On the Nearing of Advent, and these Unpredictably Rhythmic Offerings

contract pending

The Contract Pending sign has mysteriously appeared atop our For Sale sign this morning, quietly slipped in by our realtor under the cover of night. She knew it’d make us grin to discover it in first morning’s light.

Though we already knew we were officially under contract {thanks to the closing (finally!!) of our buyers’ former home}, this public declaration of contract-pending-ness makes it feel a bit more real: We are really moving to Colorado, y’all.

These last days have found us rifling through box after box, possession after possession. Organizing our belongings. Carefully packing this, tossing that, donating this other thing that someone else may need more than we do.

In just a few weeks, we will be downsizing from our big ol’ 6 bedroom turn-of-the-century home, into a 2 bedroom apartment.

Yup, that’s TWO bedrooms, and all this extreme simplifying of our lives is feeling more and more weighty in my heart, in a spiritual sense. This gathering to myself everything we own, taking mental inventory, letting it pass through my hands, turning it over in my heart.

There’s the sheet music for a song I wrote as a school project in 8th grade that won a county-wide award. There’s that old cassette tape of me singing with my mom in church at age 7.

There are photo albums and Isaac’s finger paintings and our wedding pictures. My Grandma Agre’s china and old foster care paperwork and that one pair of jeans that never quite fit right.

Organize. Pack. Toss. Donate.

It’s become like a rhythm, and somehow like worship — all this inventorying and sorting — and the more I sift through our belongings, the more my heart cherishes each associated memory, and each moment of this process.

Taking inventory of one’s stuff can be more like taking inventory of a life, and what I find is abundance. We have been rich, sustained and provided for in both heart-tearing loss and soul-filling joy.

Sorting through rubbermaid containers in our 120-year-old dungeon basement, I discover a box of books from my childhood that I’ve saved for my own kiddos, to be pulled out when they’re a few years older.

Narnia. Anne of Green Gables. The Boxcar Children.

And in that box, this treasure of a story:

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I’ve always found it interesting, how The Little Drummer Boy weaves fiction with biblical history, as the wise men invite a poor boy to join them on their journey to lay their treasures before the Baby King.

I pack up the rest of the books but leave this one out, thinking Isaac will enjoy it now that he’s 4… and the holidays are approaching.

So today at nap time, I ask if he’d like me to read a Christmas story that my mom read to me when I was a little girl.

He snuggles down under his covers, and I sit on the floor next to his bed, and I’m not three pages into singing my way through the beautifully illustrated story before I am fully choked up.

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It’s come up in conversation several times recently — how despite my tender, passionate heart, I don’t cry much at all, maybe just a handful of times per year.

But by halfway through the book, my voice is full-on cracking and tears are flowing and I’m having to quit singing every line or so to get half a grip on my emotions.

“Mommy loves this story, Buddy. That’s why I’m crying.” He accepts my explanation of my tears without question, for which I’m thankful, because I don’t know that I can put words even now to why the book moves me so much.

So much.

But I’m gonna try.

It’s something about the trip back to my childhood, I think.

But even more, it’s the openhearted willingness of a fictional boy to bring this seemingly inconsequential gift before a very non-fictional Baby King — the gift of his heart poured out through his instrument — and even as I type I choke on tears because my musician heart is deeply moved by his brave offering.

I have no gift to bring (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
That’s fit to give a King (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
Shall I play for you (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)
On my drum

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So I weep over the childlike simplicity of his gift and of this story…

And over the fact that the little boy’s rhythmic offering makes the Baby Jesus smile.

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*****

Advent is coming.

The other day over Voxer, I share honestly with a dear friend that I’m struggling to feel the anticipation I generally feel as the holidays draw near.

Because instead of pulling out decorations, I’m packing our lives into boxes. And instead of baking, I’m cleaning and purging. And we don’t have a concrete move date yet — and although it helps that our closing process is actively moving forward now, it’s still painful to not have a definite end in sight.

And from the treasure trove of my sweet friend’s heart and life experience, this beautiful invitation from Jesus comes across the Voxer air waves. A reminder that when we aren’t able to settle into our usual Advent traditions due to upheaval in whatever form, He wants us to discover Him in different ways and places and rhythms than we generally would expect.

