the weary world rejoices || 12.21.20

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

 


This year, I think we've all found ourselves praying for light.

It's been a year uniquely marked by darkness, to the point where I think that in the sheer magnitude of the year, it's become difficult to know what exactly to pray for. So, more often than not, I've found myself just praying for something good. For any stray bit of light to pierce through the mess of it all.

And if I'm being honest - it's a prayer that hasn't always felt answered. The months have dragged on and things haven't gotten any better and suddenly we're nearing the end of this chaotic tangle of a year, the holidays are here, and I'm still a little shell-shocked from it all.

The world is heavy, and burnout is as prevalent as peppermint these days, but when I look out my window at night, I still see Christmas lights. Carols play on the radio, and churches tell the tale of a virgin who gave birth to a miracle. 

Despite it all, the weary world rejoices.

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Every year during the holidays, I always seem to find myself with a single song lyric running through my brain on repeat, a pattern that's kind of fun to look back on when I scroll through old Christmas musings. Those four little words have been this year's refrain as I stumble through the season, in all of its strange, sacred simplicity.

I don't think I've ever felt as detached stepping into the holiday season as I did this year. It's one of my favorite parts of the whole year, a season of warmth and life, one of the holiest times of the year. And yet it was as though I couldn't wake myself up to it, like my brain knew it mattered but I couldn't make it click. I was excited for the season, excited for traditions and rest and family, but rejoicing felt so far away.

I've been going through Hannah Brencher's Advent study, and was reminded of something that I read last year - that the first prophesy of Jesus's birth came at a time of massive darkness in Israel. The people had once again turned from God, and their world was a chaotic mess.

Sound familiar?

Yet right in the middle of the chaos, God sent them a promise of hope. The promise of a light that would come to illuminate the darkness. It didn't come in their lifetime - it didn't come for another 700 years, in fact. But it came, and it changed the world forever. He changed the world forever.

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As I'm writing these words, it's Monday, December 21st. Today is the winter solstice - the first day of winter, and the darkest day of the year. The days have been growing shorter and shorter since June, culminating today, the shortest day of the year. Light showed up late and went down early, and as I'm pecking away at my keyboard, all that I can see when I try to look out my window is darkness. 

Today also marked the appearance of what many people are referring to as "The Star of Bethlehem". Jupiter and Saturn met in the night sky in what looks like a brilliant, beautiful star, a sight that hasn't been seen in around 800 years. Some people call it the Christmas star, saying it might be similar to the star that the Magi saw, the star that led them to their Savior. 

A little after sundown, while the soup still simmered on the stove, my mom and I bundled up and trekked up the hilly streets of our neighborhood to get a look at this star. And as we walked, I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that here we were, the week of Christmas, on the darkest day of what has been the darkest year of many people's lives, heading through the cool night air to catch a glimpse of the light. That of all days for this star to appear, of all years, it was tonight. 

It wasn't at all what I had in mind when I prayed for light time and time again. But there it was, a speck in the night sky above me, laced with color and shining clear as could be. And I couldn't help but think that it was a promise, this light piercing the dark. That it was a reminder that hope holds true yet. 

It's like they say in the song - a thrill of hope. You know the feeling - a butterfly flutter in your chest that maybe there's more. Maybe there's better. Maybe it's almost here. 

Over 2000 years ago, we were given the greatest hope of all. And that hope is something that no circumstance, no year, no darkness can ever triumph. 

This year has left me weary, but I want to be rejoicing all the same, because my God is still on His throne. And maybe this season is different. Maybe we're different, because seasons of challenge do that to us. They change us. They grow us and shape us and shift us, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. 

But I want to rejoice in the chaos because I know that He is still good. I want to be able to look back at this year and say, "I can count my bruises, but I can also count the goodness of my Father." 

I don't know what the holidays hold for you this year. I know that things are probably different, and I know that's never easy. But I also know that on the darkest night of the darkest year, the sky was pierced by a light, and I have to hope that light is going to pierce our darkness, too. 

So we sing, and we share, and we sit by the fire. And with all of the weariness in our bones, we rejoice, because light has still won. He has still come. And His hope will never fail. 

