Thursday, April 28, 2016

Heartbeats

The other day I found myself in search of something I should have been able to put my finger on instantly.

I always put it in the same place. I KNOW that's where I put it last! What could have happened to it?! 

As it turned out, someone who shall remain nameless but recently had a birthday and will be graduating soon, decided keeping this item in his top dresser drawer was a good plan. He was swiftly informed that was not a good plan. In fact, that is no longer the plan.

Ahem.

Anywhooo...In his defense, perhaps this was all meant to be because in my search I stumbled across something I wasn't expecting.

You see, I'm not really one to hang onto every birthday/anniversary/special occasion card. I appreciate every card I have ever received and the time someone took to send it to me (especially since I am woefully card-challenged for the most part). But after enjoying the card and allowing it to spend a respectable amount of time in my designated "card basket" most cards usually find their way to the recycling bin.

(Please don't stop sending me cards, friends. I truly love and appreciate them! I am just not willing to drown in them!)

Like every good rule there is always an exception though and the exception to this card rule are the cards we received following the loss of our twins and the loss of my father. I saved every single one.

My sister gave me a beautiful basket after our babies died with a plaque on the top that reads, "Our Forever Babies" with their names and date of their birth. In it holds every card we received following their birth and death, and every card I received in the years after.

Sidenote: If you are ever on the fence as to whether to send a sympathy card because you aren't sure whether it will be appropriate/welcome/needed/helpful? Send the card. 

We received many, many cards in the month after our babies were born. Fewer after that month passed. And, of course, as is expected, even fewer on that date in the years that followed. This is not to make anyone feel guilty or shamed. I would have been the same way if the roles were reversed. Life goes on and those outside the immediate circle of loss shouldn't be expected to remember dates forever.

After the first couple of years, it was mostly just our family and closest friends who remembered.

And, of course, ever the Queen of Cards and Remembering and Marking Special Days and Moments, Tracy was one who never forgot.

Every year without fail, I would receive a note from her on their day, and often more than that. We refer to our babies as our "Twin Stars" so she would send me little star ornaments she found, or candles with a star on them, or any little thing she had stumbled across that brought them to mind. Of course all of those notes and cards went straight into the basket to be treasured always.

Except this one...somehow this one never made its way there. Somehow this one was in a spot it shouldn't have been, just waiting for me to find it when I needed....something.

 

It took me back to a moment I've never forgotten but hadn't revisited in my mind in a long time.

For several years, Tracy and I were part of a mom's group connected to the Catholic school our children attended. Actually, as with so many things, Tracy was the reason I became a part of the group. It was a lovely group of women and something we both enjoyed for many years.

Each year, we would go on an overnight retreat to Sleeping Lady in Leavenworth, WA. It was an amazing setting and it was always a time mixed with both deep conversations and uncontrollable laughter-my favorite combination.

During a time when we were talking more deeply and personally, the subject of our twins came up. By this point, I spoke of them easily and was happy to share about our experience both during and after our loss.

But then someone asked a question I wasn't prepared for. It was asked gently and innocently, not at all intended to cause harm. But it was the question that always caught me off guard.

How long did they live?

I'm sure I hesitated. I probably started to stammer something about how I didn't really know, and it was hard to say, and they were so still and quiet because they were so tiny... And I can't even really explain why that question made me feel so uncomfortable. Perhaps because my own fear was that somehow the length of their lives was tied to the depth of their worth?

I think at some point my voice trailed off.

And then Tracy stepped in to rescue me, offering the words that I couldn't.

Her eyes were misty but she didn't cry, which for those of you who knew her you know she must have been digging deep.

Her voice was tender but strong.

We held them so close. We held them right up to our chests and so...as we held them, it was like our heartbeats were their heartbeats. I don't know how long they were physically with us, but as we all took turns holding them, it sure felt like they were with us that whole day.

I can't remember if I ever told her how grateful I was for that.

I hope she knew.

I think she knew.

And now I carry this image of her holding those babies, and I like to think that is somehow a part of all the joy she is experiencing now. Oh, how she loved babies.

Tracy was a lot of things. She could be big, and loud, and funny, and the center of attention. But she could also be soft, and quiet, and incredibly generous with her heart.

I'm just trying to make sure I remember it all and this memory felt like it needed to be written down.

Tracy, consider this my thank you card. I know how you love a good thank you card.

Promise you won't forget me, ever.
Not even when I'm a hundred.
~A. A. Milne

I promise.






