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Archive for April, 2017

Anzac DayPhotos flashed across the large, mounted screen as people slid somberly into their seats. A copper-headed toddler pretending to fish…a lanky teen posing for a Kodak moment with his family…a soldier with his young wife and newborn child.

A brave, broken-hearted father stepped up to the podium to share stories from the young man’s life. And between tears and laughter, he spoke of the moments that made his son. Casting a line into the icy waters of a shimmering, Colorado river. Sharing the gift of laughter with family and friends. Contending with the relentless enemy–Depression.

The father’s pain—palpable and raw—struck at my core as I considered the struggles my own dear ones have battled. The what if’s invaded my thoughts and I shuddered in understanding. Two weeks later, the reality haunts me and I pray God will protect those in His care from the pain of the dark.

Depression is real. Depression steals. Depression debilitates.

If you’ve lived in its shadow—you know. If you’ve seen a loved one experience the dark—you know.

But, there is always hope in Jesus. Consider these words, Friend.

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

This is what God the Lord says—
the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand. (Isaiah 42:3-6)

Rest in this truth…find freedom from the emotions…rely on His promise. He will hold your hand every step of the way.

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dandelion-431079_1920The path to the land of abundance lay ahead–easily navigated and under the protection of the King.  Yet, the people chose to wander aimlessly–the brown of the desert soiling their feet just as their complaints marred that day’s praises to the God of Israel.  And like a low-hanging curtain of smog restricting the full scope of a city’s skyline, the limitless sand, rock, and mountain seemed to repress the beauty and hope of God’s promise to his people.  You remember the one, don’t one? God had seen the oppression and enslavement.  God heard the groaning and crying.  And God promised to deliver the Suffering Ones to a new land…a new home…a new hope.

But, the blistering heat of the sun penetrated flesh and bone.  Parched lips yearned for the feel of sleek relief rolling across mouth and tongue while complaints poured from them as easily as a flash flood racing through the wasteland.

The people had forgotten–or, at least failed to remember–they were free!  No longer slaves…cowering in fear of the coming day, uncertain of survival, constrained by unbidden circumstances.

Free!  Free to worship…to dance…to dream.

Wouldn’t it seem that with a promise like the one God pronounced, the people would have continued to rejoice?  Celebrate?  Hope?  Didn’t the God of heaven pronounce that he would “bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey”?

Still, God’s own children grumbled in their newfound freedom.  Unhappy in their current circumstances, men and women turned away from the hope of a soon-to-be-tomorrow to a here-and-now reality.  They gave up their leader for a party, the true God for a Guernsey,  and a quick trip to the “land of milk and honey” for forty years of meaningless meandering.

If I’m honest, I recognize myself in the story.  Maybe you, too, see yourself there–feet burning as you tread across the barren land.  If only we had stayed behind!  Egypt wasn’t wonderful, but we would enjoy a draught of water from the well and a bed of reeds to lie upon.

My story is a bit different, of course.  This walk…this journey as a Christian is harder than I’d hoped.  Sometimes, living like the world–like Egypt of old–appeals.  Surrounded by the pollution of worldly living, it’s easy to bend low for a sip–just once.

Enjoying one last drink.  Flirting with the boss.  Watching barely concealed porn in the form of a newly released movie as reflection of social norms.  Intentionally allowing harmful words to wound another.  And the list continues for each of us…our Egypt.

We’ve all succumbed to Egypt…to ourselves.  But God’s promise is still as true for us as it was for His chosen people.  Stay the course, dear Friend,  whether you are on the desert road or in an abundant land.  We have been freed to look forward to an internal inheritance!  We have received Jesus Christ himself for both here-and-now and our soon-to-be Forever.

Scripture for Reflection

…we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:11-14)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us[a] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col. 1:11-13)

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I didn’t meet a single writing goal this week. Am I disappointed? Definitely. Frustrated? Yes. Rested? Refreshingly so.

