When Your Life Has Lost Color

Coffee cup and leaves

“Time is the brush of God, as he paints his masterpiece on the heart of humanity.”
~ R. Zacharias

Fall is a beautiful season and {I strongly believe} it should last in full color through November. But it doesn’t. Ever.

Just maybe, however,  it’s quick passage is meant to remind us that we also do “fade as leaf.” That time is very, very precious – and it’s beautiful offerings are to be carefully taken in as though our season is also very short.

How easily I forget this. Yesterday He graciously reminded me to Let. Him. In.
……to let Him into the innermost chamber of His temple and to let Him “search me and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts.” He reminded me to be There, in the Holiest of Holies, *with Him* unafraid, unashamed. 

His call was refreshment. His call brought color to what was beginning to feel –  even without me noticing – a dull black and white, a blur of sorts, instead of a slow thoughtful passage.

Let’s open our doors to Christ – just like we ‘take in” a beautiful scene in nature. Let’s *join Him* in the blessed process of His painting His masterpiece upon our hearts – as we sit at His feet, behold His glory, hear His words, and move at His call.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me.” ~ Rev. 3:20

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When You Feel A Bit Shabby

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This morning I was feeling ugly. This is not too uncommon for me because I have Bells Palsy. I have had it for 16 years, but now things are exacerbated with age. So today when a quote from The Velveteen Rabbit came across my path, I soaked it in like a welcomed beam of light……and immediately felt rooted and grounded.

I hope, friends, it does the same for you:

“‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Let’s remind ourselves today how long, and how far, and how deep the love of Christ comes after us. He is relentless in His care and will never let us go. He will love us, like a favorite, even when worn and falling apart. Now I can find a lot of beauty in that.🍁

Doorstep Wind-blown arrangement

Should I Feel More? (Mourning with Less)

“In the world you will have tribulation…” (1)

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I never questioned what love was until I sat looking out the window of our brown-shuttered house on 45th street, waiting for my dad’s white convertible to pull up in the driveway. I sat…..waiting, tracing the stitches in my blue, hard-covered suitcase as I looked out. This was not the first time. I had been there before, but this time I had doubts. I had questions.

Love, to my 10-year-old mind, was very simple up to that point because I felt I was living in it. I did not question its existence – kinda like when you are taking a walk in a beautiful valley. You don’t question what that valley is  because you are there. You are sensing it, feeling the breeze, touching the flora. My parents were divorced, yes, but my mom and grandparents always made sure I was surrounded and protected – I felt loved.

But, as I sat by the window that day, I was forced to back away from the feeling of being there by my dad.  That beautiful valley was becoming more like a distant view, colder and detached; because as I sat there by the “waiting window,”  the evening became night, and ever….. so…… slowly……..the…. time….. passed.

My dad never showed up –
again.

I expected him to. I expected him to be my daddy. Doesn’t every little girl?

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I always looked forward to spending time with my dad. He was charming in the eyes of others. He liked to bring me to the mall, hand me a $20 bill and send me off to buy something. He would take me to lunch (leave big tips) and sometimes take me to a movie.  But then there were the times in between when me and my 2 brothers would never see him, never hear from him. My brothers liked playing sports but he would rarely come to their games, instead, he had his own leagues.
We watched my mom struggle to provide shelter, food, and clothes for us. (We had all of those things but it was because she fought for us. She kept the valley breezes blowing in our home.) She did not receive her allotted child support and for a while, we were on welfare living in a 2 room shack sleeping in 2 double beds. SO after a while, I started to resent those $20 bills handed to me. I wanted my dad. I wanted him to give himself, his time. I wanted him to show interest in who I and my brothers were, and what we loved.  I wanted him to stop trying to appear like the nice guy to everyone else and to really be a nice dad. In time, that beautiful valley that I was distantly viewing with him, slowly became more like a postcard in my hands – nice to look at but far, far away and unreal.

My relationship with my dad continued to be of post-card quality as my years went on. I would hear from him every couple of months, sometimes every month – whenever it was convenient for him.  I would day-dream of him really taking interest in my life. He was present, but was more there in the bigger moments to hand out gifts. I did appreciate those things  – don’t get me wrong. I did. But I had always hoped we could talk – really talk. I wanted a daddy who really liked to be with me. I wanted to feel his strength and presence over my life. I wanted sound advice. I wanted to trust him.

