LIBERATION

How do you describe living through many years of hell and the relief felt from escaping it?  I’ve been told it is a loss to grieve over, but all I feel right now is relief.  The feelings surrounding this living situation had grown so intense in a negative direction that jail started to sound like an amazing alternative to continuing in the same day-to-day muck and mire.  So many days I prayed for relief from the situation….that a certain element would just be removed and I could continue life in somewhat the same comfort zone, but yet actually enjoy it for once.  Obviously, that prayer wasn’t answered in the spirit in which it was uttered, but it was answered in a way I never expected.

So many years of my life are just gone and I never felt a thing through any of them.  I was once told that those years were stolen from me, which is true to an extent, but the real truth is I allowed them to be.  I remained hidden behind raising kids that were not my own, buried everything about me deep inside where it could not be hurt or discovered, and just kept on going.  I missed out on a lot of stuff during those years…. I missed my grandfather’s funeral – how I loved that man and how I miss him still!  I missed out on the best years of my mother’s life when she was active, felt good, and was actually hunting/hiking again.  I missed out on opportunities to go hunting with my father.  I missed opportunities to spend time with my grandmother.  All of that gone….and they are all things that cannot be recreated.

Once the fear and timidity that ruled my heart were replaced with a sense of purpose and rediscovery of a backbone, my perspective on life changed dramatically.  Through the help of some amazing friends who were not afraid to put a mirror up to my face and show me the truth of how my life really was, I was able to begin to put the pieces of myself back together again, although very slowly.  I found my worth buried deep down and realized that I deserved to be happy, to be loved, and to be treated with respect.  That realization was so very liberating and became the turning point in my life.

With a great deal of support, love, and encouragement, the situation in which I was living has changed drastically and I am now living on my own for the first time.  The freedom and the quiet is something I am growing accustomed to….and the peace is so very healing.  Although my music had been slowly returning over the last few months, the speed at which it has done so has increased.  Music returning to my heart and to my pen is such a source of healing for it is through music that my heart truly speaks.  I’m hoping that my passion for writing will return as well, even though it has been slower to rise up from within than I first expected.  When it is time, I’m sure it will return as well.

So now, this is the beginning.  A brand new chapter is being written on fresh clean paper…a new outlook on life…a new chance at happiness…a new chance to continue to understand how wonderful it is to be loved by the most amazing woman I have ever met…a new opportunity to discover the depth of who I really am and what I am really capable of.  The future is wide open and my heart is ready to embrace all that it hold!

CHANGE IS ON THE WAY

What an emotional day today has been so far!  There are many changes coming in my life and the reality of just how drastic things will be is sinking in far deeper than I anticipated.  I am looking forward to the change with great excitement and expectation, but I also find myself mourning what I am leaving behind.

Today was the first day of school.  While this is normally a very happy time, especially because the kids will be occupied for most of the day, it was not so much this morning.  I helped my favorite 14-year-old with her hair this morning, which is something I have done since before she started kindergarten, and started to cry.  There will only be one more day in which I will have this opportunity to have this moment with her.  As I dropped off my favorite 8-year-old for his first day of 3rd grade, he did not want me to walk him to the playground or to the line as I have done in times past.  He just wanted to be dropped off like a big kid.  Before each kid goes to school, I make sure to remind them that I love them and that I wish only the best for them.  I only will get to do this in person one more time…

In the last 19 years I have spent raising kids that were not my own, I have made a lot of mistakes and have screwed up more ways than I can count.  However, it has always been my goal to make sure these kids knew they were loved – that they were loved unconditionally, deeply, and unfailingly.  They do not go to bed at night without being told they are loved and I do not leave them without telling them as well.  I hope that they remember just how much I love them…

An adventure awaits me – an opportunity to explore who I am and what my purpose is in life.  There will be time to relax for the first time in too many years to count…there will be time to write whenever the words pop into my head…there will be time to take care of my battered, weary, and worn heart/soul that have been so damaged by the past years I have survived.