Monday, February 22, 2016

Two hands

This morning I started my day with a green smoothie and BBQ Popchips.

Let me try to explain.

I think we all know that Monday mornings are like New Years Day except there are fifty-two of them instead of just one. It's the day of good intentions and starting fresh and getting back on the wagon and drinking green smoothies.

Don't get me wrong, I love my green smoothie. I make a darn good green smoothie- although it actually looks more like a grayish-purple smoothie because of the berries I put in there. But I still call it a green smoothie because that sounds healthier than saying I made myself a grayish-purple smoothie. Also, I'm not sure the word 'gray' belongs anywhere near any food related item? It sort of has an immediate effect of robbing it of any appetizing qualities whatsoever.

BUT....(You knew there was some sort of digression coming, right? I mean, how do we get to the POPCHIPS?! I know you are dying to know.)

The problem is, as much as I loooove my green (grayish-purple) smoothie, most mornings I just can't leave breakfast behind until I have chewed or crunched something. As tasty as it is, sipping my breakfast through a straw only leaves me 80% satisfied. My teeth feel totally left out and start clamoring for a job to do.

I don't need much. Just a little something. You know...like something that almost resembles air...except crunchy...with a little zing?

TA DA!!!

BBQ Popchips.

Was there really any other alternative? If there was, obviously I couldn't think of it.

Luckily, today I'm not in an either/or kind of mood.

This morning I shared with someone close to me the one thought that has helped me most when rebounding from loss.

We have two hands.

We can hold more than one thing, one experience, one emotion, one hope...all at the same time.

We can be both happy and sad.

We can be both angry and grateful.

We can wish things were different and still accept things as they are.

We can look forward and backward.

We can hold doubt and faith.

We can carry the past in our hearts while still looking to the future with hope.

We don't have to choose. We never have to choose.

We can hold both.

This weekend I took Annie on a special mother-daughter birthday shopping trip. As we were driving downtown I was heaping love on my birthday girl and told her, "I'm the luckiest mom in the world. I had my two wonderful boys and then I was given this beautiful little girl. I don't know how I got soooo lucky, but I am thankful every single day."

I meant every word, but there was a little voice in my head that piped up even as I was speaking. "Now that's an odd thing to say, given what you lost? The luckiest mom in the world? Really?!"

But I looked down at my two hands and let those words float away.

It's not all or nothing. I can hold both. I can quietly wish for the two little ones who slipped away, and still feel whole-hearted gratitude for the three who got to stay.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that you have to choose.

You have two hands. You can hold so much. But only what you want to hold.

Drink the green smoothie. Eat the BBQ Popchips.

Hold what you need to hold and let go of what needs to go.

That's what I'm doing today. I'm holding it all. The tears and the laughter. The joy and regrets. The yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows.

It's all right here in these two hands.





Sunday, January 24, 2016

In the laughter

My sister in law, Sarah, has got me hooked on the show Call the Midwife. I've been binge watching my way through the seasons and am up through the middle of Season 3. If I could, I would watch in all of my spare moments but I can only watch when I'm by myself because no one else in my family is quite as interested as I am in the lives of midwives and nuns in a poor neighborhood in London in the 1950's. They also seem to be a bit squeamish over highly realistic childbirth scenes.

Go figure. Cowards.

I've started having recurring dreams where I am either pregnant or have just given birth, and when I'm struggling with productivity and sloth (as I often do), I imagine Sister Evangeline giving me a stern and entirely necessary scolding, which usually gets me up off the couch. (Usually. Unless I'm in the middle of an episode in which case Sister Evangeline will have to wait.)

It's safe to say Call the Midwife has infiltrated every aspect of my life.

I'd go so far as to say the show has become my own personal Life Coach and that I follow its guidance as close to the letter as I can. Except for the bicycling. I'm too scared of Seattle traffic to start bicycling everywhere.

The other day I watched an episode where one of the main characters suffers a heartbreaking loss (no spoilers, I won't say who). She is struggling to find her footing in a world that no longer makes sense, when she receives some wisdom from an older woman who has fought her own battles with heartache.

In answer to what she is supposed to do now, how does she go on, what does she do next? The older woman says to her simply, "You just keep on living. You keep living...everyday...until you feel alive again."