My dog’s sharp Feed me! yelp and a painful twinge in my neck greeted me Monday morning. Sighing, I slipped from bed into the regular morning routine—spending a few quiet moments in prayer before taming my bedhead and hustling out the door for work. Before long, a headache invited itself to the “she’s-worn-out-and-needs-to-slow-down-party” and became a permanent resident for the better part of the week.

My response? I s-l-o-w-e-d down. A lot.
Hurting and desperate for relief I took a muscle relaxant. I spent the rare hour with a massage therapist. No change.

The only alternative? Sleep. And a lot of it—my pre-teen tucked me in instead of the other way around.

And this morning? I awakened with something rarely experienced in my not-a-morning-person experience—yes, a smile. I felt good bordering on great.

What a glorious sensation!

For years, I’ve joked that I’m a Type B person living like a Type A. My joy comes not from doing, but in being….in experiencing…in dreaming and this week I’ve been reminded of who God created me to be—someone who requires quiet. Time for reflection. Moments to rest.

Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirrst (3)Even the do-ers in the crowd need rest. You know who I’m talking about–the people with an overabundance of energy, drive, and focus–the ones who attack the checklist with a vengeance and cram a week’s worth of tasks into one day. People like my husband or co-worker who seem to thrive on caffeine and just the idea of busy. But, even the industrious let’s-get-‘er-done types need to step down from the frantic pace and—well, breathe.

Whether you’re a Type A imposter or someone who borders on workaholic, remember the all-powerful Creator sanctioned a time for rest—not because He needed refreshment, but because His knew people would.

If you, dear Friend, are caught up in a season of endless busyness, maybe it’s time to put some of your burden down and exchange it for rest. Time spent in the presence of Eternal Refreshment. A few hours invested in family and friends. And, possibly, a night or two of indulging your body with the often-denied-but-much-needed sleep.

Maybe you’ll wake up with a smile, too.

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The place name dogged me all week–my thoughts returning again and again to the words of John 18:5.THE NEW YOU

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. (NIV)

Familiar with the story of Christ’s death and resurrection, I knew of the events preceding the crucifixion. The humble Creator stooping over the dirt-encrusted feet of His disciples and cleansing them of Jerusalem’s desert sand—the actions of a servant. Christ—breaking bread in the presence of beloved companions and a friend turned foe.

But until a few days ago, my eyes seemed to pass by any mention of Kidron Valley. What could be its significance? Why hadn’t I noticed before? Jesus walked purposely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to reach the Garden.

The symbolism is too rich to ignore. Kidron Valley, meaning black or sad, was a burial site to Jewish kings, priests, and prophets encased in tombs along the rocky slopes. And today? Thousands of limestone coffins stand end to end—the bodies of Jewish hopefuls awaiting deliverance through the long-awaited Messiah.

I can almost imagine Jesus surveying the valley and its surroundings. There, high on the slope, He could make out the southeastern edge of the Temple. How many hours had He spent within its walls proclaiming the truth? Inhaling deeply as He passed by a stand of olive trees, Christ might have swept His gaze to the far edges of the landscape and noticed the Mount of Olives. Did His stride quicken as He anticipated ascending into Heaven from that hill—the Father’s call beckoning Him home?

Determined, Jesus continued on as the dark valley rose sharply on either side–evening shadows deepening. He knew the history of the place—He’d seen it clearly from Heaven’s throne room. Christ knew of the treachery encased between the walls of this gorge—when the Chosen Ones had displayed worthless idols here. The people turning away from I Am not once…not twice…but three times. (1 Kings 15: 12-13, 2 Kings 23:6, 2 Chronicles 19:16).

Jesus knew—they would again turn from the Way and choose another.

And soon, the blood of hundreds of thousands of lambs would spill into the wadi, filling the valley with the scent of death; innocent blood staining its walls. The disciples might have noticed a look of satisfaction cross Jesus’ face as He considered the near future—that moment when His own, untarnished blood would pour out for all sin and sinners. Once for all—if they would only accept His gift. The perfect Lamb. The ultimate Sacrifice. The exchange of the Sinless for you and me.

