<div><p><span style="color: #231f20; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"> <span style="color: #2ea3f2; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-top: 0px;"><b>Advent Day 24 - Tuesday, December 19</b></span> <br> <br></span></p><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><div><p>The alarm went off, beckoning me toward a day I preferred not face. Coffee silently cheered me on as I tried to ready for the world on the outside even if I didn’t feel it on the inside. Life sometimes does this: Circumstance knocks you off-balance and leaves you struggling for footing.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Leaning into pain and being real through it has never come easy to me. Somehow it feels safer to have a one-on-one with God before I let anyone see me weak, vulnerable, broken, down. But my Tuesday held unique purpose that would make this day matter and, with it, a perfectly placed hope.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Rapidly moving little fingers worked their way down fleece’s edge with visions of it soon blanketing others in warmth. Smiles and laughter and chatter of helping others have better days filled my ears.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->It is an awkward world this side of Heaven. The one that jars us yet still inspires us. The one that breaks us, yet in those very moments shows us undeniable beauty.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->I knew the woman standing next to me, though not well. As the organizer of the event, I wanted her to know why it meant what it did. I also needed to know that I could release the words running through my mind into open air and survive. And the story fell out. Broken.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Advent is a messy time. Even as faith-filled people, we tend to focus on the glorious ending rather than stay in step with The Story, which brims with dilemma, fear, restlessness, confusion—days looking different than Mary and Joseph expected. <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->But this God that we love finds way to make the uncomfortable beautiful once again. <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> “I get that,” she replied. “I’ve been there, too.” <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->And the walls around my heart fell to the freedom of community and compassion. And in releasing my fear I got to see God in the face of another.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Twelve hours later, there were still dishes that needed to be done. I mindlessly began moving my washcloth over the crockpots when a second set of hands appeared in the soapy water. I turned to see my new friend grabbing another dish in silent solidarity. Presence that transformed my experience.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Thank you, God, for showing up to remind us you are not alone. I am right here. May we have courage to say yes in our mess that we might see you.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Melissa Nesdahl<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> </p></div>