it’s Christmastime in the city

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Behold, our bitty Christmas tree! It’s about two feet high without the boxes all covered in plaid. It was inexpensive at Whole Foods, came with its own stand, and was a pleasure to decorate (in less than an hour). We may never go back to a full-size tree.

I lie. We love giant Christmas trees.

Yesterday morning I walked to work in a half-sleeve sweater and my puffy vest. It’s going to be almost 70 degrees today. The automatic sprinklers are still running. Whither the ice-cold fingers? The ruts of ice on the roads? The small talk about gift wrapping and traveling and holiday menus?

In some moments, I remind myself the calendar says December 19 even if the temperature says May.

The IV is helping. When we sit on the couch at 5:30 in the morning, awkwardly snuggling around the giant IV pole in between us, I look at the Christmas tree and remember Advent is about waiting. I imagine my Israelite counterpart 2,100 years ago, before Christ was born, and wonder if she had the same thoughts I do. I’m tending my husband’s IV, she probably tended her children or sheep. But our thoughts could be the same. She read a promise but didn’t know when or how this promise would be kept. I read promises of goodness and healing and life but don’t know when or how they’ll be kept in our lives. She probably wondered if it would happen in her lifetime, so do I. She probably prayed for speed, she probably prayed for strength to trust, she probably looked around her and thought, Wouldn’t now be the perfect time for the Messiah to come? So do I. When I lean my head on Brad’s shoulder and dodge the IV line to gingerly hold his hand while it drips and drips, I think, Wouldn’t now be the perfect time for the Messiah to come? Wouldn’t now be the perfect time for God to keep his promise to wipe out pain and put mercy in its place? Even better, wouldn’t this be the perfect time for Jesus to return to Earth and make this broken place with its broken hearts new?

You never want something so bad as when you’re waiting for it.

My challenge in Advent and past Advent is to love the wait. Marinate in the wait. Our sitting and wondering is made sweet by Christmas music (if you’ve never played the Motown-y Christmas station on Pandora, do it now. It’s shameless. For something softer, try Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors’ latest Christmas album), plans for pancake breakfasts, and laughing hysterically over YouTube videos. With these small things, we pull peace out of the Not Yet.




  1. Mom

    I panicked for a moment and then you said, ” I lie. We love giant Christmas trees.” Whew! I raised my children right.

    Thank you, once again, for the best of devotions. God’s timing is never off and we can live in the Not Yet–the world is full of much that is beautiful. Even so we can’t help but breathe, “Come, Lord Jesus.” And He replies, “Surely I am coming soon.”

  2. Madison

    You two are the most beautiful, faithful couple. I think about you often and am lifting Brad up in prayer. Thank you for being such a light and encouragement, Joanna!

  3. Shanna Mallon

    You said this so beautifully, I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for lifting my thoughts up.

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