Silent Night

Disclaimer: Here lies the final Christmas carol reflection of the holiday season. Thank you for joining me on this journey. I pray that you and your friends/family have a love and joy-filled Christmas. May you also enjoy the blessings of a Silent Night.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace (2x)

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth


Composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber. Lyrics by Joseph Mohr. Originally in German.


For easy listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BRVkgaIcaE 


I am so thankful for today. God’s present to me this year is quality time shared in His Presence. I’ve always wanted to spend a Christmas free of all the nuances – I’ve always desired to have Christmas be about Christ. So often we get lost in the buying of gifts, preparing of food, activities, and family time. So often we think that Christmas is about family. And though it is a nice time of year to gather with those we love, if we think Christmas is solely about gifts and family, then we are truly missing the point. Though we can vibrantly experience God’s love through each other, we must not forget to approach the source – For He loves when we graciously seek Him.

Jesus humbly came to be PRESENT among us on Christmas. Our Heavenly Father wanted to spend time with us so much that He sacrificed His comforts and came down in the form of a dependent babe to experience life with us.

And so on this Christmas Eve, all I ask is that you will put off your comforts – whether it be food, drink, Hallmark movies, or family traditions – for a moment, and reflect on the true beauty of Christmas. Try taking ten minutes of silence, and reflect on the following questions. Then with your responses, take a moment and thank God for all the ways He has calmed, moved, loved, and blessed you this past year.

  • In what ways has God provided inner calmness despite the busy and troubles of the past year?
  • What light are you drawn to? How does God evoke bright joy and bright hope in your life?
  • What about God and His Presence makes you literally quake? How is God moving you?
  • What comes to mind when you hear the lyrics “loves pure light” and “redeeming grace”? How has God shown you His love this season? What redeeming grace moments have radically changed your faith walk this year?

Dear God,

Thank you for being present with us. Thank you for leaving your comforts behind to be Emmanuel – God with us. What a beautiful name. Help us to leave our comforts behind as we seek to draw nearer to you. Draw us close to you. I pray that throughout the next few days  you will grant us time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, whether we do so in community or on our own. Thank you for coming. We love you Lord. We need you Lord. As we journey into a new year, may we continue to focus on Your Presence by seeking out time with you, and by being present in the lives of those around us. Thank you for being the perfect example of love.

In your Holy and Beautiful Name, Jesus,

Amen.

 

When You Walked Into My Life

When you walked into my life,

You opened the door to possibility.

All the dreams I didn’t know were possible,

That I kept walled in,

That I kept locked in,

So they couldn’t hurt me,

Came rushing free.

. . .

When you walked into my life,

I remembered all my dreams.

In sleepless nights,

I began to ponder all of the possibilities.

Now I understand why they say,

Love hurts,

Patience is pain,

A raw life is not easy.

. . .

When you walked into my life,

Along with you came a hope,

Along with you came a joy,

That I didn’t even know I was capable

Of feeling.

I can’t sleep.

I can’t concentrate.

But oh how I long for you,

To walk into my life again.

Home

Disclaimer: I wrote this piece two months ago. (So a couple things have changed – mainly, I don’t work at the job I wrote about anymore, and through that I’ve found a little more peace.) I wasn’t going to post it at all, because I know my family reads my blog. But, this here is the Rah RAW Diaries. I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t post the nitty-gritty details of my life. I mean, family is what causes us so much therapy in life anyway, and writing – well, it’s free therapy for me. So after ignoring this post for two months, I’ve decided it’s worthy of being shared. Who knows? Maybe it’ll serve its purpose, and help someone along the way.

If I don’t find my happiness in food, what will I find my happiness in?

I found myself thinking this the other day, after a fun-filled weekend celebrating with family. Towards the end of my “Sober October” journey, I managed to make it through the festivities with included temptations of wine, delicious options at a brewhouse, and mixed drinks at home with only a taste of a Rhubarb Old Fashioned. Considering I had family members on all sides egging me on to break my fast, I think I did pretty well. I was thoroughly tempted, especially by the presence of bourbon, and a Chipotle Stout that the brewhouse offered. Though I’ll admit, there were some kind souls who encouraged me to make my own decisions. Which of course, in the end, I did.

I don’t know about you, but I always struggle on the weekends when I get to hang out with family. I think it gets better with time, but somehow at the end of each reunion, I find myself feeling frustrated, and each time, slightly less… Me. Between my mother treating me like “her baby” always standing up for me, or making sure everyone hears my sides of the stories (Which I’m totally capable of doing myself, ahem) and well-intentioned rellies telling me how I should feel or things I should be grateful for, I find my stellar personality and inner strength dwindling. Phrases linger in the air as relatives confirm how they think I am like, “Now that you’re home, things must be going well,” or “Do you feel much better now that you have a job?” Then through the chit-chatter of everyone discussing their partners, people drop fun phrases like, “You’re lucky you’re single because _____,” or “Be thankful you don’t have to worry about _____,” and I’ll admit, I am lucky and I am grateful, but it’s not for the reasons you think. Also I don’t feel at home here yet, and I cry weekly, because I miss Kentucky so FREAKIN’ much.

