Loop Advent: be part of the conversation with God

It was days after the launch of Breathing Eden, when my soul was weary, that I began listening to God’s whispers.

The house dark, a blanket pulled across my shoulders, I sat on the floor, reading Scripture, asking Him what it is He thinks about Advent, this season of both awaiting the birth of Christ and celebrating Christ who has already come.

I wondered what God might say if we asked Him how we should celebrate, how we should prepare our hearts, how we can be present with Jesus in this busy season? So I asked Him, and I waited for answers. And like I did with Loop, I wrote it down.

Loop Advent

And these four letters are Loop Advent, four beautiful devotionals, one to read during each of the four weeks of Advent. And there are four unique 8 x 10 art prints inspired by His words–to print out on watercolor paper or card stock, too.

I love what the words in Loop Advent say . . . Read More . . .

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too deep for words: when we feel broken and we don’t know how to pray

Oh, God, what do I even say?

This week I wrote and recorded an audio lesson on Romans 8. I read the verses of Romans 8 over and over, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart. I wanted to dig in deep to the promises Paul shares with us. I wanted to explore how the Holy Spirit, when we don’t even know how to pray, intercedes for us. And how Jesus, at the right hand of God, communicates to our Father each word our heart longs to say.
We are being fought for, cared for, when our pain, our fear, our worries, make it difficult for us to lift our heads.

We may long for God, but we sometimes don’t know how to pray to Him. We don’t know how to articulate what is truly going on in our heart, our life. Or, we may not even recognize what barriers might exist that make it difficult for us to connect with Him. Or, we don’t even believe He is here, listening.

We need the Holy Spirit to give us words, translate our heart-needs to our Father. It is so beautiful that this is exactly what He does.

But as much as I love this truth—even though it rocks me to my core that God loves us so much that He helps us in our need, I struggled to digest this. . . . Read more and learn about the free audio lesson I created for you on Romans 8 . . .

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“marriage is no fairy tale”

She wore ivory, the same dress her mother wore decades before her.

Her satin train melted onto the church aisle in ripples of lace delicate and sheer. She insisted her toenails be painted pale pink, her fingernails lacquered shiny. The flowers were shades of pink and coral—peony and ranunculus stems tied together with ivory ribbon layered over her grandfather’s cotton handkerchief with monogrammed pale blue trim.

He stood there at the end of the aisle, young and strong and willing to take on the world. He was her everything, the man she believed she would love until the end of her days. This was it. The beginning of her life, the beginning of all possibility. They were going to be a team, able to conquer any obstacle, steadfast and sure toward anything that got in their way. Love conquers all, right? Love was certainly all they needed. Clearly, it would not fail.

And then it did.

She tells me she isn’t sure when the fairy tale ended. Or maybe it was never a fairy tale at all. But she loved him. And he loved her. Or I think she thought he did—and she believed she loved him too.

Nevertheless, those words, “I love you,” became words for her that meant only what the newly engaged couple, elated and blissful, whisper to each over a candle light meal, a display of false, saccharine perfection displayed in Lifetime Channel movies on TV.

She asks now, could love, with a husband, be something that could last—that would be more than a fairytale, but reality, too?

Marriage is no fairytale. That’s for sure. Marriage is difficult, God.

She prays, “How did it get so hard to keep loving each other? Where did we go wrong? How can I find my way to him—toward You, God, toward love again?”

We ask these questions of God.

And married or not, we wonder about love. Read More . . .

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“I am depressed”

We were on a walk when she told me.

How, in prior years, the darkness blanketed her. How, for months at a time, she was convinced it was swallowing her whole. My stoic, wise, and strong friend spent more than a year feeling trapped, stuck. One thing was certain to her. She could find no way out.

The self she used to know was distant—far from her now. The darkness was too thick, too heavy. She could not explain to her family, her friends, what she was thinking, feeling. She was sinking now, surely drowning in the heaviness of it all.

“Depression,” is how the counselor described it when she eventually sought help. But yet how can a word, a diagnosis, explain the dark covering of her mind, the despair of her heart?

Are you depressed, dear one? Read More . . .

