Monday, December 31, 2012

Hope... And Future

And so, a New Year is upon us. 

Do you wonder where the old year has gone? It's been said said that minutes draw out, while years speed by. And the question I ask myself is How... How did I spend my time? Turning away from guilt, looking at the very real challenges, I take stock- where did I grow well, and where does God want to bring light? 

And so, as I look forward to the beautiful messyness of life- my life- for my journey is not to be compared with another's- I seek to pursue balance, and allow God to move me forward towards greater wholeness- in spirit, mind, and body. 

There is a time when reflections on what came before can teach how to live well through what's to come. And so I share thoughts that ruminated across my mind in seasons past. For more life lessons that came before, take a stroll here. And as the New Year dawns, with abundant Grace, let us let go of regrets and seize our tomorrows, whatever they bring, remembering we are Held in the hands of the King.
~Just me

An Invitation: 

Shadows- or Light?

Window with Shadows and LightI lay still, blinking out light. Lenses focus on the fan, blowing shadows across the ceiling. But wait. As slumber recedes I find the gift. If I watch purposely, I see not shadows, but prisms of light. Perspective shifts as I reframe the gutteral response to the coming of day. My life too, holds this promise. I must seek new meaning, letting go of the language of death and learning the tongue of life.  Words are powerful; what I tell myself shapes how I interpret what is real. This is not merely determining whether the glass is half full or half empty. I must shake off emotional slumber, retrain my critical eye to grasp new understandings. Will I choose to focus the lens of my life on loss or on gifts? As I seek healing I understand that now is the time to lay down disappointment, ways I feel wronged. It's time to determine to see the good. I need not look far, for there is much goodness to behold. For every shortcoming surrendered there is life and goodness to be found in abundance.
Determination is the key. If I determine to reframe, to focus now on the good, new life will well up within me. It's time to push past the old tapes that play in my head, and turn away from negativity. It's imperative to turn a deaf ear to the enemy of my soul. As I seek to stamp out the old way, he whispers only lies from before. New eyes will seek truth, focus on moving forward, not wallowing in woundedness. What has shriveled in me can grow anew-when I invite grace to rain down. Hope and healing are found in the well watered place, but to see, I must watch for the light. No excuses. Do I want to walk in truth?

Learning the lifestyle of gratitude requires practice-- a conscious decision to focus not on shadows, but on light. It's not yet second nature, but I hope it can be, through time and determination. And then,then my life holds promise, transformation of mind and heart begun through gratefulness. It's time to move out of the shadows and embrace the prism of Light.
~Bekah (Of Ladies By Design)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When God Draws Near

Driving home, I was listening to a radio station. "We will not sensationalize this tragedy," emphasized the host. "What we will do is pray for the families and all involved."

It was a family gathering we had traveled to, and we did not want the children to hear every horrific detail about Friday in Newton Connecticut. The news was muted during the football game, and the only conversation regarding what happened was with another mother, as we two went to gather supplies for the meal. Shock and grief linger, and we simply can not understand what drives one human being to destroy the lives of others. In truth, I do not really want to completely "understand" such darkness. I simply pray that God's light will shine into the lives of the suffering, that comfort would be found in His arms.

One of my personal heroes said: "There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Corrie Ten Boom survived the horrors of  German concentration camps. Her family was arrested for hiding those persecuted by Hitler's regime; her father and beloved sister did not survive. And yet this self professed Tramp For the Lord also said, “In darkness God's truth shines most clear.” She went on to found a refuge house for concentration camp survivors, and even a shelter for the very ones who had caused her suffering. When face to face with one of her own captors, she remembered his cruelty and still chose to forgive.

She writes of her experience,"But forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. "Jesus, help me!" I prayed silently. "I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling."
    And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. "I forgive you, brother!" I cried. "With all my heart!"
    For a long moment we grasped each others hands, the former guard and former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then.

