Sis, Is it Good or God?

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Dear Sis,
What kind of God peers into the heart and ignores the shadows? Looks right past the things I have placed between us and tries to catch my eye with the beautiful truth? Truth that draws me back to Him. Truth so big and so wide it breaks like the dawn.

And in the warmth of that light, I no longer shelter the shadows. I let them disappear because they no longer have any power or purpose. And I stand face turned toward him, locked in the embrace of his love. It’s the same love that welcomes me back again and again, no matter how many times I let the shadows slip in.

Oh sis, don’t the shadows edge in so quietly, unnoticed? It’s like they tip-toe in when we’re not looking.
If they were evil things we would be on the alert. But, so many times they are good. Good people. Good places. Good choices. Until they become the good things between us and the God thing.
We are tempted to believe the good things don’t need to go. Because after all they are good. How do we determine if the good thing is good enough? Or is it standing in the way of a God thing?

I have asked myself this question so many times I’m sick of my own struggle with it. And every time I ask it, I already know the answer. Because God has given me the Holy Spirit to awaken me to wrong turns. And as much as I would like to deny I see it, there’s no denying the kick in the gut feeling I get when I begin to sense a need for turning.

Sis, have you ever seen the truth you didn’t want to face and just wish you could turn away and ignore the urgent signs he keeps giving you? Oh, how I have stood in that very place. Stood crying, kicking and screaming, because that thing I needed to turn away from was so very good. And I had convinced myself, God wanted to bless me with it.

But Sis, here’s the thing, obedience always requires turning and trusting. Turning away from the good thing, and trusting there is a God thing in the making.

Sis, I’ve learned to count on this, when we lay tired from the crying, kicking and screaming He lays out lovely things that remind us that turning toward his embrace is always the best thing.
He will use every word we read, every song we hear, ever friend’s encouraging words to remind us, he sees us, he hears us, and he knows how hard this living in obedience to his voice really is.

Because this God, this compassionate, forgiving God, peers past the dark places in my heart and still tries to catch my eye with his beautiful truth, I turn toward the light. I have to believe the one who can break forth like the dawn has the power to eclipse all the shadows of goodness that stand in the way of my drawing closer to him.

So Sis, let’s turn. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it isn’t clear why. When you feel this thing standing between you and God, and you want it gone. Choose God over good. He’s looking right past your shadows, trying to catch your eye with the beautiful truth, He’s all you need

Love,

Your Sis in Christ,

Karen

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Shine on Sis!

Dear Sis,
This letter is for you, and for me, and for us.
Time is short and the shadows are growing long.
We sit here, looking around at each other with the same question on our minds. What lights us up?

Sis if you are like me, you wonder at what “special light” you have to shine in a world just crying out for a little relief from the darkness. And here we stand. Stuck. And here we plant our feet, because there is no clear plan.

Oh Sis, I want to ask you a question, the same question I ask myself.
Was there a moment in your life,
A point of pain in your life,
A place of poverty in your life,
that propelled you into the arms of Jesus?

Did you long to be seen?
Not social media seen, but deep soul seen.
Did you long to be known?
Not known for what you do, but know for who you really are.
Did you long to be accepted?
Not accepted in the perfect Pinterest places, but accepted in the messy spaces where we really live.
Or did you just long to be invited?
Not invited by mass evite, but invited to really connect, heart to heart.

Here’s what I’m wondering Sis.
If we are standing in His light today, searching to and fro for a place to shine, could simply remembering how we once stood in the shadows open our eyes to possibilities?

Because whatever propelled you and me into the arms of Jesus will propel us to wrap our arms around the shoulders of our sisters standing in a similar place.

Sis, don’t we all know the desperate need to believe we are not alone?

Could it be that the answer to what lights you up, what lights me up is waiting to be uncovered in the pages of our own stories?
When we remember that place of longing, passion for compassion will be born there. It will burn there.
And Sis, there it is, the simple spark that grows into a full blown brilliant light.

Sis who knows where that spark will lead you, maybe you’ll share a meal, offer to help with the kids, or even invite someone to sit across the table and have a cup of coffee. And some days it might just be you’ll offer a hug, the kind of hug that says, I’M WITH YOU!

Okay Sis, listen closely here, I want you to hear this…
WE MUST NOT BELIEVE THE LIE THAT SAYS IT’S NOT ENOUGH!

The biggest hindrance to our light is looking for the big things to do. Jesus took a towel and started washing feet, he stopped to talk to a woman at a well, he had dinner with sinners. He paid attention and allowed his path to be interrupted.
What will we do?

