Sunday, December 8, 2013

Silver Morning


The morning glowed silver.

Slipping through time on a glossy highway, fog and mist elegantly wrapped around hard edges of landscape. Dark bare branches, stood like statuesque still-life set against the palest grey sky. It was beautiful and peaceful and for a few moments my spirit was carried away to another realm.

I felt Him so near to me and slowly I melted into the melody of that morning. . .

covered by grace. . .

held so close to the beating of His eternal heart. 

It was just what my hardening heart needed. Though I know deep down in my world-weary soul that He never leaves me and will never forsake me, I can still feel like I’m a million miles away from Him at times, and that can shatter my confidence into a million minuscule pieces.

That’s where I had been earlier that week, trying to piece back together some semblance of confidence since unexpected changes had recently entered into my life. Stepping into new territory I found fear and doubt had begun wiggling their way into my days and often anxiety walked alongside me as an unwelcome heart-pounding companion.

It’s funny how one unexpected turn of events can suddenly turn our world dizzy into a spinning spiral and soon we have no idea which way is up and so we fall down. But I guess how far we fall down depends on how close we really are to the One who 

holds every twirling moment in His hands.

None of it was a surprise to God. He knows the plans He has for me (Jer. 29:11), and He knew that this too was all part of His plan for me. I knew it too. Deep inside I really did know that He was directing these steps and finally on that morning drive, the dizziness stopped and the solid road before me became clear.

He painted it silver on that wet December morning and He met me there in the middle of it, on the shining road that he had paved for me.

It was a moment of heaven on earth held in His loving embrace and I was reminded that one day I will walk with Him on streets paved in 

glorious gold!

Each day as I continue to walk with Him I know I am one step closer to walking on gold, and I know with all of my heart,

 it will absolutely be worth the wait.


I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
    along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
    and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
    I will not forsake them.
- Isaiah 42:16

Monday, December 2, 2013

Never Ending Grace


But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  
– Ephesians 2:4-9 NASB

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Call of December


In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff in the air of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you’ve never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.  
– Frederick Buechner


There is change in the air. 

Almost weighted with the unmistakable feeling that something wonderful is coming, something the heart and soul have been longing for, deep, yet unaware.

It’s December 1st and I've placed the first glittering jewel upon the gold-gilded calendar hand-made by my precious mom to count down the days. 24 days of waiting and wondering, praying and reflecting, all in anticipation of the day when we will celebrate the Christ child’s birth. 

I wrote the poem below, The Call of December, around this time last year after catching a glimpse of gold-colored leaves swirling around the back yard in a cold blast of wind. It stirred in my spirit the feeling of change, and the gladness of the Christmas season coming. 

The word Advent is derived from the Latin word Adventus, meaning coming. It is in these days of December, with grateful hearts, we take time to reflect on the Babe who came, and the One who still comes. . .

Immanuel – God with us. . .

The Greatest Gift ever given.

* * * 
Golden leaves dancing
On silvery breeze
Stirring up sacred visions
That the heart only sees

And the cool kiss of air
Whispers of things to come
Winter days lit with diamonds
At the breaking of dawn

It’s the call of December
Heard deep in the soul
With a cry from the manger
And the angels bent low

It’s the promise of heaven
Given one blessed night
The Gift from the Father
Making everything right
* * * 

The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, 
was coming into the world. 

He came into the very world He created, but the world did not recognize Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 

So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
- John 1:9-14 NLT

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanks-Living


Just one day to give thanks? 

What if we try with our one single life to *LIVE* thanks?

To find ways every day, in every way, to give thanks, show thanks, and live thanks all in response to the incredible gift of simply living.

If only we would remember, deep down in our glory-made souls, that each day is a precious gift from God and never our entitlement. 

How different this world would be if every day we would take time to look up from our selfishness, take a deep breath and a good look around --- at all the goodness around --- and simply say . . . 

THANK YOU!

Thank You for my life. Thank You for my family, my friends, my home. Thank You for the great-outdoors. Thank You for children laughing, and birds singing, and sun shining, and water sparkling, and hearts racing, and art-making, and joy, joy, joy! There is so much JOY in giving thanks!

Why don’t we do it more? 

When did we forget that giving thanks inspires not only living joy, but also giving joy to others!
How foolish we are if we've failed to realize we were never meant to live these lives for ourselves, but to willingly share them with one another. Each one of us was fashioned with a purpose and has been given a unique set of gifts that no one else in this world has ever had or ever will have. No one has the exact same talents, abilities, and set of circumstances as us and no one in the past, present, or future will live the exact same days in the exact same ways we will.

That’s pretty amazing when you think about it!

