Monthly Archives: December 2012

time . . .


“We’re growing older, realizing we cannot stop the hands of time.”

So said my elder friend in her annual Christmas greeting to my family. I felt the profundity of her proclamation. It’s nothing new; it just hit me harder this go around, struck me in the center of my heart. We’ve all heard it before, maybe even said it a time or two, a comment about our inability to halt the progression of time.

I’m not sure I really want to . . . stop time, but there have been a few occasions when I’ve felt some pain regarding its passage. At the core, I imagine it’s my desire to hold more of it . . . to manage time and to dispense it as I see fit. I find this yearning in others as well. It’s not always obvious, but every now and again, someone lets it slip . . . a word or two of regret that lingers as sadness rather than fond remembrance.

I heard it from my daughter’s lips on Christmas day when she realized that her unwrapping was over. Instead of savoring each gift, she tore into her treasures and could only watch as the rest of us lingered with our piles. She couldn’t stop the clock, and while tucking her in bed that evening, I saw the tears welling in her eyes as hope disappeared into the night with her whisper, “I wish we could do it all over again; I wish tomorrow were Christmas.”

I heard it in myself on Christmas day while listening to the CD my husband made for me of my eldest son’s 1998 cassette rendition of “It’s Carol Time”—song after song of Nick singing a cappella his favorite carols from the hymnal. In 1998, he was nine years old—a boy just discovering his voice via a microphone and a tape player. In 2012, a man now twenty-three, still discovering his voice. And I cried at the passage of time—this brief blip on the radar of my life that came and went by rapidly, almost without notice.

I heard it in my mother’s voice during a phone conversation this afternoon . . . a word or two that led me to believe there’s more to the story than meets the eye. That the passage of time has her, too, wondering about the swiftness of it all. A Christmas come and gone with but a few, brief memories that might easily fade with time.

Three generations of Killian women, all of us thinking on and digging into the depths of what it means to live a life too hastily and to know that no matter our longings, we cannot slow the hands of time. We can only live time as time arrives.

It’s a difficult thing to weigh it all out, especially when emotions run wildly and hearts are easily wounded by realities that cannot be manipulated, only experienced. Perhaps this is why so many of us struggle this time of year. We’re positioned for remembrance, for reflection. We don’t get to manage the calendar. December 25th comes for all of us, whether or not we’re prepared for its arrival. It’s thrust upon us, and we must walk it through.

Yes, we’re fine with remembering the Savior’s birth; his story lived way back then. But what about ours . . . our right now? Christmas also positions us to remember the birth of other things, other seasons in our lives; in doing so, we live the weightiness of the passage of time. It can be a grievous contemplation; accordingly, it shouldn’t be overlooked or underestimated. Instead, it should be given room enough to breathe, thereby allowing our grief a good release, a tilling up of the soil that cradles grief’s roots for the new seeds that God longs to plant therein—a fresh planting of the Lord to supplement the soil of our yesterdays.

If we cannot heartily grieve, then we cannot healthily move forward. We must acknowledge the pain that we feel regarding the passage of time; in doing so, we’re better prepared for the steps that lie ahead. Carrying grief or carrying regret into our tomorrows will limit forward progression. This doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t feel it; it simply means that we should live it as it arrives—recognize it, speak it, and give it the respect its due. This is how we gain better perspective. This is how we live truthfully before God and before his created. This is how we work it out and release some of the heaviness attached to time’s seemingly, increasing cadence.

We are growing older, friend, with each moment we’re allowed. It’s true; we cannot stop the flow of time. We can, however, live our moments authentically, wholly, and wonderfully engaged with the process. I don’t know what this will look like for you in coming days, but for me, it looks like this—a stringing together of a few words and thoughts from time to time that most accurately portray the stirrings of my heart. Perhaps they will stir yours as well, allowing you a moment or two of reflective pause, enabling you to put a few words to your story. If so, then this has been time well spent—sixty minutes of my life that I cannot reclaim, only release forward . . . to you. Do with them what you will; live them as you are able. Live your moments as they come so that you, too, can release them to your history with highest regard and without terrible regret.

And just in case you’re wondering, you mean the world to me. The time that you give to me is a rich grace from God. I love you each one.

Peace for the journey,


Merry Christmas 2012

From my home to yours, Merry Christmas. May the Present of the Presence of Christ rest upon you and yours as you travel to Bethlehem and beyond in this season. Jesus Christ . . . the beautiful crescendo of God’s heart! I pray you feel heaven’s pulse today.


“God rest ye, merry gentlemen . . . and women,, let nothing you dismay;

Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas day.

To save us all from Satan’s power,

When we were gone astray;

O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.

O tidings of comfort and joy.”


Rest and remember, friends. Christ is born in you this day! I’ll see you on the other side of the manger.

the song still sings . . .

a flame for Newtown . . . a song still sings

My daughter could barely get through the final paragraph. Her tears prevented her progress, her heart tenderly wrapped around and invested in the story of the faithful saint, Corrie ten Boom. Corrie finished her earthly chapter on her ninety-first birthday, only to begin her next one—her everlasting witness. It’s still breathing, still shaping hearts and defining souls. Still sowing kingdom seeds. Still putting notes to the musical scores of our faith, even twenty-nine years beyond her peaceful, home-going.

In thinking about Corrie and in absorbing the tremendous and present pain in our world, I am reminded of a line I spoke to a group of cancer survivors not long ago. It has staying power; at least it’s stayed with me. Why? Because it’s connected to a staying truth:

Being a survivor isn’t solely about defeating the disease. Perhaps, greater still, being a survivor is about defeating the silence that surrounds the disease.

