The dark side of Christmas

I love Christmas.

The glitz. The glitter. All the Christmas lights. IMG_3383.jpg

And I am so hooked on Hallmark Christmas movies.  Sure they’re mindless. But they are fun. I love Christmas programs at church especially when little kids pick their nose and point at their parents when they’re supposed to be singing Away in a Manger.

But, sometimes I dread it too. Not the nose picking of course. That’s hilarious!

What I’m talking about is sadness. A kind of aching that slowly comes over me when I  least expect it. I begin to really feel the loss of people in my life. My Dad. My grandparents. Cousins. Close friends.

I feel hardship more keenly and disappointment much more deeply. 

And yes, it makes me cry at the most inopportune  times.

Weird I know. I’ve been wondering for years what was wrong with me.

Maybe nothing at all.

Maybe whats going on is that I’m onto something big.

Like the true meaning of Christmas.

I think its found in 

  • Loss.
  • lonliness
  • Confusion

All the things you’re not supposed to feel during the most wonderful time of the year. But it happens. Emotions, like an avalanche can flatten you in no time.

So how in the world are you supposed to be all holly jolly? When your heart is breaking. When you can barely even breathe.

I think the first line of a Christmas song by Dallas Holmes says it all.

“To a world of fear and darkness

came a light as bright as day.”

  1. Fear.
  2. Darkness.
  3. And the light.

We all know fear up close and personal. And Simon and Garfunkel were not far off when they sang “hello darkness, my old friend”. Sometimes that’s all we have left when our hope fades away. 

But, what about the light? 

That’s what we long for. No need for bulbs and cords and sockets to plug it all in. 

We long for Jesus.

The light of a tiny, baby covered in afterbirth. Wrapped in someone’s spare clothes. Cooing in the soft hay of a feeding trough. Surrounded by sweaty shepherds and sheep and cows and donkeys and who knows what other animals.IMG_3258.jpg


God with us.

Thats the only we we survive the darkness. 

To know that God is with us. Always.

In our joy, in our suffering we are no longer alone. 



Don’t give up on yourself

“Don’t Give Up On Yourself.”

One email heading in my mailbox yesterday.  Five little words. But, what a big punch.


We all have dreams. We all have passions. It’s absolutely natural. In fact, it’s emotionally and spiritually healthy to have vision for the future. Dreams, goals and vision help us move from where we are to where we long to be.

It’s all good -until everything falls apart.


Financial set backs. Health problems. Unexpected disasters. Sometimes it’s just stupid mistakes or unwise decisions that throw all our hopes and  dreams into a tailspin.

We figure the best thing to do is to crawl into a hole somewhere and just disappear. Give up. Go home. Never dream again.

This mindset may sound drastic, but when you travel down enough dead ends, it makes perfect sense.

But, it’s not.

At the very epicentre of disappointment and disaster is a door. A battered framework that waits for us to enter. It’s not exactly The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe kind of stuff. But, it’s a surrender of the heart  that leads to growth and change of a magnitude that may have never been possible before our lives flipped upside down.

By now you may think I’m one of those people who 

  • wears tin foil hats to keep aliens from reading my thoughts.
  • grows armpit hair specifically for the weaving of magic baskets.

Both are interesting concepts. But, not true in my case. And, it’s not just because I look terrible in hats or that I am a mess when it comes to small motor skill challenges. 

It’s just that I know all about dead end streets. I’ve seen fragments of my hopes and dreams waft away like bits of dandelion fluff on the wind. I wanted so badly just to give up-

to cry

and cry

and cry

until my eyes puffed up like inflatable swim rings, my nose crusted over and every surface in the house was piled high with sticky globs of kleenex.

I know. Dramatic.

But, we all process in our own way. We all slip and slide down to the bottom of despair in our own individual and not always elegant style. 

But, the bottom is the same no matter how you land.

And believe it or not, the hope is the same.

God is in the darkness as well as the light.

And He often works out His glory in us through our crash-and-burns even more powerfully than in our own carefully crafted plans.

Back to crusty noses and piles of kleenex. After the waves of 



and disappointment,

there comes a calm. It may be many things. Exhaustion. Resignation. Our bodies telling us its time to just stop and breathe.

This is a good time, a very good time to ask yourself one question.

