The Night I Saw the Thief Run: Reflections on "Silent Night"

Christmas, encouragement, Jesus, peace, Pentatonix, Silent Night, theft

The radio doesn’t work in my truck. On most days I find it good discipline to drive in silence–think, or pray. But one evening I really wanted to listen to Christmas music, so I brought along our i-pad and turned on my (overly used) Christmas playlist. This year I have discovered the Christmas album by Pentatonix, and it is phenomenal.
During my drive home, I was listening to their version of “Silent Night,” and I passed a roadside restaurant known for its fabulous chicken-on-a-stick (it’s also known for MSG, so I have to limit my visits). It was one of those slow motion moments: a teenage boy darted down the road, pumping his arms and holding a huge bag of food, while another teenage boy chased him. An old woman yelled. The first boy dropped the bag of food. And my heart dropped a little.
Silent Night. Humph, seems like a bunch of chaos all around. Who needs the news to tell us this world is crazy? We know. 
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Was Bethlehem really quiet that night Jesus was born? I doubt it. There was a census taking place and Roman/Jewish conflict. Oh, how the conflicts have continued–down the street and across the globe. But this we also know: even though this world is clamoring all around us, HE IS the calm, and HE IS bright. He calmed the storm for the disciples and He calms the storms in our souls. And He is the Light of the World who brightens all things, and helps us to understand what is going on around us. 

We grope for answers, when we forget to grope for Him.
Maybe your house is noisy. Maybe your heart is noisy. Maybe the idea of a silent night seems impossible. But it’s not about volume, or pitch, or frequency. It’s about peace. And HE IS the Prince of Peace. 
Surrender your heart to Him, and while the world around you will continue to make quite a racket, you will experience His holiness, and you will experience a silent night in the truest form: a night where your worries rest in Him.
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
“For He Himself is our peace…” Ephesians 2:14a
Credit: “Silent Night” by Joseph Mohr
Image: Google images/Free clip art/

The Wonder and Antics of Advent

Advent, children, Christian, Christmas, encouragement, eternal perspective,, Jesus

It is that beautiful waiting–that stomach-fluttering sensation with eyes wide open in bed. Christmas is coming. The house feels stuck in time with a soft glow as Mama and Dad shuffle around downstairs. I can hear Mama say, “Jon, where’s that other roll of tape?” Christmas is tomorrow. Breathing deeply I can still smell the candle-blown-out smell from my Christmas Eve candle I got to carry to bed all by myself.  
About once a week leading up to Christmas, our family would do Advent devotionals. Sometimes we missed a week, and sometimes we forgot and only did it Christmas Eve, but it was always so special and so important. There was the gold wreath, holding four candles and one in the middle– one for each of us to light. Dad would read scripture verses about Jesus in Isaiah and Luke, and one of my brothers would attempt to blow out the candles with puffs of breath, pretending to hide his antics from Dad. We snickered and shifted, trying to find a comfy position on the floor.  There was a warmth and anticipation that enveloped us in our flannel pajamas and slippers we had outgrown years ago. My family has this thing with traditions.
Those advent devotionals taught me about living in remembrance of the Gospel and never forgetting the holiness and specialness of our Lord, our continual inadequacy, and His continual love. Now I realize that those nights were a picture of our lives.  Even though we can sit still better than when we were young, we never truly grow out of our antics. We recognize the glory of God, but still seem to fidget with the cares of this world, both the things we love and the things we fear. 
In Christ’s holiness and in the expectancy of His second coming, we are less than we should be. We wiggle and squirm, our mannerisms often irreverent. But He came all the same. He came to glorify the Father and save us. So recognize the beauty of this moment and take a few to remember and wait, remember how He came and wait with joy for His return. Maybe you’re worried that you did not get so-and-so a good present, or maybe you can’t find the other roll of tape. It’s okay. Light a few candles for Advent, read some scriptures, and let the flame remind you of the Light of the World who came to rescue you and will descend again. Christmas is coming.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann
P.S. Interested in trying an Advent devotional (in addition to scripture reading)? It’s not too late! Here are a few ideas:
Image Credit: Google Images/

The Unadventure: Everyday Tasks with Eternal Perspective

adventure, encouragement, eternal perspective,, island, Jesus, The Valley of Vision
“Teach me the happy art of attending to things 
temporal with mind intent on things eternal.”