Thankfulness Thursday IV - Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2020


Happy Thanksgiving, friends! 

We all know that today's a weird one, but I so hope that you're able to hold on to as many pieces of "normal" today as possible. I don't think anyone is having a completely normal day, but I hope that yours is still special. That it's still warm. That you find moments of joy. 

It's a quiet one over here, quieter than usual, but still good. As I'm writing this, we're curled up at home with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We'll do lunch at home, and then this afternoon we're going over to my grandparents' for social-distanced dessert. :-) Trying to find the balance of traditions + safety is always tricky, but hey - we're all figuring it out together these days, eh? 

Over the past month or so, I've been on a major Come From Away kick. The show itself tells an often untold story of 9/11 - of the planes that were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland and the relationships and connections that stemmed from that tragedy between the Newfoundlanders and "the plane people".  There's a refrain throughout the show that has been running through my mind over and over again lately - 


"You are here, at the start of a moment, on the edge of the world,

where the river meets the sea.

Here, on the edge of the Atlantic, on an island in between

there and here."


At this point in the story, everyone from the emergency-landed planes is stuck on this tiny island in the middle of nowhere, many of them with no idea what's happening back home or if their families are okay. They're just stuck, not knowing what's going to happen next or what life will look like when their world starts spinning again. 

And to me, that's been the perfect picture of how this whole year has felt. Stuck on an isolated island, staring out from the edge of the world hovered between two points in a tangled-up liminal space of sorts. How do you navigate a point on the map that you can't locate - not really feeling as though you're here or there or anywhere? The old is a distant memory, the next step feels light years away, and you don't know where "here" is. 

This year more than ever, I'm trying to learn how to land on gratitude in the middle of the in-between. 2020 isn't one that I would say I'm necessarily thankful for, and I don't know if you would, either. But I'm trying to find the gifts in the mess. In the middle of the pain, I'm trying to find the good. 

In a year that's shattered anything that I would have hoped for it to look like, I'm trying to flip it upside down and inside out and find the gratitude. 

So this year I'm thankful for rest, even when it was the last thing that I wanted. Going from running running running to stillness isn't something that's come naturally to me, and it still doesn't, eight or nine months later. But I'm grateful for quiet, and for learning to go a bit more slowly.

When it suddenly became impossible to do any of the things that previously filled life to the brim, I'm grateful to have been reminded just how dearly I love the things that I do. This year, if anything, I think, has shown me exactly what I care most about. In not doing something, you go one of two ways - you become indifferent to it, realizing that you didn't really need it, or you realize just how much it truly filled you. So I'm grateful for the reminders of the things that truly fill, even if I don't know how or when or if they'll become rhythms again. 

I'm grateful for connection and community, because this year it has become more evident than ever how deeply we all need it. We've had to fight for it and figure out creative ways to bring it to life, but I'm grateful for it all the same - even more, I think, for how scarce it's been at times. My people are the most beautiful part of life, and I'm so grateful for each and every one of them. You know. 

I'm grateful for art, because if anything (aside from Jesus + my people) has gotten me through this year, it's that. For stories and color and music and all of the things that make the world more beautiful. The world would be a pretty miserable place without art, and throughout this year, I think we've all seen just how desperately we need it to keep us afloat.

I'm grateful for a God who never leaves, even when the world feels upside down. Who keeps orchestrating the story and who has a plan for it all, even when I feel lost in the dark.

I'm grateful for home, and for family, and for health. I'm grateful that we're all here - because at the end of the day, that's all that really matters. The world's still spinning. We're all here. And that's enough. 

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Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Thanks for sticking around for another year of Thankfulness Thursdays - they've been a joy. Grateful for each and every one of you every day. 

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Thankfulness Thursday Friends 

Thankfulness Thursday III

Thursday, November 19, 2020


Happy Thursday, friends!

Late last week, I remember thinking, "I'm going to knock out all of my work in the next few days, and then I can work on some creative projects over the weekend". Well, it's Thursday, and those creative projects have yet to be touched. It's just been that kind of week. :-) 

The semester is on its way out (20 more days!), the air is cooling as the trees continue to grow bare, and I'm finally beginning to feel like it's time for the holiday season to make things a little bit warmer and a little bit brighter. Late November always feels like the strangest in-between, and this year's strange to begin with, but we're here anyways. It's a little odd, a little overwhelming, but we're here.

