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conviction

In lieu of words from me, today I am bowing to words of another.

And all I am going to share is the comment I left on her post:

“This was my favorite post of the year! You documented the process from the start in such a way that it is undeniable that you were experiencing a very personal and spiritual conviction. Thanks for sharing your transformation.”

Enjoy the thought-provoking words of author, speaker, momma, wife and Jesus-feminist ;), Sarah Bessey, and her personal story of being convicted that God wanted her to do something, So I Quit Drinking.

 

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This Christmas season, writing this blog has been more challenging. So, I have (mostly) re-posted my cheerier Christmas words from years past.

I didn’t want to put a damper on the season of hope, joy, love and faith.

With the joy of a new job and co-workers I love, came the loss of a large community that I adored. With our kids growing and starting new adventures, comes the end of their need of me. With hubby being on a medical leave that stretches into the new year, comes more question marks about the future, than certainty.

Then I read an article called Celebrating Christmas with a Broken Heart. Towards the end of the article, the author, Brittany Salmon, wrote:

“Believer, God came to earth to make broken things whole. It’s okay for you to be broken this holiday season because of the baby in the manger.”

The Christmas season does not simply celebrate picture-perfect nativities, with clean animals, angels, a contented baby and peaceful new parents. It is the bloody mess of a baby born to an unwed mother, a homeless family in a strange town. It is the story that begins in blood and must end that way … to redeem the mess of humanity.

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The words that Jesus spoke to his disciples the night before his death, echo in our hearts in the Christmas season. You see Christmas is not Christmas without Easter.

We are not made holy by Jesus’ conception,
but in his crucifixion. 

And his crucifixion was the once for all blood sacrifice, to make the broken things of our lives whole. To make us whole … even when we are cracked, bruised and broken. Even when we are lonely, weak and wandering. Even when our past is past and our future uncertain.

And so, in brokenness, I will look to that babe in the manger, who came to overcome the world … and make my broken heart whole.

 

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Listening to a Christmas CD, I have found myself repeating a song I had listened to many times, yet had never really heard.

As Josh Groban’s voice fills my vehicle with the Latin words that shared how the poor and humble servant would be satiated by the gift from heaven, my thoughts drifted to Christmas.

Panis Angelicus,  (bread of angels or bread of heaven) was written by Thomas Aquinas in the twelve hundreds, as part of a communion-themed hymn called Sacris Solemniis.

In English, the lyrics are as follows:

Heavenly bread

That becomes the bread for all mankind;
Bread from the angelic host
That is the end of all imaginings;
Oh, miraculous thing!
This body of God will nourish
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
 
Heavenly bread
That becomes the bread for all mankind;
Bread from the angelic host
That is the end of all imaginings;
Oh, miraculous thing!
This body of God will nourish
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.
Even the poorest,
The most humble of servants.

Heavenly bread … like the manna, provided to the Israelites, by God himself, in the desert. The Israelites, complaining about the menu, forgetting from the bondage that they left when lead into the desert (perhaps a desert is not so dry and desolate).

Like manna from heaven, God send his Son to Earth. Like the Israelites who wandered in the desert, we too live our lives as if our existence is in a dry and desolate place. We too complain, not because we are starving, but because we want more than just sustenance, we strive to icing on the cake (our cake). We desire more, more, more, of all that does not satisfy.

We have within reach, even in our grasp, the bread of heaven, through the Christ child, yet me look beyond him to what is temporary. It is as though we look straight through him, all the while crying for more.

Perhaps we have too much.

Perhaps we need to be the most humble, the poorest of servants before we can be truly filled with this bread of heaven, this Christmas, and every day.

Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
John 6:31-35

 

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ho

Happy Birthday tomorrow …

To my Jane Austen loving, swim coaching, stationary-loving, legging-wearing, justice-seeking, change-resisting, verbal-processing, feminism-spouting, recovery house working, Naloxone-carrying, self-advocating, gluten and dairy and soy avoiding, blog writing, sibling nurturing, “dark and twistie” tackling, ever-evolving oldest daughter …

There is so much I could say to you, but I am choosing to speak to you through the lips of some of the women who speak to you.

Change; we don’t like it, we fear it, but we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind. It hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn’t is lying. But here’s the truth: Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. And sometimes, oh, sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is… everything.

