Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hope Made Flesh

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore". Psa 16:11.

Sometimes I think this gift giving and Santa Claus puts a damper on the real purpose of Christmas, but it is miraculous to watch Jesus' cause overturn Satan's claws. This year I saw it. Someone plays Santa every year at our house. It's our tradition. It causes a little more order. It allows everyone to 'ooh and aah' over everything. And it's meant to give that one person a little more attention. We all need that sometimes.

It's the morning after. All is quiet. I'm journaling of the events of the past few days. I'm still. Part of me is trying to hold on to it. There were no major upsets, no arguments. There were presents. There was joy in the giving and in the receiving. We had waited to give for a long time. A long time? Well, a month, maybe two? Maybe a day or three? But that's a long time for me. When I buy for someone, I want to see the joy unfold upon them whether it is a small token, or an unexpected surprise.

There were a few gifts this year that caused reaction -a scream of delight over a pair of earrings, contemplative tears over a mug, and wild eyes of surprise over a jersey. The one that brought the tears for me was the small token of the angel ornament. A sash was draped around her waist with the words inscribed, "Where there is hope, there are miracles". It wasn't the cost, it wasn't the size, it wasn't even the words of hope. It was the miracle of the truth of those words. The very truth of the words rose up inside of me. It was like the words I have been writing about became substance in me.

Oh the joy in the presents, and oh the joy there must have been in the presence of the long long awaited messiah. The words of the prophets were revealed in the manger. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Imagine the joy of the Father giving and watching Him be received by the shepherds. Imagine the joy in heaven when one receives Him as the true Savior He is.

The lights and the tree will come down in a few days. Our thoughts and focus will return as it was. The presents under the tree may not last. Each year will be a little different than the previous one. The one we chose to be Santa this year will change next year. Even memories may be somewhat altered. But the true things we receive and the words we speak throughout the year will become us.

The Father in heaven will keep giving His present of His presence to those who keep receiving. And there will be joy and hope.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Perfect Answer, A Perfect Way, A Perfect Peace

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". Phil 4:6,7

I am tired almost all of the time. I go to the doctor. I have tests. I am perfectly normal for my age in the results. It is frustrating. I have many episodes of mental confusion. My eyes blink nonstop during those times. Most of the outside world does not even recognize it. I am the most abnormal normal person I know. I think I am a perfectionist. Ha! I know, NO WAY!

Perfectionism has two extremes:

OCD is one extreme; the compulsion to decrease or avoid anxiety created by an obsession.

The opposite extreme is the mindset of incapability in an area which causes a paralysis of effort; the one who says 'I can't do it right so I won't even try'.

The first perpetuates the anxiety, because even the most perfect looking project is never finished. The second perpetuates fatigue because even the most imperfect looking project is never begun, which means it will never be finished.

Both result in hopelessness. The answer, according to scripture is prayer and thanksgiving in every situation which will result in supernatural peace and a guarded heart and mind through Christ Jesus.

Jesus said "Be ye therefore perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" Mt 5:48.

I notice that He didn't even call himself perfect just as He didn't call himself good in Lk 18:19 "Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone". He prayed to the Father in every situation and did His will.

Hmm, maybe pharmaceuticals are not always the answer.

Lord, today I bring my requests to you and you alone. Bring hope in the hopeless areas of my life.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Truth of Love

And love is the fourth candle of Advent.

What does love look like? I've been asking all week cause it's been a hard week, a stressful week. It's not just the stress of the season. It's the stress of health, relationships, all the noise and all the silence; all too deafening.

 I know what my love looks like. It nurtures, it fights, it prays, it endures, it sacrifices, it hurts, it gives, it tires, it seeks, it falls, it gets up and starts all over again.  But in the midst of all that I have times I ask "why should I care?". I have seasons I see no results of all of my efforts. So I go into 'me' mode. I may do the same things, but my motives shift. It's all for my appearance before you and not my pursuit of you.

My love fails...

Herein is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us, and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 Jn 4:10.

Love came in a small package,
        even though the world couldn't contain Him. 

Love came helpless,
         even though He knows all things . 

Love came born through a woman,
         even though He created all mankind. 

And love came quietly and alone,
         even though He deserves all the attention of all His creation.

