when Advent arrives (the end of the waiting)

When I wrote last week’s post on the waiting of Advent, my brothers and I were all waiting. Scattered up and down the East coast, from Maine to South Carolina, we all were awaiting quite poignant gifts. Both sisters-in-law were pregnant, due within a week of each other!, and we were eagerly waiting for the gifts of these babies.

And within a week, both gifts were delivered. Jonathan and Nicole welcomed their first daughter (third child), Abigail Katherine, on Thursday morning, December 6 (on her due date). And I gained my first niece! Six days later, on her due date of December 12, Bryan and Megan welcomed their first baby, Isaac Lee. My “baby” brother having his first baby … I can hardly believe it!

I am reminded that the end of the waiting is a gift. It is a gift immeasurable to see these babies cradled in the arms of their parents, babies which even just two short weeks ago were still nurtured in their mother’s wombs. To see these gifts delivered! The gift of a first daughter; the gift of a first baby … And there is a taste of Advent here. The “already” part of Advent – that there is a baby who has been delivered. Isaiah echoes this promise –

For unto US a child is born, unto US a son is given …

And yet I am still waiting to meet these sweet gifts. I rejoice with their arrival, and I ache with longing to hold them and kiss their sweet faces and welcome them to the world and actually see/witness/experience the joy of their proud parents. And isn’t this like Advent? We rejoice that our King has come, humbly born and laid in a manger. That He began the redemption revolution and its end is guaranteed. But yet we await the full experience of it, don’t we? There is still suffering, tears, infertility, death, grief, abuse – that remind us that we still await the FULL Advent, of our King will will “make all the sad things come untrue.” (Tolkien)

I am sharing a poem I wrote with the birth of my first nephew over four years ago. And it is now in honor of these two sweet babies, barely and not quite a week old now. There can’t be a better way of celebrating AND awaiting Advent then for these parents as they cradle their newborns.

Who will this little one be?
So much potential!
Tiny toes, hands, feet …
what miles will you walk?
What work will you do?
Who will you become?
Your world is a blank canvas.
Yet planned by a Creator who has been forming you from the beginning of time. He knew your face before any of us glimpsed it.
He knows what will make you laugh and cry.
He sees your end from the beginning.
And he loves you more than any of us can.
(hard to believe – I haven’t even seen you yet
but I love you already because you belong to us)

A late night prayer is that you will come to know
the One who knows you early in your life.
You have a better chance than many because
you will see Him in the lives of your parents.
They will show His love to you in 1000 ways, reflecting it to you like a prism’s rainbow of light.
May you receive it,
drinking it in like water in a desert’s oasis.
This world is difficult.
You will find that out too soon – it is a desert
and it often feels like wandering wilderness,
but there is refreshment to carry you through.
It’s the beauty of Christ … the way He is making all things new.As he has made you new tonight.

So this evening,
your first evening in this world,
rest well.
Sleep well, little one.
You will awaken soon enough.
The journey is long and sweet and beautiful. Welcome to the family.

the waiting of Advent

A season of longing, of waiting, and it begs the question – what are you waiting for? For we are all waiting for something, someone, some change of circumstances or some relief or joy or hope or life to pass.


There are those waiting for test results, like we waited ten years ago as a family, and then heard not only once but twice the dreaded diagnosis of “cancer” for each of my parents (within two weeks).

I think of many friends who are waiting for a baby. Either by adoption or conception. And the waiting is agonizing, month after month of month of hope and disappointment – cycling through the heart till it feels it cannot bear it any longer. Hearing false words of comfort, meant to cheer but which feel empty and despairing. “Try this – there’s always next month! – children are so hard anyway …”

Women and men who are waiting for healing, for redemption, for forgiveness of ones who have wounded them, abused them, degraded them. Will it ever come this side of heaven? How long, O Lord?

There are Christians persecuted around the world, awaiting an end to the faith-induced suffering (while some “Christians” in America claim Jesus as the way to a suffering-free life).


Maybe you are waiting the interminable wait of grief, of longing, of mourning for loved ones who have passed away – a parent, a child, a best friend, a sibling, an aunt, uncle, cousin … and you, too, cry with the psalmist, “How long, O Lord?”

Some of you, like me, feel like you’re waiting for an impossible stage of parenting to be done. Waiting for tantrums to decrease, for kids to grow up (?), for this stage to pass like all those veteran parents promise it will, and too soon.

Some are waiting for a new job, for a move, for what’s next, for a house to sell, for a baby on the way, for school to finish. And there is joy mixed in some of this waiting.

Yet in all of it, we feel a longing. A yearning that this Advent season, a season of intense waiting and longing for … the One. The One who redeems the broken places we dare not speak of aloud, the sorrowful places we cannot bear to revisit, the weary-worn-out-hopeless places we fear may take us under, the suffering that feels too much or too mundane or too constant or just simply too long. He comes.


The wait is over when we wait on the Lord. For his coming is as sure as daylight after the longest night. The heart that waits on him is never disappointed. For seasons will pass, healing is slow yet sure, comfort is there for every grief, grace is there for each trial, and in all of the waiting there is the presence of Love with us. God with us. Emmanuel. With each Christmas carol, we too can rejoice (even in our waiting) with Zechariah in Luke 1:68, 78-79 –

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people … because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.