SAVE A LIFE by Using Your Imagination!!!

ImaginationImagination. We too often forget its power.

That envisioning power that moves us to act.

When I was younger…

I imagined being a teacher.

I imagined falling in love.

I imagined becoming an explorer.

And I’ve gotten to experience each of these wonderful things – sometimes more than once!

But I also imagined contributing something great to society. Something worthwhile. Have you ever imagined that too? But what? With the giving season upon us, I can’t help but be reminded of the story of the little drummer boy and how he wanted to bring something special to the newborn babe of Christmas. What could I possibly have to bring?

At least I’m asking a better question. You know, a better one that “What can I possibly get for myself?” The fact is, I know I already have more than I need. Most of us do.

Whenever I fuss about my closet being too small, I think of the small village huts in South Sudan in which an entire large family lives (if they all live) that aren’t any bigger than one room in my house.

Whenever my air conditioning goes out (always in the hottest part of the summer, I grumble), I remember how my brothers & sisters in South Sudan only have ‘open air’ all year long – to whatever they’ve been conditioned, where it’s over 100 degrees Fahrenheit week after scorching week.

Whenever I turn my nose up at my abundance of dinner choices…okay, you get the idea.

So what can I possibly give that will make a difference in this world?

I can only imagine…

The holiday season brings with it an attitude to imagine great possibilities in our lives and in our world.

For me, as I try to follow the teachings of Jesus, it’s a time when I contemplate the meaning of his very being coming into this world. What must it have been like for my LORD, the GOD of the Universe, to squeeze and constrict Himself into the soft, fleshy, awkward body of a tiny baby boy? On the one hand, we Christians like to imagine him there, all snuggled up in warm cuddly blankets, lying peacefully in that precious little manger on that first Christmas Eve. Then reality hits us. (Or it needs to.) The King of Kings has been given a place in a smelly cave full of livestock (who, by the way, generally leave behind slobber when they’re eating from that manger). That’s where his birth took place. He was lying in that manger (and possibly no more peacefully than any other babe that’s ever been born) because there was no room for him anywhere else in his world. Apparently, the earth was too busy to take notice of his arrival or to care about his existence. I’m left to ask myself – how often might I have declined an invitation to make a difference in someone else’s life for far less substantial reasons than that? I can’t even imagine.

And yet, He still didn’t hesitate to come!

While we’re imagining, let me ask you another important question.
How often have you had a chance to SAVE someone else’s life?

vulnerable childrenWell, it just so happens that, this holiday season, you can.

Imagine that.

I’ve found that I have the ability to SAVE A LIFE for $10.00. And the best part is that large administrative costs don’t get scraped off the top. (Yeah, I watch for things like that with charitable organizations that can turn out to be most charitable to themselves. But not on this one.)

Could I really live with myself knowing that I could have fore-gone some expendable $10.00 item for myself – even 1 meal if I had to – to SAVE A(n un-expendable) LIFE?

Imagine your $10.00 buying a mosquito netting or funding spraying that is necessary to prevent Malaria. Imagine the most vulnerable Malaria victims – children under the age of 5 – who will have the opportunity to live a full life thanks to your caring & generosity.

INM_wreathClicking on the image above or this link will take you to a place where you can SAVE A LIFE: http://www.causes.com/actions/1717866

John Lennon once sang these words, years ago, and I can’t imagine how they wouldn’t apply to this appeal today:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

This money doesn’t go through me and definitely doesn’t come to me. Heck, I won’t even get “credit” for it if you decide you want to honor or memorialize someone with a gift for the holidays. Unless you tell me about it, I’ll never even know if I made one ounce of difference when you read this (or even if you made it this far). I won’t even know which lives were saved.

But, you can be assured…

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I’m going to imagine it!

Clicking on the image above or this link will take you to a place where you can SAVE A LIFE: http://www.causes.com/actions/1717866

Word a Week Photo Challenge: Light

Celebrating the Light that Has Come into the World !!!

Starlight Worship Banner

Starlight Worship Banner

hope

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He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Isaiah 49:6

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joy

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“THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”

Matthew 4:16

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love

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In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.

