I look across at your house and see shadows of the trees dancing in the sunlight and I’m reminded of our porch dances.
You’d sway to the rhythm of your own music and smile impishly. Even though I was across the yard looking through my window I knew there was a twinkle in your eye.
As you twirled under the porch light, I waved and danced along with you wishing we could stay like this forever; a happy moment suspended in time.
I loved when you danced because that meant you were happy. You were so full of life and even when the Alzheimer’s was robbing you of so much you still had a passion for living.
I’ll never forget the time you told me about your dancing skirt. It was denim with several gores; it came down almost to your ankles and it had a nice twirl. I came over one day and you had it on. You told me that when you put it on it made you dance. That skirt is long gone but I hope it is making someone else dance.
Today is a day to remember. You’ve been gone two years and I miss you so much, but when I think of you dancing in heaven it brings me peace because I know how happy you are in the arms of Jesus.
I hope there is a porch in heaven so that someday soon we can dance again.
Let them praise His name with dancing….Psalm 149:3
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV)
As many of you know my mother wrote poetry. She was never formally published but I wish we had pursued that while she was alive. She was in a poetry writing group for a while and had a few published in a couple of newspapers. She also generously shared poems with others when she felt a poem had a message that could encourage the person in whatever circumstance they found themselves. If you have a handwritten copy of one of her poems I hope you keep it as a treasure.
I promised her when she was in hospice that I was going to see that her poetry was published for the whole world to read. I have published a few on my blog, but I have plans, God willing to do a book of her poetry. Most of her poems were written in the mid-seventies through the mid-eighties. They were actually quite good; some, a little rough around the edges, needing some final editing.
In 1975 during Holy Week, on Good Friday, she wrote an Easter Poem and titled it Hallelujah. Because of the repeating refrain of This is Easter Morn I thought about changing the title of the poem but decided that the whole concept of Easter is definitely one big Hallelujah and that must be how she felt about it, so I left her title. I’d like to share it with you:
Happy Easter! I hope you find a church and attend on Easter Sunday to Worship our Risen Savior!
Celebrating in Grace,
If you haven’t read it yet, I shared a whole series about losing my Mom to Alzheimer’s. I shared a few of her poems throughout the series. You can click here to check it out.
“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’
When he had said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46
The verse we read in Luke 23:46 as part of the Easter story is also referenced in Psalm 31:5. Several sources I came across while researching indicated that the phrase “into your hands I commit my spirit” was how the Jewish people ended their evening prayers.
I would imagine that like other Jewish children, Jesus was taught this prayer as a young child. It was a familiar practice that was an act of trust. To commit something of value to another is not a small thing. By definition commit means to entrust something to someone; it also means to put into a place for safekeeping. (Merriman Webster).
By committing their spirit to God each evening they were submitting their soul for safekeeping. What a beautiful picture of complete submission to the will of the father. We know that Jesus had prayed on the Mount of Olives asking for this cup to be taken from him but he surrendered by concluding his prayer with “not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). This too would line up with committing his spirit to Father God.
Then, we have the account in Mark 15:34 of Jesus crying out asking God “why have you forsaken me?” According to Mark, this was at 3 O’clock. Luke’s account begins at noon, followed by three hours of darkness and then right before Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” Luke mentions that it is 3 O’clock. This would imply that only moments after asking why God had forsaken him, Jesus then acknowledges that he is committing his spirit to the father.
In his darkest hour, burdened by the weight of my sin and the sins of the whole world, sins that had not yet been committed, sins that God in his holiness could not look upon, Jesus felt the crushing despair of complete and utter abandonment. But yet, he still trusted that his spirit would be safe with the father.
His loud proclamation of “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” tells us all we need to know about God’s faithfulness. It tells us that a daily practice of committing our spirit (soul) to him is how we develop trust in him, it is how we surrender to his will, not ours, and it is how we can face our own mortality with confidence. When the time comes, just as Jesus did, we can breathe our last breath knowing that we will be united with our Father eternally.
Maybe you are facing insurmountable trials that are shaking your very foundation. Maybe you feel that God has turned his back on you and your world has gone dark. Maybe you are crushed under the weight of despair. I urge you to remember that if you are a born again believer you have hope and even when it seems that all is lost, you can confidently say, “Father, into your hand I commit my spirit.” You can trust him with the safekeeping of your soul.
If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior I can’t think of a better time than during the Easter season.
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen”
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24
I’ve been all twisted up in decision fatigue recently. Considering my place, my purpose, and how that relates to my husband, my writing, my family, my health, my church and my community. I encountered a situation that was a relentless drain on my spirit. Some things were said that were out of line and it hurt deeply. Being the melancholy type that I am and also one who tends to overthink things I replayed the scene over a few times in my mind.
It was exhausting. I remember telling my husband, who is my biggest champion, that I wasn’t even angry, although I may have had reason to be, but that instead I was just done. Over it. I was too tired and weary to handle the stress of the situation. So, I decided to just be me, do life in my corner, trusting God for the outcome and being a helpmate to my husband which is my first calling and the most important relationship in my life after God.
I’m sure that it’s not over yet and there may be more to come. I’m sure that emotions will run the gamut from angry to sad and everything in between. But, I’m also sure that I don’t have to stay on that emotional roller coaster. I don’t have to have all the answers. I just need to do the next right thing.
