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Archive for the ‘WONDER’ Category

It’s risky … trying to be real, telling the truth, showing weakness, being vulnerable … not saying “fine” to most asked question (how are you?).

And, let’s face it … we cannot be that real, that risky, with just anyone. For not all souls are comfortable, ready to hear and see and feel for themselves, the truth within another.

Last week I agonized about sharing a realty for me. Would it be

too much?
too whiny?
too downcast?
too … real?

I agonized to the point of praying about it for a significant amount of time.

But, in the end I kept coming back to the same small voice in my head,

if it is something you struggle with, Carole,
maybe there is someone out there with the same struggle
and …
to know we are not alone can be the most encouraging message to hear.

So, with an ample amount of chagrin, I wrote and posted Cry Me an Atmospheric River.

And the pms and dms and emails began to pour in …

messages of encouragement, understanding, but also of common experience with the dark days of winter. Some stated they didn’t share the same winter blues, but that they were praying. Another asked my mailing address and then proceeded to mail to me a lovely note that brought me to tears.

It reminded me that I am so blessed by the women who I call friends. It reminded me to that it is the simple, easy and inexpensive efforts that mean the most. That I need to remember to send messages that simply say, thinking of you, for, doesn’t it just send a shockwave of joy through our souls to know that we are being thought of? prayed for? appreciated? that someone cared enough to take the five minutes (tops) to send us a reminder that

we. are. not. alone.

May we support each other, holding each other up as we sag under the weight of life’s gravity. May we be the hands and feet of God himself, in watching over each other.

I wish for my children
friends like the ones I’ve collected:
flawed and forgiving,
braced for laughter,
good huggers
whose words roll like water
to the places in me
I didn’t even know
were dry.

Samantha Reynolds

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As I listened to a reading of a text on Sunday, I was startled with a new realization.

If you are one who has reads the Bible you know, like me, that there will be epiphany moments like this one. Moments when a familiar text will suddenly pop with understanding, meaning and perspective that you have never understood before.

That was the case when John 2:1-12 was read.

This text is John’s telling of the miracle of water being turned into wine. It is the first recorded miracle that Jesus performed, so it is often looked at, studied in depth … for we humans know that firsts and lasts hold great value and meaning.

So, there is this wedding that is attended by Jesus, his disciples and Mary his mother. The wedding celebrations are going on for days as this is a middle eastern wedding.

At some point Mary comes to Jesus, alerting him to the fact that the wine had run out. Jesus responds as one might expect any son to his mother … “so, why are you telling me this?” But then he continues, and I love how the Contemporary English Version puts it,

Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn’t yet come! You must not tell me what to do.” (v.4)

I don’t know about any of you who are also mothers, but I can almost hear an eye roll in that response!

Then, without any further interaction between mother and son, Mary just makes a decision in her next words …

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

She didn’t wait for her son to give in, didn’t wait for him to take the first step.

In my minds eye, when I read this passage, I see her standing beside her son, bending down to his ear, letting him in on the news of the wine being used up. As he speaks to her, telling her that she musn’t tell him what to do … I see her stand, walking directly to servants, who were standing on the periphery of the room. As she reaches them, she looks directly into their eyes, with the force and confidence that might normally be unseen in such patriarchal society, by a woman, a guest …

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

And so they do. And so Jesus instructs them on the making of a miraculous recipe for the best of wine.

Do whatever he tells you

These are the last recorded words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Word of God. Though we know she is present at numerous other events written in the Gospels, not once, not even at the cross, do we read her words.

These words, spoken to servants at a wedding … they are the big idea, her main message … to US.

She is telling us, today, wherever we may live, Do whatever he tells you and …

he will do miracles

he will turn ordinary into extraordinary

he will create the best things ever made

he will use you to do his will

This is her message, to us, today. It is not just a message at a middle eastern wedding many years ago. For, if it were, I am not sure that her words would have been recorded. No, they are there, within the Word of God because the message still has relevance today. These words still speak … to us.

So, today, as we go about our servant work, as we go about the mundane in our life and living, remember Mary’s message to you (and me),

do whatever he tells you

and await the miracles.

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“Relying on God
has to begin all over again
every day
as if nothing had yet been done.”
-CS Lewis

The saving grace that God offers and gives is once for all. Once we open the door to his presence in our lives, He is present.

Yet within that irrevocable oneness is a human challenge … to awaken each day as if it were the first day of our saving, our redemption. To awaken fresh, not carrying the baggage of the night before, but awakening to newness … as my hero Anne Shirley has said, “a new day, with no mistakes in it yet.”

