The Pregnant Pause

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The Pregnant Pause

Advent arrives for us in the northern hemisphere in the darkest, coldest time of the year. The shorter days make us long for comfort, candles, and fire. Nature signals that it is time for quiet and rest, rather than the productivity of the planting, growing and harvest.

As a child, I was full of anticipation going to the church services in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I loved the lighting of the Advent candle each week, the singing of the carols, and the story moving us closer and closer to Christmas. Advent marked waiting, culminating on Christmas Eve with a candlelight service and the lighting of the white candle in the center, the Christ candle, signaling the arrival of Christmas— the celebration of tangible love manifesting in our world. 

This year, in another stage of life, I am relishing the pregnant pause of the season. Each morning, I sit with my Advent reading, a journal, a candle and a cup of coffee and pause. I want to be present to the journey that leads us to Christmas…present to the lament of a world that aches for healing and love, the yearning for redemption, the hope and promise of newness, and the wonder of love. As I sit each morning, I remember where I sit in this story. I long for my homeless neighbor to be safe, cared for and warm, for healing in the bodies of those I love, for love to triumph over discord, for refugees to finally find a welcome home, for those on the edges of our circles to know belonging. I feel my own longings for wholeness and belonging. Here I wait for the Christ child in my own life. I feel the anticipation of God’s remaking in and around me. Love has come into the world.
    
And love elicits a response. For this moment, I pause in wonder at the ways love shows up in my life—the crinkly eyed smile of my son, the thoughtful surprise given by my husband, the smell of pine, shared laughter, and live orchestral music, the friendly assistance from a neighbor. And in this pause, I am invited to respond to lament, struggle and yearning for hope and newness in love—to slow down and let love be birthed tangibly through me to strangers, neighbors, enemies, family, and friends.

Join me: 

• How will you find spaces to pause this Advent?

• Where do you long for healing, wholeness and love to show up today?

• Where do you see Love showing up in your life?

• How can you be Love to someone else today?

by Lisa Scandrette

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Living with Gratitude and Trust

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Living with Gratitude and Trust

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When we arrived in Bozeman, snow was falling gently in large, wet flakes reminiscent of those in a snow globe. This Minnesota girl, who’s lived in California for nearly 20 years, took a deep breath and inhaled all the wintery goodness. The next day, I woke to find myself in a snowy wonderland surrounded by trees laden in white, skies every color of blue, distant mountains, and quiet in the air. It was an invitation to slow down and notice the hints of God’s care and goodness all around me.

    I don’t know about you, but I can easily get swept up in the things I need to do. I can get restless and hurried, busy and worried about the details of life. I lose my sense of “enough”—that I both am enough for the tasks of the day and that I have enough of whatever I need. However, we’re invited to a different way of seeing and a new way of being. 

    When our kids were younger, we’d occasionally read Psalm 118 call and response style. Mark would read, “Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good,” and we would echo boisterously, “God's love endures forever!”  The author opens and closes the poem with this declaration. In between, we hear where God showed up in the midst of the challenges of life. When I affirm God’s love in the daily happenings of life, it reminds me that I can trust—that the Creator has taken care of me in the past and will be with me in the future. 

    In our family, we often take the month of November as a cue to slow down and notice the ways that we’ve been cared for. I often cut a piece of brown paper to use as a table runner for the kitchen table and put out a few sharpies. I invite people to write down what they are grateful for. It requires us to slow down and notice God’s goodness throughout the day. As the month progresses, we have a tangible reminder of all the places in life where we see God’s love and care revealed to us—whether in the falling snow, strength and wisdom to complete a project, or in our relationships. And this practice of gratitude leads me to breathe deeply and trust when I have needs in the daily details of my life.

Join us:

  • record your gratitudes on a piece of paper throughout the month of November--ask the people you live with to join you.
  • when you are tempted to worry or feel you are not enough, look for God's goodness in your day and add it to your paper.
  • on Thanksgiving, read off what you've recorded.

 

by Lisa Scandrette

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