From Thanksgiving to Waiting

We’re moving from Thanksgiving to Advent.

Thanksgiving 2013
Thanksgiving 2013

From golden harvest,

wpid-elizaautumn.jpgand crisp clarity during walks in the woods,


and the delight of the gifts of children receiving the gifts of creation,


to the frosty season of waiting, of longing, of chills and heartache and dead car batteries.


It’s also the time for hope and pushing on and stoking the fire while the frost covers everything.


When God writes trials into our story, he’s writing the stuff that makes true characters.

This is as true now as it was when he wrote his Son into the Book in human form. As we remember, wait, and watch for the coming Jesus, we watch the perfect protagonist, the spoken Word, withstand every weakness of flesh and do the unexpected–reveal God’s glory in his own face.

Every trial and temptation showed the metal he was made of–perfectly pure.  They show our worth as well. When we’re whipped around by heartbreaking family realities and burdens and the unknown, God is giving us a window, a peek, at our own souls–which is significant because we’re so often deceived about ourselves, about our strength.

Mary says in her Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.”

What most of us would see as a trial–Mary’s unwed pregnancy–she recognized as a blessing and she overflowed in worship. She had been looked on by God. He saw her and her humble estate.

Every believer in Jesus can say the same thing. He has looked on us. He has seen our humble estate, our spiritual poverty. And the gaze of God on us is only a comfort if our estate is humble. A proud heart can’t feel solace in a holy God. But when I fear God, he gently leads me.

This advent I will remember that God has looked on me. He’s looking down on our little family, and he has in mind for us something more than the tragic fools or embittered malcontents of the narrative. He’s shaping disciples; he’s molding faithfulness. He’s telling his story and by his grace, our parts are good ones.

In All Circumstances

Whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, we can be assured it’s one for giving thanks amid.

“..give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18


I’m holding on to that as Thanksgiving week is upon us and life is topsy turvy. What I’m not aiming for is some kind of fake-it-till-you-make-it thankfulness. Some kind of magic thankful fairy dust that will cure your doldrums in five easy steps. A faux thankfulness that refuses to look the truth in the face, one that prefers rosiness to reality. Give me thankfulness with grit. And that real gritty thankfulness-in-every-circumstance was purchased for me a couple thousand years ago. It’s potent.

So, where the world sees weakness, I can see beauty. Where the world sees foolishness, I can see wisdom– in Christ, that is. In Him, all of the weak and foolish things hold together and in such a way as to shame the wise. I can give thanks for that.

We meet God in the furnace. I can give thanks for that. As the temperature rises, our faith finds its feet. I look at my clothes and they aren’t even singed. Doesn’t mean fires aren’t scary things. But he’s there.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23,24

I’ve got a God of peace. With all the tumult that rocks our souls, my God brings peace. Thank you. I’ve got a God who keeps. With all the fears that pierce our hearts, my God keeps my whole spirit, soul and body blameless. Thank you. And he who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Do any sweeter words exist than those? He will surely do it. Thank you.


wpid-Elizaoverherhead.jpgOne thing is clear to me: I’m in over my head in this life. I’m in deep. But that’s right where God put me. He put me way out of my depth. So I’m going to keep peeking through, as in a glass dimly, catching glimpses of Him, giving thanks that he’s faithful, giving thanks for the gifts, giving thanks for the fire.

A Tribute to Our Home and to the God Who Gave It to Us

For 7 years and 7 months we’ve called this place our home.

This place where I sit now, where I watch my kids laughing on the couch, snuggled neck deep in goofiness and a blanket. This is a good place.

It is this good place that we will say goodbye to in a short month and half. Places matter to me. They matter because you build your life in them. You bring babies home to them. You share countless meals with friends under their roof. Homes become more than material, they become a reflection of the people that live in them, the people that share them, the people that write on their walls.

Which is why heaven will be so marvelous. It will be a home perfected by Jesus and His Righteous people. A place where we can put down roots that never get pulled up. It will be a glorious place with walls and streets and everything that makes a home a home–most importantly, the people, the Person.

Can you say thank you to a material thing? Sure, but it’s pointless. Can wood or stone hear you to receive the praise? But you can say thank you for a material thing–thank you for the rooms, the wood, the brick, the concrete that holds it together. Thank you for the ceilings and walls, the oven and fridge, the lights and windows. And the thanks all belong to God. He’s the Giver.

So, here is my tribute to our home, my thankfulness to God, which I boast in, because of all He’s done, because of the story He’s told of His glory here, in this place.

For the open doors that welcomed three new babies and kept us all warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The doors that opened for family and friends and neighbors, even when the doorbell was broken, I give thanks.

