Do Whatever. Part Three of Advent-Epiphany: Befriending Action as You Wait

Is there something you still desire?


No matter how many times you put it on your New Year’s Resolutions list, you set it as a goal or even whisper it as a prayer another year goes by and you’re reminded you don’t have enough control in the world to make it happen.


Desire > control = can suck.


I ask you if you have a long-running longing not to depress you but rather to encourage you. Embedded in desire is hope. But it can leave us with this question: how do we take action when we’re waiting on things not fully in our control?


During the past couple of years I have found myself living in the epicenter of that question. I’d like to share a snatch of my story and invite you to reflect on yours, and then together explore the story of Mary as we come to the close of our Advent/Epiphany series.


So, here’s a snapshot of my story: three years ago my little world in Colorado got utterly upturned when the company I worked for had sudden layoffs. I had moved out to Fort Collins only a couple of years prior, yet my roots had gone down swift and deep. I had discovered a land that taught my heart to rest, and a people who showed me home. But with the type of work I do I couldn’t find a way to stay.


As I waited to find a new job and still dreamt of a family of my own (husband and mothering in some form), I took a bold action–one bolder than I even knew at the time. I shoved all my belongings into a storage unit and set out to bear witness to stories of others who too were taking action even in the midst of limited control (i.e., Syrian and Iraqi refugees as well as Cuban entrepreneurs).

Note, I thought I was just packing this storage unit for a summer.

Before I share more, I’m curious if there’s been a time in your life when you did something that felt bold, perhaps even surprising? Maybe you took a new job that would stretch you, went on a trip that would expand you, embraced a relationship that would grow you, or started a creative project that would expose and extend you. How was that?


Why did you act? Why did you risk it?


One of the things I love most about Scripture is that it’s riddled with people taking bold (and sometimes awkward) action. Jesus’ earliest days on earth are chocked full of encounters with people moving through the mysterious with courageous action.


During this Advent and Epiphany season we’ve looked at Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna doing this. Now, to Mary’s story.


Mary, a teenager living in Palestine, gets accosted by the angel Gabriel and told she will be the mother of the Messiah…while she’s still a virgin. So wild, right?


Two things strike me about Mary’s response to this surprising plotline God had up His sleeve.


  1. When invited into an epic adventure, Mary says, “I’m in.”


She responds to the angel Gabriel’s audacious announcement this way:


Mary (deciding in her heart): “Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me.” Luke 1:38


  1. Mary responds from an intimate understanding of God’s good character and her own people’s plight.


Who knows the thousand conversations Mary had with friends and family and her fiancé Joseph after the Spirit impregnates her (did I mention…so wild, right?).


What we are privy to is an encounter with her cousin Elizabeth. When Elizabeth says, “You are blessed of all of women and the child you have will be blessed” Mary responds with a poetic song.


It’s reminiscent of Hannah’s poetic response centuries before[1]. Mary had been immersed in the Scripture and had embodied the waiting of her people. The poetic prayer, likely is in the form of a song (The Magnificat), has spiritual, social and political imagery. Mary celebrates God for being a mighty Liberator, flipping the script of those who had been waiting long with little control. God was ushering in the Great Reversals: the humble would be elevated; the poor would be made rich; those waiting would finally receive extravagantly.


Here’s Mary’s song:


Mary: My soul lifts up the Lord!

My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator!

For though I’m God’s humble servant,

God has noticed me.

Now and forever,

I will be considered blessed by all generations.

For the Mighty One has done great things for me;

holy is God’s name!

From generation to generation,

God’s loving kindness endures

for those who revere Him.

God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds.

The proud in mind and heart,

God has sent away in disarray.

The rulers from their high positions of power,

God has brought down low.

And those who were humble and lowly,
God has elevated with dignity.

The hungry—God has filled with fine food.
The rich—God has dismissed with nothing in their hands.

To Israel, God’s servant,

God has given help,
As promised to our ancestors,
remembering Abraham and his descendants in mercy forever. Luke 1:47-55


Mary had a sense of how God acted because she had an intimate understanding of who God was. And she was willing to embrace whatever adventure He invited her into.


In those early days of Jesus’ birth Mary encountered shepherds, wise men, Simon, Anna and a heavenly host of angels all rejoicing in the coming of the Messiah, the birth of Jesus, her son.


She treasured this in her heart.


Then…years passed, decades accumulated. Three decades of her treasuring the words of promise, the hope of the Great Reversal…and nothing.


