Together

One of the beautiful things that I am focusing on during these days are the ways people are working together and caring for one another. I mean, really, who would have ever thought that world leaders would be looking at one another for encouragement and strategies and solutions.

States, communities, neighborhoods — they are all looking out for one another. We each may have different rolls to play — some are larger than others — but we can each provide a helping hand, encouragement, some resources, a prayer —

Reach out to those you know and love. Check in with them. Start new traditions. Write letters. Share simple recipes. Share potential solutions to challenges people are experiencing.

For many years I was in choirs and bands and loved the way each part had a role — no one part sounded right without the others. And when everyone knew and sang their part, it was magical to me. I loved those days of harmony and being a part of something bigger than myself.

Last year, I spent a weekend at a retreat with Michael Card as the facilitator. It was a great weekend and I was reminded about his music. I know, another guy with a guitar — what can I say? Anyway, here is one of his songs and I hope you dig around and look for others!

Chorus of Faith

If you have you heard a great story of compassion during this time I would love to know about it!

Let’s pray for all the researchers who are working hard to find solutions to this crazy virus. I firmly believe their work is important for today but it may also address more issues that are bound to come up in the future. ~ Liz

Shades of Death

There are seasons in life where we find ourselves in the shades of death; where trouble or discouragement or illness have surrounded us and we have not felt joy. We are simply sitting in darkness or under the cover cold, dark, and moody clouds of circumstance that drain our ability to smile and laugh.

Honestly, that feels like a typical February for me. I hate not seeing or feeling the sun. Day after day it is gloomy but when there is a moment — even just a sunny hour or the thrill of a sunny day. My goodness. It is so exciting!

Sometimes my soul gets trapped under the weight of discouragement, doubt, and distortions of reality. It needs to be in the presence of the Son — to feel the warmth and encouragement and to feel the Life only Jesus can bring to us.

After sitting in darkness, it takes time to readjust. The light can be bright. Sometimes even overwhelming for eyes that have not been exposed to it recently. Go slowly. Practice absorbing the light.

Heavenly Father, Bring Your light to me. Let it shine in the dark places and bring life to where there seems to be only shades of death. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

“The People That in Darkness Sat”

The people that in darkness sat
A glorious light have seen;
The light has shined on them who long
In shades of death have been.

To hail Thee, Sun of Righteousness,
The gathering nations come;
They joy as when the reapers bear
Their harvest treasures home.

For Thou their burden dost remove
And break the tyrant’s rod
As in the day when Midian fell
Before the sword of God.

To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is given,
And on His shoulder ever rests
All power in earth and heaven.

His name shall be the Prince of Peace,
The Everlasting Lord,
The Wonderful, the Counselor.
The God by all adored.

His righteous government and power
Shall over all extend;
On judgment and on justice based,
His reign shall have no end.

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
And make us Thine alone,
Who with the Father ever art
And Holy Spirit, one.

by John Morison, 1749-1798

Joy to the world!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing.
*

Thank you, Jesus,

… for coming

… for dying

… for rising from the grave

… for making blessings flow

… for the glories of your righteousness

… for wonders of your love

… for the wonders of your love

… for the wonders, wonders of your love!

Merry Christmas!

Boldog Kar√°csonyt! (that’s in Hungarian!)

May the Prince of Peace flood you with His peace!

Jesus is here!
Liz

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love.

* by Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

Redeeming grace

Silent night! Holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth. *

In a world (and sometimes my heart) where resentment, discontent, anger, frustration, and ugly attitudes can abound, redeeming grace is an amazing gift that soothes my soul.

He redeems, renews, and refreshes …. God does it and then does it again.

and again and again.

God’s well does not run dry. He sent Jesus to restore, renew, redeem, remove, reveal, renovate, refresh, repair, reclaim, and replenish.

Some days I feel like I am a full time job for God! Of course, He is bigger than me and my flailings. He holds onto me while I argue and complain. He restores my soul. His redeeming grace is steadfast and true.

Redeeming grace.

Redeeming grace.

Redeeming grace.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

All is calm…

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright,
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night! Holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing, Alleluia.
Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!
*

For some of us, everything is ready and the house is relatively calm. But for others, there is a lot of last minute hustle on tap for today.

It all depends on what is happening in life at the moment. And yet, it is important to press the pause button and choose calm. I prefer less hustle, but that probably has to do with how busy things have been for the last six weeks helping everyone else get their Christmas gifts in order due to our business. It is a wonderful change in pace to go from long working days to just shipping out a package or two a day and spending more time with the kids and grandkids.

Nearly all is calm here in my neck of the woods. We don’t host a huge dinner because we don’t have the space. That’s okay with me because these limitations contribute to my calm. They also limit my distraction from the true celebration here. The gifts and family time are fun and precious. But…

Christ, the Savior, is born!
Christ, the Savior, is born!

When I ponder these words, the what is and what isn’t in my life takes a back seat. Christ, the Savior, is born! Christ, the gift for the whole world, is here. His salvation is a gift for me. And this so very personal gift from God is an incredible treasure to me.

Christ, my Savior, is born.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*by Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848

The Prince was born to bring your peace…

All you, beneath your heavy load,
By care and guilt bent low,
Who toil along a dreary way
With painful steps and slow:
Look up, for golden is the hour,
Come swiftly on the wing,
The Prince was born to bring your peace;
Of him the angels sing. *

Wow. The imagery of this verse is so strong. I see this person trudging along, weighed down by the situations and circumstances of life. All burdens are not created equal. And a heavy burden on the backs of two different people can look very different because everyone’s ability to carry burdens is different and how people “wear their burdens” is just as various. And, we don’t always know the whole story. We only see a small portion of the whole story.

But … the Prince was born to bring your peace!

Alleluia!

The sizes of our burdens vary greatly but they are burdens nonetheless. Even a small burden can appear to loom large depending on what else is going on. Today, I thank Jesus for being the Prince of my peace. He is the one who can calm the raging sea and calm the storm in me.

This life is always full of challenges and burdens. But I look to the one who came to give me His peace.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

*By: Edmund H. Sears

Over all the weary world

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

The world is weary on many fronts.

And if I am too weary myself, I am of no use to others. It is important that I pace myself so that I have the time to help provide a meal, a word of encouragement, or some kind of help to those in need. Some of those among us have heavier burdens to bear and it is a good thing — even a God thing, to share a burden. When I am feeling discouraged about any circumstance in my life, I don’t have to look very far to find others who are in a much, much more difficult situation.

Who is weary in your life? Do you have an opportunity to provide relief? Can you be more mindful of their situation and offer assistance, prayers, and/or encouragement in some way?

Come, Lord Jesus!
Liz

* By: Edmund H. Sears