This unfailing love ...doesn't do all the things that my love does, It just is all those things.

Hope expects love in its true definition .
Peace rests in it.
Joy is compelled by it.

Now here it is, the summation of all three.

Love is given...

 Jesus equals love...Emmanuel, God with man to redeem all men and offer the possibility of God being in every man.

Love never fails...

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Just Keep Repeating

"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice".
Phil 4:4

Joy, the third candle in the advent season. What is it and how do I get it when everything defies it? Joy radiates from an inner place. There is no manufacturing joy. But I can receive it by rejoicing in the Lord. Re-joy-ce. Repeat the sounding joy.

The angels rejoiced over the birth of the Savior. Repeat the angel's song of rejoicing. They saw Him. They looked down and saw Almighty God in a baby's body. They didn't understand it but they rejoiced.

We are to repeat the sounding joy when we don't understand.

Angels saw Him born and angels saw Him die fulfilling the father's plan of redemption. They still didn't understand it, but they rejoiced.

Repeat the sounding joy in the midst of heartache, of loss, of confusion, of evil that seems to be flooding the earth. Keep repeating the sounding joy. Let it resonate within and without and fill you. Be filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, joy.

Hope brought peace, peace brought a sword and once that sword separates chaff from wheat, joy resides and nothing less can share that space.

It doesn't take understanding to be fulfilled. It takes joy.

Repeat the sounding Joy, for a Savior is born!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Open Door Of Hope

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Rev 3.8

Everything settled. The wind stopped. She lay on the bed, her thoughts in as much disarray as the room she was in. As she slowly opened her eyes, the memory of the storm resurfaced. Rising up, making her way through the overturned things tossed violently around her, she made her way to the door, turned the knob and opened it.

From black and white to color, I sat in awe on my living room floor watching the scene from  "The Wizard of Oz". Life for Dorothy suddenly became full of possibilities. Since I was a little girl I have watched that movie a hundred times, at least. My favorite part has never changed, Dorothy opening the door to a whole new world of endless color, adventure, possibilities and opportunities.

Most doors are familiar to us. We pass through the same ones every day. The doors in our home, work, all the places we go on a regular basis are familiar. We close them to keep us in. We close them to keep us out. Usually when we open them there is no surprise. With so much familiarity do I recognize a door of opportunity when it is opened up before me?

So many I have not walked through. I have looked in but never stepped inside. I might fail. I might lose. I might misinterpret something. The fact is by not walking through it I am doing all of that and more. I remain the same hidden behind the door of my impossibility. I have no color and no contrast.

Jesus is the door in John 10 by which we enter to be saved. Entering that door will give us access to the door of heaven. I cannot imagine the first time I walk through that door. All the color of this earth I am sure will seem pale and muted.

Maybe in the back seat of my mind I am believing the end of that story, that it is all a dream after all, that hope on this earth belongs to others and not for me. That somehow I have said no too many times. The fact is, I am learning that no hope on this earth is in itself my fulfillment. True hope cannot be found in earth's successes or in my estimation of life's situations. When God opens a door and you walk through it the only purpose is to learn something else about how small I am and how big He is. That makes every door He offers a challenge and an opportunity to grow.

Dorothy certainly had many strange, dangerous and discouraging plights along her way, along with an enemy and a few entertaining companions. I have goodness and mercy that follow me all the days of my life as said in the 23rd Psalm. It may have been a dream for her, but it is a reality for the Christian.

Recently a door has been opened to me. A world of writers who are sharing their stories, losses and gains. I have gone from knowing one writer to now having access to hundreds of them. No longer do I feel alone, but now I also feel the intimidation and challenge even greater. Now I appreciate what I have close by even more than before, for what I have been learning is now being validated, plus so much more. How much can one appreciate someone? I seems to keep growing.  Dorothy went through the door but in the end she loved the place she left even more. She realized that hope took her to the next level. Hope in Christ is our foundation. It is what we build upon. It can hold all the weight we put upon it and will never crumble.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hope and My Fading Memory

My Fading Memory

Well, I've started blogging, apparently a few times. And I have forgotten that I started blogging, all in the midst of wanting to start a blog. It must have been a few months ago that I started to experiment and I have a follower besides. How did that happen? I guess I should post again. She probably thinks I gave up, which I did, if forgetting is a form of giving up. Frustration happens quickly when it comes to figuring out technology and how it all works. So  here I find myself writing my second one.

