“God with us.”

(an updated version of this entry appears on Escape from Averageness® every year, at Christmas)

EFA - God With Us 1

The intrepid, results-based consultant reclined in the desk chair, put her feet on the desk, and smiled, as she watched her almost three-year old son, now almost one-year old daughter, and their even-younger cousin make shambles of her consulting firm’s global headquarters.

She raised her glass of pinot noir towards her sister and smiled, acknowledging the hopelessness of trying to maintain corporate decor.  Looking around the home office, she began to reflect on the changes from rarely being on the road anymore;  about being able to work most days in whatever she worked-out in;  about needing to engineer separation between personal and work life, where previously it had naturally existed.

Her reflections were interrupted by a call on her cell 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.  Where are you?”, he asked.

“Home.”

Home.  Just, simply, home.  The end of meaningful work for the year.  She was looking forward to a well-deserved break with her family – her now-larger family – and friends.

They talked about families, about well-being, in some cases, about becoming well again.  The discussion turned towards business.  “How was 2015?”, he finally asked.  “And – how are you doing?  More life-changes.”

“I think the ‘life changes’ will slow down a bit, at least for a while”, she laughed.  “As for my day job, 2015 saw an increase in the consulting work I do with individual clients;  it’s not back to where we were before the end of the Age of Homebuilder Entitlement®, but better.  The ninth year of six-figure declines from personal peak consulting income was still almost as much fun as the first eight.”

It was a tired joke, told too many times, for too many years.  She thought about the duration and the cost of this housing recession and the economy itself, and shook her head.  It was now almost a lost decade;  she was grateful she could still find the humor in it, although she had to count the years on the fingers of both hands to make sure the number of years was right.

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“The decision I made years ago – to work where I live, instead of live where I work – continues to pay off, especially when you can host your workshops in a five-diamond resort two miles from your house;  except for the away conferences and speaking engagements, I do almost all of my work here now.  And – I’ve got this great little guy, and now, his adorable younger sister, that both need me.

“Professionally, that’s where I want to be;  as the housing industry returns to whatever the new-normal is, I want to turn more of the road work over to my colleagues.

“In every way that really matters, I am – we are – doing quite well.”

“That’s good to hear”, he said.  “Merry Christmas.”

“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 their errands.  “Daddy’s back!  They’ve missed you guys so much!”, she said.

She turned to her sister, nodded toward the door leading to the back porch, and asked,  “Care to join me?”

“Think I will.”

They walked outside, joined by her sister’s golden retriever, and reclined into two of the Adirondacks around the pool.  They talked for a while, about a number of things, until both of their wine glasses were empty.  Her sister rose, and said, “I’ll go check on dinner.  Need a refill?”

“Thanks, but 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 son, and, now, the birth of his little sister:  she recalled the hope and apprehension, the joy and inevitable challenges, the 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 shepherds and a cohort of stargazers from distant eastern places, he was just another child, born in an insignificant city, into 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.

“Thank you for giving me a Faith that looks back into history and trusts that the claims this child 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.  But, not just a Faith in evidence past, but one that also believes in Your 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, motivate me, and give me purpose, perspective, and resolve, 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.”