So what is the next right thing? Well, I’m so glad you asked. For me, the next right thing has been reading Emily P Freeman’s latest book, The Next Right Thing. It is a game changer. It actually does not officially release until April 2, so you have a few days left to pre-order and receive some pretty cool bonuses. Here is a link if you want to check it out: http://nextrightthingbook.com/
I was privileged to be on the launch team and help promote this book. I had actually already pre-ordered my book back in November when Emily first mentioned it in her Newsletter. When the invitation came to join the launch team I jumped at the chance. Even if I wasn’t on the launch team I’d tell you to read this book. All of her books, actually.
Emily’s writing style is beautifully lyrical but at the same time, it is everyday practicality. It’s like sitting down to have a conversation with a kindred spirit. A friend who understands you on the deepest level and will help you see the best parts of your soul. She will guide you through the decision making process, not by telling you exactly what to do, but by showing you the strategies that can help you find the answers that fit you. She also reassures you that you don’t have to see the whole picture all at once or have everything figured out. It is ok to take it one step at a time and just “do the next right thing in love.”
By doing the next right thing you are giving yourself permission to let go of the anxiety-producing over thinking that makes your head spin in circles. The cycle that keeps you awake at night, gnaws at your insides and tells you that you’ll never be enough. This hit home to me in the chapter called Don’t Give Your Critic Words. In this chapter, Emily gives you permission to “refuse to give the critic words”. I can tell you that was very liberating for me to read. I had already decided I was done trying to please the critic, but what I hadn’t fully realized was that as long as I was rehashing the scene I was still giving the critic words. “The critic only lives if we let her live.”
when we don’t admit or become aware of our current life situation, we will continue to have expectations of ourselves and of other people as if things are as they’ve always been when, in fact, they are not. When we’re unaware of where we are, we can’t possibly make informed decisions about where we want to go. This leads to an inability to discern our next right things. –Emily P Freeman
There are so many treasures in this book. Many of them are simple practices that are based in common sense. Yet, they are things that we easily overlook when we get caught up in making plans and choosing what’s best. We make it more complicated than it has to be. That’s where Emily comes along as your guide to gently lead you through the process.
The chapters in the book range from Becoming a Soul Minimalist to Looking for Arrows, Being Where You Are to Wearing Better Pants and Looking for God and Coming Home to Yourself. Throughout the entire book Emily gives a clear path to take one step at a time; A path that will free us to slow down and be fully present and allow the journey to unfold. Instead of worrying about the outcome you will learn how to rest and just do the next right thing.
Tomorrow, Sunday, December 2, is the first Sunday of Advent; A time when we usher in the Christmas season with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Each year our church does an advent devotional booklet written by members of our congregation. Our theme this year is Christmas Carols. For this first week of advent, I thought I’d share with you one that I wrote (a few weeks ago to meet the deadline). It may seem dark, but I hope you see the hope and light shining through the words.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 ESV
O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee to-night.
As I sit here in what appears to be one of my brain fog days, trying to conjure up Christmas thoughts on the day after Halloween, not to mention I need to gear up for giving thanks, I find myself wishing I could just hibernate for the next several weeks. It might have something to do with the cold trying to gain momentum as I type, or it could be all the muddy swirl going on in the world around us, close to home even. The news is full of shootings, unhinged politicians, drugs, and mystery illnesses just to name a few. It’s enough to make even the most stoic among us cringe and say wake me up when it’s over.
If only it were that easy to just hibernate through the bad times. But that’s not how it works. We are told in scripture that in this world we will have trouble. I guess the world has decided to live up to its reputation. However, trouble does not have to define us. God always has the antidote to trouble. He made specific provision for trouble over two thousand years ago with the arrival of Baby Jesus. He sent him, not to save us from the world or to shield us from trouble, but to save us in spite of the world, to save us from our sin and help us in our trouble. He wants to help the whole world in its trouble.
If ever there was a time that the whole world needs help I’d say it’s about now. As I read the words of O Little Town of Bethlehem I am encouraged because I see the light of Christ shining in the dark streets of the world. “The hopes and fears of all the years are met…” All the years tells me that we are not the only generation that needs help in our troubles. If you research history you will find that each generation since the dawning of man has had its share of trouble. There have been dark streets full of secrecy and evil; full of plans orchestrated by the enemy; full of fear. But if you look closely, even in the darkest night there has been a light shining. There has been hope residing next to fear.
That shining light began long before the baby was sent to a lowly manger. All throughout the Old Testament scriptures the thread of God’s provision, our hope, was told. Early in the book of Genesis we are confronted with the reality of sin and the need for salvation; In Genesis 49:10 (ESV) we hear of a ruler who will come, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples”. And in Isaiah 1:11(ESV) it was prophesied, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”
In the New Testament, we see Jesus himself, the great light shining for all to see. Even in his darkest hour, he rose forth victorious and every generation since then has had Godly men and women rise up to be the light in a dark world and show them the love of Jesus. So yes, there will be fear and trouble and plenty of it some days, but the gift of hope and light has been given. Freely given:
How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given! So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven. No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.
O Lord, hear our prayer:
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray! Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us to-day. We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!
Open our hearts to receive you still. Enter in I pray. Amen.