Expect the Unexpected

Expect the Unexpected

O, Holy Night. That’s how the part of His story that we’re celebrating these days began. We think about the Little Town of Bethlehem, the Silent Night, and that precious little bundle tucked Away In A Manger.

When kings come? They come with pomp and ceremony and excitement and fanfare. But the King of Kings? He chooses a quiet night to let His glory be revealed — not to princes, but to paupers. He chooses a tiny town that didn’t have a glorious history or inspirational curb appeal.

He chooses a very young woman from an ordinary family. An earthly father that will typically avoid making a scene.

If you’re looking, you may find glimpses of this King in places you don’t expect this season (and all year long.)

God’s Love shows up in unexpected places.


We sat down together on the couch last night, children long gone to bed, and we both almost simultaneously said we felt like Monday had punched us in the face.

We laughed and took a deep breath, sat for a while, and there in the quiet, one little email with one little bit of very good news — that was enough, and it was a gift, and it was Love in perfect timing.

It’s December, but I’m still breathing gratitude.

If God’s Love shows up in unexpected places, then we His people should be showing His Love in unexpected places, too. This is a great season for asking yourself how you can love. How can you love the least of these? How can you show up in someone’s little quiet, forgotten Bethlehem of a life to share God’s love?

Do what you can to shush the hustle bustle — get quiet, listen and you might hear the voice of God whispering out: names, places, ideas for you, ways for you to love.

Expect the unexpected. It seems the King of Kings wouldn’t have it any other way.


Expect the Unexpected

Oh Come, and See the Light

When it’s nighttime round our house, and one of us grown-ups needs to sneak to the kitchen for the glass of water we forgot, the door we needed to lock, or the dishwasher that needs to start humming, we don’t switch on the lights. We use our phones as flashlights and scurry through the darkness, hoping to avoid waking any sleeping children by sending shards of bright light shining underneath their doorways.

The other night on the way back to the bedroom from a flashlight adventure, I glanced out a window pane of the backdoor and just caught the faintest glimpse of a star in the sky. I brought my face close to the window pane, furrowed my brow and stared up to see what I might see, but I struggled to see anything.

Finally I realized the light from my flashlight was too bright. Once I’d fumbled to switch it off, the stars were aglow in the sky. I smiled up, not at just one, but the dozens that I could see with my face close to the window pane, just in that small space where the tall North Carolina trees weren’t blocking the sky from my view.

I marveled for a moment that I had to turn out the wrong light in order to see the right one. My heart whispered thankful to the Lord. He helps us see the light.



Before the hubs and I head on a photography adventure, we often pray, among many things, one specific thing: “Lord, help us see the light.” When you learn to see the light, when you learn to recognize what it does when it streams in through a window, or spills across a subject’s face, or rim lights them all around from behind, or creates gorgeous rays of sun flare that light up an image so glorious — when you learn to see that light, you are able to create so much beauty, and the possibilities are limitless.

Lord, help us see the light.

We’re entering a season with so many lights. Bright glaring ones begging our attention to this sale or that event or this is how they are doing it, shouldn’t we, too?

But the focus of the wise men on a single star brought them on the journey where they found the manger.

Meanwhile, the host of heaven must have lit up the sky when they sang to the shepherds that night in the field. How did all of Bethlehem not see it? Do we sometimes miss it?

There are so many lights this season, it’s true, but there’s just one light we really need to see.

We pray to the see the light because of how it helps us to see everything else. Even helps our cameras to see everything else.

The reason we need to see the right Light is that by that Light we can properly see everything else.

The advent season has begun, and here we simultaneously celebrate the Light of the World’s first coming, and we await His return.

In the deepest places of your soul, this is the perfect time to quiet down, to look, and to listen. Look for the Light this season. See God revealing Himself in a thousand small ways each day. Don’t stop giving thanks because the calendar no longer says November. Remember He holds you together and gives every breath.

Listen for the God-whisper: this is the greatest love story ever told. He has come, shined a light so bright a world of darkness couldn’t crush it. And — we are not without hope, the small word with big meaning behind the lighting of the first advent candle — we are not without hope, friends.