John 1:4

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peace

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When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

-John 8:12

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These lights represent our worship stations this week, in which we interactively reflected on

Hope, Joy, Peace & Love –

as the Light who came into the world.

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In response to the Word a Week Photo Challenge: Light – 

Let your light so shine among men…
(that’s “bible-speak” for women too, of course!)

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Attitude of Gratitude – A Guilty Little Pleasure

One of the Daily Prompts this week is:  Tell us about a guilty pleasure that you hate to love.

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One week before Christmas…

Gosh, I just HATE that I loved getting up at 5:30 a.m. this morning when I had taken the day off and could’ve slept in.

And I just HATE knowing that, even though I said I was doing it for someone else, in truth…
I get this extreme pleasure from testing God and seeing what He’s going do with it.

Yep, I said it. I know, what does that say about me?! The thing I was told my whole life not to do. Test God. Except I did find this one place in the bible where even God says to test Him. So, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I get this guilty little pleasure, this one day a year when I’m actually able to get away from work, to take Him up on His challenge. (Okay, maybe I’ve tested Him a few other times, but let’s let mangy dogs lie…)

You see, our church has a Title I elementary school next door to us – a school that doesn’t always have necessary enrichment resources to meet the needs of its students, a school whose parents may have limited practical resources to be involved there or sometimes even with their childrens’ homework. (Single parents often work multiple jobs to support multiple kids, you know.) When our church first got involved in how to help our next door neighbors, we realized there were three particular areas of concern where we could help: (1) provide some appropriate reading level resources; (2) provide some instructional supply needs; and (3) provide something else that was important to these children – a back-to-school celebratory gathering that the school’s resources could not accommodate.

We named our little project the “Open Hands” ministry, at the time an extension of our Church’s tagline: “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” We wanted these children to understand that we were trying to be the hands and feet of Christ, serving some practical needs with our prayerful hands, while also extending those hands in welcoming friendship in community with them.

Our community gathering, the Back-to-School Bash and Splash, has become epic (at least for me – and nearly 700 other people); but today – the day in which we visit just before the students leave for the holidays and provide a reading-level-appropriate book to each child at the school – is one of my favorite days of the year! I didn’t do it out of guilty pleasure the first year. I did it with my heart focused solely on those children. But that was the first year. We’ll call it the “pre-assessment” year, when I didn’t know any better…

All I knew was that, by my Christian beliefs, this was part of how I intended to celebrate Emmanuel coming into the world to be with us as humans. That’s one of the names given to the Christ child in prophesy – Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14); and it means “God with us.” It’s a great reminder to me, especially when life seems to be stinking out and all my joys seem to have been plundered, that God wants to draw near to me, to be in relationship with me. He wants me to know that He wants to be here. He understands.

“Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel…”
we Christians sing as His season draws nigh upon us.

playing_SantaSo as I entered the hallowed halls of that school building this morning, I took time to think of the many ways in which He’d shown Himself since I started to get to be a part of this several years ago. I calculated that many of the 5th graders who were completing their tenure at that school this year knew well of His arrival (since they were quick to tell us so today) – and of our arrival with the books. Those oldest students would have, in fact, received a visit and a book from us each and every year of their elementary life existence. They knew why we were there as we arrived! The teachers were ready for us too – many telling us that their students had been anxiously awaiting our arrival to their classes since they saw us come into the hallways, even peeping up from their work or out their doors occasionally. As we entered their classes, without exception, we were welcomed with warm, gracious and cheerful hearts. I reveled in this guilty pleasure!

But what, you ask, do I mean by me testing God? Well, I’ve come to realize, over the years, that I never know what to expect from these visits – not specifically anyway. What I do know is that I have to be present to receive His blessings. When I do show up and test Him with the big question, “What exciting blessing am I going to receive today?”, He simply tells me to be ready for it. I only know that I’m going to walk out that school door later that day with a heart overflowing in gratitude for the gifts I’ve been given. Yes, I know. I’m the one bearing the physical gifts of books. But the gifts I receive are so much greater (because it’s impossible for me to out-give God).

