Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Different New Year

A Different New Year

We started the year with you here
Now it's been months with you gone.
The days go so slow, but already a new year will begin.

I pick up the phone to call you a few times a week
I still haven't erased your number from my phone
It hurts to not get calls from you or hugs or I love yous
It hurts because you were loved

We drive past the cemetery
We stop when we can
Even though it's just a slab in the ground
It helps to be near you
To think of you

We look at pictures
Of you
With us
We smile through tears
As we remember

I've learned some things to start this New Year
Not resolutions, they don't seem to last.

Not to take people or the time
they so willingly share for granted.
To smile more.
To hug more.
To say I love you MORE.
TODAY when possible not put off for tomorrow
because tomorrow become todays and yesterdays.

Yesterdays are what we remember
But we will continue to live in today
So we'll start our different new year
Like a new chapter in an ongoing book
Characters will come and love and leave
This is not The End...

kl 12-31-15

Friday, December 25, 2015

For When It Hurts

We can KNOW all the right information, but when we hurt? We are not always thinking or focusing on the information we know. Our feelings/emotions can get in the way. We hurt and that is the only thing right then that we are sure of.

As the world seems to continue growing darker and fear continues to try to invade our hearts, minds and spirits, we need a little/lot of peace on Earth, joy, and HOPE.

Hope as defined by

to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence
to believe, desire, or trust:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

It is easy to feel hopeless or less hopeful than we normally would when life seems to block our view of the Jesus of Christmas (birth) and Easter (death and resurrection). Sometimes we focus on one based on the time of the year. In order to see the BIG picture though, we need to remember both. 

Maybe this year has been less ideal than most. Our family dealt with death more close up than we had in a long time when my father-in-law passed away in August. One life ripples into so many others. Sometimes in ways we are not even aware of until much later. He was a husband, father, grandpa, brother, uncle, friend.....

I am finding comfort in remembering that God sent Jesus into this corrupted world to bring hope not just for then, but for now too. Jesus came as a baby. Innocent. He grew up. Made friends. Lost friends. When he lost one of his close friends to death:

Jesus wept. John 11:35

We don't cry alone. God did not intend the world to be this way. A world with pain and suffering. My heart hurts when I see my children hurt. How God must feel the pain of His children and want to step in with comfort. We, like our own children sometimes push us away, sometimes push Him away. To do it on our own. Too proud to acknowledge dependence on somebody else. 

God sent Jesus to this world because the alternative is that we would live our time on this fallen sphere and then we die. God sent us Jesus so that we can live with the assurance that THIS? This is not all there is. He sent Jesus to experience what we experience. For when it hurts.

John 3:16-17: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
Praise to God for a Living Hope
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

If you are hurting right now more than normal? The following is my prayer for you. Make it your prayer too. 

Ephesians1:17-19 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. 

Amen and Amen!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

No Strings, No Chains

Imagine with me if you will. We board a spaceship. We blast into outer space. We are given the opportunity to view Earth from a distance. All of it. Not just our little corner. All. of. it. One of the things I think I would be MOST amazed by is that Earth is just there. Hanging in the darkness. Suspended. No strings.

Thanks to the internet and satellites, we no longer need to question whether the Earth is flat or alone in the universe. We don't even need to wait to be able to afford to enter space on our own!

Just Google "earth images" and peruse for a few moments. Amazing. No visible means of support. Just there. Perfectly suspended. Rotating in just the right position between light and darkness. No strings.

We can argue HOW it got there. We can argue WHY it's there. We can argue about lots of things. Sometimes the more we know the more we question. Questioning is not a bad thing. It's how we learn.

While I was busy being amazed by the no strings thought for Earth, my thoughts turned to how some people may view Christians as being controlled by seeing God almost as a puppeteer. Pulling our strings that are ultimately connected to a God they may or may not believe in. I'm guessing that if this is how God is envisioned, it is not totally surprising that interest stops there. 

I think I would even go a step further though. Beyond strings. I would go as far as saying that before becoming a Christian (a true Christian NOT just tangled up in religion, but finding a relationship with Jesus) that it was worse than being connected by strings. I was bound. In chains. Chains of self doubt, self pity, guilt, shame, fear, etc. etc. Chains that served no purpose other than being heavy and keeping me from getting where I needed to get in truth. In faith. I was so busy focusing on the chains and on myself that I didn't look for a key or even see if there was something to do to become unbound.

I was busy focusing on my little corner of me. I didn't look at the big picture or look at it from a different perspective.

The day that I said YES to Jesus is the day I said NO to chains. I was free. I am free. Sometimes those chains still try to show up. As thoughts that try to move my focus back to me. Now though I have keys. Faith. Prayer. Fellow believers. The Bible.

There is life beyond our little corner of the world. There is life beyond chains.

Dear Father in Heaven,
May we never lose our amazement of our world just because it can be more explained through pictures and information overload. Help us to keep our vision expanded beyond us and the chains that we may feel bound by. Help us to watch for others that are bound in their own chains. Help us to not be afraid to share how we have been set free. Help us to share that it really is just as easy as acknowledging our dependence on you and not ourselves. Thank you for providing the keys to loosen our chains and set us free. Thank you for the gift of the Bible so we can continue to receive the gifts it contains.

If you've found your way here, read this far and have questions about receiving Jesus as your personal Savior, this is a good place to start:  Need Him

Psalm 107:13-15 (NIV)
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

Isaiah 52:1-3 (NIV)
Awake, awake, Zion,
clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor,
Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled
will not enter you again.

Shake off your dust;
rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
Daughter Zion, now a captive. 

For this is what the Lord says
“You were sold for nothing,
and without money you will be redeemed.”

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)
The Year of the Lord’s Favor

 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
Freedom in Christ

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.