Christmas star -LN

Photo by Lorri Nussbaum

I’ve been playing hooky. I admit it.

I never did that when I was in school. Not even for senior ditch day. Not even for a mind-numbing class in college or a boring lecture in grad school. If I could take back all the days I went to class sick, I would. But even that wouldn’t count as playing hooky.

And perhaps the reasons I’ve neglected the blog, as well as social media, for the last few weeks don’t constitute playing hooky either. No fun and games have been involved, I assure you.

We all have seasons when challenges seem to pile up, and this has been one of them for me. We had water damage in the floor of one bathroom, which is directly above another where the first clue came when the ceiling started sagging. So we had to gut and renovate both on an unplanned basis. In the process we discovered termite damage, and a whole-house treatment, inside and outside, is on the calendar. Then the fuel pump in the car went out.

It was all distracting and consuming of time and energy. (I’m sure I don’t have to mention the money consumed!) And noisy for a while! But we had some great guys doing the work in the bathrooms, and I’m having a bit of withdrawal now that they’re gone—and a lot of catch-up to do. If you saw my house right now, you would discern no sign that Christmas is nine days away. None.

In the middle of this muddle, I listened in church last Sunday as these familiar verses from Philippians 4 were read:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

All of a sudden the words made fresh sense. Rejoicing is the context for letting go of anxiety, and the answer to presenting our requests to God is receiving the peace of God—no matter what happens.

By this time I had gotten over the shock of what everything was going to cost and made a plan for doing the next thing that needed doing. I would not have said I felt anxious that morning on a conscious level. (Exhausted, yes.) Yet the bookends of rejoicing and peace were the perfect words for me to hear after a stressful few weeks. I hope I will remember them the next time anxiety whelms my spirit.

And it’s a little ironic that all this happened as release date approached for my latest book—Peace Like a River. (It’s part of the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries series.) How’s that for some divine humor? I wrote about peace months ago, and now it’s the word I need most.

And all this happens as Christmas approaches and we yearn for the peace of Christ not only for our spirits but our world.

I’ll probably play a little more hooky through the holidays, but I leave you with the words of my favorite Christmas hymn. It splits my heart right open every time.

Break forth, O beauteous, heav’nly light
And usher in the morning
Ye shepherds, shrink not with affright
But hear the angel’s warning
This child now weak in infancy
Our confidence and joy shall be
The pow’r of Satan breaking
Our peace eternal making