Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting Patiently

"At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth...Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home."
Luke 1: 39-40, 56 NIV

Although inherently impatient and self-centered, preschoolers can learn patience especially when consistently demonstrated and defined simply. A wise veteran teacher defined it this way: patience is waiting with a smile. That means waiting without huffing and puffing, without complaining, no crossing the arms, or tapping the feet or rolling the eyes.

Sometimes we act like preschoolers, don't we? We line up, waiting for God's promise, for God's blessings to fall and the longer we wait, the more our impatience simmers. When results delay we presume waiting a waste of time until we step out of line and walk away hopeless.

Patient waiting is not passive waiting. Rather, it's living fully present, nurturing each moment like a mother nurtures her unborn child and believing that what God promised will manifest itself--in time (Henri Nouwen, Waiting For God, Watch For The Light, 2001 Orbis Books).

Mary and Elizabeth waited patiently but not passively. After Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel, she hurried to her cousin Elizabeth's house not only to witness God's promise manifestated in Elizabeth, but to nurture hope and faith that what God promised her was, in fact, true.

Scripture doesn't tell us why Mary stayed for three months. The reasons may be held between the lines: protection (a pregnant, betrothed, Jewish girl would be stoned), physical preparation (helping Elizabeth prepare her home for John), spiritual preparation (studying the Prophets--both physically carried fulfillment of prophesies-- prayer, meditation). All of this demonstrates active waiting, not simply idle living.

How are you waiting on God's promise for your life? Do you demonstrate patient, active waiting? Are you alert to God's hand at work around you and in you? Are you full of hope or is impatience simmering just below the surface? Is there someone in your life who can encourage your heart as you wait--nurture each moment--help you wait patiently and fully alert?

Lord, teach us how to wait patiently--fully alert, fully alive, fully active in the moment. Keep our eyes, our ears atuned to your voice so when you lead, we may follow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Waiting Expectantly

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:45

Waiting is difficult when you don't know what you're waiting for.

Think of the last time you asked a child to wait without reason. What's the first thing out of their mouth? "Why?" They demand a reason for the imposition of waiting. They want to know, "Is my waiting worth it? Is there a purpose to my waiting?"

The Christmas story begins with people waiting--Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary. Visited by the angel Gabriel, God promises both Zechariah and Mary sons (John the Baptist to Zechariah and Elizabeth and Jesus, the Messiah, to Mary and Joseph). But unlike our weak parenting answer for waiting ("Because I said so") God defines their purpose for waiting with a promise.

To John: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord...Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:13-17 NIV).

To Mary: "But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:30-33 NIV).

And they waited with a sense of expectancy (literally and spiritually), trusting that God's promise was indeed already active inside of them. They did not believe that "nothing" would become "something" but rather they believed the "something started" would grow into "something greater" by God's hand through them (Henri Nouwen, Waiting for God, Watch for the Light, 2001 Orbis Books).

Faith that God would make good of his promises based on his past faithfulness is how they  waited--with eyes wide open and with great expectancy.

What has God promised you? Are you waiting expectantly in faith that what God said will come to pass? Do you find yourself tired of waiting? If so, ask God to remind you of his promise for waiting. Write it down. Post it where you can refer to it often and wait with a sense of expectancy.

"Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled." Joshua 21:45

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness. May we cling to your promises with hope and wait with great expectancy for your day of completion. Grow our faith, Lord as we wait.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pausing for Thanksgiving: Remembering Each Other

Happy Thanksgiving!

Please welcome guest blogger and She Speaks graduate, Unity Faith Miller:

“…always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16b

It’s that time of year again ̶ that time everyone loves and dreads ̶ where you see more faces in church and people being friendlier to each other. But for some, the forgotten, joy never comes; whatever the circumstance ̶ joblessness, loneliness, abandonment, homelessness, addiction, loss ̶ these are far from happy holidays.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-16 says, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always.”

 Paul asks us to respect those that labor over us in Christ’s name, to support and encourage each other, especially those that are fainthearted and weak, and to be patient toward each other recognizing that we all have our faults. We should also respond to each other according to what our needs are and if we are wronged we do not respond by repaying “evil for evil."

He ends these verses saying, regardless of our circumstances, we should always rejoice and support each other (see also 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3, “and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God's co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles”).

 Now these verses referred to the Christians doing for Christians, but it also is meant for us to do for the non-believers as well (for what we do for the least of theses we do for our Heavenly Father).

