• Dana L. Butler

On the Nearing of Advent, and these Unpredictably Rhythmic Offerings

The Contract Pending sign has mysteriously appeared atop our For Sale sign this morning, quietly slipped in by our realtor under the cover of night. She knew it’d make us grin to discover it in first morning’s light.

Though we already knew we were officially under contract {thanks to the closing (finally!!) of our buyers’ former home}, this public declaration of contract-pending-ness makes it feel a bit more real: We are really moving to Colorado, y’all.

These last days have found us rifling through box after box, possession after possession. Organizing our belongings. Carefully packing this, tossing that, donating this other thing that someone else may need more than we do.

In just a few weeks, we will be downsizing from our big ol’ 6 bedroom turn-of-the-century home, into a 2 bedroom apartment.

Yup, that’s TWO bedrooms, and all this extreme simplifying of our lives is feeling more and more weighty in my heart, in a spiritual sense. This gathering to myself everything we own, taking mental inventory, letting it pass through my hands, turning it over in my heart.

There’s the sheet music for a song I wrote as a school project in 8th grade that won a county-wide award. There’s that old cassette tape of me singing with my mom in church at age 7.

There are photo albums and Isaac’s finger paintings and our wedding pictures. My Grandma Agre’s china and old foster care paperwork and that one pair of jeans that never quite fit right.

Organize. Pack. Toss. Donate.

It’s become like a rhythm, and somehow like worship — all this inventorying and sorting — and the more I sift through our belongings, the more my heart cherishes each associated memory, and each moment of this process.

Taking inventory of one’s stuff can be more like taking inventory of a life, and what I find is abundance. We have been rich, sustained and provided for in both heart-tearing loss and soul-filling joy.

Sorting through rubbermaid containers in our 120-year-old dungeon basement, I discover a box of books from my childhood that I’ve saved for my own kiddos, to be pulled out when they’re a few years older.

Narnia. Anne of Green Gables. The Boxcar Children.

And in that box, this treasure of a story:

I’ve always found it interesting, how The Little Drummer Boy weaves fiction with biblical history, as the wise men invite a poor boy to join them on their journey to lay their treasures before the Baby King.

I pack up the rest of the books but leave this one out, thinking Isaac will enjoy it now that he’s 4… and the holidays are approaching.

So today at nap time, I ask if he’d like me to read a Christmas story that my mom read to me when I was a little girl.

He snuggles down under his covers, and I sit on the floor next to his bed, and I’m not three pages into singing my way through the beautifully illustrated story before I am fully choked up.

It’s come up in conversation several times recently — how despite my tender, passionate heart, I don’t cry much at all, maybe just a handful of times per year.

But by halfway through the book, my voice is full-on cracking and tears are flowing and I’m having to quit singing every line or so to get half a grip on my emotions.

“Mommy loves this story, Buddy. That’s why I’m crying.” He accepts my explanation of my tears without question, for which I’m thankful, because I don’t know that I can put words even now to why the book moves me so much.

So much.

But I’m gonna try.

It’s something about the trip back to my childhood, I think.

But even more, it’s the openhearted willingness of a fictional boy to bring this seemingly inconsequential gift before a very non-fictional Baby King — the gift of his heart poured out through his instrument — and even as I type I choke on tears because my musician heart is deeply moved by his brave offering.

I have no gift to bring (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum) That’s fit to give a King (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum) Shall I play for you (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum) On my drum

So I weep over the childlike simplicity of his gift and of this story…

And over the fact that the little boy’s rhythmic offering makes the Baby Jesus smile.


Advent is coming.

The other day over Voxer, I share honestly with a dear friend that I’m struggling to feel the anticipation I generally feel as the holidays draw near.

Because instead of pulling out decorations, I’m packing our lives into boxes. And instead of baking, I’m cleaning and purging. And we don’t have a concrete move date yet — and although it helps that our closing process is actively moving forward now, it’s still painful to not have a definite end in sight.

And from the treasure trove of my sweet friend’s heart and life experience, this beautiful invitation from Jesus comes across the Voxer air waves. A reminder that when we aren’t able to settle into our usual Advent traditions due to upheaval in whatever form, He wants us to discover Him in different ways and places and rhythms than we generally would expect.

It’s the perfect nudge to keep my ears open, to listen for Him, to find rest and joy in a Person and not in predictable rhythms.

So I’m keeping an ear out for Him in all this dissonant uncertainty, in these busy, off-beat, final days of our year-long journey to Colorado.

Finding Him in boxes and old books and the sifting and shifting, all this offering of the rhythms of our lives.


P.S. I am LOVING connecting more with my readers these days. If you aren’t already subscribed, can I officially invite you to sign up to receive my updates via email? {I rarely write more than once a week, so I won’t clog your inbox.} You can also “like” my blog’s page on Facebook, or feel free to simply send me a personal friend request {I’m “Dana Kiser Butler.”}.

P.P.S. Because my heart has found something that feels like home with them, it’s highly likely I’ll be linking up with Lisha and Kelli.

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