For, if we perpetually take the sins, the wrongs, the heaviness of one day into the next, it is as if we are rejecting the freedom, the redemption that has been bought and offered to us. It is as if we are not trusting him in his most gracious gift to us.

Right now, this very moment,

exhale yesterday

inhale today

exhale

  • the sins
  • the worries
  • the massive missteps
  • the tears
  • the yelling
  • the silence
  • the anger
  • the resentment
  • the guilt

of yesterday, and yesterday’s yesterday.

inhale

  • Him
  • His love
  • His forgiveness
  • His goodness
  • His persistence
  • His pursuit of your soul
  • His goodness
  • His grace

that is today. Start right here, today, with Him … let Him be enough, be so enough that we do not need the past, yesterday. Depend on Him.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

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Until a few months ago, I had never heard of an atmospheric river. Apparently it is a narrow stream of a huge amount of water that travels through the sky … basically a river in the sky.

In my neck of the woods, such a river ran through my week and it brought with it the seasonal blues of the bleak winter season.

After more than a generation of life in the Pacific NorthWET, one would think that I would expect it, be prepared for it. And I am. I have had my ‘happy lamp’ plugged in and sitting on the floor by my desk since early December in anticipation of this annual crash … but have I turned in on yet?

As every year in January, every dark season, I simply awaken one morning and know that it is here, that the fight for joy is on. It is not the season to ‘keep calm and carry on’, but to

  • feel the heaviness, acknowledging it is real
  • tell those closest to you (for support and so they don’t feel they are to blame)
  • consciously put what believe into practice
  • repeat the promises
  • remember God’s presence
  • pray without ceasing … like all day, everyday

For those who might need it, take a sick day from work … sick isn’t just a fever. Health is much broader than that. Do something that makes you feel good … buy a new book, get your hair done, book a massage, go for a walk, pick up your favorite bevy, run a bubble bath, pick up your paints … do something that externally brings you joy … the internal will come!

For those who need them, here are a few verses, promises I go to (in my mind and out loud, ALL DAY LONG):

I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

“Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord” Psalm 27:14

As the dark day was coming to a close, the atmospheric river dried up, the clouds parted as the setting sun peeked out, bringing light and colors across the sky in a most glorious display.

Though the dark, seasonal cloud still settled over my being, this display of light brought the hope I’d been whispering through the Word all day long. Though these inner atmospheric rivers will continue to rain down on me for days and weeks to come, I was reminded that joy is not the absence of trouble, but real joy is found in the midst of it. That is the promise, that is the difference when walking in the dark with the light of the world.

You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
  but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.

Psalm 139:5-12

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The great Greek storyteller, Aesop, has said,

“united we stand, divided we fall.”

Wise, if not simple words. Words that seem to echo in our ears and minds a bit more during this season as this current history is being written, lived. For, has it not felt like division has taken over is so many facets of our lives, from within society as a whole, to workplaces, to schools, to churches and within our family units as well?

The pandemic of the past two past years has interfered with our normal lives, hindering our travel, our social, recreational, educational, business lives, leaving the lonely even more alone, but also leaving families and loved ones to grieve separation … even separation that goes beyond walls and right to the grave.

Beyond the restrictions and vaccinations and documentations …

Beyond the illness, threats to illness and death …

Beyond the physical separation …

Beyond even loss of physical life …

division

has had a profoundly negative effect on us all these two years …

and it has spilled into every people group of society, from families, to work places, to circles of believers and into our churches.

Of division, the Bible does speak, but what it speaks more often of is unity, with an an emphasis on unity as believers.

It would seem that there is only one unity that matters, only one common thread that is woven into the lives of believers … and it has nothing to do with what many of us are speaking most often about these days …

that of our unity in Christ

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 1:10

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:1-5

These passages speak of unity in Christ.

So, here is a question for you, for me …

what do we spend our time with other believers speaking about?

Do we spend the majority of our time speaking about what is going on in the world of or do we spend our time speaking of what Christ is doing in our world?

Do we speak of what we have heard on the news, or what we have read in the Word?

Do we discuss those who are, or are not vaccinated … or do we unite in prayer for those who need the inoculation of the Spirit of God in their lives?

We, who are Christ-followers, have the Good News, the best news that world needs to hear. It is news that can heal, soothe, strengthen. It is news that we are commissioned to share with the weary world. News that changes lives.

The world will see Christ in us, how we live and talk, how we spend our money and in what we post on social media. It, they, will see Christ in how unified we are, as believers, in the things that matter … the matters of the soul.

May we, in these unprecedented times, not allow ourselves to lose each other over the things of earth, when we have been given the One who brought us the best news of all.

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I love to look at the stats of what people are reading here at itsawonderfilledlife.

