Time for Joy:  Facing our Limits (Genesis 1:14-15)

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.” -Genesis 1:14-15

Acknowledging that we are mortal beings and therefore have limitations can be difficult to accept.  Sure we say we know we won’t live forever but actually living it out can be quite the reckoning. 

Take some time to write and reflect this week on one or more of these questions:

  • Have you ever acted like you can do it “all”?  Think of a time when you tried to do “all the things” by yourself.
  • While it might feel powerful sometimes to do things on your own, what are the advantages of admitting you can’t do it all?
  • Imagine an overwhelming situation that you have been in or are in.  How does that situation make you feel?  What words describe how you are functioning in that situation? What would it look like to admit you can’t do it all?  How would that feel?

We hope this brings you some comfort and joy! You can spread the joy by liking, commenting and sharing this post with others. Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.


Some Comfort and Joy was developed as a devotional resource that follows the rhythms and seasons of the liturgical year from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective.

Time for Comfort: Facing Our Limits (Genesis 1:14-15)

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.” -Genesis 1:14-15

The sky’s the limit!

You can have it all.

Just work harder.

The Western aphorisms around success and hustle culture encourage us to deny any sort of limits. Workaholism, busy-ness and self-sacrifice to the point of ill health are traits that are lauded and rewarded. And yet our human nature is defined by its limits. We spend a third of our lives sleeping! The limitations that come with a body– the need for rest and the physical aging process– are part of how we are created. In ordering the world, God imposed limits. The very creation of the world involved containing the chaos. 

As you bump up against various types of limits in your day today– as the alarm clock blares, stop lights turn red, school hours end, the sun sets, your energy wanes– pause in thanks for finitude. For it is the limits of our human experience that give our lives their deepest meaning. 

Creative Spirit who orders the chaos, may I find rest, peace and joy in the limits of my life. 


We hope this brings you some comfort and joy! You can spread the joy by liking, commenting and sharing this post with others. Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.

Some Comfort and Joy was developed as a devotional resource that follows the rhythms and seasons of the liturgical year from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective.

Time for Joy:  Priorities (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1

While the advent of modern conveniences was to make life easier for us, the lived reality has been that instead of increased free time, we now expect to be able to accomplish more things within the given hours of a day. 

In recognition of the truism, when everything is a priority, nothing is priority, in 2022 I committed to a new ritual. On the first day of each new month I took a few minutes to review my calendar:

  • What did I know the weeks would hold? 
  • What had I committed to? 
  • What was most important to me in the coming month? 

Out of those questions, I would list 2-3 priorities for the month. If these things got done, I had done well, I decided. At first it was challenging to limit myself to just a few items. But, that discipline reminded me that I really cannot prioritize everything I might want to. With more than 14 index cards taped into my journal, I now see that what was once a challenging discipline is now a freeing gift that honors the limits of my time and prioritizes my intentions.

We hope this brings you some comfort and joy! You can spread the joy by liking, commenting and sharing this post with others. Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.


Some Comfort and Joy was developed as a devotional resource that follows the rhythms and seasons of the liturgical year from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective.

Time for Comfort:  There is never enough (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;    
there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

Let’s face it, our culture is infatuated with busy-ness.  It is easy to be sucked in.  We stack our days full of activities.  For many of us the worth we assign ourselves is directly tied to how much we are able to accomplish in a given day.   We often ask, “So what do you do?”  

I recently heard a young woman recount how she was encouraged by her counselor to skip all her college classes for the day.  She did and was forced to admit that the world kept spinning and some of her teachers didn’t even notice.  The point the counselor was trying to make had to do with her own pride in pursuing tasks and staying busy.

It takes self examination, for many of us again and again, to be able to separate the things we do from our experience of worth.  Accomplishments in life and meaningful work are important!  But what freedom and joy would we have if our tasks flowed out of a deep acknowledgment of God’s unconditional love, rather than out of an effort to prove ourselves worthy?

Oh Divine Teacher,  That we would love You more deeply and somehow understand Your abiding love of each of us, just as we are.
AMEN

We hope this brings you some comfort and joy! You can spread the joy by liking, commenting and sharing this post with others. Be sure to subscribe and never miss a post.

Some Comfort and Joy was developed as a devotional resource that follows the rhythms and seasons of the liturgical year from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective.

New Year, New Series…

Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Wishing for a few extra weeks of vacation? Or that time would just slow down already? 