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And the Earth Cries Out, Jesus

Jesus, it is even in the cracks of moments, when hearts turn themselves over, begging for hope to cover, You come.

It is not only in the darkness that you enter, when tears leave us empty, parched. But it is in darkness too, when we are in the desert, wondering if You are close. And You are. We know it, yet we wonder still.

The earth is aching. Pain that is too much to bear. And You bear it. In the confusion and disorder. In the darkness unleashed, You are still mighty. You are justice, in the night. You are love in the hate. You are comfort in the chaos. You are peace in the mess.

Wise friends share how it is hatred that is here, a thunderous movement upon the scarred land. Hearts are calloused, but the ones who know You cry out. You hear. You are here. You do not abandon the downtrodden, the alone and desperate and afraid. Read More and pray with me . . .

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My New Book, Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things

There are stories that have yet to be told, yet to be whispered, even in the dark when we believe no one could possibly hear. But we wonder yet if these words, hidden in secret places, could be gathered up. We wonder if there is a place for them. For the question is about more than words. It’s about the claiming of our stories, often the ones most difficult to speak out loud.

I know.

It’s hard to share. There is fear of rejection; we’re convinced that the person to whom we share will condemn us. There is shame, the cruel and twisted feelings of humiliation at having sinned. We want to keep the story secret. It’s a story too painful to tell. There is disbelief that sharing the story–even a story of beauty, or joy–will help. We think it surely can’t bring about any healing–for the person listening, or for us.

So we struggle, even, to open up our hearts to God.

And sometimes we don’t even know what the prayer is, until it is unearthed, the Spirit searching our heart and revealing to us the hidden, fragile places that need to be coaxed into the light.

I know.

It can feel impossible to discern, sometimes, how to pray. It can feel impossible that the beginning of prayer–sharing our heart with God–can even do any good. I know this from my own experience, and from leading women’s groups for years. And I’ve been wondering why we feel this way.

And I’ve also been wondering what it might be like to walk like Eve did, with God.

What would it be like for us right now, in our particular life situation, to hear God’s whispers? Read More and learn all about my new book! . . .

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When You’re Convinced God Is Not Here

You aren’t swimming underwater now, waves tossing you so you aren’t sure which way is down, or up. But I know this isn’t how you feel. You are convinced you are sinking, that she is smarter, that you are slower. That she’s prettier, that you’re not so special.

Come to think of it, you aren’t sure what is worthwhile anymore.

That job. This home. This struggle to make ends meet.

You scream the prayers in the night. Father, where are you, in the middle of the mess? Do you hear my cries? Do you recognize me, even here, where it is surely only dark? Can your light shine on me? I can’t find you.

I don’t even believe I know where to look.

You say it again: Why do your words, God, feel hollow, just letters on a page? How is your voice one I can hear? Would you even speak to me? Would you even want to? How can I believe this love you have for this world is love that applies to me? Read More . . .

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Why it’s time to share what you’ve been hiding

They sit, these sisters, clasping tea in hands, telling me the story I know. The story of silence, the story of keeping it all hidden, pretending everything is okay.

They sit and share the wounds of the darkness, love muddled in attempt to keep things clean, organized, simple. The problem with pushing down truth is that truth cannot be hidden forever. And there is a cost to silence that is more bitter than the initial pain itself.

Repercussions to silence are felt in new ways–all for the fear of letting light shine.

Avoiding conversations about the tough stuff may mean avoiding the potential mess that occurs when hearts are spilled open, raw. But avoidance–choosing silence–opens the door to believing lies, to making agreements about things that aren’t true.

Do you, friend, have a memory when you, as a child, tried to put together the pieces to a situation you didn’t fully understand? Do you feel the burden of silence, of things unspoken, of relationships strained?

We are made for relationship. We are made for community. We are made to share stories and let His light shine on the places of pain, of fear, of pride.

My friend leans forward. We must unearth truth, she says. We must unearth lies that need to be surrendered. We must unearth wounds pushed deep into hard, dark ground.

I squirm in my chair and my heart leaps with recognition. Yes, I understand this. This invitation to unearth–seeking to discover lies of my past–makes me both excited and afraid.

For I remember. I’ve been here before. Read More . . .

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