What is your word for 2013?

Hey there,

A few years ago I heard about this idea and have been doing it ever since. As you enter this new year, what’s your “word” for 2013? What one word are you going to carry with you as you walk your coming pathways?

Do share, do share.

And also let me know if you’re going to read with us in 2013. I’m about to announce our next book.

Enjoying the big skies of Texas this week, I love the hill country, but it’s too cold! Missing my back porch and all our green!

The Turning of the Year

Hey there sweet girls.

I have found a surprise quiet moment in the midst of our holiday travel. The family went paint balling, and surprise of surprises, Aunt Jill opted to stay home. This house is amazingly still, and even though I enjoy interacting with our family community, I am receiving this afternoon with open hands.

So before I find a blanket and pillow to take a nap, just wanted you all to know that you are on my mind in these days as we say goodbye to one year and prepare for the next. I pray your Advent season was peaceful. More to come soon.

Waiting with Open Hands

I have a few more quotes from Henri’s Advent devotional that I want to share with you in these days. We truly are waiting in the dark. I wrote about this at the Greenhouse blog a few days ago. I find great comfort to know that God is deeply present in the dark, that He hovers and watches over us when we experience trials and suffering.

Today’s thought is compelling. It shapes the “wait” in a new and different way. It lets go of the outcomes, and that is not always easy to do.

I’ve been waiting for some things in my life. There are experiences and places of longing in my heart. Just the other day, I was imagining one of those dreams and God brought a hesitancy, a pause that I wasn’t anticipating. He hinted that the very door I’ve been waiting for might stay closed for now, might stay closed for a lifetime. And I was caught short, I actually stumbled on the last stair. The nudge was a reminder that we must wait with open hands. We do not control or guide the future, He does.

But there is more. Waiting is open-ended. Open-ended waiting is hard for us because we tend to wait for something very concrete, for something that we wish to have. Much of our waiting is filled with wishes: “I wish that I would have a job.  I wish that the weather would be better. I wish that the pain would go.” We are full of wishes, and our waiting easily gets entangled in those wishes. For this reason, a lot of our waiting is not open-ended. Instead, our waiting is a way of controlling the future. We want the future to go in a very specific direction, and if this does not happen we are disappointed and can even slip into despair. That is why we have such a hard time waiting: we want to do the things that will make the desired events take place. Here we can see how wishes tend to be connected with fears.

But Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary were not filled with wishes. They were filled with hope. Hope is something very different. Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled, but fulfilled according to the promises and not just according to our wishes. Therefore, hope is always open-ended. Henri Nouwen


Each and every day is filled with treasures. We wait, but we must also live. We must learn to hold it all. We must grow our souls so we can hold the waiting and hold the present at the same time. This is an art, it takes depth and maturity, it is not for the faint of heart.

I was a bit lost last night. I went to a Casa Viva Christmas party and it was filled with children and families and the promises of Jesus in our midst, but I often stand at the outside looking in. At one point, I walked over and asked if I could hold an impatient baby. His mom was looking a bit frazzled, and since I had little to do, I walked with him. At first he was turned toward me, but because my face was completely unfamiliar, he started thinking about crying. So I turned him to face the party, and we walked together. As a spectator, I had a million thoughts racing through my mind, but found God asking me to receive what He was showing me and telling me and enjoying with me. I am waiting for many things like all of you, but we have to be very careful. The moment is now. Live it.

A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then, is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is growing within her. Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary were very present to the moment. That is why they could hear the angel. They were alert, attentive to the voice that spoke to them and said, “Don’t be afraid. Something is happening to you. Pay attention.” Henri Nouwen

Could you hear an angel today?

Growing from the ground on which you are standing…..

Good morning lionesses, hope all is well with you this day. We’re in the midst of final exams and holiday parties, wrapping up this first semester and turning our eyes toward 2013.

Before I jump in on our Advent thought for today, I want to just mention the importance of spiritual momentum. My past week was unusual because I did not spend a single morning on my back porch in the quiet. My parents were visiting and my mother is an early morning person like myself. She’s up before the sun, so there were no moments of solitude in the early hours. I could have designated a different place and time, but I didn’t, and it was my loss. Today was my first day back and I was quite disoriented. I had lost the daily rhythm and struggled a bit to get back into my reading and thinking and praying. And there was a sense of emptiness as well, realizing that I missed the daily treasures, that He had gone on ahead and now I had to run a bit to catch up. This might not make any sense, but it was a powerful lesson this morning of how spiritual momentum shapes our days.

A similar theme exists in Advent. We are waiting. We are waiting in the dark. But Henri reminds us that it is not a passive waiting, but rather a filled waiting, a waiting meant to enlarge us, a waiting that is alive and growing.

Most of us think of waiting as something very passive, a hopeless state determined by events totally out of our hands. The bus is late? You cannot do anything about it, so you have to sit there and just wait. It is not difficult to understand the irritation people feel when somebody says, “Just wait.” Words like that seem to push us into passivity.

