True Christmas

For those of us who are hidden

By the twinkle of Christmas lights

Cloaked by the carols and merry

Our souls are shining bright

The Kingdom where it all began

Shimmers in everlasting position

The most lovely of all gifts is waiting

Filled with glorious redemption

Tucked underneath a Savior’s arms

Born into a world warring and blue

He holds the sacrificial present

A knight in shining armor kind of rescue

The dreams in our hearts that lie dormant

Our childhood fantasies seem failed

In a blink of an eye they awaken

To the pain of His hands that were nailed

This holiday we know has been stolen

By the rush of shopping and glee

And so we hide beneath tears of loss

But this lament is not where He leaves

Shadows removed by the lights of love

The twinkle can reveal rather than hide

A tree represents the remnant of God

The stump that seemed dead reignites

Hands lifting high we give in worship

What our souls and ours hearts truly need

A focus away from our own selfishness

Notice places of hunger craving seeds

Shifting holy ground is shaken by grace

What was hidden can emerge in mercy

Tears salt the earth and we celebrate

Rejoice in satisfying what was thirsty

Christmas steps into the lost and weary

With the journey of adventurous souls

Come out of hiding with heads lifted high

Walk forth in truth of the ancient scrolls.

Heap of Grain- Thoughts on Psalm 4:6-8

“Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” (NASB) “ Let the light of Your radiant face break through and shine upon us! The intense pleasure You give me surpasses the gladness of harvest time, even more than when the harvesters gaze upon their ripened grain and when their new wine overflows.” (TPT) “In peace [and with a tranquil heart] I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety and confident trust.” (AMP) Psalm 4:6-8

Abundance is good, and having plenty can bring happiness. But what happens when what you have is lost? Can there still be peace and and true joy? As I studied these verses I came across a reference to Ruth 3:7. (The treasure I uncovered is such a gift, and 3/7 is my birthday! This is the intense pleasure God gives in seemingly ordinary moments.) In this verse, Boaz was full and his heart was merry after eating and drinking all evening. He laid down to sleep at the end of his heaping harvest of grain. His heart was at peace and he went to sleep. Enter Ruth. She crept in quietly and placed herself at his feet as a sign of her availability to him. Such a courageous act of faith! She knew of the abundance and hoped for favor and blessing. She needed someone to care for her. She was brave, and she came in close. She put herself at the feet of the provider in such humility.

I too am learning to come in closer to God, my Provider. To wait quietly fosters faith, and to humbly place my self at his feet means I expect Him to fill my needs. Fear of being rejected, or not being provided for can sometimes push me into anxious striving. I don’t want to settle for the crumbs my own hands can gather when I can trust God to provide a feast. By letting God provide for my needs, He puts gladness in my heart. Each time I seek Him with my whole heart, He wholeheartedly fills me in ways that are true and lasting. Why do I have joy in the midst of difficulty and unanswered prayers? Because He gives me all I need. He has the heap of grains I so desire. I must trust the Giver.

Father God, You are my provider. You bring the joy that I seek “Let the light of Your radiant face break through and shine upon us!” I lay my worries and needs at Your feet. Fill me with Your abundance. My heart is available to You. Your perfect love casts out fear. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Dusty Hope

I dream of a farm and dusty roads

Fur and feathers grains and grass

Drought blows and rain redeems

Seasons heal like stained glass

Break up the hard ground and sow

Warming sun and gentle showers

Waiting for time to click towards life

Minutes are collected in slow hours

Rise with the sun wind in white curtains

Softly waken with the Lord smiling down

Purpose in the glorious fruits of our labor

Faded city lights into rich earth brown

Take me home country roads

Playing softly in my heart as I remember

Childhood memories of the strong men

Working alongside them like a secret member

Tiny memories of working that farm

Are seeds in my heart for a future dream

Grace in remembrance soothes torn life

Eternity promise opens hope like a stream.

Like a Dove

She was born with a dream

Full of life giving themes

A maiden in dresses

With curly brown tresses

A beautiful life it would seem

Yet as she would travel

Her life would unravel

Tearing apart at the seams

Her dresses were torn

By the roses with thorns

Still the scent of the flowers remained

As the sun rose above

Each new day filled with love

She gave what her heart still contained

By dusk she would find

Her heart empty of kind

Her dreams and her beauty were stained

The once young maiden

Now felt worn and heavy laden

She realized how much she had changed

She remembered the Hand

Who created this land

The life giving power above

Her God had been waiting

His love was not fading

And she made her way home like a dove. 

