This Advent, I’ve been thinking about waiting. So many of the Advent readings reflect not just on Mary’s anticipation of the birth of Jesus, but also the the nation’s waiting for a political savior. We read of people’s waiting on a future where there will be justice, a righting of wrongs, and an end to sorrow.

I’ve been wondering where I’m waiting for the wrong thing. For years, I asked God to release me from the practice of medicine. Faithfully, daily, I begged God to let me stop being a doctor. The persistent widow had nothing on me. God said no. Persistently, daily, gently: No. Now, fifteen years on, I’m grateful for that No, but it was a long road to get here, and I spent much of it waiting on the wrong thing.

I look at the rising tide of racism in our country, the online bullying of a 16 year-old by the President of the United States, families losing access to food assistance, children fleeing violence and hunger in their home countries who think they’ve reached freedom only to be held in detention without access to medical care or education, and I want a political solution.

I walk alongside families whose loved ones are wasting away from cancer and chemo, or autoimmune diseases that ravage their bodies, and wonder When will there be healing? It can’t be wrong to ask and hope for physical healing, but when the answer is No, what then?

So I’m praying and contemplating this Advent. Wondering in which wrong places I have set my hope. Asking for God to open my eyes to where Hope is at work even now, even today, even in me. And I’m waiting for justice and healing, here and now. What are you waiting for?

An Evening for Refugees

A few weeks ago was the annual art show/fundraiser for the refugee organization we work with, Project Worthmore.

A few members of our refugee family came, and were happy to see some of their friends there. We got to introduce them to our friends, and to two of the artists in the art show, which thrilled them.

To me, the best part of the evening was hearing the story of how relationships, which are slow and messy and don’t have any shortcuts, make the differences in people’s lives.  With so much anti-refugee rhetoric being shouted from the political stage right now, it was inspiring to be with so many people who say, “Yes, you are welcome here.”

New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus (on the Statue of Liberty)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Cherishing our Baptism

Each of my daughters received a rose-bush for her baptism.  Moriah was baptized on All Saints’ Sunday (November 1), and I had a tiny tea rose-bush to keep alive all winter.  It was a lovely gesture, but that winter nearly killed it, between the too-sunny window in which I placed the rose, and the intermittent watering it received.  The next summer, things calmed down in my life, and I pruned it back a bit and planted it in the earth, where the watering was a little more frequent.  And how it grew!  Moriah’s baptism rose was the one plant we excluded from the sale of our house, and we transplanted it to the new house two years later, where it thrived in afternoon sun.


SweetP’s rose-bush was planted at the new (now old) house between two other, larger bushes.  In the spring it got plenty of light, but as the summer wore on, the larger bushes shaded it, and though it bloomed, it was hard to find them among all the green around it.  We sometimes forgot to look for its beauty and sweet fragrance.


Both bushes were excluded from this summer’s house sale, and I dug them up and put them in pots which now sit outside my mom’s house by her clematis bush.  Both roses died back, looking dead after the trauma of being dug up.  I know I badly damaged the root of Moriah’s bush– being so much larger than SweetP’s, the root was deep and fat and I couldn’t pull it out whole.  SweetP’s bush came back in September with full leaves, but the most Moriah’s rose has managed so far are two green trunks.  I pray those will sprout new growth in the spring. Winter is coming, and I will have to move them to the basement, because I think the pots are not going to be enough protection from December wind and cold.


My faith is so much like those two roses.  It started came as a gift, started very small, but put out fragrant blossoms almost from the beginning.  It depends not only on the soil around me, but on my tending it.  Nurturing it.  And as I know, the “worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” (Matt 13:22) so frequently choke the growth out of me.

When I water those roses and prune them, I pray for our faith.  For each of us,  that the gift of our faith, like the gifts of our baptism, will grow and produce a crop for the Kingdom.

Control, or Lack Thereof


We met with the contractor and got to walk through the house this week. It was so good to see a few ligaments on the bones. Most thrilling to me were the windows (the two on the left there were extras I added to the blueprint) in the living room and on the stairs. And the transom window (maybe it’s not even called that, I’m no architect) above the front door.  You know me: I need light.

The bad news: he confirmed that we absolutely will NOT be in the house before January. And most likely it will be the end of January when we move in. Poor Sam. He’s looking at an awful lot of driving…

The hard part for me is not being in control.

I am not in control.

I cannot make the house get built any quicker. I can’t make the stars align for our proposed trip in November. I can’t control the traffic patterns that change dramatically as the post-flood road repairs are being done.  I have no control over the interest rates, or when we get to lock in our final rate.  I am not in control.

That irks me. I am a planner and a fixer. I like to brainstorm and tweak and change and modify… until things are right. I’ve given up on just right— I’ll settle for good enough. And I can’t even manage to pull that off.

I think this lesson of control has been the fundamental lesson I have learned (and forgotten, and had to learn over again) in parenting. From our “mistimed” pregnancies, to our miscarriages, to my thoroughly researched and planned potty training that took two years to complete, the constant in my parenting has been that I am not in control.

I don’t think of it as Murphy’s Law, or Cosmic Revenge, but that God has a big plans, and his plan for me is that I will (someday, eventually) be a person who trusts him. Who is not a control freak. Who can walk in the dark, either because I am comfortable enough in the dark to wait until my eyes adjust, or because I hear his voice clearly enough to walk forward when I hear.

So I’m back to baby steps. I can’t control what next year or next month or next week looks like. Maybe I’ll just finish out this afternoon. I will enjoy the September light on the trees and trust that I don’t have to be in control.

God’s got this.