Category Archives: Joy

Faith: What Life Might Look Like


God has given me this abundant life.  A family I love.  Work that invigorates.

And yet I want. I want some parts of my life to be different. I think “what if. . .” and “If only. . .” My mind wanders and I think about my life and what it might look like “if only. . .”

And then I come back to the present.  But I find I’m only partially here.  I leave a small piece of me–part of my attention–in that place.  In the “If only” place.

I’m like a puzzle with one missing piece.  Set out on the table, put together, yet not complete.  The puzzle makers search for the missing piece and come up short.  Disappointment after all that work.  And then the sigh, oh well. 

When I live in the “If onlys” and “what ifs”  I imagine God’s disappointment.  After all, He has orchestrated this life.  He knows my disappointment.  My frustration.  My expectations.  My hopes.

He also knows how it impacts those around me.  Those He gave me to love completely.  Those who aren’t getting my full attention.

What would my life look like if I fully lived the life set before me?  No “if onlys.”  No “what ifs.”  What if I just lived in the present moment and focused my full attention?  What if I celebrated this life fully with thanksgiving? What if I just trusted God fully? Had faith?

Would this life begin to look like the life I dream about? Or perhaps, become more abundant than I could ever imagine. . .

I think of Christ and wonder whether he ever felt as I do.  As He carried the cross, I wonder if He ever thought “if only. . .”

“let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”  – Hebrews 12:1 ASV

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Light Pink Puffs of God’s Creation


Sun breaks today.  Through the clouds.  And, I see the beauty of the cherry blossoms.  Light pink puffs like cotton candy set gently against the branches. 

 Such beauty. 

 How can I—how could I—ever doubt your existence, your faithfulness, your presence? 

 Chickadees settle on the branches, soft voices singing.  Petals fall like tears, soaking the ground with pink polka dots fragrant with God’s creation.

 Such joy. 

How can we look upon the Earth and not weep at the beauty or know joy?   How can we not know there is a creator?

I breath in and reach toward beauty and joy.  I reach toward the creator and celebrate His creation. 

Counting my blessings of gratitude with Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience.

#102 – 120

Gratitude for…

A crisp spring morning

the grass that needs mowing

the son sleeping too long

warm tea and flannel

a gentle smile from my husband

good work for the day

words

more words

moments of silence

a short text message from daughter

a calendar that says she’ll be home this week

cooking a meal with my son

sharing that meal as a family

a week to walk toward the cross

time to reflect on that walk

unfathomable sacrifice

His loving arms

Haiku


Face raised toward the Son

Thankful for the gift of life

In awe of His grace

Clothed with the Love of Christ.


I wondered into the sanctuary and sat silently, anticipating worship. I glanced around as others filed in, bundled in their coats and hats.  Layers of clothing.  We had been warned: no heat in the sanctuary.  The furnace had gone out.  So, as we prepared for worship, we kept on our hats and gloves and coats.

Just before worship began, the musicians showed up, bundled up, just like us. I smiled–my favorite musician was playing today.  Trent.  Young father, husband, and friend and mentor to my son.  But the fact that I know Trent is not why he is my favorite musician at church. (Well, maybe that helps a little!)

When Trent plays worship music, he displays joy. I can’t describe it, really.  I watch him and it is as if he were dancing before God.  The pure joy he expresses when he plays is raw and real. Despite the fact that his fingers must be freezing, he plays the banjo and mandolin with passion.

I look at him and I think — I want what he has. A big grin comes to my face. You can’t help but smile when you see him.  His face and his movement express Christ’s joy.

Even when he isn’t playing music his eyes and smile reflect Christ. The way he connects with the person he is talking to. The genuine warmth and sincerity of his words.  His compassion, kindness, gentleness. I think of his friendship with my son and what that friendship means to him.  I think, as a mom, how I value that friendship for my son.  How grateful I am that God brought Trent into my son’s life.

He is a gentle soul clothed with the love of Christ.

And, so as I worship Christ today,  I think of Trent and what it means to live our faith and reflect Christ. Truly reflect Christ.  To have His light shine through us.

I remember Paul’s letter to the Colossians:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts . . . And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15

I read that verse again. And I realize that allowing the peace of Christ to rule in my heart that will allow me to fully reflect him — not just my effort to display compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  To “clothe” myself with these things requires first that I seek Christ’s face–seek a relationship with Him. He will clothe me in genuine, God-inspired compassion, kindness and humility.  He will help me to display gentleness and patience and show me how to forgive fully.  He will show me how to love completely.


And so, I turn toward Christ in this season of Epiphany.

 

 


 

Living Every Day.


I welcomed 2011 in a little differently this year, as my friend and fellow blogger, Galen Pearl, suggested. I sat down and wrote a letter to say goodbye to 2010 — all the things it gave me–grace, peace, sadness, joy, and much more.  And, I wrote a letter welcoming in 2011.  I wrote a letter of hopes and dreams.  Of anticipation and intentions.

It felt great.

And, as Galen suggested, I picked a word for the year. Galen suggests picking a verb and posting it in places where you will see it — on your computer, by the mirror, on the dash of your car.   I picked the word live — as in “live every day to its fullest.”

I picked live not because I’m not productive or happy or can’t pull myself out of bed in the morning. Rather, I picked live because I find that I am often driven by my fears and the “what ifs,” which stop me from living fully. My hope is that by choosing this word and by praying and being mindful about living fully, that I will trust more, take more chances, love more deeply.  That I will live for the possibilities of what God has in store for me than by the fears that hold me back.

I wrote two posts in 2010 on how I let fear and “what ifs” shape my life in negative ways. How these fears and this inner dialog of fear move me away from Christ.  But, that trusting God to write my life story — a story of hope and grace and joy rather than fear and shame — moves me toward Him.

This year, I want to write the story God has planned for me. I want to live a life of hope and grace and joy.  I want to trust Him to fill me and guide me.  I want to rest in His arms and seek His face. I want to move toward Christ, not away.

I want to live. And,  I want God to write the story of what it means to live. And, I want to see the story that emerges when I trust Him. So, welcome 2011.  I’m ready!

Father God,

Forgive my ‘what ifs’ –those that take the pen from your hand, that make me the editor in chief and relegate you to proofreader.

You write the story of my life.  You provide hope and peace.

You imagined the story of life and the story of all things You placed in this universe.

You give life, hope, love, grace.

You are the author of all.

Let me see and hear the ‘what ifs’ You want me to imagine and to live out. Open my eyes and my heart to the possibilities You imagine.

Let me live every day as You desire.

Amen

 

Thank you Galen Pearl for your encouragement. Thank you for the word of the year.

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