 My challenge for us this holiday season: rejoice, be thankful, and encourage all you come in contact with this year and in doing so we will see God’s glory and spirit throughout this season, because we will be taking the focus off ourselves and remembering others that may have been forgotten.

Unity Faith Miller is a single mom of Thaddeus. By trade she is a nurse but the Lord has called her to the ministry of encouraging hurting women to live life with joy regardless of the hardships. She facilitates Bible studies, speaks, writes, and is a Christian Life Coach-in-training.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pausing for Thanksgiving: Through Writing

Teresa Norris, Author
Guest Blogger
Please welcome guest blogger and author, Teresa Norris.

"Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High." Psalm 50:14

For me November is a bleak month on many levels. Shades of gray dominate the landscape – bare gray trees, gray skies, gray water. Yet, I haven’t even touched on the emotional grayness this month presents: my mother's passing on November 18, 2003, my dad's death on November 1, 2007, and amongst the hardest losses--the turmoil of estrangement between me and my brother two years ago. 

It's hard to hit the happy button with all this negativity swirling around, but then isn’t that exactly what our relationship with God challenges us to do?

Seeking that elusive “peace that surpasses all understanding” is something we all experience in our daily walk. The good news of course, is that God provides the ways and means to accomplish this. I call these God’s “life preservers,” which He throws our way to save us from some grim realities. For me it’s writing--journaling and personal essays that encourage reflection and allow emotional venting.

Once life’s little foibles (and big problems!) are brought forward through prayer or writing, the spirit is relieved of the burden. We are reminded of Scripture. We are reminded of past victories. In other words, we are reminded who our Father is. We are given those avenues to surrender to God, reconnect, and receive healing.

Yes, November heralds winter – in nature and perhaps in our soul. But it also hosts the holiday of Thanksgiving, and that provides opportunity to refocus our thoughts. I can take those exact things that might bring me down and reconsider them in an “attitude of gratitude.”

Gray trees – a time of rest and silent awaiting rebirth. Gray skies and water – a cocooning of sorts, a drawing-in to reflect. My parents passing away – they are truly home now, in peace and comfort. My relationship with my brother – complex but going forward in prayer and dependence on God’s grace.

Each and any circumstance, trial, challenge and fear cannot and does not stand in the face of God’s greater presence. For that, I am profoundly grateful.

Teresa M. Norris, wife, mother, retired teacher and author of Almost HomeHow I Lost My Mother Without Losing My Mind: A Faith Journey, resides in Mystic, CT with her husband Tom. To learn more about Teresa and her personal struggles through her mother's journey of dementia, or to purchase her book, please visit her website or visit her blog.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pausing for Thanksgiving: Abound in Hope

Please welcome my guest, Lore Switzer:
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

I was grumpy by the time we arrived at the airport. Living three days without power after an unseasonable October snowstorm, packing, and coming up with “Plan B” for kids and animals was not pleasant!

Our Charlotte flight blinked “DELAYED” at the gate. I threw back my head and groaned knowing we’d miss our connecting flight. Then, there it was ̶ “Plan C”-winking back at me. A direct flight to Raleigh-Durham ̶ and we’d arrive two hours early ̶ minus a commute.

 Picking up our rental car in a different city than the drop off? Not so easy. Paying $300 for that privilege? Unacceptable. No time for negotiations. We boarded the plane ̶ hoping for the best.

 Settling in for the ride, I opened my notes and stumbled onto this:

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Believe. Believe like Jesus. Live who I am ̶ His beloved daughter filled with hope ̶ on whom his favor rests. Could this be a situation for God to prove himself mighty? I couldn’t wait to land and see all that God had in store.

Upon arrival, our airline switched our tickets showing a Raleigh departure AND waived the $300 fee due to the snow storm outages. I was more than excited. How fun to walk in God’s favor!

Oh, but there’s more…

A line of mustangs caught our attention at the car rental agency. We thought how exciting to tool around in one of those and inquired about it. Our friendly agent sympathized with our snow-storm-living-with-no-power-for-three-days-flight-delay-story, but unfortunately the mustang rental was substantially more than the subcompact. So we smiled and said, “Thanks anyway,” and he handed us our contract and keys with a wink.

