Will we own this Christmas season or will it own us? Will we stop for reflection and deeper meaning or will we get caught up in the busyness that so easily besets our culture? To turn off the world and light a candle is a bold act of defiance. When we quiet ourselves and gather around the soft flame we are owning this season—we are making space for intimacy to invade our homes and our hearts.

Turn everything off, light a candle, and consider the face of a child.  Consider the wonder. The reverence. Children inherently receive something in the candlelight. Something we need to be reminded of.

In and out of focus

Laura Birkey

Its 4 a.m. and for a brief moment, my mind focuses in on His eyes—vibrant and full. A hint of a catch light. A photographer’s dream.

I’m exhausted from my too-full schedule, but I can’t fall back asleep. My mind and heart set on so many objectives. The more I set out to enumerate all my desired tasks—as if writing them down is half the work of completion—the more fettered my heart grows. At this rate, I’ll never catch up, never feel “on top of it.” And with each new checkbox, my focus fractures.

Have you heard the deal with multitasking? It’s not real. Our brains aren’t actually equipped to sustain focus on more than one task. In reality, the brain is switching back and forth very quickly between two objectives esteemed worthy of attention, decreasing efficiency. Not only are we slower, but the quality suffers too.


In my profession, I constantly struggle with focus. I rarely take still life or individual portraits, so the number of focal points increases with each person added to the frame. To get a really beautiful image, I have to set my lens to limit the amount of objects in focus. Then I pick my focal point, fine tune it to crisp lines and snap the picture. With portraiture, it’s the eyes I want to make stand out above the rest.

It’s the same with our human eyes; we cannot sustain multiple focal points. Objects in our peripheral vision are blurry while both the direction and distance of our gaze determines the exact focal point.

Somehow, as we prepare for Christmas, we think our hearts and minds can sustain focus on multiple ideals for the season: Celebrate Family, Enjoy Gifts, Cultivate Holiday Spirit, Give To Less Fortunate, Don’t Offend Anyone, Try Not To Feel Too Rushed, Remember Jesus. And we think if we can find just the right balance of all of them, we’ll have a beautiful season to look back on.

After an hour of tossing, I get up and yield to the invitation. For singular focus. For an undivided heart.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
— Psalm 16:7-8


To light a candle

Tony Woodall

What is candlelight?
A violent spark
And a gentle flame

Oh Lord, strike my stony heart!
And break my brokenness!
Ignite me with your Spirit again!

Then your kindness will be our flame
As we meet face to face
By candlelight

The quiet place

Nicole Soraich

It’s in that quiet place. I hear a whisper, a verse. I feel a nudge. A fleeting thought goes through my head. I see pictures or have dreams. His voice grabs my attentions and draws my affections to Him. As I go about my day, I listen with anticipation for what He has to say. My heart yearns for the whispers of Truth, the nudge to do the courageous, the thought that I’m His, a picture of His glorious face, a verse that reminds me I’m a new creation. I hang onto His every word. I daydream of His eyes that burn like fire.1 It’s in the quiet place that He tells me who I truly am. It’s in the quiet place that I’m whole, a daughter of the King,2 free from bondage, bold like a Lion, and gentle as a lamb. It’s in this place that I’m filled to overflowing3 and no matter how much I’m fed I’m always hungry for more. The most beautiful thing about this quite place is it’s not stationary. It’s everywhere I am, because it’s in me. He dwells in me and my body is His temple.4 And where the Spirit of the Lord there is freedom5...

and hope
and joy
and love
and peace.

And with Him I will have no fear. Nothing or No one can touch the Spirit He has put in me. So with this confidence that I find within myself from Him I am untouchable.6 It’s in this sweet, intimate, safe, gentle, peaceful place that I long to be in more and more with the hope that eventually the lines are blurred between my space and His and that I just live in and from the quiet place.


  1. Revelation 1:14
  2. John 1:12-13
  3. Romans 15:13
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:19
  5. 2 Corinthians 3:17
  6. Romans 8:31