Rooted in Christ · Vignettes & Poetry

It Is Well With My Soul – Winter’s Close

Amid the cold, dark days of winter, the snow, the ice, the wind, something is growing, forming, transforming though the treasure lies hidden deep within. Sometimes the storm  and sometimes the pain are too hard to bear. We live in this broken world where our minds falter, our bodies fail, and our hearts don’t know how to heal. But do not despise the cold winter. There is beauty buried within. And when the warm rays of sunshine bring forth the beauty in its time, that treasure unseen will become seen and the glory of that hidden redemptive beauty will be revealed. At the close of winter, I am reminded not to despise the winter seasons of our lives, for there is beauty in the bare branches, the fresh fallen snow and the knowledge that life is growing deep within the seeds that will soon break forth in their glory.

At the close of winter, I sing this song.

It Is Well With My Soul

Birth Doula · Christmas · Holidays · Vignettes & Poetry

The Christmas Story – A Birth Doula’s Perspective

As a mother and a birth doula, I have come to appreciate and reflect on the birth of the Christ Child in a new and profound way. I imagine the reality of what that night might have been like for the young mother. The raw and very real human experience of giving birth makes the incarnation tangible, potent, and awe-inspiring when we see it for the real experience that it was. This is an artistic rendering of what I think that night might have been like for Mary, the mother of Jesus, according to my perspective as a birth doula.



A quiet stillness hung low as night descended and stars rose high above the drifting grey clouds. The town was not silent, but filled with travelers to Judea. From various inns, one could hear laughter, conversation, and children exited and unable to sleep from long days of travel. Many more people had arrived into Bethlehem for the census. A young man, tired from walking, dirty, hungry and thirsty, anxiously looked at each home and inn along the road. He had to find a place for his betrothed, a young woman with child. Her contractions had begun earlier in the day. She was tired and famished as well. She was cold. With every pace of the donkey upon which she sat, she cringed as a new contraction began. His name was the common name of Joseph, and hers, Mary.

Joseph hung his head low as he held his clenched fist to the door of one more inn, whispered a prayer, and knocked.

“No room here. Our inn is full. Every inn is full. You won’t find anything at this time of night.” The innkeeper saw the desperation in Joseph’s face, a waver of a tear forming in his blighted eyes. The man looked past him to the woman bent over the donkey as she breathed deeply. “You can sleep in the stable, over there at the base of the hill. Its cold, but I’ll give you a couple of blankets and some swaddling cloths,” he said with a concerned tone in his voice and furrowed brows. When Joseph had been given the items, a relieved look of hope came over his face and he nodded as he walked away and led Mary and the donkey to the stable.

The sounds and smells of cattle, sheep, and donkeys, several of whom had carried guests from the inn, filled the stable. First, Joseph set to work to prepare a place for Mary to lay down while he tethered the donkey. A servant boy from the inn brought some fresh water for the couple. Mary couldn’t lay down for long. The contractions were coming consistently, stronger and closer together. She walked around the stable, sweat dripping from her face. Joseph held her and wiped her hair away from her face. She breathed deeply as another contraction came suddenly on, this one taking her breath away. Joseph reminded her to breathe deeply.

Hour after hour, it continued like this through the night. Sometimes standing, sometimes leaning against a fence post or in the arms of her betrothed. She was exhausted.

“Thank you, Joseph,” she would say through tears, in between contractions. He didn’t know how to help. Although there were probably midwives in the town, he didn’t know where to find one at this hour. He felt helpless and fearful, not only for the birth, but also because He knew this wasn’t an ordinary birth… He would be delivering the Savior of the world. He whispered a prayer again.

Mary, leaning into Joseph’s arms with every contraction, gripped his hands. For a few moments she rested, giving her the strength she would need in the next few minutes. As wave upon wave of contractions continued, she began to push as she listened to the signs her body was giving her that it was time. She knelt down, and delivered the baby. Carefully, Joseph, lifting up the naked baby, covered in vernix, rejoiced with tears in his eyes. Mary, with tears of joy, relief and gratitude lay back and looked towards the heavens. She laid down. Joseph wiped the baby’s face with one of the cloths, scooped his finger into his mouth to clear out his airway. The baby cried just for a moment. He laid the baby on Mary’s chest. Mary looked down upon the face of her newborn Son, and wonder filled her heart, tears chased down her cheeks. He had come.

