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I say that I write to find Hope in hard places. But what does that mean?

We are just upon the Advent season, my favorite stretch of the year—it’s like celebrating a Birthday for four weeks. The first of the four candles representing each week leading up to Christmas is Hope.

Is it ironic that Hope enfolds the holiday like bookends embracing the season?

Not if you see Hope as a Person. I do, the Messiah, the Beginning and the End, Jesus, the One who came to hold us all together is Hope personified.

Advent will start with the lighting of a candle that represents Hope and we’ll walk right on through the weeks together to the Eve of Christ’s Birth. O Come, O Come Emanuel.

You may remember my first attempt years ago at creating an on-line Advent Calendar—each day, a memory or musing or meditation. My hope had been to create something that would not alienate my Jewish or Buddhist or Atheist or any other friends during the weeks leading up to that Silent, Holy Night.

The plan was to bring us all closer together, to bring Todd and I closer together. Holidays are just plain hard sometimes in our house and many houses. Love and loss, you know? Tragedies and traumas of the past have their way of sneaking into hearts and stealing the joy of a miracle.

But my first attempt at a calendar was a fiasco. I bit off more than I could chew expecting to come up with something new each day. Todd and I, our dogs Mr. Sam and Fannie and even Miss Mary the feral had fun, until we didn’t. We fought. Not the pets. Todd and me and he wanted nothing to do with it after the first week (of Hope).

Like I said, I write to find hope in hard places. If it’s not hard, I’ll figure out a way to make it hard. But I have this hope that this year will be different.

The special story of the young Virgin giving birth to a Baby in a manger who lived on earth while being out of this world other-worldly, who died and rose again, and is coming again is, well, special. It’s worth our attention. We wait with a child’s expectant wonder because it takes that.

Hope reveals that otherworldliness—a place beyond us where we can live and breathe, move and change and find our being.

Hope can turn us inside out so that the long held secret or abandoned spaces in our hearts might be opened back up to the light.

Hope frees our imaginations and peels back the rough edges of our crinkled up hearts to reveal what is waiting there inside—the pregnant possibility of a transformed life.

I know the word “transformed” has been overused. But have you ever been witness to one? If you know me you have. And ashes are still being turned to beauty today.

Now is the time. Take a moment with me to think about some intentions for this season, or for the coming year, or for your own journey with God. That’s what it is, a journey. A very special unique journey for each and every one of us, designed uniquely for the beautiful, unique you. What are you hoping for? What challenges are you facing? Because I want to pray with you, O God, we are hoping for…

I’m going to be sharing some of the words I’ve written over the years since that first Advent Calendar fiasco, and writing new ones as the Spirit leads me. If you’d like to receive my messages of Hope directly delivered to your email, you can go here to subscribe to my website:

(Scroll down, type in your email and be sure to confirm in the followup message you receive.)

O God, thank you for being our Hope. Bookend us in Your love and peace, grace and truth. Help us to be your mind and heart, hands and tears in this hurting world this season. Thank you. It’s in Your Name, Jesus, I pray.

The converted 24 pocket shoe holder I used and still hang every year. 👠
The door in (to Kellner’s Greenhouse where we go each year to buy our tree) to a great family❤️
This is Lola who followed me all around as we picked out our tree. ❤️🐕🌲🙋🏻

Feature photo credit: the late beloved photographer Jeff Zmania, who did the photos for my website. ❤️

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