Meredith Grey
You and your addiction to Grey’s Anatomy (sorry, but without Derek …). You and your struggle with change. But you are not alone, for we all struggle with the realities of the shifting sands in our life. And change can be difficult, but change is not always a bad thing, and often it is the catalyst to the greatest growth.
brene
Giving you quotes just wouldn’t be complete without Ms. Brown! It is hard to be one who struggles to be perfect and vulnerable at the same time. You have a light within that begs to be released … be vulnerable and turn those lights on full!
quote
As if on cue … (you’d think I had planned to insert Emily Ley now). It’s all grace!
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Sometimes it’s the simplest actions that can make the biggest difference to others … and you. Sometimes the authenticity of a smile comes after, not before it appears on ones face.
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Hey, it’s true! And it makes you smile!
cslewis1
Believe in the miraculous … life itself is miraculous! Seek the wonderful, the wonder-filled. Believe in the unbelievable. 
e
The moments of your life are for which you have been created … good and bad, simple and struggle, blessing and curse. The example of Esther is the wisdom of knowing when to speak, when to be silent, the wisdom of being brave, the wisdom of knowing you have nothing of value that you can truly lose when you trust in the God of your people.
 dedesmith_bebrave
Ok, so maybe Ann Voskamp speaks more to me than to you … If I can use her words to share a truth that life has taught me, then the words above speak truth. Life is hard … and then it gets harder. We humans are not guaranteed anything different (“in this world you will have troubles, struggles, difficulties, heartbreaks …” John 16:33). But we are guaranteed that we will never be left alone in it …
“Be strong and courageous (aka brave). Do not be afraid or terrified … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

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An event that seems to be becoming an annual one is hubby and I celebrating his birthday watching the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, on the big screen.

As we watched it last month a familiar conversation stuck in my mind:

George Bailey: OK then, I’ll throw a rock at the old Granville house.
Mary: Oh no, don’t. I love that old house.
George Bailey: No, you see you make a wish and then try to break some glass and you’ve got to be a pretty good shot nowadays too.
Mary: Oh no George don’t. It’s full of romance that old place. I’d like to live in it.

In this time and place I live, people prefer to live in new homes, over pre-owned homes (a definition to add to my vernacular). A common occurrence is for homes that are older (ie. 50 years or more) to be torn down, and replaced with brand new homes (frequently more homes on the same piece of property).

I fully and freely admit to being a romantic, and possibly even more so when it comes to houses.

As a child, I can remember the houses that I was fond of … and the stories of the lives of a lifetime of occupants that I would imagine in my mind.

There was the house down a long, straight road, lined with oak trees. It’s porch across the front of the house, with large, perfectly entered stairs. Though the original green paint was chipped and faded, though the roof looked at risk of sinking right into it’s centre, and the barn only partially standing, I loved it. I would dream of a young man, damp with the sweat of his construction labor, carrying his wife, pregnant with their third child, up those entry stairs into the house that would house their family until the day the undertaker took his aged body from the home that love built.

The house I passed on my school bus, every day, with the decorated Christmas tree in it’s enclosed porch. The turret on the second floor that always made me imagine a couple dancing in it’s candle-lit windows, every Saturday night of their childless marriage, before dimming the lights on the week. Years later, another couple, with grand imaginations bought and renovated the home, redeeming it with their love.

These and so many other homes birthed dreams of stories of lives. Though our homes are merely brick and mortar, they are also the pages on which the stories of the lives souls made of flesh and bone, are written on … the ink permanently staining each page until to the dust of Earth they return.

 

 

 

 

 

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A while back a teen shared with me some words that, obviously, hurt to her core.

She shared with me that someone said to her, “you don’t appear to want to be here. Did your parents make you come here? Are you even a Christian?”

Now, I don’t know if she is an active follower of Christ, nor do I know if her presence was by her choice, or that of her parents. I do know that her actions are not what I am responsible for, but my responses to her, are how I speak of Christ to her.

I mulled over her words for a bit, then pulled her aside, and got more direct with her than I usually would … for I felt I needed to do some restorative action in her life.

I told her I was sorry for what had been said to her. I also assured her that God loves her, as she is, not as she should be. Just as he loves the person who said those things to her, just as he loves me. Then I told her what we all need to be reminded of,

that she, that we, are good enough for God. We cannot do anything, but it is he who loves us, who makes us enough …

She smiled, through tear-filled eyes, and said thanks.

I told her that if she ever hears that message again, making her feel like she is not good enough for Christ, to remember my words to her. That there is no amount of mess in her life that God cannot love us through.

And I found a quiet corner, and I sobbed. For I felt as though I had just tried to save a life.

People all around us are dying.

They are the walking wounded, stumbling thorough life. They have been fed the message that they cannot dip their toes into the sandals of their Creator, until they have been purified of every flaw and sin.

They need the great physician, but they have been told that he won’t see them until they say and do the right things … until they are healthy.

Not long ago, fellow Christ followers, if was you and I who were staggering to Christ for treatment. Let us be open doors to the injured, the struggling, the bleeding.

“Jesus said to them,
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 2:17

 

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As I glanced up the washroom door, I could see graffiti.

“Seriously, are people really that bored?” was my initial thought … then I looked more closely.

When I read what had been written there (in the image above), a smile began to form across my face.

Then I wondered,

how many other females have read that sentence and smiled as well?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 declares,

” … encourage one another and build each other up …”

Though I would not necessarily encourage the defacing of other’s property, it was delightful to see that the author of this graffiti understood the power of encouraging words, even to unknown recipients.

In a time when it seems that everything from social media, to the news, to water cooler conversation is negative in character, may we all be reminded that the power of our words is great, and that encouragement is a better way.

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