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.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Heaven's Perspective: Retreat


Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!" Mark 1:35-37


 When life comes at you like a freight train - full speed ahead - it's all you can do to hang on tight. There's barely time to think, no warning, no preparing or packing a bag - only time to react and latch onto whatever is in front of you until the train stops.

The unexpected happens all the time - life and death - but when they couple themselves together and come one after the other, our minds can't catch up with our hearts. In every crisis, whether good or bad, there's always stuff to be done - responsibilities and loose ends to tie up - for those holding up the arms of loved ones.

And when that freight train comes to a screeching halt - even for a brief moment - we find ourselves disheveled, speechless, utterly weary and maybe even a bit numb. We feel neither joy nor sorrow because we've been so busy caring for others that we pushed our own emotions aside. All we want is solace. Quiet. Retreat.

Isn't that exactly what Jesus felt? 

(Join me at Encouragement Cafe or Crosswalk for the rest of the story, won't you?)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Heaven's Song


"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything." Ephesians 5:18b-20

"Would you buy me a music book for Christmas so I can sing the songs?" asked my blond pipe-curled granddaughter. The one who couldn't yet read or follow notes but always sang from somewhere deep within her soul.

The music called them both, she and her baby brother, in the middle of the store. They sang and twirled and clapped their hands. Uninhibited soul celebration that couldn't be stilled

Isn't it Jesus who said we should be more like children? 

(Psst...put on your happy feet and dance over to {re}fresh for the rest of the story, won't you?)


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Scary Paths


"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 8:11

The graveyard path stared me down. It was the safest route to school, she said. Yet, my first grade feet stood motionless--planted in fear at the opposite corner. I cowered my head into my mother's side. No words of comfort, no logical argument could persuad me to cross that street and enter the gates of death.

Then, the friendly crossing guard lady approached, holding open a small, black, silk change purse filled with rainbow sweetness.

(Pull up some courage and join me for the rest of this scary tale at {re}fresh...if you dare!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Shoe Rule


"Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:5

We never made taking our shoes off before we entered our house a hardened rule. Maybe because my parents never enforced a shoe rule on me when I was growing up. But I do remember the households that did have a shoe rule.

Grammy had a shoe rule even though Grampy overlooked it all the time. She had rules for just about everything and it showed. Her furniture was covered in plastic, her rugs had plastic runners, her lampshades were even covered in plastic. With all that plastic, I'm not sure she really needed the shoe rule. A good broom or vacuum should have been sufficient. Maybe Grampy thought so, too.

My aunt's house had a shoe rule. We were greeted with "Hi there. Take your shoes off and c'mon in." Her house was more inviting since I could actually feel the carpet underneath my feet and the fabric of her couches on my legs.

Most Eastern countries hold fast to a shoe rule, like Japan, Korea, Turkey. Even Sweden adopted the shoe rule. In these countries, besides the practical mean of keeping the house clean of dirt, bacteria, and toxins, it has become a gesture of respect and politeness to discard your shoes before entering the home.

 I guess I understand the need for a shoe rule. It does keep the floors and furniture cleaner and even softens your steps inside the house. Myself, I prefer to go barefoot inside, especially in the warmer months, or to wear slippers in the colder months. But, I don't enforce a shoe rule on anyone who enters my home if it makes them feel uncomfortable (unless they're tracking in heavy dirt or snow). I mean, what if they have holey socks smelly feet? What if they don't want to bare their tootsies? I let them be.

God had a shoe rule. 

{Pssst! Tiptoe over to {re}fresh for the rest of the story, won't 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)