It’s the perfect nudge to keep my ears open, to listen for Him, to find rest and joy in a Person and not in predictable rhythms.

So I’m keeping an ear out for Him in all this dissonant uncertainty, in these busy, off-beat, final days of our year-long journey to Colorado.

Finding Him in boxes and old books and the sifting and shifting, all this offering of the rhythms of our lives.

___________

P.S. I am LOVING connecting more with my readers these days. If you aren’t already subscribed, can I officially invite you to sign up to receive my updates via email? {I rarely write more than once a week, so I won’t clog your inbox.} You can also “like” my blog’s page on Facebook, or feel free to simply send me a personal friend request {I’m “Dana Kiser Butler.”}.

P.P.S. Because my heart has found something that feels like home with them, it’s highly likely I’ll be linking up with Lisha and Kelli.

This entry was posted in Advent, Attending to His Presence, Celebrations, Give Me Grace, Home and Family Management, misc. walking with Jesus, Transition, Uncategorized, Unforced Rhythms. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to On the Nearing of Advent, and these Unpredictably Rhythmic Offerings

  1. Sharon O says:

    this is so beautiful made me choke up too.
    I love the Christmas season and the stories of long ago.
    Mary and her tender heart, Joseph and his obedience and life changing moments.
    Oh I love it… best wishes for you on the move. It is courageous to go that far in the winter. Safe travels and good times a head of you.
    Sharon O recently posted…Five minute word StillMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh, so do I, Sharon. I LOVE the Christmas season. The nativity story moves my heart more with every passing year. Everything about it. Thanks for your presence here, friend.

  2. Dana,
    This is one of those posts where I could feel every word you wrote. It really came from the heart! Love it! I’ve moved cross country before, and I know how much work goes into such a large move, but the reward will be sweet, friend. When you go where God has called the only place to look is up.The anticipation of hope for the future is thick with blessing!
    Love,
    Jen
    Jennifer Kostick recently posted…I Want a Breakthrough! (A new project and a survey)My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Jennifer, thank you. I felt every word as I wrote it, and even listening to my husband read my words aloud last night, I teared up again, and it’s SO strange for me because like I said – I don’t cry much. Something about this just moves me so profoundly. Thanks for your encouragement here – yes – the anticipation of future hope IS so thick with blessing. Blessings to YOU, friend.

  3. Barbie says:

    I remember the year we had to pack up and move out of the home we owned for 16 years. Job loss had taken it’s toll and we could no longer keep up with the payments so had to short sell. We raised our children there and it was hard to find God in the transition. The first Christmas in our rental didn’t feel like we had normally been accustomed to. Now, after nearly four years, we are learning to see Him in the mess in the corners, the cobwebs, the boxes I can’t bring myself to unpack even now. This Advent I really want to be intentional and slow down and soak Him in. I am hoping Ann’s book, The Greatest Gift, will help me stay focus.

    I am so thankful your house is finally under contract. Excited to journey with you as God moves you into the next season.
    Barbie recently posted…Why Do We Call It Christmas? Review & GiveawayMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Barbie… I know you get this so, so deeply, friend. I’m so thankful you’re learning to see Him in the corners and cobwebs and boxes. So, so much grace to you this Advent season, my friend. May He encounter you around every corner. I want to try to re-read Ann’s book this Christmas season too…

      Love you, friend. Thanks for walking beside me here. I value your presence so much.

  4. Tara says:

    Dana, my dear friend, loved this post so much. Your friend is right. God wants us to experience Advent in new ways. I’m so thankful for our new friendship. And I am so the opposite of you, I CRY all the time. Ok maybe not all the time but a lot of the time. I’ve been known to cry at Hallmark commercials.

