ON HAVING A HAPPY NEW YEAR

new year

photo: timescity.com

G:

I’m assuming your laugh is a hearty one—one that shakes the clouds, maybe even causes small earthquakes in California (just the ones that make your glass of water wobble, of course).

I’m sure you laughed when my good friend and I were sitting on the couch in my apartment this time last year. We were both 100% sure that 2013 was going to be a great year.

It wasn’t.

2013 was a year marked with heartache from broken relationships, loss of beloved family members, inopportune illness, and chronic stress.

Six months in, my friend and I agreed:

2013 sucked.

A year later we’re sitting on the same seats, on the same couch, having the same conversation about 2014. Except this time there’s hot chocolate. And I got new socks. I’m biting my lip as if to hold back any positive adjectives that want to jump out of my mouth to describe 2014. As if “happy” or “great” or “exciting” are death sentences before the year even begins. RIP 2014—you’ve flat lined before the clock even had a chance to strike midnight on New Year’s Eve.

I’m just about to take out any adjectives whatsoever and remark, “well it will be a year!” when I realize that maybe, just maybe, 2013 wasn’t so bad after all. My friend expresses the thoughts I’m feeling and suddenly clarity occurs like someone finally found the light switch after fumbling around a dark room.

“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). This past year was full of trials and stress and utter exhaustion, but we learned that through it all You work for the good. Because we love You. Because we turned to You every day for the past twelve months.

In the heartache of broken relationships, there came healing. In the loss of loved ones, there came comfort. In illness, there came health. In chronic stress, there came rest.

Because just like my mom, you have a way of pointing out “character building experiences” (Romans 5:3-5). In these experiences I became closer to You. In these experiences You refined me.

Because what if having a “happy” new year doesn’t mean “happy” in the conventional sense—in the sense of rainbows and butterflies and new jobs with higher salaries and romantic engagements with huge diamond rings that weigh down your left hand and luxurious trips around the world on a cruise line that doesn’t lose power or have someone murdered on it—what if having a “happy” new year meant letting You work your magic of creating good from all things. After all, you are The Heavenly Alchemist, making something of worth out of something unworthy.

As long as I turn to You in all things, You’ll make good from all things. ALL things.

You make happy new years from seemingly sucky new years.

Looking back, maybe you weren’t laughing at all when my friend and I were chatting on my couch. Maybe you were agreeing with us.

I’m 100% sure that 2014 is going to be great year, too.

Your child,

m

It’s Christmas Eve EVE!!!

christmas eve eve

Photo: Eloise at Christmastime

G:

(GASPS) It’s Christmas Eve EVE!!!!

I wonder what the anticipation of Jesus’ birthday on earth is like in heaven.

Is there a giant countdown somewhere? Do the angels check off dates on their calendars? Does anyone even need a calendar? What would a calendar for “eternity” look like?

I wonder if at midnight of the 25th balloons fall from the sky and the heavenly hosts burst out their instruments (I’m assuming all those born without musical genes, coughmecough, will suddenly be blessed with musical talent immediately upon entering the heavenly gates) and perform a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

And then Jesus will blow out over 2000 candles on a really large sheet cake.

And nobody would be able to use trick candles because omniscience does not lend well to surprises.

I would think that the anticipation of the day when You took a really huge demotion from heaven to earth, to dwell among us in human form so that You could ultimately bring us back to You, would be cause for a pretty raucous celebration.

Here on earth, I want to get excited as the day of Emmanuel, God with us, approaches. I should be checking off the days on my calendar in anticipation.

I can’t celebrate the day in which you came to earth with harps or a guitar or a flute or even a kazoo, but I can celebrate it with song of excitement and joy and thankfulness in my heart.

It’s Christmas Eve EVE!!!!!

Your child,

m