Welcome to Dawn's New Day, an inspirational blog of an ordinary woman who's encountered an extraordinary Savior. May these words penned in prayer wash over you like a cool spring and be used to make you thirst for the One who created you.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Letting Go: a Hard Sacrifice

In the silence I willed my aching feet up the step ladder one more time. My weary heart sank deep as I dunked the paint brush deep
into the sunny yellow paint can. One more step. One more stroke. Just. one. more. 

Twenty-five years prior and five months pregnant with my daughter, I jumped up the rungs of that ladder, my heart feeling ten pounds lighter than today. You see, then I was painting God's gift to us--the house I longed for...prayed for...every time I strolled by. It was the perfect gift where my husband and I raised our two children, entertained friends and ministered hope. It was a true desire of my heart that God wrapped up with a shiny red bow long ago. 

And now? Now, God asked me to let it go, to change course, to release it all. 

With every coat of paint I rolled over memories hidden deep and dear inside my heart. The weight of all God asked me to sacrifice now grew heavier with every stroke. How could I release this precious gift? How could I let it go and allow strangers in? Would they know how precious this house has been or would they just consider it a place to hang their hat? 

But then God whispered, "There's something more. There's something new. Let. It. Go."

You see, I'd been white-knuckling this house like an idol--wrapping my fist around it and hanging on with all my might as though without it I'd lose my true identity; like it was my source of blessing rather than the blessing.  God was my source--is my source--and this house was but a very good gift and now He was asking me to let it go; to sacrifice something very good for something even better. 

In the midst of hard sacrifices, God calls us to worship; to refocus our attention off of ourselves and onto His goodness; to offer up our thanksgiving for His faithfulness in our past and thanksgiving for all His promises for our future.

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

So, I transferred my focus from myself to God's goodness and worshiped God with every roll of the paint, thanking Him for the life lived between these walls and the family He helped us raise. And when I did, my whole attitude changed. I realized God wasn't asking me to give up something very good for something even less, but rather to release the hold this home has had on my heart and to prepare for change.  Something better. Something lovely and freeing and full of His hope. Because that's how God rolls.

The paint dried and every surface reflected the Son just right. We staged the rooms in picture-perfect-excellence and manicured every corner of the yard. It was time to release the gift and let strangers in.

Have you ever been asked to make a hard sacrifice? If so, was it easy to release that something? How did God use that sacrifice for His glory?

Precious Lord, thank you for the blessings. Thank you for the years of family memories and your faithfulness in providing all our needs every single day. Now we release these treasures back to you. We freely offer your gifts as a sacrifice of praise to use as you see fit. Prepare our hearts for the next chapter, the next adventure, the next new thing. Help our eyes to stay fixed on you.  Amen.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On Sabbath Rest and the Pope


We knew it was Sunday when…

            …the scent of bacon, eggs and coffee wafted upstairs
            …Mom awoke us by singing, “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!”
            …we slipped into our best clothes and spit-polished shoes
            …all roads led to church
            …we broke bread with friends between services
            …all commerce stopped

Sundays slowed us down and refocused our attention away from our busyness and onto family, friends and God. Sundays reordered our lives with the gift of time. Time to nourish our relationships and enjoy life.

For believers, we called this slowing our Sabbath—a day of rest from creating, working, and doing— as God ordered from the beginning of time:

The God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creation that he had done. Genesis 2:3 NIV

The whole Puritan movement created Blue Laws (or Sunday Laws) attempting to legislate morality by restricting certain “immoral” practices on Sundays, such as gambling, selling alcohol, etc. 

But try as they did, humanity proved (and still proves) that you can’t legislate morality. 

Recently, our local newspaper ran an article that headlined this: Pope: No-work Sundays good, not just for faithful. Pope Francis was “lamenting the abandoning of the traditionally Christian practice of not working on Sundays, saying it has a negative impact on families and friendships…He added, ‘Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves if working on Sundays is true freedom.’”

While I understand and agree that constant work hurts our relationships, I think he missed one important point: freedom comes not by adhering to the Sabbath, but by focusing our heart on our Creator. When we stop and rest we give our minds and hearts room to hear from God and move into the places he wants us to move.

God tried legislating morality and relationship with him through all the Levitical laws. It didn't work. Morality and right relationships could not be controlled by restrictions because God gifted us with free will in a sinful world. Free will + sin = law breakers. 

So why did Jesus, who was sinless, break the Sabbath law by healing a woman? (see Luke 13:14-16)

Because he knew you can’t legislate morality. 

Morality was a heart condition not a condition of forced choices. To him it was more immoral to ignore this woman’s needs and  keeping her bound by the Enemy than healing her and releasing her into whom God created her to be.

While my my childhood memories of Sabbath warm my heart I have to constantly check my motives. Am I keeping the Sabbath out of religious obligation or am I truly resting in order to worship and enjoy my Creator God? And what if part of worshiping God involves unrest—physically working to bring God’s kingdom into a needy situation?

Slowing and worship—a heartfelt refocusing away from busyness and onto God—can happen any day of the week.  And, while I sometimes long for those Blue Laws that "forced" the less hectic pace, I realize that I can’t legislate morality for the masses. I am only responsible for my own heart, my own motives and my own relationship with God, my family and my friends.

