“God with us.”

(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 six-year old son, now almost four-year old daughter, along with their three-year old cousin had made of her consulting firm’s global headquarters.  Her eight-month old son and his three-month old cousin could have apparently cared less.

The older ones were now sprawled on the floor around their grandfather, as he demonstrated the difference between a Marlin Model 1895 .45-70 Government and a Ping Eye2 seven iron.

“Boomer, stop trying to turn your granddaughter into another grandson”, she said.  “And, why do you still wear those patched jeans you had sown in college?  Neil Young would be proud of you.”

She swirled her glass of a Russian River Valley pinot noir, acknowledging the hopelessness of maintaining proper corporate décor this time of the year.  Looking around her home office, she reflected on the year now almost past.  She had found herself on the road far more than she had anticipated.  Although she was still able to work most days in whatever she worked-out in, there was the ever-present, ever-increasing need for separation between her personal life and her work life, where earlier in her career it seemed to have occurred naturally.

Her reflections were interrupted by a call.  It was an old business friend.  “I’m in a meeting”, she said.  “Besides, what made you think I would still be at the office?”

“I know where your office is”, he said.  “So – are you . . . ?”

“Yes . . . I am home.”

Home.

There would be no more travel this year.  She would have preferred that it was the end of meaningful work for the year, as well, but it really wasn’t.  Still, she was looking forward to the break.

“How was 2018?”, he asked.  “And, how are you?”

“Well, we’re a family of five now;  and, they still put up with me”, she said.  “As for my day job, it was another good year;  2017, and now 2018, were the best back-to-back years I’ve had since before the end of the Age of Homebuilder Entitlement®.

“But – it’s different now, and not in a way that makes my personal life easier.

“In the past, the engagements were more extended, and they didn’t require me to be at the client’s site as much;  I could do most of the work from the office.  Now, I’m traveling a lot more;  Delta and Avis love me, but I can’t say it is easy.

“Five years ago. I would note, only half in jest, that the most recent yearly six-figure decline from personal peak consulting income was almost as much fun as the how-ever-many previous years, but that certainly isn’t true any longer.

“The book [The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition©] continues to sell, and continues to drive the ever-growing series of successful Pipeline workshops™.  If you remember, the intention of doing production workshops dates back more than 12 years;  hard to believe, but the public, sponsored workshops are now in their sixth year;  and, we’re now conducting both the two-day Pipeline workshops™ and one-day Pipeline seminars™ in the other channels we had identified.”

“What about that infill residential piece you told me about, the one you were looking to develop and build-out as a mid-19th century Florida settlement?”, he asked.

“Still looking”, she answered.  “Trying to create elegance and allusion – being simple, refined, fit for purpose, and being true to the vernacular architecture of the period – requires thought and work.  On the first parcel, I had to deal with too many owners.  On the second parcel, we’ve done the wetlands delineation assessment, some of the due-diligence and proforma work,  But, the circumstances on this particular property means it’s not my call alone;  we’ll see.  I haven’t given up.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant thought for a moment.

“It’s still paying off, the decision I made early-on, to work where I live, instead of live where I work.  I get to host the workshops in an award-winning resort two miles from my house;  the conferences and consulting engagements increasingly require travel, but I still get to do a good portion of my work right here.

“And – I’ve got this awesome crew that needs me.”

“So much for your mental models on size and growth”, he said.  “Bigger is better, and you do want to grow, right?”

“Somehow, I knew you would say that”, she replied.  “And, the answer is still ‘no’.

“I had a client ask me earlier this year about my succession plan, about how I intended to preserve the legacy that he believed was valuable and important;  I told him I had absolutely no idea.  It’s premature now, but it’s something I eventually need to consider, need to address.  All I know is, right now, professionally, I am where I want to be.  But, I also know this:  I want to turn more of the road work over to partners and colleagues.

“I don’t have all the answers.  Finding joy in all of this can be a struggle.  But, in every way that really matters, I am – we are all – doing very well.”

“It sounds like that’s the case”, her business friend said.  “I hope you have a Merry Christmas.”

“Thanks, and 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 who knows where.

“Aww!  We’ve missed you guys!  For four and a half hours!”  Nodding towards the door, she asked her younger sister, “Care to join me?”

“Of course”, replied her sister, looking at their father.  “The ‘the other one’ would be happy to join you.”

They walked outside, joined by her sister’s golden retriever, and reclined into two of the chairs around the pool.  They talked, about things – about careers, about kids, about life – well-beyond the content of their wine glasses.  “I think I’ll go check on the prospects for dinner”, said her sister.  “Bring you another glass?”

“Thanks, but not right now.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant looked into the northeast Florida sky on a clear, moonless, star-filled night, and turned her mind completely away from work and toward family.  She thought about the birth of her three children, recalling the hope and apprehension, the joy and inevitable challenges, the huge and growing changes to their lives, the newness each birth had 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 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, and only that is good;  the true Lover of her soul, Who had pursued her relentlessly through all space and time.  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 an enduring Faith, a Faith that looks back and always 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 just 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 Hope, an enduring 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, our lives in this world – with its joy and pain, and partial fulfillment – will end, and that I will live in Your presence – constantly, eternally, restored, with all things made new.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant thought about a final point of gratitude, mindful of all the distractions to purposeful living that daily life presents.

“Finally, thank you for the Love you give me, a Love that that uses Faith and Hope to sustain me, to motivate me, to give me purpose, perspective and resolve – that I could never have on my own – until You return, or until You call me Home.

“Make my joy defiant.”

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;  between birth and death, 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.”