I hope we can hope again – An Advent Celebration

pexels-photo-383646“That’s the sacred intent of life, of God – to move us continuously toward growth, toward recovering all that is lost and orphaned within us and restoring the divine image imprinted on our soul. And rarely do significant shifts come without a sense of our being lost in dark woods..” – Sue Monk Kidd

I have a tiny tree this year. Wreaths and candles in the windows. I even have Christmas decorations in the bathroom. It’s all set.

An Advent candle wreath was a new addition last Christmas, the year I decided that instead of wagging an angry finger at decades of waiting, I would embrace this season. I joined thousands of others in lighting the candles to commemorate eons of longing for what was most wanted.

Advent – waiting with anticipation, “coming” in Latin.

Throw a rock in LifeWay and you’ll hit an Advent devotional – readings for these four weeks leading up to Christmas. Weeks of quiet, stillness, lighting candles, remembering how much the world groaned under the weight of waiting, hoping, longing. Why in the world do we need to embrace that?

Honestly, this practice confounded me. Mostly because Advent is tinged with the hardest and tenderest parts of life – waiting, hoping, longing, silence, stillness. To make peace with pleading prayers and long-dead dreams has never been something I wanted to chase down.

Many of us are starting down years of silence. Many of us have heard whispered dreams and are hoping for something not yet here. A thousand times we’ve given up.

And yet we still believe this isn’t all. But we can’t quite stomach a belief in anything more than what is in front of us. Here we all land in these weeks before Christmas, weeks we have set aside to remember we are all waiting. Nothing is completely finished. Nothing is completely fulfilled. In the face of years of silence, we are scared to hope in anything greater. We’ve become Sara laughing at the absurdity of the promise. Who can blame us?

Soon we will enter into the story of Mary and Joseph who have only ever heard tale of God’s voice but believed him all the same. Of Elizabeth and Zechariah who had all but given up, yet were still at the temple, still faithful in the only way they could barely eek out. And Simeon, who was waiting in Jerusalem and believed this baby who came to his door would save his soul.

But before all of this, there was white silence.

These weeks as we march up to this story of a census, manger, innkeeper, angel choir and mighty baby, let’s honor the waiting. Let us peel back the promise for just a second and remember what it is like to not hear, not see, not know. Let us honor the faith that builds only through heart-sick hope.

I am not an expert in anything, not the smartest, most refined person to know. Most days I feel like the cheese is barely on the cracker. But I have been waiting a long time for many, many things. In fact, I’m not entirely sure I can point to one area of my life in which I am not waiting. I’ve spent years mourning what I did not have while nearly missing the faith the Lord was building in me – the sturdy kind that won’t break when things like careers, relationships and hearts break. That brand of faith can only come from watching and waiting.

Over the next four weeks, I simply want to tell a few stories to celebrate the pillars of Advent – Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. I want to pull tender, often hidden parts of life, into the light and pray they will strengthen weak faith and renew abandoned hope.

I hope you will come along. Just one story a week, the first one will post this Wednesday.

I hope we all can hope again.







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Favorite Books of 2017


I’m a sucker for a “Best of” list and this time of year there are plenty to go around. It was a good year for good books. Stories are my drug of choice and I lost myself in a few really great ones this year.

Before the holidays kick into full swing, here are a few of my favorite reads in 2017. Whether you need a good distraction from your family gatherings, or if you have readers on your gift list this year, I hope this helps make book-buying a little easier.

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If you’ve ever been bruised, bloody and pushed back out to fight again….


The day I left my job at NewSpring, Katelyn knocked on my door with a bag full of Chick-Fil-A stress food. I was in shock, not yet as sad as would be, not yet feeling anything. I believe I cried a bit, but nothing like what would come.

I lived in a condo on Lake Hartwell and the living room faced the water. Katelyn sat on one couch, me on the other. I remember staring at the water. I just remember looking through the trees at the water.

I worked at NewSpring for nearly eight years. I tight-fisted that idol-job until it broke me. I sported the self-inflicted wounds of pride, perfectionism, fear and I can still smell the relational carnage I left in my wake.

Now, here we were on a day in mid-March watching the sunset over the water, taking the tiniest steps toward healing. Food wrappers littered around and the light fading away, Katelyn broke a silence.

“Do you want an easy life or do you want a better story?”

“A better story,” I said.

Continue reading “If you’ve ever been bruised, bloody and pushed back out to fight again….”

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

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Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

It’s been a while. I’m still alive.

Very much so: I started a new job, tried to buy a house, aborted said house plan, rented another, moved and started another brand new shiny job.

Would all major life events please form an orderly queue? One at a time, please.

My hair is a bit grayer and my eyes a more tired, but onward.

It will be much too complicated (read, boring) to detail the two-jobs-in-four months deal, but I will say that both have been huge blessing, both coming at the exact time. And my previous employer understood exactly why I had to leave to take my current job. I had to leave because I had to write.

And that’s the bottom line of it all. I spend most of every day writing and telling stories. I talked to a lovely lady today, tomorrow I’ll chat with another person with another interesting story. Hopefully the next day and the next and the next as well.

I’ve been writing, but just not here.

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Brave and Behold


Welcome, 2017 with all your fresh, blank-page, newness.

Here we all sit, with journal lines, computer screens, new books, and plans.

Ask around and I bet we can find a few people who have set a “word of the year.” I think it’s our way of breaking free of New Year Resolution bondage. I wonder if we set these words over our years because they have been bouncing around in our hearts for a while and it is only post-holidays that we give ourselves space enough to breathe and take inventory. The things that are lacking ten to show themselves a bit more. We were anxious for most of last year, so our word for 2017 needs to be peace, for example.

It’s never been that way for me. When I pray and listen, the words, phrases or verses the Lord gives me will make little to no sense here at the start.

This is terrifying.

Several years ago I could not let go of the word JOY and as cheery as that sounds, it was one of the hardest years of my life. Joyful yes, but extremely hard. Lasting fruit is often forged in this most desperate circumstances. I never saw the battle of that year coming as I sat on my comfy couch in January.

This blog is a place of accountability for me. I want to tell stories, mine, yours, strangers, whomever. And I want to grow this little space this year. The question I ask myself before posting is, “would I tell this around a table?” and if so, I want to flesh it out – all the good and bad honest. If I’m telling a story, or talking about books or recipes, it’s evidence I’m writing, reading, cooking, and listening. If I’m writing about it, I’m showing up and actually experiencing life.

This means I need to be brave.

I am not brave.

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