Life at the Blue House

Hope Outlasts Holiday Spirit

I felt like a kid Christmas morning. I was excited to get our son up for the festivities. I anticipated enjoying the stocking my husband filled for me the night before since he set it all up after I went to bed. It was fun to have a bit of a surprise waiting for me! I was also excited to text my midwife a “Merry Christmas!” note.

We dragged out Christmas morning as long as we could. Our boy was thrilled to touch, hold, and unwrap Christmas gifts. He loved his special Christmas breakfast. His kitchen dishes and play food provided long intervals of creative fun. Christmas pj’s got sufficiently dirty as he spent the day playing, eating, napping (and not napping), and enjoying a day he doesn’t quite understand but is thrilled to experience.

The weather was stormy, breezy, rainy and just perfect for a California Christmas! I loved sitting on the couch, drinking coffee with my husband, and just chatting while our boy took a much needed impromptu nap.

I received lovely gifts. We swept the floor (more than once!), crumpled up wrapping paper, and stacked empty boxes. Our son checked the tree a couple times after the big festivities were over, which I’ve assumed was his way of being sure no gifts were left behind or suddenly there. My daughter, 26+ weeks within, had a true party kicking and dancing Christmas night. How lovely to feel she is here, though I am anxious to meet her and hold her in my arms! I can’t wait to get to know her.

How filled with splendid things this Christmas has been.

But the older I get, the more stories I’m collecting.

The stories of friends dying too soon, or babies not making it earth-side. Or women waiting long with aching arms for a child in their womb. Or just the abrupt harshness of time that moves everyone apart and in old age. (And somehow that same time is so beautiful in its richness and gift!!)

In my own story, the beauty and happiness of the last two years is almost too hard to bear. I cannot hold it alone. This season is too good. And it is scary to receive all these good things and not be fearful of bad news. But God continues to be with me in all sorrow and joy. I keep learning to rest in Him, that I am safe to grieve and rejoice because of Him, that I can be fearless in both heartache and heart-wonder.

In our Christmas Eve service, our pastor spoke with such care on how somber this season can be as we ache for the presence of Jesus, His return, all things made right!

We cannot escape the jagged edges of a commercially jolly season. We wrestle with our feelings of sadness and longing. We feel at odds with the holiday cheer that has us down Christmas aisles and starting at lighted houses and trees. Everything and everyone we’ve lost is punctuated by the acute merry wishes everywhere.

This is life in a broken world.

And instead of fighting against the current which is too much for us(!), we can just take all of us and all of this to Jesus. He is not overwhelmed by what overwhelms us. Nor is He confused by these conflicted emotions of joy and grief, beauty and pain, tears and laughter.

Sometimes, all of these at once!!

So, we pour out our patchwork heart of Christmas and Easter, earthen vessel and heaven-turned gaze, praise and longing, contentment and cries.

The Hope of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection far outlasts the holiday spirit. It’s the only way we can even enjoy, deep down in our soul, the hallmark fringes of a holy season. And He’s the only reason we can turn to December 26, and a whole new year, anchored with peace and purpose. Whatever comes does so with the reality of God, too.

So, we breathe without fear of the future. And turn to God in our desperation when we cannot breathe at all.

Winter isn’t a lost cause. And spring will come. And our dusty summer hearts will be alive with God’s goodness and presence. Fall will break gently in, and we will look back and see the wonderful works God has done in another year earth-side! And Christmas will arrive once more, and we will be imperfect in it! Joy and sorrow hand-in-hand. Our souls will pulse with the history of God’s goodness and His gifts. . . both long ago and now. We will ache, long, rejoice, and sing.

And so it goes. . .

winter, spring, summer, fall.

But one day those seasons will end with heaven. And we won’t have to experience another Christmas with conflicted emotions. We will be with our Savior, Hope fulfilled. God with us. Us with God. Whole in every possible way.

Christmas isn’t supposed to feel perfect.

We’re not home yet.