He is God with us, the God who dwells in us, and the God who will come again.

Keep looking, and you’ll see the Light.



I’m looking forward to reflecting and savouring this Advent season with you. I’d love to humbly invite you to subscribe via email and to ‘like’ this little space to follow along. Oh Come, Let Us Adore Him, together.

The Christmas Story: Oh Night, Divine

Hi guys and gals! As we count down the days to Christmas, I’m looking forward to writing about The Christmas Story. Not “A Christmas Story” with Ralphie in the bunny pajamas, although I love that movie, but The Christmas Story, the coming of the long-awaited Messiah nearly two thousand years ago. 

But first, I need to ask your forgiveness for my delay in picking a winner for the {Minted} Giveaway! We were traveling back from Thanksgiving in Atlanta and it totally fell off my radar! So, powered by Rafflecopter and Random.org, here is the randomly-selected winner of $50 at Minted:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations, Debbie!!! I’ll be emailing you the details so you can head over to Minted and enjoy choosing something from their beautiful collection!

And a big thank you to all who entered! I hope you enjoyed checking out the unique stuff on Minted’s site and please keep dropping by, I think we’ll have another giveaway soon! Now on to The Christmas Story…


It’s funny that the stories of each of my small people’s births start in the night, or perhaps, more specifically, the early wee hours of the morning when it’s still dark. The Bear’s marathon labor all began with my water breaking very early one morning, and the Belle’s sprinting arrival jumpstarted with contractions around three or four AM.

Most especially our darling Tank was a late night arrival — and we were so grateful. The empty streets at 2 am were what allowed us to rush to the hospital, and what made it possible for me to give birth in the hospital instead of in the car on the way to the hospital, which seemed like it was going to be the case.

It was strange to consider: while the world around us was sleeping, this big event had taken place. Our friends and family would wake up to hear the news: the six-days-overdue little Tiger of ours, or the Bear who arrived exactly on his due date, or the Belle who definitely took her time and then made haste, each finally made their lovely appearance.

Luke’s account of the Birth of Jesus tells us that He made a similar appearance, that while they were in for the census, “the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Next, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” And to them, the angels appeared, declaring the Good News of the arrival of the Messiah, the Lord.

It is worth stopping to wonder — why was Jesus born at night? Why not during the day where more people might’ve been awake to hear the news or see the angels?

Perhaps it was partly for His own protection — knowing there was a King waiting to find this very child and put an end to the beginning of the change of history forever. The less people who knew about the Christ’s arrival — in this fragile, early stage — the better.

Perhaps it was protective for Mary and Joseph as well — the animals in the stall serving as the only witnesses to this miracle-made-flesh.

I wonder if it wasn’t also for you, and for me, too.


Jesus was born at night and it’s easy to notice the symbolism. The stage was set on one dark and Holy Night for the Light of the World to arrive into a world of darkness. A world that deeply and desperately needed a Savior.

Many of us would say these are dark days — we fear the decisions of our governments, we see children starving halfway around the world or around the corner, we watch the news of how 10,000 people can lose their lives in a single day, due to a single Super-Storm crashing onto their shores.

But those days were dark, too. The people of Israel waited, desperate for a Messiah to deliver them from political oppression. On the throne sat a king willing to wipe out a giant mass of baby boys in order to secure his place of power.

The Light of the World didn’t just arrive into the literal darkness of night. He also appeared on the scene of a dark night of the collective souls of the people He would deliver.

And the truth is right there: He didn’t just set the stage for the greatest life ever lived. He set a pattern for how He first operated, and how He continues to operate.

Jesus arrives in the dark night of the soul. He arrives in the dark places where we see no hope, we see no way out.

He brings His powerful presence into the situation. And though we might not at first perceive that He has arrived, or that He is at work, yet things have absolutely changed forever — already.

He arrived, with Presence, as I sat on the floor of a hotel room on one of the darkest nights of my soul — knowing that, short of a miracle, the loss of my Dad was imminent. His Presence didn’t immediately change the reality of the situation, 2,000 years ago or seven months ago.