While I am so looking forward to this change and know beyond a doubt how good it will be for me, I am dreading the heartache that will come with it.  However, as is true to His nature, the good Lord has provided for me in ways I cannot even explain.  I have been blessed with not only friends who care about me and accept me for who I am, but also with a very special person who loves me in ways no one ever has before.

Stepping out in faith is never easy and that first step is the most terrifying.  My first step comes Friday morning.  Although I am nervous, I know that I am stepping into my future and that this future that has been laid out before me as a gift.

The River continues to flow, the next bend is coming up fast, and I am so grateful that I know Who is in control of my ship.

TRUSTING, EVEN IN THE DARK

The last few months have been a confusing, confuzzled configuration of one mess puddle after another. There are times when it feels like I walk out of one valley and fall into another that is deeper than the last.

So much of my life is unrecognizable compared to even six months ago. Everything has been turned upside down and I have been forced to branch out and learn things I never thought I would have to learn – and some I hoped to continue to avoid.

I have found myself in situations where a rather destructive behavior was planned, but the Lord intervened and I ended up with other plans/commitments during the time in question. There have been other times when I was so determined to go through with the destructive plans that I made sure I went through with it. I did not leave myself or my heart open to any other options or possibilities. However, these times ended up doing nothing more than making me look like a fool and feeling so much worse in the end.

I have:
raged at the heavens desperate for relief…
yelled at a friend in a desperate search for clearing of my confusion…
hardened my heart to the Spirit of God in defiance of His Sovereignty…
denied myself the release of the feelings through the tears I have not allowed to flow…
isolated myself from those who would speak the ugly truth to me in the moments when I needed it the most…

But most of all, through all of this, my stubbornness and hardheadedness have cost me the peace I could have been enjoying all along if I had only allowed God to be God rather than blocking Him at every turn because life was not going how I felt it should go.

Despite all of the jumble of junk and mess that have been trudged through, there have been moments of elation, moments of surprise, and moments of freedom. The truth is not as frightening as it once was and I have found a strength within I did not know I had. I have also been blessed with a friend who is not afraid to speak the truth to me in bold living color when it is needed – and whether I feel it is needed or not.

When the storm rages and the darkness envelops my heart, I must remember to fight against the darkness, but not fight against the One who anchors my soul throughout the storm. Even though I cannot see His hand and I do not have a clue where He is going with my life, He is still there, He knows every pain in my heart, and He understands every tear I cry. He knows the beginning from the end and He will carry me when I lack the strength to even stand. He can be trusted for He is faithful.

Even in the darkest of times, the deepest depressions, and the most difficult circumstances, He continues to be faithful. He can be trusted, even in the darkness of the heart.

THE POWER OF FEAR

My life has been a challenging assortment of stuff over the past several months. Lots of changes, some loss, some heartache, and a whole lot of confusion. It has affected my health, my heart, and my writing.

At the core of all of this is one simple truth deep within myself, but this truth scared me beyond all other fears I had ever experienced. It scared me so intensely that I pulled away from God in terror – in gut-wrenching fear of receiving His condemnation. Countless hours of crying until there were no more tears, praying until I had no more words, screaming at the heavens until I had no voice brought no relief or release. I pulled away from Him further and pulled deeper in to myself.

The funny thing is, He had already prepared for the day when I would cry out like this a long time ago in an old hymn He embedded deep in my heart and in an early and continuous relationship with Him that firmly plant the roots of my soul. I did not see it at the time, but I see it now – which is how it often happens. I now realize that, in my terror and in pulling away from God, I hindered my own writing and robbed myself of the peace that was freely offered to me.

Through all of this, I have been richly blessed with friends who were patient with me beyond belief, spoke truth to me even when I did not want to hear it and didn’t like what they said, and continually reassured me that I really was okay….that I was not broken or messed up beyond repair. At one point, I even screamed to the heavens demanding to know if there was not mercy and grace for even me, but I now see that the friends He has placed in my life speak to the depths of His love for me. They are the representation of His grace and mercy poured out on my life.