Okay Sis, If you’re like me you’re probably wondering if we could do this thing. And in the wondering your mind is wandering through all the ways you could add a little glow to your world.
Let’s be honest Sis, we are girls who like a plan, and if it comes with a list that’s even better.
But, I can almost hear Jesus whispering right into our ears…
Hold on.
Hold on.
Stay with me here.
Because he wants us to remember he isn’t sending us out to shine FOR him…
He’s inviting us to shine WITH him.
So Sis, when we say yes to lighting the day with love, let’s remember Jesus stands beside us linking arms…and the one true God WITH US WILL SHINE THROUGH US.

Okay Sis, do you see what I see?
The only “plan” we need is to stand so close to Jesus everyone we meet will ask us to introduce him.
Because the common cord in our string of lights, the very lights that illuminate the darkest places is Jesus IN US!

So dear Sis, dear you, dear me,
Let’s let go of the plan, link arms with Jesus, and when we feel him nudge us toward someone, let’s just do it! Even if it feels a little crazy risky.

Let’s unleash compassion that grows from the light of His love.
Because Sis, THERE IS NO POWER OF DARKNESS THAT WILL OVERCOME IT!

Yes Sis, your little light, my little light, our little lights will make a difference for eternity.
And His Kingdom will be multiplied!
And His name will be glorified!
Let’s light it up girls! Let’s light it up!

Love,
Your Sister in Christ,
Karen

 

A Natural Response

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The crowd numbered near two thousand. We stood shoulder to shoulder, leaning on the railing, eyes wide in disbelief. As our cruise ship slowly drifts through the waters of Glacier National Park, the beauty overwhelms and quiet reverie seems the only appropriate response. For a few, extraordinary moments we stood in stunned silence. Of course the silence was quickly followed by lively exclamations. Because amazement requires response. Because wonder requires response. Because admiration requires response.

I love how beauty moves us to respond. We can only imagine how Peter, James and John must have felt as they stood on a mountaintop with Jesus.

Mark 9:2-6 ‘Six days later Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.’

Let’s look at this from their point of view.

They climb up this mountain to spend some quality time with Jesus. They most likely felt special and looked forward to this time alone with Jesus. No crowds, no other disciples, no distractions. Then before their very eyes Jesus was transformed into a glorious God-like vision. Then two dead prophets show up and start chatting with Jesus. They have seen Jesus do some amazing things up to this point, but this experience held quite the shock factor.

I love Peter, he’s the kind of guy that just reacts from the heart no matter what the situation. He responds to Jesus (even though Jesus is looking a bit dazzling and different right now) like a friend. He tells Jesus, we are so happy to be here! Then he says, we should build you, Moses and Elijah each a shelter as a memorial of this moment.

Peter didn’t know what to do or what to say, but his amazement required response. His wonder required response. And because Peter is a man of action, moved by beauty, he allowed his admiration to respond.

Dear Lord,

Every day your light in the morning sky reminds me of the beauty you lay before me. I am dazzled by your light and long to respond as Peter did, with deep admiration and love. When I don’t have words to express my thankful heart, I will simply whisper, I am so happy to be here with you.

Amen

 

A Penny For Your Thoughts

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“A penny for your thoughts.” The definition in the Urban Dictionary reads: a phrase that means: What are you thinking?

Would a penny for your thoughts buy something of value?

I find myself lost in thoughts I wouldn’t want to share no matter how much money someone offered me. It’s that ugly place.

The one you never dare admit you visit.

You sit there alone. Because you don’t dare invite anyone into this momentary reality. Judgment would be too much to bear.

And you believe no one else sits in this corner. Facing the corner. Feeling the shame and embarrassment of not being able to overcome.

The lie you tell yourself takes its toll. The burden of believing you are the only one. All the faces you pass belong to happy people who never sit in corners.

If I were to offer you a penny for your thoughts, would you spill out some truth to encourage me? Would you be willing to sit in a corner? Pouring over a time when you too visited an ugly place?

Could we find others who were willing to toss in a penny, toss out a truth? Leave the lies behind. Let the pile of change be the change we are longing for.

It’s hard and it’s messy and who knows what may happen in this reckless abandon of self-protection. Would we? Could we risk spending one penny?

Before you answer, take a closer look at that penny. Just above the head of Mr. Lincoln you will find a little phrase.

“In God We Trust”

The God we trust draws us together. The God we trust makes us fellow travelers. The God we trust guarantees grace. The God we trust extinguishes fear. The God we trust longs for you and I to link arms and stand together so that we will not be overwhelmed.

I’m digging in my purse for some change. Can you find some too?