A New Year?

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2017.

Just like that, the clock ticks, the bell chimes and the new year slips right in. Not with loud fan fair, or much celebration – but another moment in time. Another hour, another day, another year. Just when I was sweeping up the memories, both happy and sad, of 2016 – 2017 just waltzed right in.

How did that happen?

You might be ready to be rid of 2016. Perhaps it included loss, pain and  unfulfilled dreams – for you that door can’t close fast enough on the year, can it? I know. I know that sense of closure needed to move forward and beyond what was, hoping for what’s to come. I’ve had many years where I slammed that door shut myself.

So, here we stand, on the cusp of a year not yet lived. What do you long for in this year? I know what I do. I can speak it faster than you process your own thoughts. I’ve been kicking around stones on a new path, following it, even as it’s windy roads keep me in circles sometimes. I am ready. So ready – for 2017.

How about you?

Are ready to breathe in new life into your own? Are you ready to lay aside your pain, your anxiety and sense of hopelessness? Taking a hard look at who you are and how you live your life. Knowing with strength and certainty that you are worth each moment that this year will bring you.

If there is one truth to grab ahold of as you start this new year, it’s that you are worth every moment you give to yourself. Don’t doubt it. Don’t deny it. Don’t hesitate. Love. Love yourself. As you love yourself, or perhaps learn to love yourself, love springs from within you to share with others. If it seems trite to you, don’t take my word for it.

Jesus Christ was asked once,

“Which is most important of all the commandments?”

Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12:28b – 31  The Message)

Did you ever stop to realize that loving God means loving yourself?

Jesus asks us to love God with all our passion, prayer, intelligence and energy. Then He proceeds to instruct us to do the same to our very hearts. How often do you love yourself passionately? Really? Me neither.

It takes great effort to think about myself. I spend so much of my time thinking of others, of what needs have to be met, of what things have to be done – that somewhere along the way, I get lost. It’s not a new phenomenon, it’s a raw reality of my life. I’ve allowed myself to be loved less, and in the process, believed I am unlovable.

The greatest gift I hope to give myself in 2017, is love.

Loving myself. Accepting the desires that are within me as gifts from the Heavenly Father and live them in my daily life.  Some may profess that’s not a Christian attitude, well.. I use to believe that myself. God has had to teach me through years of suffering that loving myself is how I honor and love Him. It’s not what I do that makes me a follower of Jesus. It’s who I am, and who lives in me. God’s Spirit resides in me.

Read that again.

God’s Spirit lives in me! If you are a Christian reading this, then He lives in you too. Have I spent my time, wasting time, putting myself in a position I was never meant to be in? Am I putting down the Almighty God Himself when I reject His life within me? When I repeat long held negatively tucked deep away in my spirit. When I insist on focusing on what I do, rather than who He created me to be – I am choking the Spirit’s ability to reign fully in my heart and lead.

We must let go, and love, ourself.

So, as you kick off this New Year, I ask you to join me. Stand in the front of the mirror of your heart and listen to your soul and hear it’s cries. Listen. Don’t turn away. Don’t get busy. Be still. Get quiet. When the thoughts come of what you really love, find a way to use that passion for good, and for God. Allow the Holy Spirit to open your mind and your heart into a new direction, His. Don’t quench the Spirit of God, let Him love you. And in doing so, you love yourself.

2017, bring it on.

You fight – we wait

waiting_for_dog_by_cathleentarawhiti-d64g7uz Every single day, you fight. You fight to hold onto what was, clawing your way to what could be, regretting what should have been. You ache for days that fill themselves with family, with loved ones, with hope. You wait, oh how you wait – for relief, for a cure, for some hope.

But it doesn’t come.

Grasping at every opportunity looking to find peace, you search with all your heart. For the next medical treatment, the newest doctor, some glimmer of hope. Oh how you fight, climbing up out of the pit of pain and suffering, you search becomes desperate. Hope flew away with the wind as you heard the word, hospice.

You want positive motion, energy, life. But hospice? No, no, not hospice. That would mean giving up. That would mean no longer fighting. That would mean defeat. Right? Well, no.  The battle has been fought and fought so hard.  With each breath you have struggled to take –  you find yourself moving closer to the unknown. Staring it down, it reaches into your core forcing you to face something so unfamiliar. You fight with all your might to keep yourself together, to not let go and to maintain control.

Yes, control.

The days run along, one after another – like the ones before. Filled with appointments, expectations and responsibilities that weigh you down. You move about your life and embrace times of hope filled healing. hard work and satisfaction that comes from the toil of your hands, your mind, your strength.Yes, your strength.

Relying upon yourself you face your fear and when doing so, you often fail. It’s not the power of your words or your actions that speak. It’s not the power of your mind or body that revel you. Oh no, it’s the power of your spirit. Of the strength of who you are as a person that radiates throughout your hospital room. This strength rises high above any expectation. Your goals and your hopes are high, your desire, strong. Your will, unshakeable.

