What if all is not well at Christmas?

Can I give you permission today, dear reader?

Sometimes permission is what we’re looking for.

Permission to stop.

Permission to do less.

Permission to not have a perfect Christmas.

After all, the first Christmas was far from perfect.

Things were far from well in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. There were no epidurals. No postpartum care. No layettes or pacifiers or lactation consultants or swings that would rock a crying baby when arms are plum wore out.

There was fear of a baby-killing king, life on the run, ostracization from people who didn’t understand that you really were a virgin when you conceived, and that Joseph really was a decent man.

More than that, the infant you carry in a sling next to your heart was not the sort of Messiah people were looking for. Sure, the angel appeared and told you not to fear, but what’s not to fear about a fragile newborn who has nothing to give but cries?

Maybe you have nothing to give but tears this year, either, dear reader.

Or maybe your arms are plum wore out from holding everyone else up but yourself.

And maybe, that’s right where you’re supposed to be.

Worn out, wrung out, and in need of the only One who can help you up.

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We know how the story turned out. The infant grew in wisdom and stature and was nailed to a tree and bled and died and rose again. The Emmanuel who reduced Himself to  human form came then, and He has never left us since.

He didn’t fix the mess, but He made a way to fix our hearts.

The world is still broken in pieces, but He made a way to put us back together.

Life still hurts, but He hurts with us.

All is well, not because life is tied up neat and pretty with a big red, velvet bow, but because we have a Savior who makes a way for us to find joy in the midst and who never leaves us alone.

I think that’s why Emmanuel is my favorite word at Christmastime, and all year round.

He is here.

That’s why you can let go of the pressure to buy more gifts or send more cards or spend more money. That’s why it’s okay to feel weary and raw and avoid the malls and the parties and the loud and the noise. (It’s okay to do all that, too, of course, if you enjoy it. But for a lot of folks, a season of fullness is a reminder of all that’s been lost.)

You can stop.

You can do less.

You don’t have to have a perfect Christmas.

Find a place where you can click on and listen to the song below, All is Well.

And know that you are well because of Emmanuel, in spite of the chaos all around you.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9

Day 22 in the #25daysofgood countdown

I’m so grateful to have not one but two careers I love. Writing and nursing.

Helping people heal is my good for today, as it has been for more than two decades. 

What I’ve realized in these years is that we’re all more alike than different, that no one wants to be in pain, that we all cling to life when it is threatened, that everyone gets scared when they can’t breathe, that each of us wants the places in us that are oozing to be covered.

Thank the Lord for medicine, for technology, for research, for doctors and housekeepers and everyone in between who make our health system work, and who do good every day.

Hope.

Healing.

Good.

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24 (ESV)

What’s YOUR good today?

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🔎 Find the good.

📸 Snap a picture.

📲 Share it on social media.

#25daysofgood

A time to speak…

It’s an ugly time to be an American.

In many ways we are experiencing what our society at large has asked for…

…no consequences…

…no shame…

…no truth…

All the “free love” of the 60’s is now the cheap love of today, and if you ask me, we deserve to be slogging through the pig sty we’ve made of our spacious-sky country.

While I make it a point to steer clear of online political commentary, we all have our breaking points. I can’t be silent any longer, because in my humble opinion, these two presidential nominees are both abominations. One stands by and enables a pedophile and rapist. The other speaks words that tear and dehumanize the most precious and sacred parts of a woman.

My first novel, How Sweet the Sound, is a modern day re-telling of the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. Tamar was raped by her half brother. Her father, King David, did nothing. And Tamar spent the rest of her life ostracized, condemned, untouchable.

Not much different from the way sexual sin plays out today.

On the one hand in Tamar’s story (and that of the character Comfort Harlan in my novel), there’s the act of the rape/incest itself.

On the other, there’s the silence, the refusal to acknowledge the lifelong devastation of rape and incest, and the refusal to stand up and speak out against it as well.

As a survivor with years of healing work behind me, I struggle to this day to know which is worse.

Today, my heart breaks for my country, which is so broken, so annhilated by sexual and moral sin, we are now faced with our current leadership predicament.

This is what happens when people do and say nothing about power hungry people who hurt the small and voiceless.

This is what happens when people are more concerned with saving face than with the life of another human being.

This is what happens when all we value is what feels good and we no longer care about what is right and what is good and what is true.

I have spent over a decade speaking and writing to survivors of sexual assault, rape, incest and molestation. I have spent over a decade watching the tears run down the faces of women, beautiful, precious women, who have had the parts of them created to love trampled by people who use them for macabre prowess, for humor, for sport. And I have spent my whole life dealing with the lingering effects of that abuse, too.

I’m not writing today with political answers.

After all, that’s not where the answers are.

The answers are in the hearts of good men and women who, rather than remain silent, choose to stand with survivors and speak out…

…in the voices of brave hearts who say loud and clear that at the very least, sexual innuendo, misconduct, disrespect are wrong, and that we will not tolerate a culture of rape, sexual abuse, molestation and incest in our world, our country, our states, our neighborhoods, our churches, and yes, even and especially in our homes…

…in the arms of those who will embrace survivors and say to them, “I believe you. I see you. You matter. You can heal. And you are beloved…”

…and in the healing grace of God.

I’m so tired of this season in our country.

While I don’t have political answers, I do have prayer.

And I have hope.

How Sweet the Sound is set on a pecan farm in southeastern Alabama. As Comfort says,

“Even as the pecans drop all around the trees, I am sure there will be a spring–sure as I am that the branches will once again display the splendor of their journey through rock-laden soil and torrents of storms because of the beckoning sun. Because of the rains that soak them. Because of the hands that turn the soil.”

 

The only political stand I am taking is that both of these candidates are sick and wrong.

The only thing I endorse today is freedom for survivors held captive by the groping hands, the words, and the silence of twisted people who were supposed to be trustworthy.

The purpose of this post today is to SPEAK  for those who feel they cannot. 

As a nation and as individuals, we can stay in the pig sty we’ve made for ourselves, or we can leave the muck behind us and run toward goodness and grace.

May November come and go swiftly.

And may the Lord have mercy on us all.