Oh friend, day two of December and I am catching my breath. Aren’t you? Aren’t we all wild humans catching our breath ticking down the days to get to the 25th for what?
Or, wait, what if it was all for Jesus? The coming King. The least likely One to come from a virgin birth and be born in a manger. Why yes, maybe inside all of us, when we get past the loud world, all we really want is Jesus. And the things of Jesus and the presence of Jesus.
But aren’t we fools to think it only comes on the 25th?
As the coming King comes, I am letting my going self slow. I am praying against my foolish ways. I am praying for Immanuel, God with us. I am praying for peace. And I am praying to see the people everywhere as His creation and ways to love simply. Yes, simply.
So, as we enter Advent, pray with me to love simply.
On our way home from North Carolina we were exhausted and tired and sad because saying goodbye to family is always sad for Michael and I. I cry big crocodile tears and Michael does, too. We are a family that believes in tears. Maybe they heal as they make ways to our hearts.
We didn’t want to stop on our way home, but the warning of freezing ice in Kansas City kept us from risking the roads. We were carrying our two doll babies in the back. No way would we risk ice. Especially not at 3 am. Because what good ever comes from 3 am (said my mother always)? So, Michael pulled into a Drury Inn outside of St. Louis. Later on, he told me he was praying about what hotel to pull into because God’s providence is too heavenly to grasp and hotels sat on every corner. He checks us in, we stumble up into our room, we pull back the covers and blink hard. Our girls, wake up, wide-eyed and want to play.
It’s midnight. I’m exhausted. I am in no mood to play. We hound and wrestle and quietly scream-whisper, “Go to sleep” to my two and one-year-old. We had lost our ever-loving-minds. As if my Carter baby could care less when I told her to go to sleep? Delusional. I was a train with no conductor. I had completely fallen off my track and Michael was sliding with me.
The girls slept form 2-4 am and then woke up for keeps. I decided to let Michael sleep longer since he had been driving and around 6 am, I took them downstairs. Can you imagine how grumpy I was? Just imagine. No, really. Go ahead. I am giving you permission.
Ok, it’s enough. That is enough of my grumpiness.
Anyway, because GOD all the time — because GOD — and His ways and His timing and His people and His joy, He wrote something in my story I will never ever forget.
This darling young girl was sweeping the floors and before I knew it, she unfolded her whole life story to me. My girls and I listened and nodded and I could just see God in her. Her light was so bright, her skin glowed. True. I knew I wanted to do something, so I ran up to the room and planned on writing a short note and giving her a small gift. For a brief moment, I hesitated because the enemy is a killer of goodness and he walks in moments of hesitations. But I broke the barrier and went back down the elevator to hand her a scribbled note of encouragement.
But she left. Her shift was over and my heart sunk. I told the manager how fantastic this young woman was and went back upstairs. Trudge, trudge, trudge.
About to pull out from the hotel, I decided to run the letter and gift into the hotel to see if they would give it to the young woman. Yes. Yes, they would. Sigh. Immanuel, God with us. And we drove off and I didn’t think about her again. Again until this:
When I arrived at work last night I noticed an envelope with my name on it. I opened it, looked at the bottom of the folded note and saw your family name. Before I could read it, tears of joy flooded my eyes and I started to cry. *Unfortunately for me, when I cry my face turns bright red so I looked like a clown for a solid 15 minutes. Lol!*
Tears of joy rarely happen for me especially since I’m surrounded by the military. I’ve seemingly lost more people than I’ve encountered.
You provided joy for me with your kind words of encouragement, genuine care for me and visible faith in me. God has a unique way of using strangers to influence others; I can’t even begin to fathom what else He can and will do using you as a vessel but I know it will be amazing.
A few minutes spent with someone just genuinely listening to them can move mountains and walls in their heart and soul and that is what you have done with me. You listen to understand, not to respond; And that quality alone is absolutely beautiful.
With the seed money you generously provided me, I will be paying it forward to someone/something that reminds me of you and your family! I can’t wait to find out what God tells me that is. I’m sure it will be epic!
You have been a light to someone in their dark and I will be praying that God continues to use you and your family as vessels of His word to move mountains and walls in hearts and souls everywhere you all may go.
And lastly, I promise if I ever visit Kansas City, I will let you know. Please do the same if you return to St. Louis. I would be honored to formally meet you all.
My Drury Inn Friend
P.S.: I will be framing and keeping your note with me as a daily reminder of the person I will strive to be and the qualities I yearn to possess as I grow in my faith.
I don’t write this to you to say LOOK. Look at me. Why? I wrote a note for goodness sake. Words on a paper. It was so simple. I say this to proclaim, GOD. God did this. God brought her into my life for mere moments. And all I can think about is, I could have missed this blessing. I could have missed it entirely, when quite honestly, I might dare say this is my greatest Christmas gift.
So, full-circle back to the prayer. Love simply. What if we all prayed to love simply? Notes on a paper? Eyes to see? Moments to slow? Maybe this is where Christmas will be found this year. Maybe we can all see Immanuel, God with us, in the prayer to love simply. Like the love found in the simplest place, humblest hay, the babe in the manger. Simple love.
Join me in praying for simple love and let’s watch the magic of Christmas come alive.