Dark Days

25 02 2010

Some days are just hard. The darkness overtakes the sunlight. The worry creeps in. The fear squeezes a little tighter. The pain grows stronger. The loneliness seems more unbearable. Hard days. Dark days. We all struggle with them

Dark days make it hard to see God. His fingerprints fade against the swirls of anxiety and doubt painted on the canvas of our days. His hand is hard to trace, His voice difficult to hear, and His presence impossible to find.

Hard times require hope. God gives us three steps to help us reorient our hearts when they are spinning around because of the dizziness induced by dark days.

  ~ Trust My plan. God is still in control even when we struggle to see Him. He is working His purpose out in our lives. His plan still seeks to move us closer to His heart.

  ~ Remember My promises. God’s faithfulness is unchanging and immovable. We can rely on the promises He makes to us. He will not let one of His words fall to the ground in your life, no matter how low you feel.

  ~ Connect with My people. Dark days tend to find us hiding under the covers waiting for the storm to pass. God calls us into the warmth of His family. Others can help us carry our burdens, encourage and love us, and help us see His movement in our lives when we can’t see it for ourselves.

My Jesus Resolution today is to make a “dark day” action plan. I am going to renew my commitment to trusting His plan, especially on days when I don’t know what to do. I am going to make a list of His promises, and note how I can see Him working them out in my life. I am going to build my connections with His people, even when it would be easier to close the door and stay home. Dark days are a part of life. With Jesus, we can choose to move our hearts into the Son.

Defined by Jesus

24 02 2010

Walk through this list of names. What is the first word that comes to your mind when thinking about this person?

            Donald Trump

            Michael Jordan

            Julia Child

            Bill Gates

All of these people are defined by one thing. Donald Trump – money. Michael Jordan – basketball. Julia Child – cooking, Bill Gates – computers (and more money!) Their lives are, of course, complex, but they are known for one defining thing. There is one interest, one talent, one passion that centers their lives, making them recognizable in the world.

Look in the mirror. What defines you? If the people in your world had to sum your life’s focus and passion up in a word, what would it be? When people look at you, what do they see? What is the one thing they remember about you when they walk away?

Jesus. I want to be defined by Jesus. Too often my life is defined by the activity of the moment, my to-do list, the stuff that surrounds me, or the latest fad that catches my eye. Leaving a Jesus impression means having a Jesus focus. Being defined by Jesus means erasing all the other words, adjectives, and side notes that distract others from seeing Jesus in me.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be defined by Jesus. I will measure everything I do and say against the picture of Jesus I want others to see in me. I will be aware that some people I meet today will only get one opportunity to see Jesus in me. I will begin today to build a legacy that connects me to Jesus.

Mr. Masterpiece

22 02 2010

Our house is filled with superheroes and villains. All the big names lurk around corners, pop out in hallways, and show up on the screens in our home. Boys love to pretend they are superheroes. Using their special powers lets them run faster, feel taller, and be more invincible than they can in “real” life. They can fight the villains, destroy evil, and conquer the world all because of a cape.

My favorite superhero is Mr. Masterpiece. When he was little, my son had a blue superhero cape with shooting stars across the back. He loved to put it on, run around the house, and be the hero who saved the world. He didn’t want to be one of the popular heroes on TV. He decided he was Mr. Masterpiece. I don’t know where he came up with the name, but it was firmly fixed in his mind. I am Mr. Masterpiece. He put on his cape, dazzling us with his heroic muscles and might. With arms stretched out to help him fly, he would run up to me and announce, “I’m a masterpiece, Mom!” All I could do was smile and say, “Yes, you are a masterpiece.”

You are a masterpiece. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10. You are God’s workmanship – His work of art, His poetry, the masterpiece of His artistry. That is what this verse means. You are more valuable than famous paintings in museums, or priceless works of art that hang on gallery walls. You are God’s masterpiece.

My Jesus Resolution today is to recognize the masterpiece in everyone I meet today. I want to see the masterpiece looking back at me in the mirror. I want to cherish the artistry that fills the hearts of those I love. I want to see the value of God’s handiwork painted on the souls of others. I want to hear the poetry of His love written into our hearts. Be a Masterpiece today. With God on your side, you don’t even need a cape.

Paper Hearts

19 02 2010

They are all over the floor. I have been picking up little slips of paper for a week now. Every time I turn around, I see another one floating to the ground. They are folded up in my socks, falling out of my books, and hiding in my shoes. I even found one attached to my computer mouse! Even though I have been picking them up for days, each one still surprises me. Little notes tucked in my world, each one written to remind me that I am loved.

