New Normal

Shedding the scales of the old ways

Believing the new ways will come

Forced to exist in a smaller domain

There is nowhere to run away from

A heavy storm of sickness and fear

Has washed across the earth

Page after page in a never ending chapter

What was our previous life worth?

Missing the chaos, we want to return

To places we knew too well

Somehow we know this is crazy

Yet our heart is too desperate to tell

The longer the pause, the more we settle

A chance to consider the past

Maybe this reset and unwelcome halt

Reveals we were living too fast

Reaching for things we thought would bring joy

Pursuing pleasure and lust and money

We forgot how to feel the pain of too much

And bitterness tasted like honey

A new normal set into the rhythm of life

Hidden things come bursting into view

Some things are dark and some filled with light

Most of which we already knew

The power to choose when the world opens up

Holds a chance for the life we desire

I pray that the chaos cannot recover

And the shadows don’t kill back the fire

There is a smoldering spark of redemption

Patiently waiting to burst with a hopeful flame

All we must do is fill with God’s love and recover

Knowing our stories will not be the same.

Advent 2019

In a season of waiting

Each morning unfolds

Open hands to receive

The story being told

Clenched or closing

Refusing new grace

Shackles old thoughts

No mercy embraced

Sun rises slowly

Brings light to new ways

Trusting the process

Turns color from grays

A blanket of snow

Warms earth underneath

To bear the cold season

Hope springs new relief

For so many years

God’s people were yearning

A Savior foretold

A long time of learning

The birth of a baby

In a manger of hay

The answer to prayer

In the Father’s way

The King who came walking

Just like one of us

His holiness hidden

To love and not crush

This love that was given

Is heavy to bear

Yet when I receive it

I learn how to share

From Advent to Christmas

I must travel alone

Hand in hand with Jesus

To learn what He knows.

A Father’s Pen

I hear a voice calling me

Bend with the wind

Sway like the trees

Lean in and give

Movements of creation speak

Listen to the leaves

Hear the silence

Let go and grieve

On a journey to a Kingdom

Swim in the ocean

Fall into wildflowers

Live now in the open

Endless love offers hope

Look for the light

Rest in the shadows

Stay in the fight

A Father’s pen writes

Step into words

Slow and believe

Story unfolds

New chapter draws me forward

Accepting new seasons

Open hands receive

Strength has reasons

A Savior’s heart plays music

Hands offer grace

Words give water

Reflecting God’s face

I can hear the notes of mercy

Soak in the song

The voice calling me

Was His all along.

True Treasure

Dusted with joy

My waiting is sweet

What seems like forever

Light quickens defeat

Shadows uncovered

Hidden from view

Trapped voices start singing

Dead life becomes new

Like flowers through concrete

Hope reaching for life

Defiant in darkness

Beauty reigning in strife

It’s not in tomorrow

It’s not yesterday

It’s how we are living

With what’s given today

Taking a moment

Feel my feet on the ground

Imagine earth spinning

Yet stillness is found

Sun and moon rising

With each orbital spin

Daytime gives way

As light comes to an end

Eternally focused

I know light will reign

Dark only for moments

Heart fills with good gain

A small life of waiting

Like seeds in the field

Bursts into a harvest

True treasure revealed.

Life In Spite of the Scars

This Holy Book, where life is found

Rips up the hardness in my heart’s ground

Voiceless pondering, things of old

Solitary mining for treasures and gold

Lonely places in a discarded life

Filling with redemption as the bride of Christ

Hope and mercy, graceful love

Lands on the runway from Heaven above

No need to hurry or scrape for a chance

Your desires are known by a Father’s glance

Abiding in strength, when others see weak

I am learning to listen to a Man who was meek

Yeshua, Jesus, Mighty Counselor, I Am

Light in the darkness, like pearls in a clam

A heart that is open, and eyes that will see

Partake in the goodness meant for you and me

Do you sleep in peacefulness, and wake full of joy?

Life is a gift, like a child’s Christmas toy

Morning by morning, new life and new day

Truth and purpose, on my knees when I pray

No matter your worry, your sins, or your doubt

This Lover of souls will not leave you without

Redemption comes to you right where you are

In the middle of darkness, in spite of the scars

The wounds that burn will find ways to inspire

Your path has been lit by God’s Holy fire

He will use you to bring justice and might

Take up your armor, and prepare to fight

Your orders were written in the ink of blood

Rise and renew what sin has undone

We will never be ready with perfection in view

But sowing with hope, He will make all things new.

Beauty and Truth- Thoughts on Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:8 The Voice)

Here is a final attempt to show the Philippians (and us) the way to experience peace. The battles of perplexity and anxiousness are won first in our thoughts. If we can fill our minds with the light of truth, all things will be seen more clearly. If we find our way to the beauty, and behold what is lovely, good, and right, our hearts will settle. Even when faced with the most difficult situation, or a person causing us to despair. We have no control over how or where they stand. Where I stand matters more than anyone or anything else. And what I choose to let my mind be filled with will determine my response. My actions are what others see. My words are what they will hear. What flows from my heart into the world will tell of the well it draws from.

My mind is the engine which generates judgement or love. Since God is the judge, I must generate love. Loving God should fuel loving others the way He loves me. I want to generate this love. So I must determine my steps by filling my mind with beauty and truth. What I let my heart feed on is the fuel for my life. Because my heart is the wellspring of life, I want to filter and protect its contents. Just like my water filter at home. I go to the best source of water I have, and then let the filter clean what I cannot see. Instead of judging others based on what I see, I want to let love and God’s truth be the filter. So much in our world seems dark, and yet I have seen light in otherwise dark places. Situations that seem to be lost causes, or stories of terrible events at the hands of people have moved me to look for the heart of the matter. Not to excuse but to look for redemption, the way God redeemed me. God loves with an unconditional love, and this is the way I am to love. It is a difficult thing sometimes, yet each day is a chance to judge less and love more. When I ponder judgement, my pride takes a shadowy stance on my heart. When I ponder how to bring forth God’s love and fill my mind with how He sees, there is light and peace.

