Weekend One Word: Coming

nativity and verse

Four years ago, my father-in-law Jon was diagnosed with terminal cancer during the first few days of Advent. To say that we were devastated is an understatement. We’d lost my husband’s mom only a little more than a year before. This new diagnosis was simply too soon, too much, and the fact that it happened at the start of Advent felt wrong and strangely offensive.

I’d like to tell you I felt God’s presence more than ever that season, but that wouldn’t be the truth. The reality was that I struggled hard. I clung to any wisp of joy and peace I could find, but mostly, I was overwhelmingly sad. Advent, Christmas and the New Year felt heavy, burdensome, and I was glad when January 2 finally rolled around and all the bright lights and cheery music of the holidays were done. I was relieved to strip the mantel of greenery, sweep the house clean of light and sparkle, box it all up and pack it back into the dark basement.

Here’s the truth about dark seasons, though. Here’s what I knew deep down, even though I didn’t acknowledge it and couldn’t quite feel it at the time. When everyone else was whistling Silver Bells and draping twinkling lights and stacking brightly festooned packages under the tree, God was with me as darkness cloaked my heart. God was with me as I fumbled blindly through the false brightness of a hard season.

God was, is always Immanuel, God with us. The Coming One still comes to us, to be with us, even when — perhaps especially when — darkness obscures his face.


A Thanksgiving Thank You

tea cup

Happy, happy Thanksgiving, friends! This day is one of my favorites, hands-down. The aroma of a roasting turkey always brings me back to Thanksgiving Day at my grandparents’ house. My papa was the cook, apron and all, and every time I smell the rich scent of turkey, I think of him and my nana, too, who always let my sister and me use the silver and her very best porcelain tea cups. Nana taught me how to set a proper table, how to use the miniature silver tongs to drop sugar cubes delicately into my cup without splashing and how to sip tea with my pinkie finger raised in the air just so.

My parents are in town visiting this week, and it’s so, so good to have plentiful quality time with them. As much as I have grown to love Nebraska, the one thing I deeply miss is my family. I try not to complain about it too much, because frankly, I can’t change the situation, but I miss my parents and my sister in the day-to-day, ordinary comings and goings of life.

I wanted to tell you, too, that I won’t be around the blog quite as much from now through the end of the year. Last year I took a holiday hiatus from Thanksgiving until the New Year, and I have to say, it was lovely. Our to-do list tends to increase exponentially during the holidays, what with shopping and wrapping and decorating and baking and all, and it just makes sense to scale back on the writing in order to accommodate the extra responsibilities, and, more importantly, to soak up the bounty of the season. I hope you’ll find some ways to do that, too — as my pastor has said in the past, “Give presence over presents.” I love that – here’s to 2015 as the Season of Presence.



Before I sign off to go scrounge bits of dough from Brad’s pie-making extravaganza, I just want to say thank you for your presence here all year long. Your comments, emails, tweets and shares mean so much to me, and even if you don’t say a word, just knowing you are quietly reading makes me feel so profoundly grateful. So thank you. Not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you on this Thanksgiving and always, friends.

Peace and Love,


trumpet vine

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