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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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Entries in Advent (18)



When you think of God, what expression does he wear?

The gospel says that He looks at us with a loving gaze of a Father and smiles as He sings over us.

The gospel of Luke tells us a story of a son who squandered his inheritance for fast living, drink and women. While in a pig pen eating the slop, he had a revelation. He decided to return home and live as a servant to his father. He reasoned that the servants of his father’s household lived a better life than he was at the present moment. So he set off on the long return trip home.

Did he practice his story all the way home? I have sinned. I won’t even live in the house... I’ll live with the servants. Daddy, I’m so hungry and so tired.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20.

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clear eyes

This shot is taken outside of Union Church. Allen Danforth, blue shirt, was the founder of WGO.When December arrives, we moms shudder. We know what’s coming: parties, Black Friday (named by a mother), lists, decorating, traffic, and holiday melt-downs. It’s easy to lose the meaning in the blown fuses and traffic jams. Then put the aspect of family dynamics and broken relationships on top, and it’s enough to bend the knees of the strong.

Living in a third world country did not inoculate me from being infected by the busyness of the season. We lived there from 2002-2006. One Sunday I sat in the pew at our church and realized it was the first Sunday of Advent. I began to jot notes down on the bulletin. These notes would become my Christmas card. I wrote about the heaviness of my heart and how I could not digest another sermon on Romans. Our pastor, gifted and eloquent, preached through Romans over the course of two years. 

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Yesterday I traveled eight hours home from the beach. As soon as I pulled up in the drive, I noticed the tree sitting darkly in the corner of the den. My boys and Matt greeted me exuberantly. Skip licked at my ankles. 

We gathered around the dinner table, and I heard the stories. On the morning I left for Florida, Sam had awakened with fever and coughing. He was sick most of the week. Joshua was honored with an invite to play Varsity in an upcoming soccer tournament. Skip ruined his coif by rolling in something dead in the common area. 

The lights on the Christmas tree had met an early demise. Matt suspected a blown fuse. We’ve never had this many lights because we’ve never had a tree this fat. Over poppy-seed chicken, we talked about solutions. 


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If Advent means anything in my life, it means to offer space for God to work.

As I understand it, the gospel means that God saved me in my sin and nothing I can do will increase His love for me nor diminish it. As I grow in my faith (sanctification), I can offer ground to Him or in other words offer my life.

This attitude is beautifully demonstrated by Mary the Mother of Jesus. Mary's words show a heart willing to bend to God's plan and a will deeply trusting of God's goodness. "I am the Lord's handmaiden. May it be as you have said." Luke 1:38.

I want more than anything for my life to reflect that sentiment. Sometimes I look around and I cannot see my way clear of the refuse of this fallen world. I don't see a way back to grace. I cannot find a path to peace.

My past (faith) reminds me that God has provided for me and has never left me. He has come through at the last minute or He has acted in surprising ways. This is the soil of my faith. My future (hope) is built on trusting His character. I want to live with that kind of memory and vision and let it shape my present.

These past few days at the beach have given me the space to prepare for Advent. As I wait, I offer the God of the Universe space in my heart to work.

Mary offered her womb - a space for miracles. I want to offer space and wait to see what God will do. This is what Advent means to me.



One thing the ocean offers me is perspective. I see how large the earth is. I see the line at the far end of the horizon. My creature-hood is undeniable. I am face to face with the reality that a Larger Force rules the Universe.

Webster tells me perspective means "the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship."


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