Archive for December, 2008


In ancient liturgical worship, there is an Advent tradition called the O Antiphons. For the last seven days of Advent leading to Christmas Eve, the O Antiphons represented seven Scriptural attributes of Christ, one to be the focus of worship on each of these seven days.

O Sapientia (Wisdom)

O Adonai (Lordship)

O Radix Jessee (Root of Jessee)

O Clavis David (Key of David)

O Oriens (Morning Star)

O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations)

O Emmanuel (God with Us)

One night at a time, ancient worshippers would gather together for evening prayer, and they would focus their thoughts and their hearts onto each of these attributes. Christ, the baby, who is Wisdom. Christ, the infant, who is the King of the Nations. One day at a time, they would prepare for a true celebration of the birth of their Savior.

But the significance of the O Antiphons is not just in their individual attributes and the spirit of worship that came with each of them. In ancient church traditions, worshippers were very aware of symbols and patterns in Scripture. And given that the O Antiphons were taken one by one from Scripture, their order and their significance was valuable.  The early church understood the significance of the O Antiphons through the word retrieved from the first letter of each attribute in reverse order. EROCRAS.

EROCRAS. A Latin phrase that means, “Tomorrow, I will be here.”

The early church understood that EROCRAS, the promise that Christ would come tomorrow, was the most significant promise in all of the celebration of Christ’s birth.  It was not just that God had promised in the Old Testament to come to us to. It is the promise that He has come to be with us. Tomorrow, the day after, and the days after that. He has come and tomorrow, He will still be here.

He has come in the form of an infant. And tomorrow, He will still be here. That is the promise that we celebrate at Christmas.

The seven attributes of the O Antiphons were passed down through hundreds of years until they eventually formed the five  familiar lyrical verses of the carol we know as O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  He has come.  EROCRAS. He will still be here tomorrow.

O come, O come, Emmanuel.


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Sometimes I’m so grateful I don’t know what to do with myself.

True story.

This morning, as I sat in my silent living room drinking coffee and journaling, I literally looked out the window and smiled so big I thought my face would freeze. I must have looked like a four year old in the aisles of ToysRUs.  I literally sat there smiling until I realized what I was doing and laughed at myself. There wasn’t, at that moment, a real reason to smile. I just am so grateful sometimes that I don’t know what else to do.

I still cannot believe that I am here. I keep wondering when the adrenaline is going to wear off or when I’m going to find the big catch in all of this. I keep expecting something terribly discouraging to happen or to have a bad day that seems overwhelming. And I know that those things will come eventually- it’s an inevitable part of life – but for now, I am still completely overwhelmed at the way 2008 is ending for me.

This week marks one year since I started my blog. My first post was related to the title of my blog – Living the Questions. I know it’s not very original, but it just seems like the only way to accurately describe my life. I live questions. I really do. Day-in and day-out, over and over again, in my journal, with my peers, in my silent thoughts when no one else is around…I live questions. Everything in my life is a giant question mark. And I think it always will be. And I’m okay with that most of the time.

If you’ll glance back at my first post, however, I think you’ll see why I smiled like a four year old this morning. It’s crazy to think of the questions, the struggle, the uncertainty, and the waiting that have happened in the past twelve months. And it’s even crazier to think that one year ago this week, I was living the questions that are being answered in my life right now. 

And I just caught myself smiling all over again.

I’m so grateful for the journey, the questions, and the way, without realizing it, I am living into the answers.

And I absolutely cannot wait to experience the questions, struggles, uncertainty, waiting, and answers that are yet to be seen in another year of blogging.

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I spent two hours on the phone last night with a thirteen year old girl whose life is in total shambles.

Two hours.

I might have said three minutes worth of words in the course of that two hours. For the most part, I just sat and listened. She unloaded one struggle after another, everything from family issues to cutting to disordered eating and loneliness. And she’s just thirteen years old.


Her life is a wreck right now. She knows that. She feels it. And last night, she was certainly feeling like the prospect of being whole again was beyond hope.

I don’t usually say a lot in conversations like that. In the process of unloading pent-up hurts and bondage like hers, I know that words are not often helpful. I know because I’ve been that girl. Not in her shoes, for sure. But I’ve been the girl who was broken –  in a pit without a stitch of hope to believe that light would ever penetrate that darkness – and I can certainly remember unloading like that on a number of significant women in my life.  Words weren’t generally helpful for me either.

But it breaks my heart to be wordless and helpless on the other end of the phone. There was nothing I could do for her last night besides listen. And I know there is value in listening and empathy and all that. Good grief. I know. But the reality is that phone calls like hers come in moments of desperation when you just want someone else to hear and bear the burden with you. She wanted a solution. An answer. Assurance that God is still working in her darkness. Hope that chains can be broken, life can be better, and joy can be found again. And I didn’t have words for that last night.

But I woke up this morning with distinct words. Distinct. They were clear in my mind from the moment my alarm clock went off.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of out God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes; the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Is. 61:1-3.

I don’t where those words were last night when I sat and listened to the burden spill out from her mouth. I’m not sure why I woke up with them this morning instead of instantly turning to them last night. But I know that the significance of those words is infinitely greater than any I could come up with on my own, and they are certainly closer to the assurance and hope she is looking for than any I could offer her myself.

Those words are the kind that make Christmas significant. A King born into ugliness so that he could give beauty for our ashes. A Savior born into chains and darkness so that we could have freedom. A Prince born into mourning and weakness so that we could be comforted and find joy again. 

An infant born into humanity so that a thirteen year old girl can know that Deity Himself identifies with her darkness, her pit. An infant born into helplessness so that she can know that her Help has come.

And those are the kind of words that make all the difference. Words of light. Words of hope. Words of joy. Even in the midst of a life in shambles.

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I’m not frozen yet.

Today was the coldest day I’ve ever experienced in my life. EVER. I just don’t understand why temperatures are allowed to drop below zero…?

I’ve been here for two weeks already, and I can’t believe I haven’t taken the time to blog even once since my arrival.

I mean, I’ve only had a few things to do.

Like moving into an apartment, setting up life in a new state, starting a new job, going to a play, seeing the Trans Siberian Orchestra, three church staff parties, final exams and term papers, a party with some of my girls here,  two Christmas parties with friends, two potluck dinners, and my first semi-major student event.

I’ve obviously been bored.


It’s been a wild ride so far, with more blessings and confirmation than I need in a lifetime. I was made for this place and this season, and I love-love-love it so far. I have a couple of posts coming this week, but in the mean time, I thought you might want to see a picture from my new job.

We’re very spiritual.




My first official night with the students = ELF Night. A student ministry after my own heart, I tell you.

And take note of the chaos going on behind us in the second photo. I’m in charge of that. Love it.

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True story.

“IMPORTANT NOTICE from Holiday Inn Express in Salina, Kansas: Please note that the hotel reserves the right to post additional charges for anyone caught cleaning game in hotel rooms.”

That notice is posted in three different locations on the check-in desk.

This raises several important questions for me:

1. How often has that happened that it deserved three signs?

2. Just additional charges? Not “kick you out of our nice hotel” or “prosecute”. Just add more money to your fee? Nasty.

3. Whose idea was this state anyway?

After driving half-way across the state and realizing that there are still five more hours until we cross the line into Colorado, I have decided that this whole state was just a bad idea. Almost to Colorado! More to come.

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