Monday, December 24, 2012

Does Your Soul Know Its Worth this Christmas?

It’s long been my favorite Christmas Carol – O Holy Night.

I love the way the notes and the words swirl together and form a picture of the first Christmas.

But this year, one line stands out to me --“‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

And I’ve been asking myself, “Does my soul feel its worth?”

Does yours?

I’m afraid that insecurities and inadequacies can sometimes rule the day and my heart forgets.

I get disappointed.

I fear the future.

I weary.

I doubt the Lord’s love for me.

I forget what Christmas and the cross are all about.

BUT the truth is, our souls CAN feel their worth, because Jesus came for me and He came for you.

He came for a broken world where He knew that children would be left, and relationships would struggle, and mothers would mourn and fathers would fear and the past would haunt our hopes and people would struggle with feeling alone, even when they are surrounded by many.

He came for your soul and my soul because it has value to Him. The rest of the world may not see our value, but He does.  Always.

We may feel unnoticed, but He notices us. Always

We may feel alone, but we are not. He is present. Always.

We may fear, but He brings peace to our hearts.  Always.

We may feel abandoned and rejected, but we are not. He will never leave us nor forsake us.   Ever.

We may feel worthless, but we are not. Our souls can FEEL their worth -- KNOW their worth -- and our weary heart can rejoice. Always.

Dear reader, that is my prayer for you and for me, on this O Holy Night.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Raw Cry of My Heart and My Hope

I’ll be the first to say, there is a lot I don’t know or understand about life and how God works and why there is so much suffering and sorrow and brokenness in the world.

And if I’m not careful, I can feel my heart start to implode and fold upon itself in to a little package of despair.

I’ve been resisting the urge to let it do just that.

From time to time, in the aftermath of hearing about the tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, and hearing the stories from people I know well (and not so well) about the struggles in their own lives, I have felt the creases start to form and my heart quiver.

And I look Heavenward and wonder about God’s goodness and His love and His control and His justice and His peace and His care.

And sometimes, I find myself not knowing what to do with all this sorrowful, sickening stuff.

Until a few days ago … and this is where I am resting my weary head, on an image that I believe the Lord gave me to settle my anxious heart.

I see a school with large wooden doors.  They swing open wide and young children tumble out, running and skipping and jumping and singing and smiling and laughing.

They run down the steps together, looking forward, eager.

And then I see what they are running towards – Who they are running towards.


And He is crouched down, eye to eye with the children.  A great big smile, radiant across His face, shines. His strong, gentle arms are stretched out wide. He is leaning a bit forward, with head cocked ever so slightly to one side, with a look of welcome and excitement that beckons the children on.

And I hear His deep, kind voice speak clearly and comfortingly, “Come on! I’m right here! Everything is going to be great.  You’re safe now. You’re Home.  Come, let’s go play!”

And the children barrel in to His arms, and the picture freezes in my mind as tears barrel down my face.

I don’t know a lot, but I do know this.  What happened in Newton, Connectictut is incomprehensible, but there is Hope.

Jesus is alive, and He is crazy in love with those kids and the ones who risked their lives, and He’s crazy about you and about me.

And when the days grow dark and I can’t make sense of anything, I see Jesus, and He’s saying to them and to me and to you, “We’re good! I’m here!  Everything is going be great! Come, crawl in to My arms, and take heart.  I love you.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How One Short Text and Two Photos Changed My Day (In a Good Way!)

I had a lot on my mind, yesterday.  Only the Lord knew it.

I prayed with the children on the way to school in the car, as usual.  This time I asked Him (in addition to helping one with a spelling test, another with cello lessons, and another to ‘just have a good day,’ as requested) if He would show Himself to each of us in a unique way.

Truth was, and I don’t know why, but I was feeling lonely and in need of a peek at His personal presence.  I was feeling sad and insecure and I guess, just down in the dumps.

I did some work around the house in the morning and then ran over to school to wash dishes.  With hands wet and mind weary, I heard my phone ping from where I placed it on the back counter.

I dried my hands and checked my phone, a bit begrudgingly, secretly saying under my breath, “I hope this isn’t something difficult to deal with.”

It wasn’t.

It was indeed a peek at His personal presence, just for me.

Two photos and a text from my long time friend, Cynthia, came in to view.

“Thinking of you my dear friend, as I hang the ornament you made for me back in 1983!  With love, Cynthia.  Merry Christmas my long time friend.”

