Dec 30, 2009

Seeking a Sign

I've been thinking about light in the darkness. I've been experiencing light in the darkness. I think really I was looking for a the star in the sky that led the Wise Men to find the Baby Jesus. This Christmas season, I was looking for a sign of peace.

I don't know if it's because I have experienced darkness, that maybe I'm more attuned now to finding the light. It might be just a glimmer, a soft glow, a subtle spark, or a bright illuminating light--but all the forms of light shine in the darkness. And I seem to expect the light now. The hope the light signifies. The peace the light brings. Whatever it is, I'm grateful for finding the light, for God opening my eyes to accepting the light.

These last weeks have been filled with unrest for our family, as a loved one faced a serious condition, a fragile procedure, but then a joyous outcome. Last week I heard difficult news from a doctor, And I learned of a tough circumstance at work. Several friends unburdened their hearts of broken relationships and unexpected, even shocking news. Yes, this week I was reminded just how I much I need the Savior that has come.

I remember in the past going through valleys and pain where all I could see was the dark, the night. But now I am leaning and trusting and knowing implicitly that God is alive in the world, in the universe, in my friend's pain, my family's worry.

The thing I realize very clearly as I grow ever deeper in my faith is the eloquence in which God speaks into our lives. Sometimes just a glimmer, sometimes a blinding light. Sometimes the softest whispers in the wind, sometimes a loud proclaiming voice. Sometimes in the touch of a friend, sometimes in the sparkle of my sister's eye. Sometimes in the release of tears, sometimes in the cries of prayers.

I feel the movements in my life of God so deeply. I feel Him showing me ways to make the spaces that He desires to fill. I am aware of Him helping me shed the old skins of shame, guilt, unforgiveness, busyness and doubts and fear.

So with the new year right around the corner, I am reminded of the new creation God is making in me daily. I am reminded to put of the old away and surrender all to Him as He creates all that is new. I'm reminded to look for the light daily. I'm encouraged to stay open. To truly listen for my life. Sometimes I just want to whole already, free from sin and the things that hold me.

But the manger this year has renewed my heart and mind to remember it is a journey. I'm on the path striving and reaching and desiring a life that only Christ can give. Hope surrounds. Joy seeps in. Love in born. Light illuminates.

I am looking for the signs. And I am finding them everywhere.

"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 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 have put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--Shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in Heaven." (Matt 5:15-17 The Message)

Dec 25, 2009

Light in the Darkness

Light pierces the darkness

And nothing is the same

A babe has been born

In the humblest of ways

And He is our Savior.

Into the dark the light shines and shows us the way.

In the midst of a dark, dark world

Both 2000 years ago and today

Both out in the world

And in our own backyards

Hope has come.

In the past few years our family

Has experienced a life-threatening condition,

Disease, serious surgery, loss of loved ones,

A soldier going to war and other difficult moments.

We look at the tapestry of our lives woven together

With all those we love--with the challenges, pain, love and joy.

And I suppose there are choices to make:

Despair. Or hope.

Hate. Or love.

Resentment. Or forgiveness.

Chaos. Or peace.

Darkness. Or light.

No matter our circumstance, though, the light has come.

And that light -- the true light -- changes everything.

He calls from the darkness to be His light-bearers in the world.

Radiating His light in every way possible, so everyone will know

Emmanel, God with us.

Dec 12, 2009

Making Space

"In the same manner in which we clean and prepare our homes in the anticipation of welcomed guests and family members this Christmas season, let us also prepare our hearts in anticipation of the Lord coming. Christ, our most honored and eagerly anticipated guest, desires to meet with us in a heart prepared for his arrival. So eager is he to meet with us that he offers to help us with our spiritual housecleaning, working with us; creating a resting place for Himself within our hearts." --Katherine Walden, I Lift My Eyes Ministries

I've been thinking so much in Advent about making space, making room for Jesus in a new way into my heart. Someone I was discussing this with asked me, "But don't you have it figured out? You've been a Christian for a long time. Don't you just do the same thing every Advent?" The question haunted me.

