Advent 2021: Peace in the Small Spaces

It is early morning as your eyes open. You can see the square of light around the curtains, lending just enough light to see the room by. No one and nothing else is stirring yet, and the world is quiet. As you lie there–not moving yet–in that moment before your brain can begin to work, there is utter calm. It is that Christmas morning anticipation or the feeling of lingering in a sweet dream. It is what feels like the rarest of moments these days: a peaceful one.

Our world is one in turmoil, off-balance–unequal, inequitable, at odds and conflict constantly. Peace often feels like an ephemeral dream, untouchable, ungraspable, unattainable. But it is not so dire. Often peace is a moment, not a movement. Sometimes where we find peace is not always the same place. Sometimes peace is found in a glass of lemonade on a shady summer porch. Sometimes it is found in the paragraphs and pages of an often-read book or one’s favorite Bible verses. At times, it is found in the early-morning stillness or the late-night settled quiet. Peace may be ushered in by candles and quiet prayers, a dog’s snuffly cuddle, or a child’s loving hug.

As we move through this Advent season, let us not overlook the small, slow moments and slices of peace in our rush to make Christmas what we think it should be. As it says in Romans, God is willing to fill us with His peace, if we are willing to trust and hope in Him. Let us be willing to pause in all our going to remember Christ’s coming and arrival. Let us rest in quiet, just as Mary and Joseph were made to rest in the simple stable into which He was born. As we arrange our Nativities on mantle pieces, tables, and shelves, let not forget one of the dearest names for our Lord: the Prince of Peace.

He will hold us in that peace, in those moments, and speak His whispers of love into our hearts. This Christmas season, things may still feel a little unsteady, not yet “normal”. Even in that difference, peace can be found. It can be found here our places of worship and reflection, in the music, the prayers, and silent worship. In the remembrance that God has never left you alone. Not for a moment, even the darkest ones. He is here to fold us in close, hold us in His peace, and give us hope that continues beyond Christmas.

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Right now, She Reads Truth is offering this beautiful 8×10 art print that reads “I Will Provide Peace in This Place”. A gorgeous, loving reminder for the entire year round. Gift orders placed by Dec. 7 will be shipped in time for Christmas.

*I am in no way partnered with She Reads Truth. This was just a lovely coincidence. ^_^


Advent 2020 ~ Fashioning Peace Piecemeal

In the world in which we live, peace seems like a far-fetched dream. Peace in a world of sickness, fear, worry, and dread? Peace in a world of struggle, suffering, loneliness, and inequity? Yes, peace is hard to find. Yet it can be found. Jesus holds it in His hands, its tiny flame dancing and throwing just enough light to glow in our eyes. Here, His heart says to ours. Here is a bit of peace.

A bit of peace in a glorious sunrise filling the sky with painted fire and jeweled clouds.

A bit of peace in a quiet house after little ones are abed, the fireplace or the wind outside the only sounds for a few moments.

A bit of peace in an unexpected card or gift that brings a smile to our faces.

A bit of peace in that favorite comforting song coming on the radio.

A bit of peace in the right words said at the just the right time.

Here is peace built piecemeal, one bit at a time. We may not be able to see peace on a large scale, but we can find it in its bits and pieces all around. We can find the tiny dancing flames and press them warm to our heart and soul. If only we know how to look for the little bits, the hidden bits. We can cup our hands around Jesus’s hands and smile with Him over peace built piecemeal. Together all those little flames can cast light in the darkness, enough light to warm every heart.

The Mornings I’m a Person For

Today is Labor Day. No work. No school. Freedom to sleep in as one sees fit and is able. What did I do? I rolled out of bed at eight o’clock and headed to the gym. One of my sacred spaces. There I can do for me and just for me. I can work for my good and what I do is for no one else but me.  I can leave feeling accomplished and stronger. I love starting mornings like that.

I often declare that I am not a morning person, but the truth is that, within the right parameters, I am. Work mornings are all about doing, going, getting there (wherever there is) on time. They are rushed and clinical and I am focused on almost everything but myself. There are days that I have been so rushed that I have left my coffee on top of the washing machine and even forgotten to comb my hair or brush my teeth once or twice had to sneak into the bathroom at work to do so before I met anyone or my students. No, most days I am not a morning person.

