeah baby! As for me, everything else, with help of course.  Stuffing, homemade pie crusts and from scratch yeast rolls.  The music was playing and in between laughs and spills we had the best kind of fun together.  And bonus, our list was checked off by late afternoon.  

Thing 4, grating chesese. refrigerator door wide open, ugh.

Thing 3 painstakingly placing butter on top of the sweet potatoes.  Just right.

Thing 2, scooping pumpkin and making that face!

Thing 1 "helping" me move the pie crust for her pecan pie. 
Or maybe she was just making eyes at the camera.
The prep counter! (before)
Anyhoo, that was our afternoon of preparations.  Then we prepared for one of my favorite services at our church.  On the eve of Thanksgiving we participate in communion together, there are baptisms and hymns and a sermon.  Oh the baptisms, they get me every time.  And this year was no exception.  Two years ago our three girls were standing in the water making their commitment public, unashamed.  I sat gripping Husband Jared's arm hoping the ugly cry would not come.  It did then and this year was no exception.  An elderly man stood before all and said, "He must not be finished with me yet".  Man alive if that didn't get me. I felt the tears well up and they rose and then my chest started heaving.  What courage. What grace.  What kind of love.  Friends, so long as we have breath He is not finished.  We are not finished.  Amen.  We sang, we broke bread and we rejoiced in gratitude.  Then we ate blizzards.  It's what we do. 
Thanksgiving day had us all up early.  Well, some earlier than others.  Ahem.  The oven was on and coffee cake made.  Time for the Macy's Day parade.  We all watched intermittently between cooking and readying the lefse ingredients.  Seeing these four together enjoying our tradition had my heart doing back flips. 
At the conclusion of the parade or maybe somewhere in the middle we all took part in lefse making.  The potatoes were boiled and riced and rolled and ready for the griddle.  Everyone had a job and everyone helped in throwing flour all over the kitchen.  Most of us like the end result, hot lefse spread with butter and sprinkled with sugar, all of us are not so fond of the work and mess it takes to get there.  We sure missed Mema's expertise this year.
Once the lefse making was completed the turkey went in the oven, side dishes were baked, the place settings ready and Husband Jared and I went on a nature walk to fill our table with a festive touch, all while the Things cleaned themselves up and the kitchen too! 
Despite the afternoon being a tad chilly the sky was clear and gorgeous and nature had plenty to offer.  Leaves and pinecones and dried flowers and remnants of fall.  They all made a great table-scape for our feast.  Polo was not too fond of the experience at all, obvious from the photo. He's most definitely not a fan of icicles in the beard. 
We returned, cleaned up, added our treasures to the table and had our annual antipasto plate pre-turkey.  American football was on the tele, which doesn't happen too often in this house and we were ready for our friends. 
Adult table, plus the two eldest Things

Four Things, they have my whole heart.

Chalkboard art.

Kid table lined with craft table and filled with crayons and markers to make art!
Once again I was too busy in the moment and have absolutely no photos of everyone around the table, our scrumptious turkey or the sides.  I will share a photo of Husband Jared carving the bird though.  Because tradition. 
Oh and Thing 2 shooting a photo of me, shooting a photo of Husband Jared, shooting a photo of her...  You get the idea! 
Nope, not even the pies got camera time or the lovely family that joined our Friends-giving celebration for dessert.  Take my word for it, the turkey was the most delicious one we have ever cooked, all the accompaniments were fantastic and the pies and caramel bars(thank you North family) were mouth watering.  We ended the day reading our thankful stones from the month of November.  My heart was filled with gratitude for the gift of friends who are more like family, a table where we can gather and the love that binds us all together in community.  Until next year, another Thanksgiving, oops, I mean Friends-giving, is in the books.