Advent: The Righteous Branch

One of the recurring themes in Scripture is redemption, rescue and renewal.

Over and over, just when it seems things can only get worse, God steps in and crafts an unexpected and beautiful story from the broken bits.

The challenge for we who are trapped in time is to remain patient and hope-filled in the waiting.

Israel had plenty of practice.

I do too.

But God doesn’t leave us without promises to hold onto while we wait.

Jeremiah is often called “The Weeping Prophet” because the messages God have him were full of gloom. Judgement and destruction were on the way. There was no escape and Jeremiah had been commissioned by the Lord to tell folks all about it.

Yet woven throughout the verses detailing all the awful, God spoke hope to the heart of His people:

14 “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

15 “‘In those days and at that time
    I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
    he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
    and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it  will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ “

Jeremiah 33: 14-16 NIV

These words speak hope to my heart too.

Dominic’s death is the most devastating thing I’ve ever endured. It was not only the earthly end of him, it was the earthly end of me in many ways. All the things I anticipated for him, our family and the future were cut down in one fell swoop.

So when Jeremiah promises that even though all that’s left of David’s progeny is a pitiful stump, God will raise up a glorious and most Righteous King, I hear that redemption is possible.

And because Jesus DID come, I know that redemption is guaranteed.

Advent reminds me that even when waiting is long and in the dark, God is working.

Just as He raised up life from a (humanly) lifeless bit of wood in the ground, He will raise my son and redeem my pain.

QUESTIONS:

  • Have you ever thought a plant was dead only to have it sprout fresh some time later? How might that experience help you cling to hope while waiting on the Lord?
  • What do the words “The Lord Our Righteous Savior” mean to you?
  • The literal translation of those words is “Jehovah Tsidkenu” or The Lord My Righteousness. There is no righteousness apart from Christ. No way for me to clean up enough to stand in the presence of God. Have you embraced and received the gift of God’s grace and mercy through Jesus? Is HE your righteousness?
  • God has never hidden from His people the fact that life in this fallen world is hard. Are you encouraged or discouraged by His honesty?
  • Do you have favorite promises your heart clings to in times of discouragement? Consider typing or writing them out in a journal or small booklet to review often.

PRAYER:

Father God,

It is so, so easy to be discouraged and disheartened. Truth is, life is hard and often seems headed in the direction of becoming harder.

I’m tired and sometimes I want to give up and give in. Not only is there no end in sight, I can’t even imagine an end that would be worth waiting for.

But I will choose to trust in Your unfailing word. I will rest in Your everlasting love. And I will take hold of every single promise You have made. Help me trust that You are working-even when I can’t see it-to redeem, restore, rescue and rewrite my story.

Let me remember that You are the God of new things, the God who transforms death into life.

Amen

Advent: The Light That Bursts Through Gloom

In our modern age of light switches and street lights it’s hard to imagine a world where the tiniest candle flame could lead a body to safety.

But for most of human history that was how people lived.

It’s how some still live.

So when John described Jesus as the “Light that bursts through gloom-the Light that darkness could not diminish” (John 1: 5 TPT) he’s really saying something.

This isn’t a tiny candle or smoky oil lamp barely pushing back the edges of inky night.

Jesus is a spotlight dispelling not only the experience of darkness but the power of darkness!

And that’s only a fraction of the truth revealed in these five verses.

In the very beginning the Living Expression was already there.

And the Living Expression was with God, yet fully God.

They were together-face-to-face, in the very beginning. And through his creative inspirations this Living Expression made all things, for nothing has existence apart from him!

Life came into being because of him, for his life is light for all humanity.

And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom-the Light that darkness could not diminish!

John 1: 1-5 TPT

Jesus is co-equal with God. He has existed for eternity past along with the Father. They were, and are, in perfect community.

Face-to-face, cooperating in speaking life and light into existence.

No thing and no one draws breath apart from Christ.

