A Christmas and New Year Prayer.

This year I was able to share a Christmas prayer and blessing with my family. It's a prayer that will hopefully help us remember and celebrate Christmas and what that means to us, but also to carry what that means throughout the year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!!

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This Christmas season and coming year may we remember love, joy, peace and hope.

May we remember to love those right next to us, love those far from us and even love those who are hard to love.

May we cling to hope.

May we hold on to peace.

May we scatter joy.

May we remember His law is love and his gospel is peace.

May we remember that Christmas just means God came to us and He is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus came in a form that didn't seem right for a Saviour, but that by coming this way He became Immanuel. Jesus came to be with us.

Let us not forget that.

May we carry Christmas through the rest of the year. This upside down way of loving that Jesus tells us about, where we love our enemies, where swords are beaten into ploughshares, where we can be farmers who sow and cultivate peace, hope, love and joy instead of warriors for division, war, pain and oppression.

May we allow our weary souls to rejoice in the fact that He has come.

May we have good memories and remember the responsibility we have to be ambassadors of this hope, of this love, of this peace and of this joy.

May we remember that we are meant to put into action these things we believe...these things that begin with Christmas.

May we start paying attention to where more love needs to be shown, where more light needs to be reflected, when it's time to move to action, to pay attention to where we can be sowers of love, joy, and peace, but also when it's time to sit in the brokenness and hold onto hope.

May we remember that God is love and that Jesus came to show us a different way. A way to love God and love our neighbors. A way to even love our enemies. A way to be a part of a bigger story that's about love, joy, peace, hope and wholeness. Where everyone is accepted, loved and shown dignity and respect.

May we do the hard work of peacemaking, not just peacekeeping. Remembering that we must be creators of peace.

May we remember that there is no us and them. There's just us. We belong to each other. Jesus came for all of us and we don't get to decide who belongs and who doesn't, we just get to love.

May we remember that Jesus came so God could better engage with us. May we remember that God speaks uniquely to all of us and that its God's desire for us to respond to that.

May we go away from this season and into this new year remembering these things and knowing that we don't walk into whatever lies ahead alone because God is Immanuel and because we have each other. We weren't meant to do life alone.

God is with us and God is love.

Let us not forget that.


We're officially within the season of Advent. The long exhale, the waiting, the anticipation, the breathing, the hoping. The reminder that "God seeks us out where we are right now. Not where we should be by our own or anyone elses estimation" {Sarah Bessey}. It’s a time that often gets overlooked because of the busyness and the holiday hustle and bustle, but it’s so important.

At the beginning of this Advent season I was feeling pretty restless. I was drowning in all the change and transition I’ve been going through and kept getting frustrated with myself when I felt like I wasn’t handling it all well. I kept planning and over-thinking and plotting and over-analyzing and seeking the right answers and striving for clarity and what to think of next or what I could be doing...and on, and on, and on.

It's exhausting and when I looked up and realized Advent was here, I paused. I started really thinking about what this season means and felt like this is the perfect time to make a change. To stop the seeking. To be present. To stop the hustle. To stop the busy. To wait and anticipate. To stop the over-thinking. To stop the plotting.

One Sunday morning a phrase echoed across my soul, “Cease the striving."

I felt it clear as day. Cease the striving. Be still, be present, just be. Look down, not around, not side to side, not ahead, but down. To look at my feet, to see where I am and be present there. To focus on my little corner of the world as it is and to water the grass where I’ve been planted. To wait and breath in the truth that I am significant where I am and nothing I strive to do or hustle towards will make me more significant or worthy.

I receive a daily Advent email from the Global Advent Calendar and it has a word for the day and a thought from a monk. Monday it was "Be." Brother Curtis Almquist said, “Contentment is more about being than about doing, or acquiring, or mastering, or craving, or searching. Contentment is about being satisfied given the limitations of our present life."

So this Advent season, I choose contentment. I choose to be exactly where I am. I choose the waiting. I choose presence over plans. Stillness over striving. Stopping over going. Acceptance over analysis. Patience over plotting. I choose to be. I choose to cease the striving.

Join me?

I made an advent wreath this year and I love it. It's not anything special, but a daily reminder to cease the striving. Every Sunday we light a candle and read the weekly email from Sarah Bessey about that weeks candle.


If you want to read some good thoughts about Advent, find a few from Sarah Bessey here and here. You can also receive a daily thought from A Global Advent Calendar here.

O Holy Night.

I've been working on a lot of papers these days with the semester winding down, which means I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music to accompany me...John Legend Holiday Radio on Pandora to be exact. I really love Christmas music...within the time frame of Thanksgiving and Christmas. :) Every time I've been writing or working on an assignment whenever my favorite Christmas song comes on, O Holy Night, I just stop and listen to it. I think about all that is happening in our world and in this season of Advent, this season of waiting and anticipation of what is to come and this song shines a little light into the darkness and brings a little hope to the hopeless. It's a beautiful reminder about why this season matters so much.

My favorite part says this:

Truly He taught us to love one another His law is love and His gospel is peace Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother And in His name all oppression shall cease Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name


Because this is what Jesus is be about love and peace. Not to get caught up in legalities and arguments and I am right and you are wrong, but to love one another no matter how we differ from each other. Jesus came to show us His love so we can love each other. Jesus is also about justice and equality and about those on the margins and the oppressed experiencing freedom, justice and peace. I'm thankful for a song that reminds us of that. It also has an interesting history if you're interested in reading about it, find it here. (a good reminder to people that just because something is not created by people labeled as "Christians" doesn't mean it isn't Truth)



Why I didn't buy a Christmas countdown decoration...

Yesterday my roommate and I decorated for Christmas, which is one of my favorite activities of the year. I was especially excited because it would be the first time decorating my new home!! I couldn't wait to see how the Christmas tree looked, where each decoration would fit and to turn on all the Christmas lights. Also, we now have the two year tradition of watching Elf while we put them up and that never gets old!

We had to go pick up some things we didn't have, like stockings and a tree topper, so we were looking at all the Christmas decorations. We found a cute little thing that was a snowman who was holding blocks with numbers on it that you could change to make a countdown to Christmas. I thought it was so cute and it was 50% off so I figured, why not?!? I carried it with me around the store and then the more I thought about it, the more I didn't want it. 

I'm trying to approach this advent season differently than the years before. Every where you look there is a countdown to Christmas, reasons to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday, advertisements shouting at you that you need more, and giving us every reason to rush through the month to make it to that 25th day of December.

We miss the spirit of this season, we miss the times to be present with those we love, we miss the chance to slow down and wait in anticipation for what is to come. 

So, sorry cute little snowman countdown calendar, you won't be finding a place in my home because I want to choose to be present and take in each day, slow down and wait in an anticipation that allows each day to have meaning and purpose.