Nov 30, 2008

Advent Poem

The "not yet" season

The season of preparing for Christ.

A time we almost miss in our eagness

To jump ahead to the joy of the Nativity.

It is not yet time for the Christ-Child

Not yet time for the shepherds, the angel song,

Mary, Joseph, the stable, the manger

The splendor, the rejoicing, the glory

Instead, a time to be attentive and focused,

A time for expectation and anticipation.

A season looking inward to the yearning of our hearts,

A time of introspection, of reflection,

Of seeking God's voice.

For Advent's gifts are in the waiting, the watching,

The deep mystery of searching and hungering,

Of reaching deep within to ache to see and hear and know

So that the promise will be revealed

In an ever brightening light.

For Advent is our time to tell God we are

Longing for the Messiah

And, in the darkness,

We create space for insight and vision

In the dimness we are anticipating

Welcoming the guest

As we journey toward the light,

Listening to the longing within.

For as God pieerces the darkenss and

The dawn brings its tender light

The darkness gives way to hope and promise

And newness of life.

And just ahead we hear the echoes:

"I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,

but will have the light of life."

Let the mystery of Advent unfold.

Nov 29, 2008


Yesterday on the drive from work to one of my family's favorite traditions of the Christmas season--seing the lighting of the Christmas tree in Palmer Square, Princeton, NJ--an interesting thing occurred. Someone in front of me decided to make a U-turn right in front of me. As a driver trying to respond, it was a scary couple of minutes. But it got me thinking about the number of U-turns I've taken in my life--whether work, family, relationships.

I've thought about how all those U-turns have resulted in changes, or rather strengthened my faith life. There were job changes, relationship changes, friendship revelations, health changes. I would venture to say, though, that no matter the circumstance surrounding the "U-turn", it was always the response to it, that mattered the most.

My greatest changes and U-turns have been in my life as a parent, specifically, as a single parent. There have been numerous times when the children were small that I my husband and I had to try new things, as all parents do, in the feeding or sleeping routine, in discipline and teaching. Those things, though, became increasingly difficult as I became a single parent. Although my husband and I tried to co-parent on the very big issues, there some things--many things that were solely up to me. And not having the "tag team" in place anymore, was quite an adjustment. There were countless nights I would wonder how I could do it all.

Trying to set good examples when you are in the turmoil of separation and divorce is a struggle. But it was those very first months when someone pointed out to me that my children were looking to me to see what was still stable and constant in their lives that I got a wake up call. I was trying to overcompensate for the pain and brokenness around them, and my parenting became relaxed because I was in pain myself. That was the first of many "U-turns" where I prayed for God be my parenting partner. Of course, the bigger issue of divorce was the largest "U-turn" I'd experienced, but now looking back at those times and acknowledging how much deeper my faith life has become, allows me to see that those "turn abouts" aren't always bad. And God uses them to teach us and give us strength we never knew we needed.

Along the way there were many other times I needed to rely on God and others and had to ask for help--something really hard for me to do. I had to try new ways, new schedules, new approaches, all to build a stronger single-parent family. The next huge U-turn for me was in the teenage years. The knowledge and understanding I gained was really about my parenting changing, as I began to encourage responsibility and also allow freedoms and choices, as we faced (and are still facing) those fragile years.

The thing about U-turns for me is this: it matters that I recognize when it's time for a U-turn, or a Yield or a Stop Sign. And I have been given wonderful friends in my life that support me at every step of my life and faith journey, so leaning and asking for help is a gift. And lastly, if I need to make a U-turn, it's long as I'm running (as fast as I can, sometimes) into the arms of God. There I will find rest, refreshment and renewal for this journey as a single Mom and a child of God. Because I'm so human and I make mistakes daily. But God is there waiting, pulling, pushing, nudging me so that on this path...I know without a doubt that I am never alone and He is my Creator, Sustainer and true Life-Giver and present in every moment.

Even, and especially, if I have to make a U-turn.

Nov 26, 2008

Welcome to Eyes of Faith - A Grateful Heart

This is my first post on this newly designed blog. I hope you will find words of encouragement, challenges in faith and just sharing and awakening to God's love in the ordinary moments of life.

A Grateful Heart

I started keeping a gratitude journal just as I was turning 30. But the journal became more necessary to my life, and to my faith walk when my husband left. There was a scripture God was putting on my heart pretty regularly: Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 (New International Version).

During those first months of turmoils, separation, anguish and betrayal I was hard-pressed to be joyful or to give thanks. Until I began seeing through eyes of faith. I realized that focusing inward instead of outward and that healing had to occur slowly and love and forgiveness was to follow, but not on my terms. But it was then that my faith took hold and this idea of gratitude really began to take root inside my soul.

I found gratitude wasn't just a simple "thank you" whispered for a good deed, but it was an act of mercy, a way of life and a gift I couldn't put my finger. As I began to heal and God began to touch me so deeply, my melting heart began to experience moments of gratitude. I could feel this movement all around me of friends who wouldn't leave me, of family who stood beside me with acts of grace, and a God who continued to pour out his blessing over me as His child, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.

Acknowledging and expressing gratitude--for little moments and big ones began to show me just how great a God I served. Slowly, I became alive again and actual started writing because of journaling my gratitude to God and all his blessings. The gift of gratitude has revealed a heart of joy -- even in the toughest circumstance.

In her book, "How Can I See the Light When It's So Dark?" by Linda Douty she shares that “An authentic thankful heart involves a kind of joy and acceptance of life—not necessarily approval or condoning, and certainly not fatalism, but a stalwart look at realities or past events we can’t change.” The author reminds us that we must dare to believe that the journey to a thankful heart is a trip worth taking. And she helps us navigate the bridges of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving -- with a grateful heart -- to the one who deserves all the glory!