2017: A New Years Message

2017.png

A year ago to this day I posted a New Years message. It was a message that I myself had just recently learned. I spoke of the strength of who Jesus is. How HE is big enough for all the pain that has ever and ever will be.

I posted it and a very close friend of mine spoke of how much it had meant to her, how the things I had spoken of had blessed her due to the hard year she had had. I was so happy and excited for her.

I was so glad that the post had helped even one person, especially my best friend. I thought contentedly that the post had done the Lord’s purpose, helped my friend.

And, in my human nearsightedness, I thought it had completed it’s mission and that the things I had spoken of had served their complete purpose.

But little did I know that the words I had written would become incredibly poignant to me over the next year.

In February my parents separated. We didn’t see it coming. It was unexpected. And it was hard in ways that you wouldn’t expect.

This year felt like death so many times. And, in truth, I think that it was in a way.  We died as we were. And it hurt like hell. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of pain and sadness and anger. Battles with hate and bitterness, fear, depression, and anxiety for the future. It has been so bitterly hard. 

But the Lord was with us the whole way. AND HE WAS ENOUGH. Jesus WAS and IS enough for the pain, the fear, the hurt. 

This past year often times victory was simply believing that God loved me. And that was the best I could do. It was hard to have faith, it was hard to believe, it was hard to hope. 

But, Jesus brought me through it all. Stronger, and in some unbelievable way, more peaceful and content than before. 

This past year has truly taught me the lesson I wrote of last year. And I am sure every year comes during my life will continue to teach me this lesson. 

In 2017 I have, to and extent, learned to rest in Jesus and realize that He is enough for everything awful. In 2018 I want to learn to hope. Hope with more strength, joy, and belief than ever before.

Hope is something of miracle in and of itself. Hope, even if the dream you are hoping towards doesn’t occur when you want or ever at all, still gives you a gift. And I want it. I want every blessing the Lord wants to give me. And hope is one of those blessings. Sothis 2018 I am making no resolutions. I am merely hoping to hope.

2017 has been so hard, but good. So painful, but necessary. So awful, but so, so much of a blessing. I thank the Lord for it. For us, 2017 was the death of the people we were, the wrong beliefs we held, and the painful monotony of our lives. 

But 2018 will be a year of discovering the people we are and will be, for learning to truths to believe in, and for finding the rhythm of a healthy, God blessed life.

For 2018 I am choosing to hope. I will live with hope and belief that this year is going to be a year of beautiful, bursting life. Hope that God has never and will never abandon us. Hope that tomorrow will be even better than today.

” ‘Hope‘ is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.”
–Emily Dickinson
So, to 2017, I say goodbye. Thank you for the blessings you’ve held, even if they sometimes hurt. To 2018, I say hello. I can’t wait to see the fulfillment of my hopes in you. 
Advertisements

Christmas Hymn Spotlight

Greetings, everyone! I hope you are having a lovely Sunday, I am! So this year for Christmas, my mom is having each of us kids study a classic Christmas hymn. Mine is It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. I decided I would share a few of my thoughts on it with you all as it is that time of the year. 🙂 

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear Graphic

Lyrics:
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

O’ ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

For lo the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Most people, including me, know the first stanza pretty well. But, I have never really focused on the words of the following stanzas, I didn’t grow up singing hymns at church so it wasn’t a large part of my life. I love many Christmas hymns, carols, and songs, but It Came Upon a Midnight Clear wasn’t one of those. In fact, for quite a while, I was mildly annoyed by it for some unnamed reason.

However, when I started going over the second through fourth stanzas I was a bit blown away. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear had so much more to it than I thought. I would imagine that if I were to look into more of the classic hymns I would find that to be a common theme.

One thing my mom also wanted us to do was specifically pick out the names of Jesus in our hymns. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear doesn’t have anywhere near as many names of Jesus as some other carols and hymns do, but it does have one instance of Prince of Peace (one of my favorites of Jesus’s names) and two uses of King.

I love that it speaks of two promises, covenants, prophesies-whatever you want to call them. The first promise is in the first three stanzas. This part speaks of Jesus’s birth. This is the fulfillment of many prophecies, hopes, years. I mean, think about it, the Jewish people have been waiting for HUNDREDS of years. This beautiful, precious baby is what their hope and faith has been resting on. How amazing is that? 