Divine forgiveness poured through human flesh- the conductor being prayer and a willing heart. I see this response mirrored in the words of a father whose little girl was taken from him-- not by God, but by what can only be defined as gaping separation from the One who is love. This grieving father said that though he is devastated and does not know how to get through something like this, "he's not angry." In the face of overwhelming loss, Robbie Parker said his desire is to be more compassionate, and more humble, and help others. Can you imagine?

Shock and awe, indeed.Can we each learn to forgive like this? I am certain we can, in Christ alone. No matter how deep the wound, no matter how prolonged the suffering, there is a Healer whose purpose is to set us free from everything that would ensnare. Clinging to bitterness does not protect the wound; it deepens it. Yet when the guttural response is replaced with prayers of forgiveness for those who have left jagged edges in hearts and souls, healing comes, and light dawns.

 There may still be weeping, for grieving is done step by step, every one at a unique pace. But I have found that wholeness is a prayer away. It does take emotional work- but walking wounded is the more costly struggle- especially when multiplied over days, months, even years. Forgiveness is a choice- and it's the choice that sets us free from the chains of unforgiveness. We can choose to let our lives be defined by what has been taken from us- or we can pray through the healing process and move towards greater wholeness.  

As we lift up those suffering this holiday season, let us remember that prayer is not a last ditch effort, it's one of the most powerful weapons we can wield, for prayer invites our Healer in. Only God can bring beauty from ashes, and we can rest assured, He will!

~Just Me

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wonder in Every Season

 Hope... Peace... Joy... declarations shine out as we bustle from home and work amidst garland and twinkling lights. Candles mingle with signs proclaiming "Jesus is the Reason for the season", venders are awash with evergreen. Yet when hope was born, all was simple; the struggle of a woman, the support of a man, and then... the cry of a babe.


My mind has been captivated by the miracle we call Christmas.  An invitation has come: Dwell on the birth of "the Anointed One" daily, tarry in wonder. God has come to mankind with soft baby skin and love in his eyes.  As a child he astounded grown men. As he grew he was the voice of God incarnate.

He walked this earthen clay, and some called him Teacher, some, Messiah, but those closest to him named him Jesus, which means "The Lord Saves". For Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost; to restore the broken relationship between God and man.  He bridged the chasm between us, took on the messiness of this mortal coil, so we might experience his love, his very presence in our daily lives. And so we call him Emmanuel, God with us.

Miraculous that saving power came through blood; such great sacrifice. The cross is a violent image and yet, what is more tender than a newborn, wrapped in swaddling clothes? God in the form of an infant, dependent upon his mother for nourishment and care. Who can comprehend the unfathomable mystery? When the shepherds worshipped him, Mary pondered these things in her heart (Luke 1:19) and two thousand years later, I marvel at how God chose to reveal himself to man.

What was it like for God to come as a child?  He was sought out from afar before he could speak his name! From the rising of the sun, celestial gazers followed a star, rejoicing when they found "the King". Men of wisdom saw God in the flesh-- in a common home with his mother. As they worshiped what did they behold? God cloaked in the form of a toddler. Does this not astound the foundations of a soul?

Costly gifts were presented; gold and frankincense and myrrh. Mary would have understood the spices were used in burial. When the fragrance filled his senses, did the Holy Child grasp these gifts used to embalm? I marvel even now at the symbolism.

 Luke tells us that as Jesus grew, he was filled with wisdom and "the grace of God was upon him"- but this is all we know of his early years, and so I plumb the depths with wonderings. Of this I am sure; Jesus understands what it is to be different.  He was special in a way that changed everything. And as the parent of two children with medical needs and special issues, I take comfort in this.

We are told in many ways throughout scripture that we are not alone, that we have a Savior who understands the intricacies and challenges of life. Emmanuel had  the unique perspective of our human struggles matched with the limitless, unconditional, all sacrificing love of God. Amidst the business and extra activities that come with the season, it is good to turn attention away from lists and activities, and take some time to dwell on the amazing meaning we can connect with in every season. He's not found only in the manger- he is present in every moment, for He is God with us.

~Just Me