“Jesus,” she whispered as his soft skin felt the warmth of her own and the sound of her heartbeat steadied his. Immanuel, God with us.

Mary was already asleep with the Baby Jesus nestled in her arms when Joseph, who had been cleaning up and preparing a small bed of hay in a feeding trough, blew out the clay oil lamp a little while later. He lay down beside Mary and wrapping his arms around her, He stroked Jesus’ head, the soft hair, the smooth skin, as he relished every breath Jesus took, and whispered, “Welcome, my Savior, and my God.” And he fell asleep.


“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Luke 2:7-19

As a doula, I write my clients’ birth stories, providing them a basic structure of the details of their child’s birth and their birth experience. I can only imagine what it was like for Mary to experience the birth of her Son, the Savior of the world. And just as I write this tonight, when the world lies silent around me on the eve of my Lord’s birth, I too, treasure up all these things and ponder them in my heart. For my Redeemer has come.


Holidays · Vignettes & Poetry

Anna’s Adoration


The temperature gauge on our truck shines the word ICE with a bold blue digital glow as I climb in from the cold and put on my seatbelt. Another week’s worth of food loaded into our suburban carriage with heated seats and a broken driver’s side window. God has provided once again. We are well fed and provided for in this season at seminary. My heart is content as we live with less, much less than we ever have before as a family. It is a lean Christmas but I’m thankful for that. Our hearts and minds are put in full dependence on God as we wait, as we work, as we study and prepare for the next season of ministry.

We are in a season of awaiting “further instructions,” if you will. Waiting, anticipating, and living in expectancy of what may soon be. We love maps and have them all over our home including a shower curtain in the kids’ bathroom. I often look at those maps and pause as I walk by. I take a moment to pray, “Lord, where will You send us next?” We wait. And just like how God knew we would one day arrive at this space and time, He also knows where He will guide us next. I wait with a quiet contentment, seeking to enjoy all that God has for us here in these three precious years that are so full and rich with learning, knowledge, friendship, and being poured into, so that we will be ready to be sent out again at the proper time and ready to pour back out. As one pastor’s wife told me, it is a season of being broken down, and being built back up.

In this season of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas, Christians take time to reflect on the arrival of the long-awaited Redeemer. As Christians on this side of history, we live in an attitude of hope and expectation for our King Jesus, the Son of God, to return and make all things new, to rule and reign in glory and with peace and justice. The Good Shepherd who came two thousand years ago, will return to His flock with comfort and joy.

There are many themes to think on during this time of Advent from the Old Testament prophecies to the birth place of the baby King, to the emotions that his mother Mary must have been feeling and the messages from angels. Oftentimes, I’ve been drawn to those few mysterious verses in the book of Luke that talk about a woman named Anna, who waited with what I assume, was a quiet, faithful contentment.

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

The Gospel of Luke provides us with a glimpse into this one woman’s life, a small vignette of adoration. Besides what we know of her age at this time, her father’s name, her tribe of origin, how long she was married and widowed, and her role as a prophetess, we know that she was dedicated to a life of worship and prayer. Early on in my life, when I first read these verses, I was struck with a sense of mystery and awe. There was something about Anna that drew me in, something about this lifestyle of worship that I so longed to be a part of.

Anna was waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. She was praying and waiting for the chosen Child to be born. In her waiting, she worshiped. It was not a passive waiting but a time of preparation. She waited with hope and anticipation, preparing her heart and trusting in the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises, all the while continuing in the daily practice of worship, year after year, in expectancy of her Savior. I suspect it was quite the glorious commotion when the Child Jesus was brought in to the temple to be presented to the Lord with a sacrifice, and Simeon announced with great joy,

“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35

Positioned in this time of history, we look back at the Incarnation, Immanuel, God with us. We also, with joy, await the Savior’s second coming. We wait with longing hearts to look upon our King as He comes in glory to make all things new. Will He return in our lifetime? Will we be found, like Anna, faithfully living our days in service and worship to Him? Will Christ be the central focus of our lives? While we await the return of our King, let us remain steadfast in worship and prayer, giving thanks to God for His indescribable gift, and speaking of him to the world.

