Advent 2017: Waiting for God

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. Waiting for God is like waiting for your next heartbeat Eager anticipation Forming spiritual elation A collective breath Held throughout all creation Weakness abounds in every earthly nation All things can be done through Christ and salvation Just as a child craves to be born This world desires The veil to be torn God give me not stillness For apathy is death Let me feel purpose Until my last breath Loneliness weighs Like the stone of a mill The struggle isn't just Between you and your will Sin is the world Tempting the flesh Soul, spirit and body together must mesh To stand fast against sin is a battle

Advent 2017: Light Changes Everything

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. I watched as the last minute ticked on the clock, then hit the off button just as the alarm sounded. I’d already been awake at least half an hour, even though I had crawled beneath the covers just a short while before. My gear was carefully laid out, and I dressed as the coffee brewed. The house was quiet. A few short words passed between my friend Bobby and me. The night before, we had hashed out who was going to hunt where. I checked my gear one more time, filled the Thermos and headed for the door. Taking a few steps out into the predawn air, I stopped and smelled the wind, let the cold complete the wakin

Advent 2017: Let There Be Light

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been living with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. I’ve been sick before during the holidays, but never as sick as I am right now. And it feels very much as if hope, peace, joy and love are the ghosts of Christmas past. Clinical depression is a mental disorder that can be caused by a number of things. My predisposition is genetic; depression runs in both sides of my family. There are lots of ways people can experience bouts of clinical depression. For me, it’s like a Novocaine drip If I believe God’s promises are real — and I do — I have to believe He keeps them even

Advent 2017: And On Earth ... Peace

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. Thankfully, 2017 is about to bite the dust. This has been a difficult year. As the planet reeled from one natural disaster after another, we witnessed moral corruption and abuses of power at every level. Worse, we often saw God’s own people turning away. We watched the Church grow impotent and lazy—more interested in political power than in making disciples for Jesus Christ or in ministering to the broken world Jesus died to save. And so much violence. Wherever Jesus is, there is peace. From mass executions of clubbers and concert-goers to children in schools and worshippers on Sunday morning, we’ve experien

Advent 2017: Making Memories Out of Memories

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. I've been thinking a lot lately about this term "making memories." It seems everyone these days talks a lot about it. Before a family trip or vacay, "Let's make some memories!" many of us might exclaim, or even post on social media with excitement. Is this something we actively thought we were doing before the age of social media? The act of making memories, I mean. I know I never really did, at least not while I was planning the fun event or, you know, I believe it worked because of my conscious effort to slow down. having the fun. I may have looked back later while reminiscing over the pictures and thought

Advent 2017: What Christmas is Really All About

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. Why wait 364 days to celebrate one day of remembering how blessed we are, when we should do it everyday? We really don’t need lights and we don’t need snow to have Christmas. We don’t need gifts, either. Let the love in your heart be the gift you bring to work, to school, and to church. Not just at Christmas, but anytime. One song that gives the big message is “Christmas Everyday” by Unspoken. This is one of my favorite songs to listen to if I need to remember that Christmas is not just about the toys and the gifts. Sometimes I think it is hard to grasp that a baby boy was what we were all waiting for. Imagi

Advent 2017: A Silent Night/Believing in the Good and the Hope of Peace

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. A Silent Night: Believing in the Good and the Hope of Peace Have you ever heard of the Christmas Truce of 1914? If you havenʼt, it might do your heart some good to read about it here (and then also to watch this story recounted from WWII). There are of course conflicting views of historians on the actual details of the truce since it was pieced together mainly by verbal accounts or letters home; however, the consensus seems to be that on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in 1914, there was a sort of “silent night” where enemies somewhere along the Western Front stopped fighting, came out of their trenches and

