Monday, December 19, 2016


We've come to the fourth week of Advent.


We've all heard this story thousands of times. I'm afraid it often becomes just words on a page or noise in our ears, but this week, let's slow down still more.


The God of the universe  became one of us. 
The Word became flesh.

Maker of all things. 
Comes to us. 
He's a baby. 
Tiny, helpless, weak, dependent. 

God entrusts a teenage mother and her very puzzled husband to raise this baby. 

Leaving a throne - Heaven - He lives humbly, simply, poor, quietly and without fanfare, among us. Not with the royal, the rich or the powerful, but with us.

He works hard, he lives humbly, he loves deeply, he struggles as we do, he is tempted as we are, he rejoices as we do, he mourns as one of us.

He sets aside His kingship to live as man. He shows us what God looks like, in ways we can understand.
See. Feel. Touch. Hear. Taste. Smell. 

And then He dies. He pays our sin debt. He forsakes all, for us.
But this is not all - He rises again and offers forgiveness. Life. Abundance. 

This is love. 

Take time to mediate on love this week.

Extravagant love. 

Then pass it on. 


Sunday, December 11, 2016


Today marks the beginning of Week 3 of Advent - Joy.

We've walked through Hope.... and as I've come to define it, my faith, anchored in a God that keeps His promises and in the working out of my faith because I believe those promises will come to pass. I can both work and rest because I believe Him - that all things will be restored, that He desires reconciliation, justice, and mercy. I can live those things out, even when it doesn't look hopeful in the moment.

We've walked through Peace... I can have peace in a seasons of turmoil, in season of grief, in seasons of confusion. Peace does not come from an absence of any of those things - it comes from what is within me - God With Us. Emmanuel.

And now we walk through Joy. When I have a firm understanding of where my hope lies, of where my peace comes from, then Joy flows out of that. Once again, Joy does not come from the superficial things happening to or around me. Joy does not rest in who sits in seats of power, how my children are behaving, if I am healthy, how much money I have in the bank, or how much I love my job. My Joy is in Christ. Because He is my anchor (my Hope), because He is my Peace, I can have Joy.  So, as I've mused on Joy, I've tried to think of ways I've been able to find Joy in the difficulties, in the grief, in the confusion, in the doubt, in the turmoil. It's pretty easy to find Joy in the good times...this week, let's look for it in the heavy times.

Here are some of mine:

  • In the pain and loss of leaving Cornerstone. This pain is not gone - let me be clear on that. But in the midst of, I've been brought to times of remembrance - once again, to relationships. This is what matters. Our relationship with God and with others. The structures will morph and change. We find Joy in relationship. We had lunch this week with a group of people we know because of our years at Cornerstone. Everyone now lives in different towns, attends different churches, has different jobs than the years we were all together...yet, the love is still there. We love, we remember, we grow and we move forward - yet relationship remains. There has been great pain in the growing, but yet, Joy is in this.
  • In the pain of raising children. If you're a parent, you're familiar. Along with the "normal" (whatever the heck that is) drama, pain and frustration of raising kids, we've dealt with heartbreak, clinical depression, widely diverging beliefs, many nights' sleep lost in worry and fear, and at times, rebellion and estrangement. Yet, in the midst of that, we are family. I have beautiful relationships with all four of my children, even in the midst of the struggles. They've taught me, even when I've wanted to choke them. I've learned from them, even as I was frustrated that they didn't seem to be learning from us. Erin teaches me steadfastness and pursuit of excellence. Luke teaches me independence, uniqueness and loyalty. Dylan teaches me perseverance and hope in the midst of overwhelming sadness. Thomas teaches me forgiveness, new starts and the love of our Father for His kids. They all teach me of God's infinite capacity to love all of us - no matter what. So much Joy here.
  • Joy in the simple and mundane. These things are true no matter how tumultuous life becomes: a hot cup of cinnamon tea; sharing a bowl of popcorn with my husband at the end of a long day; weekend meals with our extended families - the laughter and love there; sharing the Lord's Table each Sunday with others that follow Christ along with us; running with my dog; holding Brian's hand, in the dark, as we fall asleep each night; a glass of wine and fellowship around our fire pit; decorating the Christmas tree with my kids; reading a good book; work that sharpens my mind and fulfills me; a place to call home when I'm working in the city, where I'm always loved and treated like family; taking my kids out to eat, one-on-one (that they are all my friend is one of the the greatest of Joys).
This list is endless, when I'm willing to look up from the chaos and see the Joy.

