Do You Need a Fresh Start?

I’m not really what you would call a “morning person”. It’s not natural to me to be fully awake at the crack of dawn, springing out of bed as I summon delightful rays of sun into the windows of my home.

The more accurate picture is of me sitting in bed drinking coffee in the darkness. At that time I’m only summoning my eyelids to stay open long enough for the rest of me to wake up.

A year and a half ago I became drawn to watching the sun rise.

It was the morning after celebrating our 25th anniversary. My husband Russ and I couldn’t sleep. We had renewed our vows in front of our dearest people and couldn’t settle down.

We sat in in front of a window, bundled with blankets as we watched the sun peek over the mountains. I had just fallen in love with my husband again so I guess it was the perfect time to fall in love with the sunrise too.

Maybe I’m enamored because every one is different or that the singing birds are the most beautiful soundtrack of the day. Sometimes I realize that it’s a quiet, gentle start to something new as if I’m being reminded that every day is a great day to start fresh.

The sky often reminds me that it can wipe away whatever the day before has brought.

This morning as the blackened sky has given way to a blueish light I find myself quieted and grateful.

I’m grateful to live in such a beautiful valley where the sun illuminates the trees on most days and the rain makes everything fresh on the others.

Do you need a fresh start today? Find something you take for granted and give it another look. Maybe you’ve already seen a thousand sunrises but forgotten the beauty of a new day.

Whatever you’re going through, where ever you’ve been, can I encourage you this morning to slow down and take another look. You might find that there has been beauty there all along.

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Finding Beauty in the Being (New Post at The Glorious Table)

Christmas. Just the word evokes images of experiences, both unique to our hearts and common to those around us. Trimming trees, baking, shopping, and decorating fill the lists of activities we engage in to make Christmas “feel like Christmas.” The phrase “It just isn’t Christmas without __________ (fill in the blank)” sets us all up for disappointment on those days when real life finds its way into our celebrations.

Read the rest here at The Glorious Table.

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Knowing whether or not your opinions are invited to the party

As my husband and I take our morning walks, our feet shuffle through piles of leaves throughout the neighborhood. We find ourselves admiring homes and giving input on what we’d do differently. We speak of the “what ifs” and the “let’s just not ever do that.”

Because we’ve owned and remolded numerous homes, we have definite opinions on what we think works and what doesn’t.

We use it to share our own ideas with each other. It helps to know what the other one likes when it comes to rearranging our own home. It keeps us on the same page and even helps ponder ideas we haven’t thought of before. I love getting his perspective and he welcomes mine too.

Although we’re quite frank with each other, there is one thing we wouldn’t dream of doing – it wouldn’t even occur to us to tell someone how they should change their house.

We wouldn’t comment on the color or shape or style because we hold a differing opinion. You won’t find us knocking on the door unless the house is on fire or being threatened in some way. If there was true danger, we’d bang down the door to help them find safety. We certainly wouldn’t run next door to tell the neighbors first.

Here’s the issue as I see it: Social media seems to have turned it all upside down. Messages meant to knock down doors, freely sharing opinions regarding taste and style.

On the other hand, cryptic posts warning others of danger are posted for everyone to see. The messages are so obvious that if we were all sitting in the same room our gaze would fall on that one person we know it was meant to touch.

Having an opinion isn’t the issue. Like my mom always said, “Opinions are like noses, everyone has one.” The issue is when we mistake opinions for fact. When we really believe that our way to do something is the only way. We become guilty of methodolatry.

Methodolatry: The act of idolizing “how” we do things rather than focusing on the why. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own methods of achieving any number of things in our life from faith to politics to child rearing.

We narrow down our choices in areas that may be important, but how to achieve them isn’t. In other words, just because my life doesn’t look like yours on the outside doesn’t mean I don’t care about the same things you do.

You can’t understand what is going on inside someone’s life or house just by walking by. The ones that appear beautiful on the outside may be cluttered or full of darkness.

There may be turmoil in the lives of those who dwell there. The same can be said for the homes that seem outdated or in need of repair. There may be warmth or joy inside.

Unless we’re invited in, speculation is all we’re left with and judgments based on speculation can only be unfair, unkind and unwise.

Let’s do ourselves a favor, when choosing what we weigh in on, let’s consider the importance of relationship.

If we lead with kindness and friendship, we’ll have a much better chance of being invited in in the first place.

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Everything Has a Season

The last leaves are still holding on for dear life. They refuse to see the change of the seasons for what it is. Their refusal to let go does not stop fall or the biting cold air from coming.

It still comes.

The frost will still lay down in the sheets of white to mimic what is to come.

The leaf still clings to the dormant tree though no life is flowing through its branches. Food can’t flow to the veins so to sustain life.

Still, it holds on.

How often do we allow ourselves to remain attached to a seemingly dead tree, long after food has stopped flowing from its branches. Fearing the death of the tree we remain in a place we aren’t meant to be.

The tree isn’t dying.

The tree is adjusting to the changing season. The leaves must let go. When the seasons change we must let go to allow for a time of resting.

The Cross of Christ speaks of a “dying off”  so a new season and a new life can emerge.

This season is full of changes for our family. A bitter wind is blowing as we find those things that require letting go. We must loosen our grip to move into the next season with grace and peace as our strength.

I’m leaning on a verse we have quoted through the hardest times of our lives. It’s been our “moving forward” verse. For now it will be our letting go words too.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

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In the Midst of the Storm

A rainbow followed me this morning.

There wasn’t even a hint of rain in my path as my glance fell across the mountains. I took in the promise painted with gentle strokes across the cloud spattered sky.

It was a quiet proclamation.

I AM here in the questions.
I AM here in the midst of your pain.
I AM here amidst the chaos.
I AM in the redemption of these very dark days.
I AM keeping you from being destroyed.

There is no explanation for the peace I’m walking in on this day. Maybe that’s the beauty of peace, it doesn’t have to be understood, just experienced.

The list of turns my life has taken in the past 40 days is mind boggling. Each change – heavy in its own right – has taken a toll. Even then, the Holy Spirit whispers a calmness into my soul.

Gale force winds beat against our frail emotions in the midst of our storms. It’s easy to become frail and weary. Like a tree, our root system is forced to strengthen as we dig deeper into the source. I am reminded that the dirt is not only a foundation to hold me steady but water is bound there too.

Just like Noah, not every change is unwelcome. In the midst of the storm that tore down and destroyed so much, he was kept safe in the tossing.

When the ark finally landed on the mountain, the family stepped into new beginnings with a promise.

The dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, brought a symbol of peace. An olive branch, proof of life after the devastating storms.

Today the rainbow isn’t only a promise, it’s the hope that newness of life is already rooted in the freshly turned soil. The snippet of green growth lies just beneath the surface of the flood waters.

Soon I will step out into receding waters to taste the fruit seeded in the promise. Until then, I’ll rest in knowing that I am cared for and safe and comforted in the midst of the storm.

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