It’s funny. I took these photos just a few days after Christmas. These beautiful cards I’d purchased long before Advent, so proud of myself for being prepared and ready to savor the build up to Christmas. I was going to hang them from my mantle, taking one down to read to the girls each day, spending time reflecting and re-focusing what often feels like the craziest of weeks on the calendar each year.
But days after Christmas there they sat, still wrapped in the priority mail envelope, tucked in the windowsill of my kitchen, with the bills and the holiday cards and the other reminders of things I needed to do but neatly cleared off my kitchen island and temporarily out of my mind.
My heart just wasn’t in it this year.
I couldn’t quite put a finger on what it was. But I also knew it was coming from a number of things weighing on my mind.
But once the dust settled around Christmas I woke up one morning with the thought that I could give myself a do over. That the spirit of this season wasn’t confined to the weeks before it arrived. That these things were meant to spill over into the coming year. Yes, the decorations are packed away and the tree is outside playing scratching post to the barn cats but I could still press the rewind button for myself.
And that’s what I’ve been doing. In little teeny tiny steps I’ve been giving myself a do over. Revisiting the things I wanted to read, still taking the time I wanted to set aside even though the calendar tells me Advent is done.
But today, I’m looking at these photographs and words and they are filled with a completely different meaning. One that I would not have discovered during Advent had I hung them from my mantle and had my perfectly put together plan. One I would not have grasped had these been tucked away in the attic with the decorations. Because I need these words more now than I did then.
Just days ago we found out that my oldest sister has cancer. Stage 4. It was sudden and not what anyone expected. It is strange and surreal. Life is suddenly about family conference calls. And sitting in the driveway sending teary texts to your sister. And frantically planning a last-minute trip, just us girls, my mom. Somewhere warm* where we can savor each other and maybe temporarily ignore what’s to come. And waiting. Lots of waiting.
And while I was silently beating myself up for what I took to be my disorganized Advent, God knew. Maybe I floated through those weeks feeling untethered and unfocused, but today His words have found me, grounded me and encouraged me. Exactly where I am. Where we are. He is here.
Friends, I’m just throwing this out there. I am searching unsuccessfully for somewhere to escape with my sisters and mom. Somewhere warm, most likely Florida for the shorter plane ride. Somewhere private, with a warm pool for her to swim in–something she loves. If you have any suggestions, have stayed somewhere that you loved, or have a recommendation, would you shoot me a message? Under the circumstances we are trying to turn this around in the next 2-3 weeks, tops. And we’re coming up empty. I’m grateful for any ideas. xo. We found a place on the Barrier Islands, just what we were looking for. Thank you all for the emails and messages. xox.