Last night a bunch of us gathered together again. My CTMW-enabling sister in law and younger brother came into town to visit, which was as good a reason as any to pull together an evening of food and drink and conversation and hugging. (There is a lot of hugging these days. I'm not typically much of a hugger, but I'm coming around. I have to. It seems I can't stop these people.)

There was also laughter. Lots of laughter.

Sometimes I feel like I don't know how to explain the laughter. That if someone were looking from the outside in we would look more like a bunch of silly, party clowns than the bruised and battered tribe that we are.

And then I saw this quote today:

There are three things which are real: 
God, human folly, and laughter. 
The first two are beyond our comprehension, 
so we must do what we can with the third.
~Adapted from a Hindu poem 


We laugh because it's part of who we are, who we have always been, and who she was. 

To stop laughing would be to stop living. It would mean that we not only lost her, but that we turned our backs on her. The laughter is how we honor her and everything she gave us. 

Every time we have been together- noisy, full of food and wine, crammed shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen while the rest of the house stands empty- at some point someone has whispered to me, I swear I hear her. I swear I can hear her laugh. 

Every time.

And I say, I know. Me too. 

I don't know how she did it, but she brought all of these people together. And what a raggedy, eclectic bunch we are. 

But we know how to laugh.  

She taught us so very well. 

The CTMW enabler and Tracy going to battle in our annual $10 gift exchange.
I think they worked it out in the end. ;-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All things new

It's that time again. A New Year, a new One Word.

I'm a bit late posting my word not because I haven't settled on a word, but because my mind has been full of so many words, and thoughts, and to-do's, and feelings lately...that I have been too scattered to put them down into any organized form.

You: So, what you're saying is that you write best when your mind is empty?

Me: Yes. Don't ask questions.

You: But, wouldn't having no thoughts imply having nothing to say?

Me: Shhhh..... It's complicated. 

If you want a more detailed explanation of my whole One Word approach to the New Year, you can read about it here and here. I simply do not have the mental bandwidth to re-hash all of that so links are going to have to do.

If you are really bored (or are trapped under something heavy and are looking for ways to pass the time) and actually clicked on those links, you will learn that in past years coming up with my One Word took a bit of effort. There was a sort of process, if you will, that I went through to arrive at my all-important, annual One Word.

This year, my One Word came to me in early December and never left.

The fact that it was so effortless makes me wonder if I am subconsciously cheating and just opted to settle for the first reasonable word that came to mind, (As opposed to the many unreasonable words that come to mind for me all the time like: Doritos, pizza, cookie dough, margaritas...yes, I'm hungry...and no, none of those would make a good One Word....or...would they??) 

Anywhoooo....as I was saying, my One Word came to me in early December and decided to stick around for the long haul.

Since then, there have been some seismic changes in my life, but oddly enough, I feel like my word still fits. So, maybe I wasn't cheating after all? Maybe this is truly the word I need in 2016?

So, without further ado... my One Word for 2016 is...

NEW

A tiny word but one that is just chock full of promise and potential. It's almost shiny in its aura of hopefulness and optimism. Except when it isn't...

See, I'm not always a person who enjoys new things. I can be pretty content to have everyday play out with the predictability of Groundhog Day, slightly tweaking things here and there until I can finally get things right.

New can be exciting! But new can also be scary.

New opportunities can open doors to blessings you never imagined! And sometimes you have to find your way to a new normal that you never dreamed of or wanted.

In 2016, my intention is to be more open to change. To embrace the NEW and not cling to the old out of fear or intimidation.

Don't get me wrong, I am well aware that new is not always better. In fact, my more conservative nature tends to lead me more toward the end of the spectrum that says new is rarely better (can we bring back the Betamax and cassette tapes?). I'm not throwing out anything of value in my life, regardless of how well seasoned. I'm keeping my marriage, my family, my friends, my faith... Nothing crazy is happening here. I'm just going to work on not having knee-jerk reactions to new possibilities in the year ahead.

This might mean saying yes to things when I would normally say no, or no to things when I would normally say yes.

It means allowing myself to be different and not getting trapped in an unyielding mindset of who I am. More and more I am realizing that we are always changing, always growing. In fact, I believe that we are created to change! So, who I have been does not dictate who I might be tomorrow, or next week, or next year.

I often catch myself giving myself labels- "introvert", "homebody", "someone who doesn't like change" (for example)- but these are all just mindsets for the most part. Sure, we all have God-given traits that make us different and unique, but I don't think God meant for any of those traits to resemble handprints pressed into concrete- frozen and unchanging for all of time.