This mess, this disaster, this complicated collapse of all that we depended upon- what does it make possible?

It’s a question I first read on the Michael Hyatt blog a couple years ago. Ever since, God has used that one question to challenge me again and again and again.

What does all this crazy stuff that has happened to you make possible? What door does it open for God to perform a miracle? What unwanted stuff does it reveal that needs to change for healing to happen?


Don’t give up on yourself. God gives us dreams for a reason. Our job is to keep following those dreams with all that is within us. And when we hit a dead end, it’s God’s job to reshape, reposition and renew us by opening a new door.

When the dust clears, ask God – what does this make possible?

Death, Hell and the grave- who’s your daddy now?

My Dad was just like any other dad. A human being with an expiration date. A body that started winding down the moment he was born.

In fact, dad tested that expiration date two times before he died. He suffered two heart attacks.  During the second one his heart stopped completely.  Dad recalled looking down from the ceiling and wondering who the guy was on the gurney.

Then, dad slid away from the room. His spirit moved toward the most magnificent colours he had ever seen. Everything around him grew warm and vibrant. Dad knew he was coming into the presence of Jesus. Finally, my dad was heading home.


But, he stopped. Then turned away.

“My kids still need me,” he said.

Suddenly, Dad gasped for breath. Pain washed over him as medical professionals worked to save his life.

It was not his time to go.

When Dad’s time came years later, he was ready.

All because of the Resurrection.

Without the Resurrection Jesus was just another man with great ideas. Without the Resurrection, the Bible was just another volume of philosophy. Without the resurrection, nothing really changed in endless cycle of pain and suffering.

That is why I celebrate the tearing and ripping of death, hell and the grave. The stone rolling away from an empty tomb. Two women running with joy through the morning light to spread the news.

He is risen.

Absolutely, without a doubt, my dad’s in heaven.

All because of the Resurrection.


Dancing in the streets (with or without pumpkins)-under the influence of truth

I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again (like right now, duh)

You and me, each one of us is an incredible act of creation,  endlessly complex, biological and physiological miracle. We are nothing less than stunning reminders of God’s love. Each one of us a beautiful jumble of emotion and thought and dreams and hopes and endless possibilities. 


Think that’s pretty great news?

So why aren’t the lot of us flat out dancing in the streets? Why aren’t we doing all the crazy, meaningful things we were created to do? Why can’t we do the impossible like the kid trying to lift a too-heavy pumpkin over his head?

How did so many of us grow up to be so fearful, guarded and no fun to be around? 

It’s the lies.

Lies get us down. Make us blind. Angry. Pitiful. Ashamed of the very gifts we were given by our heavenly Father.

I know. I have been smacked down and flattened by so many lies I had to wear those cut out paper doll clothes for like three weeks. (just kidding, those things don’t come in my size lol!)

But, seriously, comments people make about me can stick like velcro. Conclusions I draw in moments of doubt can terrify.  Fears often cloud my vision and squeeze the joy right out of my heart. Not exactly a trip to Disneyland. 

Truth is –what we see doesn’t effect us as much as what we believe. Any crazy notion can rock our world as long as we think it is true.

Unfortunately, the unconditional love of almighty God ends up shimmering like a tree in the rain. In the raging storm of  doubt we aren’t sure if He ever there for us at all.

The good thing about God – He is truth.

His love is boundless. His mercy everlasting. His promises glorious and unbroken.

Yeah, I know, life is tough. We  get stressed out. Even freaked out. Let’s face it, sometimes we all just get just plain down and out.

I am telling you, there is another way to walk through the mess that life can be.

We can choose truth.  God’s truth.

How so?

  1. Know the truth. Learn it. Speak it. Get a hold of it first thing every day.
  2. Take out the trash. That’s right. Throw out the lies the minute they enter your head. Confront the lies you see around you with whats true, even if you just journal it down.
  3. Stand by what you know. Don’t let someone steal your truth with intimidation. Go ahead and celebrate it even if are alone. Don’t worry. Truth can stand on it’s own.
  4. Repeat number one over and over again.

Talk about it. Think about it. Even sing about it.

Trust me. God is truth. He will not us down.

Who knows?

We may end up dancing in the streets after all. 🙂

Smashing against the end of ourselves and other ways to fall apart

IMG_0723I’ve been thinking a lot about faith lately.

