Moments such as these.

SEVERAL YEARS AGO a writer and blogger I adore, Hannah Brencher, wrote a beautiful post about the pressure she feels in our inevitable rush to Christmas. It’s a topic that is neither shocking nor eye-opening–I’ll bet you’ve felt the pounding heart, as well, as we plan, shop, list, wrap, cook, decorate, prepare.

Still Hannah went on to say something that, all this time later, is still with me. Instead of focusing on the payoff of a perfect Christmas day–instead of looking forward with such anticipation (and such high expectation) to the big stuff to come, she suggested this:

Let’s just pretend it can’t get better than this right here.

Let’s just pretend it can’t get better than this right here.

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL way to approach the season, I think, settling your heart into the hundred thousand moments of prelude. As if these are the moments, themselves, that matter most. Because it is true, wouldn’t you agree? In so many ways? Pulling from TREE BOX NUMBER TWO the worn Rudolph ornament your childhood friend’s sweet mother gave you all those years ago. Opening the mailbox to a stack of red envelopes. Finding the very most perfect little something something for someone who means the world.

Hannah’s words have come back to me time and again in these early days of December. I feel my anxiety rising and there they are, wrapping round and round me like a quilt meant to stop a chill. They remind me to slow down, to settle down, to take note.

And to smile. To simply smile, in acknowledgement of the sweet, simple moments that are the heart of this holiday season. To remember life is good, people are good, that sometimes love and joy and peace come to you in a hundred thousand tiny ways.


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The Right Words To Say

Still one of my faves 18. Open #fms_open #fmsphotoaday #latergram


IT’S THE KIND OF POST that gets me to click right away–the promise of just the right words to say, or how to comfort a friend who is hurting or three things we all need to hear. There’s something I’m drawn to in the possibility of a neat little word package I can tuck away, then call on anytime my mortal old self just can’t seem find the right combination.

What a gift that would be in a world with so much woe.

It’s certainly not what I expected when I clicked on the link to an essay by Hannah Brencher via her Monday email #94 titled, quite simply: Abide.

She gets me, Hannah does, young as she is, and so wide open and unfiltered. (In all honesty, I know it probably takes the girl hours to achieve the level of spontaneity her posts suggest.) Still there’s a real beauty to her unsettled spirit, a twenty-something young woman out there preaching her own gospel of a life filled with longing, searching out the things that matter most. It’s a quest she’ll continue for years to come–that’s what I want to tell her–the answers changing color and intensity and texture as she moves from one life season to the next. It’s a quest she’ll find as terrifying and rewarding in her 56th year as in her 26th.

But oh what she gains by being brave enough to ask the questions.


SHE ANSWERED TWO OF MINE in her ABIDE essay is the point I want to make. Touching a soul spot in her lament over the need for greeting cards with genuine, honest sentiments, she writes:

The world needs more cards that touch the hard stuff, the crappy situations, and the days when you wish you could escape out of your own skin and be someone else. I know I have those days. I know a lot of other people who have those days too and they’d probably appreciate some sort of card showing up in their mailbox that says, “You’re not really feeling it right now. I get it. I’m with you. It won’t be like this forever.” 

It won’t be like this forever. How powerful is that simple sentence? How many times in my life have I needed to hear it? How many times could I have brought comfort just by saying it?


HANNAH OFFERS ANOTHER wished-for card saying in the post, one that touched me so immediately it tucked itself up and has hung close ever since. It’s a phrase that came to her as part of an answered prayer, a God-wink that appeared when she asked for a sign. I’ve thought of it a thousand times as I’ve moved through my own week planning, wondering, worrying.

Be where your feet are.

That’s the message God brought her, she wrote in her Monday Morning email, a message that packed its own powerful punch when it landed with me. I, too, battle to stay present and to live in the moment and to accept what is rather than pressing the forward or rewind button of my life. But this little sentence so direct and true makes it easier, somehow, less overwhelming and theoretical, and more real life, here, now. Be where your feet are.

Hannah goes on to write:

He didn’t say, “pack your suitcase and go.” I would have liked that. Instead, it was this gentle reminder: stay with me. Don’t run wild in your head looking for answers and solutions and trying to solve problems that aren’t yours to solve. Just calm down and stick close.

It’s God’s reminder not to run from that which is refining you, she says.

How I love that thought. How I needed to hear it.

Thank you, Hannah Brencher. Thank you for your light in this world.


Note: You can follow Hannah Brencher’s blog here.


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Day 28: Taking Note

It’s a lovely thing, I think, to acknowledge an answered prayer. The world cracks open and a little light comes in, right into your heart. Your burdens are lighter. Your disposition is sunnier. Your possibilities are broader, if only for one tiny, precious moment. And then Life resumes with its endless demands, of course, and you move on to the next set of worries and complications.

