We are each “formed to be a spectator of the created world – and given eyes that [we] might be led to its Author by so beautiful a representation.”

–John Calvin


It was a sunny fall Friday back in the days when I still had a jogging stroller because I still had toddler twins. I loaded said stroller and all four of my children into the sofa-mobile, and we headed to a nearby hundred-acre park for an in-city nature walk.

We parked at the trailhead behind a strip mall and walked along the dirt-and-gravel path that followed Piper’s Creek through Piper’s Canyon. (“Canyon” sounds impressive, like something the Rio Grande carved out of the Arizona desert. This canyon is modest, its forty-foot high slopes covered with vine maples and cedars, Douglas firs and red alder.) Leaves lay scattered on the trail and glowed gold and red, orange and yellow on the trees. Lovely fall flowers dotted the borders of the trail. Birds trilled in the trees. The creek burbled just out of sight in the vine maples and mahonia.

My eight-year-old son found a fallen log that traversed the creek. He scrambled onto it and walked across. His five-year-old sister sat on the log and waited for him.

About midway between the trailhead and the beach, we came upon a sunny slope planted with apple trees, an abandoned orchard that had been lovingly restored over the past decade. We tasted the windfall apples that littered the side of the trail and decided they were better for cider or sauce than eating raw.
On one of the bridges that crossed the creek, my older kids played Pooh-sticks, the game invented by Winnie-the-Pooh when he was sitting on a bridge one sunny day much like this one. Jack and Jane each chose a stick and on the count of three dropped their sticks off the bridge into the creek….

You can read the rest of this post at Kindred Mom, a new online resource for flourishing in motherhood, started by my friend Emily Allen. I hope you’ll hop over and check it out!

Writings of Late

Dear Friends,

Though it’s been months since my last post, I have not taken a break from writing, only from writing on my blog. In the past few weeks, I’ve had three pieces published on other websites, and I wanted to let you know about them.

First, an essay (or perhaps a parable?) about sourdough and wild yeast for Grace Table.

Second, an essay on spiritual sight and blindness, with a dipperful of poetry for good measure, over at The Cultivating Project. (If you only read one of these essays, read this one.)

Third, a reflection on Candlemas over at Velvet Ashes.

Finally, in the coming months, there will be some (I hope) significant changes round here. I’ll keep you apprised as I start rolling them out. For now, I would simply ask you to keep me in your prayers as I strike out in new (to me) directions.

With much gratitude,


This photo of my youngest is one of my very favorites—his joy over the lighting of the Advent candle is infectious! It’s not Advent yet, but soon, soon.

This coming Sunday, November 20, is the final Sunday of the church year, on which we celebrate Christ the King, eternal Lord of all. It is a day of looking forward to the return of our King at the end of history and a hopeful reminder (especially in this election year when far too many of us have staked our hopes on temporal government) that Christ is, even now, Lord of heaven and earth.

The following Sunday, November 27, is the first Sunday of Advent and of a new church year, and so we go back to the beginning of the Gospels and await the coming of Immanuel, God-with-us. But we wait as people who know the end of the story. We wait with the words of John in Revelation: “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Though I love all the church’s seasons, Advent is perhaps my favorite. I have more resources for it than for all the other seasons combined! I share with you a few in the hope that they will help make your Advent preparations more mindful and more meaningful.

First, a bit of embarrassed self-promotion: my book on the church year, The Circle of Seasons is now available on Kindle. I also have a dwindling number of paperback copies available; just shoot me an email if you want one. They’re $12 each (including shipping to a U.S. address).

Second, my friend Kris Camealy has written a book of Advent devotions, Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting, which are rich in Scripture and speak again and again that ancient cry of the church, “Come, Lord Jesus,” calling us to wait with hopeful, joyful expectation of God’s tabernacling with us.

Third, Malcolm Guite’s Waiting on the Word was my companion through Advent and Christmas last year—a poem a day to keep beauty and truth and the wonder of Incarnation before my eyes. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Fourth, a Jesse Tree devotional, written by yours truly and illustrated by 40 different artists, ages 3 to 83, from my church, Bethany Presbyterian, in Seattle. There’s a devotion for each day of Advent and Christmas. It’s free through December 1.

Fifth, if you’re looking for good books to read with your littles (or not-so littles) this season, to help all of you prepare your hearts for Christmas, here’s are a few of our family’s favorites (as in, we read them every year):

Picture Books

The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Berger (the illustrations are rich and full of Christian symbols)

Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, illus. Barbara Cooney (Cooney’s simple four-color illustrations are a perfect complement to the simple, sweet rhyme by the author of Goodnight Moon; )

One Winter’s Night by John Herman, illus. Leo and Diane Dillon (a sweet story about a lost cow finding shelter in the same barn as Mary and Joseph; one of the few with a Holy Family that doesn’t look Anglo.)

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck, illus. Mark Buehner (one of my very favorites; don’t miss this!)

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, illus. P.J. Lynch (another of my very, very favorites; a desert island Christmas book for sure!)

The Witness by Robert Westall, illus. Sophy Williams (a retelling of the Christmas story from the point of view of a barn cat, it definitely takes some liberties with the Biblical text, particularly the character of Joseph, but we enjoy it anyway.)

Chapter Books 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (laugh out loud funny—especially if you’ve never read it before!)

One Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham, illus. Richard Jesse Watson (the whole Biblical story from Creation through Fall to Redemption, and the illustrations [like the one above, of the angel guarding Eden] are gorgeous!)

A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy (I adore this story of hope and restoration)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, illus. P.J. Lynch (there are other good illustrated versions, but we love Lynch’s)

And finally, if you only read one Advent meditation this season, let it be this beautiful post by Lanier Ivester, a paean of praise sparked by the flight of sandhill cranes. I’ve read it every year for the past four years (and even posted it with Lanier’s permission on my blog last year because I love it that much) and every time, it quickens my heart with joy and longing, thickens my throat with tears even as I whisper a broken, heartfelt, Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

A blessed Advent to you all. May you pause in the midst of the holiday preparations to watch the beauty and glory of ordinary life unfold—this life that God the Son came to share, to save, and to redeem.


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