There we stood at the designated parking spot ̶ the one that matched the number on our contract ̶ staring at a shiny, black Mustang. I couldn’t contain myself any longer and started jumping up and down and laughing and thinking, “My Father loves me! My Heavenly Father delights in me!” He provided exceedingly and abundantly beyond all I asked or imagined.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Lore Switzer celebrates 25 years married to the love of her life and serving alongside him in ministry. Together they are proud parents to 4 children and Lore loves to mother those who want to come along.   She also enjoys quilting, reading, gardening and connecting with friends and family but her greatest joy is deepening her relationship with her heavenly father and learning to walk in the light of his love and favor.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pausing for Thanksgiving: Be Still

Today's blog is written by Renee Rowell, blogger and She Speaks graduate.

"Be still, and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10 

What a wonderful time of year. The onset of autumn with its peaceful, amber glow as the leaves change color and the earth settles into rest from summer's heat. The cool, crisp air carries the familiar fragrances of woody pine cones, falling leaves and the occasional scent of burning wood as fireplaces are lit. The anticipation of family, friends, fellowship and feasting begins to excite and stir the heart.

Ahhhh....simple pleasures.

It’s not long before this quiet reverie is interrupted by the hustle and bustle ritual of what we think it takes to enjoy these simple pleasures:

Prepare the guest list. Check it twice. Make sure no one is left out. Buy the turkey and all the trimmings. Gather all the recipes. Check the pantry to be sure it's stocked. Clean the house to such a sheen that it would make Martha Stewart proud. Carefully place all the decorations so the house looks like the cover of the holiday issue of Southern Living.

Then, there are the questions: Where is that tablecloth...the one that I purchased at last year’s end-of-the-season sale and kept in a safe place to use this year? Will there be enough food? How many days does the turkey need to thaw? Is the guestroom warm enough?

But amid the waves of stress and emotion the gentle voice of the Father reminds us to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

 Being still is a three-part process:

  • Pause (a temporary stop)-reflect on God's goodness in your life
  • Breathe (to pause and rest before continuing)-take a deep breath, and let your spirit rest
  • Be thankful (participate in thankfulness)-call a friend and tell them how much they mean to you. Write a letter to loved ones who cannot be with you during the holidays. Tell your family how much you love them.
Being still requires little effort and brings everything else into perspective, and peace will rule the day.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with many pleasant and peaceful pauses and heartfelt thanks for simple pleasures.

Renee Rowell
Life Outside the Margins

Renee Rowell, lives in Elgin, SC with her husband David and their youngest son. Their eldest son is serving overseas in the U. S. Airforce. For the past twenty-five years she and David have served shoulder-to-shoulder in worship ministry and presently minister at The Church of the Harvest in Lexington, SC. Renee's current projects are blogging at Life Outside the Margins and authoring a book, Loving Like Jesus Loves: Strengthening Your Heart for the Extra Mile. Renee welcomes visitors to her blog or facebook page.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pausing for Thankfulness: Really Giving Thanks

Please welcome guest blogger and She Speaks graduate, Angela Mackey:

Angela Mackey
Guest Blogger
Rethinking My Thinking
"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name." Hebrews 13:15

My heart felt torn. My eyes burned as tears threatened to spill. I cleared my throat, "Thank you." I nodded my head willing that she know how deeply grateful I felt. This was no polite thank-you like I say to the lady who took my order at the drive-thru, but the I-was-in-desperate-need-and-you-answered-the-call type.

How often do I offer feeble thanks to God? The polite thank-you for the socks you got for Christmas rather than thanks that comes from a humble heart.

Is it possible that we forget we are in desperate need–that without Jesus we are hopeless, helpless, enemies of God? Real thanksgiving comes from a humble heart. A heart that realizes I could never have done this alone and I can never repay you for what you have done.

Isn't that what God did for us through His Son? But we forget, we justify ourselves. We think we aren't that bad, we could somehow work our way to heaven. Then suddenly the gifts we could never earn turn into something we demand to have. We think we have earned a life free of strife, illness, financial burdens, relational stress, and loss. Instead of "a sacrifice of praise" (Hebrews 13:15) we reluctantly mumble, "thanks God." All the time wishing He gave us a box of chocolates rather than a fishing pole.

We lose sight of how desperately we need a Savior. We forget our original state. We were "God's enemies" (Romans 5:10), "slaves to sin" (Romans 6:6), and our "minds were blinded" (2 Corinthians 4:4). All our good deeds are like "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Max Lucado once likened us to a "lame leper begging for a back on which to ride."