And truly, it should awaken us to the fact that this life is really short so we need to be all about using our God-given gifts to bless this world while we have the chance. Not one of us knows for sure how many breaths we've been given, so we should be living to the very fullest each day we find ourselves opening up our sleepy eyes to a brand-new-sparkling-fresh morning.

And choose in that moment to start

Living thanks!

Every breath is a gift, each new day a gift, and every life a gift, to the glory of God.

All to be spent in Thanks-living.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Do Not Blame - Bless


How often do we want to blame God for so many of the troubles in our lives and then rationalize those thoughts, offering, “If He really loved me, He would never have allowed this to happen to me.”

We are human. We are fallible. We often choose to blame rather than to bless.

But what if the hardest trials in our lives are truly merciful blessings? What if it is because of His unending love for us that He allows us to go through hard times? And what if our reaction to what befalls us could not just bless others, but actually bless God?

The good in our trials may be hidden for the moment, but we are only seeing a very small part of a much grander picture. God however, sees the whole thing --- the completed masterpiece that He designing and it is glorious beyond our greatest imaginings.

It can be very difficult for us to look outside of ourselves when we are going through a tough time, but so often what we are going through changes other lives as well. It was not just meant for us, but God sees all the ways in which other lives will be touched.

It can be like ripples on the water, whether caused by a pea-sized pebble, or a mountainous rock crashing right into the middle of our proverbial pond, the splash and reverberations that follow flow out with enlarging circles that we can lose sight of.

But God doesn’t. He sees it all. Every motion on the waters of every life.

We each tend to have our own ideas of how our lives should go, but God knows infinitely better than us what we truly need and what will actually be a blessing to us not just now, but far into the future, and He sees all the ways it will continue on to others.

Our trials and pain tend to remind us there is something wrong, that it is not supposed to be this way, and we can either choose to react in despair, anger, or resentment, with ripples of these emotions reaching far into other lives, or we can remember there is so much more to come than what is contained in our short years on earth.

With our eternal future in mind, we can choose to have hope, and have faith, and to trust in the One who does see the bigger picture, who loves us infinitely, and who is already there and can see the good He is working out through every trial.

When we trust in God’s goodness and give thanks to Him, even in the midst of our pain, it is pleasing to Him, and it blesses Him.

Doesn't that thrill your heart? 

The realization that our faith lived out with thanksgiving and praise can bless the God of the universe?!

Oh, how I want to bless my Father!

I want to live my life in such a way that when a trial comes plunging in, 
the effect of it will actually flow out in circles of endless praise that will

Bless His Name!!



I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
- Psalm 145:1–2 (ESV)

All your works shall give thanks to you,
Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!
- Psalm 145:10 (ESV)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Summer Dreams


I’m pretty sure summer will always be my favorite season.

It makes me incredibly giddy to open wide the windows, letting in the bright golden sunbeams and soft, warm breezes. 

In my mind’s eye I imagine summer as a girl with a beautifully confident smile, inviting us to come outside and play, to dream and to dance, and to fill our hearts with her wonder.

Popsicle days slowly melt into firefly nights that often we wish would never end. Still warm evening air seems thick with hope when shooting stars soar across the clear velvet sky and the moon paints the grass and the all tree-tops in a shimmering silvery glow.

But then, it just seems all too soon, that Summer turns . . .  and slips away down a tree lined path, to open the gate for her sister Autumn. 

Though the change in season carries with it a profound beauty all its own, it also ushers in some cooler breezes and perhaps a snowflake or two that remind us there is still more change to come.

Yes, winter will come. There's no doubt about it.

But, you know, so does the spring, and soon. . .

 The sweetest summer dreams, will start all over again.


* * *

Golden shines the crescent moon
And summer dreams are gone too soon

Now softer hues will paint the sky
While autumn sings a lullaby

Then sleepy winter with whispers low
Will fill our world with fallen snow

But soft will come new summer dreams
Awakened by the songs of spring

* * *

My beloved spoke and said to me, 
“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. 
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one,
come with me.”


- Song of Songs 2:10-13

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Worship


Worship should never be something limited to an hour a week when we meet together at church, but should be the continual response of our lives and the attitude of our hearts.

May we be awestruck today by incredible beauty in surroundings, mighty power in the wind, the sweet laughter of a child, a heavenly song rising up in our hearts. . .

and may our immediate and sincere response be to worship!

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God and we are
the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care. 

- Psalm 95:6-7

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Call of Silence



This world can be so noisy. So filled with distractions and loud voices, glaring thoughts and swirling images, slamming doors and spinning tales, it can leave you dizzy and gasping for air.

