April 18, 2017

My Mother's Bible - The Legacy Found

Still.

In this moment I was still.

During this past week my spirit was all but still.
A phone call - Mom had fallen... fractured skull, multiple brain bleeds; an immediate flight across the country; hours of driving; decisions; sitting bedside; tears; conversations; prayers; more tears; arrangements; visitations; a service.

But for this moment, I was still - not moving; motionless; quiet.
In this moment I sat on the couch in a quiet room in a quiet house - not moving and not making a sound.
The silence was broken by a deep quiet sigh that seemed to hush my soul as I cast my eyes downward and to the left.

There it sat.  

Still.



I picked it up.
As I opened it God's "still, small voice" spoke.  Hidden blessing poured into my being. 
At first there were not words - just realization.  I was no longer in the emptiness of quiet.  I was in the calm of presence... both the presence of the Father whose love knows no bounds and in the comforting presence of my dearest friend, my mentor, my prayer warrior, my encourager... my mom.

Then the words came. 
They were my mother's words in her handwriting. 





Words of encouragement, support, comfort.  Words of trust, peace, blessed assurance.
Words of FAITH.
 
I "listened" to her words. As she "spoke" them I couldn't help but sit in awe and wonder as I turned pages and looked at the margins filled with her writing that held her thoughts and prayers.  She had so much to share...  Actually she'd given so much - not just in this moment but over a lifetime.  With God's Word she had nurtured our faith as we grew; prayed for us daily - - - even to her last earthly day.  What a gift! Blessing beyond measure. 
In the STILL, her legacy was found.


As I continued to turn pages, I began to soak in the words she had so purposefully underlined.
And my spirit heard the sound of STILLNESS. The Father's Word spoke.


"Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD which he will work for you today... The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still"(Exodus 14:13-14).

"My presence will go with you and I will give you rest" (Exodus 33:14).


"The LORD bless you ad keep you:  The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:  The LORD lift up his Countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26).



Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives to I give you  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27)



I went to the page that held Psalm 46.  His Word spoke "Be STILL and know that I am God". 
I was reminded that the command "be still" in Hebrew comes from the verb rapha which means "to be weak, to let go, to release". 
Be Still.  As I allowed myself to be weak the tears once again came letting go of all I had held I found release. 

It was my turn for words.
"Father,
Thank you for your tangible presence.  Thank you for your living Word.  Thank  you for giving your Son that we may live.  Thank you for my mom - for the faithful woman who raised me, loved me, nurtured me in you.  Thank you for releasing her from the sorrow and pain.  Thank you for this time with you... and her.  Allow me to carry her legacy on through You and give my children the blessing it holds."

Yes, in this moment I was STILL.
At rest; serene; restful;  untroubled; peaceful.

 It is my prayer for you to be blessed by the Word and Believe...


September 29, 2016

BE


I have 'been' for awhile now.

be - to exist; to get along; to get by; to endure; to last; to hold on or hold out; to continue.

The past several years have held much -  our children coming in to adulthood; dealing with the "daily-ness" of life (car maintenance, home maintenance, laundry, meals, cleaning, relationships, etc.); a chronic health issue; aging parents; going back to school for a masters degree in a totally new field - including internships and special project; and whatever else gets thrown my way in the midst of living this journey. 

Summing all of that into what just amounted to one sentence somehow doesn't really encompass what I've lived during that time - both the trials and the joys.

I've learned (and relearned) some huge life lessons in that time...
- anyone that says parenting gets easier as your kids get older is a liar
- you can't do it all or have it all; quite simply it's not healthy to continuously pursue nor would I ever want it if it was possible
- the things we seek the most are usually found right in front of us; we've had them all along
- often times those who voice that we are the problem and cause great heartache are the ones who possess a problem and have great heartaches themselves
- rest doesn't just come; unrest unfortunately does
- time doesn't heal all wounds but there is ONE who does
- "when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and swing"
- the grass may seem greener where you are not but artificial turf exists
- depth matters
- there's a HUGE difference between  happiness and contentment
- it's not what you have but who you have that matters in life
- the best things in life are not things but rather the people you love, the places you go and the memories you make
- no one is "together"
- family can be of 'blessing' - it does not necessarily come through 'relation' but rather 'relationship'
- uncertainty is the only thing that is certain except for the ONE who IS... HE is greater than any uncertainty
-perfection does not exist except for that which is found  in THE CROSS
- every human being is an imperfect and flawed person with shortcomings and insecurities yet of value and one who is loved by the FATHER; I need to try to view each one as HIS child (they are a lot easier to care about when viewed as such)
- wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age
-the more you know the more you know you don't know
- when in doubt don't
- sometimes punting is your only move
- much of life involves 'calling an audible'

 The list could go on (just start to think about your list for a minute).