Sometimes it's just a matter of stretching ourselves in the smallest ways, a little bit each day.

2016 is already giving me opportunities to live out my One Word- in ways that are both exciting and sad, scary and hopeful.

In the category of new things that I never dreamed of or wanted...

2016 will be the very first year of my entire life that I will spend without this beautiful soul's physical presence. My cousin, my playmate, my inspiration, my soul-sister, my buddy, my lifetime companion...

I know, I look very suspicious here. But trust me, I loved her right from the start.

Tracy taught me the art of vacationing and the importance of a beach beverage from a young age.


I met my husband thanks to these two.
Friends forever.

We raised this mob of boys together, and then the little Princess who tagged along later.

A million small moments and good times.
And, of course, only those two were ready for the pic.
Always camera ready!

No one has ever made me laugh harder.
(Try to ignore that my hair looks like David Cassidy.)
(Windblown is not my best look.)

Our whole family is missing this girl.

We called ourselves the A Team (silly, inside joke).
The A Team will never be the same...
"...and all the trumpets sounded for her on the other side."
~John Bunyan
I miss you every minute of every day.
There aren't enough pictures or words to convey what Tracy meant to me and the hole that has been left in my life (although we gave it a good try with the photos-we have A LOT). We already spent a new Christmas without Tracy and 2016 will be full of so many other new firsts. I pray I find a way to live them well, honoring her and all the people she loved so very much.

In the category of scary but hopeful new things...

The Sawyers are taking their road show east of the mountains.


I really honestly never thought I'd say these words.

We are moving.

Not until the end of the school year so it isn't imminent, but it's happening.

I don't know what to say about that quite yet, except to say to all of our friends and neighbors who we have spent our lives with for the past 24 years, we love you. We love this city. We love this neighborhood. We love this home.

And we will still be around. I promise.

And that's all I have to say about that right now (as I channel Forrest Gump) but I imagine there will be lots more words on this subject forthcoming.

And there will be whole bunches of NEW that will go along with it.

For now, I will leave you with my 2016 verse of the year:

Let it be so. 

Happy New Year, friends.

Let's make it a good one.




Monday, December 7, 2015

Free at last

Something very exciting is happening this week.

I've been counting down the days and circling this date in red on my calendar.

The waiting and watching and wishing is almost finally over!

Drumroll please...

My six month Boot Camp gym membership expires this Friday!!!!

(Fireworks! Trumpets! A chorus of Hallelujahs!)

If that isn't enough to bust out some Martina McBride and sing Let Freedom Ring at the top of your lungs, I don't know what is.

The relief is palpable.

I want to be clear, a lot of people really like this gym. I liked this gym...at first. I wouldn't want anyone to not check out this gym because of my personal feelings. It's just... I realized after a few months of it, it's simply not for me.

It's not the exercise, don't get me wrong. I have been very committed to exercise in various forms for over two decades. I actually like to be active and feel healthy and fit. I have not stopped exercising since my attendance at this class progressively dwindled down to zero. I have just gone back to methods of working out that I know work better for me. Because you see, this class taught me something very important.

At forty-five-almost-forty-six there are some things I am not willing accept anymore in the name of fitness.

They are, in no particular order:

1. Burpees.

2. Sprinting up hills.

3. Burpees.

4. Push-ups on street corners.

5. Burpees.

6. Running outside.

7. Burpees.

8. Running, period (for any distance beyond the width of a tennis court).

9. Burpees.

10. Being scolded for talking too much to my friend because we are affecting the "focus" of others when the music is at approximately a gazillion decibels and no one can hear anything beyond a two foot radius. (Eye roll).

11. Burpees

I think by now you have picked up on my main hot button issue. Because the truth is, I would have probably stuck with it even with #'s 2, 6, 8 and 10 But #'s 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 are non-negotiables.

There is really no greater indignity than the physical act of burpees. I will do planks, mountain climbers, push ups (just not on street corners), or squats until the cows come home (which could take a long time since I don't have any cows).

But burpees....shudder. 

Tell me to do 10 burpees in a row and you are risking eliciting something really scary from me. Like an icy stare. Or a dramatic sigh. Or visibly slumped shoulders and tears in my eyes. (I don't have much of a "scary" repertoire. Passive-aggressive is about all I can muster).

Still, it isn't pretty. Nor is me doing burpees.

