Monday, November 28, 2011

Hope

This holiday weekend was a very good weekend filled with family, friends, food, and tradition. In my family, the women all gather the day after Thanksgiving to shop ‘til we drop together. This year, as we went from place to place, we made a conscious effort to thank and compliment every employee who helped or waited on us. Amid the frenzy of Black Friday consumerism, we wanted to be the calm of the storm, the light peaking through the dark clouds letting each person know that they mattered and someone noticed their frustrations, their tiredness, their needs. It was great! It’s amazing the joy a small word of encouragement and a good portion of patience and understanding can bring to a weary individual.

Despite the fact that we spent all day Friday and half of Saturday Christmas shopping, I was completely unprepared to walk into church Sunday morning and see the Advent wreath. As we lit the first candle, I felt a whiplash of confusion. How could it be the first Sunday of Advent already? I should have known it was coming. I had plenty of clues. As a church secretary, I spent the first half of the week preparing a worship guide with a cover that prominently displays a single lit candle. Thanksgiving had come and gone. Christmas music was playing everywhere. Christmas is coming fast and I’m not ready. Then I realized that Advent is the time of preparation – four whole weeks to prepare for the coming of the King. Advent is a time of preparation – a time to ready myself for the coming of the Christ child. Yes Christmas is coming, but Advent gives me the time and focus I need to prepare for the celebration.

Traditionally, the lighting of the first candle symbolized hope, the hope that is ours in Christ, the hope that is Christ. Hope, not in the water-downed sense of the word where it mean nothing more than a wish, but hope in the sense of knowing that the God of the Universe came to earth as a human child for the purpose of expressing his indescribable love for me to me. I heard a missionary in church today say that a man he once encountered from an unreached tribe in Africa told him that “his god speaks his language” and that’s exactly what Jesus did – he came to us as a man to communicate with us and show his love for us in our humanness. My hope in Jesus is assured by his love, his power, and his desire to be in relationship with me.

This week will be about hope for me. Where do you think I’ll find it? And where will I find myself being the bearer of hope? Christ is coming! Happy first week of Advent everyone!

About the pictures:
Racoon State Park (October 2010)

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Job Song

I've been feeling ill for the last couple of days so when it came time to write this week's blog, I really didn't have much energy or enthusiam. I couldn't not post something though, so I've decided to share this poem written in response to Psalm 119:65-72 I penned just this week in my continuing study of Psalm 119. I hope you are blessed as much in the reading as I was in the writing. May God bless you with much thankfulness and great joy this week.

My Job Song
So much I have suffered.
Even more I have lost.
Yet I rejoice and
praise Your name
for You are my comfort.
You have renewed
and restored what was taken.
This world has used
and abused me,
stolen my identity,
taken my future,
my very reason for living.
Yet I will rejoice
for You Lord have healed me.
My scars are your triumph
and I will display them
for Your purpose
and glory.
There is never enough
enough time,
enough means to sustain me
Yet I rejoice, Lord Jesus
for your generosity is amazing
My once empty heart
abides ripe in Your hope
Your love and Your grace uphold me.
Your unrelenting patience
conquers my arrogance,
my brokenness,
my greed.
Drawn to Your gentleness,
I hear my Shepherd’s
soothing tone,
and my heart soars
and sings
Your Word settles in my ear
and I will heed Your call.
Through the valley, I follow
knowing You will lead the way,
the way of truth and love and grace,
the way home to You,
my Savior, my God, and my King.


About the picture: Deer Lake Park (October 2009)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to do a rather large favor for someone. I admit, I didn’t want to break my routine, shuffle around my plans, or give up my “me” time. However, I did have the time and ability to be of some help and it was a reasonable request – one I felt heart-bound to respond to and something I know the Lord would want me to do. What else could I do? I said yes.

As I was on my way to do this thing, I remember praying, “Lord, help me to not be stingy with my time. Part of me would rather just go home, eat dinner, watch a little TV, and maybe clean up a little. Help me to wholeheartedly and joyfully offer my time, my attention, my abilities, and my….. That’s when it hit me exactly how self-centered I could be. Even in my prayers…”my” time, “my” attention, “my” abilities…. None of that is really “mine.” God gave and gives the time, attention, ability and everything else I have to offer. I don’t own it and it is not mine to give or keep. I began to pray again. This time I asked the Lord to guide me in the giving of the time, abilities and love he allowed and enabled me to share with those in need in this situation.


If we are being honest, we’d have to admit that we’re all a little self-centered. It’s how we learn, how we keep safe, it’s how we perceive the world around us – in relationship to ourselves. But, when we start thinking that we are giving of our own storehouse, our own commodities of time, talent, and empathy – that’s when we let God’s work, God’s love, and God’s power be reduced to the limited confines of human ability and understanding.

What if it’s not about me? What if my life, my whole existence, is about Someone else? What if it’s all about God and I’m just a part of God’s existence, God’s story? The Bible tells me that everything I have, everything I am, everything I will ever possess is his and he’s just allowing me to be a part of his story by inviting me into it, allowing me to access all he possesses to reach out to those around me, not for my sake or my glory, but for his. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for he is worthy of all praise and glory. May the life he has breathed into me bring glory and honor to his name.

About the pictures:
Deer Lake Park (October 2010)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beautiful and Loved



There is a scene in the movie Good Will Hunting where Robin William’s character, psychologist Sean Maguire is talking with Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon), an uneducated, troubled young man whose abusive childhood has left him untrusting of others and unmotivated to rise above his unhappy, lonely life or to live up to his full potential as the math genius he was born to be. Sean points to a file folder filled with the accounts of Will’s many abuses at the hands of his father and then in the foster homes he grew up in.

Sean says to him, “Will, what’s in here is not your fault.”

Will says “I know, Sean.”

Then Sean says it again and again and again, “Will, it’s not your fault.”

Will continues to reply, “I know” until he eventually breaks down and cries in Sean’s arms. Sean’s constant barrage of the truth burrowed through the wall Will had built up in childhood to keep the world and it’s hurtfulness at a distance. And in reaching that part of Will’s heart that was broken and hurting, Sean helped Will to begin to heal.

It’s a very powerful scene for me especially because I don’t have a good self image and my self esteem leaves a lot to be desired especially when I find myself facing challenging times. You can tell me that God still loves me and that in him I have worth and value and I’ll say I know, but not really. Not in my heart where the hurt and confusion is.

I tell you all of that because this past week, God has been doing a Sean Maguire on me with two songs that I have been hearing over and over again: Beautiful by Mercy Me and You Cannot Lose My Love by Sara Groves. Since I know I can’t be the only insecure person on the planet, I wanted to share the message of these songs which God has brought to me this week.

Remember – you are beautiful because God sees you that way and you cannot lose his love ever.