The Valley of Vision

There are many wonders about island life. There are also many lies. There’s this one about how I lie on the beach all day sipping smoothies to a live reggae band, breeze in my hair and enticing novel in my hand. But I don’t. 

Perhaps once a month there will be a magical day like that, but most days are ordinary days, days much like anywhere else. I stand in grocery store lines and swerve to avoid hitting people in traffic. I feel too far from certain people I love.

I do laundry, make dinner for my husband, and sweep the floor. I yell at Sue (the dog) to stop barking at the poor cat who broke her leg and subsequently took Sue’s favorite shaded spot. And I open my arms wide, hoping to get some breeze. It can be so very hot. Shirts do not last me very long here. Just sayin’.

The island is great for adventure, from hiking, to snorkeling, to interacting with so many diverse cultures. I love it. However, it is not those activities that define my time here. It’s playing with my dog. It’s kissing my husband goodnight at the fire station and driving home alone. It’s laughing at the hilarious toddlers we teach in Sunday school who always think Eric is my dad.

There are days I have looked down into the sink and thought, what am I doing with my life?! And then God reminds me that living for Him involves the everyday things, the mundane things, the boring things.Sometimes those are the greatest mountains we can know.  

All these “little tasks” are ways to take care of my family and can be ways of showing Christ’s love and commitment.

Am I doing these things with joy, with love for Him and trust in Him? Sure, wild adventures are great, but it seems to me that what defines a person’s character is not what they do when the epic music is playing in the background, but what they do when it’s not. 

Those dishes matter. That laundry matters. They matter because the people using them matter. And while Jesus performed miracles for a few years, it seems that He spent most of His time on earth in His dad’s shop. Just remember that. 

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

Photo Credit: Google (free) Images/

Weekend Wonders: Photos of Serendipities: Palm Trees and A Path Less Taken

encouragement, Jesus, path less taken

A few days ago my husband and I, along with some new friends, went for a hike to San Carlos Falls. We had all been there before, but we were excited to see it again, due to the recent rain. Hoping it would be a great, rushing sight to behold, we were not disappointed (except for the onslaught of fat mosquitoes).
However, it was not the falls that spoke to me this time–it was a palm tree. No, I am not the Disney Pocahontas who sings to the foliage while leaves whirl around my head, but I am sure God teaches us through the beauty and wonder of nature.
While hundreds of other palms trees, surrounding the flowing stream, shot straight towards the sky, there was one that did not. It, too, needed the water and sunlight. But it chose a different path, a path less taken. This beautiful palm tree found a new way to live and even though it looks bizarre, it is also striking and lovely. 
Sometimes I have felt like this palm tree: a little weird, a little strange. Haven’t we all? There is a line from “What a Girl Wants” with Amanda Bynes that has a grip on me (despite its cheesiness). Daphne, Bynes’ character, has a cute male counterpart who asks her, “Why are you trying to fit in, when you were born to stand out?” 
There is nothing inherently wrong with conventionality, and being odd just for cheap attention and notoriety is completely useless and can even be harmful. But merely “going with the flow” to be accepted or avoid all conflicts can hold us back, especially if there is something more beautiful beckoning us to go a different way.
And if you love Jesus, He made it pretty clear that the way to follow Him would be narrow and far less popular. If there are days you become discouraged with your life, or you are afraid to take that first step down the different path, the different way, just remember the palm tree on the way to San Carlos Falls. It went a different way and ended up being rather remarkable.
Keep the Faith, 
Audrey Ann