HUMC_ltrs

Evidence of the children’s gratitude

This year, as I sat on the wild-and-whimsical purple carpet of Ms. J’s reading center, spreading out books to be chosen and claimed, I didn’t realize the depth of gratitude I was going to receive in the unexpected hug of a tiny 7-year-old girl. I understood there was something special about this particular hug, something deeply heartfelt. It wasn’t until we had said our “Merry Christmases,” “You’re welcomes” and “Good-byes” that Ms. J caught us at the door to personally express her appreciation.

Ms. J told us how one of her children had gone home only a few days earlier to find her mom, no longer alive. She told us how that child had asked to come to school in the days before the funeral because that’s where she felt safe and loved. I asked if she would show me this child, though my heart already knew her before Ms. J pointed to a tiny, caramel-skinned girl in a flouncy blue skirt. Ms. J told me how, over the past few days, sometimes this little girl had stopped her work and come up to lay her head against her teacher’s shoulder. For anyone who believes a teacher’s calling is only to impart knowledge, I can’t think of anything further from the truth. Ms. J will be the teacher whom this little girl, “A,” remembers for making a positive impact for the rest of her life out of the quiet, responding care that would allow a little child to come gather love when needed.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.”
What greater calling is there than this?

I shared with Ms. J how I, too, lost my mother when I was a little girl and how “A” would be in my prayers because my heart ached for her to be without her mom during this holiday season and beyond. I also thanked Ms. J that “A” had her and caring classmates to feel safe around. But I still hurt for her loss. Isn’t that why the babe of Christmas Day truly came into this world? To bring us hope in the midst of our trials, our losses, our suffering. That’s the reason I get excited about Emmanuel – about God coming to be with me – and you – to suffer alongside us during our hurts, our doubts, our despairs, and our joys and victories. Even in the very worst times in my life, knowing that ‘Emmanuel’ has been with me brings me a great sense of peace – and gratitude.

Even Santa expresses gratitude.

Even Santa expresses gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude – I learned more about gratitude on my first visit to that elementary school than I ever could have imagined – not the children’s gratitude (though that was extraordinarily special); not even my own gratitude (though it could always use the boost) – but I learned about GOD’s gratitude towards us! Does that sound like a ridiculous claim?  Hard to believe, isn’t it? That the GOD of the Universe would actually take the time to express His gratitude to us – His creation.

That first year, delivering those books, we didn’t quite know how to be organized about what we were doing; a few of the teachers were wary of us as strangers roaming their hallways; and the children didn’t really know what to make of us (like they do now as the ‘seasoned book-receivers’ they have become!).  But one little boy answered an immediate prompting from his heart that will always remain in mine. Long after we had left his classroom, long after he and his classmates had said a verbal thank-you, he came racing out into the hallway with a torn, folded note in his hand and gave it to one of the gentlemen helping that day (along with a great big hug).

As we got ready to leave the school, standing at the school’s entrance, this gentleman handed me the note. (I just hate to tell you that I’m loving this moment of gloating over this once again.) I unfolded this tattered little piece of paper and stood there, speechless, tears forming in the corners of my eyes. You can make of it what you will, but I felt the grateful hug of my heavenly Father upon reading it that day.

The note simply said,

“Thank you. –Emmanuel”

In Need of Reconstruction…

“My lady, please come down from there this minute….”

“Yes, I know, I know. That’s been your spot for a number of years now. I understand your concern that someone else might try to take your place if you were to move from it; but the physician is here. He’s expressed his desire to visit with you…”

“Liberty! I mean it! You must come down from there this very instant, young lady!”

“There, there. Please forgive me. No need for a tantrum. I didn’t mean to be so crass about it. My apologies for calling you by your given name.” Ah, she can be so prideful at times. “My lady, the physician refuses to climb up onto that pedestal to treat you. He is simply too great for that…. Yes, my lady, greater than you, I’m afraid. Great enough to heal you, if you’d but come down and let him do his life’s work.”

“Yes, I agree. You are still quite lovely at your, um, age and in very little need of reconstructive work…I mean, in no need, my lady. No need whatsoever for any additional outer beauty. You stand there quite proudly displaying all you have to offer – especially to those seamen coming into port. Why, no, no. I meant nothing by my careless remark. A harmless observation, that’s all.”