O source of all good,
What shall I render to you for the gift of gifts,
your own dear Son?

Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart,
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreate and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me!

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind!

Let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father!

Place me with ox, donkey, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin!

Let me with Simeon clasp the newborn child to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his!

In him you have given me so much that heaven can give no more.

~A Puritan Christmas Prayer


Rooted in Christ · Vignettes & Poetry

Upon Arriving at The House Between


I wandered into the community center with two little ones toddling behind me. Paid for my large drip coffee and proceeded to the cream and sugar as my boys chased around the cafe, faces pressed up against the drink refrigerator and pointing at the pretty stones in the faux fireplace that separates the cafe from the study center. I remembered seeing a magazine that piqued my interest on the display table near the front doors. But it wasn’t that publication that eventually won me over. It was another. Words and images intrigue me, especially thoughtful and unique ones that somehow lure me in with a knowledge that there is something deeper within the pages to be revealed.

The cover of a short newsletter read, “Letters from The House Between, Formerly Notes from Toad Hall”, written by Margie Haack. All of these words captured my attention in different ways and sent a whirlwind of lovely images through my mind as I wondered what this publication had to say. The image on front was of a bird bath covered in snow. The title of the first letter read, “The Little Way”. I took the newsletter and another missionary newsletter and found my way outside to the patio to watch my boys ride their tricycles on the basketball court and try to download my emails onto my phone. We recently canceled our internet to save money while at seminary so to retrieve email now takes a lot of time and patience to pick up the community center signal and wait for the slow downloading of messages. I feel so archaic now and almost pre-1997!

As the boys played, the sun became increasingly hot, my coffee got knocked over and my dependable phone could not download my messages. My morning plans were beginning to be thwarted. But I was thankful the boys were still able to play, especially as Daddy got to join us for a while, and I still had a small window of time to read a little. Eventually we made our way back down to our own patio, enclosed by flowering bushes and a short stone wall; my sanctuary. I dived into the newsletter, determined to find that treasure I knew was waiting for me.


As I started to read, my heart swelled with joy to read of the authors’ encounter with the writings of a 19th century French woman named Therese of Lisieu. Over 15 years ago, I found a collection of St Therese’s writing at a small Christian bookstore. That collection in itself was a rare find as I had not heard of this woman before, perhaps once, but I can’t recall. To see another writer’s encounter with the writing of St Therese and her “Little Way” further drew me into this newsletter. Years ago, I read with delight about the simplicity and joy she found in loving Jesus and His love for her. I saw in her writing a reflection of my own smallness, something that she eventually became content to accept as part of her calling. It was a delight to find that someone else had read these little known words of hers and had benefitted spiritually from them as I had. I wanted to know more about The House Between and the authors who lived here. So I continued to read.


“He that is a little one, let him turn to me.” Proverbs 9:16

In the Letters, Margie Haack, writes about the writing accomplishments of friends and literary mentors, of admitting her jealousy of their brilliance in writing, her repentance, and her acceptance of her own calling and the work that God has for her to do. Sharing one’s struggles publicly requires an artful balance of disclosure and modesty. I think she does this beautifully. She also shared about another 19th century woman, Christina Rossetti who also came to terms with her own smallness, and like Therese of Lisieu, saw it as part of her sacrifice and calling in life.

Haack also wrote about recent family news, a move from their old home, Toad Hall, to their new one, The House Between, and the beautifully rich meaning behind such a mysterious name for their home. It made me want to name our home and our future homes, our gardens, our patio because naming it gives it identity and purpose. Reflections on their garden, her granddaughter’s bread baking, future projects and aspirations and even prayer requests drew me into every word on each page.