Now, give me a morning when I can sleep until I wake up on my own (meaning, I’m not summoned by our four-year-old or an alarm). A morning where the light in the sky is tinged with newborn white and gold. A morning still so new that I haven’t even planned it out yet and anything could happen or be done, where I can choose to do something just for me without the guilt of all that “needs to be done”. A morning where I can drink in silence and cool breezes. Give me a morning with all of these magical ingredients and I’m absolutely a morning person and completely in love.

I love going out for breakfast. I love early morning matinees at the movies. I love morning walks and talks and deep thoughts, sitting on stairs, sofas, the foot of beds, and coffee shops. I love cuddling up in a cozy blanket and watching movie trailers. I love holding my TARDIS mug full of coffee in my hands and breathing in the morning mists that roll off the fields, basking in the silence of our little town in the early of the day. I love the dusky color of the morning sky, like the fragile, lovely shell of a robin’s egg. I love the feeling that the day is waking to greet me, rolling over in its arched bed like my loved one to start my day with a tender kiss. It’s in these beautiful moments that I am most definitely a morning person.


Casting of Light

I watched in fascination and more than a little awe as the candle rays intersected, bisected each other, arced, and danced across the wall over the steaming bathtub. The flickering wicks made the facsimiled sunbeams dance and bow, the bubbles in the tub taking on a brighter luminescence for brief seconds. 

I sank into the hot water, the light from only the candle pouring over my skin, splashing its earthy tone with gold, and the soft piano music trickling its sweetness into my soul. Days, though long and good on the earth, can leave my spirit devoid of quiet and awe. I had come, like a pilgrim to a wildwood chapel, seeking them, and I found them in flickering candle shadows on my bathroom wall. 

Holding On

My Dearest Dears,

December has dawned in darkness and pain and grief. I have honestly avoided writing on all of this darkness because, well, it’s everywhere. Everyone is writing about it and good points have already been made. Outlining and highlighting the darkness is not my job. It is there, undeniable. It is truth, the starkest, coldest truth for some people, and what may be their only truth this Christmas. The statistics are there, etched and grooved in their own stoney reality. More shootings than there are days in the year. Families torn asunder on what was supposed to be a fun night out. A quiet dinner interrupted by a hail of gunfire and shrapnel. No, no one needs me to delve deeper into the darkness.

What is my job, though, is get out of the way of the light. No, I am not suggesting that we silver line these people’s pain. No. Never. I have never experienced such utter, violent loss. I have no frame of knowledge from which to speak to their pain. But I can acknowledge it and I do, with all my heart. I acknowledge their loss, their pain, their grief, their anger, their sadness, and join it in with them. I do not know these people, any of them here or abroad, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot take their grief as much to heart as I would those close to me.

But there is something else that I take to heart along with that grief. Something that I have noticed in so much of the aftermath of these events: the voices that come out of them. The voices of those who suffer this grief and loss. Their voices that call, beg, plead for peace. Their voices that admonish us to love, hold, do good unto, and care for others. Their voices that call for forgiveness. Their voices and lives that are the living proof that grace is a better choice than bitterness.

As we begin to close out this first week of Advent, this week of Hope, I am taking those voices to heart and soul. There may not be much or anything at all that I can do on a large scale, nor would I even know where to start, honestly, but I can do my best to do as they have asked. I can do my best to live in peace. I can love, hold, do good unto, and care for others. I can forgive. I can give grace instead of sinking into bitterness.

I can hold on to hope.




NaBloPoMo Day 11: Solid Words to Live By

As I have gone through life, I have found that there are several quotes and axioms and Scriptures that have resurfaced or repeated time and time again, often extremely pertinent, relevant, and poignant to just what I was experiencing at the time. Several of these have come to form cornerstones for me and the way I live my life. What I will include here are four of those soul foundations.