“No, my lady, he offers no facial polishes for you, no magical potions, nothing more to enhance your façade. His appeal is quite odd, actually. He simply requests to spend time with you daily. He claims that, in doing so, you could be healed of so many problems that ail you. Addictions, anger, corruption, greed, hurt, injustice, pain…he has quite a list here, apparently provided in alphabetical order. Oh, dear, pride is on here too – after policy.”

“Perhaps you should just hold your post up there, along with that torch. I think this chap may have bitten off more than he can chew. Possibly a blindfold is all that’s truly in order.”

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Screenshot from Planet of the Apes

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Trifecta Writing Challenge: Week Fifty-six – This week we are borrowing from Write, Love, Live who gave us the perfect word for this week.  Be sure to check your usage–the third definition does not pertain to the body.

HEAL

1a : to make sound or whole <heal a wound>
b : to restore to health
2a : to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome: mend <the troubles … had not been forgotten, but they had been healed — William Power>
b : to patch up (a breach or division) <heal a breach between friends>
3: to restore to original purity or integrity <healed of sin>

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Related Articles:

A Mean and Less Life

Life’s uPS & DOwns (as depicted by Foster Falls)

Life is a series of        F                                   S
                                    A                              B
                                       L                        M
                                         L                    I
                                           S               L
                                               and   C

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Of losses and finds,

creek

Of crossing bridges to unknown sides…

bridge

Of pondering ‘what ifs,’

pondering

Of nearing cliffs,

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Of skips and slips and unplanned trips;

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                    Of well-planned goals

trail

                                                     that get filled full of H O L E S…yet –

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Our feet oft resound

rocks&woods

On stray paths found

path

In our trials,  

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     (to our surprise!)

peek

 Where                 ‘breath-takings’                still abound.

 Foster Falls

 © 2012 jody love

 

May your climbs continue on well past when your life becomes crepuscular,

day is done

And may you become as grand as all your falls, viewed only through lenses of spectacular!

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Sharing my wonderful day at Foster Falls, -jody

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In response to “Me Time” – What’s your ideal Saturday morning? Are you doing those things this morning? Why not?

Foster Falls is one depiction of how I like to spend my Saturdays, beginning in the morning and travelling through a breath-taking part of my day. Those pictures were not taken this past Saturday though – they were from the one prior – nor were they posted this past Saturday, as originally planned. As I awoke on this particular past Saturday, after a week-full of worries from colleagues over a perceived threat that began on Monday, a mid-week mass mall shooting that intensified those concerns, and then hearing the very sad & further heart-breaking news from my office on Friday afternoon of what had transpired that day at Sandy Hook Elementary (and being thankful the majority of my colleagues were already safely at home), I realized by Saturday morning that my “me time” needed to be my “He time.” As much as I enjoy it being our “we time” as I marvel at His works in nature, I spent some quiet time, instead, going to His Word. My own heart was torn, in need of healing. Less of me; more of Him. Then upon reading post after post filled with despair and searching for answers, I decided this particular Saturday morning might best be spent trying to put to pen the words I was personally applying as a balm to my own soul, as others tried to sort through it and find hope and healing. I wrote this post that morning instead, in hopes of sharing some of the hope of which I, too, was being reminded: A Mean and Less Life.

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Related Articles:

Weekly Photo Challenge: HAppY

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Water

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture in Nature

A Mean and Less Life

Newtown, Connecticut – Elementary school shooting

Happy Valley, Oregon – Mall shooting

And the list goes on and on…with ABC News reporting 31 school shootings in the U.S. since the Columbine incident in 1999. Think Progress lists a tragic timeline of mass shootings since Columbine.The New Republic reports that “Mass Shootings Are on the Rise–And 2012 Has Been Deadlier Than Ever Before.”

Those who have experienced it are forever traumatized. Even if not physically present, our nation has experienced it and our students, teachers, and the general public are traumatized. Headlines read, “Police, world  wonder…” and “motive a mystery” and “Why are mass shootings becoming more common?” and “no answers.”