Recently, I have noticed that a post from March of 2020, titled Whatever … has been read frequently over the Christmas season and especially surrounding the new year. It has nothing to do with either, yet, I just had to go back and re-read my words.

The post is about what we think, where we spend our thinking and is focused on Philippians 4:8-9:

” … brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

hum … maybe this post had more to do with a new year than I had realized.

What was fascinating to me is that I had, personally, been working on controlling my thoughts, changing my focus when my thoughts begin to spiral into fearful ‘what if’ scenarios.

Switching from what if to this, whatever focus of thinking is really good for me.

whatever is :

  • lovely
  • true
  • noble
  • right
  • pure
  • lovely
  • admirable
  • excellent
  • praiseworthy

These nine words of focus are fantastic and I could see how they could be life-changing. But … they are not the end.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.

whatever:

  • learned from me
  • received from me
  • heard from me
  • seen in me

… put it into practice.

“DO IT, like I do it” – Jesus

It is the biblical reality of WWJD (what would Jesus do?), except it is WDJD (what did Jesus do?).

The way Jesus lived, his character, choices, words and prayers … they are our Nike-like slogan for Just Do It … like Jesus did.

He should be our focus … when he isn’t … I am finding that it is then that my focus is blurry.

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Though the new year is days past and many are returning to the regular things of life, my mind has been spinning about an idea I heard.

The thing is, I heard it more than once, from more than one source. The only thing that connects all the sources of this idea is that they were human souls … not lifestyle, not age, not financial wealth (or lack thereof) in common … just a heartbeat …

but … maybe that is because this idea is … primitive, coming from a common human need …

hope.

I think that maybe, in our human rush to pack Christmas away (even before it has ended) we often pack the hope that advent whispered to us in early December. As though it is not in season at any other time.

Yet, hope is always a hot commodity. It is always sought for. Always, always, always, needed.

Because, when the joys of the season pass, when the minimalistic decor that is all the trend leaves us feeling cleaned up of … everything,

we still need hope,

heaps and heaps of

the encouragement, the confidence, the acceptance,

the giggle in our bellies,

the spark in someone’s eyes,

the dream that feels like reality when we awake.

When we awake and feel …

a. l. i. v. e.

unlike ever before.

The feeling, the knowing,

that our every breath is good, and planned and meaningful.

The hope that it gets

better,

but, more than that,

that. we. are. not. alone.

So …

get a jar from your cupboard,

get a bowl from the thrift store, the department store, the designer home store,

and start writing your own news.

This year, start the with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen, throughout the year. Then, on New Years Eve, 2022, empty it and see what amazing, memorable, joyful, loving things happened this year. I think we might have a New Years filled with good memories and real hope for the future.

you in?

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What I didn’t know a year ago …

The events and happenings and changes that I simply could not have imagined a year ago today.

I think I had thought, in the past, that walking into a new year is like having the double doors open to a large room, but, as I look at this year and all that I could not have imagined, I think it might be more like having hiked up a mountain (a generous description of 2021), only to stand at the precipice unable to see the bottom.

I look at the events of this past year in our own lives and how much we were unaware of, one year ago.

We moved … not just house but whole community. We experienced changes in employment, health, finances, relationships. Things we could not have seen from the high point of a New Years Day. Things that might have had us wondering about leaping into that new year.

I bet I am not alone in this.

There was a moment a couple of months ago, when something unexpected happened. I think if it had happened on January 1, 2021 it might have crushed me/us. But, we had experienced years of surprises (good and bad) and we had to relearn to put our trust in God alone.

So,

when this unexpected surprise was placed in our laps,

my first reaction was

to shrug my shoulders,

to lift my eyes up,

and speak,

out loud,

ok God,

so what are you gonna do with that?

And I realized something … I realized something important, something new … I didn’t let the problem land on my shoulders, not even for a moment … for I knew that God has a plan and He already has a solution. And, even if His solution were to cause discomfort, pain … He won’t leave us alone, but will be with us every step of the way.

The surprises of the last years, the moments of standing at the cliffs, wondering how far we will fall (and how intense the injuries that would be sustained) they have taught me … God has a plan, He is in control, we must rely on Him. That his mercies are new every morning. That He will not abandon us.

And so, as we sit down and look at this clean sheet of a new year …

As we plan and dream and set goals …

May our first goal be to awaken each day, with a fresh commitment to reliance on God.

So that, when the tough stuff happens (and … it will people), we already have the muscle memory to give it straight back to Him.

” … his mercies begin afresh each morning.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
    to those who search for him.”