For the rooms that held sleeping babes grown to children. For the number of bedrooms that forced them to share, so that they have never known differently and wouldn’t change it if they could. For the storage space turned “cabana room” under the stairs that has seen every kind of play and a hundred kids’ movies. For the family room and dining room where the Word has been opened and our hearts have opened as well–opened to you, Lord, and to one another, in weeping and rejoicing, opened in songs, I give thanks.

For the kitchen, the place where I learned to enjoy cooking (at least some of the time) and to try new things and to delight in the children who are wanting to help. For the hours and hours of school work done here. For the oven and stove that worked, whether clean or not, and prepared hot food for many in Jesus’ name. For the sink and dishwasher that washes every night–one new mercy that meets me in the morning, I give thanks.

For the lights that kept us glowing in the dark months and the windows that kept us sane, with a view to bigger things. On days when I thought I wouldn’t make it, this gift of a home has always let the light in and the Lord has snatched me out of darkness to the true Light of His Word and Jesus who is to be found there. For the windows and the light, I give thanks.


For my journey with orchids here, that has been analogous to my own story. For the orchids that have died under my care, that remind me of all the dying I’ve done here–the deaths purposed by my Caretaker–deaths of selfishness and pride and envy and all kinds of ugliness. Deaths that will continue wherever I go. And for the one orchid that has lived here, blossoming, going dormant, and blossoming again, I am reminded that I’ve lived here, too. That in Christ, this has been a place of flourishing and seasons. Life that will continue wherever I go. For the death and the life, I give thanks.


God has called us away from this good place to another place, a place where we are excited to go, a place where, Lord willing, we will tell this story again and deeper. May you do it Lord, may you make a home out of mere brick and stones and wood–may your story be told on its walls and in its rooms. May you refine us and own it all. For this new adventure, I give thanks.


Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful. (Psalm 111:1-4, ESV)

When the House Cries

Our home has been crying for two days.

wpid-housecry.jpgIt started with the hot tears of disappointment. Yesterday morning, out on the pond, there were ducks. By early afternoon the storm had started, the ducks were gone and the window panes were covered with tears.

wpid-housecry2.jpgThe following day, the hot tears had become ice cold streams of sorrow. Unrelenting and dimming every view.

wpid-housecry4.jpgAfter a while, the cry started to wear itself out. The sadness was there, but the tears were stagnant. They’d lost the volume, but not the ache.

wpid-housecry3.jpgAt last and almost by disguise, light started to creep in the windows. A single color presented itself. And our house sighed and silent tears started. Tears of gratefulness, of heartache soothed, of melting. Tears that taste all the more sweet for the time of bitter.

P.S. Anyone else feeling morose and wordy in the wake of this weather?! Forgive the melodrama!

Sending Out Roots


May our roots always be drinking deeply at the stream of Jesus.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)

The Advent of the Son and the Spirit

Jesus came to earth as a tiny baby, in the winter of our lives. He came to us while we were yet sinners. He came to those who are sick and needing a doctor. He came for the moms needing a shower, bodies spent, and hearts in knots for their children. He was waited for and waited for, and then Zachariah held him in his arms; he came.


Jesus coming and dying and living again began another advent: the advent of the Spirit of God, who lives with us and comforts us in all our affliction and guides us in all our ways. The Spirit who gives peace in the face of war, who gives meekness in the face of slander, who gives a gentle answer in the face of human wrath. Yes, the Spirit is so dear and so close–and it is the Spirit of Jesus Himself.

For Jesus was sent by God and utters the words of God and Jesus gives the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). Jesus isn’t meting out the Spirit. “Here’s your daily allowance, daughter, two cups and no more–so you better have an average sort of day, nothing requiring too much help.” No! He just gives and gives. He doesn’t keep track.

Comfort without measure, guidance without measure, peace without measure.

That’s our God–so unlike my natural tendency to keep all amounts in check, everything in moderation. We don’t want too much of a good thing and I also don’t want to give of myself that way. “I’ve done enough for today, children, my apportioned giving is plum given out!” But not my God. My God is a lavish and generous God. He gives of Himself without measure. And as He gives of Himself He enables me to pour out in unmeasured ways to others. That is a miracle of the Spirit. Praise His Name.


So as I remember the Advent of the Son, my salvation, Jesus, I also remember the Advent of the Spirit, my comfort and counselor, who Jesus gives to me without measure, gusting winds of life that no one sees, and yet there I am, suspended in air by the strength and miracle of the Spirit.

An Everlasting Rock

1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

2. Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

-text by Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778)