Christmas Advent: How to Just Breathe

This is the week of peace.

I squatted on the sand in my sneakers and gym shorts this week. I looked out into the ocean. I looked down into the sand. I listened.

Just breathe.

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 

Matthew 6:26

Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-30

If all of God’s people would just breathe.

We crave the sweet togetherness of the holidays. Togetherness also brings out the tensions within our beloved relationships. The response to the tension is love. The deeper our love is connected to God’s truth, the deeper the love permeates the heart.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

As we love through the tension, deep into the hearts of our beloved, let’s welcome what is right, pure and lovely over the reality of the tension. Let’s breathe in and out what is excellent and praiseworthy.

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8

Just breathe.

And the God of Peace will be with you.

Love always,


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Christmas Advent: How To Celebrate as We Wait

I didn’t grow up with the tradition of the season of Advent. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that it is a simple way to prepare your heart for Christmas.

Advent celebrates Hope, Faith, Joy and Peace as we eagerly await the light of Christmas.

First, we celebrate HOPE. Advent opens with an invitation to PAUSE.

We are offered the chance to pause the push of the holiday merriment . . . This is a small but significant cultural resistance we can practice in our homes, minds, emotions and relationships.

– Tsh Oxenreider, Shadows and Light, A Journey Into Advent

As I look back to my Advent HOPE notes from three years ago, I see that I hoped to learn something new during Christmas. I journaled that I was grateful to need so deeply so that Jesus could show himself to me so deeply. I desired to remember the oppressed with generosity and to savor Christmas.

I ended the week of HOPE with this entry:

God, you are working in the shadows. Even the dark is light to you. I pray for shadows to be revealed so that the light may come in and shine. You are so kind. Your ways are gentle. Your voice is like a homecoming every time. Help me be gentle and kind like you.

Second, we celebrate FAITH. We believe that something GOOD is on the way.

It takes a lifetime to sharpen the tool of faith with the belief that there is always good ahead. Do you have a realist in your life? I do. My realist often tells me the obvious, fact based doom and gloom coming on the horizon. I tell the realist that God has been good before and he will be good again. Everything will work out as it should.

I am a woman of faith + optimism + imagination for the good things of God. At the same time, I haven’t always believed my own words to the realist.

I have been up many nights thinking about the breadth and kindness of God. Do both extend to me in this set of circumstances? Will God use his power and love to work out this scenario?

There used to be an “off limits” part of my heart that gripped onto self reliance in case God didn’t decide to help. God has a good sense of humor since most of the important things that have worked out in my life have had little to do with me. God is funny that way. He changes our understanding of him without our help. I love that.

Third, we celebrate JOY as we ANTICIPATE the birth of Jesus.

Intentional joy is hard to pursue. Life has an abundance of commitments where we put others before ourselves. Serving others at home, work, in friendships and the community is a huge source of joy. There is, however, another side of joy. This joy springs forth from within. This joy is the difference between an internal self that resembles a parched garden and a well watered garden whose waters never fail.

The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose water never runs dry.

Isaiah 58:10-12

I mentioned that I found myself parched this Fall. The combination of low grade anxiety, sadness and tiredness brought me to pursue intentional joy. I aimed to replenish my joy one day per week with one small intentional act. My list may be small, but it has mattered to the state of my soul.

  • I walked with my mom in an outdoor nursery with calm music playing.
  • I ordered fun paper and embellishments to wrap holiday gifts.
  • I listed to the WHOLE original soundtrack of Mary Poppins in bed on a Saturday morning.
  • I wrote holiday cards to all of my Devoted sisters (my community group).
  • I filled an older purse with toiletries, food, cosmetics, two books and drinks. I am waiting to see a woman in need on the road to give it to.

I am pursuing joy in anticipation of the day of Jesus’ birth. He is the whole reason.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from that time and forevermore.

Isaiah 9:6-7

Fourth, we embrace PEACE as we dig deep into GRATITUDE.

Gratitude is a popular word. We hear it everywhere. We see it on the cover of journals. We are told by the secular and religious world that peace and joy grow from living a life of gratitude. To me, gratitude came alive in learning St. Ignatius Loyola’s Prayer of Examen. To break it down, each day we ask ourselves:

  • How has the Lord provided for me today? What am I thankful for?
  • How did I move toward the Lord today? How did I bring him glory through my words and actions?
  • How did I move away from the Lord today? Where did I miss the opportunity to bring him glory through my words and actions?
  • Listen and Respond

At the base of every difficulty that etches away at our internal peace, gratitude awaits. God sweeps in with peace as we count what we have instead of what we don’t. The last week of Advent is the time we express gratitude to him as we celebrate the Prince of Peace.

Sisters, I made for you an Advent Inspired Bucket List. I hope you enjoy as you embrace the season of Advent and Christmas this year.

Love always,


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Five Reasons Why Pursuing Your Calling is the Key to Inner Peace

If you have breath, you have a call. No exclusions or exceptions. No mistakes or passing over.  As God breathed your soul, spirit, and body into existence, He also infused you with passion and calling. Like tea steeps into water, God imbued you with individual purpose and calling.