Then, after the first three stanzas comes the fourth-cause it would be weird if the fifth came next, right? 😛 This one speaks of Jesus’s second coming, the new heaven and earth, and an eternity of peace and joy. I like this stanza best. Not because Jesus’s birth isn’t important or beautiful, but because an eternity of joy is ahead of me and I cannot wait! What a promise, am I right?  

I am so glad I took the time to look over this song fully and with new eyes. It has beautiful meaning. Hopeful meaning. Meaning that matters! 

What about y’all? What’s your favorite Christmas carol or hymn? Tell me all about it! I love to chat! 🙂 

 

Writing: Story Sprints #2

Story Sprint


LOVED

Autumn sunlight held Aubrey in it’s arms and staved off the chill of the brisk air. Small, golden leaves blew down from the white birch in front of the house and onto  the porch swing where Aubrey sat.

Aubrey breathed in a deep, drawing breath as she picked up one of the leaves that had fallen on her blanketed lap. The action tired her weak arms out more than it should have. How long would it be before the cancer took all the strength that she had left?

Aubrey turned to look at the beautiful hills below her home. The greens of summer had changed to the splendid ochers of fall. The world was so beautiful that it seemed to pain her soul. The golden sunlight, crisp air, and the dancing leaves seemed almost to taunt her with their beauty. Mocking her. Mocking what she would soon lose.

Aubrey squeezed her eyes shut and two large tears streaked down her face and dripped onto her lap. Would she miss it? This beauty. Would she remember it ever even existed? Would she…

“Aubrey.” A whispered Voice broke through her thoughts and a warm Presence encased her.

Aubrey’s eyelids popped open and she looked around, surprised when she saw no one. Had she merely imagined it? Aubrey swept her eyes about her property and the surrounding hills one last time before shutting her eyes again.

“Aubrey.” The Voice spoke again. Aubrey opened her eyes, searching. Still, no one appeared. Aubrey rubbed her eyes and squeezed them shut. Perhaps she was just tired. Maybe it was just…

“Aubrey!” This time, the Voice called her with such a strong certainty that she couldn’t deny that It was real.

Aubrey opened her eyes. Sitting on the porch swing next to her was a tall Man.

His presence was all encompassing, awing her with His mightiness. From head to toe, He exuded light. His entire countenance glowed in a beautiful, unearthly way.

Suddenly, Aubrey felt exposed. It was as if every sin she had ever committed was written on her forehead. Her ugly body seemed to scream of her unworthiness before this beauty.

Aubrey yelped and fell off of the swing and onto her knees. Pain jarred her bones and though her weak body protested,  she managed to scramble several feet away from the swing.

The Man had stood the moment she had fallen. He had reached out as if to catch her, but drawn His hand back seeing that she didn’t want to be near Him. Now, He crouched near where she cowered on the porch.

“Aubrey.” His eyes were gentle. “Do not fear. I won’t hurt you.”

“How…how do you know my name?” Aubrey gasped out scratchily, holding a hand up to her eyes to shield herself from the glowing Presence. He was so beautiful that her weak, damaged body felt like some alien deformity in that holy, glowing Presence.  

“I have known you since before you were born, beloved, should I not know your name? Be at peace, I am here to help you.”

Aubrey scooted back a few inches further from the glorious figure before her, a small glimmer of sadness seemed to gleam deep in His eyes. Was He sad she was pulling away from Him?

“Why? Why do you want to help me?” Her voice held disbelief, fear, and some other indistinguishable sentiment.

How she had even dared to speak in His Presence, she didn’t know. Every new second she sat near Him, she felt more and more like something so mean and unworthy that she didn’t even belong in the same place as this Man.

“Because I love you, Aubrey.” The Man’s voice was earnest, passionate, loving.

Through her shame and fear of this glorious Man, a glimmer of longing pulled in Aubrey’s heart. The love in His voice was strong, caressing her name when He spoke it.

“I…I am not worthy of your love. I have been selfish my whole life…I’m getting my reward now.” Aubrey looked down at her weak body, shame filling her and smothering the faint longing in her heart.

“You are right. You are not worthy on your own.”

Aubrey looked up suddenly. She had known this, but His confirmation stabbed deep at her heart. She dropped her eyes from His again, tears beginning to well up.

“But,” the Man spoke suddenly. The hope filling His voice drew her eyes to His almost against her will. “That doesn’t matter, Aubrey. My love overcomes all. Nothing you have done or ever will do can be larger than my love for you.”

A sob rose in Aubrey’s throat. How she wished that was true. How she wished she could reach out and take the love, how she wished…

“You can, Aubrey! You can have it!”

