Early Advent

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do, seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things, look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways, long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy, seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking light.
To you we say,
Come Lord Jesus….

~Henri Nouwen

Today I’m making gingerbread for the Christmas tree and wreaths for the kitchen windows. Tonight we will trim our tree and tomorrow I will hang the Advent Wreath in the den window and light the candles for the first time. I cannot believe that this blessed time is really upon us. But in the midst of my bustle today, I wanted to drop a little line here to wish you all a most holy and wondrous Advent and days of increasing joy as we approach Christmas. (How long these December days seemed to draw themselves out when we were children, and how they vanish and flee as adults!)

I also wanted to share a piece that I wrote for the Art House America blog, if anyone is interested. I have to say, this was seriously one of the most difficult things I have ever written–like I told one friend, I wrestled this essay to the ground and came up limping. It’s something I rarely talk about, and I confess to a certain degree of inner conflict over even posting this link. There is an illusion of safety, you know, in relative anonymity. But it’s not safety we’re made for–it’s goodness. The goodness of God and the honor of sharing that goodness with other souls. Forgive my fear and trembling, kind friends, and thank you for the many ways in which you have given me courage to keep putting words out there.

Lo, How a Rose

17 Responses to “Early Advent”

  1. I can’t wait for more Advent posts!

    I shared the “Lo, How a Rose” link on the private Facebook page for the Mom Heart writers. Most of them have ministries for women and many said they knew women who would find comfort in your writing.

    As I read it, I thought how you were opening up about your struggle and how brave you are to do so. For anytime we open up, we face further hurt but it is only then God can fully use us to “comfort as we have been comforted”.


  2. Esther says:

    You mentioned that you “came up limping,” and these words of F. B. Meyer came to mind. “God’s Jacobs go forth as Israels, wounded, maimed, limping till they die, but…able to scatter blessings, as when Pharaoh bent beneath the trembling hand of the aged patriarch.” (“Love, Courtship, Marriage” p. 101)

    My desert is somewhat different, yet I was tremendously encouraged by Lo, How a Rose.

    Thank you!

  3. I am walking the same barren desert-land. Thank you for being brave enough and humble enough to speak. I needed it.

  4. Jackie says:

    I too have walked this journey, but God is faithful, and He is a healer! Praying for you Lanier!!

  5. Anita says:

    Thanks for being brave enough to bare your soul in “Lo How a Rose.” You gave deeper meaning to my favorite Christmas hymn, and brought a huge increment of healing and balm in my own desert.
    I love words, and paper, and typography, and making books by hand has always been a dream of mine. So I’m delighted to find another blog to follow!

  6. maria says:

    dear lanier,

    set fear and trembling aside: we both already knew and can never know. may God bless your heart for sharing from its depths. i fear to respond.

    you have made me think and remember….a time when my sister sat in an armchair in my bedroom and whispered, “i have no father.” me responding, “yes, I know. but people like us have a greater opportunity to be closer to God than those to whom He has given earthly fathers. take Him for your father in a way you never could if someone earthly was filling that place. when He removes someone from an earthly position it’s because He wants to step into that place Himself. He wants to come nearer, wants to be recognized and welcomed into the place that He has opened or left open, just as He longed for Israel to desire Him as their king, to recognize Him as their King, and desire no other, because He is all and we are so honored.”

    about fifteen years before that, in my early twenties, i had accepted Him in place of a husband. you make me wonder, amazed, if He can be accepted in place of a child, if He wants to be your child. and i see glimmerings in Scripture of this as i ponder it…God Almighty, your child of love, into all arms that are empty because He has made a place for Himself there and desires all of that love to be lavished on Himself, watching your face and your heart as you think, “dare i do it? dare i love Him even like this? will He let me? will it really please Him?” He is worthy, and all the loves are His.

    and, oh, lanier, if He whispered a promise to you, He will keep it. i know you know. our time here is such a grain of sand. you will have the gifts you’ve requested for all of eternity. He answers all of our prayers. it is already given if you believe you have received.

    advent blessings…
    what a sweetheart you are, stirring the depths,

  7. Janna says:

    I’m so very glad to have read this tonight. Thanks for being so vulnerable here. You have done a masterful job of not making your own specific situation the focus, but have struck a balance so that each reader can see his or her own desert and long for the hope you have found. I appreciate your hard work with this one. May this Advent be just as beautiful for you and yours. Much love!

