A Candle for Hope

“Just landed in Raleigh for Recovery Week.”

The text came in early Saturday afternoon, pregnant with hope for a week designed to care for the precious soul of a young woman I have come to love.

“I am so glad I am coming back soon.”

Another text early Saturday morning from my son as he landed back in Phoenix after being home for Thanksgiving, again pregnant with hope for the Christmas break and what it will bring.

Pregnant with Hope.

Hope is place of waiting, watching–expectant, eyes wide open.  It is to be present in the now with a heart open to the future.

Sara Groves in her song, “It’s True” says “In your heart you know it’s true, though you hold no expectation. In the deepest part of you there’s a hesitation.”

There is a hesitation in the deepest part of me this year.  Are you with me?  I know some of you are there too.  There’s a place inside of me that needs palpable presence of Jesus.  It’s an empty stable inside of my heart.  It feels a bit desolate, cold, empty and honestly there’s a bit of a stench.  It seems an unlikely place for the Savior to show Himself…despite what I know in my head to be true.

I know Jesus came.

I believe it.

I’ve felt it before.

And yet….here I am with this place that feels a bit shabby and uninhabitable.

“The function of Advent is to remind us what we’re waiting for as we go through life too busy with things that do not matter to remember the things that do.”

Today my bedroom became a sacred space with “big girls” for about an hour.  They sat on my bed, in their pj’s, drinking coffee and talking as I folded laundry from the Thanksgiving week guests in our home.

“So…I was wanting to talk about this….”

“I was thinking maybe we could…”

“This is just what I needed, and I didn’t even know it…”

“I can’t wait for Christmas…can we do this some more that week…???”

My children know what they are hoping for, how about you?  Do you know what you are waiting for?

Today I began putting words to things my heart has been holding tightly, fears…needs…longings.

This first week of Christmas became sacred space for me three years ago when I attended my first “Recovery Week” hosted by The Allender Center and Dan Allender.  Every year since I have been more mindful of certain parts of my life story and what happened for me that week as Jesus showed up in unexpected ways. The text this morning from the dear young woman who is attending her first Recovery Week was a call for me to remember.  It was an invitation to hope again.  In intimate and particular ways it intersects with the stable place inside of me right now.

My son letting me know he is so glad to be coming home again in just two weeks was another invitation.

My girls lounging on the bed sharing secrets and laughter, another reminder.

It has come.  Advent.  The invitation to slow down and think.  It brings the chance to choose between the good, the better and the best for our souls.  The opportunities will be daily and perhaps even moment by moment.

I have many Christmas trees in my home…which is a story in and of itself…but on my three seasons porch is “my tree”.  The tree that holds ornaments precious to me.  I decorate it quietly, with Christmas music that I love playing in the background.  There’s no chaos, no hustle or bustle, it’s a thoughtful and peaceful space for me in the midst of what is family full day.  It is a sacred space that helps my heart welcome Advent.


I sat by that tree as I thought about this post, purposing to be present for all of what my heart was feeling.

Advent is here, pregnant with Hope for all of us.  Will you dare to feel what your heart is wanting and waiting for? I hope so.


DSC_0512Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  Married for 27 years, she is mother to five kids.  After nearly a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.  Founder of Seized by Hope Ministries, she writes here.