When I can’t find an answer in the physical world, that’s when I come to realize I’m looking in the wrong place. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. As spiritual beings, we’ve been given a spiritual DNA, a human triumvirate made up of Faith, Hope and Love. (I Corinthians 13:13 tells us that these three ABIDE – remain as a part of us – faith, hope and love.) When we aren’t tapping into these sources of our being, our lives are going to be out of balance.

For today, I really want to focus on HOPE because there are Hope Thieves everywhere around us (and we don’t want to be in danger of becoming one either). Hope is one important element to our wholeness.

Someone once said, “without hope, life is meaningless,” but what I heard was, “without hope, life is mean and less.”

As I’ve contemplated on HOPE, I truly feel in my heart that I first have to hope for something before I can begin building my faith on the matter. I think a lot of people are living mean and less lives because they’ve allowed their hope to be stolen. As we are presently abiding in the season of Light (in which I’ll personally celebrate my Savior coming into the world), it’s no wonder that the hope thief would come to try to kill and steal (as God’s Word explains) and to extinguish that light in His people. Therefore, when besieged by troubles, I implore of you – Do NOT lose your hope.

Hope becomes my spiritual VISIONING process – the way my mind can see things as a possibility to be able to move in the direction of God’s destiny for my life. Yet, if my hope gets demolished early on, my faith may likely never be able to begin to sprout or grow. If my hope gets squashed, my faith can’t produce any fruit.

God’s Word emphasizes Hope’s importance in us knowing HIM.

hope

What is HOPE, anyway? When I was growing up, I can remember my best friend’s mom saying, “Put hope in one hand and spit in the other and see which one gets filled the fastest.”  So hope was something that wasn’t going to be fulfilled by her definition (and the process of trying was going to be disgusting). With many of us, it’s often a vague wish or a best case scenario when things don’t look so good.

“Hoping for the best” is just a singular side of HOPE that, in and of itself, won’t give you the base you need on its own. It won’t be enough alone. It has to be combined in FAITH and LOVE to be complete.

Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

If the enemy can squash the fruit of our faith by early-on demolishing our hope, the victory of the hope thieves can be assured.

Hope Reflection

I conducted a quick, informal, convenience survey on Facebook & received 27 responses almost immediately.

Why don’t you take a moment to reflect on the same question that I asked of my FB pals?

‘What steals your hope?’

hope thieves

As you can see, the hope thief has been working overtime in some of my friends’ lives. So what should we do if we want to keep a thief away?

We keep watch. (We have to be responsible for identifying this loss of hope in ourselves and in others, and LOVING enough to take practical action.)

I Thessalonians 5:6 tells us:

So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clear-headed.

The King James version says “to be sober” in place of alert & clear-headed. But in going back to Strong’s concordance for an explanation of the Greek, this phrase means “free from negative influences.” Look at that list above again. It’s filled with negative influences. Where God’s Word tells us that the Thief came to steal and kill and destroy lives (through negative influences), Jesus says:

abundant life

In an ideal world, that abundance would be accepted by all and lived out by all. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world where many have given up on hope and abundance – and it affects us all.

On that practical note, here’s some more news about HOPE that’s both bad and good. Hope doesn’t really come from pretty places often we’re thousands of feet in the air, in the fog, in a plane running out of fuel before the thought to even have HOPE ever springs to mind! Or perhaps in a very dark moment following a horrific, senseless tragedy. As was the case of the Apostle Paul when he penned these ironic words:

Romans 5:3-5: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Strangely, Hope springs forth from a seed of suffering…and then, more surprisingly, it has the ability to grow into something so much greater – to actually produce Love. How can this be, especially in the midst of horrific circumstances?

In times like today, when I reflect on these senseless, tragic shootings that have taken so many lives – ironically at a time when the world speaks of peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, I can nearly see myself frantically searching around, tearing up the place, desperately searching for my lost hope. Where did I put it? Where could it be? Like the woman Jesus mentioned in Scripture, turning her house upside down – calling on her friends to help her find it…

And that’s what we must do. We should call on others to help us find it – our hope. We should support one another in community. Yet, most importantly of all, we must find the most important key of all to maintaining our HOPE in those dark hours. The answer can be found directly, without question:

Psalm 39:7 – And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.