Advent 2017: Anticipation

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. I remember when I was a very young child my parents bringing me and my three siblings together on Sunday nights in December to light candles on a wreath and to talk with us about the Christmas narrative. One year as we sat down for the first week of Advent, I asked my parents, “Why do we have to do this every year?” Sitting still for an entire fifteen minutes felt like quite the chore. But my parents gracefully used my restlessness to segue into a great explanation of the purpose of Advent. And despite my lack of appreciation as a child for commemorating Advent as a family, in hindsight of course I am The be

Advent 2017: The Greatest of These

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. Love. This seems to be the overwhelming thought I am having as we begin this Advent season. The amazing love God must have for us as we prepare to celebrate the birth of His only child and our Savior. The love I have for our Father and for Christ because I was chosen by them to part of His family. The love I have for my family and for my church family. The love I have for my own children as they grow and come to understand what Christ means for them, too. I have often thought that God called Jesus His Son so we could more easily understand the relationship between them. Jesus, His son and only child. God the

Advent 2017: Snowed In and Waiting

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. Ravn Alaska is a regional airline that flies into the little-known, wild and not-easily accessible areas of the state; places with names like Chuathbaluk, Deadhorse, Nunapitchuk, Russian Mission and Shaktoolik. But the only one I’m interested in right now is Valdez, where our daughter Naomi is finishing up her degree in Outdoor Adventure Leadership. It’s been a tough semester and she is in the home stretch. I’m up here to help her finish, then transition back home and onto what’s next. But instead of being in Valdez, I’m sitting in the Rustic Goat—a funky little joint in Anchorage—drinking coffee and trying

Advent 2017: Expect the Best

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. Early on Thanksgiving morning this year, I was frantically crying and prying plastic gravy and giblet packets from two frozen-solid turkeys in a struggle to get them in the oven ASAP. I was in a panic—this was happening on the holiday where turkey is THE most important feature of the meal ... and I wasn't even supposed to be the one doing this! Flash back to the day before, when I was daydreaming about sleeping in because all of the food I was responsible to bring to Thanksgiving dinner was already finished. We had decided to do a giant family / friendsgiving to help alleviate the stress of any one person co

Advent 2017: Re-Thinking My Lists

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. Lists. I love lists! There's a certain satisfaction from seeing things get checked off a to-do list or even organizing things to compare. Even Santa is a fan with his Naughty or Nice lists. A lot of people I know are list-minded, as well. The other morning, after another hectic night at work, I returned the call of a dear friend of mine. She sounded so HAPPY, energetic and cheerful. She was putting off good vibes and it was contagious, even through the phone line. She had explained that recently she wrote a letter to herself as a child. In this letter she explained that things weren't going to be easy in her

Advent 2017: The Son Shines Bright

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. — 1 Corinthians 12-13 (The Message) For the entire year of 2016, I was in a fog grieving my husband’s death on Christmas Day 2015. With this deep sorr

Advent 2017: Indulge

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. While driving in the car this week, I heard a song by Dave Matthews, “Too Much.” Some of the lyrics are: Ooh traffic jam got more cars Than a beach got sand Suck it up, suck it up, suck it up, Fill it up until no more I'm no crazy creep, I've got it coming To me because I'm not satisfied The hunger keeps on growing I eat too much I drink too much I want too much Too much Yep, that’s the holiday season! We can be like our forefather Adam and play the blame game: Companies continually pressuring us to buy more are pulling us in the wrong direction. Slick ad campaigns are using incredible music from

Advent 2017: Worth the Wait

Click here for a printable PDF of this post that includes a devotional journal page. I must have been about seven or eight the year I had pink eye at Christmas. I remember staying home from church one Sunday morning with my brother Matt and eating chicken noodle soup. I remember that clearly, because he didn’t realize he was supposed to add water to the can of soup. It was very salty. He only realized his mistake when he refused to give me a third cup of milk and I started crying. I also remember lying on my living room couch staring at the lights on the tree. I remember that clearly, because the salve in my eyes made the Christmas lights turn into oversized and bulging smudges of red, blue,

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