An Invitation to the Impossible

From Mary’s first encounter with the angel to God incarnate making His long awaited appearance in a dusty stable; every page is streaked with improbability; woven with strands of wonder.

And for a brief moment, we suspend our disbelief and enter into a world far beyond the limits of our finite understanding, reveling in the glorious impossibility of God’s master plan.

For we, of course, have the advantage of knowing how it all turns out.

Of course He can do it!” we encourage Mary, who asks with utter astonishment how she could possibly carry the Messiah in her womb.

“Believe her!” we urge Joseph as he wrestles with doubt and disbelief at the momentous calling God has placed on his betrothed.

“It’s true!” we proclaim to the sleepy shepherds unable to believe the sight before them as the heavenly host fills the starry sky above.

“Hurry!” we cry to the wise men as they make their preparations to follow the star and begin their journey to meet the new King.

Oh it’s easy to believe the impossible when it’s someone else’s story, isn’t it. But what about when it’s ours?

As I sit at the dining room table coloring with my daughter, doing (another) load of laundry, or attending a work meeting, these wondrous events of so long ago seem a million miles away from my everyday, ordinary reality. There is no impossible here.

Or is there?

I’m pretty sure Mary was having a rather uneventful day when the angel appeared; Joseph too. The shepherds had turned up for just another day at work; the wise men had no travel plans on the agenda that morning.

And yet, God did the impossible anyway.

This advent season, I urge you put your faith in the God who breaks through the walls of our unbelief, our ordinariness, our unimportance, even our lack of faith; and makes miracles happen—perhaps when we least expect it…

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” Corrie ten Boom

The Unfolding Story

The stage is set. An unlikely cast of characters is waiting in the wings, and the world is preparing to gather once more, relishing the retelling of this familiar story.

It’s a story that has everything. Scandal, intrigue, jealousy, trust, surrender, new life, and of course, love.

And as we gaze in wonder at the grand finale—the newborn King lying in the grubby manger, the star twinkling brightly in the dark Bethlehem night, we smile as we close the book for another year. The story has been told, everything is as it should be, and we can all go about our business as before.

But the story doesn’t end there, does it?

The baby grows up.

A manger is exchanged for a cross.
A birth for a death.
An innocent paying a heavy price.

“It is finished,” He cried as He breathed His last. What horror! What tragedy! What disappointment to see His story end like…this.

But it still wasn’t finished, was it? The Author still had a plot twist to reveal; one last surprise up His sleeve.

An empty tomb
A resurrection
A risen King.

What love! What joy! What hope! Now we can close the book, surely. Now the credits can roll.

And yet this story is one that continues to unfold. The Author has not yet laid down His pen, and the baby in the manger continues to work in and through our lives—restoring and redeeming hearts and lives, saving souls. And one day He will return again for the final chapter as the greatest love story ever written reaches its dramatic conclusion.

And so, this advent season as you turn the pages to those well worn, well versed chapters and read once more of angels, shepherds, and kings, remember to keep reading—long after the decorations are back in their boxes for another year.

For God’s love story to the world is still unfolding. And you, my friend, are in the midst of it.

Waiting on the When

When?

This year for so many of us, it’s more of a burden than a question; a heavy weight we have carried as 2020 has marched relentlessly on. And yet here we are 9 months in and the answers are still no clearer than they were in the spring.

When will we see our family again?
When can we travel or gather together?
When will there be a vaccine?
When will life return to ‘normal’?

And the truth is, we simply don’t know.

We never did. Not in 2019 or any year before that.

We only thought we did because we had some semblance of control. Dates in calendars, plans scheduled months in advance, like trail markers of our own making leading us step by step down an unknown path.

The path is still unknown my friends, the only difference is, this year, there are no markers.

And so, many of us find our lives on pause, waiting for direction, for the markers to magically appear to guide our way once more.

It’s not a comfortable place to be.

Yet the irony is not lost on me that we are just now entering Advent—the season of waiting.

A broken and weary world waited once before for a Savior. It’s waiting again for His return. And right now, we’re somewhere in that messy middle. Longing for Him to restore all the hurt and pain and brokenness and despair that is our everyday, constant reality. Waiting for, hoping for, and anticipating the time He has promised will come; the ‘when’ we will one day see.

We may not know the exact timing but we can be sure that He does. For this is the God who said, “At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen” (Isaiah‬ ‭60:22‬, ‭NLT‬‬); the God who ordained a time for every season under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3); the God who calls us simply to wait on Him (Psalm 27:14).

This advent season, as we wait with hope and expectation for our Savior’s birth, let’s surrender those ‘whens’ to His care. Throw off the burdens, untie the chains that bind us, and trust an unknown future to the God who knows all things, who “is before all things and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

The whens will come. But first, let’s find joy in the nows.

Light that Transforms

It was a dreary November morning, the trail we were walking devoid of all color and life. The clouds formed a thick, seemingly impenetrable blanket of gray above us, casting a gloomy shadow over the already desolate landscape. We, like the exposed, skeletal trees lining the river, shivered against the chilly late autumn wind as we headed back toward home.

