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Why did Jesus have to be born during the holidays?

That’s a joke, of course. But it hints at a concern that becomes more and more clear to me with each passing year: At a time when we should be contemplating the great mysteries of our faith, we become too busy with holiday planning to do anything of the sort.

Well, the holidays are over now. Things have settled down for the most part. And I am left wondering: What happened to the Christ in Christmas?

Oh, he was there on Christmas Eve, during Mass. I remember feeling the physical presence of him keenly on our shared birthday. And then I got busy. And who got shoved aside in favor of planning and baking and socializing? You guessed it.

This is entirely my fault. I am certain there are people who are able to mix the social with the personal, who can see God clearly in everything they do, in the people they are with and the festivities set before them. I’m not one of them.

I require contemplation, quiet and serenity to access my spiritual side. The holidays aren’t exactly conducive to those requirements, at least not for me. So God gets set aside.

I’ve decided that my theme for the coming year will be “assent.” Assenting to God’s plans for me no matter what they are or how frightening the prospect. Fully letting go of my own plans for my life and placing myself entirely into God’s hands. Like Mary’s own fiat: I want to say “thy will be done” and mean it.

But that means letting God in at all times, not just selectively, when the time is right. (Okay, it involves more than that, but one problem at a time.) How is an introvert like me going to deal with living in the world while also removing myself from it? I can’t, after all, have it both ways.

How do you keep God present in your life, even when things are at their busiest? How do you live in a state of tension between being present to living and present to God?

I really want to know, readers. Clearly, if I’m going to give God the “yes” I want to give, I’ve got to have a plan. So tell me — how does one live a spiritual life and a temporal life simultaneously?

Because becoming a hermit is looking really good to me right now.


 I’m embarrassed to admit this but there are times I use prayer as a short cut.

“God, help me loose this weight.” (Prayer said while dusted with sugar cookie crumbs.)

Prayer is one way that I can connect with God but it isn’t meant to save me from action or activity.  So if you’ll excuse me, there’s a rowing machine with my name on it.  Because I already found the cookies.


This one’s gonna be different. Don’t we tell ourselves that every year? Don’t we start out with enthusiasm, with actual, resolute resolutions that by gum we are going to follow through on? Aren’t we certain that we can cast off the shadow of the previous 365 days simply because the date on the calendar now has a new number attached to it?

Well, don’t we?

I submit that the new year is a fraud, a sham, a flim-flam, a bamboozlement. A year can’t change things. Only we can. And it’s harder to do than a simple resolution might convey. To change one’s self fundamentally requires radical thinking and aggressive discarding of old thoughts, habits, and relationships. Most of us won’t ever do it. We’re too comfortable as we are. Only the most terrible and unexpected events — natural disaster, death, fatal illness — are enough to shock us out of complacency. And then, perhaps, only temporarily.

So…what to do with 2018 and its bright, shiny promises of change and renewal? Start small. Change one way of thinking. Give yourself a mantra — “first impressions are always wrong” for instance — to nip a habit of snap judgment in the bud. Or start each morning by doing one new thing: making your bed, trying a new stretch or simply saying, “I will be open to new possibilities today.” Repeated actions have a tendency to work their ways into our lives in ways we cannot foresee.

Or take up reading a new blog regularly. Work your way one chapter at a time through the bible. Smile at people you don’t know and won’t see again. Anything that might trigger a new, green sprout of thinking, a tiny revelation, an awkward step in a new direction.

And if it all falls apart, don’t berate yourself. January first isn’t the only day for changes. You can do that on February third, April 17th, or November 30th. You can do it anytime. Let yourself be open to nudges and signs and questions. Sometimes that’s the most essential part of change.

If we each turn ourselves one degree, together we can make a revolution — literally and figuratively.


Consider the above as you work on your resolutions or goals for the upcoming year.  Schedule time to listen for that still small voice.  He may have something in mind for you already.





It seems that even when a news story is about this wonderful time of year, it turns dark somehow. Christmas: Overspending Nightmare! Financial Ruin and Crass Materialism, Dead Ahead!

Lest we forget, this is a joyous and blessed season. No need to focus on the negative.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Right next to all the bad news out there, I found some uplifting stories for the holiday.

A mother reported to the police that her son was missing, only to find out that he had secretly gotten a job so he could earn money to buy her a Christmas present. “I just wanted to do something for my mama,” he said.

Three-year-old Esme had been unable to walk until she had an operation. Her parents took her to see Santa and she told him, “Look Santa, I can walk!”

After surviving Hurricane Harvey, Scruffy the deaf dog had trouble finding a forever home. Ashley Pieterse came into the dog rescue and said, “We want you. You’re ours,” and took him home in time for Christmas.

Never forget: there’s just as much good going on the world as there is bad. You just have to curate carefully through the weeds to get to the flowers.

Here’s wishing all of you dear readers a joyous holiday and a happy, healthy new year!


I’ll never claim to be a champion at meditation.  My mind is far too busy and loud for that.   But I truly understand the value of silence.  It is when I stand a small chance of hearing God.

And this time of year that is essential. As much as I love Christmas, I understand the people who don’t. There are just so many demands on your time and energy.  Every thing you accomplish is done at the expense of two other things you let slide.  And someone is going to speak up and tell you that you did it wrong.


This year, my emotional smack came in a Christmas card served up under a patina of holiday glitter. And I’ll admit that I’m still trying to sort myself out after that one.  Why?  Because I’ve got things to get done and people to see when what I need to do is retreat and recover.

Silence and peace.  They really do come hand in hand.

We can’t do everything for everyone. But we can spend some time connecting with God – our source of Light and Life and Love.







This is a brutal time of the year for many people.  Reduced daylight.  The stress of the holidays and seasonal spending which can exacerbate financial woes.  Loneliness and more.

As much as I don’t love the busy-ness, I love Christmas music no matter how insipid my 18-year-old tells me it is.  Lights?  I love a well-lit tree.  Manger scenes?  Stars?  Cookies?  I’m your girl!

But I try to have a care for those around me who are less in love with the holiday season.  I keep my eyes open for people who may not have plans for Christmas day.  Our table seats 8 or 10 if we decide we really  like each other.  And you can always add auxiliary tables.

I do my best to share hope, to reflect light – especially those awesome Christmas lights.  Spread joy.  Fill the world with His Blessings.




What choices do you make every day that bring you closer to God?  For me, it is often a matter of spending time out-of-doors and feeling the wind on my face.  I’m not sure what it is about a cold wind that just feels right.

Perhaps you find God when you work with children, cook for a friend, or simply meditate.  Personally I think Heaven is as unique as the person who seeks it.

Take a step back from the hustle and bustle.  Listen for the voice in the wind.  Look for grace.  Feel the warmth of his love.  It is there for those who seek it.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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