“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 observed the shambles that her almost seven-year old son, now almost five-year old daughter, along with their four-year old cousin had made of her consulting firm’s global headquarters.  Her almost two-year old son and his fifteen-month old cousin apparently had other interests.

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

“Boomer, stop trying to turn your granddaughters into grandsons”, she said.  Turning her attention to the tormentors, she added, “You better be careful when you poke the bear.”

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 recently and completely remodeled home office, she reflected on the year now almost past.

She had found herself, yet again, on the road more than she would have wanted.  Although she was still able to work most days in whatever she worked-out in, there was still the ever-present, ever-increasing sense of a need to separate her personal life and her work life.

Her reflections were interrupted by a call.  It was the annual call from an old business friend.  “Can’t you see I’m managing a crisis”, she said.  “And, what made you think I would still be at the office?”

“I know where your office is”, he said.

“Yes . . . I am home.”

Home.

After being out on engagements the past two weeks, 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 certainly wasn’t.  Still, she was looking forward to the brief break.

“How was 2019?”, he asked.  “And, how are you doing?”

“Everyone is good.  No changes.  Everyone still puts up with me”, she said.  “Well, one change.  We downsized into a smaller house.  It’s only four years old, but we are completely redoing it.”

“Why would you do that?”, he asked, thinking he probably already knew the answer.

“Well, we love the neighborhood, that it is a really good TND, and we like the elevations.  The floorplan is smaller than anything we have owned since our first house, and more open than anything we have ever owned.  A lot of our traditional/transitional pieces don’t work, so we are building everything in.

“I think another part of it, though, is that, aside from our first house, this is the only house we have ever owned that we did not also design and build.  We will make it work, but the re-do is going to take every bit as long as building a new house.

“Business-wise, it was another good year;  not quite as much revenue as the last two, but, combined, these are the best back-to-back-to-back years I’ve had since the onset of the End of the Age of Homebuilder Entitlement®.

“There has been more travel, which continues to make my personal life more challenging.  Before, the consulting engagements were more extended, and I didn’t have to be onsite with the client as much;  I could do most of the work from the office.  That’s not the case now.

“Delta and Avis love me, but I can’t say life is easy.

“I remember joking with you, almost ten years ago, that the then most recent yearly six-figure decline from personal peak consulting income was almost as much fun as the previous two years had been.  That seems like a long time ago.  It was redonkulous then, it is redonkulous now.”

“Is the book still doing well?”, he asked.

“The book [The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition©] continues to sell, and continues to drive the Pipeline workshops™.  If you remember, the idea of doing production workshops dates back more than a dozen years;  hard to believe, but the public, sponsored workshops are now in their seventh year;  and, we continue to conduct both the two-day Pipeline workshops™ and one-day Pipeline seminars™ in the other channels.”

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

“Still looking”, she answered.  “Still looking to create elegance and allusion – homes that are simple, refined, fit for purpose, true to the vernacular architecture of the period.  On the first parcel I had told you about, I had to deal with too many owners.  On the second parcel, we’ve done the wetlands delineation assessment, and some of the due-diligence and proforma work.  The circumstances on this property, however, means that it’s not my call alone.

“I haven’t given up.  I’m looking at another parcel now.”

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

“The decision I made early-on, to work where I live, instead of live where I work, is still paying-off.  I do the workshops in a five-star oceanfront resort five miles from my house;  the housing conferences and consulting engagements require me to travel, but I still get to do a good portion of my work here.

“And – I’ve got this awesome crew that needs me, that I get to come home to.

“I had a client ask me last year about my ‘succession plan’, about how I intended to preserve the legacy of my consulting practice;  I told him I had absolutely no idea.  Eventually, I will need to address it.  Right now, professionally, I am where I want to be.  At the same time, I know that I want to start turning more of the road work over to partners and colleagues.

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

“Good to hear”, her business friend said.  “I hope you have a Merry Christmas.”

“Thanks.  The same to you.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant ended her call.  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!  All four and a half hours!  The kiddos are all yours.”

Nodding towards the back door, she suggested to her younger sister that she join her.

They walked outside, joined by her sister’s golden retriever, and reclined into two of the chairs around the fireplace.  They talked, about shared things, well-beyond the content of their wine glasses.  “I think I’ll go check on the prospects for dinner”, her sister announced.

“Can I bring you another glass?”

“No, thanks.”

The intrepid, results-based consultant looked into the northeast Florida sky on a clear, moonless, star-filled night, turned her mind 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 ever-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 long-ago night.  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 true Lover of her soul, the God who had pursued her heart 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, I give it all to You, every care and concern, my schedule, every trouble and burden, every question for which I do not have an answer.  Please restore my heart and give me joy.

“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, each and every 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 only 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 given to 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 Christ’s return, or until I am called 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;  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.”