My husband, Ken, is the mastermind behind the avalanche of paper hearts. They aren’t really heart-shaped, but that is what I see. His heart on little slips of paper. He learned to do that by watching God.

God sends me paper hearts every day. Sometimes they come wrapped in the hug of a friend, or on the melody of a song. One day it is a flower in full bloom. Another in the answer to a prayer. Little reminders of His love are tucked in the folds of my day. Each one provides a word of encouragement, a reminder of whose I am, a special moment of joy, or a call to be still and seek His face. Even though I have been picking them up for a long time, they still surprise me. I never know when I am going to find a reminder that He is thinking about me.

My Jesus Resolution today is to tell someone about my paper hearts. Show them the way God reveals His love for me. Talk about how each one helps me anticipate seeing His face. Maybe point out the paper hearts scattered around their floor. Look for a paper heart today. Let me know what you find.

I’m Opening Mine

17 02 2010

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11a

This is a day made especially for soaking in the beauty of God! Take a look around and notice all the ways that His splendor fills the earth. Each one is a chance to stop and notice the presence of God. Pause in praise today. Sit still in silence. Walk in wonder. Kneel knowing that God wants to pass by you today.

Use today to reflect on the extraordinary gifts that He gives each one of us. With each blessing and opportunity that God places in our lives, we are also given a choice. Will we open the gift and take a step of faith, or keep it safe in the box and never experience the power of God at work in our lives? It always seems so much more logical, reasonable, and realistic to stay in our comfort zones. Faith, by its very definition, trusts God to do things in us and through us that we could never even imagine. Where in your life is He calling you to trust Him? What step of faith will bring you closer to His side?

My Jesus Resolution today challenges me to open all the gifts God sends my way today. I am going to pay attention, noticing how each one calls me to move deeper into His heart. I want to step out on faith – trusting, depending, and relying on His great love for me. Faith is an adventure. His presence is a gift. I’m opening mine. How about you?

Romancing the Soul

15 02 2010

Valentine’s Day may be over, but the romance is still going strong. God doesn’t limit the expressions of His love to just one day a year. He romances our souls every day. He whispers to our hearts, tries to catch our eye, and fills our days with promises of walking in relationship with Him.

God is crazy about you. His love for you stretches deeper than the ocean, higher than the stars, wider than the horizon, and is stronger than you can imagine. He leaves love notes everywhere, just hoping you will notice His loving kindness. He sings to you on the breeze, fills the world with flowers, lights up the moon, and creates perfect sunsets just so you can spend time together.

The record of His romance with your heart covers the pages of your Bible –

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” – Hosea 2:14

“He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”   – Zephaniah 3:17

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”  – Jeremiah 31:3

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.” – Hosea 2:19

“…as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” 

– Isaiah 62:5b

“Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy;…” 

– Isaiah 60:5a

My Jesus Resolution today is to let myself be romanced. I want to be swept away by His love. I want to be overwhelmed by the delight He has in me. I want to make space in my heart for the relationship He wants to share with me. Every day is an “I love you” day with God.

Be Mine

12 02 2010

It is almost Valentine’s Day. Flowers are everywhere. Hearts are around every corner. Pink and red dominate certain aisles in the stores. It is a day invented to celebrate love. While we can argue about over-commercialization and unrealistic expectations, the idea of being purposeful about sharing our love is a good one. How many times do we let the moment pass? How often do we fail to express our appreciation to someone for being a part of our lives? Take some time today to think about love. Make a list of the people who have touched your life for good. The people who bring a smile to your face. The people who are there for you when things are hard. The people whom you love that make life lovely. Then say it out loud. Write it in an email. Cut out little construction paper hearts. Bake a cookie. It isn’t the form of the expression that matters. What matters is that you tell them what a difference they make in your life.

God does it every day. The sun that is shining this morning – that is God. The flowers that are starting to bloom – that is God. The warm hug, the answered prayer, the clothes we wear – all love notes from God. He never misses an opportunity to paint His love across our lives. He loves to tell you how important you are to Him. He delights in you being in the center of His heart. Every day is filled with love notes from God. Each one is a valentine that says Be Mine.

My Jesus Resolution today will be to celebrate the love God pours into my life. Valentine’s Day may only come once a year, but God proclaims His love to me every day.