Advent Prayer: 1st Draft


“The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.”
– John 1:14 (Message)

“Be near me, Lord Jesus;
I ask thee to stay
close by me forever,
and love me, I pray.”
Away in a Manger

Advent Prayer: 1st Draft

We want You to fix it.
We want You to make everything better.

Advent Prayer: 2nd Draft

We want You to fix it.
We want You to make everything better.

Interlude: A knock at the front door prompts us to rise from all our noble prayers, filled with our good intentions and righteous passions. We had just gotten into the flow to name all the changes we want You to get started on in the new year. We’ve got ideas, and we know You want to hear them.

Low and behold, You’re there. You’ve moved in next door and wondered if we wanted to join You out on the front porch to spend some time together. We sit in the dusty rocking chairs and can’t believe You’re actually here with us. Goodness, You’re well-traveled. Your stories are amazing, filled with beauty, sorrow, compassion, and grief.

We sit together until the sun begins setting and the Christmas lights have turned on. We feel like we need more time to memorize that deep belly laugh of Yours or the way your face lights up when You speak about Your family. But if we’re honest, it’s not just Your stories. It’s the way we feel ourselves beginning to relax in Your presence. Somehow, we feel more at home (in our own home) now that we know You’re just next door.

Advent Prayer: Final Draft

We’re so glad that You’re with us. Could you stay by our side a little longer?

Advent Prayer: To the God I don’t know yet


“Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,

for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” – Isaiah 12:6

“I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.” – Hosea 11:9

“The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.” – Zephaniah 3:15

To the God I don’t know yet:

This prayer need not frighten. 

It’s not that You’re altogether unknown. 

It’s not that I’ve given up on the You I know.  

It’s just that Advent is changing the way I pray. You are the One who comes in our midst. And my “midst” has changed.  

So when You show up in my midst, it might take me a minute to recognize You. It might take more time for my lungs to release as my soul rejoices, “Oh, there you are.” Once I can see you are in this midst, then I can relax. Then I am free to move and dance, sing and cry with joy.

Tender and gentle, You respond, “Let me be new to you.”

“Let me be the God you don’t know yet. Let me show you how I am the Holy One whose steadfast love endures all of life’s changes.”

“Ok,” I relent. The stiff shoulders soften. “Let me be new to You, too,” I pray.

In the name of the One who is always coming, new to us every time, I pray. Amen.

Christmas Morning: Desiring Rest



The child longs for perfectly presented objects of desire placed underneath the twinkling lights and all the time in the day; for normal life to cease and fantasy land to commence, the imagination alive with possibility.

Anticipation mounts the joy. Mystery multiples the wonder.  Hugs are sweeter. The air is thick. It is confirmed: life is good.

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Advent Truths in the Liminal Spaces



The house is (what has become) a familiar sight.  Boxes stacked in corners. Cabinets hold only a few essentials.  The to-do list ebbs and flows by day’s end.  We will celebrate Christmas this year in liminal space – with one foot in our first home and one foot in our forever home.

Stripped of any sense of settled, I have foregone even the dream of the idealized Christmas painted in the classic songs.  I have found myself most drawn in gratitude for the Advent truths in the liminal spaces.  Wrapped in the rough and worn packaging of ancient texts, I have already received the greatest gifts Christmas has to offer – time spent with a God who reveals what we have not known before, concepts that provide ever-constant openings to a new future, and truths that save me daily.

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ADVENT: One Step at a Time



I find the path one step at a time.  The way forward is imagined but ultimately unknown until my leg extends and I place the sole of my foot on the ground before me.  From this new vantage point, my eyes scan the ground below and the terrain beyond.  My ears discern movement from that which goes unseen but whose presence can impact my next move.

Away from home during this sabbatical year, we are living Advent in an unknown land.  The way forward it not known until we extend our legs and find our footing.

Where do the Christmas decorations go in this rental house?
How do we still feel the Advent rhythms away from our church’s rituals?
How do we practice Advent in our small congregation of 5?