Corrie wasn’t a cancer survivor. She was, however, a Holocaust survivor and was able to defeat the silence surrounding her captivity. She didn’t allow the enemy to confine her voice after her physical chains fell to the ground. Instead, she mined the treasures of her faith and her God throughout the course of her imprisonment and beyond. In doing so, she was never really held captive. In many ways, her chains freed her to be a greater witness, a brighter light, a harbinger of the good Gospel that will always sing and that can’t ever be silenced by the harshest of evils in this world. God’s Word cannot be chained. And today, Corrie’s song lives on in the heart of a ten-year-old girl and her forty-six-year-old mom because of the staying power of God’s eternal song.

Two thousand years ago, a soul-defining cry was heard in Bethlehem’s silent night. Many would take note of the witness; many would attempt to hush the melody. Not a lot has changed in 2000 years. Bethlehem still sings its song. Some will hear it; some will refuse the chorus. Regardless of our responses, whether acceptance or rejection, the music continues. God’s still scoring his masterpiece, and because of his amazing grace, our voices are added to the refrain.

Being a soul-survivor isn’t solely about defeating the evil in this world. Perhaps, greater still, being a soul-survivor is about defeating the silence that surrounds the evil.

I’ve sung it before; I’ll sing it again.

Live forward, ye pilgrims on the road of faith! Fight forward, ye warriors of Christendom! Sing forward, ye heralds of the Gospel! Our best days are ahead of us. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

PS: The winner of the Starbuck’s gift card and one of my books is Karin Ripp. Karin, please send me your snail mail via my contact form and your choice of book. I’ll have this out to you this week; hopefully, you’ll receive it in time for Christmas.

where Love lives . . .

Go to where love lives.

This was God’s message to me earlier today . . . to go out into the world and find where love lives, where love is. Where the sights and sounds of Christmas are still burning their witness—those homes and those folks who aren’t afraid to deck the halls, display a crèche, and throw in a few lights for good measure.

Go to where love lives, Elaine, and remember that Christmas is alive and well and thriving within arm’s reach of your front door.

This is becoming increasingly difficult to manage, the finding of Christmas love. Why? I think it is because there’s too much anger in the world, too much busyness, too much consumption. The ABC’s of discontent.

Angry about . . .
Busy with . . .
Consumed by . . .

Living there (with anger, busyness, and consumption), it’s easy to overlook the love. Love rarely blossoms within the soil of dissatisfaction. Instead, love often suffocates because of it. Rather than feeling the love, we suffer the sting of having missed it, wondering where it all went wrong and how we’ve arrived at this season of painful reduction. What if, instead of our anger, busyness, and consumption, we adopted an alternate approach to finding love–the ABC’s of consecrated pilgrimage rather than the ABC’s of discontent?

Approach the manger.
Behold the Child.
Consider the Gift.

Approaching, beholding, and considering Jesus. He is where love lives. Find him, and you’ll find Christmas peace.

Go to where love lives. If things are getting a little crowded in your interior—if you’re depending solely on your ability to keep the Christmas spirit alive only to realize your terrible insufficiency at doing so—why not step outside your confinement and search for the sights and sounds of Bethlehem around you. In your neighborhood. Around the table. At an altar. In the faces of family, friends, and strangers who cross your path. When you can’t find the love on your own, choose population over isolation. Don’t allow the enemy to fuel your search or to fool you into believing that Christmas cannot be found . . . that Christmas is dead.

Christmas is not dead; Christmas is alive and burning brightly in the hearts and homes of those who’ve not yet caved in to desperation or bowed low to discontent. Go, find those pilgrims, and allow their witness to be the guiding light that leads you toward renewed hope and strengthened perspective.

Go to where love lives. And then, from that filling, courageously and willingly live love before others so that they might find their way home to Jesus. Light a candle for the King and his kingdom. Together, we decorate this earth with our faith.

Prepare, ye, the way of the Lord! I’ll meet you on the road. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,


One with the one . . .

“You handle the holy things of God as they should be handled.”

My husband’s words stopped my heart and immediately covered it with God’s peace. This was his response to me after hearing about my morning in Sunday school, about how I had prepared (once again) enough materials for a table full of children to make Advent wreaths while, in reality, only needing one set . . . for my daughter. My response to his response?

“Sometimes, I think it’s easier to preach to the crowd than it is to preach to the one.”

And that is where we left it—mutual hearts stirred by one another’s words about holy things and preaching to the one. This was our Sunday moment, an Advent moment. A revelation, a prophecy, and a hope wrapped up in this first candle of expectation.

This was and is the point from which we move forward to the manger, believing that the One who came and the One who is to come best understands about handling the holy things of God and that in the midst of his cradling—his holding of us—we are not forgotten, because we are the why and the what behind his arrival. We are the one in the midst of the crowd. We are his one, and he is God’s One. The One with the one.

Emmanuel. God with us. God in us. God, help us!

Heavenly promise, heavenly provision, and a humble plea to take hold of this mystery that belongs to me and to handle it as holy. To cradle the ones who rest in the palms of my hands even as the One has cradled me in his.

Oh to arrive here, at this state of blessed communion and understanding! I’m not there yet, but I’m moving closer with these conversations and with these intentional steps of pilgrimage. This Christmas will not slip by me. This Christmas will change me.

How about you? How will you walk to Bethlehem this year? Might I suggest this Advent leading? Light the candle of hope in your heart and on your hearth, and see if God is not faithful to make manifest his holiness to you, in you, and, ultimately, through you.

God’s One with the one.

Expect him.

Expect Peace . . . for the journey.

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