The Already and Not Yet



I have a confession to make and I’m not proud about it.

I am a sucker for Hallmark Christmas movies.

Yes, I know exactly how they are going to pan out about five minutes in. Yes, I understand that there are gaping plot holes in nearly everyone of them. Yes, I get that the writing is terrible—I’m all too aware. But still, it’s a guilty pleasure for my sister and I.

We will watch tons of them each year, looking for both the most ridiculous one, but also, the sweetest one.

But this past weekend, I latched on to the formula—and yeah, I’ve always known there was a formula. There was something oddly familiar about this formula though.

In each one, a big-city woman working in marketing, or advertising, or brand management (this is apparently a bad thing) who has lost sight of her dreams, is thrust in to small-town life where she happens upon a handsome single father and his precocious child. Charmed by both the town and the child, she begins to feel at home, lets down her walls, and rediscovers her childhood dream. In this starry-eyed state, she begins to fall for the single father and he for her. Her oh-so-wrong for her, rich fiancé comes on the scene (they have been separated by winter weather, clerical mix-up, or other forms of hi-jinx) and stirs doubt and maybe conflict between our heroine and single-dad. But all prevails on Christmas eve when the woman and her fiancé decide they are not destined to be together because she loves the small town and wants to pursue origami, or water color painting, or whatever her long-lost aspiration has been. She and single-dad run into each others arms, share a kiss, and precocious child gets a puppy. The end.

These movies are fun to watch, but they are so not about Christmas. Not really. For all the obvious reasons, but also for some not-as-obvious ones as well.

We have an inherit sense of how things are supposed to be—how we so desperately want them to be. Just like in a Hallmark movie, we want everything to be tied up in a nice little bow in the next hour and a half.

No threads left untied, no relationship not brought to rights, no issues outstanding.

But this is not reality.

Advent marks a celebration. Years of anticipation resulting in a savior being born to a world so desperately in need of him. And yet it also marks a deep longing.

We are brought face to face with the knowledge that all is taken care of. Our fate is sealed—we are rescued and renewed. And yet, we are not yet.

This is a season in which we are to be more aware of the already-but-not-yet state of our existence. This place where we live covered in righteousness, and yet still so in need of grace. This place where we watch brokenness pressing in on all sides, knowing that wholeness is there to be had, but not quite yet.

May you find the space to mourn what is not yet and to find joy in what has been freely given already.

Have a blessed Advent season here in the Already but Not Yet.


Wading in Tension

A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine shared a thought that I had to chew on for a couple days:

An artist has to wade through the tension in life, but really, the tension is the gift.

The tension is the gift.
Do I ever look at it like that? I don’t know about you, but I spend my days striving to rid my life of tension. Solving problems, knocking things off my to-do list, trying to free up as much time for myself as possible. Toil free, work free, problem free, tension free.
And yet, tension always seems to show up. In relationships, in my schedule, in my work. It is always there. Like the pimple that just won’t die!
preppy bohemia lens clouded womanAt least, that’s how I’ve been seeing it through the glasses I’ve had on for most of my life. But through a new lens, tension begins to look a little different.
For the past few weeks, I have been going through the interview process for a job I would really enjoy. I am optimistic as I wait, but just over my shoulder is the fear that I may not get it. It seems like the perfect fit for my current employment needs and my experience, but a lot of things in the past few months have looked so positive and then fallen through. So that niggling voice in the back of my voice keeps saying ‘If you don’t get this, you’re not going to find anything else. This is the only job that will fulfill your needs and desires. Don’t get this, and you’re stuck, kid.’
There’s the tension: hope and fear, truth and lies, success and failure.
So I’m in this holding pattern. Waiting. Interviewing. Hearing from references called. Everything looks really good, but there is still that chance it may not work out.
This is the tension I wade through. I’ve become super jumpy, waiting for my phone to ring with a number I don’t recognize…which has happened and it has not been the employer. Lots of near-cardiac arrests without much reason.
But this is the gift.
In these two weeks, I have got to put to practice what a friend calls giving up ‘material for sacrifice.’ I have been given a good desire–to do good work that encompasses my gifts. And I have no control of that desire being satisfied. I can get really drawn up in fret and desperation if I let myself. But it’s not supposed to be that. That’s not what tension is for.
Tension is the gift. It’s the offering.
When I trust in God, offering my desires up to him, that is when I experience the freedom and peace he offers. I am able to look towards either outcome of this process with courage. I am learning to trust my father and his good gifts.
This tension of being so close, but not close enough to know is my playground right now. It is a season that is hard, but full of rich discoveries.
Tension is the gift.
Dwell on that. I hope you find it true.

What I Want Most This Year

I love Ann Voskamp’s blog. Her words hold a peace and wisdom you don’t often find in today’s culture. I was reading a wonderful post from her the other day on scripture memorization and some of her words really hit me hard.

Is Jesus merely useful to you–or is he ultimately beautiful to you?
When Jesus is merely useful to me, I want him to move my world.
When Jesus is ultimately beautiful to me, it’s my heart that is moved–and this begins to change the world.
When I see Jesus as useful, he’s a gadget to make my life better. When I see Jesus as beautiful, He’s a joy that makes me live better.
Am I a Jesus-user?
Or a Jesus-adorer?


Which am I? I don’t really want to answer that. It’s even hard to think about. Because if I’m really being honest, I’m a Jesus-user.

I expect him to be there for me. I want him to arrange the world to my liking, and if it’s not there, I consider it a “trial.” My heart is only rarely moved to his will. He is the band-aid that makes my broken life bearable. Not the living water who gave his life to pay the ransom for my sin. He’s the last resort, break-the-glass-in-case-of-emergency God. Not Jehovah.

How am I pursuing godliness when I am only using him for my benefit? I am not taking in his beauty, his almighty power and perfection. I am not submitting myself to him or his word. What good am I if I am not tender to his word or his will?

Thinking further about this, there are two things I want this year. I pray for godliness and I pray for contentment.

For my first memory passage this year, I have chosen 1 Timothy 6:6-8.

Godliness with contentment<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(J)”> is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 

God has proved himself faithful and constant over the few years of my life. Every need and many of my wants have been provided in simple ways, even miraculous ways. He has given me so much, but I am always holding my hand out for more.

What would it look like if, instead of holding out my palm for stuff, I held out my hand for God? What would it look like to slow down life a little bit, live simply, and pursue HIM?

Paul tells Timothy this is to his gain. And not because godliness and contentment will make him rich. At least not in the way most of us would like. Godliness and contentment are to our gain because we are blessed with the richness of God’s beauty and the peace of knowing him more fully.

That is what I want this year:

Godliness and Contentment.

To become more like Jesus and trust more in his plan.

To getting what HE wants,