Oh that we would come to God from that humble state of mind. Remembering who we are without Him. Knowing our desperate need and thanking Him from that humbled state. It is from that humbled place we can offer thanksgiving in the painful things of life. When we remember our nature before He saved us, we can see that all God gives is grace.

Let us pause to remember the desperate situation He saved us from and let us give thanks with that in mind.

Angela Mackey lives in the Arkansas River Valley with her wonderfully supportive husband and three amazing children. She is passionate about teaching women to renew their minds through God’s word so that they may live transformed lives. Angela is a writer, speaker, nurse, and stay-at-home mom who openly shares her struggle with infertility. She loves college basketball (especially the Kansas Jayhawks), reading, writing, and laughing at herself. You can connect with her on her blog, Rethinking My Thinking , on Twitter and on Facebook.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pausing for Thankfulness: All Things New

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

She stared at her name--four letters swirled in blue ink across the page.

Her identity--past and present, good and bad--captured by one simple word. So simple, her forth grade face flushed from it's unmelodious sound sung in music class. 

Life's disappointments named her, too: small, unnoticeable, insignificant. Her heart believed life's shouts, birthing shame packaged in shyness--squelched creative expression.

She was good. Deep down, she knew this. She. Was. Good. But her ears only heard the Enemy scream, "Not. Good. Enough."

Her core raged anger. Silent war waged against her heart. Walls went up and she took up arms--arms with clenched fists--against those who loved her, including the One who made her.

But He pursued, whispering "You. Are. Enough" until she heard Him. His grace-full hands reached down deep--rescued her heart.

His forgiveness freely given--freely received with unclenched hands--begged to be freely offered. And her fingers curled inwards. "But..." she started. His tender fingers gently silenced her words. "Give me your heart--wounds and all. Let me restore it--make it new," he said.

And as He restored, her walls crumbled, her fingers unfurled and her arms raised in praise to the One who makes all things new--even her. 

Delighted, she asked, "How can I ever repay you?"

"You can't. But you can forgive as I have forgiven you," was his reply. "If you want to know true restoration, true freedom--then forgive."

She felt small again, traveling that narrow road called forgiveness. The journey was long but not impossible. He came with her. Walked ahead and sometimes carried her over dangerous passes. But, they made it and He stepped aside so she could offer her gift--forgiveness--with open hands.

Her gift offered became her gift received--freedom. She felt new deep down inside--heart new.

All this raced through her mind, still staring at her name. "How do you speak my name, God? What do you sing over me?" she dared.

God spoke, "Every day is new, pure, bright. You are all things new. Crawl upon my lap and watch me write your story on pure, white pages--words written in love, with my Son's blood. You see, your story begins new. Through Jesus, all things are new. You are new."

"Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.'” Revelation 21:5

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pausing for Thankfulness: In All Circumstances

It's an honor to welcome guest blogger and She Speaks graduate, Heather Ablondi
Heather Ablondi
Guest Blogger
Reclaiming Our Royal Inheritance

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Marrying my best friend. Celebrating my daughter’s first birthday. Moving into our first house. Welcoming two more daughters into our family. All of these are blessings from God for which I am very thankful.
My father’s alcohol and drug addiction. His death in a drunk driving crash that he caused. My first daughter’s premature birth and subsequent 89 day stay in the hospital. The four months that my husband worked last year, but didn’t get paid. Can I honestly say that I am thankful for these, as well?

It is so very easy to be grateful when life is going well and all is working out as planned. It can be so much harder to have a heart of gratitude when the unexpected happens or when we experience great loss.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Does God really expect us to be thankful for the difficult and painful times? I believe that the answer can be found in the following verse:

“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:4

It is during the difficult times in my life that I have drawn closer to God to receive the comfort that only He can give. On the other side of the valley, I find that my faith has grown deeper and stronger. It is for that growth that I can be exceedingly grateful.

Because of my father’s death, a message of sobriety has been shared with nearly 100,000 young people across our country. I have been able to wrap my arms around a teenage girl who is aching for the love of her absent father and tell her that I understand.

Since my daughter’s premature birth, God has allowed me to walk with other families as they ride what is called the “NICU roller coaster.”

During these difficult financial times, I have been able to share how incredibly God takes care of us and provides for all of our needs.
Most importantly, I have been able to share the comfort that can only come from God, the same comfort with which I was comforted.

