Once a week I compile the reflections I’ve offered on Facebook into one blogpost. Here are the thoughts from the past five days:
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Today’s post is about anxiety, and when I first wrote it I called it “What I Learned When I Tried to Stop Drinking So Much Wine.”
I’ll give you a hint, I learned that the wine itself wasn’t so much the problem. It was the anxiety behind the wine that did me in. I’ve learned some things since then about how to acknowledge anxiety, give it over to God, and receive peace in exchange.
To find out more, download the ebook and go to December 10.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Today’s reading is about Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel, who tells her that she has been chosen to bear God’s son. It’s not entirely good news. Mary bears the shame of her social norms when she agrees to become the mother of Jesus. She knows it makes her more vulnerable to economic devastation and hunger and even the inability to care well for her child. She knows it puts her marriage and her future and her reputation in jeopardy. Ironically, saying “yes” to God might mean rejection from her religious community.
When I read Mary’s story, I think about all the men and women who have borne the shame of their societies by saying yes to God.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
From today’s Advent reading: “What I love about this story is Mary’s humanness. She’s not Alice Wilkerson, perfect and pristine. She’s more like Imogene, sincere and scruffy. Yes, she is a model of strength, which means she is willing to obey and receive and trust, but she is also a model of vulnerability, which means she expresses her real emotions, her real misgivings, her real confusion to God. Her faith and doubt, her strength and vulnerability, invites us in.” (To read more, click here)
Every place of vulnerability in us is an invitation to trust God. That’s the reminder I need this morning. Perhaps you need it too.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
For Connecticut people, I will be speaking at Stanwich Congregational Church and McArdle’s Flower Shop next Monday, December 18th. I’ll be talking about what it means for us that “Love Drew Near” at Christmas. How can you receive and reflect the love of God? Click here to register and find out more.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Where does hope come from? When you are in darkness or despair, how does the light break through?
Today’s Advent reading is about hope and affirmation. And yes, it’s about how God brings that hope and affirmation, but not always in the way we expect it. Not always–maybe even not usually–through what we think of as religious practices like prayer and Bible reading and church attendance. But often through people.
Who is bringing hope to you right now?
Who can you bring hope to today?
If you are looking for God to bring you hope, or if you want to be a person who offers hope to a hurting world, read December 13 in the Advent ebook.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Is it just me, or do most people associate Christmas with hope, peace, and joy and less so with love? This year, I’ve been focused on God’s love and what it looks like when God’s love enters into human hearts. From today’s Advent reading: “Love will make us into people who don’t need to ignore pain and suffering but instead can respond to it with healing and grace. Like the baby who came into the world over 2,000 years ago.” (To read more, December 14 in Prepare Him Room: Advent Reflections on What Happens When God Shows Up)
Friday, December 15, 2017
When my kids were little, I was aware of “developmental milestones” like taking their first steps and babbling and eating solid food. Recently, I’ve been thinking there must also be developmental milestones for middle-school, because Penny keeps surprising me with how grown up she is. First there was the time she came home with a friend’s phone number on a post-it note and gave her a call. They talked for three minutes. I didn’t think much of it. The next day, she called again. 30 minutes later, there was Penny, lounging on the sofa, giggling with her friend and waving me away.
There’s also the increased maturity. This morning, when William was working on a school project and Penny asked, “Can I give you a compliment, William?” or a few days ago when she said she no longer needs to be a part of putting stickers on an Advent calendar. She’s too old for that now.
But then came this morning. I woke up earlier than the rest of the household as usual, to workout in the playroom. Peter went to wake Penny up at 6:30 and she wasn’t in her bed. He found her in the guest room. Eventually he realized that she had moved herself in there in the middle of the night because she had thrown up, repeatedly. She tried to deal with the mess of it, changed clothes, and then found a new bed.
I can’t say I want her to be growing up in any of these ways, and I have made her promise that she will come and get us if she ever throws up in the night again. And yet I’m also cheering her on as she opens up those wings and learns to fly.
(Photo is Penny on her first day of middle-school. I took a break from the Advent book today, but I will be back to talk about Zechariah and George Bailey tomorrow. I know many of you have had trouble accessing it and I’m so sorry. Here’s a new link. If you fill out the form to subscribe, you should receive the ebook by email.)