But there is none of this passivity in scripture. Those who are waiting are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing. That’s the secret. The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening where you are and that you want to be present to it. A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, who believes that this moment is the moment. Henri Nouwen, “Waiting for God”

Think about that. Think about the possibility that what you are waiting for is growing from the ground on which you are standing. That’s a profound thought, one worthy of holding today. Wait actively, not passively. Don’t throw up your hands and grow resentful, enter into the waiting and let it shape you. Hold it and let it grow. Lean into the longings, not away from them. Our longings and desires are meant to grow us, don’t be afraid of them.

From something to something more…..

Waiting in Advent holds promise. Read Henri’s words to us today.

Waiting, as we see it in the people on the first pages of the Gospel is waiting with a sense of promise. “Zechariah…..your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son.” “Mary,…..Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son.” People who wait have received a promise that allows them to wait. They have received something that is at work in them, like a seed that has started to grow. This is very important. We can only really wait if what we are waiting for has already begun for us. So waiting is never a movement from nothing to something. It is always a movement from something to something more. Zechariah, Mary, and Elizabeth were living with a promise that nurtured them, that fed them, and that made them able to stay where they were. And in this way, the promise itself could grow in them and for them.

Don’t miss this. We are women holding promises deep in our souls. The world where we live and work is not all there is. Our world is much bigger and wider and deeper and longer. Jesus holds our world and His words and promises are what anchor us in the darkness.

It is our vital relationship with Him that nurtures and feeds us. The world cannot sustain us, but He is able to do all things.

Let the promise of Advent grow in you.


In the dark.

Knowing the promise that the Light is coming.

Will you wish you had lived differently?

Hey there lionesses,

This article came across my desk this afternoon, and I thought it worthy of passing along to you all. My initial and very simple responses are the following.

1. Turn off Facebook for a while, stop reading about what everyone else is doing and create something yourself.

2. Ditto.

3. Bake a pie.

4. Go to the park with a child and learn how to play again.

5. Take a deep breath and wait quietly in the dark.

Send me your thoughts. Is this article speaking truth?

And so the wait begins…..

Good morning girls.

I’m not quite sure how many of you are taking the Advent adventure this year.

Interesting! I never saw the word “advent” in adventure until just this moment.

I’m not sure who is in and who is not, but it’s not important because we’re all waiting for December 25. We all have the same calendar and we’re all headed to something that means CHRISTMAS in our minds. The Advent adventure brings a fullness to the season, adds the mystery that is desperately needed in the aisles of Target and the endless stream of Facebook.

Advent is a quiet sanctuary that we enter from the noisy street and we sit in the dark. There may be a few candles, but it is dark and we are waiting. If we wait with Mary or Joseph or Simeon or Anna or Zechariah or Elizabeth, we are waiting for God knows what or when or who.

So we must think about this waiting. Henri asks us in a Christmas essay, But what is the nature of waiting? What is the practice of waiting? How are they waiting, and how are we called to wait with them?

Ask yourself as we begin – What are you waiting for???

Advent Resources

Hey there,

First Sunday of Advent is this weekend. As we prepare to walk through this month together, I wanted to send a few possible resources your way for you to consider. Take a look at the list, it’s for you to decide.

1. Watch for the Light is a book of devotional readings that I have used in recent years. I like the variety of authors, plenty of thoughts worthy of reflection. You can check it out here.

2. For those of you who enjoyed getting to know Henri Nouwen this year, there is an Advent resource connected to his writings. I own it and have used it in recent years, it’s solid. You can check it out here.

3. I read from the Divine Hours every day. This is a special edition for Christmastide, I don’t own it, but I’m sure it’s an excellent resource if you want to commit to pray throughout the days of Advent. You can check it out here.

4. I follow the work of Ruth Haley Barton, as some of you already know. On her site at the Transforming Center, she is following Advent through their blog. This is a great resource if you want to keep it simple and not buy another book. You can check it out here.

5. Kristin shared another online Advent resource with me this week as well. I think they are using it as a couple. You can find it here.

And finally, I’ve heard about the Advent Conspiracy through Relevant magazine. I don’t know much about it at all, but in a sincere effort to be hip with the kids, I include the link for it here.


A Clarification

Hey there!

A few of you are asking about this particular paragraph.

Third, I want you to begin thinking about an act of service that you can pour out over the Christmas season. We learn the faith by living the faith. Ask God for His guidance in this. I want you to find something hidden that most people won’t notice, but God will. I want you to commit to serve in that way across the course of the season. Choose something “of the earth”, find one of your raw spots that might need gentling, and commit to a daily act of service.

As I was thinking about our Advent season, I want to make sure we don’t get lost in the clouds and forget to wash the dishes. 🙂 I’m all about candles and quiet and solitude and reflective reading, but our Savior chose to enter this world as an act of submission and service. He was comfortable being born in a stable, and we need to stay close to the earth as well. So by “of the earth” I mean something practical, by “raw spots” I mean something that you don’t particularly like to do or an area that is consistently irritating to you, and this season might be a perfect time to gentle that part of your character. I’m just looking for a way to make the season tangible and real. Ask God to show you something specific in the coming days that you can attend to over the course of this season.

Hope that brings some clarity!