Some of us enter trembling through the door of a new year.
This last year wasn’t so good and our hearts are broken.
What if the next year is worse? How will we manage? Where can we hide from bad news, bad outcomes, disastrous trauma?
Truth is, we can’t.
So here we are, bravely marching in, hanging on to hope and begging God for mercy.
Read the rest here: New Year’s Prayer for Hurting Hearts
Oh, dear one who opened your eyes to the morning light carrying wounds so deep no one can see!
I am so, so sorry.
When things have gone terribly wrong it’s hard to get up and make merry.
Read the rest here: Christmas Morning Prayer for Hurting Hearts
It’s tempting to line up our friends and acquaintances in columns under headings of “perfect family”, “good christian”, “struggling addict” or “hopeless case”.
When I label someone I justify my response-good or bad-and let myself off the hook for sharing the extravagant, unrestrained love God has shown to me.
The longer I live, the more people I meet, the more certain I am that the neat little categories we like to use are not very helpful.
If I decide they are “doing well” then they don’t need my help.
And if I decide they are “beyond hope” then why waste my time or effort?
Either way, I’m wrong.
Christmas is the story of God come down-Emmanuel-of Love reaching down into a dark and lonely world. It was hardly tidy, it was a Messy Christmas
I don’t know what the wise men expected to see.
It seems natural to us who know the story–who know the REST of the story–that they ended up finding Jesus-The King of the Jews-the One whose birth was announced by a star in a humble abode.
But I think it might have surprised those rich rulers traveling so far to worship Him.
Read the rest here: Advent: Extravagant Worship
One of the most devastating aspects of child loss is the idea that we’ve lost agency-the ability to choose anything or impact the outcome of anything.
God invites us through Christ to reclaim that.
No, we cannot control every aspect of our lives. But we absolutely can control where we point our hearts.
Read the rest here: We Always Have a Choice. I Choose Hope.
The world is waiting breathless for salvation from the prison of hopelessness.
We long for an end to the tyranny of fear, physical destruction and the power of an enemy that is stalking, harming and killing those we love.
Rumors of imminent help pass from lips to lips but rescue is still a distant hope.
Israel was waiting too.
Read the rest here: Advent: Hope Of All Hopes
We left Zechariah yesterday just stepping up to the Altar of Incense.
I like to put myself in the story and imagine him slightly trembling at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to creep closer than all but a handful of Israelites to the Holy Presence of God Almighty.
Perhaps he was already a little afraid.
Read the rest here: Advent: Surprised By God’s Answer
This is the ninth Christmas without Dominic. There really are no words to describe the intersection of holiday cheer and another milestone in this journey of child loss.
I’m not sad all the time-far from it. Often I am very, very happy.
But I will never stop missing him, missing the family we used to be and missing our blissful ignorance of how quickly and utterly life can change in an instant.
And I will never outgrow the need to have others remember him as well, to encourage my heart and the hearts of my family members and to help us make it through another year, another Christmas.
Here are some great ways to do it: 25 Ways to Give Holiday Hope to the Grieving
Today’s verses may seem an odd choice as a stand-alone source for an Advent devotional.
But when you dig a little deeper, they are a beautiful affirmation of how God used ordinary people to bring about His extraordinary purposes.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were two humble and obedient Jews living their lives according to the Law. As a priest, Zechariah was responsible to serve in the Temple two weeks of every year. He’d been faithfully doing his duty for years. Elizabeth had done hers too.
But they were fruitless. Elizabeth was barren. And barren women (in those days) were considered cursed.
And then something amazing happened.
Read the rest here: Advent: Positioned For Blessing
Sometimes it’s hard to gauge effectively and objectively how I’m really doing.
Living inside my own head often obscures tell-tale signs that maybe I’m not coping as well as I think I am.
So I depend on feedback from friends and family as an early warning safety system.
But many of us are physically isolated from others who might otherwise help us discern when we need help. A heart can fall fast into a deep pit of despair without realizing it.
Read the rest here: So…How ARE You Doing?