I envision Advent to be a time of quiet waiting—a magical reprieve from the chaos, a season of calm excitement as we await the birth of our Savior. Unfortunately, I always end up disappointed—upset that I get caught up in the scurry, frustrated that I’m inconsistent in gathering my family for daily prayer, disillusioned that my perfect plan for Advent gets derailed every. single. year.
It was in the midst of that disappointment that I read the Gospel passage about the Annunciation. That’s when God peeled back a layer of understanding that is redeeming my Advent this year.
God is resourceful and can use any and all circumstances to teach us about Him, if we let Him. With me, He knows my understanding grows every time I view things through the lens of motherhood.
As I lay down the rules for technology, curfew, and grades for my teens, I peel back another layer of understanding of the rules God has laid out for me. Neither of us wants to be a buzzkill. Neither one of us is creating restrictions just because we can.
We both want what’s best for those we love. We see the pitfalls before they happen, and we try to derail them by making certain things off limits. We know that if our children would just follow our rules, they’d be better off for it.
I was blessed with the opportunity to be interviewed by Marge Steinhage Fenelon, award-winning author, internationally known speaker, retreat leader, podcaster, and prayer warrior. We talked about the genesis of my book, how to read and pray it, and some interesting little stories that happened along the way.
Pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8
I came home from my retreat in October with a lot of resolutions. Having had time away, I could see things more clearly, recognizing where I wanted to improve.
One issue I’d been having was Jocelyn coming home from school and talking a mile a minute while I was trying to work. I’d half listen, focusing more on doing what my boss had asked of me so I could fulfill my commitment to her. Jocelyn would see I wasn’t really paying attention and would leave my office frustrated.
Create in me a pure heart, o God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
My friend, Allison Gingras, invited me to join her blog tour to celebrate the release of her beautiful new book Encountering Signs of Faith. Here’s my post with a link to her blog to finish reading it. She also has a link on her site to purchase the book. Enjoy!
I recently attended a weekend retreat that was incredibly rejuvenating and fruitful. On my way home, I stopped at Home Goods. Despite having a concrete plan for how I was going to live out what I’d learned, I know myself. I’m incredibly forgetful. I wanted to buy something I could put in my office that would remind me to stay true to what I’d learned and how I now want to live.
After some serious searching, all I could find was a simple wooden block that says: “Don’t wish for it. Work for it.” Initially, it didn’t resonate. So, I walked right by it. But after several loops around the store, it was the only thing that even came close to meeting my needs. It now sits on my bookshelf.
After meditating on it daily, I’ve come to realize just how appropriate it is. It points to the fact that I’ve been wishing and praying for God to give me a new heart and restore a steadfast spirit within me. Yet, the real truth is—I haven’t participated in the process AT ALL. I’ve been sitting back in my slothfulness, waiting for Him to do the work for me as if He’d swoop in with a magic wand and transform me.
Yes, God can move mountains. But He also helps those who help themselves. Praying each morning with that wooden block reminds me of what I want. But more importantly, it reminds me of what my part is in getting it.
“I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I’m not much of an ocean girl. The constant movement of the waves exhausts me. I prefer the serenity of a placid lake.
Yet, I was mesmerized by the waves crashing on the rocks at the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center while on retreat there last weekend. No matter how many times the ocean collided with those clusters of stone, they never moved.
Something I never thought about before was despite the constant battering, the rocks not only didn’t move, they didn’t change. But the water sure did. It transformed into white froth that sprayed outward, like an arch or benediction, glistening like jewels in the rays of the sun.
Meditating on that helped me realize that as beautiful as the spraying water was, we’re supposed to be the rocks.
My husband and I spent the entire summer giving our high school graduate pep-talks about trying new things in college and joining extra-curricular clubs. Zack’s never been much of a joiner. He only did one or two after-school clubs during the entire four years of his high school career, no matter how much we pushed.
We want college to be the place where he broadens his horizons, learns new things, meets new people, and forms lasting friendships. That being said, when he actually went off to college in August, we had to back off and let him lead his own life.
Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. Luke 11:52
We’re in the process of helping my son, Zack, buy his first car. Our focus is on a car with all-wheel drive, good safety ratings, and reliability. But Zack is seventeen. He calls those “mom cars” and won’t be caught dead in one. So, he’s turning to his friend for support.
Zack’s friend may be quite versed in cars, but he lacks wisdom and experience. Regardless, Zack is holding him up as a car guru, taking his every word as gospel.
Together, they’re advocating for a car with speed, rear-wheel drive, and a cool-looking exterior. Their emphasis is on how a car looks and performs, not on its reliability and safety. My husband and I feel like we’re banging our heads against a wall.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 1:11
For a while now, Jocelyn has been complaining that it’s difficult to read the whiteboard at school. The great mother that I am, it only took me a solid year to make an appointment with the eye doctor!
Sure enough, she needs glasses for distance. The eye doctor said he wasn’t surprised. He sees more and more young people who are becoming near-sighted because they spend so much time looking at things up close.
He advised that whether we’re looking at a screen or reading a book, it’s critical that we look up every twenty minutes and focus on something in the distance. Otherwise, our eyes will lose their ability to see far away. In a joking way, he predicted that with how the world’s becoming more and more dependent on screens, our far-sightedness will eventually phase out. Through evolution, we’ll become creatures who can only see close up.
When the weather is nice, I like to spend my prayer time on my back deck. It’s my happy place: private and quiet, with a beautiful view of the trees and sky. It feels like a front row seat to God’s creation as birds dart about and bees visit the flowers I’ve planted in various pots strewn about. Witnessing it all draws me closer to the Creator.
Today, as I sat gazing out over the trees, I saw a bird land on a branch. I guess the bird was heavier than we both realized because the branch dipped dramatically under his weight. Had he not been hanging on, claws clutched tight around that branch, he would have slid right off into thin air.
It felt like a lesson on the importance of holding on.