One of her prayer requests was “Finding good and true words for writing.” I breathe deep with contentment as I affirm this need as a writer to find good and true words, to share, to find beauty in, and with which to describe our stories. She mentioned her blog which I’d love to share with you here: Toads Drink Coffee. After perusing her blog, I saw more things in common: a love for L’Abri Fellowship, for the teaching of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, similar music tastes, writing blogs, art blogs, homemaking blogs and liturgical year blogs. This woman is a kindred heart.


Upon arriving at The House Between, I was introduced to a new writing friend, years ahead of me in life experience and writing accomplishments. I do not consider myself a great writer. Instead, I am a student, content to be learning quietly the art of composition. I do not know exactly what my writing goals are, but the journey for me is like that of small beginnings as in Therese of Lisieu, Christina Rossetti, and Margie Haack. Perhaps my writing will always be small or perhaps one day, the Lord will see fit to share more of my writing with others. This I leave in the hands of God and seek to be faithful day by day as I live in my own “house between”.


Please visit Margie’s blog:

To receive Letters from the House Between, contact Ransom Fellowship on their website and they will add you to their mailing list.

We thought of that place as “The House Between”, a place bound on one side by years past where we raised children, continued our ministry and grew older, and on the other side, a place in heaven where God holds a perfect place of restoration yet to come. Our new home is a reminder that this is only a ‘place between’ what is now and what will one day be true Home forever.
– Margie Haack, Letters from the House Between, Issue 1


Rooted in Christ · Vignettes & Poetry

Christ Be With Me – A Morning Prayer


Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

~ St Patrick’s Breastplate
(translation of a Gaelic poem by Cecil F. Alexander)

The sun rises slowly over the hill behind our home. Its an early morning before church. The mist rises steadily from the ground in the darkness pierced with the dawning of the morning. Such a quiet calm morning compared with the tempest of storm, wind, and downpour of hailstones the night before. The beauty after the chaos. The calm after the tempest. The rainbows in the evening, and the dawning of a new day. There are promises all around us.

I’m reminded of a poem, a prayer really. A prayer that was given, many years ago, many miles away in a far off village on the Ayrshire Coast of Scotland by an old friend and missionary. She gave this poem to me and it was exactly the words my heart needed to meditate on day and night. In these words, my heart was focused not on the things of earth, but on the One who had come. My heart was turned to the reality of the Living One, the Light of the World, the Messiah, Rescuer, the Lamb of God who is truly there. When I remember that I can be totally present with Him throughout every moment of my day, my struggles turn into rest, my fears are washed away in waves upon waves of grace. My anchor is Christ and in the perceiving of truth that Christ is everything to me, indeed He is eternal life, He gives an inexpressible joy. When my mind is overwhelmed, I only need One. Christ is my stability. Christ is my security. Christ is my rock I stand upon.

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Psalm 61:1-5

May this meditation bring truth and peace to your soul today and may the reality of His presence in your life anchor you… in Christ.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Vignettes & Poetry

Elliot and Two Green Onions


An original short story based on a true story…


Elliot lived in an apartment building 3 stories tall. He was 3 years old. He also had 3 siblings. His two older siblings were allowed to wander the neighborhood all by themselves, even into the woods, but not Elliot.

“Mama, can I go down the street with the others?” He said as he watched his sister and brother put on their shoes.”

“One day you can, sweet Elliot,” Mama would say. “Right now you are not old enough to go out on your own, but one day! Come along, I’ll take you to the playground.”

Off he would run to the playground, with Mama not far behind. And so it went whether to the park, the hill, the woods, or across the street. Mama was not too far behind.

One day, while his siblings were at school, Mama was making a meal for a family who just welcomed a new baby girl to their family. She was making tacos, but she didn’t have any green onions. When Mama asked Elliot to find her two green onions, he jumped to his feet.

“I need to you to knock on Mrs Edmund’s door and ask for two green onions. Can you do that?”

