In no way do I consider myself a writer. I have been told many times to write a book but I felt like I don’t have a whole lot to say that people would be interested in and I am plagued with writing fear. In fact, I have had professors threaten to flunk me because my papers were baptized in grammatical errors (I’m sure you will find many I missed!). Thus, I have feared the embarrassment of letting people see the words I put on paper. So then how did I end up here?

Welcome to “The Strokes of Advent”. The Phoenix of my life.

If you don’t know what the Phoenix is, in short, it’s a bird that lives for a few centuries, dies by fire and is reborn with literal flames of youth. I feel like this is what God did or I should say, is currently doing in my life.

My story starts with death. Not with the death of a person but of hope, dreams, drive, passion, and purpose. Often, only the physical death of human and animal life is considered true loss and worthy of heartbreak. I am here to tell you that death and grief of passion and career is just as real and just as detrimental to the human psyche.

During Christmas 2018, God took and broke me to my core. 2017-2018 were tough years for me. I watched as the dream I worked towards for 7 years got shut down and fell apart. It was my dream of becoming a Chaplain and church planter. It was a dream I literally dedicated years of my life solely to. It was the very dream I without a shadow of a doubt believed I had heard God’s voice and direction for. And I had a meticulously thought-out plan to achieve it.

Doors started to open; affirmations were flooding in, and all the “signs” around me alluded to the fulfilment of this dream coming to fruition. So naturally, when Christmas 2018 came around and the promise of this dream slammed shut, I simply could not comprehend it. It was like a God took stone tablets drenched in my tears threw them to the ground and shouted ENOUGH!            

I felt like everything was a waste and I was a disappointment. Every ambitious bone in me and every evidence of what gave me purpose and security burned to the ground. But what I learned during this season was what God was really trying to say to me… that it is time, just like the phoenix, to dig through the ashes of my life and find the embers that will become the powerful bird it was always meant to be, a phoenix burning with new life.

That Christmas, I wrote a sermon series that was more for me than the church I was pastoring at the time. As I finished the last message on Christmas Sunday, I remember thinking, ‘if I ever write anything, it will be a development of this series’. Through God’s process of breaking me that Christmas, I discovered that it is the strokes of brokenness colored throughout the story of Christmas that make it so beautiful.