“God with us.”

(the intrepid, results-based consultant is the main character in both editions of The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production©;  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 five-year old son, now almost three-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 explained the difference between a Marlin Model 1895 .45 70 gov’t and a Ping Eye2 seven iron.

“Hey Boomer, stop trying to turn your granddaughter into a grandson”, she said.

As she swirled her glass of Russian River Valley pinot noir, she acknowledged the hopelessness of maintaining corporate décor this time of the year.  Looking around her home office, she reflected on not being on the road as much;  about being able to work most days in whatever she worked-out in;  about an increasing need for separation between her personal life and her work life, where earlier in her career it seemed to have naturally occurred.

Her reflections were interrupted by a call from an old business friend.  “Kind of late for a work night”, she said.  “How did you know I would still be at the office?”

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

“I am home.”

Home.  Simply, Home.  With the exception of the education session she had to prepare to moderate at IBS in early January, it was the end of meaningful work for the year.

She was looking forward to the break.

“How was 2017?”, he asked.  “And, how are you?”

“No changes to report;  surprisingly, the fam still puts up with me”, she said.  “As for my day job, we’re still not partying like it was 2006, but I will take it.  In terms of client engagements, 2017 was the best year I have had since before the end of the Age of Homebuilder Entitlement®.

“I have to say, though, the eleventh year of declines from personal peak consulting income was not quite as much fun as the first ten.  I suppose that’s what getting out of six-figure declines and only having to deal with five-figure declines does for you.”

She knew it was her tired attempt at humor, used it too many times, for too many years.

“The book [The Pipeline: A Picture of Homebuilding Production, Second Edition©] continues to resonate, and it drives the growing series of successful Pipeline workshops™.  As you know, the intention of doing production workshops dates back more than 10 years;  hard to believe, but the public, sponsored workshops are now in their fifth year;  and, we are now conducting both the two-day Pipeline workshops™ and one-day Pipeline seminars™ in other channels that we had identified.”

“What about that infill residential piece you told me about, the one you were looking to develop and build-out?”, he asked.

“Still looking”, she answered.  “The first piece didn’t work out.  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 require travel, but I continue to do most of my work here.

“And – I’ve got this awesome young man and his adorable younger sister that need me.

“Professionally, I am where I want to be;  and, as the housing industry continues to return to what is still an unknown new-normal, I want to turn more of the road work over to colleagues.

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

“That is always good to hear”, her business friend said.  “I hope you have a Merry Christmas.”

“Same to you, my friend.”

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!”

“Does ‘the other one’ care to join me?”, she asked, nodding to her younger sister.

“Of course”, replied her sister.  “What would ‘the other one’ otherwise do?”

They walked outside, joined by her sister’s golden retriever, and reclined into two of the chairs around the pool.  They talked, 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 not right now.”

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, recalling the hope and apprehension, the joy and inevitable challenges, the huge 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, 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 Faith, 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 Hope, 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, our lives in this world – with its joy and pain, and partial fulfillment – will end, and I will live, constantly, eternally, restored 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 presents.

“Even more, thank you for the Love you give me, a Love that that leverages Faith and Hope to sustain me, motivate me, give me purpose, perspective – and resolve that I could never have 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;  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.”