So, that's it. My burpee days are done. And as God as my witness, I will never perform another burpee as long as I live. Even if I were to join some other class or gym or suddenly enlist in the military... I swear on Buddy the Elf himself that I will simply say, "No", should someone ever again try to tell me to hit the floor and crank out some burpees.

And if I have to, I'll top that off with a, "You can't make me."

'Cause you can't.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Silent night

I have an issue...

Okay, I have many issues being human and all. But this is a biggie for me, maybe it is for you too?

I have this tendency to get sucked into things that aren't mine to own. Other people's anger, fear, arguments, worries, and even their conflict. It's kind of  my own personal oxymoron because for the most part I studiously avoid conflict, but when confronted with it- even if I DO nothing about it and don't participate in it- it will still eat away at me.

Seriously, an argument between two other people, utterly and completely separate from me, will bother me enough to keep me up at night. And you do not even want to know what I'm like if I was actually involved in anyway...

Yeah, I'm working on it.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?

But this issue is why the verse in my devotional JUMPED OUT AT ME this morning. And honestly, this is a verse I have heard or read literally hundreds of times in my lifetime. Why did I see it in such a different light today? Probably because I needed it so much.

All that changed from the hundreds of times I have read it before was one word.

One overlooked word that made all the difference today.

One little word.

A word that when said in isolation in any elementary classroom will make all of the children giggle.

But.

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2:19

But.

That one word suggests Mary made a choice that countered in some way the reactions of those around her.

But.

Instead... Rather than... In contrast... Despite that... Whereas... Even so...

Whatever chaos, or excitement, or confusion, or general hoopla was swirling around her... Mary opted for silence. She chose to be still. She took time to listen to the voice in her heart.

She didn't react, she responded from the deepest, truest part of her soul.

And her response was to be quiet.

It wasn't cowardly inaction. It wasn't a failure to DO SOMETHING.

It was wisdom in its purest form.

And something tells me that what she gained by doing "nothing"...was peace.

Let it be so.

Amen.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Making space

Over Thanksgiving break, Annie and I spent almost every evening before bedtime watching Hallmark Christmas movies on TV. As a result, I'm pretty sure she is under the distinct impression that at some point in her life a distant relative will bequeath her an Inn in some quaint but very removed location, she will become engaged to a wealthy and attractive, but humorless man, until she has a chance encounter with a humble tradesman (also attractive) who teaches her to laugh again and so she will promptly, but gently, dump McScrooge. And finally, she has also learned to be very wary of any sort of corporate mogul (land developers are particularly shady) who wants her to sign anything lest Christmas and all Christmas spirit be placed in immediate jeopardy.

She also still hides under the covers for any and all kissing.

I know it all sounds very cozy and sweet, and believe me, I love it, but it isn't always as comfortable as you might imagine.

These movie watching sessions take place in my bedroom with both of us tucked under the covers of my king size bed. You'd think that leaves plenty of room for the two of us, wouldn't you?

Let me try and paint you a word picture here...

Visualize a large, king size bed. Travel in your mind over to the left side of said bed (I'm a left-sider. I have no idea what that says about me but I'm sure there is a Facebook quiz that could tell me.) No, travel farther over to the left side. Farther. Mentally place yourself in the furthest 12 inches of the left side of the bed, teetering on the right side of your body so you don't fall off the edge. You might want to tuck your right arm under the pillow, grasping the top edge of the bed as leverage. Just a suggestion.

Sound comfy?

This is where I inevitably end up every evening because my daughter is not content for us to lie in close proximity of one another, or even next to one another. No, she prefers some form of cuddling that resembles a twist tie on a loaf of bread (I'm the bag of bread, she's the twist tie). And if I should try to gain even a little breathing room, or shift even slightly, she will immediately wrap tighter so as to eliminate any white space between us.

It is my futile attempts at freedom that cause me to find myself in those final 12 inches of bed space. Every. single. night.

Cozy, is putting it mildly.

But in that space, even as my arm is falling asleep and claustrophobic feelings start to rise in my chest, I hear all of the words that have been waiting to be said. Words that either get lost in the busyness and distractions of the day, or words that feel too vulnerable to be spoken out loud except in the one place you know yourself to be completely safe and unconditionally loved. Words about fears, and dreams, and hurt feelings, and questions, and general wonderings about the world, and God, and her place in it all.

In making space, blessings abound.