  8. Maryann E. says:

    Oh sweet Lanier, God bless you for writing about this. I’d kind of already guessed this was the “thorn” you’d alluded to in another post some time ago.

    As for me…I’m infertile not because of a specific medical issue, but simply because of age; I didn’t get married until I was 40. Now I am 46, so there is only the tiniest shred of a chance. And my faith tradition and personal beliefs take some medical options off the table, so that decreases the chances even more.

    Most of the time, I am at peace with how things have turned out. I am just so grateful that I finally met a great guy and got married! So now I put my nurturing instinct into my marriage, my writing and my friendships. But sometimes I feel sad. Reading Christian women’s blogs can sometimes make me sadder, because so many of them are all about mothering, and how that is their vocation, which makes them feel closer to God.

    But wait…then there is this Lanier blog…and she finds God in her marriage, her writing, her bookbinding, her beautiful farm, her precious little sheep, and on and on. And now I find out that in all the beauty, she sometimes has the same sadness I do.

    So in your empathy and your courage, you are kind of emotionally mothering me, although I am older than you! I know it is not the form of mothering you (and I) crave. I am just pointing out that nurturing and mothering can show up in all areas of our lives.

    I’m guessing you’ve probably gotten the “but why don’t you just (insert solution X or solution Y here).” But sometimes, for personal, religious, financial or ethical reasons, it is not so easy to let go of one dream for another. And even if you do, it is ok to mourn that first dream.

    I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I am praying for you and also thanking God for your honesty and your joy.

  9. Maryann E. says:

    P.S. When I said “ethical” reasons, I think I meant to type medical reasons, although one’s personal ethics and one’s medical decisions can intertwine as well.

  10. maria says:

    I neglected to tell you how I love the Advent photos you chose here, how they send old-world Christmas richness and warmth. Gingerbread was not on my list of cookies to make this year, but I caught the aroma from your kitchen, and will be making pfefferneuse.

    Tasha Tudor is pure joy and magic. We always see dear little gingerbread cuttings hanging in the old windows at Colonial Williamsburg each Yuletide. And your well-loved books are so right: *Indescribable* is the joy we have in special prayers, songs, and devotion in December…so dear and hallowed, ancient and new. Your Gloria sheep (wasn’t he on the hillside when the angels appeared to the shepherds?) is simple, sweet, and charming. I’ve always wanted to try creating a small flock. They’re one of the things that have slipped by me each year, but the idea of creating them is inexpressibly magical and elusive in my heart, along with Moravian stars and luminaires.

    And, lastly, I was startled to see tinsel and glass ball ornaments. They seemed too modern for you! 🙂 Then I remembered that glass balls have been made for Christmas since the 1840’s. (1848, to be precise (I just looked it up; dates, also, are elusive). Tasha Tudor just missed their creation in her former life. I wonder, now, if she was such a purist as to have kept them from her Vermont home because she missed their creation by about six years in her former life.)

    Thank you, thank you for opening your home so hospitably to us each Christmas.

    “Come, let us worship the Lord, the King who is to come.”

  11. Janice says:

    What book is the first picture with the recipe from?

  12. Laura S. says:

    I always come here for refreshment and encouragement, and I find it. Thank you so much.

  13. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much. This was timely for me. I hope you realise what an encouragement this is to sisters in Christ who have or are experiencing similar

  14. Thank you for speaking from the desert, out of your pain. That truth can set us free. . . to trust God, to see the beauty, to be the broken vessels God is calling us to be. I love the symbol of the red roses, a tangible sign. . .

  15. sandhya says:

    Hello Lanier-Your blog is an oasis and I come here to rest and refresh myself. I read your article Lo, how a rose just now and have something to share with you. Almost a year ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a heavy heart and tears streaming down my cheeks, not knowing the reason and the Lord told me to pray for you and I did. You don’t know me but it is amazing how we are all connected as one body of Christ. We rejoice, grieve and commune together. Thankful for your brokeness. Blessings to you.

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