So while I certainly wish that my father was still alive or that my daughter didn’t have to endure the trauma of an early birth, I can honestly say that, yes, I am thankful. Thankful not necessarily for the circumstance, but rather for the opportunities to share God’s great love that came as a result.

Author Bio: Heather Ablondi is a homeschooling mom to her three preemie princesses. She resides in Fredericksburg, VA with her husband Steven. In her “BC” life (before children), she worked as the Young Driver Safety Program Coordinator for the State of Maryland. She traveled the country for 10 years sharing the story of her father’s life and death with students in an effort to keep them from making the same mistakes. Currently, she shares the messages that God has placed on her heart through her blog and at various women’s ministry events.

You may visit Heather at her blog, Reclaiming Our Royal Inheritance or on Facebook.   

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pausing for Thanksgiving: Shoebox Letters

"Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord." Psalm 102:18

Tucked away up under the eaves sits an army-green footlocker full of early courting mementos and shoebox letters. 

We lived eight hours apart that first year, a decade before desktop computers and cell phones, so our affection spilled across blank pages at least three times a week.

 Those personal, hand-written words expressing emotions, drawing visions of our future now lay stacked atop one another--hidden treasures for future generations.

David, the shepherd boy and king, poured love-words out. Long days and nights spent in solitude--watching, feeling, expressing--living life. David's psalms, heart-cries, gratitudes to God, the creator of everything--stored away.

Opening Psalms today, I felt like a child discovering his hidden treasure of shoebox love letters to God. His raw affection poured out for all to read--uncontainable emotions, hopes, dreams, and prayers. His letters written not only to his audience of One, but "for a future generation, that a people not yet created (you and me) may praise the Lord" (Psalm 102:18).

Envisioning the eyes of future generations combing my words is something I often ponder as a writer. My shoebox love letters tell the story of courtship meant only for my family's eyes. I imagine our children, grandchildren, maybe great grandchildren giggling and crying over them as our story unfolds in their imaginations.

Yet, I wonder of my other writings--my public words. What do these words tell of my heart? Do they accurately tell my love story between me and God? Do they move the reader to worship? Do they bring glory to God?

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

It's been a privilege meeting some She Speaks writers this summer through Proverbs 31 Ministries. Their words move my heart to worship and praise God every time I read their blogs. I'm excited to host a few of them right here on Dawn's New Day throughout November and December.  Our first guest post will be this Thursday, November 10th by Heather Albondi. I know you'll be blessed as she pauses for thanksgiving.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pausing for Thanksgiving: God's Splendor

"Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness." Psalm 29:2

Daybreak reveals early snow devastation along crooked country roads. Rugged trees toppled, limbs weighed down, bent low, snapped, dangling like loose teeth. Fire-reds, brilliant yellows, orange hues--all muted.  Autumn's splendor stolen. Nature askew.

Road bends, curves, climbs. Movement ahead. I brake slow. Graceful doe eyes blink left, then right--white tail cautions. My heart leaps joy watching her join doe-eyed sisters under wooded cover. God's grandeur in creation.

One kind woman stops at my table of books. Our hearts connect and before she parts, lifts her eyes, a hand--whispers God's blessing. She didn't realize my ears heard. God's beauty in spoken word.

We rake brown leaves for jumping. Three-year-old granddaughter notices, "Grams, this flower is my favorite color. May I pick it?" Delicate pink blooms frozen in time, survived the storm. God's glory on thorny bush.

And I think, who is God that I should ever be disappointed? Amidst the storm, through devastation and disappointment His glory still shines forth. Everything, everywhere begs us worship Him. But, will we? Will we train our eyes to notice his glory?

Will you be watchful today for God-glory around you? 

"Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?" Exodus 15:11

How majestic is your name. How wonderful your glory shows all around. Teach us to be mindful of you, ever watching, ever listening for you. Reveal yourself to us today, that we may worship you.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Broken Limbs

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17

October snow melts under warming skies lifting its icy hold on still green earth. I venture out mindful of broken limbs piled high against scarred trees through town.

I take the narrow wooded road. Unmarked hazards slow me, cause fear. I almost turn back, but her lonely waiting, needy anticipation begs me come. I creep up toward the hill where she sits behind brick and glass nursing her own broken limb.