You will beat this.

Yet the words ring in your ears. Hospice, hospice, hospice. Death looms on the horizon and you hesitate to make any decision – for in doing so it may stop your light from leaving this world – peering down at your impending death. You ache to remain here in this world,  while we begin to prepare our minds and hearts for the world without you. Meditating on life with the gaping hole you will leave behind.

Oh how we want you here. Oh yes! But even moreso, we want you in peace. We need you in peace. You hold on and we ache to hold onto you. Experiencing these moments of true joy and authenticity drizzle sweet mercy upon our wounded hearts. We embrace times of grace, love and forgiveness. For maybe the first time, we live, you live.

Live!

In these moments I know it’s true, you will  live on. Hospice or no hospice. Cancer of no cancer. Life or death. You will live. You will remain. You will stretch beyond this world that you know and challenge us, challenge me. We will grow, because of you. We will love, because of you. We can find hope, because of you. We can fight, because of how you taught us to. You will always be with us and in our hearts. Loving us from afar, nudging us to take another step and reminding us that love comes in many forms. Perhaps not with the words we want to hear, but the life we want to live. Each moment with deep passion, and with you – God. Yes, God.

The time for control is over. You are preparing to leave us behind. We are embracing the total measure of your life. It’s not found in money, nor career or material things. Hardly! The peace we find, is resting in the arms of Jesus Christ and letting Him care for you. Embrace you. Love you. Yes, you.

From this life into the next.

Mowing Season

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It was just grass.

Fall was upon us and the grass needed mowing. The mower had been broken for a few months and so it was extraordinary long and in need of cutting. Our yard began to look more like an unkempt field rather than a yard in a neighborhood! Add on top of all that, well, it’s Fall.

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The leaves, they fall upon the ground, and although they sure look pretty – if we left them to sit there through the winter – well then, it’s not so pretty! Underneath all that snow melt will be wet, soggy, leaves. We were due, it was way past time, to mow.

So off I went, saddling up our riding lawn mower. Because it was so long, I made more than one pass to cut it down. In fact, I was driving in circles! Round and round, over and over, I passed over the same patch of grass again and again. As I encircled the yard, I found the presence of God began to encircle my heart. Pressing in. Hard.

I was watching that grass and those leaves being cut and shred into smaller pieces. Tossed around, torn up and spit out of that mower. Settling down on top of the freshly cut grass as mulch for the spring. Preparing it for new growth.

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It was then that it hit me.

Like grass and leaves waiting to be cut down and laid out for new soil, so too are our hearts in the hands of our Maker. I can’t speak for your heart, but I sure can for mine. I’ve got grass growing in my heart everywhere, everywhere!

My grass it’s so overgrown in areas – I try to shade the light from getting in there and making it grow longer. Yet do I yield to the source of all light? Where I thought the grass had been cut down – I realize it was my own selfish self not accepting truth and allowing the grass to grow stronger.  Where pockets of growth had been shaved off – new growth was shooting out, rooting and sprouting new life elsewhere.

It was time for my heart to be mowed over.

Cut down. Tossed. Shredded. Torn. Thrown about all over the soil of my heart. Some things, must be cut off and left to rot. Yet others, need to be mowed down and their roots extracted so that they never see the light of day. Ever again.

This, THIS, was my threshing floor. A place where the sheaves of thoughts that scurry around in my head can be laid out bare upon the floor, and beat upon and crushed. Like the lawn mover cutting grass down to it’s roots, so too is the Word of God as it pierces our very thoughts and mind.

God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.So that piece of truth could emerge. Hebrews 4:12 – 13 

My heart had been thrown open and trampled upon. The Hands of the Almighty picked up my heart and cut it open, laid bare, for the ugly truth to be seen. Like the Master Surgeon He is, He was gentle, He was skilled, but He was truthful. I couldn’t get away from it, it was time to listen and obey. This heart surgery extracted kernels of truth, His truth, which I didn’t know even existed. I was past due, to be mowed over- so that new life, found in Him, could be restored.

No matter what I might doubt, what my defense could be or whatever the explanation. He knows. He knows what’s growing in my heart. He knows what’s growing in your heart too, dear one. That is what’s so beautiful. He knows. Oh, how He knows!

He’s seen your doubts as they drop like freshly fallen leaves. The moment you rake them up, more scurry to the ground anew. He’s seen your overgrown field of fears.  It’s time to saddle up to face them. He’s felt your pain and what you’ve endured. He wants to perform heart surgery so the pain is gone, for good.

He’s seen your precious heart – oh your heart! Will you grant Him access? Will you allow Him to come inside, cut down your grass and lay you bare on the threshing floor?

After all, it’s just grass.