Mary did all the messy work of mothering this Messiah as she waited and waited. She had seen Jesus image God’s character and love, but then came a time she wanted to see action.


The moment comes when Mary has had enough. She’s at a wedding with her Messiah son and tragedy strikes. The wine runs out. It may seem like just a party foul, but in her day weddings were one of the most important events of a lifetime. Families’ reputations were tied to the success or failure of ones…for generations.


Here’s what plays out (told by John in chapter two of his Gospel).


“Mary: “The host stands on the brink of embarrassment; there are many guests, and there is no more wine.”

Jesus: “Dear woman, is it our problem they miscalculated when buying wine and inviting guests? My time has not arrived.”

But she turned to the servants.

Mary: “Do whatever my son tells you.” John 2:3-5


This is such an earthy interaction. Mary totally seems like the pushy Middle Eastern

mom. And Jesus seems like the reluctant and slightly apathetic son. You could easily read snippiness all into it.


But Mary knows Jesus’ character…and capacity. She knows her son is the mighty Liberator, the God of the Great Reversals. And Jesus acts. He not only responds, he acts extravagantly. He apparently turns over 100 gallons of water into the most exquisite wine. It’s beyond extravagant!


According to John’s Gospel, this is Jesus’ first miracle. This is the first time we see the Divine act like only the Divine can. And it comes after mother Mary implores Him to do so.




I’m still mystified by the paradox of God’s Sovereignty and our agency. But what I take from Mary’s story is that when we get acquainted with God’s character we are better poised to respond to the adventures He invites us into and to initiate action…even in our waiting.


I’m learning that more and more.


This past week I was out in Colorado again. I visited dear friends, stayed in a yurt and did some epic snowshoeing. I felt so alive, so at home. While there I also stopped by my storage unit. Yes, my belongings are still there.


I’ve yet to establish a home again. However, I’ve had the opportunity to tell stories of refugees, direct a documentary series in Cuba, travel to over twenty countries, co-found a media company and as I’ve waited for a family of my own, I’ve been collected up into families across the States. My sense of family has expanded like never before. And even more so, I have gotten more acquainted with God’s character, more at home in Him, as I wait for things beyond my control.


Now to your story: remember that bold action you did sometime in your life? How did it stretch you? What did you discover about yourself? Did you discover something about God’s character? What was it?


This year I encourage you to do two things: 1) invest time getting better acquainted with the character of God, and 2) take bold action, even in the limitations of control.


Spiritual Practices


  1. Commit to listening/contemplating. How do you get to know God’s character as good and powerful?


It’s evident that Mary knew Scripture and it says she treasured the words of God’s people in her heart.


For me reading Scripture, journaling, being out in nature, conversing and praying with trusted friends, reading thoughtful books and listening to soulful music are vital ways to connect.


One of my favorite apps during this extended season of transition has been Pray As You Go. I highly recommend it. –

Go to Today’s Prayer for the 12 or so minutes of music, hear fabulous Jesuit Brits read you Scripture and ask contemplative questions. Such a gift!


I can’t resist mentioning, this summer I encountered fear of failure in such a potent way. I felt like it was going to take me down. I recently read through my journal from that time and saw how God was holding me through Scripture and His loving presence, even when everything in me felt like I was sinking. When we posture ourselves to listen to God, we may not always recognize God’s voice of love in the moment. But over time it becomes a part of our very being.


  1. Do whatever. As we grow more connected with God we often feel more liberated to act.


What actions do you hope to pursue this year?


Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I name my years. I’ve decided 2018 is my Year of Abundance. There are three things I am asking/acting upon 1) To grow in my craft as a storyteller as well as leader of young storytellers. 2) To enter into a vibrant romantic relationship 3) To write.


I realize taking action on these three has the potential of exacting and awkward moments. But I can’t help but believe—like Mary—I’ve been invited into an epic adventure. And so have you.


Godspeed as you listen and act in 2018.


“May all that is unlived in you

Blossom into a future

Graced with love.” John O’Donohue

[1] 1 Samuel 2:1-10


Hungry. Part Two of Advent: Befriending Desire as You Wait

When was the last time you’ve been stomach-growling-I-could-eat-a-horse hungry?


Maybe it’s not been since bikini season…or maybe your stomach is torturing you with hunger pains right now (and reading the word hungry is only making it worse…sorry).