But soon.

Garden Lullaby

This Is Life

Garden Lullaby, December 26, 2018

After our lovely Christmas morning, I took a walk to pick all sorts of fresh greenery to fill our home. The greenery was to celebrate the birth of Jesus, of Hope, of everlasting LIFE! I avoided all the noisy places where I get lost. And in the process, I could truly hear & give thanks to the God who names me FOUND. Yesterday was sacred.

I’ve been in John 10, and I love these words, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” I have tasted this and known it! Songs of heaven & hope filled our home while my vases outpoured with life. I celebrated Christmas in the best way I knew how and my soul soaked it all in! @grayhavensmusic says it well,

This my soul you were born

You were born into

What this man has done

It all extends to you

Let the words shake on down along your spine

And ring out true that you might find new life.

I’ve never known a richer Christmas. I’ve never been so full of joy on December 26th. THIS is life with God!


Garden Lullaby will return January 10, 2022!

Don’t forget Hope Gives a Eulogy is on sale only through December! Get it while it’s marked down!

Looking forward to 2022 on the blog. Merry Christmas & a Hopeful New Year.

-S.V.F.

Garden Lullaby

RADIANT

Garden Lullaby, November 9, 2018

R A D I A N T 

I have waited and prayed for this. Looks nothing like I thought it would. I expected lots of green growth before any kind of bloom. But here we are in the middle of unmet expectations. Small. Beautiful. Radiant.

I think this is what my soul looks like when joy and grief crash into one another and then learn to coexist. There is an abundance of good gifts and a deep measure of pain. I can greet both at the same time. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I can praise God and feel broken. I can laugh hard while sitting with sorrow. I can celebrate life and what it means to live and embrace loss and what it means to lose.

God gives us courage and comfort to be like this marigold…to meet joy & grief head on. To bask in the sunlight and shadows of unmet expectations and say, “This is hard, but this is beautiful too.”

 


about this series Garden Lullaby

for a good laugh

Mirage, poem from Hope Gives a Eulogy

 

Garden Lullaby

Middle Thoughts Again

Garden Lullaby, November 2, 2018

I saw this tiny marigold bloom and thought, “the beginning of something beautiful.” But I was wrong. I’m always wrong.

These marigolds are in the MIDDLE of something beautiful. There was beauty in the roots and beauty in the blooms. There was beauty when they died and beauty when they held tight to life. There was beauty in the fullness and beauty in the spindly, determined stems. There was beauty in a dozen, and beauty now in a tiny, brave marigold basking in the sun. This marigold bush has always been in the midst of beauty…different kinds, all sorts. Never asking to be seen, but living the middle again, again, again.

I’m in the middle too. And here is beautiful, changing life again, again, again.


One thing I would say differently now is I don’t believe death has to be beautiful.

It was beautiful that these marigolds completed a full life. Beautiful they bloomed and lived. I could celebrate that. But death is loss and not the way it’s supposed to be. Now, I know this is a flower, so in no way are we talking souls here, but I think maybe I had still been in a place of trying to reconcile and shape pain into a good thing. Maybe not. I can’t remember exact thoughts from November 2018!

But I do know I don’t have to make death and loss and pain into something good. God didn’t create it to be this way. He transforms, heals, brings life into brokenness, out of brokeness, alongside brokenness, but I don’t think the death part is the good part.

The pressure isn’t on you or me to make things good and okay and beautiful again. We can trust God and ask Him for comfort as we experience so many forms of death in this broken world. And simultaneously we can celebrate the life present like spindly, determined marigold stems or getting out of bed with songs of hope in our heart though life is feeling ragged, but for the rest that is much too hard to bear, we don’t have to make it beautiful.

We can simply fall into the comfort of our friend Jesus and trust in our sovereign, loving, kind, and just God who thinks of us and knows us and knows so much more than us.

who I am & what I write

holidays on broken backs

Hope Gives a Eulogy, short + powerful poetry