that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.

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Fourth Sunday of Advent.

The fourth candle symbolizes love.

Treasuring borrowed words from a beloved poet:

“Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning. ” 
                                                                                       -Pablo Neruda
Love, in every form, goes something like that. Being mindful of this truth in these final moments.

The wait is almost over.

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Third Sunday of Advent.

The third candle symbolizes joy.

Anybody have any grand ideas for this one? Years ago, my dear friend [then Pastor] Nathan explained that joy comes internally, externally, and always from God. Yet what about those moments, like this moment, where joy is a little harder to come by? Harder to find? Sometimes it is just more of a struggle, and we feel like we spend so much time looking for and grasping at hope and peace that seeking joy just feels more like a chore. I have written several times on this blog about actively trying to live my life one of joy. And how hard it is. When joy, the beautiful return for waiting for and the gift of Christ, should be so simple. Do you have any ideas? I don’t really know what to think about joy today because I am waiting, it feels like everyone is waiting, for the joyous part of this season. Amidst the haste of tasks we associate with the season and busyness of trying to connect with loved ones in heartfelt, meaningful ways…we pressure ourselves to find joy. As we focus on the desire for healing and hope and peace and then – that the suffocating, intoxicating, brilliant thing of joy will comes to overwhelm them all. Us all. And we didn’t have to really do anything at all.

Where does your joy come from? …What fills you? [story.donald miller]

And personally, I do not mean simply waiting for the joy of Friday, December 20 – when school is out! What a blessed relief that day will be, the joy in the quiet breaths I can take during a few weeks away; a time with my family that I long for 11.5 months of the rest of the year.

Calgary has grown cold, and the blustery days of snow have produced some magic in the prettiness of white. And it’s so very quiet out there tonight, a first in awhile, perhaps here to settle us in for the last full week of anticipating this gift.

grace and peace,


[adapted from d.08]

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Second Sunday of Advent.

The second candle symbolizes peace.

Peace is so fitting right now, I find (as I am sure you all do too) that Christmas season, which should be the most peaceful of all, often isn’t. I spent a lot of time around the city this week, waiting in lines, waiting for kids to settle, waiting for my coffee to be made, waiting with abated breath for people to stop moving. And stop rushing from everywhere to everywhere else. It’s as if Christmas is the ticket to speed up, get out of control, and be justified doing so.

But lack of peace is so much more than the busyness of the season. I’ve found, with some experiences, that there can be some really hard circumstances that make it hard to find the peace of this second week of Christmas. Oftentimes, people share how they are simply not at peace. I find I am not the most equipped person to deal with other people’s hurts or concerns very eloquently or even say things that directly reflect my heart… I mean, I am hardly comfortable hugging people so it is hard when someone is struggling for peace because it so mirrors my own soul. So I just ruminate on it; and pray… because our burdens are small compared to the love that encompasses us. We’re seeking instant-gratification, often manifested by impatience, which can suffocate the peace that should be resting inside.

The dictionary defines peace as the separation or distance from anything that causes strife or pain; it’s serenity and silence. Silence. Maybe that’s why it is so hard to hold onto, peace, because it only takes a drop of water or a gust of wind to break the silence. If that’s all it takes, that I can see why school or health or family or fear can take over and replace the peace in our hearts. But as I consider the notion that we all spend a little more time in silence, the more we may slow in peace. The longer it’s quiet, the more we get used to it…and I am convinced, the more we’ll miss it when it’s gone. The better acquainted we may get with this peace, the more real it becomes. And like our hope, we need to share it. I have a deep and persistent yearning for that peace… not just for myself but those whom I love who need that peace right now… the settling of hearts and silencing of fear.

The quiet surrender of our souls.

Can you feel it? We’re being held; we’ve got more than enough to step into the silence and embrace a bit of peace.


grace and peace,



[adapted from d.08]

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First Sunday of Advent.

The first candle symbolizes hope.


Hope Breeds Hope is my classroom theme this year; a maxim that adorns our eastern wall, above the boards, staring at the children each and every day. We’ve woven its meaning into every aspect of our time together, desiring hope to be in the forefront of what they do.  As I teach my students about how hope can – and needs – to inform them, the choices they make and the ways of their being, we challenge this hope to be contagious…breeding willful hope in others.

Some say it’s fleeting (or reaching), the quiet moments of accessing such a higher order understanding amongst eleven and twelve year olds. But as we teach these children about hope, their awareness of all they’ve been entrusted with is transcending the words on the wall. Slowly, and ever so simply, I am seeing the impressions of their hope in others. People enter our classroom and sense the quiet community that is growing within a common faith. Though their faith might look different from the person sitting beside them, I am certain that there is a new, existing belief… even if somedays, it’s only a belief in themselves.

Hope breeds hope. Three words that mean everything today; a day that begins the journey we embark on each winter seasons. To use my own words from a few years ago, I don’t know where you’re at, who you’re with, what you’re struggling with, but I encourage you during this advent season. Hope is the greatest thing we can put into this life, and you can always have hope when it feels like you have nothing left. If you’re struggling to find the hope of this season, through the lights and candles and chaos and busyness and the oh-so-apparent, but sometimes too subtle, reminders of the simple beauty of what we’re doing here…why we’re here, let me hope a little for you. Sometimes we need encouragement as we wait in joy for the things that are promised to us.

I see that hope breeds hope, every day. If not only by the explicit words that are guiding me, and our class, but in the gentle ways that we do and need to risk hoping a little more for each other.

Have a blessed 1st Sunday of Advent.

grace and peace,