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Out of the Mouths (and Lives) of Babes

When I was in grade school, there was a little girl in the younger grades that had a profound impact upon my life. She was a dear, dainty little thing, gentleness personified. Serena had been born with a hole in her heart and, even with surgery, she was not expected to live past the beginnings of elementary school. She could not run and scream and play like her classmates but seemed content to swing and smile and watch others have such boistrous fun. I remember the way she would sit next to me on one of the benches before school would start, such a quiet presence. I remember the way she would take my hand and ask me to push her in the swing, always answering any question of her well-being with a sweet “yes” or “fine” and acknowledging ANYTHING done for her with a mild “thank you”. I remember her little hugs, her body light and delicate in my arms but the light in her eyes bright and her smile sweet.

Serena never complained, never whined, I never saw her cry, even though one would proclaim her justified in doing so. She knew her condition, she knew her limitations, but even at that young age, she didn’t let them limit her spirit. She showed each and every one of us the meaning of a peaceful spirit, a grateful heart, and a loving life.

The year that Serena passed away, we dedicated the yearbook to her, and I wrote the dedication to this beautiful, delicate, steel-strong little girl. She taught me the truth that softness and gentleness are not weakness but immense courage. Our school world was very different the following year, a bit of light having gone from our lives. But peaceful little Serena has never left my memory or my heart. I miss you, darling, and thank you!


Sacred Spaces: My Backyard

For a long while, I have had a blank document sitting in my Microsoft Word and it is entitled “Sacred Spaces”. I had an idea of what I wanted to write in it but could never quite find the words to express it. Also, what specific spaces would I write about? Then, this morning, it came to me. Well, the beginning did.

After our walk this morning, I took my daughter out to our backyard to play. I sat on the porch swing that is hung on our swing set frame beneath a large oak and made myself stay put while she ran to and fro between the swing set/slide and her playhouse just beyond our mulberry tree. This is one of my sacred spaces: my morning backyard. I love my backyard in the mornings. Overspread with deliciously cool shade,Sacred spaces - backyard only dappled by the sun, and a cool eastern breeze at my back. Heavenly! Now, sometimes, my backyard isn’t quite so pleasant. If it has been frequently rainy or muggy, the bugs are often out in force, which means nothing good for me. But, on an average morning, this is its norm. I spent our time in the backyard swaying placidly in the big swing, enjoying the breeze on my back and shoulders, my reverie only broken by Elizabeth’s request for me to help her into her swing and then swing in the “big girl” swing beside her. Later, I held her on my lap while she drank some water and, together, we listened in silence to the world. We heard the leaves rustling with the breeze, the birds chirping in branches nearby, the deep barking of dogs down the street, and the distant rumble of an oncoming train.

This is one of the places where my daughter learns about the world around her. It is where she is learning to play and climb and imagine. It is where she pulls bark off the oak to look at it more closely. It is where she strips the leaves off a fallen branch to make a sword. It is where she picks grass blades in order to “cook food” in her playhouse. It is where she picks a handful of “flowers” (weeds) and tosses them into the air with a joyful abandon. This is where she worships in her own toddler way.

This sacred space is where I am learning, too. I am learning to breathe, to inhale the quiet that can be found in the foreground of a moment and let the rest fade into the background. I am learning to release my fear and worry and to trust my child’s courage. I am learning to sit in silence and just be, to feel the heartbeat of the world and to find my soul reaching out to it. This is where I am remembering that God will be Who He will be. Remembering that God will be just what I need as I go through life. I have sat in this backyard time and again, sometimes in tears, sometimes in frustration, sometimes in so much pain that I can barely breathe. I have shared this pain with others and borne it alone. Other times, I have sat in this place and shared laughs and stories with family and friends, the fire casting golden glows over our faces or the moon its blue moonlight over our forms. Three years ago, I sat in the quiet around dying embers and marveled in awe at the truth that my husband and I would soon be parents. I have found my heart bursting with joy for the beauty and peace that can be found in so small and simple a place as I call home.

This is my sacred space. This is my holy ground.

Well, one of them anyway. As I said, this is the beginning.


Defending My Peace

Originally posted on The Well Written Woman, “Defending My Peace”.

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on  – “Let It Go”, Disney’s Frozen

Lately, I have been surrounded by situations that provoke my helplessness. Even more so than my helplessness, though, they provoke my desire to take care of things, to help, to fix things, make everything okay. I have thought, I have written, I have prayed, and I have indeed found guidance and followed it as best I can. So everything is supposed to be good, right? Everything is supposed to fall into place, isn’t it? Yeah, not so much.

