Happy New Year?

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It’s a few days past from all the Happy New Year wishes, the resolutions, the goals being set and the reality of the true new year sets it.

It’s just another day isn’t it? Any step along the road you trod. A walk along the journey of your life where you are privileged to be – you. With each new year there is this sense of a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance to be made new. Dreams are remembered and hopes are set before you once again as you try to prioritize and discern the essence of who you are and where you are headed.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just plan it all out and it would fall into place?

Yeah – right! I know, I know, but please just stick with me for a minute. For years I lived my life thinking I could organize this shelf, pick up that room, move the clutter about and somehow it would dethrone the anxiety off the seat of my heart. If things had a system,  if I could manage paperwork, errands, shopping – oh the list could go on and on! Mine certainly could, how about yours? With the start of a new year, there is this yearning within me to gather my thoughts together and order them on paper. Somehow stream them into a nice, neat and orderly list. I can write to-do lists, organize clutter in closets, clean out things not worn in over a year. It may take some time as the things have stacked up, but sure, I can do that.

But the heart, just how do you gather that?

It’s like somehow believing you could heal yourself as you reflect upon broken lives, unfulfilled promises and shattered dreams. How do you reign in and order, chaos? It’s not with lists written on paper with pen and ink that transform our thinking. It’s not with resolutions that we muster strength for obtaining goals in our lives. It’s not with unfailing strength that we fortify ourselves against painful experiences.

No.

That would be trusting in yourself. While it’s true, there is beauty and freedom in finding who you truly are and have been created to be. There is a sense of purpose and of dignity as you gain hope not in lists or in items scratched off. No. There is freedom in releasing yourself from the expectation of measuring who you are against such a list. Each moment you strive to better yourself or to unlearn a behavior you are in fact, accepting that perhaps the way you have handled it all along may not have the best. But handle it you did.

It’s with our mistakes, it’s in our brokenness and with these unfulfilled lives that we become seekers. Searching out purpose and meaning. It’s these moments in our lives that we find ourselves asking questions we didn’t even know we wanted the answers for, that we begin to see light in the darkness.

We see, even when we didn’t know it was dark.

As you begin your new year and the resolutions you penned in ink are dry, yet they are ablaze within your heart. They kindle like a burning ember reaching down to deepest part of who you are. I encourage you today, this moment, to seek out and not depend on your own understanding, oh no.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!” Proverbs 3:4-5

God is real. He is true. He will be there for you. You can trust Him.

There is peace in not figuring it all out on your own. There is hope in knowing you can trust that if the dreams do shatter  – God can pick up that shard and graft it into piece of art taking away the sharp painful edges and make you a new creation. He is a transformational, renewing and redeeming God.

In this new year, let Him make YOU new.

Change = Life

Fall Leaf (1 of 1)

Sometimes we are meant, to stand out.

Just recently I was driving along enjoying a beautiful Fall day when down dropped this red leaf onto my rain soaked windshield. Amongst a sea of yellow, ambers and greens this small little leaf, shone. The contrast of colors is what made me stop the car and take notice, and in fact – take this photo. As the bright sun lit it up there was no mistaking the beauty of this leaf.

This dead leaf falling to the ground can bring joy.

Cast off from it’s home, from it’s perch and connection to all it knew, at just the right time and season – it let go. Releasing itself to the wind, the sun, the elements all around it. It could have fallen by the road, into the piles and piles in my yard, but for that one moment, we met. Beauty on my windshield and a gentle reminder from the Heavenly Father to my heart. Sometimes we are just meant to stand out, let go and be who we were destined to be.

How do we do that?

Being real, authentic and true to the design of our very souls and inner beings means to have an awareness of who we are. Dare I say, we must learn to love ourselves. Loving ourselves challenges us to first look.  Gazing around and seeing the beauty of the leaves is one thing, but to sit, ponder and examine the sinews of that very leaf and understand it’s process, this is work. So too, with our delicate and precious souls, minds, hearts. If we want to believe differently, feel differently, respond differently – we must stop and meditate, examine ourselves and submit to be transformed.

This is work. Hard work.

That red leaf, you see, it wasn’t always that red color. It was a green leaf just like all the others leaves on the tree. It was the same, it was no different, it just was – a leaf. But time had taken it’s toll on it, the available light cycle had changed and so it began to change it’s color and it’s luster – it transformed. So too with our hearts. They undergo change through trials, through pain, suffering and the choices we make. Some things we have no control over and we are victims of circumstance and the sin of others. Yet, it still hurts, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, we have a choice in how we respond, how we love and how we handle the gifts bestowed upon us.

“Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship.  Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.” (Romans 12:1-2 The Voice)

God clearly tells us in Romans 12:1-2, that in view of His magnificent mercies, His compassion and His love that we are to offer our bodies as living and holy sacrifices. Our very bodies and lives can be offered up to the Eternal God of Heaven – um, what? Can you grasp how important becoming a living sacrifice is to our God?  Like Jesus offered Himself on the cross, so we too offer our own bodies as we walk.

How so?

Scripture says we do this with our minds – our thoughts, our fears, our hurts, our pain. Those things which we often push away, God says, ‘be still.’ Sit and ponder the sinews and depths of our hearts, our pain, our suffering. We no longer deny that it’s there – we look, we feel and we let go. The tentacles of suffering may be far reaching, and digging in these places will be painful.

Don’t let it stop you.

God asks us to be transformed from the inside out. This is not something that can be done to us, that we inflict upon our bodies  – rather it is the mercy, love and grace of God moving in our very hearts and minds – transforming how we think, feel and believe. We choose, we must choose, to love. It starts right there, in your very own heart, in mine.  Love yourself, give yourself permission to be loved and to be seen for who you really are. It’s time.

Our hearts, they are this ugly and beautiful thing. We have darkness there, let Him transform it. You don’t want it to hurt anymore? Bring it into His light. You don’t want to respond in anger anymore? Nail it to the cross.  You might need a friend to carry the light for you at times. God will provide. Walk. Trust. Let Go – and let God transform you, change you to be who you were destined to be- and live.

Like that red leaf I met one Fall day shone in the beauty of the sun. Let God meet your deepest longing in your heart and begin to transform you, change you, love you – free you. So you too, amongst a sea of people – shine.

For sometimes we were meant to stand out.