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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The birth of Breathing Eden – and a giveaway!

It was my friend Judy, over coffee at Cafe Barrone, who offered the first encouragement.

We sat outside, drinking lattes from porcelain mugs. We were talking about writing and story. About the hard stuff of parenting and marriage. Of being known and messing up. Of connection and isolation. Of future dreams and gratitude for the now.

I was in the middle of writing a series on my blog called Voice: A Journey Toward Life in 31 Conversations. And Judy said it could be more than just a series on a blog.

Here is how I described Voice to my readers on my old blog page two years ago:

“I wonder if you’re a lot like me. I wonder if you’re busy, with a calendar that is filled. I wonder if you want to live a life more fully surrendered to God but are intimidated by what a life of prayer is supposed to look like—particularly, what it may look like to have regular conversations with God.

Come participate in a back and forth conversation—a woman’s prayers and heart cries to God, and His responses back, as she listens and writes them down.

In the midst of a culture of busyness and to-do lists and trying to prove oneself and get ahead, can a busy woman’s regular conversations with God—her prayers and her listening to Him—be the key to claiming the life God has always intended for her to live?”

A journey toward life. I still like how that sounds. And when my husband, Justin, a few months later, who had heard me talk about this blog series but never knew the title of it, comes into the bedroom where I sit, laptop in my lap, and tells me he was praying and says, “I feel like God impressed upon my heart something about you writing and some project called ‘Voice.’ What is that?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

It felt too good to be true. Too beautiful. . . Read More and enter the giveaway! . . .

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what it might look like to miss home

I am in the tension. I miss my home.

The smell of a burning candle. The creak of floorboards under bare feet. The windows opened wide in the morning. The bluejay in the primroses outside the kitchen.

The kitchen itself is torn up, the first place I would head to each morning. Tiptoeing to open the shutters, letting out the dog, waiting for the light to flood in while the house still sleeps.

My soup pot is tucked away in storage. My baking sheets in boxes with my spices and mixing spoons. I miss cooking. I miss baking. I miss the familiarity of simple things: walking our dog around our neighborhood, going across the street to get the mail each day, visiting Berta, my ninety-two-year-old neighbor, playing music through the speakers while I write and then make dinner, leaning on the counter while my kids eat a snack and tell me about their day. Read More . . .

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“I am overwhelmed.” Am I okay?

The dog let out a howl in his sleep this morning at 4 a.m.

Low. Weird. Totally annoying. I awoke, startled, but fell back to sleep, dreaming that our oldest, who just started high school, was attending my university alma mater’s rival school across town. No, he can’t go to school there!

We are living in a cozy space this fall, displaced from our home due to a house remodel. The kids are in three different schools for the first time. There is a lot of driving now, meetings with contractors, trying to not get overwhelmed by a book launch. Oh, and Justin and I are working on another writing project together, too.

In the evenings, with our family crowded into a single room, we watch the Olympics, the TV blaring too late into the night. There have been a few nights, when I have had deadlines, that I have had to crawl into the bedroom closet, across from the bathroom, and write. Earbuds in my ears, cranking up music by Jonathan David Helser or Lauren Daigle.

This album is on repeat when I write now.

Crazy? Good? Too full, God? Can you help me keep my eyes on You? Read more . . .

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when you get soul bare (and a giveaway)

When she asked me if I would share the truth about myself, the story of my beginning, I knew I would have to start at the end.

It was the end of me that started it all, the choice to let pride kill a life. Two decades later and forgiveness and grace is the truth I sing.

Not death. Although that is part of the story too. Not shame. Although I carried that like an invisible shroud for years. Not silence. Although that is what prompted the belief in other lies I believed about myself too: you have no voice; you are not made to be loved; you are never enough.

There is a beautiful book my friend Cara edited and released into the world a few weeks ago. It is called Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption–a book of 31 real-life stories by women who share the things they don’t want to keep silent. Stories of the hard and the beautiful, the desperate and the good. Each story points to God, a testament to His presence in the midst of heartache, disappointment, pain.

My story is in there. It is called Cold, Dark Ground. I talk about my story with my friends over at the beautiful Mudroom. And I am giving away three autographed copies of the book, Soul Bare, too.Read more and enter the giveaway . . .

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I made something for you

I am so grateful for your emails, friends. The ones where you have shared that yes, you are depressed. Yes, marriage is a struggle. Yes, it is a battle to surrender and lay down the urge to have control.

No, we are not alone here. I am so grateful for your vulnerability, your courage, your beautiful faith. You are such encouragement to me.

It made me want to respond, create something for you–us–that we can use when we feel stuck and we aren’t sure how to find the words to pray.

So, I sat down last Thursday afternoon, while the kids were at camp and Justin was on an air plane, and created a book for you. It’s called, Prayers for the Women of Breathing Eden. It is an accompaniment, a layer of understanding and participation, for the readers of Breathing Eden. Read More . . .

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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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Because Our Life Is Not a Movie but it’s Sacred Everyday

I grasp the black handle of the tea kettle, turn to the sink behind me and fill it with water. Put on the lid and turn back to the stove. Place the kettle upon the gas burner and turn on the gas. Watch the reflection of my self in the kettle’s stainless steel. Listen for the gas. Vrmmp.

Consider how, if this were a movie, if this scene were being filmed, I would assume the moment was one of importance somehow, maybe even reverence. You know, the every day, normal activity to which we can all relate but so easily overlook.

Fill the kettle. Turn on the stove. Wait for the water to boil.

Except this is my life. And I am not in a movie. There is no beautiful angle or amazing lens or talented photographer here to capture this and convince me this is more significant than it really is.

And yet this life is amazing. It is holy. It is beautiful and sacred space. I know.

I have a conversation with myself, wondering why I push against what is sacred? Whom am I to decide what is holy, worthy, good?

Why do I need documentation of my life to believe it is worth something?

To whom am I looking for validation? To whom am I asking, do you see me, notice me? To whom am I asking, what am I worth?

It looks prettier everywhere else sometimes, unless I look at my life and recognize it as holy. Right here. Right now. I am holy, a daughter of God.

Fill the kettle. Turn on the stove. Wait for the water to boil. Read More . . .

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