A Tiny King

Snuggles by light of the Christmas tree bring so many thoughts to mind. I reflect on Mary’s song and wonder about that miraculous night so long ago in a stable. How incredible to be the first to hold the Christ child, to warm him skin to skin; to behold majesty wrapped in cloth. I wonder what her mother heart felt as he grew. Did she worry about him getting enough milk as she nursed life into him? Did she pace the floor the night of his first sniffle? Did she rock him gently wishing time would stand still? Did worries of His future keep her up at night? How was it to stare into the face of God? I imagine her heart leaped as she gazed in to the tiny eyes of the King of the World! I envision his very breath easing every trouble of her weary soul. Pure delight. Breathtaking splendor.

Raising Light! ❤

Of Politics and Religion

 

My Nanny used to say, “There are two things I won’t discuss and that’s politics and religion”.  Then she would proceed to give you her unwavering opinion regarding each topic.  She lived through World War II, The Great Depression, Vietnam, and every current Middle Eastern conflict throughout her near 100 years on this Earth, so she was very much entitled to those opinions.  I will happily chat religion but politics is one I make an effort to leave off the table.  For one, I tend to run from conflict and two, it always seems both sides are flawed.  Maybe never in history has the flaw in both sides been as apparent as in the current election we find ourselves.

While the fleshy part of me wants to make poor jokes and share social media memes featuring our current candidates and the phrase “Straight Outta Options”, I digress and look to the spiritual side.  I judge I would not want to have either of these people in my house for dinner, let alone running our country, but the Holy Spirit reminds me of our call as Christians.

Jesus ate with tax collectors and forgave a criminal who hung beside him on a cross. He washed the feet of those who served him and gave his life for those who didn’t even realize they needed salvation.  We’re called to pray for and respect our leaders, no matter who they are.

To look to one of our candidates as the only answer, is giving them more power than any human possesses.  To turn our backs on our candidates is to deny God’s ability to work in and through the least of these.  We must assume, God, in his infinite power and wisdom will work all things for good and His glory no matter who sits in the White House.  That is, if we pray.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)  Because His word never returns void, we can know these words are true even for our current generation.

If we claim to love Christ then we must love others.  One of the greatest ways we can demonstrate our love is through prayer.  As a child of God, I am urged to prayer rather than partition.  I am called to serve rather than slander.  I am led to disciple rather than dispute.   May the revival of nations begin in me and you.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11, John 13:34, 1 Timothy 2:1-3

One Piece, One Peace

puzzleOnce again, I came to that checkpoint in my day; the sacred “naptime” where every mom has a critical decision to make.  1-2 hours of uninterrupted time (if I’m lucky) and how to spend it?  There is always part of me that just wants to stop, drop and snooze.  Then the Susie Homemaker in me wants to make the house presentable (she never wins). The business woman side of me just wants to power through and get as much work as possible accomplished in that time.  That one usually wins.  After all, this business pays all our bills and allows us to help others along the way.  However, today my heart said, “write”.  I find it so difficult to let my heart win this one.  Writing these days feels like a luxury as I sit amid piles of laundry and dirty dishes with a to-do list a mile long running through my mind.  But alas, here I am.  I’ve realized that when I silence that one passion, this outlet, this need to for self-expression I not only feel distant from the One who created me to write, but everything else in my world suffers as well.  I become grouchy and irritable at the other duties I feel are pulling me from my heart’s desire.  That, my friends, is an ugly place to live and everyone in my house notices it.   You see, I could forge ahead, trudge on and strive to pave my path in this business while keeping all the other pieces of my life in place. Or I can stop, center myself, commit to this calling God has placed on my heart and allow Him to hold all the pieces as He weaves the path for me.  All the striving and pushing forward won’t amount to anything if I forsake the very desires God placed in my heart.  And whether I am good at it or not, He has placed a desire for writing in my heart.  When God places a call upon your life, just forget about being equipped, competent or superior in any way.  All He needs is for you to be obedient. So today, I choose obedience.  I choose to trust in what I cannot see and believe that he will bless all the other pieces I laid aside in order to pick this one up.  Above all, I choose Him.