When my husband and I had 2 beautiful children, I again caressed that postcard and wished for more of the “real”. I thought maybe they would be a catalyst to better our relationship – they were so wonderful after all, and here was the second chance he always told me he wished he had. He said he was sorry for his absence and would do it differently had he had the chance. Here was his chance.
So, I remember vividly when he broke the news to me (all while he expressed tremendous guilt) that he would be moving 4 states away to rural Ohio to live with his in-laws. Disappointed, I remember looking out yet another window – this time with no suitcase packed, no anticipation, no more waiting. Thoughts unraveled as I gazed out  into the wooded lot next to our family home – my stare blank, my mind full, the sound of my 2 children playing in the background. I held that post-card relationship in the hand of my mind wondering why this would be all there would ever be. I wondered about the unsettling feeling I had – the co-mingling of love and resentment in my broken heart.

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I recalled some things my mom told me about my dad’s growing up years. His parents, Mona and Daniel (a coal miner) had him when they were very old so by the time his teen years hit, his parents were in their mid 60’s. They were (described by my dad as loving each other and never fighting) described by my mom as distant, his mother very cold. Hence, my dad ended up very often on his own. For that young boy, I felt compassion – maybe he had never learned responsibility; maybe he had never learned how to love (have I?); maybe he learned how to survive for himself. I don’t know for sure – and I will never know.
But I did resolve to know this: my dad was broken, just like all of us. I resolved that we are all tangled up in some way because of this broken world – a world where the god (small g) makes messes of people lives.  He authored sin; he destroys relationships; he keeps the love of Jesus Christ veiled and re-defines it into something “other” –  something that looks similar but lacks real life. (2)
Love on this earth will always be imperfect in some way, and can never be defined or explained through another human being – in some way it will be distorted. Perfect love can only be found in its immutable Source.
For this, I say, “My soul wait only upon God for my expectation is from Him.” (3)
Not people.
Now this is the goal for which I clumsily reach…….

…..and when my eyes rest there, my expectation from others grows dim, my resentment leaves, and the true “definition” of love seeps into my pores.
I start to learn from Someone,
instead of trying to define love through someone else.

This alone has released any anger and has allowed me to forgive.
“He heals the broken in heart and binds up their wounds” (4)

 

But forgiveness does not make two people close. I have tried over the last 10 years of my relationship with my dad to still hope – but a certain distance was more comfortable for him
so, it became more comfortable for me.

I question that distance, especially now.
A few weeks ago my dad died and it is as though he is now at the “waiting window” of my heart watching for me to feel more.

Maybe I should feel more.
I feel like I should feel more.
I try to force myself into that postcard in order to produce some realness.

But it is just not there, so I ask for grace.

My dad asked for grace too. And I guess, that is what heaven is full of………he is there now not because of what he had to bring, nor what he could not bring, but simply and only because of the blood of Christ.

“For by grace are you saved through faith, and not of yourselves” (5)

In glory, my dad finally knows perfect love. He is with my late brother, Steve and he can now finally talk with my mom with an open heart. Fences are being mended and one day I will be there too and we will be a family again.

“….but take heart I have overcome the world.”

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Maybe in this broken world, the beautiful valley of 1 Corinthians 13 love is a piece of grace too — a gift we get to experience in fragments. Fragments that are precious to enjoy in those moments we have them.  But reality for now – is that we will not always BE there when it comes to our relationships  – and it is unfair to expect others to fill a place
only God can.
And He will.
IN the Person of Jesus.
He calls us to intimately learn of Him. (6)
He calls us to wait at the window of His meek and lowly heart with great expectation.
He calls for our souls to repose on His chest and with perfect freedom of soul unabashedly say,

Abba,
Daddy.

And in that place, we return to the freedom of a well-loved child. (7)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~How have you found healing for your own wounds? How have you dealt with a broken family? Leave a comment – I would love to hear your thoughts.

Extras:
1) John 16:33
2) 2 Corinthians 4:4
3) Psalm 62:5
4) Psalm 147:3
5) Ephesians 2:8,9
6) Matthew 11:29
7) John 8:36

 

That Still Small Voice

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”~ Seuss


IMG_5251      “For anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

I want to live with His light shining truth upon my circumstances.

But I often lay bare in my cowardly refusal – because of a fear of rejection and ridicule – to live from my true self, who is clothed in the resurrected Christ. I often choose that love of self (unto the forgetfulness of God) when I am faced with another person who is difficult to love. This is a tomb-like place to be. There I stand irritated, distant, unloving and ungracious – all of the things HE is teaching me that

HE is not.

I want to rise above.