Visiting with my step-uncle, I realized something… He was sharing with me about his new job, and how doing something that he was made to do epically changed his ability to enjoy life. Mentioning that even though he had good and bad days in his new employment position, it was like riding a wave two levels above where he used to be. I’m not there yet, was the first thought that went through my mind as he was gesturing the levels to me.

Perhaps I sound like a crybaby complaining when I should be grateful for my new job, but I’ve found it incredibly hard to celebrate anything since I’ve been “Home”. (Well, except for that one, amazingly fantastic day at McCarthy Beach in early July – I felt all the joyful feels that day.) “Change your perspective,” or “Fake it til you make it,” you say, and I’ll tell ya, I’m trying, I really am. That’s why I smile when you make comments, or speak for me thinking that I somehow need help sharing my story. I’ll smile and nod my head when you ask leading questions that assume that Minnesota is now my home again, when really IT’S NOT, or that I love my new job, when really I DON’T (well, not yet, at least).

Recently, Southland Christian Church in Lexington (one of the churches I attended in Kentucky) shared a message that included this key statement, “Love is not sentimental, it’s sacrificial.” This statement hit home for me. Life has always pulled me in one of two directions: 1. The places I want to be or go, and 2. The place where the majority of people I love, live. Well stated from my favorite book (The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks), “Love always requires sacrifice.” I am not home because of the gooey-gooey feelings that it brings to me. I still hate the cold weather, and the terrible travel conditions that its winter snows bring. The gray clouds that coat the skies for the the majority of the months actually depresses me. I am not here because Minnesota and I love each other, which honestly the past several months prove else-wise, I’m here because 1. God lead me here, and 2. The people I love live here. Being home for me is not sentimental, it’s sacrificial.22555507_1936436473280549_6922152182318886328_o

Next month, I journey back into the Trim Healthy Mama habits, as I let go of some of my comfort foods to find my way back to the healthier side of me, starting out as “No-Junk November” and hopefully leading through to the next year. This past month I have been eating terribly, because on the inside I have been feeling terribly. Low on money – eating what is cheap… I have a new job and I should celebrate, and though I feel a weight lifted, I’m not necessarily excited – ice cream… Enjoyed a weekend with the family as everyone else enjoys Old Fashions – carbo-load. It’s my first week of work, I’m in over my head and I will be for the next 3 YEARS (?) – pizza and breadsticks. And what do you know, I’m back to feeling like a blob on the couch. It’s like I’ve been hit by a car and broken all over again. But let me tell you, I’m so much better at dealing with physical pain than I am at this emotional stuff. It’s easier – people don’t judge you when you’re locked up on the couch with fractured ribs and a cracked sternum… However, when your heart simply hurts, because life is not at all like you hoped it would be, (as you settle into binging the lives of fictional characters) then people think it’s time to suck it up and move on, or get some fresh air.

I guess what I’m learning is nothing new. I need a job to survive, so that’s what I’ll do, and I’ll do it damn well too (because I strive to be good at my craft). But finding out I was employed was just a band-aid to my gaping wound. And what is my gaping wound you ask? God has placed a word on my heart for the past several months, and that word is home. Home is the word that sparked my first blog (Home is where the heart is) revealing that, to me, home means love. God has been reminding me to be-loved by Him, by showing me pieces that in HIS TIMING He will place into my gaping wound. He will not be using job, food, or social-media—shaped bandaids to mask the pain, but intricately-crafted pieces of love that in due time will allow me to to feel at home, finally.

home is not sentimental, it is sacrificial

What, who, or where makes you feel “at home”? And, how did God bring those things to life for you?

If you feel a bit adrift, like me, seek out God to find the ways that He is loving on you, and creating the pieces that fit perfectly in the puzzle of your life and heart.

Sorry on Rewind

How does one let go of their dreadful past?

Moments that came and went, yet somehow seem to last.

Words written and judgments thrown,

In your direction. Myself I wish to disown.

. . .

How do we let go of that which makes us cringe?

Of all the unhealthy things I wish to binge…

Anything to distract me from thinking of those judgments.

Tauntingly on rewind, those thoughts – my punishment.

. . .

Forgiven, I suppose, I cannot let go.

I hate who I’d been, though from that I’ve grown.

I know now not to compare myself to others,

As speaking into lives is the gift of another’s.

. . .

I can never take it back, as I have learned,

That Facebook messages cannot be burned.

Leaving my pride singed and disappointing my soul,

Never repeating it has been my only goal.