I am working on accepting and not hiding the truth of myself and learning to walk in the freedom that was given to me long ago even though I was too blinded by fear to see it.

I do not know where you are in your journey, but I pray that His peace surrounds you, His love enfolds you, and grace goes before you each step of the way.

SEASONED WITH KINDNESS

I signed into my WordPress account the other day and was looking through the blog feed.  From time to time, interesting things pop up, new stuff can be learned, and I find new blogs I want to read.  As I was scrolling,  “The Courage To Be Open”, the title of this blog really caught my attention.

As Christians we are called to be salt and light, but we are also called to be kind, compassionate, gracious, and loving – in other words, to be like Jesus.  Throughout the four gospels, I do not recall Jesus speaking harshly or in a condemning manner to anyone else besides the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious “authorities” of the time.

I know that there are very strongly and passionately held beliefs regarding the subject matter this blog talks about, but I would challenge each of us as Christians to take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul:

“Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].”
Colossians 4:6 (Amplified Bible).

Despite our personal feelings and opinions, we should always speak with grace first.

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,],”  II Timothy 2:24-25 (NIV)

What do we accomplish by speaking out so quickly in judgment?  What right do we have to inflict so much damage with our words?

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”  Proverbs 18:21 (Amplified Bible)

Our words, when they are not spoken with grace but rather with judgment and condemnation, bring about a death in the heart of the hearer.  How many of these “deaths” does it take before the spirit of the hearer is irreparably damaged?

People of God, let us show the love of Jesus to all that we meet.  After all, according to the Scriptures,

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23, NIV).

There is no disclaimer included…ALL have sinned and ALL fall short.  While this does not nullify our right to have a strong or differing opinion, it also does not give us the right to judge the heart of the person or to tear them down with our words.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen… 32  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 
(Ephesians 4:29, 32)

If you come across a fellow believer who is hurting or a person whose orientation or lifestyle you do not approve of, take the time to care for that heart.  Regardless of who we are, where we come from, or what we have done, we all want the same thing – to be accepted for who we and to be loved.  Perhaps, through your love, their heart will be opened and, if there is work to be done or things in their life to be corrected, the Holy Spirit will then have a willing vessel through which to work – you.

Dare to be open.  Dare to be the one who makes a difference, even if it is in just one life.  After all, for that one person, the results of your kindness can change their whole world.

In case you would like to read more, the following verses would be good to look into as well.

Proverbs 15:1
Romans 14:10-12
Proverbs 10:12
Galatians 6:1-3
Luke 6:38
Luke 6:31

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

I received a message from a friend this morning and something she said in it really started my brain whirling, starting some serious soul searching. The summation I have come to is this: What if the true meaning/reason behind my actions is to paint an exterior portrait of what it is expected from a certain group so that the ugliness of the reality within is covered up? What if all the trappings and sayings and posts and actions are directed in a certain fashion as to detract from what the truth really is on the inside? And what if the answer to that question is an affirmative answer? What then??? (Ok, I know that is actually FOUR questions, but that is just how my mind works sometimes.)

If the answer is indeed affirmative, so many more questions arise – and the heart gets a little heavier. Do I then become branded a hypocrite? Obviously, there is a heart issue that needs to be addressed, but what if the reality is too much for the heart to take? What if the truth is ugly enough that a mask is worn to cover it up, even from oneself? Perhaps, the mask has been worn for so long that it has been forgotten and the heart thinks that this is the reality…

Even more disturbing is this thought…. What if that which we are trying to hide WITH (or within) is the very thing we are trying to hide FROM?

As with many areas of life, I must sit and be still for a moment. I must evaluate my heart and determine if my actions, posts, words, and behaviors are for real or for show? Are a few extra thrown in to make it look like I am a “stronger” Christian than what I really am? Do I write about Him because it is something my soul must do or because it is expected? Are my words and actions regarding Him really for Him? (Please do not misunderstand. I know fully where my faith lies. I know who is God (and it’s not me). My faith in Jesus remains the same (the way, the truth, and the life).)

