What Hope Can Do (New Post at The Glorious Table)

Just a few months ago, my dear friend passed away after a relatively short illness. It has depleted my heart in ways I didn’t expect. I’ve felt loss before, but this ache is different, and although I hold the hands of others through pain, I didn’t expect to respond the way I have. The layers of emotions left to sort out are piled high, my soul is drained, and my body feels weak.

Sherry had the gift of hospitality, inviting everyone into her home and serving delicious meals with a side of laughter and honest conversation. She didn’t want a traditional memorial or what she referred to as “a big hullabaloo.” In lieu of a formal service, we hosted an open house to encourage friends to drop in to tell stories, comfort the family, and pay their respects. The family requested my help arranging the food. Her daughters and I pulled out beautiful serving trays from the closet, and my husband brewed pots of coffee to welcome her guests.

As I was standing in the middle of the kitchen halfway through the open house, Sherry’s niece Tiffany leaned over and said, “Jemelene, you need to breathe.”

Read the rest at The Glorious Table.

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How To Live Out Your Dreams Without Boundaries (New Post at The Glorious Table)

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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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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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