Advent, Prayer, and a Rant

Ok, I think I’m a really positive person.  99.9% of the time.

I have a policy that I will never use this blog to post anything negative.

Well, I’m about to break that rule.

There’s something that’s driven me crazy for years and I think Advent is the time to bring it up.

We see examples of people in the Bible challenging, whining, ranting and raving to God as well as thanking, praising and asking.

Now I know we can say anything at all to God in prayer.  Just like a toddler can say outrageous stuff, a parent still loves to hear them talk.  It’s all good with God.  No matter what you say He’s not going to vote you off the island.

But there’s a phrase I hear people use all the time that doesn’t make sense to me. Continue reading

Breathing in Advent

Confession:  Even though I wrote about it recently, I skipped church yesterday.  I didn’t skip because I wanted to have brunch with friends, or catch an early football game.  It’s just that I had been with people constantly last week over Thanksgiving and I knew I needed some true silence and solitude.

I wrote in my journal, “I need to breathe…have a Sabbath removed from frenzy. I need to listen for Your still small voice.  I need to fill up with You.  Speak into the silence, Lord. Come Holy Spirit.”

I’ve started to copy an acquaintance of mine who signs her emails: “Breathe deep. Lean hard. God’s love holds.”  I need that reminder

It made me think of this post originally from 2 years ago…

really wish I liked Yoga more.   It’s healthy.  And it’s so in.  But I’m not crazy about it.

Here are the only things I like about Yoga:

  • the comfy pants that are like legal pajamas,
  • the fact that you do it in a group with great people, and not, for example on a stationary bike in your basement (like a crazy introvert),
  • the corpse pose (where you lay still with soft music playing)…

And one more thing…                                                                                                                  They remind you to breathe.  In fact, I think that’s the only part I consistently get right when I go.  I mess up all the poses.  And I can’t make myself pretzelize (is that a word?) like my friend Brooke. Continue reading

Dark Days

This is my view as I write at 5:45 a.m.

photo-66Trouble is I’d have much the same view at 7 a.m., or 4:30 p.m.  It’s just that time of year when everything goes frozen and dark and silent.  It’s a living picture of Advent – that time of waiting in darkness for the Light of the World to appear.

As I write I’m wondering how many people reading this feel like they’re waiting for something.  Longing.  And how many feel like they are in a time of deep darkness when they can’t see anything that makes sense.  Fuzzy outlines, but nothing sure.

Darkness and longing.

Ever heard of night blindness?  

Continue reading


Fall in Minnesota is like Mardi Gras.

Actually I don’t know that for sure because I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but Fall is a huge event.  A blazing last hurrah before THE DEPRIVATION of light and color and warmth for a long, long, time.  Sounds like Mardi Gras to me.

When we left Minneapolis two weeks ago for Africa, the firey autumnal luster was fading but leaves were valiantly clinging to branches, reluctant to give up the fight and die for the long, long, long frozen season of dark.


Spoiler alert: they failed in their efforts.


Now, we return to the black crooked limbs silhouetted against a gray November sky.  The leaves have lost the battle and lay cold on the ground. Twinkle lights try to replace the glow of harvest color and there’s a tug-o-war going on between those who want to start the Christmas carols now and those who don’t want to leap over Thanksgiving straight to the 24 hour holiday sales of the day after. Continue reading

A Salvage Mission

I love, love, love Christmas cards with the beautiful scenes of pristine snow and a lovely stable and winsome sheep.  I love to imagine the cleaned up version of Christmas.  Like I prefer the cleaned up version of me.


I’d prefer not to face the reality of Christmas that involved manure and labor pains, sweat and body odor and afterbirth.  Jesus didn’t come into a Christmas card, but into a sin-filled dump.

We are fragile and broken and God comes into the junkyard of our lives not with a bulldozer, but with loving hands that sift through our shattered pieces and gently put us back together, better than new.