She too is scarred from unprecedented storms. Her once strong limb carried her miles around New England town each day, now lays broken, bruised and braced. She sits wishing for younger, stronger, healthier, less lonely times. Who wouldn't? She prays, too--for healing--with faith and patience and thanks. She who lives broken gives thanks.

Thankfulness in the midst of brokenness. Thanks for brokenness. Is this what God wants?

God never delights in our trouble but without brokenness how can anyone know his mercy, healing power, forgiveness or strength? Not even Jesus could know these things without suffering: " was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation {Jesus} perfect through suffering." Hebrews 2:10

We offer God our broken sacrifice of praise and somehow he comes--God our healer. God our provider. God our strength. God our salvation--he comes close.

Her nurse meets me at the door. "She's feeling puny today--a bit under the weather."

More suffering. More brokenness. And before I leave, she who lives broken, gives thanks.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pause for Thanksgiving: Light-Bright

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6

Did you own a Lite Brite by Hasbro? You know the jingle, "Lite Brite, makin' thi-ings with li-i-ight. Outta sight, makin' things with Lite Brite." I never owned one but I bought one for myself--*cough, *cough--I mean, bought one for my kids when they knew electric sockets were for plugs NOT fingers.

Lite Brite’s simple design--a hollow, plastic, triangular shell with a pegboard screen and a light bulb inside--didn't impress my kids at first glance. After all, what's so exciting about a bunch of white stamped dots on black, back-lit paper? But once they saw the pattern emerging from the illuminated colored pegs, their excitement grew and their fingers flew faster from pegs to board.

I got to thinking, we're a lot like a Lite Brite: born by God's design, embodying great potential and color with his imprint on our souls.

Following the design--setting one peg at a time in its place--is a slow, tedious process. Unlike Lite Brite's stamped patterns, our life is not a DIY design with easy, numbered instructions. Instead, God only reveals his pattern for our lives as we seek intimate relationship with him through his son, Jesus Christ (plug into the Source).

Once we take that step, the Bible says the Holy Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 3:16) and illuminates us to the knowledge and glory of God by salvation through Christ:

"And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will." Romans 8:27

 Learning to follow God's lead through the promptings of his Holy Spirit takes patience too. We must set time aside to listen for and recognize God's voice from within, through Scripture, and through other believers. Once we recognize his voice, we have a choice--to willingly obey him or go our own way.

Taking little steps of obedience are like placing the colored pegs on the Lite Brite pattern. Each peg--each step--illuminates God's Holy Spirit from within. When the last peg is placed or the last step is taken we can step back and see the result of perfect cooperation between us and the Master Designer.

Imagine your life as a Lite Brite, today and ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I plugged into God, the source of Light?
  • Do I spend time listening for God's voice?
  • Am I following God's pattern by obeying His voice?
  • Have I lost patience, given up and gone my own way?
Lord, thank you for the gift of Light through the life, death and resurrection of your son, Jesus. I accept your gift and ask that your Holy Spirit shine brightly through me according to your plan for my life. Grant me patience to persevere when I'm frustrated with following the pattern or just weary from life so that in the end, your glory shines through as a beautiful masterpiece. Amen

"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:21

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pausing for Thanksgiving: Tricks and Treats

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."
Psalm 100:4

It's November 1st and unlike the retail businesses, we're pressing the pause button instead of fast forwarding into Christmas. We're stopping to open our eyes, slow our pace, and breathe deeply of God's grace, presence, and provision in our daily lives between now and Thanksgiving Day. It's my prayer that you will be inspired to do the same and share your thankfulness with this blogging community.

Our hearts quicken listening to unprecedented October blizzard winds howl. Heavy laden limbs creak cold in midnight winds, then snap. Breath holds while lights flicker, waiting for dark. We pace and pray...pace and pray...ever watching until sleep overwhelms.

Morning light proves snow hit New England hard. Phone lines open. Family all safe. Some sought shelter. Our lives spared. Hot coffee slides down deep warming to our core.

Last night, snowmen dot lawns with jack-o-lantern heads. Giggling, costumed children traipse through green leaves and crunchy snow shouting, "Trick or Treat!"

While many surrounding towns sit dark and cold forced to cancel celebrations, we whisper thanks for God's protection through the storm. Surely, some tricks amongst the treats this Halloween. 

Lord, we thank your for your protection through this storm. We praise you for family, laughter, and treats and surprises around every corner.