The start of a new year always brings the cultural pressures of resolutions, improved habits and strategies to live your best life now. But, what if instead of striving, working harder or goal setting we learned to embrace the gift of the present? What if we rebelled against the notion that time is one more commodity to be maximized and profited from? What if we embraced time simply as the medium in which life unfolds? 

Drawing from biblical texts related to time, paired with concepts from the book 4000 Weeks by Oliver Bukeman, our first series of 2023 will focus on various ways to think about and utilize our time

Christmas Blessing (with Festive Beverage Recipes)

May you wake to the possibility of a miracle in your midst.

May the twinkle of lights reflect the sparkle of joy in your world on this Christmas morning.

May the unfolding of this day bring a sense of peace to your soul.

May you unwrap the gift of hope anew. 

(…and may there be a roaring fire and a cozy beverage as you savor the day)

Merry Christmas from Gwen & Sher!

Treat yourself today to a holiday chai latte, homemade hot chocolate or peppermint mocha!

Holiday Chai Latte

Steep 2 bags of chai tea (I like the Stash brand holiday chai) in 4oz of hot water for 2-3min.

Heat  8oz of milk (if you have a frother you could use it here!).

Discard tea bags and add milk to the tea.

Sweetened with 2T (or more) honey.

(Grandma Mim’s) Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Mix together

  • 5 ⅓ c. powdered milk
  • 2 c. instant chocolate (or cocoa powder)
  • ¾ c. powdered coffee creamer
  • ½ c. powdered sugar

Use 3 T per 1 c. hot water. 

Stir and serve with a candy cane for a peppermint twist!

(Homemade) Peppermint Mocha

Brew 8 oz of strong coffee (or some shots of espresso if you have a fancy coffee machine)

Heat 2 oz of milk and mix with brewed coffee. 

Add 2 T. homemade hot chocolate mix (or a shot of chocolate syrup if you have that on hand)

Add peppermint simple syrup* to desired sweetness

*Simple syrup is made by heating equal parts sugar and water until sugar is dissolved. You can flavor this by melting in a candy cane. It will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.


Spread the holiday cheer! Share Some Comfort and Joy with your friends. Be sure to subscribe to be the first to know about our new series for 2023 and never miss a post!

Advent Joy: Holiday Communing and Christmas Stollen Recipe 

Holiday Communing 

Wishlists exchanged
Litanies of 
Mermaids
Dumptrucks
Dinosaurs
Gift cards purchased

Recipes bookmarked
Cookies baked
Worry and anticipation mingle

Guest rooms dusted and polished
Meals planned
Phone calls and texts
Electronic prayers 
Wing across the miles
What will you bring?
When will you arrive?

Mantel decorated
Special napkins washed
Presents wrapped and waiting

“What’s your ETA?”

They arrive from distant planets
Brooklyn and Illinois
With bags and good cheer
Hugs surround us all
as the cold air blows
them in the door

Fussy and excited children
Beeline for the toy closet
The house is bursting

My heart as well 
naps negotiated 
Presents opened
Bread is broken
Meals consumed
Cookies praised

Days 
navigating each person’s space
Who eats what?  When and where?
Some sleep, others don’t
Quiet? Loud?

Introverts and extroverts 
bump around the house
Oops! Don’t talk about that
How do we have the same parents?
But then
Connections thrown across the living room
And caught
The hours fly
In the hymn of family conversation

Abruptly,
Before we’re ready
Cousins yell goodbye
Cars are packed
Hugs again
Wheels turn
Doors close

Dust settles like a blessing on the living room
All is quiet
Sadness mixes quietly with relief
The house is empty
My heart is full
Of holiday stillness.

Christmas Stollen
(from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook)

This is a great bread to have on hand when you have holiday guests overnight.  Besides being a festive sweet bread,  you can make it ahead of time and freeze it until it’s needed.

1 pkg.dry yeast
¼ c. warm water
Stir the yeast into the warm water and let it stand for 5 min to dissolve.

¾ c. warm milk
¼ c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 eggs
3 c. flour
Mix milk, granulated sugar, salt, butter and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add dissolved yeast, beat thoroughly, and add 1 ½ cups flour, beating until well blended.  Cover the bowl and let rist in a warm place for about 1 hour.

Add enough of the remaining flour so that the dough is easy to handle.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 min.  

1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
½ c. chopped almonds
¾ c. candied fruit

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead with the lemon rind, almonds, and candied fruit for a few minutes.  Pat dough into an oval ¼ inch thick.  Fold dough in half lengthwise bringing the upper half not quite to the edge of the lower half and press down along the edge to secure.  Place on buttered cookie sheets, cover and let double in bulk.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake stollen for 35 min.