I feel like a storm, a maelstrom, is roaring around me, and, every time I think it has abated somewhat, that I have made progress or taken a step forward, it blows up in my face again, roaring and bashing against my heart and mind. I take step after step forward, trying to do what I feel convicted about, what I feel God has laid on my heart and led me to do, what’s important and right. When I follow through, it brings me peace. But then, as I try to walk forward, I feel like my feet sink into the snow, into the mud, and the cold. My peace is threatened. I war against my own mind, my own tendency to doubt myself, to doubt my worth, my actions. But that peace glows and warms me like a coal, a feeling that is often so fleeting in our lives these days. I don’t want to lose that, so I have resolved to defend my peace, to fight for it. And that involves something that is very difficult for me, something that is hard to admit and even harder for me to say to myself.

My peace does not depend on others. My peace depends on me doing what my heart has been convicted is right, what I need to do, and resting in that and in God. My peace is on me, not them. While it may be true, it is something that takes me reminding myself every day, moment by moment, prayer by prayer. But those prayers are not just for me; they are also for those in my life, those in these situations. Prayers for peace for them as well in whatever capacity in which they need it.

There are days, the not-so-great days, when my peace is threatened by things inside and outside of these situations, but I will continue to fight and defend and hold on to my peace. It’s a constant work. Worries threaten, as they always have, but I am working on weighing them out. The things that I can control, I will do the best I can with them. The things I cannot control, I have to just let them go because they are not mine to deal with. And it’s hard to let go; specifically, to let go of my desire to fix the things around me and make everything hunky-dory. I can’t do that. It’s not my place nor my job to fix everything. I can deal with things in my own life, in my sphere, but I recognize that my emotional and mental tendency is such that I want to fix everything for others, too. Family, friends, the people who I care about in my life. Admitting that I can’t, that sometimes I am helpless to affect such a change or a fix, is hard. But, if I constantly worry and fear and flail, all I will do is cause myself pain and guilt over something that I realistically had no control over in the first place. Control, true control, over our lives may be an illusion, as some have suggested, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to grasp at it, to not feel quite so helpless in it all. Endeavoring for balance is where I find myself at one point or another in my life. “Let go and let God” is the saying that comes immediately to mind, and that is where I am right now, as I sit in the dark of my quiet house writing this while everyone else is asleep.

I find myself praying more and more lately, when my mind turns towards the maelstrom, when it threatens to drown me again and I feel helpless. That helplessness swells up so strong and hits without warning. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going or standing on my head or my feet, where to turn or what to do. It’s why I follow my gut, that voice within, when I feel led by God to do something, when I feel that sense of direction in my heart and my soul. I follow it because, in that moment, the next place to put my foot is clear to me. Maybe just that next step and only that next step, but it’s there. When I feel that it is the right thing for me to do, it’s not a sense of control necessarily, it’s a sense of “yes, this is right” and that’s where I try to step. It might not make sense to anyone other than me but I believe that it is God’s metaphoric thumb in my back, which I cannot ignore, or, at least, I try not to. When I follow through on that leading, the peace that comes with it more than amazes me in its comfort. I don’t want to lose that.

So, to echo Elsa, here I stand, and here I’ll stay. Let the storm rage on! The cold may bother me but I won’t let it beat me. I won’t let it, let my peace, go.

Oh, How Sweet It Is!

My ‘me time’ today consisted of me sitting in a corner at Bob Evans, waiting for my carry-out order for my family to be ready. As I sat there in silence, watching the staff bustle back and forth, I found myself realizing just how…beautiful it smelled in that restaurant. It was all but empty of customers at the time but still there were delectable things being made. I sat there and inhaled the savory aromas of suppers being cooked (at least two turkey dinners and one meatloaf and gravy for our household), the warm sweet tickle of icing drizzled over fresh-from-the-oven sweeties, the fluffy comfort of rolls baking five feet from me. And I smiled. I really smiled for the first time in several hours.

For those twenty minutes, I was at peace, and the world was beautiful. I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t stressed. I wasn’t a ball of emotions. FOr those twenty minutes in Bob Evans, the world was that corner and that corner was beautiful.