Advent 2021

The First Sunday of Advent is nearly upon us. 

Although I didn’t grow up with this tradition, I’ve embraced it in adulthood and it has become one of my favourite ways to prepare my heart for the celebration of Christmas, sharpening my focus on Christ in a season that leans toward a frantic pace. I love it all — trimming the tree, carols and treats, Christmas lights in our PJs, TV specials and movies, presents and laughter — but I need the quiet longing of Advent to anchor my hope in the One who embodies it, bring the peace that passes all understanding, fill my heart with unshakeable joy, wrap me up in unconditional love.

Nearly ten years ago I created a feature for my radio show called “Advent in Action”, with small ways to bring the themes of Advent to life in my ordinary day, keep Christ at the centre and share hope, peace, joy and love. As I revisit that list this week, I’m reading this passage from John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

John 1:1-18 (NIV)

May this Advent season stir up a genuine longing for Jesus, the Light of the World.

Advent in Action

The Time Machine: Strong-Willed Much?

The Time Machine series features posts from years past.

This morning I’m sharing more thoughts on this Sunday’s Advent theme of Peace. My life is still every bit as crazy as it was when I first wrote it, since we’ve added a baby to the mix this year. Four kids almost seven and under is BUSY and finding a moment of peace can be tough, so I find myself praying this prayer again this season.


I’ve heard that strong-willed parents create strong willed children.

Oh my.  I must be very strong-willed.  Haha!

But seriously, though.  This week we’ve been spending time thinking about the next theme of Advent.


What in the world is that when you’re butting heads with an almost 5 year old over a scooter, helping an almost 3 year old sort through her very big emotions about sandwiches, and keeping an almost 1 year old from biting her sisters while she pulls every book off the bottom shelves?

Whew.  I am feeling weary today, friends.  I understand that the care and raising of tiny humans makes up only a short season in a person’s life.  I have it on good authority (from friends who have been here) that these years are formative and important, and that the way I am spending this time is going to make a difference in the future.  I know that one day I will look back on these ridiculous moments and remember them with complete fondness and not even a hint of frustration.  I may even laugh about them!  (hmm.  Not quite there yet.)

But most of all, I believe that parenting is actually simply running to Jesus every single step of the way – in the amazing moments and the not-so-amazing moments.  (An awesome thing I read in a book called “Hoodwinked” by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk!)

The funny thing is, every day is filled with both.   Isn’t that some sweet kindness from the Lord?

Jesus, be my peace in the middle of this chaos.

Be my hope when despair sneaks in.

Be my joy when sorrow knocks on my heart’s door.

And be my love when I feel spent.

nestled in the tree

Nestled in a tree

The Deepest Peace We Will Ever Find

Micah 5:2-5a (NIV)

” ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.’

Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be our peace…”


It dawned on me last night that there are only three weeks until Christmas.

Oh. Well. Perfect opportunity to PANIC!

Once December hits, time seems to speed up. There’s shopping and wrapping and baking and making, sandwiched between regular life and fun activities and all the things.

Can we really get it all done in time to actually sit back and enjoy The Big Day?

Phew. Wouldn’t that be amazing? I am goal-oriented, so when I can accomplish something on The List (my running list of what needs to happen), it’s two thumbs up and a happy dance.

And yet, even if I actually get to that coffee and shortbread in front of the tree with my feet up because the last of the wrapping is finally done, there’s still the business of a peaceful heart to consider. In spite of all the headlines and circumstances we face, our hearts know that true peace is so much more than a break from all the rushing around.

Peace is the deep breath that flows from a place of absolute confidence that God is good and He can be trusted to keep His promises.

We’re celebrating this entire season because of the Prince of Peace, who brought “the peace that passes all understanding” to guard our hearts and our minds.

When there is no end of chaos in sight.

When there is no sign of change on the horizon.

When there is no space for a moment to breathe.

“And He will be our peace.”

When anxiety wraps its fingers around your throat and begins to squeeze.

When fear bangs on the door of your heart in the night.

When turmoil brings darkness to cloud your mind.

“And He will be our peace.”

The deepest peace we will ever find is peace with God, through Jesus Christ, securing our future beyond this life.

Peace on earth – let it be so, and let it reign in me today, now, even in this moment.