But His arrival was a sign of Hope that brought great Peace. Like a voice declaring:

Behold — deliverance is at hand. Fall on your knees, oh, hear the angel voices.

Something spectacular is taking place.

Perhaps that first arrival is also an important foreshadowing of the second: one glorious day, He will come again. On that occasion there will be no mistaking Who is making an appearance. And everything will be set right for all eternity.

But for now, let’s not miss the meaning of that great Light, arriving in the darkness.

Remember, dear ones, when you are in the midst of a dark night of the soul, when you’re in a dark place, the stage is set for His arrival. Turn your gaze ever so slightly — like a shepherd looking up at the sky at night — and I trust you’ll get a sense of the One who can bring Peace into every situation, the One who is always with us.

The One the named God With Us.

He was with us, in the dark, long ago, and — glory, glory, absolutely Hallelujah — He still is.



Whole Foods Holiday: Food for Thought {and Chocolate Cookies}

Hi e’dybody (as the Bear would say), my friend Eve is sharing a wonderful Whole Foods Holiday guest post today! She is super. I’ve made you wait long enough for this edition of the Whole Foods Holiday posts…so without further ado…

Born Up a Tree!


Food for Thought

When I was pregnant the first time, I have to admit that I didn’t eat very well. Maybe I should say that I ate really well, but I just didn’t make good choices about what I ate. I gained 50 pounds and had a 6 pound 13 ounce baby. I nursed my bundle of joy and when it came time to feed him solid food, a light came on for me. Would I feed him the same things I had been eating? Um, NO.

I tediously made all of his baby food- it was easy by the way. Recipes are easy to find and as long as you have a food processor and a freezer, you are good to go. Since I am a full time mom and have a full time job, it took a lot of planning and a lot of cooking on the weekends. Out of desperation one evening because of a busy weekend, I stopped at the store and picked up some baby food in jars. All I had to do was open them, take a whiff, and I knew that I was not feeding that to my child.

As my son grew, I realized he was an extremely picky eater. I am blessed that my son is not allergic to any foods, and we do not have any behavioral or developmental issues that require special diets. I know lots of people who have to put lots of love and care into meals because of special dietary needs- and I admire you. But he is still a picky eater, which also requires love, care, and patience with every meal.

Since I do have to balance my workload with my mother load, my son goes to a great Christian pre-school/day care that I dearly love. They feed him, but it is certainly not what I would feed him at home. At home we eat as many whole foods as possible- potatoes (usually sweet), rice, whole grains, whole fresh or frozen veggies, whole fruit, and whole meats.

And when I say whole, I simply mean not processed and with no added ingredients. If I buy something that has a label, I make sure that there is nothing on there that I can not pronounce or anything artificial. I firmly believe that this whole food is what my Creator created me to eat. I can’t afford to purchase all organic foods. So I do the best I can with what is available in my rural community. Fortunately, there are lots of natural and non-processed options to choose from.

It takes some creativity to not eat the same thing every day. Especially with a picky four year old. We have some favorites that we rotate through that my child loves to eat and I feel good about feeding him.

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One favorite is something we call Chocolate Cookies, for lack of a better term. The ingredients are simple- and you can use organic or conventional products.

Recipe for Chocolate Cookies

2 ½ cups rolled oats (old fashioned Quaker Oats work fine)

½ cup cocoa (dark cocoa is a bit healthier)

½ cup milled flax seed (in the baking aisle near the flour)

½ cup wheat germ (near the cereal)

½ cup honey

½ cup peanut butter

about 1 cup HOT water (hot as you can get it from the tap)

Optional: for a little extra protein boost, add 1 tsp Spirulina Powder, available at health food stores)

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Mix all the ingredients except the honey, peanut butter, and water until well blended.

Add the honey, peanut butter, and water (a little at the time), and stir until the “batter” is the consistency of mashed potatoes, with everything mixed well.

