What Saved Your Life This Year?

Hey there, friend!  Oh, it's so very good to be back with you again!

I've always loved a good Christmas break, this year maybe even more so because I purposely focused on observing the month of Advent instead of just randomly falling into Christmas day.  And unlike other holiday seasons, I actually followed through on that sacred emphasis, thanks to Ann Voskamp's gently powerful guidebook, The Greatest Gift.

At the conclusion of this most unsettling year, Advent became a necessary gift, a healing grace that I slowly unwrapped and pondered and savored, this offering of steady attention and devotion to our Savior.

Most mornings found me reflective and still, sleeping later and slowly praying myself awake.  There was no need to head online to check things out or run hither and yon to link up a post, flitting all over the place, leaving a trail of comments in my wake.  In fact there were days when I didn't even think about going anywhere near my laptop.

And then there were those moments when I was missing that connection with you so I quietly tiptoed around online for a few minutes but didn't leave a much of a footprint behind.

The break recalibrated my soul and reminded me of the need to pursue what feeds my soul at the deepest level, the solitude and silence of a yearning heart that finds fulfillment in an unrushed rhythm, a gentle interaction with her Savior, those most needful choices that all too easily get lost in the shuffle of the daily, the routine.


In recent weeks, I've tossed around Emily Freeman's prompt to write about what I learned this year.  And reflected more than a bit on Episcopal pastor / professor Barbara Brown Taylor's superb query, 'what's saving your life today?'

If I rolled those invitations into one, it would look like this ...

What were God's unexpected blessings that offered you
 a needed invitation, a life-giving wellspring, a refreshing oasis?

After a bit of jotting and shuffling around a bunch of random thoughts, these are the three life-giving graces that melded together to best redeem these most recent 12 months ...


There were those morning conversations journaled back and forth with the One who knows me best, the Lover of my soul.  The Holy One who has faithfully proven to always accept me where I am, yet has never failed to invite me into a deeper, more substantial relationship with Him.  

If I chose to {and I usually don't}, I could page back through spring, summer, and fall and see the remnants of simply surviving and doing the next right thing.  Walking through, working through the avalanche of decisions and farewells and layers of grief, one on top of the next, a non-stop cascading domino effect that left me breathless and numb.

When it all seemed to be just too much, when I was overwhelmed by sorrow, when anxiety made its occasional random unsettling appearance ... it's all written out in living color, names and identifying descriptions purposely excluded 'cause God knew exactly what I was pouring out without going into any specific details that would hurt or upset a someday reader.

I'd see a trail of answered prayers and a miracle or two amidst the churning whirlwind, His oft' whispered, 'peace, be still, Linda.'  His mercies seen and noted and embraced, words of deepest gratitude and appreciation interlaced with other much less attractive observations.

And then there's this world of writing online, this wonderful weaving of words and phrases, images and conversations, this sharing of life together.  It all started back at the Creekside blog some eight years ago and morphed this past summer into this light-filled, sparsely decorated, more personal space where encouraging conversations between kindred spirits continue to flow.

In this ongoing process of heart and pen and ink melding together and flowing freely, I've been heard, validated, held, and loved.  By Him.  And by you.


Over time I've learned that healthy community comes in all shapes and sizes.  We usually require active participation in more than one to live lives that are balanced and whole.  Each group serves a different purpose, meets a different need.  For we were never meant to sojourn alone, to do life in a vacuum.

Family.  We're bound together by blood and adoption, generations and stories, and a faith that anchors strong.  Despite the miles, the differences in ages, personalities, and perspectives, there is an oft' unspoken grace given and forgiveness received, bursts of laughter and song, and cherished gathering together that keeps us tight and close. 

And then there's that 38 year sense of place back in NY, that sense of belonging left behind after this summer's huge relocation.  To leave friends and ministry and clients and all that was familiar was raw and wrenching indeed, leaving a gaping hole that still aches when touched.

This season finds Tim and I responding to some warm invitations to venture into a new church community ... and I am surprised at the strength of my yearning, despite my sometimes tentative responses.

And last, but certainly not least, there's this delightfully portable community right here on these pages.  You didn't miss a beat as I moved from one state to another.  Dozens of you came along for the ride, pulling up cozy chairs around this virtual table, offering kind support, shaping discussions that matter, and dishing up some savvy and smart observations as we experienced those 'what, you too?' moments week in and week out.


In the midst of everything, anything, all things, there is the call to give thanks.  Not necessarily for life's painful griefs or aching heartaches, but for the stunning, uplifting presence of our Holy Savior right in the middle of the mess, the mire, the melancholy.

Christ stands rock solid and sure when all around our souls is giving way, when the bottom is dropping out of life, when we wonder what might be waiting around the next corner.  Speechless as we may sometimes be, awed by His mercies and grace, the reality of His redemptive loving care is a cause for awesome praise, indeed.

In the midst of Advent's beauty, Ann Voskamp wrote it best ... 'Rejoicing in the Lord happens while we still struggle in the now.  Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.'

I overflow with gratitude and praise God for His faithful loving care.  Ever and always.


What saved your life this past year?