    • danalynnb says:

      Yup, Tara, she is SO right — so right it kind of dismantles me. And you should pray for me – impart to me your ability to CRY. :) Seriously – I have told so many people I wish I could cry more easily. Your crying at Hallmark commercials makes me smile – it’s indicative of a tender heart, as I’m sure you know. Tender-hearted people are MY people. :)
      <3

  5. Beth Hess says:

    Perhaps God wants nothing more from us in ANY season but to be open to His presence in the unexpected ways and unfamiliar places. It’s one of the most beautiful mysteries of our Jesus. Always right where we expect Him to be, but also in places we never could have imagined. My heart is anxious with yours to get your family to Colorado, to your promised new home. But I pray with you, too, that you won’t miss a minute of Him between the now and then. (p.s. I love to read that you consider Unforced Rhythms a home, too, because we LOVE having you there!)
    Beth Hess recently posted…For When I Tap my Toes & Trust the Driver (Word of the Week)My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Yes, YES – so right on, Beth. Always in places we could never have imagined. Thanks for that prayer – that we won’t miss a minute of Him between now and then. He is answering it. I’m thankful. And yes, Unforced Rhythms… it is a home for my heart. So glad it is for yours as well. <3

  6. Jolene says:

    This may be the only thing I like about the moving process is the discovering of treasures that have been tucked away and forgotten. I love the story of the Drummer boy, and you have reminded me to share this story with my children during this advent season. I love this thought.

    It’s the perfect nudge to keep my ears open, to listen for Him, to find rest and joy in a Person and not in predictable rhythms

    I need to remember this in my daily life. I allow myself to get so thrown off course by the normal chaos that comes with raising small children, that I need to remember to keep my ears open and listen for him to find my rest and joy in him.

    Thank you so much for these words, and for sharing your heart with us. :-)
    Jolene recently posted…Focus on truth (Tuesday at 10/Three Word Wednesday)My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      There are gifts in every season, even moving seasons, eh? I’m thankful for the way He comes to me in all the hard work of these days. Hope you enjoy sharing the Little Drummer Boy with your kiddos this Christmas! It is so rich. Love to you, sister.

  7. What a beautiful declaration here: “Taking inventory of one’s stuff can be more like taking inventory of a life, and what I find is abundance. We have been rich, sustained and provided for in both heart-tearing loss and soul-filling joy.” Yes!
    I must also say AAAAAAHHHHHH…I am thrilled, too, for you. This move to CO is really, really happening!
    And, not surprisingly, we own the very same book. :-) It’s in board book form, but we’ve kept it all these years. The combination of the Keats illustrations and that story I’ve always loved moves me every time. Add to that my girls’ “pa rum pa pum pum,” and I am completely undone. I love you, sweet friend, and I miss you.
    Ashley Larkin @ Draw Near recently posted…Five Minute Friday: StillMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      It IS happening, Ashley. I mean, gosh, I sure HOPE it is at this point. Ha. :) I love that you own this book too – so cool. I know – the illustrations are incredible and I was stunned, seeing this book for the first time in a decade or more, by how deeply I was moved by it. I love YOU and miss you and oh goodness, I wanna hug your neck, my friend. And talk. For a long time. I am so excited about your life. :) xoxo

  8. Mary Geisen says:

    Hey friend! My heart is rejoicing with you as you take the next step forward that feels uncertain but at the same time the right thing to do. When you described the packing and purging and discovering of past treasures it reminds me of going through my mom’s things after she passed away. There is a rhythm in recalling all that God has blessed us with and a new rhythm in letting Him create new memories in our lives. Praying with you as you make your way toward Colorado. Love you!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Sunday Morning Always Comes-LongingMy Profile

  9. Blessings on selling your house and your upcoming move! Hope you can reconnect with Advent this season in an entirely new and refreshing way. I think it might be nice to strip the season down to its essentials – cut out the decorations, the parties, the ‘extras’ we try to cram in – and spend time instead soaking in its essence.
    Kathryn Shirey recently posted…This Advent, Soak in Jesus {Free Printable Advent Calendar}My Profile

  10. Ceil says:

    Hi Dana! I also had that Little Drummer book as a child. What gorgeous art it has!
    It does seem that you are in the same place as Christ at this season of Advent. His family had to move to Bethlehem before he could be born, a huge inconvenience. But that’s where he needed to be.

    So I guess you need to be in Colorado. (Not bad, I have many family members there!) I hope your move will be filled with safety and grace, just as the Holy Family’s was.
    Nice to meet you too! From Unforced Rhythms,
    Ceil

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