If we can find the courage to face the reality, to pull back the mask, to truly look into the mirror which reflects our own souls, we must. What we are to do with that reality is an individual journey, but it is one that begins at the foot of the cross.

Be kind to each other.
Be accepting of each other.
Love each other unconditionally.

How many hurting hearts could we touch with our words if we would season them with grace? May we not be the cause of someone wearing a mask to hide from condemnation or be bitter in our words so that hearts are turned away.

RUNNING IN THE LIGHT

In the quiet, before what is really occurring is truly known, the veil of darkness is lifted. Ever so slowly and gently, the warmth of the sun begins to creep into the cracks and crevices, into the corners and closets, driving away shadows along its way. The dark has left behind a weariness that is felt within the depths of the soul and cuts to the very center of the heart, the pain so overwhelming that the beginnings of the dawn are not even noticed. But the Father knows.

Ever gentle, ever faithful, and ever kind, the Father reaches down and begins to bandage the wounds left behind. He lovingly wipes away each tear and cherishes what each individual tear represents. As the intensity of the pain eases, He gently turns the face that is cradled in His hands toward the sun. The warmth shining in is so comforting, so soothing. The warmth brings with it a sense of calm and a peace that runs deep into the wounded places. Although wounded and weary, restoration is coming, peace is returning, and healing has begun.

Easing out of the corner and beginning to struggle to stand, a steady hand is offered, but this hand is unlike any other. This hand radiates power. This hand carries within it a boundless unfathomable love. This hand bears scars and written with in the scars, I find my name. I find my name carved into His hand! Within His hands, I find my healing, but it is a healing that is only found within scars left behind by nails.

Holding onto His hand, I rise. Holding onto Him, I find solid ground beneath my feet and the strength in which to stand. Focusing on Him, I find the assurance that all which remains broken will be healed, that strength will be renewed.

With one glance at the smile on His face, my soul begins to take flight. With wings like eagles, my heart begins to soar. Caught up in the strength of His hands, I find the courage to run once again. In His light alone does that which once was weary and broken become renewed and restored. Carried on by His everlasting arms, I run once again, for I am running in His light.

YET AGAIN

Well, here I am – again. A blank page before me (again), thousands of thoughts and feelings flying through my head (again), and the cursor sits there blinking at me (again) as if impatiently beckoning me to do something, anything (again).

As I sit here and watch the blinking, I have to question just how long it has been since I have sat here like this? Better yet, I must also question myself:

• Why I am here, yet AGAIN?

• How long have I kept what was supposed to be spoken in black and white muzzled in silence, stifled as if time would collapse if I let it go?

• Why have I allowed so much to interfere, to come between, to cause me to close the blank page and file it away?

Once AGAIN, I find my focus re-directed by the mere blink of a cursor on a blank page… I should not have allowed this, yet AGAIN. I have missed out on the opportunity to listen to my Father’s heart. It should not be so. I know to do better than this…

I must be mindful, ever conscious, of my need to pause beside the River of His Heart at some point each day, to take the time to spend a moment with Him, to allow Him to speak and not just listen to my rambling. I must stop being too focused to be “distracted” or “interrupted” by taking time to just sit with Him.

After all, a loss of joy, a loss of peace, and deteriorating health are not worth the results achieved by squeezing one more thing into an already full day in the hope of accomplishing one more task rather than to just pause for a moment and have a cup of coffee with my Lord.

Too much Martha and not enough Mary will find us lying broken in His green pastures, too weak to reach His still waters, and too empty to even find the table that He has prepared before us. Thankfully, our Father’s love and mercy is far more stubborn than we – and He loves us far too much to leave us in the condition we are in when we finally throw ourselves at His feet.

Grace upon grace is ours, free for the taking – yet again.

