Expect Light

Friends, this Christmas season is hard. A year ago my grandfather passed away just after midnight the day after Christmas. A fitting exit for a pastor of 50 years.

This, on the longest night of the year, these losses become stumbling blocks for us mere humans. The skies are gray. The sun barely comes up before it makes its descent back below the horizon. Heaviness keeps our feet firmly on the ground and distracts us from looking upward.

It is dark. But the dark doesn’t have to consume us.

This year. This advent I have chosen to embrace joy. Not only embrace it, but actively look for it every day. No matter what I face. My heart heavy or light. It has gotten me through a lot of dark days.

I choose joy.

Today I saw all my favorite people in the world come together to raise 1 million dollars for a worldwide refugee crisis. In four hours they raised 200,000 through a max of 25 dollar donations per person.

These are people who choose joy in the face of darkness.

But joy doesn’t have to be big to be felt. It can be as simple as spending time in silence. A sip of good coffee before the melee of family togetherness, a deep breath before the onslaught of 2 weeks of Christmas vacation. There is always space for joy. Darkness can’t crowd it out.

This has been a hard year. It’s been a year full of loss. For me. For our community. For our world. No matter what, I believe that restoration and reconciliation are nearby waiting for us to whisper them onstage.

Joy combats the darkness. Joy combats anger. Joy combats hurt. Joy combats everything. When we choose to look for it in the mundane hardness of everyday life our world changes.

Our hearts change.

The earth changes.

Today, on this longest of nights don’t expect more darkness.

Expect the light.

lightjohnEmbrace joy. Invite light into your corner of the world and change it.

 

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God Does

elizabethThe Lord has done this for me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these words after giving a message on Elizabeth at church. Any time I open up the bible to a story I think I know well, I am struck by how little I really know.

This is where my husband usually quotes Game of Thrones

You know nothing Jon Snow.

Elizabeth didn’t receive visions from God that we know of. Time and time again her passages show us she reacts to the Spirit within her. When she greets Mary for the first time as expectant mothers, it is described as the Holy Spirit fills her. When she names John she knows the name he is to be given even though her husband has been made mute because of his disbelief.

The Lord has done for me.

What joy Elizabeth must have lived with. No matter the circumstances, no matter how bleak the outcome seemed she was filled with the certainty that God does.

What is God doing for you this advent season?

 

 

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Inexplicable Joy

You’ve seen it, right? Someone who has joy when the world says he shouldn’t. Someone who shares the joy in her heart when all you want to do is make her life better.

Joy is inexplicable. It collides with our hearts and explodes in our minds at the least likely moments. I love the taste when I am going about the mundane activities of life and joy taps me on the shoulder

and reminds me it is always there. Even when I can’t see it.

Joy is inexplicable and glorious, and it invites you in today.

InexplicableJoy

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Invite Joy In

The first sip of coffee from a freshly brewed pot

The stillness of the morning when I am the only one awake

Walking through a just cleaned house

A shower after a sweaty run

A mug of tea, a good book and a hot bath

The first bite of a maple creamstick

The kids’ deep belly laughs

A kid on my lap with a book

Watching the kids concentrate on an activity they love

Understanding a concept for the first time

I could go on.

Why don’t we recognize joy in the everyday? Why don’t we look for it wherever we are? Why is it elusive?

Why do we think it can be bought?

How can my joy collide with someone else’s?

When I think about joy colliding I think of the story of Mary and Elizabeth in Luke. The preparer and the prepared, in one space smothered in joy. It was invited in and both women embraced it, owned it and spread it. Their hearts were already marked for joy.

Advent is a season of joy that gets lost in manufactured complacency. I want to be attacked with joy this season. I want it to tumble out of me and stumble into the people I meet. Joy doesn’t just happen though.

InviteJoy

Can you see joy every day? Will you share it?

 

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Let’s Go!

Where are you heading this advent season?

I love the story of the shepherds in the Christmas story. Here are normal everyday people going about the mundane details of their lives when all of a sudden they are hit with a message they can’t ignore.

God is here.

God is with us.

Go and see him.

They don’t debate. They don’t make arrangements to take care of the sheep in their absence. Or run home to tell their families what happened. Their response is simple

BethlehemadventThey went. They didn’t look for the best time or argue they had too many responsibilities. They were told God is here

and they went to see him.

They knew exactly where he was and how they would find him.

All they had to do was believe.

If you were told God was here, would you go?

We wait for an invitation that has already arrived. We wait for directions and others to join us. But your call from God has come, so why haven’t you gone?

This advent season prepare your heart to go. Ask for a faith that allows you to drop the cloak of disbelief.

God is with us.

Will you go?

 

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Friday Encouragement

The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,for the earth will be filled with the knowledge o

Advent is about hope. It is hope in the waiting. Hope in the joy that is to come. Hope in the peace our earth and bodies cry for.

We are a hopeful people.

Even in tragedy. Even in grief. Even in mourning. Even in the drudgery of the day to day.

We hope. We hope because we know the Lord’s love comes and covers the earth like water.

Today live in hope. In the midst of trials and waiting remember our hope comes with expectation. The certainty it is already done.

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Gratefulness starts with you

One of my favorite lines from the graphic novel, The Walking Dead, is on the back cover of all the compendiums.

“When is the last time any of us REALLY worked to get something that we wanted? How long has it been since any of us really NEEDED something that we WANTED?”

I bet you thought the Walking Dead was just about zombies. Good literature always asks a question of us and this one is a doozy for me. When was the last time I needed something I wanted? The better question is when was the last time I needed anything?

Because when I look at it like that I can’t remember the last time I needed anything. I have a house and two cars. My kids are healthy, my husband is healthy and I am healthy. Our cupboards are always full. We are never bored because we have books, games, netflix, and cable to keep our minds going. I have friends who can help in a pinch if I need it. Both my parents are still living.

I get to write as a full time job even though I haven’t been paid for a word.

So why do I still believe I need more?

I am part of a launch group reading and discussing Kristin Welch’s new book Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: how one family learned that saying no can lead to life’s biggest yes

One chapter in and I am floored.

I don’t feel guilty or ashamed of my blessings, but my lack of gratefulness for what I do have. There are days when the kids won’t leave me alone that I wish we had a bigger house. There are days when I look in my full closet and wish I had something to wear. There are days I open the fridge and turn my nose up at leftovers spilling across the shelves because I want something different.

I’m disappointed with myself because I find complaints on my lips more often than praise. Most days I’m wandering around in the desert with the Israelites asking where the good food is when manna surrounds me.

It’s all about our heart. It always comes down to our heart. It’s not about what we do or do not have, but the words that pour off our lips from how our heart feels. And as I said, most days I complain with a full stomach, a nice outfit and in a house that keeps me warm, dry and safe.

The worst is when I hear my kids complaining and I realize they are copying me. If I want them to be grateful, maybe I should start with myself.

 

Entitlement didn’t startwith my kids. It beganwith me. I entitled thembecause I was entitled.

The next time a scold appears on your lips reminding your kids to be grateful for what they have, take a minute and remember you also have a lot to be thankful for.

Do you need anything, or do you want it?

There’s a big difference

 

 

(I did receive a free ebook as a part of the launch team. But my reviews and my thoughts are my own.)

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