And then all at once the landscape changed. The sun, flooding through a crack in the heavy sky, danced and sparkled across the blackness of the water. Barrenness transformed to beauty; desolation to delight.

What a difference the light can make.

God has been using the imagery of light to speak to my heart in this somewhat desolate season— Light that penetrates the darkness and overcomes it; Light that guides us through unknown seasons and shadowy landscapes; Light that transforms, not only our lives, but those of the people around us—if we will only allow it to filter through the darkness.

“Once your life was full of sin’s darkness, but now you have the very light of our Lord shining through you because of your union with him. Your mission is to live as children flooded with his revelation-light! And the supernatural fruits of his light will be seen in you—goodness, righteousness, and truth” (Ephesians‬ ‭5:7-9‬, TPT‬‬).

When the desolation of our current season threatens to overwhelm, let’s allow the Light—Jesus Himself—to break through the gloom; dancing across the deepest shadows of our heart, transforming what was once barren—dead even—into glorious beauty and fruit. Fruit that can, in turn, be a lamp to those around us who may be lost and struggling in the dark.

“Light is not so much something that reveals, as it is itself the revelation.” James Turrell

No matter how gloomy, how desolate the landscape of your life today, friend, look for the Light—and experience its supernatural power to transform.

Wait for the Light

My daughter has a blanket over her head.

“I can’t see, mama,” she calls delightedly as she stumbles about giggling and banging off door frames. Yet this momentary darkness is all just a game; at any moment she can take the blanket off and see where she’s going.

But real life isn’t like that, is it?

This year in particular feels a lot like stumbling about in the dark. In fact, Isaiah could have been writing about 2020 when he wrote: “We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows (Isaiah 59:9, NIV).

It might sound a bit hyperbolic to some and yet for others the darkness of this season is tangible. We can’t make plans; we can’t move forward; we can’t see what’s ahead. We are treading water, waiting for direction, ever hopeful that things will change.‭‭ And if they don’t? Well, sometimes we get impatient and decide to forge our own way ahead anyway. And spoiler alert, it doesn’t often end well.

“Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God,” Isaiah says. “But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment” (Isaiah‬ ‭50:10-11‬, NIV‬‬).

When the road ahead is dark, our choice is clear: surrender or self.

We can choose to inch forward on the path unknown to us, relying on the Light of the World completely to guide our every step or we can rely on ourselves—and our own rudimentary light—blindly and hastily bushwhacking through the darkness to get to the closest thing we can find to a destination. Even if it’s not the one we truly want.

So though the trials of this unknown season can be hard to endure friends, let’s be women of faith today who choose to wait on the Light; trusting and relying on the God who promises to walk with us through the darkness.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Weight of the World

I’ve been listening to Deacon Blue’s melancholy “Weight of the World” on repeat lately. Whether or not you’re also partial to this iconic, been-around-forever Scottish band (and honestly why would you not be!), I think we can all agree the sentiment rings true.

The world is heavy right now—and most of us are struggling under its weight.

We are carrying the weight of a pandemic and how to thrive, or at least survive, in the midst of it. Drastic changes to home and work dynamic; separation from family; anxiety over safety measures, school decisions, and of course our own health and that of our loved ones. And then there are the other weights: the bitter, divided political landscape, a looming presidential election, racial and social injustice and unrest, fires, storms, murder hornets…

It’s all just too much. The weight of the world is just too much to carry—alone.

But we’re not alone, are we? We have Jesus—who offers to carry that weight on our behalf (Matthew 11:28-30). To come alongside us and exchange our unbearable yoke for His. One that is lighter, easier, and allows us to breathe a little once more. The weight is still there, of course, but it isn’t our burden to carry.

If we choose it.

And as we look everyday at the confusion and pain and anger and worry that circles around us, infusing our every thought and breath with its chaotic noise, we must remember the truth that this will not last forever. It is temporal. It will fade. And one day, we will exchange its weight—“this light momentary affliction… for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:17-18‬).

And what joy and hope that truth brings in these difficult times.

The world may be heavy indeed, friends, but take heart, Jesus has already overcome it (John 16:33). So let’s stop struggling with the unbearable, unrealistic weight we are attempting to carry and place it as His feet instead, as we look with hope and anticipation to the eternal glory which is to come

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Your Grace is Enough

The words blared out from the car radio as I ran a few errands around town. It may have been the VeggieTales version but don’t you think for a minute that God can’t speak through screechy, singing vegetables.

“Your grace is enough.
Your grace is enough.
Your grace is enough.
For me.”

Believe me when I tell you I believe this. My mind recognizes this as Truth. And yet, somewhere deep inside, doubt still lingers. Somewhere deep inside, a little voice whispers: “Are you sure?”

The last several months have been a monumental challenge for so many of us moms. Having children around 24/7 while trying to do, well almost anything, has been an uphill battle. We are worn out, stretched thin, doing our best to fight all the fires and do all the things. And as patience wears thin and balls get dropped one by one, our failings are overwhelmingly evident.

“I’m not a good mom.”
“I’m not on top of things.”
“I’m not able to do this”
“I’ve made so many mistakes.”
“I’ve let people down.”
“I’m not enough.”