And that's something to celebrate, I think.

I like to think of gratitude as "intentional noticing" - paying attention to the little moments that matter. It's something I'm pretty sure I'll be working on for the rest of my days, but I know that it makes life so much sweeter. So every day this week, I scribbled down those "hey, look at me!" moments, however small. I highly suggest giving it a try this week - especially if you're feeling a little overwhelmed.

I'd be lying if I said that my brain wasn't a little fried this week from one too many hours staring at graphic design workspaces and law briefings, but having something to bring me back into focus every day was a lifesaver.  So here are some of those moments from this past week for me - what were yours? 

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M O M E N T S

Friday - I went to the mall for the first time since the pandemic began, and it was weird and wonderful all at once. I didn't buy anything, but I wandered and looked and listened to the Christmas music play. My favorite store was filled with velvet skirts, and it couldn't have felt more like the holiday season was finally here. That night, I got to watch Kenzie slay her poetry slam over Zoom (she took SECOND and I was so proud), and we watched You've Got Mail. I think I love it a little more every single time. 


Saturday - Golden light and checking things off the list. Good conversations and quiet space.

Sunday - Sunday was probably my peak overwhelm day, with all the things seeming to hit at once. But then late that afternoon I got a text from a dear friend, and, against my better judgement, the next thing I knew, I was driving to a coffee shop to meet up with him before he headed back to school. The air was chilled and the sunset was gorgeous and I hadn't seen him since August, and when I got home my to-do list wasn't any shorter but I could breathe again. 

Monday - Outdoor dance classes and talks with a friend. My elementary babies learned their choreography the quickest they ever have, and I was quite proud. :-) When I got home, I sat in the leaves and talked to my mom as the sun slowly set.

Tuesday - Catching up catching up catching up. Getting to design logos and sketch botanicals instead of editing law papers. Finishing hours of Zoom calls with a checked-off list of multitasked work to show for it.


Wednesday - Getting a presentation that I'd been dreading for a month out of the way. My cat deciding that I had worked long enough and promptly sitting on my laptop, then sitting on me. Light dancing on the walls and making the world a little more beautiful.

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Thankfulness Thursday Friends 

Keira -- Close to Nothing

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In case you missed it...

Thankfulness Thursday I

Thankfulness Thursday II

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What are you grateful for this week, friends? I'd love to hear. And hey - I'd love for you to join in the Thankfulness Thursday challenge. Be sure to drop a link in the comments if you do - I'd love to share it, and I'd love to see it. ♥  Check out the beautiful posts above, or head over to my instagram to see some of the incredible humans joining in over there on my story - I love them all so dearly.

Thankfulness Thursday II

Thursday, November 12, 2020


Hello, lovely humans - happy week two. :-) 

It's been a weird week, the kind that feels as though it's flown by and dragged on all at once. I still haven't gotten used to how short the days are, and this sunlight loving girl is not a fan. It seems like every day I find myself panicking because oh-my-goodness-the-day-is-almost-over-and-there's-still-so-much-to-do, and then I look at the clock only to find that no, it's just 5:15, and I need to calm the heck down.

In case you've ever wondered what my day-to-day life is like, well, there you go. 

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When I think about 2020, the very first thought that enters my head is that I would give just about anything to be done with it, to forget it ever happened. We've all been saying it for the past nine months, haven't we? We're counting down to 2021 with the desperate (if naive) hope that it will be better, ready to put this chaotic mess of a year behind us. 

It's kind of sad, really. I don't think anyone can be blamed for it - things have been rough, plain and simple. But it's sad, thinking about how a year - the start of a decade - that was entered into with so much enthusiasm has gone so south. 

That's not to say that there isn't gratitude to be found in the year - there is, and this challenge is really, really good for me, because it's making me think differently, to look harder and press deeper into gratitude. My thoughts on it all are tangled but numerous, and I'm glad that we still have a couple more weeks to keep going into it all. 

