#ADVENT:  2nd Sunday Action Items!!

On this second Sunday of Advent, here are a few takeaway action items from church this morning. Our senior pastor, Msgr. Joe, challenged us with 5 things (based on today’s Scripture readings) to do this Advent. Deciphering hasty scribbles on a random piece of paper in my purse, here they are:

  1. Don’t let darkness rob you of joy. We can’t let darkness cause us to lose hope, to paralyze us. We must keep looking up & carrying on toward God’s grace.
  2. Darkness is nothing to fear but is a place to let God’s light shine. When it’s darkest, light shines brightest. Are we open to letting God’s light shine in us & through us when things in our lives are dark?
  3. Remember, night gives way to day, the sun comes out again after storms & spring follows winter. Through God’s grace we live & move & have our being. We have to trust God will provide the power to endure.
  4. Don’t just hope for better days, join efforts to make them better! We have to roll up our sleeves if we want to see real change happen in us & around us.
  5. Don’t forget, there’s lots of work needed ‘out there’ – but first we must allow God to work in our hearts & minds. Are we open to what God is doing in our lives, how maybe we may need to change?

“A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed…” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

grace, peace & Advent action(s)

Virginia : )

Photos: Grand Canyon, Arizona

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A Celestial Conundrum

As we wait for Christmas our world seems to get messier & messier. It’s good to remember that Christ first came into a very messy, whacked-out world. On this Advent Saturday, here’s a poem from one of my favorite writers that captures this celestial conundrum.  I’ve shared the last stanza previously, but here is the poem in whole.


“He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!”

Madeleine L’Engle

grace, peace & celestial conundrums

Virginia : )

Photo: Bethlehem

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Fear-Free Zones

The verses from today’s Responsorial Psalm are my absolute FAVORITES! I’ve had them up on a plaque in my room for eons, but most importantly they are engraved in my heart.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? One thing I desire, and that I will seek after: to behold the beauty of the Lord and inquire in His temple.”  Psalm 27:1&4

Years ago when fear crippled my heart (& mind) I said these verses over & over again – at night, in the daylight, in the evening light – whenever fear’s paralyzing force struck. Those fear-filled times passed with healing grace, but these verses are still my go-to when I can’t sleep at night or when the world seems an altogether unpleasant, scary place.

The point being: “Fear not…” Because God’s Light will dissipate the darkness of our fears & God’s strength will infuse us no matter how heavy our burdens become.

On this Advent Friday, let’s make our lives fear-free zones with God as our Light and Salvation…and Strength.

grace, peace & fear-free zones

Virginia : )

Photos: Nags Head, OBX (NC)

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Spreading Love Around

As we navigate this first week of Advent, it’s possible that tempers may be fraying amidst the holiday crush. We may not want to play nice with others, especially if our internal grumble meters are going full speed ahead. We may not necessarily want to contemplate what being love means when we’re splashed with downer negativity from others.

But, here’s the thing about Advent…It’s a good time to spread the love of Christ around.

The kind of love that Jesus has for us is the kind that gives others a lift.

“Love that is put into practice always gives us a lift. Love with its sleeves rolled up, with muscle behind it, love that looks for a need and rushes to meet it, love that does something – that’s the kind of love that ministers most.” Joni Eareckson Tada

grace, peace & LOVE

Virginia : )

“Love lifted me, love lifted me. When nothing else could help, love lifted me!”

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A Worry-Less & Trust-More Perspective

Trusting God is sometimes a multi-faceted deal. I say I trust God (and believe I DO trust God) but then get all anxious and worried about things. As we do a little housecleaning in our hearts this Advent, it might be a good time to sweep out anxious ponderings and worries that cripple our forward momentum.

Here’s a favorite quote I pull out every so often for a worry-less/trust-more perspective.

“Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto – do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and, when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms. Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow: the same everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” St. Francis de Sales

grace, peace & TRUST MORE

Virginia : )

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Words, Words, Words…

So often we miss the opportunity to share an encouraging word. We may be busy on our phones, or take the negative route in our conversations when we disagree with someone. Hey, it’s okay to disagree! But sometimes we’re not paying attention to how we disagree. If we disparage others in our zeal for being right, maybe this Advent is an opportunity to rethink where love fits in the picture.

