Advent. The attempt to slow. things. down. just as the insane Christmas season is ramping up. Why does the month of December always seem to go at warp speed till Christmas?

In committing to focus on slowing down and be more intentional about how I spend my time, I entered Advent season as I typically do with new beginnings: with a list. Of rules. These things I’ll do, these things I’ll refrain from doing.

Advent devotional to read with Tim. Advent devotional to read by myself. Advent cards to go over twice daily with Annelise. Go through the Daily Office every day for Morning Prayer. Compline with Tim? Light the advent wreath. Buy all Christmas presents early. Have great Christmas music playing in the background 24/7. Invite people over for dinner. Really make sure Annelise gets the Christmas story (hi, shes 2). Restart the gratitude journal. Start a new book on hoopla: Emily P. Freeman’s Simply Tuesday but the narrator sure talks slow – can we speed up her voice? I miraculously refrained, using even this as a discipline.

With my headphones on, we went out for a walk.

And saw this:

You know those times where nature is just gorgeous and you can’t help but just. slow. down. and maybe even stop and maybe even take a deep breath and maybe even snap a photo to remind yourself for later that life is really, actually, good?

Then when Tim got home from work we took a little walk to the school playground near our house, and I looked up and saw this:

As my Aunt Catherine said,when pointing at the gorgeous sky, “it’s like the WHOLE WORLD! Right there!” Those moments we’re reminded how small we are and how great it is to be alive and how many sunsets have I missed when I’m scurrying around the house instead of taking a little break to play on the playground.

I’m searching for this balance, I’m veering away from the rat race, I’m snapping those photos because my memory is pretty foggy these days, and I’m whittling down that ironically long to do list as I keep up the fight to simplify and be present.

How’s your advent going thus far?

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

-from To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue

make your soul see good

“It isn’t the great big pleasures that count the most;
it’s making a great deal out of the little ones.” ~ Jean Webster

Y’all. I’m slowly coming out of a place of feeling dull and apathetic about many things. Jen Hatmaker calls it “the doldrums” in her Of Mess and Moxie book and that’s a great term. Not straight up depressed, but just a numbness of sorts that has had me all, “Meh, why do we bother with pursuing a career when we’re all going to die anyway?” and “Meh, what’s the point of all this effort?” and “Meh, whatever, Whole30, you’re not the boss of me I eat what I want” and “COME ON! Another horrific storm, murderous earthquake, maniacal terrorist attack – what’s the point, Lord?!” Lighthearted stuff, I know.

I’ve been wrestling with being content in this SAHM phase. A dear friend mentioned a sermon on Ecclesiastes that I should check out, but after a mediocre search on my podcast app came up empty, I decided to just start reading the book, one which I’ve always avoided because Solomon seemed like such a Debbie Downer with his all-are-from-dust-and-to-dust-all-return negativity. Ahem.

Solomon, y’all. He had it all in terms of wisdom and riches. He too wrestled with finding what the aim of life is, and concluded all our best efforts are but a vapor – a breath – here for a second and then gone. He had pretty much all the resources ever for this grand experiment – he built houses, planted vineyards and parks, had tons of livestock, drank all the wine, bought slaves and had concubines (well ok then)… he tried all sorts of ways to find happiness, but after it all he determined that everything is “vanity,” a vapor, a mere breath.


He concludes that “there is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil (work)” (Ecc. 2:24a). This meaning of “find enjoyment” is also translated “make his soul see good.”

Make your soul see good.

AHA! THAT is what it is to “find enjoyment” in life. Joy/enjoyment isn’t some passive phenomenon where my ship comes in, happening upon a magical system to help me lose 10 pounds or getting a check in the mail for $5 million dollars or that magazine-worthy lake house or 15 BFFs from college on that annul fancy trip or being a National Geographic photographer assigned to epic locations or instantly earning a massive following on this blog and being famous because I’m so dang clever….NO. It is making a conscious decision, choosing, for my soul to see the good in my life. That’s it.

Maybe that looks like gratitude for little things. Like when Annelise and I were crawling up the stairs this morning. I was singing a silly song and when it was over, she stopped, turned to me, and started enthusiastically clapping as a huge grin spread across her sweet face. Be still my heart. Or what is it with all these crepe myrtle tree branches sagging with lush, gorgeous, vibrant flowers throughout our neighborhood AND IN OUR FRONT YARD?

It seems pretty counter-cultural, this searching for good in the here and now. How many industries would crumble if we were more content with where we are, what we have? Something I’ll be exploring more in posts to come.

gratitude turns what we have into enough

wonder, full

Last night I made the pilgrimage to Central Market to stock up on carefully inventoried Whole30 fare, basking in the luxury of an unrushed, solo trip to the grocery store (WHO HAVE I BECOME THAT THIS IS WHAT I DEEM RELAXING).

I packed light – instead of lugging around my purse I opted to take my phone with its clever slots to house proper government IDs and payment methods. Please note how low maintenance I am! So streamlined and sophisticated and orderly.

Several times throughout my journey through the aisles, something kept telling me to check to make sure I had my credit card in said clever slots. Don’t be silly. I’m organized AND low maintenance! It’s in there!

Till it wasn’t. The kind people at the store housed my overflowing cart in a cooler while I dashed home to pick up my credit card – sweet Tim waiting for me outside in the driveway so I could grab it like a baton in a relay race and get back to my loot.

The Usual Emily would have been seriously miffed. Disgruntled by having to come alllll the way home, little piggy, just to drive allll the way back. Insert mean, unnecessary, self-inflicted judgements while mourning the loss of my all-important-precious time (um, 20 minutes max?).


…. this amazing sunset.


I may have missed this glorious, fleeting view if I’d had my card, waited in line, and checked out like a normal shopper. Like that mysterious flowering plant in Mr. Wilson’s yard on Dennis the Menace (ok lame reference, but you know what I mean), there was a small window of time to soak this in before it disappeared.

Do you ever have those moments where you are so struck with wonder that you can’t help but pull over and just stare at the sky? When you feel so full of life, full where you are. right. now. that the thought of scrolling on social media seems so empty? That berating yourself seems so petty? Those moments are powerful, aren’t they?

Grateful for the gift of a forgotten credit card and a front row seat to a jaw-dropping Texas sunset.

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