Gasping for something real, and true, and good to fill back up the empty spaces, realizing it’s been too long since you’ve just been still.

When I feel like this soon the guilty questions start to come.

Why do I wait so long to be still?

Why do I fill up my days busy with trivial things that never add up to much more than a hill of beans once my head finally hits the pillow?

Why do I walk through some days with blinders on and proceed to trip over the ones I love, because whoops, I didn’t see you…   I’m just too wrapped up in myself and whatever else has stolen my attention, my identity.

When I find I’m feeling lost in a world of frustration, it’s then that I hear it. . .

This quiet call from deep inside to come and be still.

The Call of Silence.

* * *

Silence. . .

I can hear it calling

From the deepest part of my soul

To come and be still

Where He is there waiting

Whispering

My name

The one that only He knows

Because He made me

He loves me

He saved me

For eternity.

* * *

And softly and quietly the healing comes. I was too busy to realize how broken I had become, but He knew. He always knows.

Silence in His presence fills me back up to full, to overflowing, because His love for me is like a river that gently flows --- soothing, smoothing, singing over me.

And I make a promise to Him and to myself,

that I will not wait too long,

but will come again,

very, very soon.


He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
 - Psalm 23:2-3a

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…
Rather, it should be that of your inner self,
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is of great worth in God’s sight.
 - 1 Peter 3:3-4

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God is Good



God is good. This has been the quiet echo of my heart lately.

Over and over again, this beating truth --- That He is good. He is always good.

This is truth that never changes and a foundation that cannot be shaken. ALL the time, every moment, for all time, God is good. I know it with all of my heart.

Though my circumstances in this moment may not be what I would have chosen, there is larger purpose in it all that I cannot see. God has a plan and because of His great love for me, He will use the good things, the hard things, the sad things, and absolutely everything in my life for good which in turn, will be for His glory.

I love what James MacDonald once said; 

“God’s love is not a pampering love, but a perfecting love.”

He doesn't shower His children with blessing upon blessing and make life easy and effortless for us. There’s no plastic bubble of protection causing bad things to bounce off of our lives and out into the atmosphere. What kind of character would that build in His children? He loves us too much to leave us as we are, but instead will allow us to struggle in this life so that we will become stronger, more compassionate, and ultimately more aware of our great need for Him.

Each day He works in our lives like a Master Sculptor, chipping away at the hard edges of our character, gently smoothing rough places of contention, and lovingly shaping us into the perfect masterpiece He can already see.

He changes us for our good, yet in this world full of pain and suffering, evil and disaster, hunger and heartache, it can be very difficult for some to believe it.

But remember this, there was a tree in the garden…   the only forbidden tree…   the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Before the first bite of that fruit was taken, man had no knowledge of evil.

It is because of sin that we experience evil, it’s not because God isn't good. He has always been good. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

One day all things will be made new. Until then, we will groan in this fallen world, but we can always rely on one never-ending truth, 

God is good. Period.


Friday, November 8, 2013

JOY!


    Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his dwelling place.
- 1 Chronicles 16:27

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Breathing His Name


His voice. . .

 A gentle whisper with the power to create. . .

this world and everything in it.

The sun, moon and stars, and every galaxy came to be by the whispering of God.

With His breath, He breathed life into our lungs, and the very sound of our breathing is continually speaking His Name.

The Name of God - YHWH. (Yahweh)

We inhale Yah-h-h and exhale Weh-h-h, and with every single breath, we are calling out to Him, the Creator and Sustainer of Life.

Can you hear it?    

. . .every breath on earth joining in with the rhythm of each beating heart, singing a constant chorus of His Name.

Every person alive is forever speaking the Name of the One who formed them, knew them, and loved them, before they ever came to be.

His voice a gentle whisper. . .

Our breath is whispering His Name.

And with the very breath that keeps us living,

           we fill the whole earth with His glory.


Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen.  – Psalm 72:19



This is what God the Lord says—
He who created the heavens and stretched them out, 
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.”
– Isaiah 42:5-6

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Morning Song


Song lifted high at the break of new dawn
Fire-brazen sky, night's echoes now gone


Morning breeze dancing with shimmering light
Unspoken praises find wings to take flight


Soaring to heaven in urgent release
Exploding through clouds, fiery brilliance increased


In humble adoring arriving to bring
Every glorious morning, praise to the King!


Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven, praise him from the mountaintops; 
Praise him, all you his angels, praise him, all you his warriors, 
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, you morning stars; 
Praise him, high heaven, praise him, heavenly rain clouds; 
Praise, oh let them praise the name of God— he spoke the word, and there they were!
Pslam 148:1-5 MSG