On this Tuesday of Advent, here’s a challenge from one of my favorite spiritual heroines…

“Words are easy to give, yet so often withheld. They assuage loneliness, bring peace and joy, make crooked ways straight and people feel wanted and loved again… Let us show Christ to our brothers and sisters in the thousand ways of love’s ingenuity, but especially in loving words.”  Catherine Doherty

grace, peace & WORDS!

Virginia : )

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#ADVENT – God’s Grandeur (@Smith Mountain Lake!)

“Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.” Albert Schweitzer

A part of Advent is opening our hearts and lives to God’s presence, to God’s glory. Two weeks ago my brother and I visited Smith Mountain Lake in southwest Virginia – a place we had never been before.

All week long we were blown away by the glorious fall TREES!

Everywhere we looked (& hiked) gasp-gorgeous trees took our breath away.

It was interesting to note how the trees looked different in the misty early morning light. Just like sometimes amidst the challenges of our daily lives the extent of God’s grandeur may be shrouded in mists of confusion and doubt.

The same view after the sun came out!

But, God’s grandeur – like God’s love – doesn’t change

On this first Advent Monday, take a look around. Let God’s grace melt the mists of doubt in our hearts – whatever is clouding our being alive to God’s grandeur around us, and within us.

“The Glory of God is a human being fully alive.”  St. Irenaeus

grace, peace & grandeur

Virginia : )

p.s. Although Virginia was off the blogosphere for a month, she will once again attempt her post-a-day Advent gig. A short quote, a photo, a song, something Advent-ish or holiday-ish – note the key word: short! (Prayers welcome!)

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#ADVENT – Open to Surprises

And so it begins… Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Sometimes it’s hard amidst the bustle of the holiday season to take time (to MAKE TIME) for Advent-ish activities. While the world swirls with holiday parties, decorations and go-go-go efforts to get our Christmas to-do lists done by December 25th, Advent is about waiting.

Waiting and making time to prepare our hearts for Christmas, not just our houses.

Here’s the thing about waiting. Not sure about you, but a certain redhead (named Virginia) is not very good in the patience department. Blaming it on her red hair only goes so far!

Waiting – patiently – is not easy. Do you get fidgety waiting in lines at the store? Pull out your phone to keep busy? Ahem.

Here’s another thing about waiting, the fidgety type where we must busy ourselves all the time. If we’re looking at our phones, we may not notice what’s going on around us. We might miss an opportunity to engage with others. A smile can be a gift, especially at this time of year. (Not a creepy smile, a friendly one will do!)

Fidgety waiting also doesn’t leave room for surprises. If we open our eyes & look around, God’s kinda good at sending surprises our way.

Like this gasp-gorgeous tree spotted Friday after Thanksgiving while walking around our town of Williamsburg.

This Advent as we wait and prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ I want to challenge you (and myself) to be open to God’s surprises – & opportunities to surprise others with God’s joy.

grace, peace & (joy-filled) surprises


“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy it will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” Henri Nouwen

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Wednesday Woody Inspiration…

The last few weeks haven’t seemed much like fall in these parts. Saturday temps hit 82 (28C) but Sunday temps dropped to 60F and Virginia had to pull out her blankets Sunday night. Fall is (finally) on the way here in Williamsburg,Virginia (the state.)

The trees here haven’t received the memo yet about fall colors, but their vibrant greens were still something to behold as Virginia took a Sunday walk in the woods near her home.

For tree groupies like Virginia a walk in the woods is an awe inspiring endeavor.

Although at times it’s a good idea to stay on the path!

Looking up is amazing!

And looking around is amazing, too…

“Be like a tree. Stay grounded, keep growing, and know when to let go.” Anonymous   

grace, peace & woody inspiration

Virginia : )

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Monday, Monday…

It’s Monday….and so another week begins. To help one and all deal with Monday piles & pressures, Virginia is sending a little flowery joy your way. A great way to start the week – contemplating roses!

“There is no rose without thorns.” French Proverb

grace, peace & Monday roses

Virginia : )

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