 But recently, I've had a period of adjustment that forced me to learn... relearn... what is for me my biggest challenge and hugest life lesson.  It is the fact that there is a difference between 'being' and 'Be-ing'.

BE - to act; to do; to obtain; to breathe; to abide; to prevail; to live.

It is much better to BE.
But it is much harder to BE.
You have to be intentional to BE - it doesn't just happen.  It involves pausing in the midst of all the chaos and the business of 'being'.  It is not easy but it is essential and necessary.

So now I move forward after a few steps backward.  My prayer for you is that you are able to BE.

"BE still and know that I am God" - Psalm 46:9

December 25, 2015

All is Well



Here I am, sitting in the darkened room by the lights of the tree on this Christmas Eve.  It causes me to think and now leads me to admit to you that my heart has spent the last bit of time not in the reflective light of the tree and the Christmas spirit, but rather in the darkness of my own spirit.  Responsibilities, deadlines, events needing planning, guests coming from out of town, a big push to finish strongly for the term, concerns already for next term, the cost of three of us pursuing higher education in one family, relational issues with one - often a struggle with peace, rebellion, serious health issues for loved ones, learning to live with my own health developments, meeting familial needs, holding on to friendships with perhaps less attention than they deserve, guilt, sadness, loss, frustration, fatigue, work, the feeling of being overwhelmed...  I often feel that I am keeping the nights watch - waiting to inform all that the doom I have been feeling approach is now here... "2a.m. and all is on the verge of losing it", "3a.m and all is dark and doomed", "4 a.m. and no longer on the verge of losing it... Honey... I've done lost it all!!!".   Wandering in the dark... no clue how to even begin to make things work.

Looking at the tree lights I hear the words:  The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).  I am reminded of those small candle lights at tonight's Christmas Eve service.                                                               
In a darkened room, the small flame of light will not be overpowered by the darkness which surrounds it.  We were promised by our Savior " I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8 :12)
The Savior comes willingly to a dark place in order to bring light. 
Isaiah 9:20 states that "on those living in the land of the  shadow of death, a light has dawned."


Christmas Eve... we are beautifully reminded that tonight, darkness falls into the dawn of love's light.  I Stand Still with that... the dawn of love's light.  God's love and sacrifice that first Christmas Eve caused the darkness of a world filled with war, strife, taxes, political and religious unrest, social inequality, persecution and.... hmmm... sounds like a time we may be familiar with - to fall and give way to the dawn of love's light.  In a manger, in the darkness we find love's light that will never be overcome by the darkness we each hide inside - anxiety, frustration, anger, fear, uncertainty, doubt, overwhelmingness, fatigue, lostness, emptiness, unhappiness, discontent. 

Not only do we have the promise of the light shining through those darknesses, we are promised the light will bring life - "In Him was life, and that life became the light of men" (John 1:4).  Light brings hope, joy, love and peace to the darkness.  We are promised these things.
As I walk through the valleys with shadows and darkness - I am reminded tonight that this darkness will bring a dawn filled with love's light.

 My prayer for  you is that your dawn this morning was filled with light.   Some of us find that in family, some in friends, some in those things received....  But to fell darkness permanently and completely love's light must rise.  Love's light comes from the Father for GOD is LOVE (1 John 4).  True love come through the sacrifice given on Calvary's Hill to free us from what we truly deserve.  Love's light frees us from earthly darkness and blesses us with abundance - Life to the Full - despite circumstance which is often beyond understanding.
May you live in the dawn of love's light each day you are given - stepping out of the darkness of our world and our making, and embrace a peace that surpasses understanding.
I pray that darkness fell into the dawn of love's light for you this Christmas morn and you can proclaim with me... All is well,  All is well.

