I was curled up in my pajamas under a square of brown faux fur watching the Man stoke the ashes and kindle wood, when she knocked at the front door. The fire had gone out sometime during the night and the house was cold to my bare feet. I’d been watching him work for long minutes when I looked up to find her standing outside our door, her breath like smoke whirling round her face. I wondered if she was there to let us know why she and her daughter never made it to last night’s Christmas party.
I stayed in my corner on the couch while he answered the door and invited her in.
And to my surprise, she came inside.
She’d been here a dozen times before, each time walking up to the door, knocking, and then hurrying back down the steps to wait on the sidewalk. But this morning, it was bitterly cold and she was alone. Her daughter was at home with a new baby, her second in 2 years, and so she came alone with no one to help interpret her sign language and garbled speech.
They stood just a few feet inside the door and I listened and watched from my safe spot as the Man talked aloud the motions he could make out.
“The rain’s coming in through your kitchen again?” he said, his words sounding more like a question than a statement. “It rained all night, I know. I’m so sorry. The repair yesterday didn’t hold?”
She shook her head yes and then no and used her hands to explain how the leaves from the broken chimney blew in as the rain trickled down over the sink in her kitchen. Her landlord is more like a slumlord and he won’t fix the roof so we had sent a guy over to repair it for her.
I sat quietly and shivered at the thought of her standing in the kitchen, washing baby bottles, while the rain poured through the ceiling. We’d been eating cookies and guzzling cider at the muy fabuloso Christmas party while Yolanda had been catching rain in buckets.
So that’s why she and her family had missed the festivities?
I felt small and shallow and helpless right there in the corner of my perfect world.
She motioned more words and I could hear the Man’s words breaking up as he tried to communicate with her. I broke up on the inside with him.
This constant band-aid sort of work wears one thin and wears the heart down even thinner, all the while making it pulse more wildly.
And the more it pulses, the more it breaks wide open, spilling out all the things I hold close, always making more room for the things that God holds even closer.
I look around the house at the branches suspended from the ceiling and the Jesse Tree ornaments hanging from their limbs and this story of Jesus, it hangs all over my home, His humble coming, made real in this woman’s humble knock on my front door.
And I remember why He is coming.
And tonight, I ask Him to hurry.
Hurry, for the whole earth groans and we groan with it.
*For those of you who prayed for snow, we had no snow! God delivered on His pattern of rain and so we filled the house to the plaster ceilings! But honestly, I feel the need to share one thing with you guys, in hopes that you pray. We live in the South, in a city that is still very racially charged and our home is a barrier, simply because of the color of our white skin. We knew that some of our neighbors would not come to the Neighborhood party because we’re white and they’re not and even if they have no prejudice, they would not be willing to darken the door of our home for fear that someone may see them. Even today, Yolanda came inside our home which is a HUGE step. So I ask you to pray that we would be wise in navigating this racial tension that is alive and well in our small town- and it’s in all races. It’s complicated and historical and generational and messy. Man, is it messy! So thankful we serve a God who has overcome it all. And I thank you for showing up here and praying. You guys have become my community and I thank God for you daily.
These random photos are mainly members of our church who come to serve with us in our neighborhood and a few of the neighborhood kids I call “my porch swing kids” because they live on my porch swing all summer long. I took a few other pictures of our neighbors, but honestly, I feel weird doing it. I want to give you guys a picture of faces to pray for, but I don’t want to exploit anyone. So, as a result, you have no pictures of most of our people. I hope you understand. (But that handsome man up there with the red beard, he’s mine. He’s the Man. I’m a lucky gal.)
And one other thing- I completely forgot about our Friday giveaway! I had a party on my brain and I am so sorry! I’ll make up for it on Tuesday or Thursday of this week!!!