That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:13
I recently got a contract to be a regular contributor to a daily devotional called Living Faith. It’s been a major goal of mine, one I’ve been pursuing for over six years. All the other contributors are my writing heroes: Kristin Armstrong, Sr. Bridget Haase, Sr. Melanie Svoboda, Melanie Rigney, Fr. Kenneth Grabner, Amy Welborn. The list goes on. I am truly honored and humbled to have my work appear in the same publication as theirs.
When I announced the big news to my kids at dinner that night, I explained that this contract, along with my book contract, were my long-time goals. I told them how blessed and deeply satisfied I felt to have achieved both. After congratulating me, Zack said, “Now you’ll have to make bigger goals.” Mason and Jocelyn agreed. I was so surprised by their response!
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
I recently took our bunny, Oreo, to the vet for his usual nail trim. Although it’s necessary for his own health, he doesn’t like it at all. Worse yet, he hates the mode of travel. The minute he goes into the pet carrier, he defaults to stress mode.
Knowing this, Jocelyn put his favorite treats into the carrier to console him. He completely overlooked them. It seems his fear blinded him to what typically brings him joy.
I think the real root of Oreo’s fear is a lack of control. When he gets zipped up inside the carrier he feels trapped, with no say as to where we take him.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son… John 3:16a
We’ve been doing it for weeks now: hunting down the perfect gifts for the people we love. When we wrapped them up, we imagined the joy they’d bring.
We claim to expect nothing in return. We try to give with no strings attached. But if we’re being honest, we’d realize we are expecting their gratitude. At the very least, we want a look of wonder on their faces to fill our hearts to the brim.
Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
For the first time since I can recall, my December calendar is mostly blank. Knowing there’d be an enormous demand for on-line shopping and delivery, I bought all my Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving. Having all my kids home, with limited extra-curriculars, we got the Christmas decorations out and up by the first of December. It’s like everything I’ve ever wished for for Advent: all the mundane tasks completed, with time to focus on what really matters.
How ironic that the season is still filled with such stress and tension.
“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” Joshua 5:15b
When I was a kid and went to the movie theatre, my favorite part was when the lights dimmed and an image of a projector appeared on the screen. Dashes of color would flow out of the lens of the simple graphic, while a few beats of music would repeat over and over again in the background.
That image and music conveyed the message that something wonderful was about to happen. I’d sit on the edge of my seat, with my mind and heart wide open to the possibility that I was about to see the greatest movie of my life.
It was in that moment that a sacred space was created. It existed between the outside world and the magic that was about to appear on the screen. The movie hadn’t started. There wasn’t any possible let down yet from bad acting, a terrible plot twist, or a disappointing ending. It was an interim filled with pure perfection and immense anticipation.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
I live in New England where the foliage is spectacular each fall. It’s as if God lights up the trees in a blaze of colorful glory, like the finale at a fireworks show. Then the leaves fade and fall away.
There always seem to be those stubborn leaves, though, that hang on with all their might, not wanting the season to end, not wanting to let go of the heights they’ve lived, only to drop to the ground and be raked away.
They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. Revelation 22:5b
It’s that time of year when we’re all untangling Christmas lights to string on the Christmas tree, mantel, and bushes outside. As darkness descends so early each day, it’s the twinkle of those lights that give us hope, joy, and a little bit of magic.
We could all use a little bit of magic right now. As 2020 draws to a close, we long for the restrictions, fear, doom and gloom to be lifted. For those who believe, we are guaranteed that something wonderful is coming.
Back in my teens and twenties, I could get a great run from the smallest of actions: skip dinner and have a flat belly for days, stay out late on a Thursday night and not miss a beat at work on Friday, reconnect with God on Sunday and feel Him carry me through all week. It really was a magical time…
“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Mt 24:13
When we were in lock-down in the spring, and schools went remote, my teen boys struggled. It was understandable: It was brand new territory. They were stumbling in the dark.
When our schools opened this fall, they went hybrid: alternating in-person days with remote days. Armed with their experience from the spring, and with a determination to do well, both boys started off with the best grades of their school careers. Like everything in 2020, that just changed on a dime.