will you be lonely at Christmas?


Christmas is fast approaching! The more organised have crossed off lists, the semi-organised have started writing lists and everyone else is definitely considering thinking about lists …soon …maybe. 

For many, Christmas plans are predictable. Traditions have been well established and you know where you’ll be for each part of the day (or 3 days), who will be part of each gathering and what the general format of each occasion will be. 

For others, Christmas represents looming fear. Plans are unconfirmed. Perhaps circumstances have changed since last year – a divorce, death, you (or others) have moved, work situations have changed, family life has shifted – and so you’re not really sure what it will look like. 

If you know someone who is alone NOW is the time to check they have a place to go and people to be with. Now is the time when the pending loneliness might be starting to niggle at their hearts and their peace. Now is the time they might be wondering if they ought to prepare for a quiet day alone. 

So NOW is the time to extend the invitation. A simple “what are your plans for Christmas Day?” will reveal those without any. And a follow up to be included in a specific aspect of your plans will, at the very least, have them know that if they spend the day alone it will be by choice and not by force. 

Celebration days can be difficult for Singles or those living far from or without extended family. “Everyone” talks of busy, tired, full and fun times that can contrast sharply with some people’s experience and that is part of the feeling of loneliness. 

My friend posted this on FaceBook today and I love it. 


Who are you spending Christmas with? Who could you check in with? To whom might you extend an invitation to ensure they’re not lonely this Christmas?

launching adults • when they don’t get married 


Imagine this. You have a 26 year old daughter. She meets *the* guy and after a period of dating he pops the question and you’re on the track to launch your daughter into the world. 

There’s an engagement party. Friends and family gather to express their excitement and joy. A handsome collection of towels, platters and salad bowls are given to the happy couple and stored away while preparations for the BIG day roll on. 

The house is bought or a rental property secured and furniture is purchased or gathered from friends and family looking for a charitable reason to upgrade their own. 

The bride is treated to a Shower or Kitchen Tea – where the women in her world huddle to exchange recipes and tips, play random games with pegs, stock her pantry and laundry closet with hundreds of dollars worth of consumables and thirty tea towels and, more importantly, let her know that there are women in her world cheering for her and supporting her in this next stage of her life.

Then comes the wedding day. People come from interstate and even overseas. They file into the church in their finery – the married ones reminiscing about their own special day and everyone feeling the privilege of sharing in such a sacred and momentous occasion. Then they eat and dance and raise their glasses as parents and best friends speak blessing and hope on behalf of everyone. The wedding gift registry has been bought out; providing tableware, appliances, linen and decorative items to ensure the couple are well established as they create their first home. And the questions commence about when you might be expecting the arrival of your first grandchild. 

Now imagine this. 

Your daughter is 26 years old. 

And she moves out of home. 

That’s all. 

Perhaps she has a housewarming. Maybe she receives a couple of cards and a few candles or table runners. 

Exchange your daughter for a son and though there’d be some differences in the narrative the end result is similar. A well celebrated, highly affirmed, and practically supported launch into the world. 

The contrast ought to raise a few questions for us. 

Who knows if there is marriage in their future or not. Maybe there are still the engagement, showers and wedding to look forward to. But maybe not. 

What do you think? How do we launch adults with any sense of ceremony and passage without the engagement and wedding process? What is missed for those exiting home and establishing themselves independently without these experiences? What mechanisms might there be to facilitate intergenerational connection or verbalised support? 

celebrating mother’s day

As a gift to our Mums and families on Mother’s Day, our church photography team offered family portraits. I love that our church did this! We were excited to think of all the mums who would love the chance to have a quality photo taken with their brood – for free! Winner, right?

What I didn’t anticipate was an extra blessing that came from offering this service. One that swept me – and others – up in its expression of God’s heart for His family and generated such a great buzz amongst those who were present. 

It’s all summed up by these three photos. 


The first photo is my Mumsy and me. Isn’t she the cutest? Bless her little silver socks off! If she’s lucky enough, I might get it printed on a coffee mug so she can look at us all the time! 

But here’s where the fun started. 

The middle photo is of my great friends, the Whites … and me! As they rounded up their children for the photo Sharyn walked past me and said, “Get ready, you’re in the next photo!” I replied, “Me?” And the answer came, “Yeah, of course, you’re family!” It’s no wonder my smile was so cheesy and bright! 

Of course, the photo itself doesn’t make me family. But it captures a heart and relationship that is very much about being family. These guys have consistently extended themselves to include and support me in ways I have come to rely on and I love the relationships I share with them – individually and collectively. Such a blessing. 

The third photo is a “3 generations” photo. Elise came alongside me and said “So, family photo? Y’know, spiritual mum and all that.” (Of course I am far too young to be a biological mother to someone her age. Cough. Cough. Not really. Sigh.) And then she called out to young Alex and said, “It’s family photo time!” Of course, Alex’s eyes lit up at the idea of her mentor (and hero) including her. And so the three of us snuggled up for a shot. 

Together, these photos reflect what celebrating Mother’s Day looked like for me. An opportunity to honour and love on my own Mum; being included in a family’s celebration and expression; and acknowledging the special role of spiritual mothers. 

As people lined up for photos in our foyer, those relationships were captured in various combinations, with similar feelings of honour, inclusion and gratitude. 

Mother’s Day is simultaneously one of my favourite days and one of my most difficult. I have long ago made the decision to celebrate the day (read “I will celebrate Mother’s Day“) because despite my grief and longing there are many women who are worthy of recognition and honour. This year I found that in celebrating others I, too, was celebrated and it was a truly memorable day. 

“12 thoughts of Christmas” #11: Looking Back

At the end of each year I have a staff review with my Senior Pastor, perhaps you do something similar at your work. We look at the year that was: highlights and challenges. We reflect on the things we’d identified as work areas for the year. We pause and acknowledge the growth and fruit that we see in me personally and in the various ministries and people I oversight as part of my role.

I’m terrible at it!! Because I can’t remember past the last few weeks!! It’s true. Before the meeting I go to other people in the office and in my life and say “help me out, what happened this year?!” It feels like the last month has enough happening to fill a list of highlights and challenges on its own!

Looking back is an essential part of doing life well. Without looking back we can be so consumed with the now that we lose sight of how far we’ve travelled and all that we’ve done, learnt, experienced, given, received, released, achieved and become. And most importantly, we neglect a great opportunity for gratitude and celebration!

Before the new year and all it contains consumes your time and brain space, can I encourage you to spend some intentional time looking back? Reflect on significant events and milestones. Acknowledge the difficult experiences you may have had – with your testimony being, at the very least, that you survived!! 🙂 Note the changes you saw in your family, your relationships, your children, your physical or work environments. Reflect on the impact you and your family were able to make in the lives of others – giving to charities or a sponsor child, serving at church, investing in your neighbours – it is always a privilege to be used to bring joy to others. Remember the new things you saw or tried, the traditions you started or continued, the skills you developed, the successes you achieved and the failures you recovered from.

There should be quite a list, but if you’re like me and have trouble remembering too much passed the recent weeks perhaps you could ask others to contribute to the discussion.

Pause to give God thanks for the year that was. Whether it’s a year that you’d love to do again or one you are happy to see the end of. Nothing is for nothing in God’s economy – everything you experienced will be used by Him to refine and strengthen you and to prepare you for the things that are in store.

Share your thankfulness with others. Display a “Top 10 list” on your fridge, post it on Facebook, share it in an email, write it in your diary … or even share it here below.