Funny what we forget and why we forget. I blame it sometimes on my age and sometimes on the fact that I work with the elderly community. I wonder if it more often is a case of overload, trying to fit it all in a cramped space or time. I know I can forget where things are if I don't see them, like things in my cupboards. I've been known to overbuy the same item. You'd think sometimes I was saving up for an oncoming famine (which may not be a bad idea). It's all about clutter and disorganization. Yup, that's me. I've been fighting with it all my life.

What has that got to do with hope? Oh, yeah, hope is my subject. It's what I write about, using my life as a platform. "Having Our Perspective Enlarged" is my acrostic from the Lord on this word; my view transformed to His view. After all His view is a little different from mine, since He sees it all and my eyes and understanding are so very limited. There is no cramping into a small space for Him. He doesn't lose things or shove things to the back. Everything is laid out plain before Him, from the beginning to the end, of which, by the way, He is both, beginning and end, and He is eternal. That means there really is neither beginning nor end. That will take a little processing.

So enlarging my perspective is like making more space, being less hurried and less anxious. See, I tried to figure out the blog sites, apparently started a couple of them, became occupied with what I couldn't do and then just stacked them together and pushed one in front of the other until they all were hidden from view and memory. And it's so easy to lose our purpose and our vision for what we do. My vision is that I can express hope to others. Not to the ones who are looking for the fancy, for the clone, for the same thing they read yesterday. I want you to see what God's eyes see, the miracles and phenomena that only He can translate into your heart. You are an individual. He is personal with each person. He made each one in His image, yet each one unique. He can speak in a singular manner and bring His unequaled truth and understanding to give you purpose and worth in whatever state you find yourself.

So I need more space in my heart and mind so I can know how to prioritize what God gives me. Right now I have this blog. Pictures may or may not follow. For now I will let my words paint pictures. The Lord is a greater photographer and artist than I will ever be.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Waves of Hope in the Midst of Fear

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. " Heb 6:19,20.

Shimmering sunlight dances off the water. The lake is lined with lush maples, oaks and birches, all stretching their branches toward the sky. Not billows, but bright streaks of clouds are painted artistically and sparsely on a canvas of cyan blue. Observing, we see clusters of red and orange leaves reminding us of the early signs of autumn and as the dread of winter fills my head I can't help but envision the beauty of the season as it approaches.

Above us perched on a branch is a hawk, or is it an eagle? We can't quite tell from where we sit. Across us camouflaged against the rushes a heron stands perfectly still and focused, probably eyeing his dinner. And I am relaxed in the middle of a lake sitting in a kayak, laughing inside, amazed. Why? Because I do not do lakes for they have no sides within reach. I do not do water over my head, except in a pool, and I do not do boats. A lifetime of fighting fears within and without, I am distracted now by beauty and by friendship. And I wonder if sunlight is dancing off of us, causing us to glisten. There are no waves. The air is still. We couldn't have asked for more serene waters.

For a brief time I look around and wonder what is the depth of the water below and my grip on the paddles tighten. What is my friend saying to me? I hear her voice but the words don't make sense. I rdon't want fear to win again. My mind scrambles to put things in perspective. Focus. The kayak is cradling me in the supporting water below, there is beauty all around and I am building a friendship.

The disciples are on a boat. They were fishermen. This wasn't the first time. As the wind tossed the sea they looked out and saw Jesus. He beckoned Peter to walk to Him on the water and with his eyes and mind focused he stepped out towards Him. When he realized where he was and took his eyes off of Jesus and onto the waves, he was down; impulsive, yes, but obedient. If He had not looked down he would have walked further.

Jesus wants relationship. He is the hope dwelling within me. Fear puts that hope on trial every time it appears. It accuses the hope within and questions its validity, bringing to the surface natural limitations, past failures and present problems.There will always be contrary winds of doubt and roaring waves of distractions trying to steal my hope. As unstable as my vision is sometimes, His vision of me is fixed. His hope anchors me, and when you know the anchor is strong, you have peace and the peace that Jesus gives is like no other.