Recently I read this quote from The Drama of Scripture by Bartholomew and Goheen:

When his good creation was fouled by human rebellion, God immediately set out on a salvage mission.

He had created it, and it thus belonged to him by right. Now he would redeem it, buy it back for himself, so that it might be restored to what he had always intended it to be.”

I love the image of God’s “salvage mission”.

And then I saw this Youtube video that seemed to be a beautiful picture of people literally living out that phrase.

Continue reading


Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” Mt. 2:2

This fall John preached a sermon in which he asked the congregation to close their eyes and point to the direction they thought was north.  This is a picture of what happened.


Although many got it right, there were also those who’d be in trouble if they were a migrating goose.  One of the challenges of the with-God life is keeping our bearings.  Aligning ourselves with God’s true north.

Continue reading

Pregnant, part 3

This week I’m thinking about Mary and three spiritual practices that may help us prepare for Christmas.  You can read the first in the series here  and here if you want.

I’m not good at the practice of silence and solitude.  I like chatter and hustle and bustle because they feel productive.

Silence and solitude, at least from a distance, seem well, lonely and unconstructive. Like  waiting for a bus you’re not sure is coming.

However, though it’s not my go-to mode, over the years I’ve grudgingly come to experience great value in the discipline of being alone and quiet with God.

When I look at the account of the first Christmas, it’s not that there wasn’t chaos, confusion, and noise.  “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes”??  Are you kidding?

Continue reading

Pregnant, part 1

Good morning!

As we move closer to Christmas it’s easy to let the busyness of preparation hijack my attention and ability to be present to God, so I thought I’d share posts this week that will each focus on a different spiritual practice that might be helpful.  It’s important for me as a spiritual ADD girl for sure, and I hope helpful for you too.

peace,                                                                                                                            Laura

I love Mary (as in mother of Jesus Mary).  Which is a little weird cuz I really bristle at some of what sometimes feels like the overboard Catholic put-her-on-a-pedestal-next-to-Jesus stuff.


She’s no shiny white above-the-fray-bullet-proof other-worldly woman.

But still.  I think she’s amazing and I’m fascinated with her.

Continue reading

An Advent Sunday Morning

As I write this it is the first Sunday morning of Advent.  It’s foggy and ugly outside my Starbucks window, but I live in Minnesota so I know snow is right around the corner which makes me so happy.

I’m an early morning person, but I know many are just now lumbering, hustling, shivering, or springing out of bed.  Some to get kids dressed and combed.  Some, bumping around a dark empty house or apartment alone.  Getting ready for worship.

Some will be driving to church with an attitude of habitual going-through-the-motions resignation.

But for me…and for most I think, there is always a glimmer of expectation.  As small as a twinkle light, but it’s there for sure.  A tiny bit of hope that we’ll meet God in that worship space and hear a whisper from Him.

Continue reading

On Mary and Getting Ready

It’s coming on christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace.

Joni Mitchell’s been singing those lyrics in my brain today.

It’s coming on Christmas…

and we’re in “getting ready mode”.

John’s been gone at meetings in Houston so I’ve been using the time to get the house ready for Christmas.

And, as I wrote last week, our daughter Maggie got engaged and would like an early summer wedding, so we’re getting ready for that which means constant g-chats and texts with the girls in D.C., and phone calls to check dates with…well, everyone.

And then over the weekend the “to do’s” of Christmas hit me.  You know, like when you’ve noticed that it started snowing but then you don’t look outside for awhile and when you look again you can’t believe how it’s piled up.  There’s a lot that I’ve promised to do that has snuck up on me like a silent snow drift.

And I’m grateful for a full life, but I need to get ready for all of it.

This morning, in between doing all this getting ready stuff there were several distinct moments of silence and solitude when it felt like God said, “Hold it.  Shhhh.  I’m here.”

And in those moments I wondered what getting ready for Christmas really looks like.

Continue reading