Revisiting the colors of Christmas

I love that the first day of Advent 2017 began for me with a blazing white shooting star in the early morning sky and ended with the rise of this year’s only supermoon.

December’s superman with a few city lights below

It felt fitting, then, that I might begin this busy season by thinking about the color white. Or rather, revisiting that color. After all, white was the first in a 2012 series I shared with you celebrating the colors of Christmas. Maybe these posts will feel like old friends, or perhaps something new will speak to you this time around. I hope you’ll enjoy them throughout this month and slow down at least a little to ponder the colors of this season.

Continue reading

Defying gravity

I’ve been thinking about gravity a lot lately. I’m finished with physical therapy for the injury that kept me from running for many months, but during many of my sessions, I got to run on an AlterG Anti-Gravity treadmill.

This high-tech treadmill lets you choose to run with as little as 20 percent of your body weight, all the way back up to 100 percent. When you run on this machine, until you set it back up to 100 percent, you are defying gravity.

During one of my last sessions, after I’d already graduated back to a regular treadmill, my physical therapist showed me a video of a blind runner using the AlterG. It was the first time he had been able to run on a treadmill without holding on with his hands. As he swung his arms back and forth, he exclaimed, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. This is amazing.”

There are parts of the Advent story that defy gravity, too, just a different sort of gravity. Mary ignored the gravity of her situation and agreed to become a mother out of wedlock. Joseph ignored the gravity of staying betrothed to a pregnant woman and instead believed an angel telling him to stay with her. Together, they and Jesus (and one might argue everyone else in Bethlehem, too) defied the gravity of His birth, and a simple stable became the birthplace of the King of kings.

One of my readers responded this way to last week’s poll about favorite nativity figures: “The whole thing! A stable as the birthplace of the Son of God! How absurdly wonderful!”

emptystable2016_ft

The season of Advent challenges our ideas of where kings should be born, and Jesus’ entire life and ministry was meant to challenge our assumptions about God and faith. My reader is right: it’s absurd and wonderful. Continue reading

One swan a swimming and other cherished sights

I’ve had the Twelve Days of Christmas going through my head this past week. Well, truth be told, it’s Jimmy Buffett’s new version (where “a purple parrot in a palm tree” replaces the partridge).

I love Christmas music—both holy and secular. It fills me with joy, delight, peace, faith, or even a longing for home and family and slowing down to enjoy cherished moments. This year’s Christmas for my husband and me will be here in California, and that means no trip to North Carolina. But we recently snuck in one last trip of the year to the western part of North Carolina, and today’s photos come from a most cherished place.

This swan is one of two that has taken up residence in a lake I love to visit. I’m not sure where its mate is, but seeing it reminded me of the seven swans a swimming.

swanandcherishedplaces2016_1ft

A watchful swan at dusk

Continue reading

November favorites, final week

I don’t know why the powers-that-be decided NaNoWriMo should be the same month as Thanksgiving, but I suppose you could make an argument against any month, and they had to pick one of the twelve.

Writing this past week has been a struggle, partly because of the holiday, partly because of a majestic bird, and partly because some unruly bit-part characters (so minor I didn’t even name them at first) announced that I must tell their story, too. Their story matters, but it may mean NaNoWriMo takes up all of December for me, too. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing.) Continue reading

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.

closeupChristmasangel2012FT

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.

Read the rest of this original post.


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!