Each step Jesus took in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, friends, brought us closer to Him. Because of His death and resurrection, we can claim the beautiful promise of Ps. 23,

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV)

 

 Thank you, Jesus, for walking the dark valley of sin that we might be the sinless ones. Praise God for His mercy and overwhelming love. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let's fight the good fight • www.breastcancer.com (1)He declared it good. The golden brightness pouring across the horizon like honey flowing from a hive. The ocean dancing and crashing against land in celebration. Elegant birds arching and bowing at the ebb and flow of air currents across their missile-shaped bodies.

Then, the man. Beautiful. Innocent. A one-of-a-kind creation fashioned by the hand of God.

But, God designed man for something more than a sunrise to greet him each morning or admiration for his surroundings. Just as the Image Bearer–Father, Son, and Spirit–exist in relationship, God made man for relationship.

It is not good for man to be alone. (Genesis 2:18)

And the One who gives good gifts presented the first man with a woman–to come alongside as a companion.

We are all made for relationship, Friends. It is not good for us to be alone. Separated from others. Lacking intimate, soul-bearing, heart-refreshing relationship.

Being truly known can feel risky. It requires vulnerability and we wonder if we’ll be accepted for the faulty, flawed women we are. This is the unknown of any human relationship, but if we–the Church–love others as He expects then relationship builds its foundation on the Truth.

And in Truth? There is room for grace…love…forgiveness. There is space to be fully Self and fully accepted. Let’s trust each other enough to step away from loneliness and into love.

Lord, help us to admit we need other people and give us the capacity to love others the way you have loved us. Amen

Linking up today with Patricia Holbrook at Recharge Wednesday.

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The mountains are yearning.Schloop!

Did you just hear it?  That was the sound of the last bit of energy being sucked from my body. Too-early-mornings punctuated by spilled Cheerios and staff meetings with coffee that slides down the back of the mouth as thick and distasteful as oil have merged with post-Spring Break study marathons held in honor of my reluctant-to-participate pubescent children. And the time in between? Appointment-aligned and hard scheduled on three different calendars. The optimistic hope is that multiple postings of orthodontist appointments and sports events will keep me organized…on top of things…able to manage the time crunch.

Do you ever feel the same way?  Are you running in circles just trying to keep up with life’s business when you realize you’ve lost sight of the most important things?

The verse God keeps whispering in my ear is, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  My answer, “Lord, how can I be still?  There is so much to do!”

But, life’s obligations will always encroach on quiet moments…peaceful moments…moments of  reflection…moments of being in God’s presence.  So, dear friend, wherever you are today—take a breath.  Inhale the freshness of God’s spirit.  Consider the One who created you for His glory.

Be still.  Just be–if only for a moment.

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Love each otherLife seemed to take a wrong turn when her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer. Together, they relocated to Manhattan where some of the best treatments were available–far from the slower-paced, small town in Colorado. Physically distanced from family and friends and immersed in a world of sterile hospital rooms and uncompromising statistics, loneliness became an cloying companion.

Unwilling to foster an ongoing relationship with isolation, a determined                   twenty-something dialed the suicide hotline. She told the soothing voice on the other end of the line about her desperation. She spoke of a sense of worthlessness. Then, she explained the reason for the call.

Ready to break the chains of loneliness, Daniel Hernandez offered to step away from her own pain by embracing the stories belonging to others. For two years, Daniel volunteered as a voice of comfort and encouragement to the desperate and disillusioned, the hurting and the hopeless.

Is it possible loneliness is your unsolicited sidekick, as well? Does isolation invade the space of healthy relationship in your life ? Are you, perhaps, even coddling loneliness because of its familiarity? Or, when you look at others with the eyes of Christ do you notice the lonely ones? They are everywhere–hoping someone will take a moment to smile…engage…love like Jesus.

Today, I’m issuing a challenge. Friend, whether you are lonely or not–will you allow your struggle in the now to motivate you toward investing in someone’s tomorrow? You don’t need to be the voice on one end of a hotline to make a difference. Just take one simple step–invite a neighbor for coffee, ring up an old friend, plan a date night with your husband.

Let’s break the chains of loneliness.

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