New book, old posts, part 3

I hope your Advent season is going well. I know what a busy time this is and appreciate you taking time out of your day to stop by and rest with me.

This is my third week of insane busyness with a cross-country move. If all goes as planned, I may actually get some rest today, in between pulling out Christmas decorations and unpacking boxes and finding a place for everything in my new home.

While I want to be here in this space with you each week, you wouldn’t get my best right now. So I’ll remind you that my book is available—in paperback and as an ebook through Lulu—and would make a great gift under the tree (there’s still time!). Each week, I’ll also offer a popular repost from Christmas 2012.

Advent isn’t always full of good cheer, especially for those who have lost a loved one, and this post from 2012 tackles the grief that can sometimes mar our expected joy in the season.

I promise to reply to your comments as soon as possible. Thanks for your grace and patience during this transition. Happy Advent!


“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches!” If you’ve missed the other posts in this series, you can go back and read all about white Christmases and red poinsettias. But today’s color is one of my favorites: green.

This little green tree decorates the table where we put all our Christmas cards.

This little green tree decorates the table where we put all our Christmas cards.

That green is one of my favorite colors shouldn’t surprise you, given the title of my blog and the fact that I write so frequently about trees. And unless you walk around with blinders on these days, you can’t go far without seeing some green of Christmas: trees, elf costumes, candy wrappers.

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I leave off today with a wish and a blessing for you as we head toward the shortest day of the year and into the last week before Christmas. May you be blessed with moments of peace, deep rest, authentic calm, the healing presence of God, abounding light, and moments of joy to delight you in the frenetic days of this season.

New book, old posts, part 2

This is my second week of insane busyness and being in limbo with a cross-country move. I say “limbo” because one house has been packed up, but the movers haven’t arrived at the new house with all our stuff—including my computer. And so I haven’t caught a plane yet to make the move official.

While I want to be here in this space with you each week, you wouldn’t get my best right now. So I’ll remind you each week that my book is available—in paperback and as an ebook through Lulu—and would make a great gift under the tree (there’s still plenty of time!). Each week, I’ll also offer a popular repost from Christmas 2012.

And I promise to reply to your comments as soon as possible. Thanks for your grace and patience during this transition. Happy Advent!


Last week, I began a series for Advent on the colors of Christmas. This week’s focus is on the color red, one of the most traditional colors associated with the season. I remember a few years ago seeing a friend at church in November wearing a beautiful orange sweater, and she said she was trying to wear it one more time before December fashionistas dictated red as the “must-wear” color.

In Western culture, the color red has widely varying associations: blood, passion or love, danger, stop (like the color of most of the traffic signals I seem to see these days) and many things Christmas (candy canes, Santa’s suit, Rudolph’s nose, bows, holly berries).

Even our expressions use the color in varying ways. You don’t want to be “in the red” (in debt) at the end of the year. The parking deck at the mall may have you “seeing red” (feeling angry) as you struggle to find an open space.

“Red-letter days” are ones we anticipate for their celebrations and importance. We “roll out the red carpet” to celebrities and dignitaries. And we can even “paint the town red” on a fun night out. But we don’t want to get caught “red-handed” (in the act) when we’re snooping to discover the contents of our wrapped Christmas presents.

For Christmas reds, there is no end in what we can find in red. Let’s start with what blooms during this season:

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A profusion of nandina berries in my yard

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Alas, while 2012 was a mild autumn and left me with beautiful geraniums (the ones I photographed for that post) to grace the front porch well into December, 2014 was harsher and forced me to chop off the geraniums even before the movers came to put the pots on the truck. I’m looking forward to planting geraniums at my new home, and maybe with a milder climate, they’ll last even longer than in my old home state.

New book, old posts

When I was in girl scouts oh so many years ago, we had a song we sang in rounds: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other gold.”

For the next few weeks, I’ll be insanely busy with a cross-country move, and while I want to be here in this space with you each week, you wouldn’t get the best I have to offer. So I’ll remind you each week that my book (the new friend) is available—in paperback and as an ebook through Lulu—and would make a great gift under the tree. Each week, I’ll also offer a popular repost from Christmas 2012 (an old friend).

And I promise to reply to your comments as soon as possible. Thanks for your grace and patience. Happy Advent!


Tis the season of Advent, a joyful time in the calendar as we prepare for Christmas. My husband and I got an unusually early start on our Christmas decorations this year, and our weekend of stringing up lights and hanging stockings on the mantel has me pondering the colors of Christmas.

In the coming weeks, I’ll focus on a different color of Christmas, starting today with the color white.

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One of my favorite Christmas decorations: a white ceramic angel holding a book and lit from within

In our western culture, white represents many good qualities: innocence, purity, light, goodness. We sing songs dreaming of a white Christmas and get a little excited (at least in some parts of the country) if the weather forecast calls for snow to blanket everything in its stillness and quiet on that magical day.