But how, you ask? Let’s go to Scripture once more for the answer:

Psalm 25:5  –  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

We have to let him guide us (in His truth, not the world’s), teach us AS a Savior, and don’t miss the part where we have to be willing to do it not a portion of the day, but…ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!! That’s what it means for our Human Triumvirate of Faith, Hope & Love to ABIDE. We are to abide in Him – all the day long.

Hope is not something we can conjure up on our own – it’s NOT a WISH. Our Hope is found in HIM – He has to guide us to it, to teach us how to bring it forth & we have to be willing to exercise on this All Day Long.

I think when people don’t find their HOPE IN HIM, it becomes dormant; it collapses. When it’s not sustained, any vision we might have had from HOPE can die. Take heart. If your Hope has withered away, it can be Resurrected. That’s what the Resurrection of the Christ means to us.

Things that are dead (that have been destroyed)…CHRIST’S HOPE can bring back to LIFE. Christ came so that we might have life – ETERNAL.  He specializes in the Resurrection of the dead. His divine current can Resurrect your hope – allow it to rise up and triumph over a deadened & numbed spirit! That’s the Good News!

Ways to Resurrect Hope IN CHRIST – by looking at examples of different types of Resurrection Jesus brought about:

  • It can happen in an unexpected instant (the woman’s son who was being carried by the processional of mourners).
  • It can happen when it appears that it is absolutely too late (Jesus waited until the fourth day for Lazarus’ resurrection).
  • It can happen when we’ve been told it will, but we keep trying not to believe (Jesus’ own Resurrection).
  • In all cases, it’s done BY him and THROUGH Him – out of His love & compassion for us.

I pray that we can have that same LOVE and compassion for others, to help hold them up in FAITH when they are crumbling in despair, and to be HOPE givers when thieves have tried to steal their last bit of hope.

Call recompense to the thief by speaking AFFIRMATIVES of HOPE to others’ lives today. In this way, we also serve to resurrect both their spirits and our own.

Acknowledge the words of the psalmist & song:

My life is in you, Lord, my strength is in you, Lord, my hope is in you,

Lord, in you, it’s in you!

For me, this is the hope that the babe of Christmas Day brings, as the Son of God breaks into this world to become the Son of Man, to reside among us in the midst of our brokenness.

My most sincere prayers to those parents, family members, friends and all others who are presently feeling the searing pain of these tragic losses. May you find hope and peace in knowing that there is a God who chooses to suffer with us in the midst of our trials and chose to suffer for us before we were even known. May your faith be sustained in the hope of His glory and may you feel His merciful presence in your lives through the love poured out by those surrounding you, both physically and in the spiritual realm.

Grace & peace to you, -jody

Fly-by Fly-day – Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Flying

You’ll never be able to soar on eagles’ wings

Without the willingness to first take a great leap of faith.

Few people can deny the delight that accompanies the notion of being able to fly. Even those who might not wish to take on great heights in the daylight hours have likely experienced dreams of doing so, at least a time or two. I couldn’t resist addressing the matter (first literally to later use figuratively) in my novel, At the Water’s Edge. Here’s an excerpt from there on flying:

“Do you think there’s any experience more freeing than to be able to spread your wings and soar through the air?” she pondered.

“Mayhaps we should ask that pair up there,” Wey answered in delighted amusement.

Flying out in front of them were two falcons performing impressive acrobatic feats, as though these three humans had purchased costly seats to an extraordinary aeronautics show. The falcons were soaring and diving in close proximity and in synchronicity with one another. With this, Danielle witnessed one of the most astonishing sites she’d ever before seen.

The smaller of the two birds broke away from its mate and began to rapidly ascend. Just as suddenly, it turned, tucked its wings, and began a high velocity dive towards the ground. Danielle gasped and scrambled to the edge of the ridge, checking on the bird’s well-being as it neared the ground at such breakneck speed. She didn’t notice Wil and Wey drop the remnants of their lunches to scuttle after her; nor did she understand that their swift movements had nothing to do with concern over the bird’s well-being, but her own. Danielle let out her breath as the falcon skimmed the ground, only slightly readjusting his position, while snatching his prey up in his mouth. She had to turn her head for the slightest second to avoid watching the dirty deed of the falcon using its beak to take its prey out of its misery. She did turn back in time to see him readjust the prey to his talons.