December 16, 2015

Journeys of Christmas and more


As I've been Standing Still with Christmas this year, I've read and considered the story and all the traditional meditations  - A Coming: the fulfillment of the covenant found in a baby; Joy: the world receives a Savior; Peace: the arrival of the Prince of Peace; Sharing: of gifts, but even more important Good News - so Go Tell It ... over the hills and everywhere!
I was struck by a different theme in the Christmas Story to meditate on this year... JOURNEY.
Journey.  A distance or course traveled.
Mary and Joseph had gone on a journey back to Bethlehem - a long arduous journey that was at the very least uncomfortable for Mary and must have involved PATIENCE on the part of Joseph.  But most of all this was a journey of TRUST -  A young girl finding herself in the family way with no human explanation; a gentleman who upon hearing the message of an angel took his bride despite human misgivings.
The Wisemen had gone on a journey to find a newborn king.  Setting out in great ANTICIPATION, traveling a very far distance over a long period of time yet never wavering in their BELIEF of the PROMISE in what lay at the end of the journey even though the journey's end was found in the most humble of homes.
The Shepherds had gone on a journey to a stable after receiving what had to have been an announcement that inspired great WONDER and AWE as well as HOPE.
Each journey led them to one end  - a babe.  The Prince of Peace.  The Lamb.  The Counselor.  The Messiah.  The Savior. 
Each journey ended quite simply put.... in JOY.


Journey. A distance or course traveled; passage or progress from one stage to another. 
Each of us is taking a journey.  One that involves much that is similar to those who journeyed for that Christmas.  Our journeys involve patience, trust, anticipation, wonder, and awe.  No matter what our journeys bring, we don't have to travel alone.  We have the FATHER who has promised us just that.  Every year we are reminded of HIS PROMISE and our HOPE in Christmas as we celebrate the SAVIOR. 
Our journey has been extra blessed by the people we've traveled with - relationships that are blessings to our family; reconnecting with dear friends; continuing to deepen other friendships; and finding new companions with whom to travel.  We've made great memories along the way.  But the best of all is that we have common JOY in knowing and visibly seeing the ONE who guides our journey and we travel with both knowing and assured of our destination.
It is our prayer for each of you to travel your JOURNEY in this HOPE knowing your are loved unconditionally and that knowing the SAVIOR, your journey will end in JOY!

Isaiah 9:6  For unto us a child is born.
John 3:16   For God so Loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, and whosoever believes in Him shall have Everlasting Life.
John 15:11   I have told you this so your Joy may be made complete.
Romans 8:38-39   For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

October 18, 2015

Hiking on Life's Trail Pt. 2 - THROW THE ROCK!


Although it was the shortest, it was the toughest of the three hikes - in a couple of ways.  There was definitely elevation gain. The last part of the trek was steep and had loose footing.  It was perilous enough for several signs to be posted - "Enjoy! Hike at own risk" and " Use hand holds on side wall". 
During this particular hike, the journey conversation was ... deeper maybe even tough.  It was Conversation in which we poured out experiences and thoughts that we carried in the depths of our hearts.  There were insights given, that came from each other and ourselves in the quiet moments.
As we sat at the summit of the hike we shared a few realizations.
On our individual journeys on Life's Trail we each carried burdens.   All of us do.

Burden.  A load; a weight; an obligation; that which is borne with difficulty; a hardship; trouble; worry; an affliction; a sorrow; a trial; a grievance.

These burdens came from life situations; hurts that time brought or were inflicted along the trail or personal fears and anxieties.
We realized however, that there were some burdens we had been carrying that maybe we shouldn't have had to bear. 
They were actually things in which we had picked up baggage that wasn't meant for us to hold... guilt, failures that weren't ours, fear, intimidation of others that manifested in anxiety, hurts held on to, urges to fix things that weren't ours to fix... so much more.
Each of us saw things that we had added to our weight -  responsibilities assumed, hindrances accepted or hardships actually chosen!  What a revelation!  Actually having it brought into complete focus that we really didn't have to carry or take on these identifiable burdens.
At that moment we decided to pick up visible and tangible representations of each of those identifiable burdens, and literally release them  -  by throwing them over the edge of our summit.




We still possessed our own burdens but we rejoiced that we didn't have to bear the full weight.  as two passages from the Word came to mind.
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).  By sharing our hidden hurts, fears, and feelings we eased our individual loads and knowing that each of us are supported through the others prayers and love on this journey called life.

"Cast your burdens on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)
There is One who will bear our burdens if we are willing to lay them before Him.  And this is exactly what we did.  We left those things weights symbolically in the form of a cairn - each stone a burden placed before the Father.  For me that pile of rocks serves as a trail marker in life's journey, a reminder that the resting place for my burdens isn't on my shoulders but rather  with the Lord. 

My prayer for you today is that you recognize those burdens, those rocks, that you may have picked up along life's trail that aren't meant for you to carry. THROW THE ROCK!
Let that baby go and let it fly!  Then carry the burdens that are yours straight to the One who gives rest - the One who truly cares to the point of bearing what is laid before Him.

 Psalm 68:19  Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
Matthew 11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Exodus 33:14 - And He said, "My presence will go with  you, and I will give  you rest."
Psalms 62:8  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.