Yesterday began the season of Advent which is another opportunity to make space. And, again, we might find ourselves a little uncomfortable in doing so. In a season that demands activity and consumption and never ending to-do lists, it can be hard to say 'no' to one thing so that we can say 'yes' to something else. Yes to making space.

Space to listen.

Space to reflect.

Space to absorb.

Space to remember.

And the biggest challenge is not turning Advent into one more requirement, but instead finding a way to journey through the season honoring its true intentions.

Hope

Peace

Joy

Love

It's impossible to cloister ourselves away for the next 25 days doing nothing but reflecting, praying and fasting (I have trouble fasting for 25 minutes). But I'm determined to make space everyday getting reoriented on what this season means for me and my faith.

Everyone is different and I don't presume to know what makes sense for anyone else, but in case you are looking for some resources, here are some suggestions that have been meaningful for me:

Naptime Diaries Advent Devotional: I purchased the hard copy version of this devotional and it is beautiful. Unfortunately, that is sold out for this year but they have made available a digital version that you could still download. It offers thoughtful reflections, scripture and prompts to inspire your own thoughts and prayers.

She Reads Truth: I used the hard copy devotional from this group last year and loved it. It's so pretty it is really like a keepsake journal (which explains the high price). However, you can follow along for free with their Advent reflections just by going to their website or if you sign up you can have them sent to you via email. Reading the daily SRT scripture and reflection is one of the first things I do each morning.

There are lots of great published Advent devotionals out there, but a few that I have read in the past are Watch For the Light (a collection of well known Christian writers from Bonhoeffer to C.S. Lewis to Philip Yancey), Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen  (you can never go wrong with Henri Nouwen), and the Irish Jesuits put out this devotional booklet each year that is really lovely and thought provoking, Sacred Space.

Ideas for celebrating Advent with your children (beyond eating a chocolate treat everyday-not that there's anything wrong with that...):

Story of Christmas ornaments: This is a newer tradition in our family that I have used with Annie (we didn't have them when the boys were young). We have been using these for at least five years now and she still enjoys reading them and putting them on her own little tree in her room each night. The ornaments are mini-books that progressively tell the Nativity story.

Advent Storybook: This is a sweet storybook that successfully walks the line between being fictional while also being true to the essence of the Christian Nativity story and ideals (at least I think it does). A mother bear tells her little cub a story that weaves both fiction, adventure and the true meaning of Christmas. Annie enjoyed this book for many years.

The Jesse Tree: I found this book when looking for something a bit older than the Advent Storybook mentioned above. Annie still enjoys reading a story together each night of Advent, but she was ready for something a little more sophisticated. We have just started this book together but we are already enjoying it.

Jotham's Journey: By now you are probably thinking I didn't do any sort of Advent celebration until Annie came along, but not so! This is the book I read each Advent with my boys for several years. I have not pulled it out with Annie because honestly I think she would find it too scary. It's exciting! And full of adventure! And kinda nerve wracking at times! My boys loved it... Even when Jack thought he was too old for it, he would still always end up listening in as I read it to Timothy. It's almost like a kid's historical fiction novel that then ends up tying into the Nativity story.

And, finally... it nothing else....just consider lighting some Advent candles. Don't get too worried about having some sort of correct candle configuration, the candles are not the point. The point is to take a moment, slow down, breathe, pray,and remember what we are celebrating.

Some faith traditions use purple as the color of Advent, and some use royal blue. Again, it doesn't really matter that much. I decided several years ago to use glassybaby votives as my Advent wreath. It was a bit of a splurge and a gift to myself, but now I have them year after year and they never wear out.



The themes for each week of Advent can vary among faith traditions, but the ones I am most familiar with are:

1st Sunday- Hope (purple)
2nd Sunday- Peace (purple)
3rd Sunday- Joy (pink)
4th Sunday- Love (purple)
Christmas Eve/Christmas candle (white)

Honestly, you could light a simple white candle each night of Advent and call it good. Making space is not about creating new obligations and opportunities to feel guilty. If you only remember to light the candle once a week, then breathe in, breathe out, and be grateful for that one moment of peace in an otherwise hectic time of year.

Just make some space and listen for the words that have been waiting to be said.

Words that you may be hearing for the first time, or words that you have heard so many times you carry them in your soul.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned...

For to us a child is born, to 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.

Isaiah 9:2-6


Wishing you an abundance of hope, peace, joy and love this Advent season.

(P.S. If you have other Advent resources or traditions, I'd love to hear them!)