Here’s a confession: up until recently I couldn’t remember when I felt truly hungry. (And yes, I recognize the ridiculous privilege in that statement.) I’ve just had a habit of pre-empting hunger. Why wait to get hungry when you can eat now…and now…and now. Right?


You may already be thinking it…so I’ll just say it. Hunger is such a buzz-kill topic during the holiday season. And this post isn’t a how-to for avoiding the cookie platter in the breakroom this week or an emotional plea for starving children in the midst of Christmas commercialism (though both beneficial topics). This post is ultimately about our deepest desires…and what happens to them when we wait.


So, what do you most want right now? How long have you been waiting for it?


What if all our waiting—all those hunger pains and heartaches—compounded value like interest? What if waiting well could make us more present, more discerning, and more grateful?


As we continue on this Advent adventure, we’re invited not to dismiss our longings but rather we are to pay greater attention to them. We do this believing our physical wants can tell us about spiritual needs. The body and spirit can’t help but journey together. That’s at the heart of the incarnation: God makes His home in flesh.


The two characters in the Nativity Narrative we will focus on had a keen sense of how the spiritual and physical cohabitate. They both learned to wait well and in the end were rewarded with more than they could imagine. (Their stories are found in Luke 2.)


First, there’s Simeon.


The Christ is only 8 days old. Mary and Joseph take baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem as they offer a sacrifice. This is when they met Simeon. Here’s what Luke says transpires:


25 While fulfilling these sacred obligations at the temple, they encountered a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was a just and pious man, anticipating the liberation of Israel from her troubles. He was a man in touch with the Holy Spirit26 The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Anointed One. 27 The Spirit had led him to the temple that day, and there he saw the child Jesus in the arms of His parents, who were fulfilling their sacred obligations. 28 Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God.


Waiting well makes us more present.


Most likely Simeon was old. And it’s probable he was tired. But what is certain is that Simeon was paying attention to God’s Spirit.


No matter how long Simeon had been waiting for the Christ, he was present in his waiting. He was attuned to God’s Spirit when the time came to act and to receive. He wasn’t about to miss out on what he’d been waiting for.


Admittedly, I seem to get more and more distractible these days. So for Advent I decided to try intermittent fasting. I’ll share more later in the post, but it’s essentially fasting for 16-18 hours each day. Having to wait each day to eat has helped me realize how much I tend to eat as a distraction or while distracted. Ridiculous. I know. But now, when I’ve waited to eat, I’m so much more present and poised to savor it.


What’s stealing your attention these days? (Instagram, Facebook, online sales, the President’s twitter account, dating apps?) How might the act of waiting (or simply pausing) help you to be more present to God, to others, to your deeper desires?


Simeon had learned to be present. And…he had become discerning. Here’s what he tells Mary and Joseph.


29 Simeon: Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace.
30     You promised me that I would see with my own eyes
what I’m seeing now: Your freedom,
31     Raised up in the presence of all peoples.
32     He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations,
and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.


Waiting well makes us more discerning.


We don’t’ know for how long Simeon had been waiting for Jesus…but we know how much it meant to him. Simeon had pegged his life to the coming of the Christ. It was what he was living for. And he wasn’t going to settle for less.


This intermittent fasting experiment has given me a more discerning palate. After waiting a chunk of the day to eat, I don’t want junk food. I want a worthy feast. When we defy the impulses around us for instant gratification, we begin to realize we’re promised something better. And when we wait upon God…nothing will satisfy more.


Right after Simeon approaches Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus a woman named Anna shows up. Luke describes the encounter like this:


36 At that very moment, an elderly woman named Anna stepped forward. Anna was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She had been married for seven years before her husband died 37 and a widow to her current age of 84 years. She was deeply devoted to the Lord, constantly in the temple, fasting and praying38 When she approached Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, she began speaking out thanks to God, and she continued spreading the word about Jesus to all those who shared her hope for the rescue of Jerusalem.


Waiting well makes us more grateful.


To me, this tiny snatch of a story is one of the richest in Scripture. Tragic loss. Surprising choices. Deep devotion. Pure gratitude. Contagious joy. It’s all there.


If my husband died in my twenties, I’d feel gypped. I fear I’d grow bitter. I imagine I’d be filling up on the ancient Jewish equivalent of cookie dough. But that’s not Anna. She makes herself at home in the house of God…and instead of gorging on comfort food she prays…and fasts. All those decades of waiting well—fasting and praying—culminated in instant gratitude. Her gut reaction to the sight of Jesus was thanks! And then she couldn’t help but spread joy.