In Him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28 | Good morning  girls, Inspirational scripture, Morning girl

That is why my heart can rest secure in the promise that the resurrection is coming.

If Jesus breathed life once into my son, He will most certainly breathe life once again into his glorified body.

Image may contain: one or more people, text that says 'FOR He HAS RESCUED US FROM THE DOMINION OF DARKNESS AND BROUGHT US INTO THE KINGDOM OF The Son He Loves COLOSSIANS 1:13'

So when the darkness threatens to consume me I light a candle.

I watch the flame and listen for my Shepherd King’s voice singing hope over my soul.

QUESTIONS:

  • Do you have personal experience of being lost in the dark? How did you find your way to safety?
  • When have you felt soul darkness? Could you hear or feel the Lord reaching out and reaching down to lead you to the Light of His love?
  • Why is it important to know that Jesus is eternally co-existent with the Father?
  • Does the fact that Christ is the creative force of the Godhead give you confidence in His promise to redeem and restore what the enemy has stolen?
  • How does the fact that Jesus is the Eternal and Inextinguishable Light help your heart hold onto hope?

PRAYER:

Lord,

I live in a world of uncertainty and often great pain. It’s easy for my heart to sink into despair. It’s hard to hold onto hope.

In the natural it feels like darkness is winning.

But I know, deep in my soul, that Your Light will conquer the darkness. In Your Presence there is no night-only, always, glorious Day.

Help me lean into this truth and hold onto hope.

Let the light, love and life of Christ dwell in me richly and spill over into a lost and lonely world.

Amen

Birthdays Are…Complicated

Today is my birthday.

And while I am truly grateful for another trip around the sun, since Dominic left us it’s not a simple celebration of life lived and the hope of years to come.

The last birthday I had with an unbroken family circle was a lovely surprise party for my fiftieth held in Dom’s apartment.

My fiftieth birthday! ❤

Seven years later and it seems a lifetime ago.

So when I wake up to another sunrise and take inventory (as those of us who reach a certain age are wont to do) on the anniversary of my birth, I count losses as well as gains.

And I wish, wish, wish that old wives’ tale about blowing out candles in a single breath were true.

Because other than the continued health of my surviving children, there’s only one wish worth the air I take in and out of my lungs-something Dominic can never do again-and that is for him to have the privilege of blowing out the candles once more.

It’s not only HIS birthday that makes my heart ache.

It’s mine.

I would have gladly traded my life for his.

But I wasn’t given that choice.

Another Bend In The Road

Life may be a highway but it’s not a straight one.

It’s full of bends, curves, switchbacks and long stretches with distant horizons.

For a gal who likes knowing where she’s headed and how long it might take to get there, it’s more than a little challenging.

Sometimes I’d want to get out and camp on the side of life’s highway, take a pause and just catch my breath before the next set of roller coaster hills forces me to hold on tight for the ride.

In nearly fifty-seven years I’ve hardly ever been able to do that. So here I am, barreling down the road again toward more curves and more changes.

My youngest son and my husband are on their way right now from the Left Coast driving a truck toward home. When they get here we’ll have to unload an apartment full of stuff from my hubby’s place out there into our already pretty stuffed house. We’ve lived a lot of life in these walls and I readily admit I’m a saver of memories and things that signify special moments.

So while they were packing and loading, I’ve been cleaning around here.

It’s been physically, mentally and emotionally difficult to drag my body and heart down memory lane.

A Short Walk Down Memory Lane from the 1990s | Chris Mercer

It’s just so hard-STILL– to touch things Dominic once touched and it takes my breath away. My heart has broken again over not only losing HIM but also losing the family I once had. We’ve all changed so. very. much. A mother can’t help but wonder if life for my surviving children might not be much brighter and easier if their brother were still here to share it.

Tiny bits of this and that force me to face things I’ve forgotten (sometimes on purpose) and feel things I’ve suppressed. It’s a grueling process.