Elliot puffed up his chest with pride. Mama was sending him out on an errand, all by himself. He knew he could do it, he thought as Mama handed him a note that said “two green onions?” to help him remember. He opened the door and climbed the stairs to the neighbor’s apartment. As he went, he repeated to himself, “Two green onions. Two green onions,” over and over until he reached the door. With each knock, he repeated, “Two green onions”. The door opened and he said, “Do you have two green onions?” and handed Mrs Edmund the note.

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“I’m sorry, but I don’t have any green onions, Elliot,” Mrs Edmund said.

Elliot climbed back downstairs to tell Mama the news.

“Go knock on Mrs Lewis’s door,” Mama said while stirring the meat cooking on the stove top.

Elliot wandered around the corner to Mrs Lewis’s door.

“Do you have two green onions?”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t have any green onions, Elliot,” Mrs Lewis said.

Elliot came back home with the news.

“Go knock on Mrs Corin’s door,” Mama encouraged.

Elliot climbed to the third story of the building.

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“I’m sorry. I have white onions, but no green onions, Elliot,” Mrs Corin offered.
Elliot climbed slowly back down the stairs.
“She doesn’t have green onions either,” he sighed.

“Go knock on Mrs Aravis’s door,” Mama said.

So, Elliot tried one more time, climbed to the third story and knocked on Mrs Aravis’s door.

“Two green onions, two green onions.” The door opened.

“Hi. Do you have two green onions?” Elliot asked with hope.

“Why yes!” exclaimed Mrs Aravis, “Let me take a look in the fridge.” Elliot squeezed his eyes shut and hoped that his mission could be accomplished.

“Here you are! I have plenty. You just take all of them.”

Elliot’s eyes grew wide, “Thank you!” he said as he took them in his hands.

Elliot ran down the stairs as fast as his little legs could carry him and flung open the front door.

“She had green onions!” he shouted waving them in the air. Mama’s eyes grew wide. “So many onions! This is wonderful!”

Mama finished preparing the meal, packed it all up and brought it over to the family with the new baby.

Elliot jumped around the apartment. He accomplished his mission. He had found two green onions. And he did it… all by himself… with Mama not too far behind.


The End.

Vignettes & Poetry

Little Miss E and the Purple Glitter


I opened the patio door and let the cold, harsh winter air in just for a moment. I was cleaning up the back patio stairs, and noticed purple glitter all over our steps trailing down along the cement toward the garden. “Do you guys know who dumped purple glitter outside?” I asked the kids, quite perplexed.

“That was Little Miss E,” they said (a cute name I made up just for this post for anonymity). I looked around, amazed, thinking, “Its everywhere!” Throughout the day and into the next, I continued to bring  items outside for recycling and my eyes were drawn to the purple glitter, dazzlingly spilled all over our steps. It started to grow on me. It started to become endearing. I smiled with amusement each time I opened the door.

Little Miss E is our sweet, dear 5 year old friend who comes to visit us often. Dressed in a princess dress, carrying a purse, or wearing strands of little girl necklaces, she plays in the communal backyard, and knocks on our door for our kids to come outside and play. This is one of the things I love the most about our community where we live. Children are always coming by to say hello, to play, and to just chat. And we chat with them. We listen to their thoughts, we ask them questions. I want our home to always be welcoming to little ones, that they may sense the love of Jesus here, that Jesus welcomes them, and that we are always willing to talk.

Working this morning at the campus childcare center, we had taken the kids to the playground to play. I was pulling the little red wagon with two children sitting snuggly inside. As I circled the playground on the asphalt path, I looked down and there it was, more purple glitter! I saw more later on along the sidewalk to our building, and more at the picnic area, and still more sprinkled all over crisp, dry fallen leaves.  I smiled. Little Miss E. She’s been here too! Like little whisps of fairy dust sprinkled around campus, she was leaving her mark of purple glitter wherever she went, coloring the bleak winter with purple hues that shimmer and shine in the sunlight, making our community sparkle with her laughter and smiles, and her sweet friendship.

And the Lord their God will save them in that day
As the flock of His people;
For they are as the stones of a crown,
Sparkling in His land.
Zechariah 9:16