Sunday Thoughts: Growing Roots

The end of the year typically leads people into reflection – on their past, what life is like today, and what could be to come in the future. I don’t always choose New Year’s resolutions but I do like to set goals and think about how things could be different in the coming year.

I spent some time in the book of Jeremiah this morning, reading about God’s promises and prophesies for Israel. Jeremiah is a prophet called by God to spread the message of repentance and turning away from false hope in empty idols.

I was convicted by this passage, which made me think about where I put my trust and the fruit I’m bearing (or, more honestly, not bearing):

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:5-8

Even though I committed my heart to Jesus many years ago, I still struggle with putting my hope and confidence in Him. I let things bother me too easily and often feel like there’s more that God could be doing with my life, if I were open to it.

I want roots that grow so deep in the Lord they never get thirsty. Doesn’t that sound so refreshing?

As part of Threshold in November and December, we have been experimenting with spiritual disciplines. I chose the disciplines of silence and solitude. I have noticed over the last couple of years how distracted I am. I only make time for God when I feel like it and my time with Him seems to just consist of me asking for things. I fill the air around me with music, tv, people and am always thinking about or processing something, whether it’s news, work, facebook or other blogs.

My assignment was to spend 15 minutes in silence and solitude every day. I set out to leave my desk at work and walk the surrounding streets without listening to music or looking at my phone. The goal was to clear my head and just be silent. It wasn’t that I was expecting to hear from God in those 15 minutes, it was more about creating space in my life that was open for Him to speak, without my specific parameters crowding the time.

To be honest, I haven’t been very successful. My first few days walking around the block were consumed with thoughts of where I was going to park in December when Tyler moved to Maine and my regular commute changed. This was such a glaring example of how I fret about stupid little things instead of letting God work them out.

I did have some sweet moments of His presence. One day in particular stands out when I was blessed with some memories of my maternal grandparents who both passed over a decade ago. I also experienced a lessening in my desire to be constantly multitasking. I’m hopeful that this will continue and translate into a more focused heart on God’s presence in my day to day life.

It’s easy to become stunted shrubs in the desert, inhabiting a barren land without even really noticing. I feel like my roots have tasted of good soil but have yet to grow deep. I want more of that good soil.

As we reflect on 2012 and look forward into 2013, I pray that we would not only taste the good soil but plant ourselves firmly and deeply into it. I look expectantly with hope that God is going to bear sweet fruit from my life, despite how barren the land before me may look.

Blessings to you and yours in 2013!

(Pssst… Growing roots has a two-fold meaning for us in the new year. Check out my new blog on organic living at http://simple-roots.blogspot.com)

It Begins with Him

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:15-20

It’s been a quiet month on Heights of Love. While we are living this transitional chapter, a tale of two cities if you will, I have been seeking stillness in the chaos. My heart has been receiving a lot in this time and I look forward to sharing it with you in the weeks to come.

I was planning to write a post about the song Let There Be Peace on Earth. Tyler and I went to see the Boston Holiday Pops last weekend and at the very end of the concert, the Pops led a sing-a-long of this song in honor of Newtown.

I was struck by the phrase “let it begin with us” and thought I would write about how there is something each of us can do every day to contribute to peace.

I still believe that we play an integral part in making peace come alive but on this Christmas morning, I am reminded that it does not begin with us.

It begins with Him.

He came as an innocent babe, born into a modest setting and suffered a tragic death. Why?

For us.

So that we could have peace…

So that we could receive grace…

So that we could know His true love – a love that will never fade or grow distant.

Just as Mary treasured the miracle of her son, a life-giving prophesy fulfilled, I pray that we, too, would remember the miracle of this day and the hope that it symbolizes.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very merry Christmas and new beginnings in 2013.

Blessings and peace to you this Christmas morning :)

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The Light Shines in the Darkness

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it John 1:5

light

The darkness will never overcome the light.

Prayers for mercy, grace, and supernatural comfort for all affected by the tragedy in Newtown, CT. May the light of Christ and the promise of new life be a beacon of hope during this season now pierced by heartbreak.

 

Prepare My Heart

It’s the first Sunday of Advent, the season of anticipation and preparation for the birth of Jesus. I have fond memories of lighting our advent wreath and reading through devotionals from my mom.

I love this time of year, as many of us do. The traditions, the festive decor, the food (yum!), the music. It’s so easy to get caught up in the gifts and the parties, almost finding ourselves surprised by the real Christmas story when we go to church on December 24th.

I don’t want to be surprised this year.

After spending time in the Psalms leading up to Thanksgiving, I didn’t quite feel ready for Christmas when the Black Friday sales began and radio stations started playing Christmas music. Over the past week I’ve felt drawn to the book of Isaiah, one of the prophets in the Old Testament who prophesied the coming of Christ:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

It’s like God was whispering to me, Don’t lose sight of My heart this Christmas.

I haven’t found an Advent devotional yet and I don’t think we’ll be lighting any candles since Tyler and I will be apart for almost every Sunday night of advent. While I’m longing for these traditions, I’m also welcoming the opportunity to have quiet, unstructured reflection this Christmas.

As we prepare for His coming, we anticipate a lot more than presents and a holiday meal. The birth of Jesus brought a new hope into this world and each year we have the opportunity to open our hearts to His grace and salvation.

I’m not sure what God will reveal during these next few weeks but I know He wants to speak to each of us. I pray that God would prepare our hearts for the joyful gift of Jesus, so that we might live with a renewed sense of purpose in the coming year. I pray that we would find stillness in the chaos and that when we find ourselves singing “O Holy Night” on Christmas Eve, that we would truly understand the meaning of “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”

Blessings to you this Advent season!