Faithfulness Displayed!

This past year has been one of challenges. It has not been the easiest year of my life, but neither has it been the worst. I am not quite sure what to classify it as beyond challenging. On the flip side of this, I can say that this past year with the Lord has been one full of grace and faithfulness. Regardless of the valleys, caves, or shadows, He was faithful through it all. Regardless of the victories, the mountain-top moments, and the realizations of truth, He was an ever-present constant friend. 2013 was a year in which God proved His faithfulness time and time again. It was a year that, if one looks with the eyes of the heart, the hand of God can be seen throughout.

On professional level, even though I started to work from home in the summer of 2012, the transition from going to work to working from home has been one full of challenges that I never knew would exist nor would I have dreamed would take so long to adapt to. I love what I do and I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given, but it is more difficult than one might think. The lack of social interaction is merely one of the challenges as is the tendency to not leave the house very often. However, the Father has been faithful through it all and has walked me through each day. It is a daily challenge depend on Him for the endurance to handle all that comes my way and to trust Him to provide the not only an escape from the four walls I am surrounded by, but also the inspiration to write when the opportunity arises.

On a spiritual level, this is a year that has shaken the very foundations of my faith. Every truth I ever held dear has been challenged and my faith has been shaken to the very core. This was a year where I had to go back to the Bible, search it out, pray it out, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart. One thing that stands out the most about this period of time was a challenge I was presented regarding the truth of Jesus as the Messiah by a friend who was searching out the depths of her faith. I was asked how I knew for sure that He really was the Messiah. The fact that He lived was not disputed nor was the fact that He was a wise teacher. She wanted to know how I KNEW He was the Messiah. She didn’t want to hear about how I felt in my heart or the standard churchy answers that tend to be full of doctrine and rhetoric. This question above all others sat me down and hit me hard. The reasons for her doubting made rational sense, the presented questions were relevant and authentic, and I found myself in a very frightening position of not having an answer. As I prayed through this problem and was searching for an answer to share with my friend, I had a wonderful conversation with a woman full of boundless energy, a deep love for the Lord, and the gift of putting a whole lot of truth into a small, blunt, right-to-the point package and then slamming you upside the head with it in love (or at least that is how it hit me). (Paula, you are a blessing beyond description!) The fact that He is the Messiah is a FACT that must be believed IN FAITH. It is a heart-thing. It is a choice. While the truth that she hit me with soaked in and was prayerfully passed along to my questioning friend, the Lord proved Himself to be so faithful. He brought back to mind a situation from many years ago in which I witnessed firsthand how the Holy Spirit guides in frightening situations as well as the awesome power that exists in the Name of Jesus. If He was not the Messiah, then how can there be such power in just His Name? If He was not the Son of God, then why do demons flee at the mention of His name? There was my answer…spelled out for me many years before the question was even asked. How faithful He is!!!! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

On a personal level, this year has been one that has brought to light some rather ugly truths about myself that sent me reeling as well as the return of struggles with depression. In terms of the ugly truths, I feel I still have a long way to go in this area, however, I have no one to blame but me. After all, if you aren’t prepared for an answer from the Lord, it is usually a good idea to not ask the question because it just might get answered – and that is exactly what happened. I still have not completely regained my footing with this or with the depression, nor have I sorted through all that needs to be sorted and understood. However, I know that there is a purpose for everything, that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, and that He has a plan for me. While I have no idea what that plan is or where the words He lays on my heart will go, I know that He has His hand in the midst of it all. He will continue to show Himself to be faithful just as He always has.

This is my favorite part – the true joy of my soul. Writing! And what an amazing year this has been in writing!! Through His leading, I have been challenged to share my poetry in ways I would never have dreamed – and He provided the courage. He also provided the strength needed to write and to share my story and my journey with others through this blog. I am normally a very private and closed off person so this has been a great challenge for me and yet another way for Him to prove Himself strong on my behalf. As if all of this was not enough, He even provided a way for several of my poems to make their way into two different poetry compilations this year. (Yeah!!!!!!) I cannot describe the feeling of holding a book in your hands and see the words once birthed in your heart printed in black and white before your eyes. Every time I look at the book, I am in awe of His gift, His grace, and the fact that He could find a use for the words jotted down through my heart.

