final_advent_cover4.jpgFor the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

Last Christmas, my husband Corbin and I hosted the main course of a progressive dinner. I spent the day cramming every baby swing, rocker, Christmas bin, countless papers and mail, and anything else that would constitute clutter into the garage. The day also included a forty-minute hostage rescue as three-year-old Basden locked herself in the downstairs bathroom, right after five-year-old Hudson proceeded to pull a heavy pewter stocking holder off the mantle onto his forehead, resulting in a purple and blue goose egg. After a full day of cooking, cleaning, setting up Christmas decorations (picture Corbin wrestling with strands and strands of white lights, including splicing wires), and placing tables and folding chairs all over the house, we were finally ready for our guests. (more…)



For I have put my hope in your Word. . . may your unfailing love be my comfort. Ps 119:74, 76 (NIV)

What do you do with all those Christmas cards once the holidays are over? In my dining room sits a nice little stack of candy-cane, holly-and-berry, and Baby-Jesus-in-a-manger cards with photos of smiling families wearing coordinating red-and-white snowflake sweaters. We enjoy them for the season, but what to do with them come January? As expensive and gorgeous as they are, I can part with the cards. I appreciate them for a few weeks, and then into the trash they go. But the photos. . . unbearable to throw them away, even for this minimalist. I can just imagine all the effort behind getting the dog to smile, much less the two squirming kids.

A few years ago I came up with a plan. (more…)

rest.jpgLet us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28 (NIV)

How on earth is it possible to find rest in December? Probably not in sleeping late, clear calendar days, or a cease of activity. But I’m willing to bet that in the midst of a hustle-bustle month, the Holy Spirit can reign in our souls and provide rest – a “slowing down for perspective and gratitude” kind of rest.

Several years ago, Christmas Eve found us stranded in a diner in Clayton, New Mexico, along with a throng of impatient Texans attempting desperate travel to the mountains.

The highway department closed the road out of Clayton due to heavy snowfall, leaving us no alternate paths. Nowhere to go but back the way we came. And with darkness falling, the road wouldn’t open until morning. (more…)

prepare.jpgBut let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:4 (NIV)

A mentor friend of mine once told me that, as the wife and mother of our family, my “thermometer” would set the temperature for our entire home. I believe her. If I get up grumpy in the mornings, guess who leaves for work and school grumpy? If my scheduling (or lack of scheduling!) allows too much activity into our day, guess who remains the grumpiest of all? You got it, yours truly. And it invariably flows into the attitudes of my husband and children. On the other hand, if I exude a degree of patience and some simple smiles throughout the day, this attitude trickles into my family members. I believe the same can be said for the holiday season – what better gift to give our families and those around us than a joyful and restful attitude! (more…)

I was reminded this week of a scene from the movie “Chariots of Fire.” Released in 1981, the film is based on the true story of British athletes preparing for and competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics. The life of Eric Liddell, one of the runners, is chronicled prior to his departure for the mission field of China. At one point in the film Eric is walking with his sister following a service at their mission outreach. She expresses strong concern to his seeming lack of full time commitment to the work of his parents’ ministry and mission while they are home on furlough. He responds to her,

“Jenny, God made me for a purpose, for China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel the pleasure of the Lord.” (more…)

I read The Gardener to my kids recently, an inspiring children’s story about a young girl’s courage and optimism in the face of adversity. Lydia Grace Finch is forced to leave her family’s farm and move to the city with her unsmiling Uncle Jim who owns a bakery. Her parents and grandmother grieve as she boards the train. Arriving in the bleak city, Lydia Grace puts her green thumb to work embellishing the barren apartment and bakery with overflowing window boxes. At the end of the story, Lydia Grace’s secret gift to her Uncle is revealed as he opens the door to his building’s top floor: (more…)

“Hey Hudson, the directions say to start right here with the little boy, and then help him get home.”
“But Mom, it’s easier to go backwards, see?”
With the words barely out of his mouth, six-year-old Hudson completed the maze on his restaurant paper placemat.
“That was EASY…” he said, moving on to the vegetable-laden word search.
Watching my son work on the simple riddles and games made me wonder how often in this maze of life it would simplify things to go backwards instead of forward. (more…)

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