Don’t think I”m trying to be super spiritual. Fact is, hard times have forced me to it.

I usually just pray that trouble would fade away.  Problem solved. Life back to peachy-keen and mighty-fine. No rocking the boat, no upsetting the apple cart, no running blind in the dark.

But I have learned that, without struggles to remind us of who we are and what we need, we can end up with a severe case of spiritual dehydration. Our gratefulness can turn to pride and our compassion for other people crumble into dust.

Hard times push us until we smash against the end of ourselves. Force us to face our limitations. Embrace our need for God. Every day. All the time.

News Flash-

God is not out to destroy us. He loves us and wants to bless us. He hurts for us when we are in pain and He is present with us in our suffering.  


Every. Single. Minute. Of. Every. Day.

Hard times make us hungry. Thirsty. Desperate for God.

Sure, I am first to admit that our struggles can break us into a million little pieces.

But, It changes our vision. Our faith. We begin to see deeply into the suffering of others. We can speak healing into their lives with a power that only comes from brokenness.

Going through troubles increases our faith. The more we need God the more we seek him.

When I was a little girl, I used to run around like crazy all day pestering everyone on the planet. By bedtime, I was ready to pass out on the bottom bunk bed. I didn’t really think about my parents much before I went to sleep. If they had gone out for the rest of the night I would not have even noticed. Sleep, that was what mattered.

But one nightmare could change everything. I’d wake up terrified and run straight to Mom and Dad’s room. I had to see them. To feel their hugs. Hear their groggy voices.

I had to know that they were REALLY there.

When we come to the end of ourselves and all the things we depend on to keep us safe, we need to know that God is REALLY there.

Finding that God in the middle of the night will increase your faith. Hands down.

Maybe you going through some difficult times right now. Maybe its made you pray like crazy or you swear like a sailor. Maybe you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning or you can’t sleep at night.

When you are overwhelmed, you may not be able to do all you think you should do. Give yourself space just to do what you can. Here are a few simple things that may help.

  1. Move your body even if you don’t feel like it. Ha! I’ve been goaded by my kids to show off some of my crazy dance moves when I just didn’t even feel like smiling Funny thing, by the end of the song I was actually having fun. Stress can make your mind run a mile a minute.  Getting out and walking, running or doing what ever you do to move can actually elevate your mood. It clears your head and helps your heart stay strong.
  2. Share with someone safe. Talk to someone whose love and acceptance you trust. Saying out loud what you are thinking can defuse some of your greatest fears. It’s a way to sort out your thoughts. And it gives true friends get a chance to show you the grace that has been there for you all along.
  3. Write down what gives you hope. If God gives you insight through meditation, a conversation or what ever, write it down. Don’t be afraid to go back and read it again when you are struggling. Hope is meant for hard times.
  4. Eat your veggies. Sounds a little silly. But, as a sugar junkie, I know what stress can do to the everyday diet. And an unhealthy diet can drag you down, make you feel hopeless on top of everything else that is going on.
  5. Try not to let your feelings mess with your mind. The worst thing about going through hard times are the emotional ups and downs. The same emotions that make you cry over a lost little puppy can downright lie to you about your circumstances.  Whether your actions brought you to this point or your response to your circumstances have been pretty nasty, God loves you and wants to show you grace. Accept it. Embrace it. Allow yourself to be ok with where you are.

Whew, writing this blog really cleared my head and helped me see more clearly what God is doing in my life and the life of my family.

God is good. Even in the dark. Especially in the dark.


Because there is nothing like reaching out when you can’t see a thing and finding the creator of the universe right beside you.

Have a blessed week! And if you feel like you just can’t hold onto God through all that is happening. Take heart! He is holding on to you!

A Canadian American offers help for those dealing with Electoral Emotion Overload (it’s a real thing)

I’m a Canadian citizen but also a proud U.S citizen too. And even though I live across the border in beautiful British Columbia, I must admit that I am exhausted.

After 14,328 hours of

  • he said/she said,
  • 100 and 1 renditions of “ what is the world coming to?”
  • and a constant bombardment of “if you don’t vote for me…”

I’m feeling a little queasy.

Maybe you’ve been dancing in the streets.

After 8 years of Facebook-bashing the a leader you didn’t like you expect everyone to play nice and be happy for you.