Simeon and Anna were both given an invitation to wait. Years turned into decades, and they still waited. They were people who waited well…for what mattered most. And in the end, they became more present, more discerning and more grateful.


So, once again, what do you most want right now?


Desire is a God-given gift. How can you care for it well this Christmas and into 2018?


Desires of our heart and basic hunger have so much in common. Just as it’s unhealthy to lose your appetite, so it can be to lose desire for good gifts. I can typically outeat grown men under the table, but for a short time this summer I lost my appetite. I was stressed, and frankly I was afraid that a project I had poured my heart and soul into was going to end in disastrous flames of failure. Ok, that sounds uber dramatic, but I was scared. When we find ourselves ambivalent about something we’ve longed for, it’s worth asking: Is fear, perfectionism or despair behind it? If so, pray the audacious prayer that God will give you the desire to desire again.


Yet, it’s also a sign of something wrong to be ravenous all the time…and so it is with longing. If we let our desires get out of proportion they will make us ill-equipped to appreciate them once we get them. When it comes to my singleness I’ve often prayed, “God help me keep desire alive but not be consumed by it.” It’s such a challenge, isn’t it, when we dare to let ourselves desire something…and then have to keep that desire in check?


Curiously enough, the one desire we can have that won’t destroy our true selves is our longing for God. We can’t out love God. We can’t out trust God. We can’t out desire God.


Just as we’re in the last few days before Christmas, consider how your hunger and desires can be given as a gift back to God. Here are two ideas:


Spiritual Practices


  1. Fast for 1 meal (or more) to pay attention to your hunger and deep desires.


Consider fasting one meal (or you may decide more) sometime between now and Epiphany (January 6). As you let your body feel the hunger pains, talk to God about your own desires. Since the beginnings of Advent, the early Church participated in a Nativity Fast. Today the Eastern Orthodox’s practice of Advent still includes a fast. (For a stellar overview of this see this short piece: ) And, if you’re curious about Intermittent Fasting, here’s a short overview. I’ve been doing the 16-hour fast for Advent…ok, I’ve ditched it a couple of days when Argentine pastries were forced upon me 😉


  1. 5 minutes to pay attention to your hunger/desire for God.


From now until Christmas consider spending 5 minutes a day reflecting on your desire for God and asking for more. If you find you can hardly conjure up a longing for God, dare to ask for the desire to desire Him.


God knows it’s hard to desire Him, to wait upon Him. Yet, the Psalmist invites us to be courageous and do it anyway.


Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.

Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14, New Living Translation


Yet when we do, joy comes (maybe not every time, but over time)


Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8 New Living Translation

A Feast Awaits

Hunger and desires aren’t beautifully wrapped boxes with nothing inside. They are gifts because they signal that a feast and fulfillment are coming.There are so many images of feasting in Scripture. Jesus’ first miracle (which we’ll focus on next post) entails feasting. And I love that God’s epic story ends with the imagery of a feast…as a wedding feast.


The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people. Revelation 22:20,21 New Living Translation

As you let yourself experience hunger and create more space to feel desire during this Christmas season, may you be emboldened with hope. A feast awaits. Come, Lord Jesus. Come.





Awkward. Part One of Advent: Befriending Discomfort as You Wait



We’re all waiting for something.


Perhaps it’s for that overdue promotion, or for our child to make a good friend, or to finally find love. We may simply be waiting to feel like ourselves again. No matter who you are, something has you waiting.


As we enter into Advent we’re invited on a journey of waiting. It’s the kind of waiting that calls us to the edge of our seats and beckons us into a cosmic count down. The Christ is coming.


We’re all invited into this joyous anticipation. But most of us live with a waiting that feels so far from anticipatory; it’s a wait that feels….well, weighty. It’s charged with ache, exhaustion, and the muscle memory of disappointment.


I know that weighty wait all too well. So, during this Advent season I plan to explore the tension between anticipation and the less shiny waiting. How does the coming of The Christ (God’s great solidarity with us) stir in us deeper hope and joy? And how does the reality that Divine Love has thrown in His lot with us mark our painful waiting…and perhaps even transform it? Yes, that’s what I want to explore…and I invite you to join me.


I’m doing a 3-part series during Advent/Epiphany. Each post will focus on an aspect of waiting, include an orienting Scripture and offer a spiritual practice or two to posture us for divine transformation.


