CHRISTMAS EVE: CHRISTMAS LIGHT IS OTW!

It’s Christmas Eve. Here at the end of our Advent journey we await the dawn of Christmas Light to shine brightly upon us and within us.

In the tender compassion of our God the Dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

After night comes day.

As Christmas comes anew in our lives, may the light of Christ lift the darkness of despair and desolation in our hearts.

Let’s not keep swallowing what tastes bad, or has gone wrong this past year – spit it out!  May Jesus fill our minds, hearts and spirits with His mercy, grace, love, peace, joy & wonder.

grace, peace & Christmas LIGHT

Virginia : )

 “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

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Missing Loved Ones @ The Holidays

The holidays can be occasions for joy, but also sorrow missing loved ones. It’s been six years since Papa passed, then Mama a year and a few months later. Precious memories fill the treasure chest in my heart. My parents loved the holidays and always made Christmas special for us.

When we were growing up in Virginia Beach (before his quadriplegia) Papa would go all out putting trains together to zoom around under our Christmas tree. Still not sure if that was just for us kids, or for him: he loved trains!

Mama pulled out all the stops for meal after meal of holiday favorites and gifts from Santa. The year she received a special bequest from her mother’s estate she gifted each of with something extraordinary for Christmas: brand new musical instruments.

Music was always a big part of our holiday gatherings. We all gathered round the piano singing carols and playing our instruments. In later years as Papa went from a wheelchair to bedfast, he belted out his baritone from his hospital bed as we kept up the tradition of making music after Christmas dinner.

Papa and Mama made music together all year through. How they loved hymns and carols! In their final years they set aside time every Sunday to memorize and sing verses of their favorite hymns that Papa kept in a file on his big computer.

In pain 27/7, those hymns helped Papa get through difficult nights.

So many memories, all so precious. I know many of you, dear readers, also miss loved ones especially at this time of year.

I’m not sure how thick (or thin) the veil that separates us, but I know our precious ones are not far, for their love resides in our hearts as joy that will not diminish.

grace, peace & legacies of love

Virginia : )

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Collective Pain

Loss is never easy. The pain can feel like a knife ripping our hearts out. It’s tough, unbearable at times. But, something to realize in the pain is that we are not alone.

You are not alone.

“An experience of collective pain does not deliver us from grief or sadness; it is a ministry of presence. These moments remind us that we are not alone in our darkness and that our broken heart is connected to every heart that has known pain since the beginning of time.” Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness

grace, peace & collective pain

Virginia

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LIGHT IN DARKNESS

“My faith is brightest in the midst of impenetrable darkness.” Mahatma Gandhi

Sometimes the darkness that surrounds us is SO DARK. But when it’s darkest, light shines all the brighter. When I worked overseas in places where electricity was dodgy (or in some places nonexistent), candles and lanterns made all the difference.

Going through darkness in our lives that’s how faith works. God’s light within us helps dissipate the darkness of the next minute, then the next – if we choose to have faith and actively hope.

Faith is a choice. Hope is a choice. They are both courageous actions, especially in the midst of impenetrable darkness.

“Faith is not an insurance policy but a courageous adventure, not a tranquilizer but a challenge, not a bed of roses but a battlefront.” Carlos G. Valles, S.J.

Here’s to letting our faith-lights shine today!

grace, peace & Hope

Virginia

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Desert of Doubts

As we wind our way through the final days of Advent, it may seem like a weird time to enter into a desert of doubt. Christmas is almost here! But I wonder as we wander our way to the manger, how at times doubt can stretch our faith into new ways of thinking and believing.

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite spiritual writers that makes the point (much better than me!)