But HOW?

I often ask that harder questions, and am never satisfied with cliches of truth like: “Trust the Lord”. Facts are facts, but standing alone they do not give life.     IMG_5247

 

 

The living answer is simple. He draws me to Himself, the Person, Who yearns for a heart relationship. A relationship that reaches deeply through those important facts that can simply fill the head.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life”

He desires that I see HIM so I can see all things through His eyes.
One way He helps me accomplish this is that He has made many “picture books” for His “little one” –  in creation and in scripture – so I can see and understand the deeper things of God.
I imagine myself crawling in His lap as He opens one of those books and begins to read it to me.
He shows me the sun:
Just as it is a simple fact that the sun rises, so is it a deeper truth that the sun gives life, movement, health, warmth, and a vast array of relationships. The sun brings the interconnected dance of life and without it all would be dead – a picture He created so we could see that…..IMG_5254

The Son being alive FOR US,  wants His presence to bring true life, healthy spiritual movement, kind warmth and rich inviting relationships. The facts leave the page and become the Person.
He makes our lives an artistic masterpiece, a dance of spiritual life.

Soak Him in.

“We are His poetry piece♥♥ created in Christ Jesus…”

With that picture in mind can I take you back in time to the morning when Jesus arose? Very early in the morning just after sunrise (no coincidence in that timing), along comes Mary. She talks to Him, not knowing with whom she is talking, and in sadness asks if He knew where the beloved body of Jesus lay. The grave was empty. She is distressed.
It is then He breathes with familiarity her name – which often she had heard before.

She knew that voice….
and collapsed in joy and victory into an embrace. Can you imagine being there at that moment?! Moreover, can you imagine being her?

Yet in a way, we are.
“Living in an awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves.”

I often think of Jesus saying my name.

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He says my name as I stand shackled to myself, events and people around me that are negative. He reminds me there is another way. He reminds me to become more and more familiar with His voice, with HIS promptings in my heart; so I too can RISE and collapse in Him with joy and victory; so I, and you, can have a vision of those same dark things through His light – and reflect that beauty outward. img_5256.jpg
My broken hallelujah: “Help thou my unbelief”

May you and I hear His “still small voice” call our names out of those places where we lay bare. The circumstance may remain, but we will KNOW WHO surrounds us, and we can REST IN HIS LIFE AND LIGHT.

We can live a resurrected life;
therefore, in His glorious name,

 

 RISE.

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“….that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and

what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,
according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ
when he raised him from the dead…”


Ephesians 5: 14; John 5:39,40; Ephesians 1:17-20
also see, Romans 8:11 and Acts 2:24

♥♥The word “workmanship” in Ephesians 2:10 is from the Greek word “Poiema”, meaning poem/God’s creative work – just as He created “the things that are made {Poiema}” in creation (Romans 1:20).

Through Another’s Lens ~ T.A. Sparks

Hubble snaps NGC 5189

Hubble snaps NGC 5189 (Photo credit: Hubble Space Telescope / ESA)

He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. Luke 24:45 

“As we contemplate the state of things in the world today, we are very deeply impressed and oppressed with the prevailing malady of spiritual blindness. It is the root malady of the time. We should not be far wrong if we said that most, if not all, of the troubles from which the world is suffering, are traceable to that root, namely, blindness. The masses are blind; there is no doubt about that. In a day which is supposed to be a day of unequaled enlightenment, the masses are blind…. The leaders are blind, blind leaders of the blind. But in a very large measure, the same is true of the Lord’s people. Speaking quite generally, Christians are today very blind.

Every bit of new seeing is a work from heaven. It is not something done fully once for all. It is possible for us to go on seeing and seeing, and yet more fully seeing, but with every fresh fragment of truth, this work, which is not in our power to do, has to be done. Spiritual Life is not only a miracle in its inception; it is a continuous miracle in this matter right on to the last…. We do not seek for new revelation, and we do not say or suggest or hint that you may have anything extra to the Word of God, but we do claim that there is a vast amount in the Word of God that we have never seen, which we may see. Surely everybody agrees with that: and it is just that – to see, and the more you see, really see, the more overwhelmed you feel about the whole thing, because you know that you have come to the borders of the land of far distances, lying far beyond a short lifetime’s power of experience. The Lord make us all to be of those wh o have eyes opened.”

Abba, Father, give us ears to hear every nuance of your voice. May we then feel every nudge to “go”and every press of grieving or conviction you give…..may we be channels of all that you are….alone.