Inspired by Hannah

IMG_0054

(1 Samuel 1-2)

The journey might be stained with tears
Yet faith and hope expel her fears
Along the way she searches truth
A word from God assuring proof
She asked He Gave
She lost He found
Her knees again dig into ground
Wildest prayers from depth of heart
Waiting and wanting a brand new start.

Thoughts on Genesis 21:1-7

10.1.15

All I can see here is grace. First, Sarah laughed to herself in disbelief when she heard God’s promise to her, and yet God heard and questioned why she laughed. In fear, Sarah denied laughing. God did not write her off or take the promise away, He gave her grace. And now, with her promised son in her arms, she laughs out loud (LOL) saying “God has made laughter for me, everyone who hears will laugh with me.” BIG GRACE.We have to remember who we are. And Who’s we are. God’s love is something I have to meditate on often. His promises feel true when all is quiet and I am sipping my coffee, spending time with Him. But as soon as I jump in my car and zoom off to work, that person pulls out and I am transported into reality. And anger, or frustration, seems to erase that peace I sat in only moments ago. And you know, that’s okay. I cannot control what happens to me, but I can definitely control what I choose to do with it. I pray that I choose well. That I learn to do better. That even in my current and very real struggles, even in my pain, that I choose well. Choosing badly only deepens the despair, and the momentary release of anger or unhealthy choice only moves me further from that peace I so badly desire. I do not want to be angry. Or right. Truly. I want to love and be loved. This is at the core of who I am as a woman. This is the catalyst that drives me to serve others, to spread joy and laughter, and is my true desire. Lord, help me to pause before reacting, comfort me in my despairing moments, reassure me in my doubts, and help me to be your light because I know where my hope springs from. The everlasting fountain of love is here for the sipping, for the tasting, for the filling of empty heart spaces I fear will never be satisfied, the unanswered dreams that have faded, the yearning for significance. Father comfort our hearts, inspire us to hope in big things, and let your will be done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Words to Grow)

I drink in words

And pour them out.

Language soothes

A place without.

Thoughts in poetry

Guide my mind.

Interpretations,

Peace, I find-

Where otherwise,

Rocky steps

Could bring demise.

My Savior places

Gifts within

To grow with life

To grow again.

Thoughts on Genesis 17:15-21 & 18:1-5

9.30.15

It is in the waiting where we are refined. Moving through time can be hard if we resist the process. When we try and force something by our own hand, there is an element of striving and unrest, and therefore no peace. Yes, we must work hard and be excellent in our duties, whether in our home life or in the corporate world. But, we can only do what we can do, with what we are given. And sometimes, oftentimes, we must wait. The purpose of reading and studying God’s word is to use it as a guide, to learn from mistakes of others, to be encouraged by examples of faith, to find truth, life, and peace. To know God more. I love the honesty of this story. Sarai is not painted as a perfect wife, she is not someone I cannot relate to. She is real, and honest, she made poor choices, and even laughed at God’s promise and then lied to God about it. This is not a watered down religious how to, pie in the sky kind of teaching. This is not, how to be perfect in 10 steps. This is vulnerability, this is authentic humanity, this is desire and longing, this is me. And so Sarai is given a new name. God said “I will bless her”, and He did. God’s promise comes to life and we see how His plan will come to pass no matter what our hands destroy in the process. There is grace. There is mercy. There is love. And in our world where there is destructive pride driving our lifestyles, commercials telling us what we need, books and movies telling us there are no moral absolutes, Facebook rants about why Christians are so jaded, why are there so many unhappy faces? Why do I hear so much complaining? Where is the joy that comes from being blessed abundantly in America? I want to be an example of the joy that surpasses all understanding, I want to bring life to the people around me, I want my life to bring glory and honor to my Creator. And I want to be an example of who Jesus is and why I follow Him. And so I keep studying, sharing, and praying hard for the hearts and lives of my people.

(Chasing Grays)

Sift and save the moments

Treasures found within your days

Walk with great intention

Collecting goodness in the frays

A day is born in morning

God’s gifting in the rays

Light bursts forth with promise

Chasing darkness, chasing grays.