We begin our journey in the Land of the Awkward.


The next three weeks may contain the greatest opportunities for awkward than the rest of the year combined.


Is your colleague being ironic with that Christmas sweater….or not? How do you tell your mom you’re not coming home for Christmas but rather going to Iceland with your latest boyfriend…and his family? If you get your new neighbors a $25 Amazon gift card will they give you a deluxe grill…or a fruitcake?


The holidays have always been high real estate for awkward. The coming of The Christ was preceded by 400 years of [awkward] silence from God. And there was Mary having to tell her fiancé that she was pregnant but completely innocent. Then there was Joseph having to tell his rabbi that he was just as innocent as his pregnant fiancé. Almost every character in the Christmas story experiences some form of discomfort.


At the heart of awkward is a gap. It can be a gap between how we’re seen and how we long to be seen. Or it’s a gap between what we have and what we long to have. And the most perilous gap is that canyon between who we are and who we long to be.


Perhaps the hardest thing about waiting is that we’re stuck in this awkward gap.


In the opening scene in the Gospel of Luke is a character who has endured the profound discomfort of life’s gaps. She’s had to face the gap of perception, desire and identity. And the injustice of it all: these awkward gaps weren’t even self-induced. They weren’t her fault.


Meet Elizabeth[1].


She was refined. She had an impressive pedigree, i.e., able to trace her family tree back to Aaron (Moses’ brother). She married well. She had integrity. There was just this one thing, one little thing that forced her on the long bitter march of waiting…and all the awkwardness and shame that accompanied it. She was infertile.


Elizabeth lived during a time and in a culture where having children (especially sons) defined you. In many parts in the Middle East it still does. For a time I lived in a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem and the women would introduce themselves not by their own name but as “The Mother of ______(the name of their oldest son).”


It’s the equivalent in our culture to: “What do you do?” And responding: “I’m unemployed.” Every time.


Here’s what Luke says about Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias:


“They were good and just people in God’s sight, walking with integrity in the Lord’s ways and laws. Yet they had this sadness. Due to Elizabeth’s infertility, they were childless, and at this time, they were both quite old-well past normal childbearing years.” Luke 1:6-7, Voice


Elizabeth had been faithful. And yet a sadness trailed her through the years. She shared the sadness with the person she loved most. She was the cause of his sadness too…though it wasn’t her fault. And now…well, it seemed too late. All the wishing, the praying, the what-ifs and even alternative medicines couldn’t turn back time.


We’re all waiting for something. What has you waiting?


Is there something you’re waiting for that is beginning to feel impossible? You may have had dreams when you were younger…and now you scramble to pay the bills and fill your nights with noise so you don’t have to think about the gap between where you are and where you thought you’d be. Perhaps for years you’ve determined to lose weight or get out of debt, but only more weight, debt and now shame have piled on. You might have had visions of the happily ever after and you find yourself in shock how long it’s been since the divorce papers were signed…or how long since you’ve felt happiness in your marriage. Maybe you’ve struggled with your health and you’ve done all the right things and you’re still not getting better.


Those gaps that waiting exposes can not only feel awkward…they can feel cruel. Soul-crushing, at times.


Last night I was on another first date. The guy asked a very natural—and all too familiar—question: “So, you’ve never married and don’t have kids?” As many times as I get that question I never know precisely how to answer. I tend to go straight for candor these days: “I’m befuddled by it myself. I’ve desired to marry. I love kids. I’ve had a very rich life…and am so grateful for it…and I’ve prayed ten thousand prayers to have a family.” And often I’ll end my monologue with a hearty laugh: “What the hell? I really don’t know why.” Then I take a sip of wine and try to deftly steer the conversation to international affairs.


My singleness has been a stellar setup for awkward conversations. From a multi-hour taxi ride in Malaysia to short ones in more countries than I can remember, taxi drivers seem most confused by my marital status…them, and my relatives in Texas. It’s so curious trying to explain a core aspect of my life I don’t fully understand myself.


I can only imagine how Elizabeth felt through the years. Perhaps she hoped people wouldn’t notice anymore. Or maybe she longed to talk about this big piece of her life that she could never quite find the words for. Maybe it was a bit of both.