White is the color you get when all other colors get absorbed. I think the Christmas season is a bit like that, absorbing all of our prayers and dreams and hopes and expectations, even our fears and sorrows.

A little white book
I have Enuma Okoro to thank for opening my eyes to this color of the season. I’m reading her latest book Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent. The simple white cover drew me to the book, probably because I’ve found myself craving simplicity more than ever this year.

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What I didn’t point out to you two years ago was the crack in the angel’s right wing. When I was packing her away the year I bought her, I was being careful to support the wings in bubble wrap. So careful that the whole thing slipped out of my hands as I was putting it in a box. Her wing snapped off, and I superglued it back on. I found myself thinking of her recently, wondering how she will fare in the move from North Carolina to California. Here’s hoping she arrives with her wings still intact!

Thankful for trees and books and a book about trees

I’ve got exciting news this Thanksgiving Eve! My book The Flourishing Tree is available for purchase.

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Available now at Lulu.com

It will be available only through Lulu until sometime early in the new year, when it will be widely available (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.). For those of you who prefer electronics to paper, you may purchase the eBook through Lulu, too. To celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, the eBook is on sale for $3.99 through Monday (it’s regularly $8.99). The paperback version is on sale for 20% off.

Thank you for your support
How many of you remember the Bartles & Jaymes commercials from many years ago? You know, the ones with the two old guys who always ended by saying “Thank you for your support.” Well, let me quote them here: “Thank you for your support.” Those of you who follow this blog have encouraged me and lifted me up and helped me get here today. I am deeply grateful for you.

If you like the book, would you do me another favor? Would you rate it on Lulu? Would you leave some feedback for me here? Or at hopesquires.com? I’d love to hear how this book touches you.

My hope for the book
I hope those of you who read the book will walk away with a renewed sense of God’s unfailing love and grace for you. I hope you’ll be encouraged in your faith journey. I hope you will experience a new (or renewed) excitement for pursuing a relationship with God. And I hope the book will fill you with God’s light.

Together, you and I can be bearers of the light. We live in a broken world, and it is easy to feel overcome by the strife and despair and sorrow and violence in this world. Yesterday morning, the morning after Ferguson erupted in fresh riots, I was out running with my dog. Two chickadees dropped to the road from a high limb of a tree, hitting the pavement with a loud “thwack.” I thought they might be babies falling from a nest, but they were full-grown and in full fight mode. Their battle made me despair, “If even the birds are at war with one another, what hope is there for humans to heal their differences?”

Yet God calls us to let our light shine and to love one another. In the days to come, may you find moments that heal the broken places inside of you, and may you encounter ways both tender and loud that shine through with the light of God’s love for us all.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. I hope your travels will be safe and cheerful. I hope you find yourself in the company of those you love. I hope your bellies and your hearts will be filled with all good things.

 

Flourishing Trees

I walked along the greenway with my dog, both of us banished from the house in the middle of the afternoon so strangers could walk through and decide if this would become their new home. I tried to make myself at home with my thoughts, as we crunched leaves underfoot, the dog and I.

I picked up one of the biggest leaves I’ve seen this season—a perfect fall blend of red, yellow and green—and looked up to find the towering tree that shed it. Through the canopy of smaller trees, I spied it, the old giant. I decided to take its leaf home and see if, along the way, I could find its tiniest counterparts. It became a game, and my dog relished the extra stops (more nose-to-the-ground time).

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Fall leaves … giant and small

I’ve finally found the tree that sheds a different sort of huge leaf into my yard every year. It eluded me all these years, shedding its leaves before the shorter, smaller trees shed theirs and therefore making it impossible for me to know which tree dropped the large, brown leaves. The tree lives in a neighbor’s yard and freely shares its leaves with us all.

Frost said, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” and this tree is one of those somethings, caring not one whit for fences or boundary lines or yards that have been freshly raked.

You may not think of trees shedding their leaves this time of year as flourishing trees, but that’s exactly what they are. They’ve learned that to survive the cold and dark of winter, they cannot fight nature. So they shed what they don’t need for a season.

One by one, with a gentle letting go, they drop away burdens they no longer need to hold, should no longer cling to if they want to flourish in the year ahead.

Ah, to be as wise as these trees—beautiful and trusting—as they let go of what is no longer their own. As they prepare for winter, they are also preparing for the coming spring.

Dear God: Please help me be more like these flourishing trees in their season of change. Amen.

I fling up this prayer in hopes of laying down some worries and fears of the season ahead for me … so that after the winter, I will be flourishing, too.

Is there something you’re holding on to that you could let slip gently away? A concern or burden that is no longer yours to carry? Will you let these things drop away from you like so many fall leaves?

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An especially flourishing tree that has covered my recently clean driveway with a golden leaf pile

Drop me a line in the comments below to let me know if you’re able to let go of any worries troubling you. And drop by next week, when I hope to share an exciting announcement about a different sort of flourishing tree.