Faith and Hope Will Continue…

I smile as I drive by homes that are sporting lighted Christmas trees in windows, lights on the roof, wreaths on doors, and inflatable snowmen in the yards. I am traditional enough to bring my tree home the week of Christmas…if I can still find a fresh one.

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Day after day the clouds hang with gloom and I walk, just hoping for sunlight to break through. Instead, I settle for the sight of turkeys, hawks, blue jays and cardinals.

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What is it about light that we are so fond of?

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I wonder at times if my hope is just hanging by a thread…but a long thread that connects all the way to heaven where the Father is.

This is the season of hope and sacrifice as God send his son to become God-man on earth…

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Immanuel…God with us.

“Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

 Have you seen hope? Have you seen peace?

Certainly we have not lasting peace on the earth, not by human means. We are still striving with one another, and our blessed earth is falling away. Is it too late to change?

As I write this, a dear friend is in a hospital once again. Monica had surgery about one month ago and has not recovered by a long shot.

Just 3 days ago her young daughter had a similar surgery, and my friend is there moment by moment by her daughter’s bedside. Danica is just a bit of a girl who should be playing with dolls, coloring with friends, and roller-skating.

Chronic illness and living with pain is a way of life. How do they keep hope? Do they  daily scrape by? How do they not give up on hope?

You can pray for Monica and Danica here…

Is there deeper grace for those that suffer with such great pain?

How can we be thankful for this? Can we trust Him?

He is the Author and worthy of our trust. Our weak love, our small faith, we present to Him, and He gives much more, without judging our weakness or failings.

We were unworthy, but He came…and made us worthy of grace. And now we praise…

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

We search for peace on this earth, but it’s not here. Peace will not be on earth, except in our hearts through the Son of God. As you decorate, buy gifts for those you love, party with friends and loved ones, remember those who suffer.

There are many kinds of pain beyond the physical. Many suffer lost loved ones, loss of job, home, and friends. May you be the light for someone who feels lost. Find those around you in need and give the hope of Christ.

Though we struggle with our faith and hope, he will give us what we need beyond our weaknesses. He owns it all and as he has said…

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

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But It’s Such a Little Thing

There is already a thick layer of oak leaves in the woods, but each time I enter, the acorns still fall and smack loudly in this season’s carpet. The oaks are nearly stripped of all leaves now. The hills are a sad gray-brown, with touches of evergreen. Leaves crunch loudly as I walk, leaving a pleasant odor in the air. Not wet, not mold, but fragrant, as if saving their best scent for last.

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Birds now whisper quiet songs as they gather food; many have long gone where we call—South. My faithful few stay and gather at my sunflower feeders, and woodpeckers to my suet cakes. The chickadees always greet me when I appear to fill empty cedar feeders so they can drain them before day’s end.

Why do I continue to do it? It costs me! Some fall-winters it costs me much, but it is a sacrifice of love, and it is such a little thing I do…

This is the dying season, the season of nature’s rest. As the trees hibernate, I gather a stack of books about me. I can fill myself to overflowing, but do I keep in all that grace I read…to myself? Why do I nestle in a warm blanket and stay indoors, as if reading the right books will satisfy me with abundant life?

I’m well into the hard places of Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way. She is an amazingly sensitive soul. A farmer’s wife, busy homeschool mom, gardener, friend to many, and lover of passing out hope. Her soul cries out to be the best mom—ever. Don’t we all wonder at our own attempts at motherhood?

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I’m nearly at the end of the book. It reminds me of words I have heard somewhere before—How then shall we live? How shall I live?

What are the words we most often hear at communion? “Re-member Me.” Ann’s choice words for our forgetting are ‘chronic soul amnesia.’ How fitting! We forget all the time how good God is. We can’t forget our brokenness, and we still believe the lies of the enemy. We are all afraid of being broken and exposed, but that is how we live in close communion with Christ.

Come die. In a thousand ways. Give Me all. I want you. I want you all. Give not only all my best, but even all my brokenness? Hand over the whole natural self…because we know, all His is mine, and all mine is His.

All the books in the world cannot teach us how to give beyond our hurting, to give beyond our brokenness. We must look past our own pain, and find others who are hurting.

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Co. 4:10 NIV

I never understood the depth of this verse until God hunted me with it. There’s not a day in recent weeks that I have not heard this message from Him. This is the depth of my relationship with him: the fullness of Christ in me. He is re-membering it to me…

But what do I do with this knowledge? How do I demonstrate compassion?

To quote Ann, we can’t think of “…time as something to seize, to try to capture, or that’s captured and stolen from us, and I’ll try to slow down before it steals away…time isn’t something you seize; it’s something you sacrifice. It’s not something to grab; it’s something to give.”

“Maybe temporary time is made for dying to self—so your eternal self can really live.”

The more I die to Christ, the more I see I can’t do anything without Him living in me. As long as I look at Him, the cross, his death, I see how short I fall. There is nothing I can do in myself. He happily gives me grace to show he delights in me–he loves me and wants to be in perfect union.

Sacrificing time and life with others seems such a little thing to us. It doesn’t seem enough for us to just give ourselves to others. We’ve been taught, (and lied to) to think we are never enough.

As we give grace to the brokenness of others, in doing so we have grace for our own brokenness.

We are always, always enough.

So give your thanks this season, and read Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way…if you dare.