Of course we all have traditions in our communities, churches and homes that are part of the beauty and wonder of the Christmas season. But the seasons of Advent and also of Lent are so meaningful to me in my Christian life I the way I prepare my heart. I think from the time I was a little girl and we lit the Advent wreath, read scripture and prayed, I knew it was a very special time. Looking back now I see the reverence of the moment, the quiet space we created to worship. As I grew in my faith I realized, for me, I found that finding God in the silence to renew my soul, to gain greater perspective, to experience Advent in a new way became an important part of my faith life.

I think the yearning in my heart to receive Jesus in a new way is a refreshing thought. But the yearning doesn't mean much if there is no action attached. As I experience Advent fully, I think deeply about the journey...not just the destination. I love the thought of reflecting, preparing, expecting, anticipating the joy of the greatest gift ever given...yet again. Because I'm not who I was even last year on my faith journey. The joys and challenges of each year bring greater depth in my faith walk and I am so grateful, to approach this season with new eyes of faith.

My boys and I recently moved to a new home and we had some trouble finding a space that seemed right for our Christmas tree. We talked through moving furniture, squeezing it in a tiny place, what size it should be to fit. Finally, we decided, even if it looked strange, we wanted it in front of the balcony doors so its light could illuminate into the night. I wondered if we had been talking about the Christmas tree, or the need for something else--the need to let light within each of us shine in a different, new way. So that perspective helped me to look everywhere for light.

I've been noticing more about about space as I thought of this topic during Advent. As I took a walk in the park on a cold December morning, I felt alive with all the space God has created in the woods, in each plant that has broken forth from the earth, in the majestic arms of branches of the oaks, in the rapidly flowing stream and in the vastness of the sky. I thought of a mind's eye photo in my memory of walking up from the creek on our farm and seeing the entire meadow covered with glistening snow and the sun setting so brilliantly. All the space He has made for us to live, and move and have our being. And now I ponder the way I can make space in my own life.

Am I so caught up in the preparations of a meal, for instance, that I hurry along my son as he tells me about his day? Or, am I willing to stop, to listen to even what he is not saying? Do I notice the glimmer in the eyes of the children at a recent community choir concert? Do I see their innocence, their delight? Do I take the time to sit with a friend in need and offer encouragement, instead of rushing out to buy the final presents. Am I learning to listen--both to the movements of God in my own life and to the very deep soul-talk of others? Have I learned to be alone and treasure my time with God in the Word, in prayer, in meditation? Am I ready to leave old habits behind, and move forward as God draws me? Am I willing to wait patiently when I don't have a answer, or the answer is "not yet"? And am I willing to strip away my own masks to reveal the authentic, nicked up, wounded, but ever healing soul that resides in me. And am I willing to open my heart fully, instead of hiding away?

When I think about making space this Advent season, what am I making room for? And I know the answer. I'm constantly called to make room for love. For God's love. For the greatest gift of love ever. It means entering spaces I might not have dared to go before, but with this knowledge that God shines so brightly.

We just need to begin making spaces, I think. And to never stop. Reflecting, then carving out those places in our lives that need more of Him. Those spaces are everywhere. Making space feels very much like finding ourselves loved. And in that space, there is a light we make our way to Bethlehem.

Dec 4, 2009


Come into view...into being

Advent arrives

In the seeking, the preparing, the waiting

Here I am anxious to go full throttle

Into the Christmas season with all its excitement

Already almost too busy to notice the reality I need most:

The time of waiting, of expecting, of hoping is necessary

Sometimes so encumbered by the "doing", I forget the "being"

Lists to make, gifts to buy, decorations to hang, friends to gather

But instead the still, small voice whispers, stirring in my heart

Until I stop, look and listen...I cannot possibly accept the gift

Be Still My Soul! Slow me down, to see and hear and respond

Prepare my heart, unchain all that holds me from seeing with eyes of faith

My Spirit needs to welcome a Savior

I want to journey to the manger, to Bethlehem, to the miracle

Let me accept your solace, Your peace

Give me joy in the smallest wonder

Waiting and seeking

Expecting and hoping

Anticipating and accepting

When I am expecting and hoping

Prepare Me.