Whatever she felt, something happened to Elizabeth that usurped words (Luke 1:8-25…culminating with this):


“Elizabeth: I have lived with the disgrace of being barren for all these years. Now God has looked on me with favor. When I go out in public with my baby, I will not be disgraced any longer.” Luke 1:25, Voice


Not everyone has an angel chat with their partner and ends up giving birth in their retirement years. So perhaps Elizabeth’s story isn’t for all of us.


But here’s the invitation I sense from God. He sees me in my waiting. He sees you in yours as well. I believe there’s still mystery in whose gaps are closed in what ways…what prayers get answered in the affirmative. However, I believe one of the greatest gifts of the Coming of the Christ is that God entered into Israel’s waiting—ultimately humanity’s longings and shame, hopes and questions—and said: “I see you. I haven’t forgotten you. I actually look upon you with favor.”


Or as Anthony de Mello wrote: “Behold the one beholding you, and smiling.”


That’s what God did for Elizabeth. Even in the waiting, that is what He is doing for you and me. But sometimes it takes us pausing to realize it. And so here are a couple of spiritual practices for the week to help us awake to the favor God looks on us in our waiting.


Spiritual Practices


  1. 5 minutes to feel the awkwardness of waiting. Ok, this may seem like an uber odd spiritual practice. But I invite you to join me and put away our phones for 5 minutes each day when we would naturally use them to rescue us from awkward waiting. Take an elevator ride without looking at your phone. (I know, I know, it puts you at risk of the whole awkward eye-contact thing….but nonetheless…) Stand in line at Trader Joes with your phone still in your pocket or purse. Wait without props…and who knows, you may have a less-than-awkward conversation with someone…and find yourself smiling. Or it could be uncomfortable, and that’s ok too. But try. I dare you (and me).


  1. 5 minutes to feel God’s pleasure in the waiting. I encourage you to carve out 5 minutes to simply sit in silence with God. Remind Him of your desires. But also, let Him remind you of His love for you, His absolute pleasure in you. You may begin your time reading this Scripture:


“The Eternal your God is standing right here among you, and He is the champion who will rescue you. He will joyfully celebrate over you; He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband.” Zephaniah 3:17, Voice


Later in Luke 1 Elizabeth enters the scene again. She hosts Mary for a visit. And here’s what happens:


“Elizabeth (shouting): You are blessed, Mary, blessed among all women, and the child you bear is blessed! And blessed I am as well, that the mother of my Lord has come to me! As soon as I heard your voice greet me, my baby leaped for joy within me. How fortunate you are, Mary, for you believed that what the Lord told you would be fulfilled.” Luke 1:42-45, Voice


Elizabeth’s painful wait for God to show up in her own gaps turned into true anticipation of the coming of the Christ.

May God also meet you in your waiting and may something so deep in you jump for joy knowing Christ has come and He will come again.


[1] Read Luke 1, specifically paying attention to Elizabeth.

An Open [Love] Letter to Aleppo

Here's Wahid's drawing of his crossing from Turkey to Greece. The waters were rough and he thought he would die.

Here’s Wahid’s drawing of his crossing from Turkey to Greece. The waters were rough and he thought he would die.

Dearest Aleppo,

I can’t imagine the intensity of your days…and the crushing fatigue of your nights. I hear your losses come too quickly for you to properly grieve, too often for your mother’s heart to count.

I’m so sorry.

I know you weep for your babies, the ones whose cries have now been silenced. While I know not that kind of heartbreak, I want to encourage you with hope.

I have met some of your children, ones who have ran to refuge in neighboring states and have washed up on shores in distant lands.

They are alive, beautifully alive.

I met one of your daughters, Maya, who gave birth in the midst of barrel bombs. She and her baby survived—thank God—and now she serves others with expanded love and prays for your peace each day. She asks God that love would rebuild your streets and repair your walls.

I met two of your sons, brothers, who journeyed by boat. They never knew school in your halls, and childhood play in your neighborhoods held adult-sized risks. Even still, they miss and love you dearly. Wahid, 8-years-old, dreams of being an engineer. He longs to restore you back to your glory. And Yuseph, 11-years-old, desires to be a doctor and help heal all Syrians. Your boys await your peace and unity.

I don’t know what’s ahead for you, but I pray the prayers of Maya and the dreams of Wahid and Yuseph come true…someday soon.

May love win,


In 2005 I had the gift of spending time in Aleppo…and in this past year I traveled to Lebanon and interviewed mothers from Aleppo and then went to Greece and got to interview children from the region.

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