What stuck with me today, though, as I sat down to write this post, is how grateful I am for the moments of oblivion. Maybe oblivion isn't the right term - we're all a little too aware of everything this year, I think. But I'm exceptionally grateful for the small moments of normalcy that have been found amidst so much chaos, the moments in which the world didn't feel quite so terrible. Where maybe we weren't oblivious to everything happening, but it wasn't consuming. We could breathe. And maybe they've been few and far between, but wow, am I grateful for them. 

When I look back on this blog years down the road, and I wince as I select the 2020 tab, I want to remember the moments where, however unstable, things felt okay. When the magic of normalcy prevailed, even for a moment. 

It's the last day of February and we closed one of the most difficult shows of my life. By a stroke of pure magic, all of the people that I love most in the world are in one single place, and we dance on the empty stage and load cars in the freezing cold and snap a single terrible self timer photo that I'll cherish for the rest of my days. We hop from terrible fast food restaurant to terrible fast food restaurant and pack into a single car because there's nowhere else to sit, and we laugh until we cannot breathe. It's the best night of the year and I somehow know it, in that moment. 

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We know the lockdown is coming; it's just a matter of time. But my best friend and I are hired to dance, and the gig makes it through, exactly one week before all hell breaks loose. It's the last time I'm in a crowd, but I don't know it, not then. We get up at five and drive to the set and I pinch myself all morning. 

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Spring. I sit in the sun, and everywhere I look, there are blooms. 

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I drive and I drive, from the middle of nowhere one way to the middle of the mountains the other. I can't hug my kids, but I see them, and their surprised faces fill me for the rest of the week. 

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It's that hazy almost-summer-but-not-quite time of the year. Lawn chairs are spread out all over a friend's massive front yard, and we're so thrilled to be together that the whole six foot thing couldn't matter less.

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For the first time in almost three months, I dance, with the most wonderful choreographer in the world. We work for hours and don't even care how late it gets because we're dancing again, and it's a piece of the puzzle we've missed so desperately.

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The sun goes down in the distance as we sit in the grass, worshipping. This park has become our new second home, and as I close my eyes, I feel lighter than I have in a long, long time.

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June. The skies are clear and it's a miracle I don't spend the whole day weeping. When it's finally over, we spend hours laughing in the dark, sitting in our dresses and heels in a friend's driveway. 

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The flowers probably constitute as weeds, but we pick them anyways. We walk in circles around the pond, the July sun beating down as we twist the stems and talk. 

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We haven't been to the pool in years, but this is a summer smells like chlorine and is sweetened with friendship. It's a routine that becomes therapeutic, and for a few hours the water washes the world away.

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I turn twenty and I am overwhelmed by love, fuller than I knew I could be.

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The twinkle lights glow as we sit on the back porch for one of the last times of the summer. A new season is beginning and people are going and the last thing I'm ready for is more new, but for a moment nothing is new and I hold on to it. 

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We drive up into the mountains for apples, something I haven't done in years. The leaves are only beginning to change, and the drive is only an hour, but it feels like an adventure. 

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I sit on the empty beach, completely surrounded by shells, and realize that I can't remember the last time that my body held this little tension. I've been here for a week and am overwhelmed by peace that I didn't know could still be felt. I think to myself that I could stay in this very spot for the rest of my days and it would be enough.

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The sky is still a deep indigo, but the horizon line is beginning to glow towards the east. I wrap myself in a blanket and slip out the door, the porch boards creaking under my bare feet. I sink into the old rocking chair and stare out at the sky as it slowly comes to life with color - pinks and oranges and golds. And as I stare at the sky, it's in this oblivion that I can breathe.

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Thankfulness Thursday Friends 

Keira -- Close to Nothing

Melody -- Down the Rabbit Hole


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In case you missed it...

Thankfulness Thursday I

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What are you grateful for this week, friends? I'd love to hear. And hey - I'd love for you to join in the Thankfulness Thursday challenge. Be sure to drop a link in the comments if you do - I'd love to share it, and I'd love to see it. ♥  Check out the beautiful posts above, or head over to my instagram to see some of the incredible humans joining in over there on my story - I love them all so dearly.

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