0796d0208d9efd3a9fe56226051a41dc

Not Always Merry and Bright

I so wish for life to be like a Hallmark movie. Love and contentment always win. The ending is tidy, happy and sealed in a pretty package accentuated with a red bow on top. But it is television, and so far from the reality, we inhabit.

I think that is one of the allures of Hallmark movies. They provide a magical escape from the tender truths that are indigenous to what we have always falsely believed is the happiest time of the year.

Pain wears many faces and holds no prejudices. It does not adhere to our calendars or circumstances. Maybe the agony shows up in the loss of a job, marriage, a parent, a spouse or the incredible heartache that settles in when we hear someone has to bury their child.

Broken people, broken families, broken worlds; they may all present differently, but fractured hearts are inherent to us all. The holidays as merry and bright as they are for many, are equally melancholy and bleak for others.

Life is incongruent to my desire for everyone to be happy, but I have learned this piercing lesson: happiness is a circumstantial frailty, not a gospel actuality. Without the assurance of our eternal inheritance, we stand here today poor, hopeless and lost. But it does not have to be that way.

A 1700s French writer captured something very tragic, yet I think significant in his last words. “And so I leave this world, where the heart must either break or turn to lead.” ~ Nicolas Chamfort

Sometimes our greatest challenge as we go about living in this world that is remarkable one moment and ruthless the next is continuing to engage. It is so easy to check out, but we are called to check in. It is so simple to let our hearts turn to lead, but we are called to be light instead. Is any of this straightforward in our climate of death, destruction, hatred, and hostility of unparalleled proportions? No, it is not effortless, but it is essential.

Dear friends, I know many of you are facing unspeakable burdens. My heart aches for you and throbs with you. Right now pressing in may be asking too much. That is ok.

We, unfortunately, have to drink from the cup of hurt before we can be quenched by the hand of The Healer.

God never forsakes us, though. One way He manifests himself is through our community. I pray wherever you find yourself today, the love of those around you warms, even if just slightly, the weeping heart inside you. Your internal song may never be the same, but this I know, someday your soul will sing again.

0796d0208d9efd3a9fe56226051a41dc

Small Things That Sparkle

 

I’m going to be honest for the sake of being transparent because I have learned that it is in admitting my struggles that I find freedom, and maybe loan a little out, too.  Holidays are difficult for me.  Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, 4th of July, I have to fight some degree of sadness, and sometimes my fight is weak.

I grew up in a big family.  Everyone lived within a reasonable distance.   Holidays were very grand at our house and my grandmother’s houses.   My mom and grandmothers were all exceptional cooks and fed many small armies over the years.   As much as the food, I remember the fellowship, the laughter, the sporting events on TV, big firework displays, football games in the yard, all the men falling asleep on the couches.   I remember masses of people, the constant roar of conversation and laughter; and the euphoria of kids everywhere, a lot of kids!

Every holiday was as old as it was new, foreign as it was familiar and frayed as it was fancy.  They were truly wonderful times that wove priceless memories deep into my heart.

As The 4th of July approaches again, I have felt that familiar restlessness settling into my soul.   I have to be intentional to remember the happiness of what was while forging gratitude in what is.   What is, is still beautiful, it is just different.  If you have the luxury of having most of your family healthy and close by, don’t take it for granted.  You are blessed.   I am blessed too; my blessings just look different than yours.

Two weeks ago I was flying back from Texas, where all of my family lives, to Birmingham.   As I was standing in line waiting to board the plane, a dialogue was playing in my head.  Was I flying back home or leaving home?   There was a sense of confliction in my answer.  Later, I realized that the answer didn’t matter because home is where the people we love are, and that can be many places.   Also, in his grace, The Father reminded me that all these homes are just temporary resting places along the journey to my forever home.   There, it will be one big, ongoing reunion with all those I love in attendance.

Jesus promises “in my Father’s house there are many rooms.”  (John 14:2)   I am so grateful because we will need them!   As for this holiday, it may be quiet, it may be small, but sometimes it is the quiet and the small that create the most sparkle!   More importantly, it is about focusing on cherishing my blessings and committing to choosing joy in all situations, whether they are extraordinary or ordinary.   In retrospect, I often realize that so much beauty in this life is intrinsic to the ordinary.

0796d0208d9efd3a9fe56226051a41dc

Finding the Sparkle in the Quiet and the Small

I’m going to be honest for the sake of being transparent and authentic, because I have learned that it is in admitting my struggles that I find freedom, and maybe loan a little out, too. Holidays are difficult for me. Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, 4th of July…I have to fight some degree of sadness, and sometimes my fight is weak.

I grew up in a big family, and everyone lived within a reasonable distance. Holidays were very grand at our house and my grandmother’s houses. My mom and grandmothers were all great cooks, and definitely fed many small armies over the years. As much as the food, I remember the fellowship, the laughter, the sporting events on TV, big firework displays, football games in the yard, all the men falling asleep on the couches-:)… I remember so many people, the constant roar of conversation, laughter and the euphoria of kids everywhere-a lot of kids!

Every holiday was as old as it was new, foreign as it was familiar, and worn as it was refreshing. They were truly wonderful times that have branded priceless memories deep into my heart.

As another holiday approaches Friday, I have felt that restlessness settling into my soul. I have to be intentional to remember the happiness of what was, while forging gratitude in what is. What is, is still beautiful, it’s just different. If you have the luxury of having most of your family healthy and close by, don’t take it for granted. You are truly blessed. I am blessed too, my blessings just look different than yours.

A couple of weeks ago I was flying back from Texas, (where all of my family is), to Birmingham. As I was standing in line with my children waiting to board the plane, a dialogue was going on in my head. Was I flying back home or leaving home. I was conflicted in my answer. I later realized that the answer didn’t really matter, because home is wherever the people we love are, and that can be many places. Also, in his grace, The Father reminded me that all these homes are just temporary resting places along the journey to my forever home-a place where it will be one big, ongoing reunion with all those I love in attendance.

Jesus promises that “in my Father’s house there are many rooms.” I’m so grateful, because we will need them! As for this holiday, it may be quite, it may be small, but sometimes it’s the the quite and the small that create the most sparkle! More so, though, it is about focusing on cherishing my blessings and committing to choose joy in all situations, whether they be extraordinary or ordinary. So much beauty in life really is found in the ordinary.