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Book Review: Silence and Other…

I’ve never been one for silence. Quietness and darkness tend to put me on edge because I have such an active mind that without distraction and noise, a lot of times my mind will wander into incredibly weird places.

But, they say you never really know how much you love something until it’s taken away? Well this past semester absolutely took away any potential for silence, quiet time or alone time to just rest. It was filled with days of studying, writing, preparing, working, etc. that wore me down. Everyone has these seasons in their life where it is just non-stop go, go, go.

So when the semester ended, I was actually craving silence, and quiet, alone time. It became a perfect metaphor for this Christmas season where we celebrate the season of Advent, a time of expectant waiting and celebration of the birth of Jesus. Advent’s themes of quiet reflection, patience and silent expectation were exactly what I needed to decompress from a year of highs, louds and actions.

Enter: “Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent” by Enuma Okoro.

enumo okoro

This little 30-day devotional (which I downloaded on my iPhone) is a God-send (no pun intended). It follows the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah and their miraculous conception of John the Baptist. Rather than focusing on the traditional birth story of Jesus, this devotional looks at all the intricacies of Elizabeth’s journey and how silence from God, silence from her husband (when he was rendered mute by the angel) and silence of waiting for her baby boy teach us many things about our own seasons of silence.

Honestly, I’ve been battling what I feel as my own season of silence over the last few months, where I have felt quiet when I prayed my hardest, or misunderstanding when prayers were not answered, or frustration when all my plans seem to fall apart. But, slowly over the last few weeks, reading this lovely book, has restored my heart and showed me the joy that comes in the times of waiting. I even read it in silence each morning over my coffee and bowl of grits before I turn on any electronics, lights, TVs, Christmas music, whatever. This is also why I’ve been quiet on here, I needed detox time. And I’m loving this quiet time more and more.

I’m not finished reading yet, but here’s a snippet of what I’m enjoying most about this book so far:

“Usually we think of God’s timing despairingly because we assume we know what’s best for us. But the scripture passages for the third week of Advent suggest that what we perceive as slowness of action is actually God’s patience with us.”

Such wonderful reminders during this busy, loud, active Christmas season. As we wait for God to move in our lives, there are countless ways to be thankful in the in-between times too.


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Gather Near

Oh…hello again. Are you still there? After the end of the semester and finals raining down like acid fire around me, I have seemingly ended up in a pile of primordial sludge floating this way and that.

In my feeble attempt not to repeat last year’s Scooge-fest, I’ve been valiantly fighting the post-semester crash to make sure this Christmas season is the merri-est and the bright-est. In the hustle and bustle I’ve seemed to come down with the “I gotta do it all or thou whilst be judged by all” syndrome.

I read an interesting article the other day about the resurgence of homemaking, and then a follow up article on judgment on mothers who aren’t taking part in the holistic food movement and serve their kids Oreos as snacks after school, often hearing “Unclean! Unclean!” in their heads as other mothers serve fresh ground wheat bread and carrot sticks.

I’d like to transpose this leperous concept to my Christmas season. I spin myself so tightly making sure I do it all. Send cards, buy the perfect present, make the best meals, decorate the best, celebrate the hardest and look the prettiest. In essence, I’m a brunette version of the crazy Target lady on the Black Friday commercials. If I fail at any of this, I hear my head yelling “unclean!” I even am guilty of trying to out-Christian others. Praying harder or looking more church-y.

What ends up happening is this. For the last few years, I’ve spiraled down into sickness during the holiday season, effectively ending my Miss Christmas of the Year campaign. Leaving me tired, cranky and emotional. Poor Jason.

But when I sit down to think about it. All I really want to do is spend time with my family and friends. In whatever setting, no matter the meal, no matter the deocrations, I just want to be with those we don’t get to see often, or those we do see often and can’t get enough of. What I often fail to realize is, the people I want to spend the most time with, I can guarantee you, will not judge me if they don’t get my Christmas card or I don’t offer ooey gooey brownies at supper club, or even if I don’t give them the most extravagant gift.

I’ve never celebrated an Advent calendar before, but I’ve been reading a lot about them and want to start this tradition next year. It seems to be the perfect way to slow down, focus on Christ’s birth and enjoy small moments in each day. It allows you to strip away the judgment, the anxiety and the busyness to be still and know.


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Happy December!

Happy December! One of the best months of the year has arrived and brings good things. Some of my favorite things happen in December:

– gift giving
– cold weather
– SEC championship game (Geaux Tigers!)
– Christmas (duh)
– and family time

All things that make you warm and fuzzy inside. So here are my warm and fuzzies for this specific December.

1. Sister/Brother-in-law time! Liza and her hubby Johnathan come home to the motherland in a few weeks and I’m pumped!

2. School break! (*insert best Pink Floyd accent here) School’s out for summer winter! This means a break, albeit short, from grad school. My first semester will be over and I will have successfully not died. That’s an accomplishment.

3. A kajillion Christmas celebrations — the best thing about being married is you get another family, and when my in-laws are just as kick-butt awesome as my original family is, it’s an extra bonus! Jason and I get to celebrate not once (with friends and Dirty Santa), not twice (with my family the weekend before Christmas), not three times (with the Roussells), but four times because…..

4. The fourth celebration is New Years Eve in Gatlinburg! Wahoo! A trip to the family cabin in Tennessee is on tap for New Years Eve and it’s going to be a blast. Cold, mountain weather, possibly snow, and fires at night will be just the thing we need to come down off the post holiday bonanza. And the best part? We are flying this time. No 14 hour drive for me. WAHOO!

5. Presents! Due to our reduced budget, Jason and I are doing a lot of DIY Christmas gifts. Won’t spill the beans here, but it’s allowing me to flex my crafting muscle. Hopefully once the gifts have been delivered I can share with all of you! Pinterest has been a religion this holiday season…

6. Cozy living rooms with Sadie, the human dog. That would be four pillows she is laying on top of. I know, right?

And of course, the reason for the entire season. Celebrating the birth of Jesus, and his precious gift to us. I hope you take time to wrap yourself in this season and remember from whom all these warm and fuzzy blessings flow.

Feliz Navidad!