The struggles of 2013 have left me weary and worn, but I have not been forgotten or forsaken. I have been challenged and defeated, but the Lord has not left me there alone. Every valley lead to His throne, every dark tunnel was illuminated with His love, and He was there through every desert crossed. Even when I had nothing left but questions, He was still by my side. 2013 was a year in which the Lord proved Himself to be faithful time and again to one who was unworthy and undeserving of such tender care. It truly was a year spent with Him. It was a year where my soul can truly shout Baruch HaShem Adonai, Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

May the coming year finding you walking in His way, showered in His peace, and resting in His love.

The Dawning Of Grace

As I walked through the living room the other morning something caught my eye through the large window, which just happens to face the morning sun. A most beautiful display of red and orange was shining through the blind and panels. Of course, if it is this beautiful on the inside, it had to be even more so on the outside. I stepped outside the front door and beheld one of God’s most beautiful works of art! The sky looked as though it was on fire and it was streaking not only from side to side, but all over the sky. The magnificent pattern of color displayed was beyond description. Of course, being a great lover of sunsets and sunrises, I had to take a picture. But this sunrise was a little different than most – it kept on growing and changing. It ended up taking three different pictures that morning through different stages as it continued to change as the sun rose and the clouds added their part to the portrait. The fresh white snow on the ground provided a beautiful base to this unique and original piece of art displayed by the Artist of Time Himself. While I was in a hurry that morning (as I usually am), I was stunned by the beauty I was beholding and so grateful that the Father took the time to create this moment for me – a moment of peace to be shared with Him.

The day after I enjoyed this wonder expression in color, I was chatting with a friend. In the past, we had talked about the different metaphors contained in the concept of “daybreak” and the different aspects of our lives that can be like the dawning of a new day. (A few weeks prior, she had loved one pass away and she had reflected on the incredible daybreak this cherished soul must have had when she entered into her heavenly rest.) We started talking about daybreaks, sunrises, and new beginnings once again, and I told her about this sunrise I had witness the day before. It was then she presented an idea I had not thought of before….. Isn’t Christmas like a sunrise as well? Her next comment basically told me I should write about that.

This simple question posed has resonated in my heart ever since that chat. The more I think about it, the more I come to understand just how right she is. Since it is a few days before Christmas, please allow me to share with you my thoughts about that wonderful sunrise the Father designed in more ways than just one over 2000 years ago. (One fact that is important to keep in mind throughout this post is that, according to the Jewish calendar, the day is considered to be from sunset to sunset.)

On that most holy of nights, Jesus came into a dark and sleeping world (both physically and spiritually), and His arrival was proclaimed with lots of light. His birth was announced by a host of angels to a group of lowly shepherds, a new star began the wise kings on their journey, and a mother who kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. On that night, The Light of the World became Emmanuel, God with us. The Morning Star arose in our world dispelling the darkness from those would accept it, awakening those whose hearts were open to His call, and fulfilling all that the Father designed for His presence with us to fulfill. This Light of the World, which would become our salvation, had come to live among us.

While He came without pomp and circumstance and a traditional fanfare one would expect from a secular king, both Heaven and creation announced His birth. An angel presented the proclamation to this humble group of men that the Messiah had been born. Suddenly, a great company of heavenly angles appeared praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) Obviously, these men were chosen by the Father to receive this proclamation because as soon as the angels departed, they hurried to Bethlehem to witness for themselves what the angels said – to see their long-awaited and promised Messiah with their own eyes. The dawn of His Light broke into their souls and they left the place where He lay to proclaim the glorious news of His arrival and share what they had been told by the angel. According to the Scriptures, all who heard what the shepherds had to say were amazed by the story. But Mary wasn’t amazed. What happens next in the story I find quite fabulous. The shepherds came and saw, they went and told, but that was not enough for them. They kept on glorifying and praising God for all that they had seen and heard – for it was just as they had been told. The Light of Messiah dawned in their hearts and they were not the same.