Glaze
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp water

Mix sugar, lemon juice, and water and glaze the cake while it is still warm.  Decorate with gradnish of candied fruit and nuts.


Spread the holiday cheer! Share Some Comfort and Joy with your friends. Be sure to subscribe to be the first to know about our new series for 2023 and never miss a post!

Advent Comfort: Making Space (Matthew 1:18-25)

“But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid…” -Matthew 1:20

Decision fatigue. Analysis paralysis. Perfect is the enemy of good. We’ve all been there! If only God would send an angelic messenger my way. Then I could be certain of my choice.

“Often when we are in a period of discernment our hearts become noisy with choices and possibilities. We try to think our way through things to an outcome. We create lists of pros and cons. These can sometimes be helpful but they encourage us to whittle our life choices down to tangibles, when ofen what is most meaningful is intangible,” writes Christine Valters Painter in her newest book, Birthing the Holy.

She notes that we live in a culture that is terrified of slowing down, of making space. But in our efforts to endlessly produce, we do deep damage. “As Mary teaches us, creativity isn’t always about doing and producing; it is also about incubating and gestating.”

We are all invited to birth the holy in our lives. Might the faithful response to God’s invitation be a patient waiting? An embracing of a threshold? A quiet growing or maturing?

May I trust you, O God, in the threshold spaces of my life. May I have patience and peace as I discern, release and wait. Amen.


Spread the holiday cheer! Share Some Comfort and Joy with your friends. Be sure to subscribe to be the first to know about our new series for 2023 and never miss a post!

Advent Joy: Gift of Tradition & Fruitcake Recipe (Luke 1:46-56)

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” -Luke 1:46

Songs connect with a deeper part of ourselves. Familiar melodies and lyrics memorized long ago can stir a well of emotion in us with just a few notes. The familiar words of Mary’s song recorded in the gospel of Luke speak not only to her personal present experience, but connect her and her community to the rich tradition of faithfulness and provision while proclaiming the hope and vision for justice in God’s coming reign. 

Just like the strains of music, so too, flavors and spices can call forth memories, connecting us with our families and traditions. A few years ago, my father reminisced about the fruit cake his mother made for Christmases he experienced as a boy. 

At first, I turned my nose up at the idea of making a fruit cake (all the cultural jokes and such); this was not a treat that had made it into our contemporary family tradition. But as the days drew towards our Christmas meal, I thought it would be a special gift to surprise my dad with a taste from his childhood. 

While my first few attempts didn’t quite hit the mark, this combination is emerging as a newly beloved tradition for our family.

Family Favorite Fruitcake

Coarsely chop fruit

  • 2 c. dates
  • 1 1/4c. candied pineapple
  • 1 1/4c. candied cherries
  • 1/2c. candied orange peel

In a bowl mix together:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Toss with chopped fruit until pieces are evenly coated. 

In a(nother) bowl mix together:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Beat until eggs are frothy. Then pour over fruit mixture. 

Fold in:

  • 3 ¾c. Chopped walnuts (or any combination of your favorite nuts)

Pack firmly into a greased 9in springform pan.

Bake at 275F for an hour and a half. 

Let stand for 5-10 min on a cooling rack before releasing the sides of the pan

While still warm, brush cake with corn syrup.

Cool completely and enjoy (can be stored in the fridge or freezer for up to two months).


Spread the holiday cheer! Share Some Comfort and Joy with your friends. Be sure to subscribe to be the first to know about our new series for 2023 and never miss a post!

Advent Comfort: Christmas Prayer  (Luke 1:46-56)

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” -Luke 1:46

Holy God,
Along with Mary
We are people of our time and place
We wonder at the miracle of Your Son
Our hearts sing praise
While our minds struggle to accept the mystery
With our arms reaching
We welcome the unexpected gifts of this season.

Thank you
Again You arrive in our homes
Our hearts

We welcome you in Lord Jesus
Rearrange our worn out expectations
Give us eyes to see Your beauty
Ears to hear Your call
Hands and feet to enact Your love in the world

May we like Mary 
Accept with humility and joy
Your gift 
Embracing the warmth and surprise 
Of the newborn Son of God.
AMEN


Spread the holiday cheer! Share Some Comfort and Joy with your friends. Be sure to subscribe to be the first to know about our new series for 2023 and never miss a post!