Christ is come. This is past, present and future.

This is Joy.


I am certain that your list of Joys are different from mine. I would love to hear yours. What brings you Joy, even in the midst of turmoil? What quickens your heart toward God, even in seasons of doubt? Tell me...

Sunday, December 4, 2016


I don't think I've ever been more ready to see a calendar year in the rear view mirror. 


It's just been ridiculously difficult. From the big things out in the world - conflict, war, abuse, pain, death, natural disaster - the pain never seems to end. Watching the news is overwhelming. And this election season? Suffice to say, enough is enough. No matter where you stood politically, I'd guess you're sick of all of it, so I'll just leave that right here. I watch people I care for deeply in great personal pain and do not understand why God does not deliver. There have been so many things happen personally that we just, honestly, did not see coming, were not prepared for. We've watched long held dreams go up in flames - and today they sit, in ashes, around our weary feet.

You too?

Week Two of Advent focuses on Peace. So, I've been focusing my musing on this word. What does it look like to have peace in this heap of rubble that surrounds us?


I decorated the house this week for Christmas. That involves unpacking boxes and boxes of decorations. Several of those boxes are Nativity Scenes that I've collected over the years. I have, I don't know, maybe 10 or 12 different ones, each with a different look, made from different cultures, different materials, colors, styles, etc. In the Advent tradition, I put the baby Jesus away - hidden - throughout these weeks leading up to Christmas day, and then we set him out Christmas eve on our way to bed, to make his appearance Christmas morning. This year, as I was setting them up in various places around the house, I began to try to put myself in the place of those people, waiting for the Christ child. They had no idea when their salvation would come, what it would look like when it did arrive. And certainly, none of them imagined it unfolding as it actually did - in a humble stable, surrounded by dirt, animals (and all their accompanying smells), poverty, plans gone seemingly awry, far from anything royal or victorious.

Imagine with me for a moment: A promise was given hundreds and hundreds of year before. Each generation, for those hundreds of years since that delivered promise, believed the time of their salvation was imminent. When the Christ finally appeared on the scene, who knew? It's a short list: Mary, Joseph, an aunt, a few shepherds, and within a few days/weeks, a few wise men, a priest, a prophetess. What was everyone else doing as that baby was born, grew, went to school, learned to be a carpenter, worked, lived, prepared? They still did not know. They were still toiling away in their pain, their loneliness, oppression, trials. They had no idea that Hope was growing in a stable. That Victory was being raised in a modest home in Nazareth, that Salvation was working as a carpenter. They didn't know, yet God was working, nonetheless.

Once Jesus did, finally, step onto the public stage, here's one of the things He said...

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

And what were "these things"? He spent considerable time telling them of grief, pain, sorrow to come. Not a maybe - a certainty. A promise. Life would be hard. It would be unfair and scary. They would feel like their dreams were dying. And they did, didn't they?

  • as they saw Him laid in a tomb and a stone rolled over their dreams of a Messiah that would save.
  • as they later sat in prisons for their refusal to stop proclaiming His life and resurrection.
  • as succeeding generations of the faithful stood in coliseums or hung on crosses, for their refusal to deny their faith in Him.

But... BUT...

"Take heart! I have overcome the world!"  He is with us. He is active - even when we cannot see. He is working for our good. It may be in the background, it may yet be years, or Heaven even, before we see what He has done. But He is working on my behalf - on your behalf.

As I hid those baby Jesus figurines this last week, that was my thought. God is working. I cannot see it, here, in the ash of lost dreams, but He is working to fulfill His promises.

This is my peace.

Emmanuel - God With Us.