Lamentations 3:23-25

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I sit here, in these early morning hours. I am in the middle. The middle of the sofa, in the middle of the week between Christmas and New Years. My middle is aching for it’s had too much of everything rich, and sugary … too much. I awake each morning, unaware of what day it is, for routine and normalcy have gone out the window.

That which I was eager to flee, just days ago, I am now eager to return to.

I sit and soak in the glow of the room. Lights that have been piercing the darkness for weeks now … on at 5:45am, off at 8, then back on at 3:30pm and off again at 11. I soak them in this morning, because they will come down today … it is my first act, each year, in reclaiming normal.

But, this moment, this quiet moment I bask in the glow of the Christmas lights. I hear the songs of the season singing in my memory,

O Little Town of Bethlehem, The First Noel, Away in a Manger, Silent Night …

The songs of the season, songs that reside in my heart, in my soul, for they are the songs of hope that have brought me back to this light that pierces the darkness … not just in this holly, jolly season, but throughout the year … not just in my neck of earthly woods, but all over the world … not just for those of us with a tree, and lights, and walls, and food, but in the dankest, the darkest corners of our cities and villages, warming those who feel the cold not just in their hearts, but in their toes.

Songs of hope … the light of world, the light who shines in the darkness … and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).

I ponder this …

This babe who came, humbly, in humble circumstances, who came not to twist our arms, but to untwist the mess we humans have made of the plan … God’s plan, for us. He is the light, the only light, the only one ever born of a woman, who the darkness could not overcome. He is light incarnate. The light in human form … that does not go out!

As the tree gets untrimmed later today, as I unplug my lights from their timer and box it all away for another year, I have certainty that the light of Christmas does not go out, that the darkness cannot overcome it.

For the light of Christmas continues to glow, in the dark places of our world, in the dark places of our hearts and souls, should we open the door for Him to illumine us.

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2015/01/img_1811.png

  • I wrote this post a few years back and it is probably one of my own favorite posts. I, personally, come back to it at least once a year. It is mainly because the image (I have yet to find who to credit) grabbed my attention and the connections between Eve (the first woman) and Mary (the first mother) began to connect in my mind and heart. I hope that you, too, can appreciate the story told in that beautiful picture of two women, used so by God, to tell his story of eternal hope and redemption.

The image, above, tells the story of the Fall of humanity, Christmas and Easter in such a way that I am simply captivated.

Eve and Mary are characters essential to understanding the entrance of sin into the human condition, the coming of the Messiah and the redemption the world.

Eve, the mother of creation, the woman through whom God spread the seed of humankind, the taster of the fruit from the forbidden tree.

Mary, the young virgin mother of the Messiah. Through her was birthed the saving grace that would erase the the aftertaste of the fruit of the forbidden tree, forever.

They both said yes …

Eve (Genesis 3:6) was offered fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and she took it, because it looked good, and because she desired what God had, wisdom. She was the only woman.

Mary was not offered the opportunity to accept or reject her virgin conception through the Holy Spirit, for she was chosen (“you are chosen from among many women” v.28) yet she did accept it and, with that acceptance, whatever it meant for her life (“I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have said” v.38).

They both shared their tasks with their significant other …

It is interesting to me that it was not until Adam also ate of the fruit that “then the eyes of both of them were opened” (v.7).

Again a significant other was part of Mary’s story, as Joseph also had a job to do in the story, “and you are to give him the name Jesus” Matthew 1:21.

They both shared with all humanity …

Sadly, Eve’s desire for that lovely-looking fruit that would give her wisdom, only led to the fall of herself, and all who came after her. The seed of sin that she ingested, through the disobedience of she and Adam, has been birthed in every human since, except …

Jesus. All man, all God, the seed of Salvation of all humanity, birthed into life from the womb of Mary. The seed she carried was the only cure for the genetic predisposition to sin that we all are born with.

They both shared in the gift of life …

“Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20). Though she symbolized the beginnings of human life, she was also a vessel through whom death entered our human experience.

Mary was a vessel as well, and through her son, life eternal was redeemed. She has been called the Ark (vessel) of the New Covenant, for she carried, not the law, but the fulfillment of it.

They shared the serpent …

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). For Eve, the serpent was a tempter, whose lies led her to destruction.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Though the serpent has been biting at our human heels for all time, the fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus, came to crush it’s head and death itself … “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22

They shared maternal heartache …

Eve suffered the heartache of the murder of her one son, at the hands of the other (in a sense, her own sin led his death).

Mary suffered the heartache of the murder of her son, by those he came to save (in a sense, her own obedience led to his death).

They shared something with each other that is shared with us all …

If Eve felt the heavy weight of the sin of the world, it is the weight in Mary’s womb that took it away. In this they, and we are redeemed people.

Merry Christmas to all!

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