I’ve had to take multiple breaks and simply walk away from the mess I’m creating in an effort to organize and downsize but I know it will be worth it in the end.

So I’ll keep on keeping on.

I’m sure this curve won’t be the last one.

Retirement here we come!

One Day I Will Be A Memory- I Want To Be A Good One.

I used to tell my children that they would not wake up one day and be a certain kind of person on their eighteenth or twenty-first birthday if they were not working to be that person right now.

And I remind myself that I won’t suddenly be a better version of me just because I cross the threshold of senior citizenship.

Age doesn’t magically transform anyone into a better self than that which they have been practicing to become.

If I am kind and gracious and loving today, then I will most likely be so tomorrow.

If I am bitter and spiteful and petty right now, my heart won’t open wide just because of a birthday that ushers in a new decade of life.

I am crafting a legacy every. single. day.

People will remember me for who I am, not who I wish I had been.

It’s Easier To Make A Difference Than You Think

Some people’s passions lead them to headline making, world changing careers.  

Most of us spend our days in smaller ways. 

And we often feel like our tiny efforts create barely a ripple in the giant ocean of human experience.

But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful or perfect to make a difference in someone’s life.

All you have to do is care.

Read the rest here: Making a Difference is Easier Than You Think

Sometimes Life Happens

I confess. 

When I used to drive by an unkempt yard, a run down house or bumped into an untidy person, I would think, “Goodness!  Don’t they care about their yard, home or appearance?  They need to do better!  I would NEVER let my (fill in the blank) look like that.”

I don’t do that anymore.  

Because I’ve learned that there are all kinds of reasons a body may not be busy mowing a lawn,  painting a porch or even putting on matching socks.

Read the rest here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/09/13/life-happens/

Why I Need To Tell His Story & Why I Need Someone To Listen

Every time I tell the story of Dominic, it helps to keep him real.

It reminds my heart that he lived, that he mattered, that he matters still.

And in the telling, I am giving away a little bit of him for another heart to carry. 

His light is passed to another soul that can pass it to another and another.

Read the rest here: Why We Have to Tell Our Stories & Why We Need Someone to Listen

Repost: Tomorrow’s Not Guaranteed. Live Like It.

I shared this last year but think it’s especially appropriate for the times we’re living in right now.

Every day is a gift. I’ll say it again: Every. Day. Is. A. Gift.

Don’t waste this season wishing or complaining it away. Don’t toss these moments on the trash heap as worthless. This is your life. This is your family’s life.

Time is the only thing you can never spend twice. Use it wisely.

We say it often.

Usually after someone we know or someone we love or someone famous is suddenly and unexpectedly taken from this life to the next.

And for a few minutes or a few days or a few weeks we think more carefully about what we say, what we do and what we worry about.

Read the rest here: Tomorrow’s Not Guaranteed. Live Like It.

Let The Morning Come In Our Hearts

I have written many times of my habit of greeting each new day watching the sun come up through my east facing living room window.

It never gets old.

I cherish the reminder that despite how difficult things may be or how dark my heart might feel, God is still on His throne.

Daily Bible Verse | Heaven | Psalm 103:19

As the shadows fade and light pours through the window and illuminates the world outside, I remember that no night lasts forever and death doesn’t win.

John 11:25-26 | Jesus quotes, John 11 25 26, Jesus

It’s not always easy to choose life, Lord

Because then we have to struggle with who we are

and why we are, and who you are,

and what to do with who we are,

and why we are,and who you are.

We have to let you make us new, and being made anything always hurts.

Father,

Let the morning come in our hearts,

So morning can come in our lives,

And the world that needs a word of hope can hear

‘Death has lost, and life has won.”

Verdell Davis, Riches Stored in Secret Places

It IS painful to be made into anything.

And sometimes I resist.

But then the morning comes and once again I choose to yield my heart to the One who loves me best and is molding and making me more like Jesus.