“When we enter the desert of doubts, let us stop and pause and understand that we are on a pilgrimage. This moves our soul and our hearts ever closer to God. And that strange mystery, of believing when there is nothing to believe in, is the key to complete trust in God and the dissolution of doubt.” Catherine Doherty

Here’s to trusting God when times are tough and we don’t understand what’s what…

grace, peace & faith

Virginia : )

Photos: Monument Valley, UT

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#ADVENT: A PRAYER FOR HOPE

“Arise, shine, for the Light of the world is come…” (Isaiah 60:1)

“May Your waxen candles flaming spread their warmth, as their glow flickers darkness into light. May Your will be done to make us one again; may Your love’s glimmering hope illuminate our night. When now the silence spreads around us, O let us hear the sounds You raise, of world unseen in growth abounding, and the children chanting hymns of praise. The forces of good surround us in wonder, they firm up our courage for what comes our way, God’s with us from dawn to slumber of evening, the promise of Love at break of each day.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

grace, peace & Hope

Virginia

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STANDING HEART TO HEART

‘Tis the season for good cheer, but not everyone is able to put on their good cheer grooves. Times are tough. Maybe this year with so many challenges there won’t be many presents under the tree. Maybe you have lost a loved one and grief is hard to endure on your own.  

Maybe you are just plain tired of tinsel.

“Christmas will always be, as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.” Dr. Seuss (from‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’)

A comforting thought, but we must do our part to stand heart to heart & extend our hand of cheer to those who need a little extra this year.

The kind of cheer that’s not store-bought, but heart-brought.

grace, peace & heart-brought cheer

Virginia : )

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of Love.” Hamilton Wright Mabi

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Flowering Perseverance

On this Thursday of Advent, here’s a quick encouragement to keep on, keeping on with whatever you are facing today. Hang in there.

DON’T GIVE UP!! God’s got you & God’s got this (whatever your challenges may be.)

Keep trusting, keep believing.

“Perseverance means the flowering of the love of God. It grows and grows, descending upon a soul like a cascade of flowers.” Catherine Doherty

grace, peace & flowering perseverance

Virginia : )

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A Prayer for the Prickly Bits

Preparing our hearts for Christmas, Advent is a good time to bring whatever we’re struggling with into the Light. Maybe fear has stymied our hopes into mopes, we’re wrestling with big decisions and don’t know what to do, anxiety is crushing us, or perhaps we’re just in a dark funk we can’t skunk.

With everyone making merry, sometimes it’s hard at this time of year to let the light of Christ seep into the corners of our hearts, especially the dark prickly bits.

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Jesus is good with the prickly bits of our lives. He can even turn them into something beautiful, like these cactuses in Arizona catching the evening light. We just need to ask for His help!

Here’s a prayer for today:

Jesus, darkness doesn’t stand a chance in the bright Light of Your love. Please evaporate the darkness in our hearts, minds and spirits with the Light of Your mercy & grace. Take our fears, insecurities & anxieties. Strengthen our faith with courage, clarity & confidence to do Your will. Please empower & empassion us with Your love. Please transform our hearts & minds with Your wisdom & peace, that we may become bridges of peace in this fractured world. Make us conduits of Your Light in the night that surrounds us. Shine in us, O Lord, and through us – by Your grace.  Amen.

grace, peace & prickly-bits prayer

Virginia : )

“When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a Light unto me.” Micah 7:8

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Darkness, Light & LOVE!

“The endurance of darkness is the preparation for great light.” Saint John of the Cross

Today we remember Saint John of the Cross (1541-1591), a Spanish saint known for documenting his “Dark Night of the Soul.” Misunderstood, mistreated, and maligned – John of the Cross came to know the dark intimately while imprisoned for his progressive faith. Yet through the depths of his experience he came to a deeper understanding of the incredible heights of God’s love.

May we learn from his example to seek God even when we feel abandoned and don’t understand: God’s love is with us in the darkest, stormiest places of our lives.

And I saw a river over which every soul must pass to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, and the name of that river was suffering … and then I saw a boat which carries souls across the river, and the name of that boat was Love.Saint John of the Cross

grace, peace & LOVE

Virginia : )

Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw love out.Saint John of the Cross

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