Calling Vs. Identity – Understanding the Differences

Your calling is part of who you are made to be over your lifetime. Your call is woven into your personality, gifts, talents, and good deeds prepared for you before your life began. Because of the intimate dance between your true self and your calling, pursuing your passions will always be key to realizing inner peace. Without the exploration and pursuit of your passion and calling, your inner self can feel dry or even bankrupt.

Calling, however is not the same as identity. Your identity is the understanding of who you are in light of your relationships. Your identity is not the same thing as pursing the passion God gave you to take ground in His name. For women, calling can be easily rolled into our identity as a mother, sister, friend, daughter, and wife. We value our relationships the most and are wholly devoted to them. We want the same inner peace we desire for ourselves to flow into our most precious relationships. Consequently, our value is often tied to key relationships, but that is not the whole story.

Coming from a legal background, when I think of calling, I think of the word ‘summons’ which is defined as “an authoritative or urgent call to someone to be present or to do something.” It’s God’s individually crafted “summons” over you – the combination of God infused passion and action made for you and you only. Calling goes beyond the roles (identity) we live out in our lives. Certainly, your call may bring you to a specific focus as a mother, sister, friend, daughter, or wife, but the call does not begin there.  When we roll calling and identity into one, we angle ourselves to the left or right of inner peace.

Calling is the standing God gave you as His child with a purpose and mission to live out in the service of others. When we focus on our roles instead of our calling, we miss the intersection of our passion and purpose. We miss the fullness of who we were made to be. The resulting tragedy is the simultaneous unmet longing of so many women: Inner Peace.

Five Reasons Why Pursuing Your Calling is the Key to Inner Peace:

1.  Knowing your calling provides purpose for your soul

What makes your heart beat fast? What fires up your desire for justice or equality? What causes tears to stream down your cheeks? What could you just keep doing forever because you love it and you thrive from it? What keeps you up at night or gets you up early? What do you want to stand on a podium and talk about? Is there something that breaks your heart and you can do something about it?

Purpose gives life to the part of you that was intended to be active and alive. When we verbalize and memorialize our calling, we are invigorated with energy and determination to do the thing we were made to do. When we are in sync with our God given desires and can name them out loud or on paper, the inner self invites and welcomes peace.

2.  Living out your purpose satisfies the cravings of the soul

Women often fear that they have missed the mark. With the exception of the failures and mistakes that are part of living, the fear of missing the mark is related to whether a woman is pursuing her calling. There is an internal craving that exists inside of us until we live out our calling. Just like many describe salvation as the God-sized keyhole of the heart, calling is a go button waiting to be pushed. The green go button lights up again and again as it waits to be pushed. The blinking light continues until activation and so does our craving. Inner peace is not realized until the self is living out who the self was made to be. When your calling is unleashed, pursued and active, the soul is at peace, satisfied and fulfilled.

3.  Avoiding or setting aside your calling disrupts inner peace

Pursuit of a good cause, intention, project or relationship that is not in line with your personal calling may be a factor in thwarting inner peace. In a recent survey of passionate, intentional women, I found that almost all the women were pursuing projects and building relationships. The same resourceful, creative women also stated they desire inner peace the most.

We cannot ignore the difference between pursuing positive projects and relationships and pursing projects and relationships that are aligned with your God infused passion. There is correlation between inner peace and whether you are pursuing the calling that your Creator designed for you. Inner peace does not arrive until your pursuit becomes a pursuit that was God breathed into your being.

4.  Pain is healed by pursuing your calling

Women experience deep pain arising from their own self-image, difficulties in parenting and marriage, financial uncertainty and death and loss. The pain is not just in the season of difficulty but in moving forward from the hardship. If we are not careful, we will take our pain with us far beyond the season. We will see our lives through the lens of pain. We will live our lives consumed by wounds and brokenness. In effect, we will narrow the course of our lives instead of expand the ground we take for God and for his glory.

When we have pinpointed our passion and calling and pursue it, our pain is met with purpose and hope. Healing comes. Healing does not necessarily come from the resolution of the hardship, but it comes from gathering up your gifts, talents and abilities towards your God imbued passion and calling. Pursuing your calling is not about distraction from pain, it is about working through the pain by honoring a part of yourself that is meant to be expressed no matter the circumstances. Pain disrupts inner peace, but passion and calling are a spring board for healing.

5.  The pursuit of your calling connects you to community

Women often hide their struggles. Strong women hide their fears. Balanced women hide desperation and hopelessness. Confident women hide idols of perfectionism. Grounded women hide how lost they feel. Together women hide how undone they really are. Hidden struggles chisel away at inner peace. Hidden struggles strip down and immobilize passion and purpose. Connection, however, gives way to voice, revelation and freedom.

Connection breaks down the walls of silence that are marring the self-worth and self-image of women. As we verbalize struggles and passion among sisters, we become connected. When we set out to pursue calling, our team of sisters support us, act as resources for us and remind us why our passion matters. When we are supported and heard, inner peace increases. Our passion and peace grow side by side in community.

The pursuit of passion and calling is the key to inner peace. The soul craves purpose. The soul finds healing in the path of passion and calling. The soul finds her voice in the presence of community. The one thing she desires most for herself and her family can’t be found in her roles, although exponentially important. The one thing she desires most can’t be found when calling is side stepped or avoided. Inner peace is found in living out the God-imbued calling over her life. She will find peace when she lives out her calling.


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