How do you feel about taking a regular Sabbath? What does it look like for you? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Are We There Yet?


“I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into…a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus 3:17
  
Our kids were decent travelers and made road trips pretty pleasant for the most part. Buckled into the backseat of our Subaru with their pillows, blankets, Teddy and Bunny and a stockpile of juice boxes and snacks between them, we were good to go.
Excitement ran high for at least the first hour in anticipation for our destination. Then, after we’d played all the travel games in my mental library, their patience ran thin and inevitably they asked, “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” And our answer was always the same, “About an hour.” (The first time they asked that, we truly were one hour from our destination so it became our ‘pat answer’ and eventually our inside family joke).
So there we were, stuck in the middle of NOW–our view muddled with fatigue and impatience for the road ahead–hanging onto the vision of our promised destination. 

(Pssst! Pull over and take a break as I tell you the rest of the story over at {re}fresh)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

God Can't Resist Blowing Bubbles: Glorious Joy


"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." 
1Peter 1:8 NIV

Perch a kid above a tall glass of cold milk with a straw and what happens? An irresistible urge to blow bubbles!

He heaves a tiny breath and blows. Blub.

Again. Blub, blub. He giggles, blows harder. Blub, blub, blub. Joy overwhelms!

He can't resist those rising bubbles so, he blows harder. Blub, blub, blub, blub, blub, blub, blub.

Bubbles rise and fill and spill, filling him with uncontrollable laughter, until Mom walks in and says, "Mop up that mess!"

He sucks down those milk-fed bubbles and sops up all the joy he can—still giggling—savoring the fullness that carries him through his day.

Entering God's presence is like that... {Grab a straw and a tall glass of milk and join me over at Encouragement Cafe and share in God's joy?}

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Rhythm of Transformation: The Art of Waiting



"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23 NIV

It stood up to infant artwork, toddler hand prints, foot scrapes, furniture nicks and vacuum mishaps. Armed with a scraper in one hand and a potent vinegar and water mixture in the other, I felt invincible. The rhythm of transformation began.

Spritz, spritz, scrape, peel. Spritz, spritz, scrape, peel.

It wasn't quite the waltz I imagined. Instead of long, graceful lengths of wallpaper falling effortlessly off the walls and dancing my way down the hallway, only minute slivers gave way with great effort and force. After day one, only two small walls stood bare. Exhausted, I left the dance floor and soaked in a hot bath hoping for a more successful day.

The rhythm of day two felt more like a waltz.

Spritz, spritz, wait. Scrape, peel. Spritz, spritz, wait. Scrape, peel.

Oh, the magic of waiting

(Pssst! Join me at Encouragement Cafe for the rest of the story.)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Driving Miss Daisy: Hope That Transforms


"But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love." Psalm 33:18

Driving Miss Daisy (my Aunt) isn't always pleasant. She's stubborn and selfish, ornery and opinionated, just like Jessica Tandy's character in the 1989 movie by the same name. Driving her to doctor appointments and to Wal-Mart for her monthly shopping tries my patience every time.

I temper my conversation after Morgan Freeman's character by keeping my mouth shut and agreeing with a "Yes Ma'am" and "Mm mm hmmm." 

(Grab a glass of some sweet tea and join me for the rest of the story at Encouragement Cafe or Crosswalk. Feel free to share your own stories in the comments below or on the website. I'd love to hear from you).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When We Forget Who We Really Are

Because our souls need reminding...Here's a re-post from 2011:

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite
my verses for the king.
Psalm 45:1a



They charge through the back door wearing their toothy smiles and holding out their arms, ready for great big hugs from this Grams. 


For a moment, while I inhale their youth, I catch a glimpse of their father - a slight resemblance - in the shape of her face and in his silly, boyish smile. How marvelous!

 Wriggling out of my arms they dive into the toy box and Sister quickly emerges with a noble theme. She proudly dons a princess crown, happily announcing her royal presence throughout the kingdom. Suddenly, Brother yanks the sparkling royalty from her head. Arms flail, tears flow, and the little prince and princess misplace their own identities.

There are times we misplace our identities, too. Maybe someone yanks our rightful place out from under us or someone steels our innocence and then walks away. Sometimes though, we're our own worst enemy - adopting those labels others slap on our backs - until we forget who we are and whose we are.

We need reminding that we are sons and daughters of the King in need of a great rescue.

The King rescues his children
 In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Ephesians 1:5

            Throwing colored paper, stickers, and magic markers on the table, Mother and I rescue the moment by transforming the dining room into the Royal Crown Factory. Their eyes fix on my hands as I trace and cut out two pointy, cut-out paper crowns. Busy hands and active imaginations quickly transform these plain shapes into sparkling creations. Smiles reappear across their little royal faces as they once again crown themselves prince and princess.

Restoring our identity as sons and daughters of [God] the King takes more effort than simply donning a cut-out paper crown. But, when we allow God healing access to our hearts, he restores completely.  

(Join me for the rest of the story over at {re}fresh? Meet you there? Just click here.)