Thoughts on Genesis 16-21

9.28.15

I am struck by the entire story. One I have read many times before, cringed through the details, wading through the sins of others, evil unspeakable acts, and yet a beautiful story emerges. My heart is left raw and vulnerable. After 13 years of marriage I have no children and my marriage is hard. Difficult truths have emerged, my faith is being tested. After 42 years on this earth, I have sinned and walked in darkness many times, and yet a beautiful story emerges. In the barrenness of my moments I have been brought to my knees. I have gone to my Lord and I have been redeemed. The salvation gift came to me many years ago, but recently I have been freed from many things I did not realize were weighing me down. I have come to know grace deeper, mercy closer, faith stronger, and love greater. I know compassion and humility better, joy and forgiveness quicker, and Jesus is more real to me than ever. The key to this life hinges on prayer, which brings intimacy with God, which brings life. Beautiful, true, bright and shining life. I pray for the hearts seeking, the eyes looking, the ears listening for some glimmer of hope. Hope is here, hope is now… just like the song goes, it is. Jesus paid the price for our restoration and He is our hope. No matter what this life brings, there is an everlasting Happily Ever After.

(The Work of His Hand)

She wanders, heart empty, through libraries, books-

Seeking and searching, taste words found in nooks.

Another day lived, as her soul is struck thin,

Feels her way through, wondering where to begin.

Step back and you watch her, confusion and grin-

Your own life is halted, interruptions within.

Orderly patterns, the American way-

Keeps dreaming in check, plan your life, plan your day.

This creature before you, seems lost and confused,

Poor soul needs some coaching, some wisdom to use.

And you, so helpful, you’re way sets things right-

Strategy and planning mask conviction and might.

Glimpse life without judgment, expecting what’s real.

Leave room for your heart, glimpse wide without shield.

Step forth and approach an open new gate-

Move boldly in, to prepared fertile blessed fate.

Your God who created you, knew you’d be here-

Placed hazel eyed Jennifer where you would be near.

No plan you envisioned nor life had you planned

Could stop this unfolding, the work of His hand.

http://www.ifequip.com

Thoughts on Nehemiah 11:25-12:26

Names. Each of these names in the story are tiny glimpses of bigger stories. Here these names are listed in God’s story of rebuilding a city. I dig in a bit deeper and imagine walking through the new Jerusalem, seeing the faces of these named people, and I wonder. What would they be doing? What would they be saying? I can almost hear the buzz of conversations, the planning of how to make this new life work. The meeting of new neighbors. The uncertainty. The excitement.  And this is our life too. Each of us stepping into the world each day, living in our stories. Our own names are written into God’s story. Where does my name appear in the story? What is my impact in this life? My current prayer is that God would reveal His path of life to me. For so many years I barreled along, seeming to progress and move into a future I had imagined. Somewhere along the way, my dreams got left behind. My heart was broken when I smashed into reality. My story had been hijacked, and although my story contains pain and life felt stolen, I realized the hijacker was Jesus. I found that my path of life was not following God’s story line. I chose the wrong adventure. Waking into my new story has brought me hope. My role has been repurposed, rebuilt, redeemed, and renewed. The memories of the paths that brought me here are part of my current story, character building memories filled with lessons and also love. I have never walked alone. I have never walked without love. Its just that I lost my focus, and I made some wrong turns. God has used each of the places I have been to build in humility, compassion, and understanding all woven together with grace and love. And I am ready for today. I am trusting God for tomorrow and each new day He gives as I follow His story.

(Life That Lasts)

Sweetness lies in memories,

Trigger feelings, jolting life awake-

Bright spark, heart responds.

Looking back into life,

In moments, recently passed,

Or further back in time, you see.

Reflecting, thinking, smiling in jest.

Don’t dwell in weakness, chase joy.

Focus on goodness, and dim the rest.

Gather your treasures, and keep them close.

Treasures of light, and sometimes in darkness-

Glistening jewels need shadows, to gleam.

Beaming rays shine brightly, at night.

If you look, you will find your love.

It’s not too late to make new memories.

It’s not too late to dance, or sing out loud.

It’s not too late for love to blossom.

God will take your pieces, scattered along-

Strewn like chaos, like feathers in the wind.

And He will weave them, into beautiful

Living fabric, life giving life that lasts.

http://www.ifequip.com/3159

Healed Heart Gleams

What stirs in heart at depths it seems

The whole of quiet, nature beams

Take a look and longer gaze

At what you pass in hurried days

Find the rest, your soul that thirsts

Remember love, remember firsts

Once wild desire, taken for granted

Trace back and see what seeds you planted

The tree that grows needs time to flare

Slow down, stop running, reaching for air

Hold to that which firmly rooted

Anchors soul, press play, now muted

Let beauty’s music guide your heart

Hope revealed, seen now in part

Gather treasures growing where

Your passion planted life once bare

Remember promise sown with vision

God graced you with a worthy mission

Humble down and let love rise

Cherish treasures, choices wise

Cease in searching empty dreams

Once cold and broken, healed heart gleams.

Words and Photo by Jennifer JLS

1/23/15