Jan 22, 2009

Light in the Dark

Last week I was riding down the the highway after a newfallen snow. It was just a dusting, but enough to provide a fresh white covering to the ground and crystallize the branches of the trees. It was early in the morning and the sun was just starting to rise to it's place in the sky. I noticed the yellow-orange illuminate the woods and then rise to enhance this beautiful creation.

As the sun rose to it's place I noticed the brilliant reflection that occurs when the bright sun shines on the snow-fallen earth. The themes of light and darkness always take me to the grace of God in my life.

I remember traveling down the same highway 10+ years ago. It wasn't a snowfall, but a scorching summer day. The day after my husband had left. This snow and light reflection, took me back to that time of darkness for a moment. On that first day I had taken my sons (6 and 3) to school and the babysitter, I could hardly keep the tears from them, I had the sickest feeling in my stomach and when I got in the car to go to work I was trembling so badly. Just the way they looked me with their eyes, as if to say, "Will everything be alright?" as smiled and reassured them, but was unsure, broken and wounded. I could barely drive. As I composed myself somewhat I turned the radio on and the song "Shine On Us" by Phillips, Craig and Dean was playing. It's first I had heard it and the words reached directly to my heart and became my theme for that time of darkness:

Lord, let Your light,

light of Your face

Shine on us (repeat)

That we may be saved

That we may have life

To shine our way in the darkest night

Let your light shine on us Lord,

let your grace,

grace from Your hand,

Come over us (repeat)

That we may be saved

That we may have life

To shine our way in the darkest night

Let Your grace come over usLord,

let Your love, love with no end

Fall on us (repeat)

That we may be saved,

That we may have life

To shine our way in the darkest night

Let Your love fall on us

Let Your light shine on us

The tears rolled down my cheeks and that song became my song, my prayer when I couldn't pray. After I heard the song for the first time, all I said was, "God, let me find the light." And that theme of darkness and light has be present in all I've walked through on this journey. In some ways, I think you truly know the brilliance of the light (or of Jesus) even more brightly having walked through the darkness. I just know that over and over God's grace saves me and that God never, ever has left me. And I know his "love with no end" shines on me and in me. Even on the days when the light is just a glimmer or a soft glow, it is the light of Jesus in my life that gives me hope to strive to be a beacon of light to give Him glory. Because out of the darkness a light shines. And I am grateful.

In Matthew (Eugene Peterson's, The Message) it tells us: "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. " (Matt 5:15-17)

Shine on!

Jan 10, 2009

Striving to Go Deeper

I've been journaling about my expectations for 2009 and I find I don't end up thinking about specific goals and dreams, but about who I am and how I have begun to go deeper on my faith journey and my desire, with God's help to continue that. Here's a picture into my thoughts...

Try to talk less, but start listening more with a heart that is wide open. Watch more sunsets, gaze at more full moons and witness more sunrises from the shore's edges. Savor laughter. Enjoy the little ordinary moments of each day, which are really miracles. Breathe in fresh air. Let all your senses be exhillarated in the amazing creation around you.

Put the cares of yesterday away, except for what you learned from them. Forge ahead to new experiences, never forgetting the past's worth, but with a new passion for all that is yet to be. Yet, rejoice in the present moment, with all it's mysteries.

Live in love, leaving fear behind. Live in hope, instead of petty worries that add nothing to the value of your life. Take that unbridled joy that you know is God-given and put despair away. Live in acceptance, instead of isolation.

Learn to say, "Have your way, Lord" and mean it sincerely. Open yourself to the plans God has for you and your life, acknowledging that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. And when you think a dream has died, just remember God's dreams for you may look a bit different than your own--both in substance and timing.

Continue to speak the truth in love, free of judgements to find a way to peace and acceptance. Peel away everyevery mask that holds you hidden away. In so doing, finally reveal your wholly authentic self. With God's help, bring yourself out of the shadows. Honor the darkness, but celebrate the light. In fact, remember that because you have known darkness you can value the light in a brighter illumination.

Love no matter what. Honor and love all people to find the way to unity. And forgive--not forget--but forgive. In so doing set your heart and soul free. And don't forget to forgive yourself.

In all things never forget the cross--the assurance of what a precious, worthy Child of God you are. Don't focus on being everything to everyone. But live in joy giving all you are as a gift back to God. To be used for one thing: His Glory.

Jan 3, 2009

Gift of the Red Bird

Driving early in the morning to a park not far from my home the frigid temperatures have set in. I take in the picture I'm driving into: I notice how almost all the leaves are gone now. Those that remain are crunchy and brown. The sky is a winter sky and the sun rises slowly. It is easier to see through the woods, since the brush doesn't impair my view. But I am taken by a light covering of freshly fallen snow. All is silent and the sun peaks through the trees, but it is noticeably still. Winter may not be my favorite season, but it is still full of charm.

Before long a cardinal appears on the fence in front of me -- a female with it's gray-brown coloring, but red beak. Within a few minutes the male appears. The splendor of its color is breathtaking and seeing him perch on a snowy branch is a gift.

I love how God appears and makes His presence known in nature. It really makes me take notice. It really helps me be aware of the all of the wonder that surrounds us and how small we are in the majesty of the universe.

Last year, I had the privilege of reading a book call "Gift of the Red Bird" by Paula D'Arcy. It is a poignant, truthful moving story of a woman's journey grief and a spiritual awakening of sorts to God's presence.

She shares, "Our journeys are evolutions. I recognize the importance of seeing. If my "seeing" does not expand, neither does my faith. Any fear which limits seeing is costly. It is essential to seek vision and create enough silence in one's life to listen to God. I am aware of most of the freedom, beauty and joy I have found required risk in order to find the next truths God was revealing. You cannot be safe and see. You must choose."

These thoughts were so meaningful and having my own encounter with the red bird on a snowy winter morning is signficiant. God wants me to see and to listen and to be aware of His Presence. And He wants me to respond.

As I become more aware, more sensitive on this journey of faith and life, I want to give glory to God for each moment...because they are all so significant. I just know I want to see more red birds on snowy branches. And when I do, I want to remember who to thank for the amazing gift of life.