Aubrey gasped as the Man answered the very thoughts she was thinking.

“How…how can I have it?” Hope tinged her voice.

“Accept it. That’s all you have to do.” The Man’s rich, brown eyes pulled her in, glimmering with love. Love she could have.

A wave of doubt filled her. She was unworthy! She was dirty and…

“Please, Aubrey, let me love you!”

The Man’s voice broke through the doubt she was drowning in and offered her a safe escape.

“I accept!” The cry broke from Aubrey’s lips.

The split second she spoke, everything changed.

The fear, doubt, and shame was blasted away with such an overcoming wave of peace and love that Aubrey shut her eyes in it’s surging strength. A groan came from somewhere deep within Aubrey, pain and sorrow seeping out with it.

Aubrey felt the Man’s arms about her. He lifted her to her feet. Aubrey gasped as she opened her eyes, it was as if a lense had been taken away from her eyes.

She thought the Man magnificent before, but now, the true depth of His love, power, and beauty was unveiled before her and it took her breath away. Awe filled Aubrey’s heart. She couldn’t even begin to comprehend the love before her.

Tears spilled over Aubrey’s cheeks and she was unable to speak. The Man pulled her into a deep embrace. The warmth of His touch healed long broken places in her heart. Aubrey sobbed as the pain of her life was washed away.

Aubrey’s vision began to darken and the Man grew further away, but she was not frightened. A soft voice, the Man’s, whispered in her ear.

“You are loved…”

Time stilled and all grew dark.

Aubrey opened her eyes, feeling as though she had been asleep a long time. She sat on the porch swing, her blanket still tucked comfortably about her legs. The leaves still blew softly, the sun shone goldenly, and the air blew crisply as it had before. Nothing appeared to have changed.

But, Aubrey was not as she had been before.

Aubrey glanced to the side of the porch swing where the Man had first appeared. A large, leather book sat on the swing, it’s gilded pages glowing in the autumnal sunlight.  

Aubrey picked the book up and leafed through it’s pages. It was enormous and seemed to have many books in one. Closer to the end, Aubrey paused as something caught her eye. A small cross was marked next to two passages. The cross flickered for a moment, then disappeared.

Aubrey’s eyes crossed over the passages that had been marked by the cross.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

The word soaked into Aubrey’s soul and testified their truth.

A small smile flickered along Aubrey’s lips as she continued to read, feeling stronger than she had in years.

She was loved.


 

I hope you all enjoyed this latest story! Comment below and tell me what you think! Would you like to see more story sprints from me? What was your favorite aspect of LOVED?

December 31st: A New Year’s Message

At midnight we will cross over into 2017, and this year, I have a challenge for you. I’m asking you all to do one thing…remember

Remember the Heart of Christmas. Well, that’s easy enough, right? Not necessarily. I am not just talking about the tingly feeling that you get on Christmas morning, or the warm feeling you get when you hear your favorite holiday song. But to remember Jesus

This holiday season I was in the living room with my family, we were watching the news. On came a story, a little girl had been brutally murdered. How awful! But if that wasn’t bad enough, the suspects were the child’s mother and her boyfriend. How horrible is that, right? How can you be evil enough to beat your own child to death?

I sat there on the couch, and a thought came to my mind. There is so much tragedy in this world. It wasn’t a question, I wasn’t looking for an answer, but one came anyway. JESUS. The word was spoken into my brain the instant after my thought.

At first I was like “…yeah, I know. Jesus was born for us, that’s great,” But the more I thought about it, the more awed I was. In one word, all the tragedy and sadness this world as ever known and ever will know is answered. Jesus is big enough for all of it!

That experience has led to this post. As well as the knowledge in my heart that I don’t have to understand why the bad things are allowed to happen, I only have to realize that He is big enough for them. 

2017 is scary to a lot of people. Whether for political reasons, personal problems/goals, or simply fear of what it may bring on all fronts. At some point this year, every one of you will despair. But! In that moment, rememberJesus. He is enough.

So this is my challenge to you: when you are upset this upcoming year, try to remember that God loved us enough to send down His only Son. Every time you see a news story, Facebook post, or tweet that spells doom, all you have to do is remember Jesus.

2017 is going to be a year for tragedy. Just like every other year since Adam and Eve sinned, there will be death, strife, and sadness. But, it will also be a year for love, grace, miracles, redemption, hope, peace, and happiness

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”-John 16:33

Happy New Year 2017!