Philippians 2:3

Sank You

I have always believed we can learn so much by watching children. In fact, it is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I just never realized how great a lesson one could teach you, until today. Now that I work from home, my son only goes to child care a few days a week but we always make that drive time special. Each morning we pray and sing songs and each afternoon we talk about his day. Today was no different. We started out by thanking God for the sunshine and the great time we had on vacation this week. We remembered to pray for Grandmas and Grandpas, cousins and our dog and to thank Him for things like trucks and tractors. But my three-year old does something else each time we pray that today touched my heart in a distinct way. He thanks God for his biggest fears. This kid is fearless when it comes to heights, heavy equipment or airplanes but is terrified of the hand dryers in public restrooms, hates elevators and is not a fan of escalators or using the potty. About a month ago, I noticed he would thank God for these very things as he prayed. “And sank you God for elevators and escalators and hand dwyers and the potty”. At first I just thought it was really sweet, but as he prayed it today my eyes filled with tears and God spoke to me in a very real way. Thanking God for our current circumstances creates a cord of hope that connects us to His ultimate desires for us. Sometimes God changes our situation and other times he offers the strength to endure it. Either way, our current struggles have been lovingly planned by a Father who will never let us bend so far we break. I spent years going back and forth in this constant struggle of viewing every problem as an attack or at the very least an obstacle. Life became me versus the world and at times even felt like God versus me. There were times I even began to look at problems as punishment. When my son was born, anxiety issues I had dealt with my whole life were suddenly magnified and on many days I found it hard to breathe. I knew God was big enough to take that feeling away and my prayer was that he would, in an instant. I kept praying and waiting for the magical moment when God would just say “storm be still” and all that was raging within me would be no more. That was not the way he chose to deliver me. From that dark and frightening place, God chose to draw me near to his side; to come to know him in a new and more personal way. He became my very breath, my strength to rise and my song. The cord of hope was extended and the journey to the me he created me to be began. My struggle did not end in an instant and my circumstances were not suddenly changed; I was. I began looking at things differently and learning from the trials in my life. As my perspective changed, my situation changed. Years later, I can look back on times of trial and realize God was doing something there. For some situations, I still have no answers but I trust in the One who does. As my son thanked God for his four biggest problems in life, I began thanking God for mine. I started visualizing what blessings might be born from brokenness and started speaking those blessings out loud. I thanked Him for the things that irritate me and the things I still wish I could change about myself. That act opened the door for God to begin working in those areas. The cord of hope grew. What if one day, I looked at everything as one more love knot in the tapestry God is weaving in my life? This journey to our ultimate home in eternity could be so much more vibrant if we only let love win. If we learned to be grateful for our faults, fears and failures and let God use them for his glory what an impact we could make with our time here on earth. This one step, this one lesson from a three year old will be my starting point. “Sank you God…”

Seasons

The garden of life brings seasons.  The spring with its tender newness, the summer with its delight, the autumn with its bountiful harvest, and the cold dark winter all have their place and time.  For some, the winter is long and it trudges on past spring invading the summer and robbing the autumn fields of its splendor.  For some, the winter never seems to end. It becomes one tragedy after another, just living from storm to storm and trying to hang on to the sliver of hope that spring is just around the corner.  Spring is, after all, just around the corner. It just may be the longest curviest corner in history!

I’ve been there; the feeling of eternal winter.  I’ve walked in those cold shoes, wishing I would have had warmer boots to trudge along in, something a little sturdier to keep me from slipping under the massive load I was baring. I write this though from the summer.  So I did make it through, though not alone.  God was there as I walked through the harsh cold winter air to now bask in the warm sunbeams of summer.  My winter may have paled in comparison to yours. It may have looked like a walk in the park compared to the disaster you face today.  But we aren’t here to compare winters.  Someone will always have a better and someone will always have it worse.  The grass is truly only greener where you water it.

So water your grass in the winter. Water that grass that is buried under the muck and mire of dirty snow and ice.  Water it by seeing the beauty that is born from adversity.  Water it with hope.  Water it with love.  Water it with tears.  Water it with the faith that one day, the snow will fade.  The fresh shoots will spring forth and the winter will be no more.  Water it with vision.  God’s Word tells us without vision we parish.  Set your mind then not on what is seen but what is unseen.  Fix your eyes on what is eternal.  This cold winter will not last, so set your mind on what will last.  Though the snow may be deep and the darkness thick, watch for the light.  Fix your eyes on He who never changes. The seasons, they shift.  This life brings constant change, therefor we must look to the one who stays the same.  Our One Constant in any season is up to something.  He is working your winter for His glory and when the spring does come, oh what mighty growth will cover the land!  You will be changed yes, for the better.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then we shall fully know.

Life here on earth will always bring us winters but we hold fast because we look for an eternal life without season, where He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away.  The old order, the old seasons will pass.  Our One constant remains.  Water your grass in each season.  Water your grass in faith and know that even if you must walk through the winter, you never walk alone.

Proverbs 29:18, Colossians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 4:18, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Revelation 21:4, Deuteronomy 31:6

Pruning Possibility

I went for a run (okay, a walk/jog) this morning at my favorite little walking trail.  It was cool but one of those perfectly crisp late fall mornings.  As I rounded the last turn, panting because I had upped my jog just slightly, I noticed a worker pruning away all the dried dead flowers in the butterfly garden.  The butterfly garden is the most beautiful place of the trail.  It’s a small serene sitting area surrounded by flowers and trees that attract hundreds of butterflies in vast variety.  But today, it was desolate. As the worker clipped and snapped, he formed massive piles of stems, leaves and dried petals.  He carefully snipped each one until the garden was barren.

