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.

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.

Continue reading

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

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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The First Glimpse of Christmas


In the morning, I ponder it all. The daily tasks await completion. Yesterday’s tasks were hurriedly accomplished, but not finished. The past lingers while the present demands. My mind struggles to hold it all in balance.

And yet the future continues to be there – untouched by my attempts to control and out of reach from the past’s long reach. Christmas is days away and I cannot yet touch it.

The people who have walked in darkness,
   have seen a great light.
The bar across their shoulders,
   You have broken.
The tools of war burn in the fire,
   around which we dance and rejoice.
– Isaiah 9 Continue reading

Rushing, Rushing, Rushing… then it’s there… alleluia


Pushing the cart around Kroger at 5:00 p.m. and I think to myself – no one moves as fast as a mom squeezing in an errand before picking up the kids.  Coffee filters. Eggs. Yogurts.  The fuel that keeps this family running day to day. The next morning I find time FINALLY to sit down in the silence.  The house is quiet. Yesterday has been cleaned up. Today is before me.

Rushing, rushing, rushing… and then it’s there…alleluia.

Standing in my closet, I frantically debate back and forth on the shoes before me. I first choose the bronze flats but soon reverse course. It’s a cold day and they won’t quite cut it.  I place them back and pull out the red clogs. I think back to my college-self that wouldn’t be caught dead in the clogs. I place them on the ground and slip my feet in. I come downstairs and I remember who I am – one who is not defined by the choices I make in my closet.

Rushing, rushing, rushing… and then it’s there… alleluia.

Rounding the circle loop on the way to daycare, the sky shocks me out of my routine. Pink has broken out and splattered across the sunset. As my hands shift on the steering wheel and I slow down to take it in, it seems radical and extravagant. It seems like a extravagant painting that is being wasted on a busy mom rushing to get boys picked up and home for dinner.

Rushing, rushing, rushing… and then it’s there… alleluia.


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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