It is Christmas Eve. And I would guess a likely scenario (with some variance) is playing out in your home. Wrapping paper and scissors are scattered across our dining table, Jingle Bell Rock is lilting out of a nearby Bose speaker, breakfast dishes are piled in the sink, empty sleeping bags are crumpled in the living room after last night’s drifting off beneath the sparkle of christmas tree lights, yeast is set out for the rolls I need to bake this afternoon, and when not arguing or screeching, my kids are blindfolding each other, leading sibling after sibling around the house to play a guessing game.
So much joy in living. In family. In knowing why we celebrate.
One of my favorite essays in this Advent book was written by the great theologian and reformer, Martin Luther (1483 – 1546).
As he explains, Jesus’ birth was personal. Personal beyond our mortal comprehension.
It was a birth unto you. For you. Because of you.
And every day, it seems, we must ask for him to be born again. In all of us. Continue reading To You Christ is Born
So I’ve been driving round town listening to Brene Brown for the last month. No doubt most of you are familiar with her work, her research, her books. I can’t wait to dive into her newest release, Rising Strong. But of late I’ve been listening to her talks on vulnerability (developed from her book, The Gifts of Imperfection). I love what she has to say about wholehearted living. She offers ten guideposts to those who want to live more open, more joyful, and more fulfilled. Things like letting go of perfectionism, creativity, play, rest, and gratitude.
What she had to say about gratitude made me laugh out loud. Continue reading More Than an Attitude
Marveling at the tree canopy that covers much of Amelia Island, I stand on a running path with my chin pitched upward, wishing I could finger the spanish moss dripping heavy from a giant oak above my head.
The morning is already hot. And humid.
It feels like Virginia, where we used to live. Same kind of shady paths. Same humidity. Same sound of cicadas swelling loudly, as they saw the air together.
I am tagging along with Doug who has a work trip in Florida. And while it was stressful getting ready to leave the kids for a week, I am so glad we are here. Grateful to sweep off parts of my soul that have been sleeping. Happy to have some time with Doug.
Chin still pointed into the trees, I see a flash of red against green. Red wings opening briefly as they sail to a new branch.
And then I see it clearly. A cardinal. My red bird of promise. Continue reading Cardinals in the Trees
We were 208 feet off the ground and teetering on the edge of insanity. White-knuckling the seat in front of me, I stared at Ali, my eight-year-old, with wide eyes. In a matter of seconds we would plunge into a 116° inverted free-fall, followed by a series of loops and corkscrews through which this new roller coaster would spin at speeds up to 70 mph.
What were we thinking? A few days earlier the ride was still being tested! It’s name? The Cannibal. Because it eats other coasters in its tracks. As well as cell phones, sun glasses, hats, and any common sense you had on the ground. Billboards around town are advertising the new screamer with this bit of advice, “The Cannibal. Bring a change of shorts.”
Wise counsel. The ride was nutso! We screamed. We fell. At an angle beyond vertical! But we survived. Even without a change of shorts.
We laughed our way out of the exit and yelled to my sister, “You gotta do it!” My kids and their cousins were wearing neon yellow t-shirts. Couldn’t miss any of the them as they dodged in and out of crowded lines. My sister-in-law made the shirts for our Keddington reunion, and on the front she displayed one of our favorite family sayings, “Our IQ demands it!” A philosophy preached by my Grandma Dorothy, who believed life was best lived with a curious mind and an adventurous spirit. Continue reading Your IQ Demands It
Sunshine spreads across the breakfast table, glints off my cereal bowl. I fish for oatmeal squares in milk then set down my spoon to read. The boys race in and out of the kitchen, clacking plastic swords as I move Elder Holland’s book to my lap:
“One of the unfailing facts of mortal life is the recurring presence of trouble, the recurring challenge of difficulty and pain… Though we have received great promises regarding the lifting of our burdens, the weight of them is still often ponderous while we wait for that relief. It was for just such days of opposition, such ‘times of trouble,’ that the biblical psalms were written” (3).
Already I am wiping tears. It began last night and continued after waking. Moments of weepiness as I placed dishes in the dishwasher, moved laundry, hung up a new towel before showering.
Yesterday, my Mother had an MRI to determine the status of a second brain tumor she has been battling since 2008. In the last twenty years she has had four brain surgeries, several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and a bundle of miracle years. While we thought the tumor was in stasis, recent imaging showed it is growing again. Continue reading How To: Find Comfort in Times of Trouble