Sound familiar? I’m sure you have your own that you could add to the mix too. But here’s the thing ladies, it doesn’t end here, in this negative thought spiral. There is a place that we can take these thoughts—and it’s right at the feet of Jesus.

He takes each one and instead of using them to condemn us, to berate us, to question our worth; He responds with grace. So. Much. Grace.

He knows we’re not perfect. He knows we’re not superhuman (even if we don’t). He knows because He created us and delighted over our wonderfully weak and imperfect selves. He knows and yet He still chose to go to the cross.

And so, we can stand on the promise that no matter how we’re feeling, no matter how we’re doing, or what we’ve already done, His grace IS enough. When we feel unworthy, ashamed, incapable, and insufficient—when we feel human—He will meet the need, He will stand in the gap for us, He will cover us with His grace.

You were never designed to do it all. In these crazy, overwhelming times sisters, give yourself the gift of grace. He already has.

But God said to him, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).E7FED1D4-8BAC-4EAB-A388-E25FED20D82F

A Call to Act

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“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.. I cannot bear your worthless assemblies…They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:13 -17, NIV).

Over the past few days, I’ve struggled to find the “right” words to say to the Church. Posts have been rewritten and subsequently deleted. Nothing has adequately reflected the state of my heart—until now. Honestly, if ever there was a passage in Scripture that tells us the church doesn’t always get it right, it’s this one, and now, more than ever, we need to hear it.

In case you missed it, God was downright disgusted with His people, unable to bear their meaningless, ingenuine religious offerings that simply did not marry with the actions of men with “blood on their hands.” What He truly wanted from them was this: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.”

It’s written there plainly in God’s Word, the one that was brandished like a weapon on live television as carnage raged and the voices of the oppressed cried out for change. And it’s message is as relevant today as it was then.

Let it to be our call to action once more, Church. Let’s stop sleeping and start seeking. To be defenders of those who face persecution of all kinds; to be powerful advocates for justice and mercy; to be the lights of the world that we are called to be, directing a broken, hurting world back to Him.

It takes humility to admit our mistakes, Church; to reflect on where we are and where we’ve gone wrong. To heal the hurt and repair the dividing walls between the very people we are called to minister to. But first we have to want to. We have to care enough to say “Enough!”

The question is, do we?

Black Lives Matter: What can I do?

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Black Lives Matter.

I’ve never articulated it before now, and honestly I’m not altogether sure why. It never affected me personally, I guess. It simply wasn’t on my radar. And for that I am deeply ashamed.

I’m ashamed that as a white woman, a mother, and a Christian, I was so woefully, inexcusably ignorant and unaware. That I saw what was unfolding all across the nation over and over again and still chose not to see. That I decided not to use my voice—with all its blatant white privilege—as a force for change in the face of inherent, obvious racism. In my silence, I was complicit—and I’m sorry.

As the mama of two little white girls, I have a weighty responsibility raising up and educating the next generation to be better, to avoid making the mistakes of this one. But first it starts with me.

Last night, at a protest in Flint, Michigan, the sheriff ordered his officers to put down their weapons and turned to the grieving, desperately hurting community before him:

“We are mad too! What can we do?”

Eight simple words that in that moment changed everything.

Eight simple words that broke down a wall and opened the door to a display of heartfelt solidarity and reconciliation between law enforcement and a community that needed to be heard.

Eight simple words that may not be anywhere close to an answer but at least it’s a start.

Thomas Jefferson said: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

It may have taken me far too long to get here—but today I stand here outraged. And I’m ready to ask the question: “What can I do?”

Are you?

Photo credit @lenikeiphotography_

 

Keep Being Tulips

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For most people, Mother’s Day was different this year.

Here in Albany, there may not have been the usual throngs of people in Washington park like every other year. The usually bustling paths were probably much quieter, the bandstands empty and silent. But though Tulip Fest may have gone virtual this year like so many other things, the tulips have not. Still they stand, stoic and tall, radiating their dazzling beauty and quiet strength—even if nobody is there to see it.

It’s a fitting analogy for moms too, don’t you think?

For no matter the chaos that may be raging all around, no matter how far from normal everyday life has become, moms are still standing, still momming—whether anyone is watching them or not.

Every day they show up. Wiping tear stained cheeks and kissing boo boos. Making lunches, and dinners, and allll the snacks in between. Schooling, working, playing, nursing; from dawn to dusk and all the hours in between they are juggling all of the things—with compassion, strength, and endless grace. Even though they’re tired, even though it’s so relentlessly hard.

So this post is for you. For all the strong, amazing, warrior women out there who never stop momming—even when things get tough. To the moms, grandmoms, aunts and honorary aunts, and all the maternal figures that have stepped in when and where it was needed. To the moms whose Mother’s Day didn’t live up to expectations, who didn’t get the recognition and fuss they deserved: Thank you—for everything. We see you. We appreciate you. And we love you.

Keep showing up. Keep standing. Keep being tulips. ❤️

A mother’s love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible” Marion C. Garretty.