While they did not arrive on the night He was born, a new star was born and they were watching. The three wise men from the east saw His star when it arose in the night sky and they followed it. When they went to King Herod looking for this new king that had been born (they already knew that the star was for a King), he sent them to Bethlehem because that is where the Messiah was prophesied to be born. When they left Herod,”… they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” (Matthew 2:9, 10). When they entered the house, they saw Him. The Scripture account tells us that they saw the child and His mother – the saw the Morning Star, the Light of the world, first. It goes on to tell us that the first thing they did was not to proceed with introductions, discuss the weather, or talk about how uncomfortable it can be ride on a camel’s back for a couple of years, but rather they bowed down and worshiped Him. These kings from the east, these wise men who had traveled so far, bowed down and worshiped Him. The Light from the Star had dawned in their hearts and their response was to search, to follow, and to bow in worship. Once they worshiped Him, then they presented their prophetic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The Scripture tells us that “…Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19). After all, her heart was the first place where the Light first dawned. When the angel Gabriel appeared to her saying, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26), she was trouble by his words. He told her to not be afraid and then proceeded to tell her how she was to conceive, carry, and give birth to the Son of God. He told her how this miracle of God would take would take place and that she was to call Him Jesus (Yeshua), for He would save His people from their sin. (Yeshua means salvation). It was her open and obedient heart that gave her the courage to answer the angel Gabriel with her simple statement of faith, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) The Light of the presence of God first born in her heart out of faith would be born from her body as the words of the angels were accomplished and prophecies from long ago were fulfilled. That Light remained in her heart as that is where she treasured and cherished that took place.

In my opinion, this Sonrise of Christmas was the dawning of the new age of grace. This moment in time would pave the way for us to come to the Father. He first came to us to show us how much He loves us, to experience life as one of us, to be us. The night of His birth became the dawning of our redemption. It was the first of the three greatest dawnings this world has ever seen and will ever know.

The second of such events, the second Sonrise, was the one that would complete and accomplish the work began with the gift of His birth and it was then presented it to the world. His death and resurrection was not only the sealing moment of our salvation, but it also happened to be the beginning of a new week (ironic that God would plan it that way?) The first day of the week became the first day of grace for those of us who, though we are Gentiles, have been grafted into The Vine because of this Sonrise. “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!…” (Luke 24:1-6) The Son rose from the darkness of the grave and death and hell were defeated.

The third such Sonrise that this world will witness is yet to come. One day, our Lord will return! His feet will touch down on the earth once again in the same manner in which His disciples saw Him leave. At that time, all will know that He is Lord, that He is the Light of the World, that He is the Messiah!

So now, my friend, have you allowed the Light of His love to rise in your heart? Have you allowed Him to start a new day in your life? Have you allowed Him to paint your life with the colors of His love and to mold you as His own unique work of art? If you have not, I pray that you allow the Light that was proclaimed to the world by angels, witnessed and proclaimed by shepherds, followed and worshiped by wise men, and treasured by Mary to rise within you today. Allow Him to dispel the darkness with His light, allow Him to awaken your slumbering soul with the presence of His heart, allow Him to revive within you the purpose for which you were created. Let this Christmas be the dawning of a new life in Jesus Christ. He is Emmanuel, God with us and that is where He chooses to dwell – among His people. After all, He loves you so much that He was willing to not just die for you and came back from the dead for you, but He will return once again to take us home – to our ultimate home with Him.

Let us not forget the true meaning for celebrating Christmas. The gift of His birth, His love, and His life is truly the greatest gift of all – and it is offered freely to all who would come.

Merry CHRISTmas.