Had that last feat not been so impressive, she would never have believed the one that came thereafter. The falcon rejoined his slightly larger mate (which Wil explained would be the female) and resumed the acrobatics, now with prey in hand (er, talons).

“Danielle, you’ll not want to miss this next part,” instructed Wil. “Watch closely.”

While diving and spiraling through the air, the talons of the male and female brushed together, with the meal being exchanged between the two in mid-flight.

“Did you see that?” squealed Danielle breathlessly. “It…she…was upside down! And they….that was incredible!”

“Bloody grand, was it not?” laughed Wey.

As if trying to cue his audience for a standing ovation, the male falcon swooped in their direction, slowed the flapping of his wings, then flew over to a tall tree behind them to land.

This bird definitely knows how to fly first class.

As evidenced by my photos, I’ve demonstrated some ways in which I and others have tried to experience that same free & fancied feeling. And it won’t be long ’til Santa & his reindeer will be out and about, making their magical annual flight.

What about you? What’s your favorite way to experience flight?

I’m participating in the online adventure travel magazine LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggers. This week’s Challenge is: Flying!

To vote for photos or to enter your own, follow the link above.

Christmas Treasures

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When things seem hectic this Christmas season and you forget what it’s all about,
I implore you to think of each child of God who this year may go without
A loved one, a present or even a tree, or no house for some it would seem.
To have such a Christmas wish as these fulfilled would only come in a dream.

*

So no matter how tired or frazzled or worn with shopping you may be,
Don’t forget these blessed loved ones whose pain could keep you on bended knee.
And if you’re one of these precious dears of whom you’ve heard me speak,
Please place me in your sacred prayers, that I do not forget the meek.

*

For it is you who will inherit the kingdom of our mighty Father in heaven
Know you are not forgotten, only spread here amongst us as leaven.
It is you to whom we have been assigned to care for as God’s own,
To live life by His example, the loving Christ who sits on His throne.

*

He sits there not to judge us by what we may fail to complete,
Yet through his mercy, his grace and his love, he sits upon this seat.
This seat, meek ones, shall be yours too, to sit before and pray
As will be any one of ours who knows the babe of Christmas day.

*

There still exists a greater danger, that we could see His guiding star
But never choose to follow it, only view it from afar.
So what will you say, people of Christ, will you do your worship in the mall?
Or will you answer as the shepherds did, and humble yourselves to a stall?

*

Set down your duties, leave behind your cares, cast your worries aside
Answer your blessed Savior – clothe and feed the lesser ones…
Store Christmas treasures that will abide.

© 2009 Jody Love

***

Looking for a practical way this Christmas to store up your treasures in heaven while still here on earth? Then I pray you’ll look into this opportunity (at the link below):

Christmas gift idea: Change Children’s Lives in South Sudan

Here’s the address link to copy & paste (in case the above link disappears again):

http://holston.org/about/communications/the-call/volE12/num31/sudan-alternate-gift-market/

Lest you wonder about the authenticity of what will become of your gift…not only do I personally know the people tirelessly and lovingly doing these wonderful works in South Sudan, but here’s the original picture of the sweet, precious face you see in the article linked above, straight off the SD card in my own camera. And lest you feel you do not know me well enough, please continue to follow my blog and I will periodically highlight the missions work in the Yei, South Sudan area, so you can see God’s awesome hand at work for yourself. (And, no, I get nothing from this but the satisfaction of sharing an opportunity with you to share that love.)

Yei Sudan

Author’s note regarding the poem: I penned this poem one day while reflecting upon what I wanted Christmas to be about in my heart, and some of the ways I didn’t want it to play out in my household (with ‘more, more, more’ of nothingness). This was the first poem that I ever publicly shared by slipping it into my Notes on Facebook during the Christmas season. I was honored to next find it posted on my niece-in-law’s (is that a real term?) blog site, Everseexpressions, and then, by greater surprise, in our church bulletin during the holiday season (church secretaries are apparently quite stealthy on Facebook – an important point to remember!). Grace & peace to you this holiday season, -jody