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, February 18, 2015

Setting the All-Things-New into Motion

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2

Lent begins today. Forty days ahead to prepare our hearts for Resurrection Day. The day when Jesus overcame sin and death for us--the day the earth shook and the stone rolled away--the day Jesus set all-things-new-pattern into motion. 

So, how do I prepare my heart in these next forty days? I've thought on this a lot lately. How do I honor the sacrifice Jesus made--laying aside his deity, his life? What hard sacrifice can I offer Him? Not something temporal so that at the end of forty days I gorge myself with chocolate and potato chips, but rather, what old pattern does God want to shake out new so that I might transform more into His likeness? What would truly cause me to desire Him more?

For me, it starts with solace. Intentionally closing out the world long enough to be still and bask in God's presence, to actually shut my mouth and open my ears to His heart whispers. Not just once in forty days. Not just once a week, but at least once a day. That's easy on the slow, snowed-in days, but not on the hectic, scheduled, everyone-demanding-me days. Those days will take supernatural intervention and discipline. 

Next, it's words. Words move me more than any other form of communication. More than personal touch, quality time, acts of service,  or material gifts. When I read the written word, my heart and mind have time to synchronize. I can read and reread until my heart finally feels what my mind understands. I need to sacrifice time to read God's word and the words of His saints to fill my heart and mind with the Good News and to start the renewal process; to  transform my mind into His likeness; to put away the old ways of thinking, stop believing the lies my mind whispers and believe the Truth of how God sees me and those around me. 

Writing words is another way I plan to prepare my heart this Lenten season. As powerful as words are to read, writing down encouraging words I hear in God's heart whispers allows my eyes to see what God's saying. It allows me to remember, revisit, reread and encourage my heart over and over again. So, over the course of the next forty days, God's calling me back to journaling His private whispers.

A fellow writer, Karen Ehman, has another great writing idea on her blog today. She's challenged her readers to write one encouraging note to a different person every day. The power of words goes beyond our own hearts and can be used to honor, encourage and lift up those in our lives we hold dear, but somehow never take time to tell them just how much they mean to us. I can't promise 40 different notes, but I will consciously sit down and send out notes.

Finally, God is calling me back to my writing passion. It's been a hard sacrifice over the past ten months as we prepped and sold our home and then  moved and built onto our new home. What I thought would take only three months has now taken almost a year to complete. I knew writing would take a back seat, but it's now time to discipline myself again, with God's help, and move forward into the calling of encouraging the hearts of those who grace not only this space, but also those God's called me to write for so many years ago. It's time to write down God's words and complete the work.

Like Paul, let's not conform to this world any longer. Rather than giving up the temporal only to gorge ourselves with it again in a few short weeks, let's seek God for what He really wants to change in us. Let's let God renew our minds, start the -all-things-new process in us so that at the end of forty days we're closer to being transformed into Jesus' likeness. 

May God truly have is way in us all these next forty days!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Jacob Moment

So Jacob was left alone,and a {wrestled with him till daybreak. 

There comes a time in our walk with Jesus, when our past catches up to the present. That past that we gulped down hard and packed away deep below the surface; the chapter that we thought we finally closed. But the funny thing is, if we don't resolve the past, it keeps challenging us to a wrestle in hopes of a resolution.

It was early spring and the New Hampshire mountains remained captive by winter’s frozen veil.

Lost in thought, I trudged my way up the newly formed snow path from my bunkhouse to the chapel, wondering if I’d made the right decision, because women’s retreats weren't “my thing.” Maybe it was all the fluff and foo-foo conversations that seemed to permeate every women’s retreat I’d attended before. I’d much rather bypass all those niceties and jump right into the hard stuff—the meaty conversations that changed your heart forever.

I waded through the thick molasses worship set and then poised myself to take copious notes of the speaker’s message, all-the-while praying, “Dear God, I showed up. Now speak! Make this retreat worth my effort, please?” Oh, boy. Did. He. Ever.

{Pssst...join me over at {re}fresh to see what God had to say...}

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, 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?