It was a somber sight, the impending winter looming in the chill of the morning air.  I love this garden.  It’s where I have summer picnics with my son and sunny day chats with my best friends.  Yet today it was vacant and void.  For a moment I had that empty feeling.  The one you got as a kid on the last day of summer break; that feeling of loss that comes at the end of a season.

Then I remembered.  In order for the spring to come, the winter must stake its claim.  In order for new growth to occur, the pruning must take place.  Plants must be pruned for a season, in order to return more healthy and vibrant.  This garden will flourish again in the right season, at the right time.  Yet, if not properly cared for, it would cease to thrive.

Oh but if we could remember this truth in our days of pruning!  As God shapes and molds us, cuts back and snips away at the dead places within us it is painful.  Yes painful but, “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

After all, as I’ve heard it said before, the meantime is called the “mean time” for a reason.  Life comes in seasons and though the winter can be long and cold and at times seem unending, the spring is coming.  It is coming.

Let us look forward to the spring but remember the winter has its place for a purpose.  If rooted well, a plant survives the winter, coming back stronger and heartier in the spring.  My mom always said about planting Hosta, “the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap”.  If properly cared for and rooted in good soil, given the necessary protection, these plants will grow in great abundance.

We, if rooted in good soil, will survive even the harshest winter to come forth blooming in great abundance in the spring!

Hebrews 12:11, Ecclesiastes 3:1

Heart’s Desire

Sometimes it is easier to pour out my fears, weaknesses, sins and shortcomings to the Lord than it is to place my hopes and dreams in His hands.  It is easier to believe God forgives, heals and rescues than it is to believe he blesses, accomplishes and favors.

It is hard to believe these desires of my heart will come to fruition.  After all, what have I done to deserve them?  Yet His words says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  This passage isn’t directing us to dream up any want we can think of and expect the Lord to grant it like a genie in a bottle.  What it is saying is the Lord actually places His desires for you within your heart.  When your eyes are fixed on Him and you are walking this life journey with Him, you will begin to desire the things that are pleasing to the Lord.  And because you desire the things that please Him, he will surely bring them to pass.

What are the deepest longings of your heart?  What is your heart cry?  What do you desire above all else?  Sometimes these deep desires are difficult to even put into words.  Maybe it is for a loved one to know the Lord, a child to find grace, or to find that special one to share your life with.  Perhaps it is a goal, a vision for ministry or a dream for your family.  Whatever it is, give it to God. If he gave you the desire, give the outcome of it back to Him and allow him to work it out to completion in your life.

How do we know if the desire we have is from the Lord?  Does it bless him?  Honor him? Bring life, hope and joy to others? If it is something other than for selfish gain, it is likely from the Lord. After all, He created you.  He gave you your talents, gifts, likes and dislikes. He gave you a unique personality that would long after the path he planned for your life.  Think back to when you were a child, innocent and uninfluenced by the world.  What did you want to be?  What brought you the most joy?  So many times, those desires get washed away by the harsh reality of the world we live in. This broken land robs joy and steals dreams.  It tells us we’re unworthy, unlikely, and undesirable.  But God says we are chosen, holy and dearly loved.

God says he will carry out his plans in our lives. We only must believe God has the power to do what he has promised.  When God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations, Abraham had a choice to make; trust God’s word or believe what was his current reality.  He chose not to consider his own weaknesses; “his own body, already dead or the deadness of Sarah’s womb”, rather he chose to be strengthened in his faith.  “He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  That is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Abraham chose not to look at the obvious; his old body, his old ways, his current circumstances.  He chose to look to the One who made the promise and was able to accomplish anything.  The deep beauty of Abraham’s example is grace.  Abraham did not work for God’s blessing.  He didn’t earn merit badges by being a good church member or going door to door.  He was highly favored because he believed God.  For “to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt”.  “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace.”

Let us look then at the desires God has placed in our hearts and look only unto Him as the one able to accomplish them through us.  For we know that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given us”.

Psalm 37:4, Philippians 1:6,  Colossians 3:12, Romans 4:20-22, Genesis 17:5, Romans 4:4, Romans 4:16, Romans 5:5

Creed

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I am not my accomplishments.
I am not my appearance.
I am not what others think of me.
I am not my own.
I am loved.
I am chosen.
I am His.
I am forgiven.
I am made worthy.
I am made new.
I am a child of the One true King.
I am not driven by the ways of this world; by money, lust or greed.
I am not moved by things.
I am called.
I claim a higher purpose.
I follow His plan, His ways, His steps.
In Him I live and move and have my being.
I will not be shaken, though the earth give way and the mountains crumble into the sea, because this is not my home.
I am not of this world.
I am only and completely found in Him.
He is my way maker.
He is my peace.
He is my light.
He moves me.
He makes me.
He guides me.
Constant He will be.
Forever I am changed.
One thing remains; I in Him, He in me.
Unstoppable
Unshakable
Immoveable
Life-Changing
Breathtaking
Good
Alpha and Omega
All I ever need
The One
True
God.

Acts 17:28, Psalm 46:2, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Revelation 22:13