Who is this newest little one among us?  What will he bring to our family?
When will his nighttime hours extend?  How long can my sanity last on just accumulated sleep?
When will strength replace weakness within this body of mine?

What is this world we live in?  Will we even recognize this country of ours after January 20?
Where is the rescue to come from for the people of Aleppo, for immigrants, for racial discrimination, for journalists, for our environment, for our souls?
What are we to do in response to all the hurting in this world? Continue reading

The Time of Reckoning


Before the mirror, I gaze upon this warped, swollen, scarred flesh of mine.  The sight of it fuels the pain I feel, uniting into a combined sensation that knocks me over with overwhelming physical, mental, and emotional fatigue.  The shower’s water strikes and I am overcome by the tenderness of my flesh.  Sore places cause slow movements, compensating as an attempt to lessen the pain.

In these days following my third c-section, the time I take to clean and care for this body of mine becomes The Time of Reckoning where I face the reality of what is.  The act of growing, giving, and sustaining life means wrecking this own life of mine.  It is a temporary time but that cannot deny its present power.

If I linger long enough in these moments, the Divine sneaks up on me and saves me.  The trembling calms and shifts its shape.  I remember the holiness of the Suffering Servant.  I remember the mystery that God uses human flesh to birth Hope into this world.  I remember the Eucharist truth that body nourishes body.

During these tender days, I am that body.  I am that human flesh.  I am that suffering servant.

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HOPE: The Field of Life Wide Open


Hope means that I don’t need to know.  I only need to yearn.

I only need to recognize how often I am asleep when I live today based on yesterday’s experience, when I interpret the next hour based on the knowledge I gained from the last one, when I let (what I have understood of) what has been dictate the form and shape of what will be.

This first Sunday of Advent, I light no purple candle in a sanctuary.  In between feedings, with boys wrestling around behind me and a husband graciously holding a sleeping six-day-old boy, I light a candle in our front room and find times for the scriptures and Rohr’s Advent thoughts.  I trust that something is there in those ancient words of scripture and contemplative words of a Franciscan friar that God can bring to the weary and wounded.

“Keep awake for you do not know,” Matthew says.

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We rehearsed it as we went from house to house. “Merry Christmas,” we would practice. By the time we got to the next one, the anticipation of ringing the doorbell was too much and the words would fail him. He would just stick out his hand holding the bag of gingerbread to give to our neighbor.  Despite our rehearsals and our plans, our three year old is our wild card.  Our surprise.

I love the intentional time this season gives to shower those around us with love. The gifts thoughtfully purchased and delicately wrapped. The stove watched over as the gingerbread loaves reach completion to show love to neighbors. The decorations hung around the house to usher in the joy of the season.

The list that once caused me anxiety now gives me a sense of relief as each item is crossed off in completion

Now comes the real Christmas. Continue reading

The Christmas Alarm


A new frame holds an old picture on my chest of drawers. Smiles beam on their young faces. Oldest has his arms wrapped around mother and father. Youngest holds on tight to mother. Mother and daughter’s hands intertwined. The photo speaks of promise and hope. Dreams and the unknown.

TIME rushes like a racing train through a tunnel as the voice of my youngest pierces the silence. I am no longer the young daughter clinging tightly to my mother. I am now the mother.

How is it that TIME can suddenly go off like an alarm – causing me to sit up and in the haze of sleepiness, wonder where I am and how I got here? Continue reading

Into the EMPTINESS the Angel Speaks


Pottery Barn catalogs pile up the stress as the Christmas gift list is still blank. The instagrammed Christmas tree selfies on my newsfeed create jealousy in me as our house is still tree-less. Five days into December and the days seem to be speeding by like a train on the tracks…if I slow down long enough to let my eyes follow one train car, I will feel the whiplash when I see that ten others pass within mere seconds.

In the silence of the morning, I wait. I wait for my mind to settle. I wait for Christmas to sink into this heart of mine.   I wait… only to realize that the void of the tangible Christmas items points out the void of the best of Christmas’ intangible gifts…the coziness of a decorated home, the peace of lingering conversation, the magic of the gifting season.

The void echoes and calls out to be filled. Continue reading