Thank you Jesus!

coffee and tree

When Things Are Just Too Much

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? – Psalm 13:1


Late summer lightning

What do you do when the bottom falls out? When things go so completely wrong that it seems impossible that God is still involved in the situation? What do you do when you know He is powerful to stop something from happening, or to clear an obstacle, but He simply does not do either one?

I want to believe that somehow, all my faithfulness to Him will be rewarded with health, long life, stability, finances and human love on this side of eternity. I want to think that if I’m good to Him, He will be good to me in the way that I think is right and good and worth my effort, here and now in this life.

But I know that’s not true. In my heart I know the real rewards are yet to come.

This is one of the hardest things about following Jesus. God is good, yet bad things still happen, and it’s even more difficult when bad things happen to good people. I know that God can intervene and change the outcome of any situation, and yet sometimes He doesn’t. I grieve losses and disappointments and wonder why He doesn’t just make it all go away.

I was thinking about this the other day  when I read something that struck me. It was from Pastor Timothy Keller, who has taught extensively about suffering and the Christian worldview. He said, “The best people often have terrible lives. Job is one example and Jesus—the ultimate ‘Job,’ the only truly innocent sufferer—is another.”

Not very comforting, and yet completely satisfying all at the same time. If even Jesus suffered, why do we think that we will not? We’ve been fed this line that if we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us with material blessings and protection. Maybe a nice house and a car, a good marriage with wonderful kids, a full bank account, our health and a great job that will fill our desire to make an impact – our “calling”, as it were. Kind of like karma – be good and good things will come.

Except that’s not how it works. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble…”

Not that we go looking for it; we don’t have to. In certain seasons of life, it finds us. And it doesn’t make sense. It feels unfair. It hurts.

Earlier this month, we lost an incredible evangelist and passionate teacher. Nabeel Qureshi’s life and books have impacted thousands of people around the world! This guy loved Jesus. He was willing to give up everything for the sake of the cross. Surely he would be healed of his sudden stomach cancer diagnosis! Surely God would do a miracle in his life to show His power and glory! Thousands of people prayed for healing. Thousands of voices lifted morning after morning, night after night – asking Jesus to remove the cancer in this young husband and father and give him a bright future as an author, teacher and speaker.

The answer came on September 16th, 2017 as Nabeel was welcomed into eternal life with Jesus.  We know he is experiencing the incredible joy of seeing the Lord face to face! But we can’t help but ask the question, “why Lord?”

Why do we have to suffer? Why do good guys have to die?

We were watching Bambi with the kids a few weekends ago and our four and a half year old was horrified by the very idea that the storyteller would include the part about Bambi’s mom being shot by a hunter.

Her face was stricken with a mix of confusion and fear as she cried out, “WHY?! WHY DID THEY EVEN PUT THAT IN THERE?!”

I know, right?!  I feel like that every time something nasty comes my way.

We think we’ve got things covered, but when something goes sideways we face the reality that we are not in charge.  That phone call. That doctor’s appointment. That work meeting. The economy. The weather. The timing of a particular moment. In just seconds, we are driven to our knees with shock, grief and fear.

And rightly so. In the moment it is so difficult to understand why or even how something like this would happen.

Here’s the amazing thing. When suffering comes, we are not expected to fold our hands and shrug our shoulders and say, “oh well, it’s God’s will”. We are free to wail and grieve. We are allowed to cry out to the Lord from the depths of our hearts. We can run to Him to be held, comforted, reminded of who He is – the God who redeems and restores our lives for all eternity!

Suffering takes our faith to depths we’ve only heard about in stories and testimonies. Places we will not go on our own. Places that bring us into a closeness with Jesus we’ve never had before, as we share in His sufferings.

Author Ann Voskamp says, “When we know Christ, we always know how things are going to go — always for our good and always for His glory.”

We don’t have to explain it away, because we have a Saviour who suffered too. A Savior who bore our sin, shame, pain and grief, who died a brutal death, forsaken by all. And He is the very same Savior who came to life again, breaking death’s power for all eternity.

When we see God for who He really is, even in the middle of the darkest of nights, we come to understand that He really is the One who holds it all together. We begin to see that God is working all things for our eternal good – and for His glory. These sufferings are temporary. He is eternal. With our trust placed in Jesus, our future is secure, free from suffering and filled with hope.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)