Or maybe you’re duking out your disappointment in angry protests.  Or you woke up the day after feeling very, very afraid.

This election has been like NONE OTHER in the history of the USA.  It’s going to take a little while for things to settle down.

I personally felt like I was covered in a fine layer of everything that’s gone on for the last 597 days. You know the

  • rhetoric,
  • mudslinging
  • racial slurs
  • sexism
  • and grandiose promises

coming from either side of the political abyss.

I just wanted to shake it off (yeah, I know you’re going to hate it) Taylor Swift style.

I wasn’t just sure how to do that until this weekend. Then, I glanced up at a flyer on my fridge. It was a notice about a neighbourhood celebration. The flyer went on and on about road closures, parking bans and parade times for the Gurpurab Diwas-Nagar Kirtan celebration.

For the record, I live in a culturally diverse neighbourhood.

Walking the dog is a daily adventure. Exotic smells of foods being cooked. Elderly grandmas and grandpas in traditional dress walking pushing grandchildren in strollers.  Strains of mid-eastern music coming from white tents during wedding festivities.

But, I’ve never really walked the neighbourhood during religious celebrations.

So, I went and checked it out.

Best medicine for electoral emotion overload.

Perfect cure for campaign-rhetoric-induced distortion of what being human is all about.

As my mom, daughter and I strolled up the streets I took in the brilliant colours of traditional dress, tasted delectable dishes served from tents set up in various drive ways.


Trust me,  we were definitely a minority. But I felt very much at home.

You see, we all share the same neighbourhood. We walk the same streets. Love our children with the same passion and all of us carry hopes and dreams close to our hearts.

People are people. God’s creations. Fellow human beings.

When the posturing of political parties is done, what matters is the kindness expressed to strangers, forgiveness extended to those who have offended, every act of selfless courage, every human bond that transcends race, colour and creed.

America will be truly great when God’s goodness is seen in the lives of ordinary citizens   every single day.

We are neighbours. All of us. From sea to shining sea.

God on Vacation- how to know when you don’t need Him anymore


If you measure me in song years, I’m pretty old.

For example, I remember singing about death and dying and the glory of God from the time I could formulate a sentence. Every Sunday my siblings and I mumbled out lyrics such as

“I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away…when I die, Hallelujah…”

while mom banged on the piano keys at the front of the church. That was my childhood set to music. Waiting for the world to end.

When we sang A Mighty Fortress is Our God, we sang




That meant singing stuff like

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,

No wonder I spent Sunday afternoon contemplating my mortality instead of riding my bike. Life was short. My existence OBVIOUSLY very fragile. And the eternal unknown right around the corner. 


It wasn’t until I was older, that I gained perspective. Sure, life was fragile. But God was constant. He would never let us drift into nothingness or suffer alone. I could depend on him every single day, until my dying breath.

Was I finally becoming wiser?

Not so much.

After decades of depending on God, I became anxious.

No more take-my-life-and-let-it-be stuff. Even praise songs such as Ten Thousand Reasons or Good, Good Father didn’t move me.

I needed something more.

Like owning my own home.

As I hit middle age I felt guilty that I had not contributed enough to the family income so that we could own our own home. I began to explore “what if” like what if we had inherited a small down payment or had been at the right moment at the right time for some incredible deal.

I admit it. Owning a home became a symbol of security for me. The golden payoff. The end goal.

God could take a long, long vacation. Why? Because we wouldn’t need Him anymore.

Fact is, we still rent. We still have to depend on God day after day after day. But, is that so bad? Not owning a home? Facing challenges? Loss? Struggles?

I realize now that needing God is not a weakness as much as it is an opportunity to cling to him in childlike faith.

I guess that ‘s the bottom line.

There is NOTHING wrong with owning a home, getting married, having kids, a great career, dreaming that big dream and watching it come true. But, if it takes the place of God we are in trouble.

Big trouble.

God is the one who holds eternity in his hands. Our future. Our ever lasting home. Our job is to trust Him more and more each day. I love the way the song Oceans expresses our faith in God-

you call me out upon the waters,

the great alone where feet may fail

And there I find you in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand.


Our deepest needs call us to deepest truths.  Our greatest desperation can begin a journey of discovery into the  mysteries of faith.

We will always need God. And He will always be there.

No matter what.