We just wrapped up the most delightful week with family who came to visit us all the way from North Carolina. We walked around our little town, made candles, rode bikes. We sat around the house next to a warm fire, snacking and chatting and reading. And then after we ate a lot of tasty food and pie, we went up to the Redwoods to stroll around (and then drive into the cute little mountain town next door to eat some amazing pizza). I think that of all of the natural beauty out here, there is nothing that matches the Redwoods. Their age and scale and wisdom, it is truly something to behold.
We celebrated the first Sunday of Advent together before everyone went their separate ways, and there was something so sacred and life giving about praying together and singing together and looking towards the birth of Jesus with glad hearts.
Our family has experienced great loss this year, which was poignantly brought home this past week by the absence of Ben's brother John. It has been only a few months still, and we feel the weight of his loss. And honestly, that sadness feels like an appropriate response: I would never want to conceal it or sugar coat it. But there is a way that our hope transforms even our sadness. As we together recited the response for Sunday's Night prayer, "He will conceal you with his wings; you will not fear the terror of the night," I think we all felt the words with conviction. We still have so much goodness and beauty and joy in our midst-- and that is a testament to God's great provision for us.