On wax paper, pat the cookies out by hand into patties about the size of a small hamburger.

Using wax paper between the cookies, store in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 6 hours before you eat them- they will firm up.

This recipe makes about 8 cookies and will keep for a week or more in the fridge, but at my house I have to make them twice a week.

Don’t be fooled by the appearance- they do NOT taste like the no-bake-oatmeal-peanut butter-sugar-cookies that you may remember from your childhood. The texture and flavor is very earthy, due to the flax seed and wheat germ. My son has eaten these since he was old enough to hold them in his hand. You can tell by the pictures that he enjoys eating them, but they are a little messy. He loves them for breakfast, and sometimes for a quick snack.


If you would like some more ideas on how to add more whole foods to your families meals, I will be happy to share. Send me an email at ehhoneyc@gmail.com.


Thanks so much for sharing with us, Eve! That was definitely some good food for thought for me — and I’m hoping to make “Chocolate Cookies” with the Bear soon!

We might have one or two more Whole Foods Holiday posts on the way, but in the meantime, do you have something to share? Just add a link to the link below if you have a Whole Foods Post or Recipe somewhere else on the net that you’d like to share!


Tis the Season: For His Presence

There are a lot of things I love about the Christmas season. Like the twinkly lights, chilly weather (when we’re in the northern hemisphere), happy smiley faces at shopping malls, pretty window displays, and treats that combine the magic of chocolate and peppermint or chocolate and pretzels…well basically chocolate and anything.

But what I want my heart to be about in this season has nothing to do with a lot of that, and I think a few years of being halfway around the world at Christmas created some opportunities for helping my heart to learn to focus on the real meaning of the season.

I still love the trees…


And look forward to eyes lighting up at new toys like they have in years past…


And I will most certainly treasure a new set of eyes taking in all the sparkle and twinkle for the first time…


But as I was reading in Exodus yesterday and today, I was reminded of what really distinguishes the people of God as the people of God: His presence. We celebrate Christmas because Christ has come. And we celebrate the fact that because He has come, He is present with us, dwelling in our hearts, directing our steps, and changing the world through us.

In Exodus 33, Moses was kind of at his wit’s end. He was up on Mt. Sinai for forty days receiving the commands of God, and everybody got sort of “impatient” waiting for him…and then things got ‘rowdy’ and ridiculously out of hand.

They’d basically decided “Forget Moses…he’s been gone a long time and who knows what happened to him? Let’s find a new god to worship, and have a par-tay!”

Moses and the Lord had a long chat about this unfortunate situation, and God decided He would still give the people the land He promised them, but He wasn’t going to be with them when they went to inherit it. I think He was so mad He thought He’d just wipe them off the face of the earth if He spent any more time with them.

Moses was distraught.

He said to the Lord, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”

Translation? “I’d rather be in the wilderness with God, than in the best land on Earth without Him.”

The Lord had given other people groups land. The Lord had blessed other people groups with promises. But the covenant sign that Moses was seeking was the mark of God’s presence in the lives of His people. If You aren’t going with us… I don’t wanna go!

Eventually Moses found grace in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord promised to go with them. And as the story continues in Exodus 34, we see a hint of what Moses seemed to already know: that being in the presence of God is unmistakable and incredible.

When Moses returns to talk to the people, after speaking with God, his face and skin literally shines so much they have to put a veil over him.

The presence Moses was after was more valuable to him than the present – the gift of a Promised Land.


There is unmistakable, incredible power in God’s presence, and when we get into it, it marks our lives and sets us apart as the people of God.

Life-changing, transformational stuff happens in the presence of God that won’t happen anywhere else.

So this Christmas season, I am still enjoying the things that make my heart a little happier and my step a little lighter, but more than that, I want to celebrate Emmanuel — the God with us, who came so that we, like Moses, could find grace in the presence of God, and be transformed.

Lord, help us, like Moses, to focus less on the presents and more on the Presence. You came to give us abundant life — help us to receive it, and give our lives back to you.

Tis the Season for a lot of things…but for His Presence most of all!


–adapted from the archives