Dear January [again],

Alas, we meet again. You know I still don’t like you, but we seem to be getting better at maintaining a tolerable coexistence. I hope you don’t take my disdain personally. I wrote you a letter last year about how I was going to change my mindset concerning you, and I think I did. In fact, when you visited last year, I was putting the finishing touches on my dissertation and preparing to defend it, so that was good. A lot of changes took place last year — so much so that I’m even greeting you from a different time zone this year!

Honestly, I don’t have anything particularly sassy, smart-alecky, or gripey to say to you this year. I suppose this must be what healing looks like. I still don’t look forward to the 23rd, which happens to fall on a Friday this year. I’ll have a class to teach that afternoon, so staying under the covers and pretending not to be a grownup isn’t a valid option. I still have to get the kids to school and then get to school, myself. It’s going to be hard, though. It always is.

Would you believe this is the first Christmas since I lost Nathan that I didn’t cry at all that day? I almost lost it on stage during the Christmas Eve service as we sang Silent Night, though. Normally, I can’t really see the congregation because of the lighting, but they dimmed the lights for the candlelight portion, and I looked over to where the boys were seated. I saw my five boys — thankfully, not setting the pew ablaze — and then my eyes lingered a bit longer on my two nephew-sons. In that moment, I saw a glimpse of Nathan’s facial features lit up in both of them; my eyes got watery and a lump rose in my throat, and I couldn’t sing a couple of lines. I was thinking about singing with him in Glory one day, seeing his face lit up with the Light that lacks shadows, and I felt such a pull on my heart to want to be with him.

Instead of dreading you this year like I have done in the past, I’m going to choose to be thankful for you. Seeing you again is a reminder that my time on earth isn’t yet complete. There’s still work to be finished here, and for reasons often unbeknownst to me, the Lord has designated a few particular things for my doing. So, January, I offer you a truce. Perhaps by the time you roll around again, we might even be friends.

Worth Waiting For (Prayer Devotional for the week of December 15, 2013)

When I was a kid, we had a tradition of opening certain presents on Christmas Eve night. My brother and I loved the idea, of course, because Christmas Eve seems so much closer than Christmas morning when you are a child. Waiting can be hard! The presents look so pretty under the tree, and you can’t help but wonder if maybe it’s that thing you really want … or perhaps it’s just a package of socks … but either way, the anticipation is mounting and you can’t wait to rip open the box!

Waiting is difficult in a lot of ways. I remember being 12 and thinking that it was the longest year on record; it seemed to take forrrevvvver to turn 13. I remember the few days between final exams and graduation, when the hard work is finally over and anticipation peaks. I remember being in the last few weeks and days of pregnancy, when you can’t sleep and can’t see your feet … the waiting is exhausting.

The Gospel of Luke tells us about a man who had waiting down to a science. In Ch. 2, Luke gives us a glimpse into the life of Simeon. We don’t know much about him, except that he was faithful to the Lord and was regarded as a good man. We assume that he was elderly, since he had received a promise from God that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah, but the Bible doesn’t say how old he was. One day, Simeon went to the temple in anticipation. He was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and he knew that his waiting time was over. He got to meet baby Jesus face to face and cuddle him in his arms. The promise that Simeon had lived for was coming true right before his eyes!

I wonder if Paul had someone like Simeon in mind when he wrote Colossians 2:6-7 (CEV), “You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him. Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.” You and I may not have received a specific word from the Lord like Simeon did, but we do have something special, and that is hope. We have hope because of that little baby cradled in Simeon’s arms. We have a promise of eternal life with our Lord and Savior, Jesus. That is something worth waiting for!