I chuckled. Truth is, I don’t even remember making the ornament. Counted cross-stitch was the latest ‘craft to create’ in those days.  I was in my second year of college.  Who knows how I found the time to stitch! And to think she still had it and hung it on her tree!

Memories of Cynthia over the years drifted through my mind and rather than feeling dreary, delight grabbed hold of my soul and danced with me.

I’ve been smiling, and thinking about Cynthia, since her message came to me. No matter how much time and space is placed between us, we’ve stayed dear friends for a long time.

The image of her face, the sound of her voice, and I’m back to those days of giggling girl friendship. From the day I met her, she has brought me joy and continues to light up my life with hers.

Lots of ups and downs have happened in the last 30 years.  We’ve both walked through difficult times of one sort or another. I have a lot of respect for her. Widowed a few years back, and I saw my friend broken, but trusting the Lord for all things and exuding incredible grace.  She still does.  She’s an amazing woman!

Funny how I felt lonely and the Lord knew just what I needed to show me that I am still remembered, not only by Him, but by my sweet friend.

Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Cynthia, for taking the time and not only blessing my day, but blessing my life.  I love you like crazy, girl!  Merry Christmas to you and your sweet children!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

From the Common to the Chaotic -- My Reflections

Before posting yesterday’s story, I had not watched the news nor checked Facebook (sadly, my other source of crucial news).

Rather, I was a captive audience on the couch to the Mickey Mouse Club on television and to my youngest daughter, home sick with a high fever.

And in that moment, I contemplated the common.

Following my pushing of the ‘publish’ button, for the story I wrote, I heard of the terrible tragedy that descended upon Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

And my thoughts turned from the common to the chaotic.

And I wept. A lot.

I’m not the only one who wept, of course.  Perhaps the more appropriate question would be, who didn’t?”

Heinous evil entered our world and we can not escape it’s wretched reality. It reeks and we recoil, and our raw hearts cry out , “Why? I can’t even imagine ….”

What makes it so hard for me is that I can’t find any answers.  

I have no theological solutions or words of wisdom. My tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth as I yearn for comfort and a cure for our broken world. 

It’s Christmas time, and there are people in Connecticut and around this world who need comfort and a cure.  Jesus came into the dark of the night more than 2000 years ago, at a very terrible time of history, and Herod killed babies – little ones precious to the Father.

That was then, and this is now, and the world still spirals on a course of destruction, but I am clinging to Jesus. And although I don’t have any answers, I am doing the one thing I can do … seeking the Lord, praying for those in Connecticut and across our chaotic world and asking the Lord Jesus to comfort and to come quickly. 

Dear Lord,  I don’t understand why this has happened. My mind is whirling and my heart is breaking.  Please come in to this darkness and bring hope and comfort to the people affected.   Draw them to yourself and help them to find a home – a hope – in you.  Bring them peace and an assurance of Your love, like only You can do. Jesus, you know all things. You faced evil and death and destruction, and you won.  Help these families in their darkness. Help us all. Please come quickly. Amen

Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm Contemplating the Common Today

I caress the head of my littlest one, who is home sick with a fever.

I pour cereal in a bowl for her to eat and freshen up her ice water.

I let the dog out, then back in, then out, and then back in again.

I snuggle my dear one, and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with her.

I tidy up the kitchen.

I fold flannel sheets and put fleece blankets from the washer in to the dryer.

I swing open, and close, the door to the laundry room. 

In the commonness of the day, I catch a glimpse of a costume, hanging on the door.

The hanger clinks on the wood, each time I swing the door back and forth.

It is a shepherd’s costume. My son is wearing it this weekend for a Christmas program at our church.

Clink. Rattle.  Swish.

Each time I walk in and out of the laundry room, it seems to be trying to get my attention.

The Lord seems to be trying to get my attention.

And the thought enters my head, “What was it like for the shepherds the morning of the day when the heavenly hosts dropped in to deliver a birth announcement?”

As they donned their outfit and slipped on their overcoat, did they have any idea of what that night would hold? 

Did they contemplate the common, like I am today?

Did they do their chores, care for one another, wonder where their lives were headed and wonder if they even mattered?

On a common day, I'm pretty sure they had no idea what God was going to do.

On a common day, neither do I.

It’s on my mind today and I think the Lord is reminding me to look for Him, even on a common day – maybe particularly on a common day. 

One just never knows, God may have big plans for this day, or maybe His big plans are cloaked in the common. 

Either way, on this common day, I am committing every little thing to His care and thanking Him for each moment, for His being present and for His word for me, today.

What about you? How is the Lord speaking to you in the commonness of the day?  What is He telling you today?
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