But here’s what I’ve come to believe. Prayers are answered with much greater frequency than we realize. A thousand times a day we lob little thoughts out there to the great blue yonder. Lo and behold, the universe hears and rearranges to accommodate the requests. We just fail to notice, fallible humans that we are, because the interruption the rearrangement causes in life–most often the changing of what we had planned–hits us as a big ol’ hassle.

(AARRGGGHH!! OUR FLIGHT IS DELAYED THREE HOURS! following a quiet Wish we had time for a beer in the airport. I really loved that Chicago IPA.)

I first offered this thesis here on The Daily Grace last summer, when we returned from Spain. I vowed then to take the time to look at the unexpected twists and turns in my life, to look all the way through those situations to see not just what they didn’t allow–but what they did. This “looking through,” I believed, would lead me back to something my heart had desired, to some little I wish I had tossed out along the way.

I expected it would be a fascinating and revealing study, yes.

And then I promptly forgot all about it.


Earlier this month, the wonderful blogger Hannah Brencher posted this on Instagram.


What a great idea, I thought in that moment. I should make a folder like this! I could fill it with all those “I got yo back, baby cakes” moments, all the showered blessings, ALL THOSE ANSWERED PRAYERS.

(But I really want the folder to be cool, like Hannah’s, I thought. I’ll have to set aside some time to figure out how to make one.) Yeah, right.


A few weeks later, I was criss-crossing the county in search of the perfect notebook for my upcoming writing workshop in Key West. I had a thousand things on my mind, and none of them involved a study of answered prayers (unless you include this very serious endeavor of finding The Notebook, a quest I took very seriously, a search that took me store to store to store).

Guess what I came upon, misplaced among the journals and notebooks at Target?


well, well, well


My very first entry:

Wanted a really cool folder like Hannah’s in which I could keep details & promises & big acts of faithfulness from God, 2015.

Found it, misplaced in Target.




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this is the moment


I HAVE HAD IT on my mind for two weeks now, the sentiment of a writing shared with me by my sweetest of friends, Courtney. I love this one a little more than most, she wrote in the email, a comment that let me know right away I was the recipient of something special. We tend to be moved by the same sorts of things, Courtney and I, so I took a seat in a quiet spot, breathed in, and hit the open button on my laptop.

It was an offering from Hannah Brencher, a blogger with such an effortless writing style I find myself sinking into her paragraphs like they’re a soft, old easy chair. “I feel like I already missed Christmas,” it began, and I read along, thinking with every sentence: I know. I know. And then I got to this line:

I’m scared of missing the point. I’m scared of always rushing to get somewhere, onto the next somewhere, so that I never fully arrive anywhere.

Oh do I know.


I’VE HAD THIS SAME DISCUSSION with every girlfriend I have near my (unimaginable) age of 55. “Do you feel it, too? Do you feel the jitters inside, the anxiousness that tumbles and rolls and keeps you feeling behind? Like no matter what it is you’re doing, there’s always something else you should be doing? Somewhere else you need to be. And you’d damn well better Get To It.

It’s an emotion that might have been easier to understand in our 30s and 40s, when our lives were stretched beyond recognition in the tug-of-war between work responsibilities and those small, needy, insatiable children at home. On top of that was housekeeping, and laundry, and grocery shopping, and cooking, and well, you know the (on and on) drill. We still have many of those things to tend to in our 50s, of course, but it is more on our own terms. More in our own control, somehow.

Which makes this feeling of anxiousness rising all the more disconcerting.


HANNAH TALKS ABOUT the rush to Christmas, and I know it is the perfect metaphor for the point she is making. We plan and shop and make and wrap and decorate and bake in a frenzy that crescendos toward an end goal—a perfect, magical, oh-look-at-that-the-snow-just-started-to-fall Christmas day. And we’re so focused on that “out there” payoff that we fail to take in the wonder and glory of the many sparkling magic moments God gives us all along the way.

She ends with a line that hollowed me out when I read it. We have all the time, she says, all the time we thought we never had. So let’s take that time and count the glittering objects around us, let’s hold hands and count them one by one.

Let’s just pretend that it can’t get better than this right here.

Oh, girl.

Let’s just pretend that it can’t get better than this right here.

Does that get to you the way it gets to me? I imagine sinking into my beautiful life with this moment-to-moment thought on my heart. Letting my soul be filled to overflowing. Not holding back a single second, never spending even a tiny blink thinking “I’m getting ready” for something way more grand than that which is all around me right now.

Because this moment, this moment now, sitting in a green chair on a Monday night, the world fading to dark outside, the fire popping and crackling in front of me as I write—how beautiful it is to look at this as a sparkling moment. How lovely to hear God’s voice telling me, as he told Hannah:

Breathe. Look. Take it in, my beloved. It’s all there now, in this moment. I’ve placed it there for you. There’s no place you need to rush. There’s no other place for you to be. This— this is all yours, it’s all for you. It is enough. Be there now, and simply breathe it in.