Heavenly Father, You are a good and gracious God. Out of Your Heavenly Kingdom flows life and redemption. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to us as a human just like me. I am moved to tears when I think of this love. You did not reign down judgement, but sacrificial mercy and grace. Yes, there are consequences for sin, but I leave this judgement to You. Help me to see with Your eyes, and love with Your heart wrapped with mine. Let my hands and feet be in sync with Your plan and will for me. Fill my mind with Your goodness and truth. In Jesus’ name amen.

Drenched in light- Thoughts on 1 Peter 2

“But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world. For at one time you were not God’s people, but now you are. At one time you knew nothing of God’s mercy, because you hadn’t received it yet, but now you are drenched with it!” 1 Peter 2:9-10

These two verses are sandwiched in between becoming new in the salvation of Jesus as our living stone, a spiritual house built just for us, and how we are to live in the “new nation”. We have a new identity, we belong, we are a treasure. In Christ all racial barriers and exclusions are erased, we became one in Him, and we are chosen royals in God’s Kingdom. Jesus is the foundational stone of our new home and all are welcome.

A sense of belonging adds to my identity. I belong to God. He brought me out of darkness and into His marvelous light. The fear of rejection or feeling as if I don’t fit in is not true in God’s love. When I slip into the shadows, His light is still there. I need to widen my gaze. Just as on a dark and stormy day when there is no end to the rain in sight, I can’t see the sunlight at all. But, I know the sun has not moved. Some of my favorite plane rides have been on cloudy days. As we fly higher off the ground and pierce through the clouds, darkness is instantly gone, and everything is bathed in light. Such a beautiful reminder every time. Darkness is real, but so is the light. And God’s light never moves or leaves us, we just have to rise up and lift our hearts to Him to see.

Lord, I am deeply grateful to belong to You. Forgive me when I act as if I don’t. Thank You for Your marvelous light. When I am weak, You are strong. You are my foundational stone, and in You I always fit in. Help me to live well as Your chosen one. Shine Your light in the shadowy places. Dispel lies with Your truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Heart of Redemption

When my spirit is grounded

The chaos fades

Like fog burning off

Sun on the shade

Brightening beauty

Revealing peace

Glimmer in shadows

Calm is released

Morning brings newness

Warmth to the sand

Flowers reopen

In the Creator’s Hand

Emerge from the cover

Of evening and stars

Rested and healed

From yesterday’s scars

Receiving the oils

Of gladness and love

Poured in extravagance

From Heaven above

Released from the shame

Let joy be your guide

Forgiveness and mercy

Held close by your side

Though Eden has faded

Her seeds still remain

A heart of redemption

Plowed well from the pain

Sow with a view

Of blessings to come

The barren will bloom

Thy will be done.

The Humble Path to Peace: Study Notes on James 4:13-17

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:13-17

The theme of humility runs all through the book of James. And here it is brought to a very practical level. We are reminded how fragile life is. The steam that rises from my cup of coffee is beautiful both in the way it swirls and because I love coffee, but it doesn’t last long. Same with this life. Our reliance on God should be evident and acted upon. Boasting never sounds good and turns people away. There is envy that rises from the pride that is displayed. Humility and confidence is what Jesus portrayed. Humility in submission and confident in who God is and how He provides.

Jesus was God walking on this earth. He above anyone could have displayed total pride and self-reliance. He made confident statements about who He was and why He was sent to earth. Taken out of context, this can be seen as boasting. But He relied on and submitted to His Father while living in human form. There was no question about His devotion to God. And there should be no question about mine. My words and actions hold the weight of perception. What do people see in me? Do my words and actions display arrogance and selfishness? I hope not. At the very least I am more aware. At most, and what I hope for, is that I give God His rightful first place in my life and He is glorified so others can see His love and care in me. The latter will prevent the exhaustion of striving and usher in the peace in relying on God, knowing He will provide.

Lord, Thank You for the dreams and desires You have given space in my heart for. Shed Your light on the path forward so I know I am headed in the right direction. Help me to notice the everyday goodness, take care of the little things, and serve others along the way. Reveal the motives in my desires and help me notice where selfishness and pride need to be checked and dealt with. Give me wisdom and the ability to lead and live with a servant’s heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Before reading James, I was guided to Psalm 46. A perfect companion in my heart, so I am sharing:

Psalm 46 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

God the Refuge of His People.

For the choir director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to Alamoth. A Song.

46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in [c]trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Seen In Part

Love when it’s hard, love when it isn’t

Love past the pain when you heart isn’t in it

Take up your grace and follow in kind

Shine light into darkness keep victory in mind

Take off your shoes, touch earth with bare

Let holiness seep with the power that’s there

Suspended in heaven a blue earth that floats

Tethered and grounded with dust covered hope

Sorrow will drown if you give in to the pull

Loss and betrayal fills empty to full

Push past the temptation to let too much go

Strategic intention holds truth that you know

Arrive at each morning with fresh eyes of love

Waiting and knowing a branch comes with the dove

Genesis story reminds me of God’s hand

His strength that’s invisible will help me to stand

Rise and walk to the voice that is calling

Take the path forward when promise is stalling

Keep to the course that is clear in your heart

Fullness in future only now seen in part.