Still waters, raging waters

We’ve had a five-day break in the rain here. More arrives tonight, and there’s rain in the forecast every day for the next week. Is it okay for me to confess I’m weary of rain and mud and the park closures due to high waters?

I’ve taken advantage of the sunshine and spring-like weather to get out with my camera. At a nearby dam, I’ve been struck by how different the water is from one side to the other.

The “lake” remembers it’s a river in its soul, and though it flows briskly, it does not rage the way the waters do on the other side of the dam.


The “lake” side of the dam


The reverse, where the water knows it’s a river

Continue reading

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.

Read the rest of the original post.

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.

Simple lessons from the nativity scene

I shared with you last week that Thanksgiving was threatening to overwhelm me, but I was really in denial about what would come before the leftovers were even all gone. The “commercial” Christmas season has come roaring in, practically running down Thanksgiving in its wake. Not that it hasn’t been around since before Halloween, but this week has brought a new level of frantic Christmas messages.

Neighbors have lights and greenery and blow-up snowmen out on their lawns. I still have pumpkins on my front porch and feel a sense of camaraderie with others whose front porches are still decked out in Thanksgiving decor.

The catalogs are screaming with deadlines for shipping in time for Christmas. My inbox has became an unmanageable beast shouting about Cyber Monday deals and extended Cyber Week sales and last chances and one-day coupons and so much more that my head is spinning. Exactly when did Cyber Week become a thing anyway?

I got an email from a big crafts store yesterday with a list of one-day deals and a lead-in sentence that said: “This year, take the stress out of the holidays by simplifying your DIYs …” The sale was for ribbon and fake poinsettias that I could use to transform my normal (read: boring, blah, unacceptably plain) chairs into appropriately festive ones with perfect chair ties.

I thought to myself, “Hey – I know. I’ll make my holidays even less stressful by not going to the store and buying festive-chair-tie-making materials.” I also convinced myself I did not need “Celebrate It pre-lit entryway trees,” even if they, too, were marked down 60% for one day only.

By not jumping in the car yesterday, I saved a little piece of my sanity and 100% of the money I would have spent. I also solved the issue of my family exchanging glances behind my back, wondering when I started feeling the need to decorate perfectly good chairs when what I really need to do is just figure out how to bake a pie without filling the kitchen with smoke. (I admit that this is a recurring event in my kitchen.)

Whether I prepare and decorate and learn how to bake the perfect pie … or not, Christmas is coming. I want to get my heart right for it. I’m determined to find some quiet in this Advent season, to carve out some space for preparing for real Christmas. And I think the nativity scene is the perfect place to look.


These nativity shepherds look so calm and happy and relaxed. That’s how I’d like to be this Christmas.

I wrote a bit last Christmas about the nativity set my mother painted for me, and these are the shepherds from that set. Stop and look for a moment at their faces and what they have with them: a few of their animals, a water canteen, a musical instrument and some food. That’s all.

When they heard the angels singing of Christ’s birth, they didn’t rush around looking for ribbons and fake poinsettias to decorate their chairs. They rushed to the manger and brought only what they already had with them.

Friends, will you take a cue from the shepherds this week and drop what’s not important so you’ll have time and energy and joy for what is? Are you willing to set the Martha Stewart expectations aside and prepare your heart and home for the presence of Jesus?

Got a good tip for how to make the coming celebration a simpler one, less filled with stress? Please share it below!

The birds of the air

My husband and I spent a few precious days at our home away from home in the mountains this past weekend. Life grows stiller there for us, and we come back home rejuvenated for the tasks that lie ahead.

During this past trip, I called my mom, and she asked in a quiet, hopeful voice, “Have you seen any hummingbirds yet?”

A few weeks back, one hummingbird buzzed by the house, hoping for the feeder of sugar water because the cold, wet spring had made the flowers shy to bloom. It had been a miserably wet weekend, and though I hadn’t yet put out the hummingbird feeder, thinking it too early for them to have come back for the season, we had put seed out for other birds. And they came in droves to show off their finery and eat their fill.


A male rose-breasted grosbeak enjoys a meal in the pouring rain.


Posing for the camera?

Continue reading