(an updated version of this post appears on Escape from Averageness® every year, at Christmas)
The intrepid, results-based consultant reclined in the desk chair, put her feet on the desk, and smiled, as she observed the shambles that her almost four-year old son, now almost two-year old daughter, and their younger cousin had made of her consulting firm’s global headquarters.
They were now sprawled on the floor around their grandfather, as he demonstrated the nuanced disparateness between a Marlin Model 1895 .45 70 gov’t and a Ping Eye2 seven iron.
“Boomer, don’t turn my daughter into a son”, she said.
She sipped her pinot noir and sighed at the hopelessness of maintaining corporate décor this time of the year. Looking around her home office, she reflected on no longer being on the road as much; about being able to work most days in whatever she worked-out in; about needing to create separation between personal and work life, where earlier in her career it had naturally existed.
Her reflections were interrupted by a call on her office phone. It was an old business friend. “Calling kind of late for a work night, aren’t you? What made you think I would still be at the office?”
“I know where your office is”, he said. “Where are you?”
“I am home.”
Home. The end of meaningful work for the year. She was looking forward to a well-deserved break with her family and friends.
The conversation was about families, about well-being, about being well. They talked about business. “How was 2016?”, he finally asked. “And – how are you?”
“The ‘life changes’ have slowed, at least for a while”, she laughed. “As for my day job, we’re not partying like it was 2006, but I’ll take it. Actually, 2016 saw a hefty increase in the consulting work I do with individual clients, not back to where we were before the end of the Age of Homebuilder Entitlement®, but better than any time since. On the other hand, the tenth year of six-figure declines from personal peak consulting income was about as much fun as the first nine.”
It was a line she had employed too many times, for too many years. She thought about the duration and the cost of the housing depression, and shook her head. Although she considered it a lost decade, she was grateful she could find the humor in it.
“The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production© – you knew that I published the second edition this year, right? It continues to resonate, and it drives the ever-growing series of successful Pipeline workshops™. That was a goal that we set more than nine years ago; the public, sponsored workshops are in their fourth year, and we are now conducting the two-day Pipeline workshops™ and one-day Pipeline seminars™ in some of the other channels we had identified.
“Oh – and I am finally looking at an infill development opportunity, one with a real historic and architectural connection to northeast Florida”, she added. “You know – elegance and allusion.”
“You’re sounding more and more like your dad”, he said.
“Yep”, she said. “Pretty scary.”
The intrepid, results-based consultant thought for a moment.
“The decision I made early-on – to work where I live, instead of living where I work – continues to pay off, especially when you can host your workshops in a five-diamond resort two miles from your house; the conferences, the speaking engagements, the consulting engagements for individual clients still pull me out of town, but I do most of my work here.
“And – I’ve got this great little guy, and his adorable younger sister, that need me.
“Professionally, that’s where I want to be; as the housing industry continues to return to whatever the new-normal will be, I want to turn more of the road work over to colleagues.
“In every way that really matters, I am – we are all – doing quite well.”
“That’s always good to hear”, he said. “I hope you guys have a Merry Christmas.”
“The very same to you.”
The intrepid, results-based consultant ended her call, walked to the fireplace, and placed another log onto the fire. As she did, the front door opened, and her husband and brother-in-law walked in, back from running their errands. “Daddy’s back!”, she said, amid the squeals and barks. “Aww! They’ve missed you guys so much! And, so have we – for four and a half hours.”
She nodded toward the door leading to the back porch, and then her sister.
“Does the other one care to join me?”
“I suppose”, replied her sister. “Otherwise – what would the other one do?”
They walked outside, joined by her sister’s golden retriever, and reclined into two of the chairs around the pool. They talked, at length, about things, well-past the content of their wine glasses. “I think I will go check on the prospects for dinner”, said her sister. “Can I bring you another glass?”
“Thanks, but no. I’m good.”
The intrepid, results-based consultant looked into the northeast Florida sky on a clear, moonless, star-filled night, and her mind turned completely away from work, and toward family. She thought about the birth of their two children: she recalled the hope and apprehension, the joy and inevitable challenges, the huge changes to their lives, the newness each birth brought.
Her thoughts turned to Christmas, the one almost here and each one previous.
And, she thought about the first Christmas.
She wondered what the tiny town of Bethlehem must have been like that night, so long ago. She thought about another young mother and father, who had made their trip with few resources, facing an uncertain future. And, she thought about their soon-to-be-born son; to everyone else, save a few curious shepherds and a cohort of prescient stargazers from distant eastern places, he was just another child, born in an insignificant city, in a world ruled under the unflinching authority of the Roman Empire.
She considered the character and attributes of the Creator of the universe, the Author of all that is good, the true Lover of her soul. She thought about grace and mercy. She thought about the words of the apostle Paul, buried deep in his first letter to the small group of believers in Corinth, describing Faith, Hope, and Love, the principles of the grace she now pondered.
She leaned further back into her chair and closed her eyes.
“Father, thank you for giving me a Faith that looks back and trusts that the claims this child – Your Son – would one day make about Himself are true, and that each and every moment of time and event of history either points towards, or proceeds from, that truth. Not only a Faith in evidence past, but one that also believes in Your triune willingness and ability to manage this world and my part in it.
“Thank you, also, for giving me a Hope that understands eternity means never-ending, not just somewhere-down-the-road; thank you for giving me a Hope that looks forward from the perspective of the eternal life I have right now, but also understands that, one day, this world – with its share of both joy and pain, and varying degrees of fulfillment – will end, and I will live, constantly and eternally, in Your presence.”
The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about a final point of gratitude, mindful of all the distractions to purposeful living that daily life could present.
“Most of all, thank you for giving me a Love that that leverages Faith and Hope to sustain me, to motivate me, to give me purpose, perspective – and resolve that I could never muster on my own – until You return, or until You call me Home.”
The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about the significance of the full-circle of events that began on that long-ago night. There was a birth; there would be a death, a resurrection, an ascension; in-between, there would be an earthly life.
“We will begin, then, with the creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact that you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning.” (On the Incarnation, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, 350 AD).
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)
“And you shall call His name Immanuel.” (Is. 7:14)
“God with us.”