. . .

My sorry rewinded as I saw you again.

Heart beating swiftly, my mind began to spin.

Peace be still my heart, you didn’t seem to recognize me.

It is time for me to let go, this now I see.

. . .

This is my last and final apology.

To you and myself, a forgiveness doxology.

It was a mistake I made so opposite of who I hope to be,

Which is why I still do not want to forgive me.

. . .

Luckily, this is not how God works His plan.

Even my worst mistakes cannot make Him less than.

“So forgive yourself already, you know it’s’what’s right!”

Despite my inner darknesses, His light still shines bright.

 

The Magic of Presence

I look back on my life a year ago, and I never would have imagined, I would be where I am today. Around this time last year, I pictured myself moving to Colorado, working at an epic Christian non-profit, attending Woodmen Valley Chapel, and if I was really lucky, dating a lovely air force gentlemen. However, that is not the direction God had planned. Just in time, He rerouted me HOME home. The road was rocky, though not as mountainous as I expected. It was sad, but not without hope. It was trying, but still profitable. Through it all, God has been reminding me of the power of presence.

Last year, with inklings of the Holy Spirit, God spoke to me about the power of generosity. One could say I acquired some of The Magic of Generosity. A beautiful gift it was, being able to sacrifice my love of caring for family and friends through gift-giving to loving a community through toys for children in southeastern Kentucky. This year I’m learning to make a similar sacrifice of love – except instead of being generous with my finances, this holiday season, I am hoping to simply, be generous with my time.

During the past few weeks, God has be teaching me about the magic of being present. And not half-heartedly so. This time of year is chaotic, I get it. For the most part, I feel like I’m running around like a chicken with its head cut off, not remembering where I last left my keys, or my mind for that matter. And I’m simply a single woman! I can’t imagine if I had a husband and children running around in my mess! Uff da. Today, when I was trying to mail a package at the post office, the postal worker tried to charge me for the bubble envelope. When I told him that I had purchased it previously, I could sense his assumption of dishonesty as he asked me where I purchased it. Honestly, as I told him, I had no idea. I found it in my “mailing supplies” drawer. Here? Plymouth? Kentucky? Only God knows where I bought the darn envelope. Even in the simple $1.79 things, I’m lost.

So being present, this time of year especially, can be incredibly difficult. But it is incredibly important.

It’s in the chaos that we really need community.

I’ve been thinking back to my accident a lot lately, probably because today marks the 6 months anniversary. Six months. Six months ago, I survived an emotionally traumatic season because strangers, friends, and family chose to be present in my life. I emphasize on “chose” because presence is a choice. God chose to humble himself into a form that would be dependent on humans to survive and grow. Because he loves us so much, he chose to be present in our lives.

Emmanuel, they called him, “God with us.”

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” -Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

During this season of God’s presence, I am trying to imitate Christ by being present in the lives of everyone I meet. Even, and especially, when I don’t want to be. Working in the retail world again, my days off are scattered, and thus sacred to me, but I can’t let them dictate how I live my life. I need to focus on the others God has placed in my heart. Instead of sleeping in, I’ll wake up early to visit a dear friend. Or instead of couching and Netflixing all day, I’ll spend the morning baking goodies to bring as I visit family.

Those are all good things, but the real kicker is what happens during these visits. As my mind is tempted to wander to my laundry list of things to do, I find my attention waning. I don’t want to be the person that is present in body, but not in mind. When I am somewhere, I am striving to be fully there. I’ll admit, it’s not always easy, because generally, I’m tired, or have a headache, or am distracted by all the things I think I need to do. However, in the moment, none of that is important. Truly. In those moments, the only thing that is important is the people in front of me, what they are saying, and being the presence that they need; the sense of community we all crave. 

Imagine yourselves holding a puppy, kitten, or a baby (whatever your preference): Are you able to be distracted by anything other than the fact that you are holding the most precious and adorable thing in the whole wide world?! Of course not! Because it’s so freaking adorable! So, as practice, treat everyone you meet like a puppy. Give them all the attention and love they need, and in return your heart will be filled.

IMG_20171104_181428_877

BE PRESENT.

When you’re halfway through a show, and a friend calls to unload their troubles.

BE PRESENT.

When you find yourself in the home of someone who has caused you pain in the past.

BE PRESENT.

With the mothers who need an adult shoulder to cry on.

BE PRESENT.

With your church leaders who are exhausted, worn, or are simply not “feeling” it.

BE PRESENT.

When trouble finds its way into the life of a close friend.

BE PRESENT.

With the clerk at the supermarket who waits patiently on customer after customer after customer.

BE PRESENT.

With family members who dream of keeping old family traditions alive and well, year after year after year.

BE PRESENT.

With yourself, your dreams, and the path your heart takes you on – no matter how difficult or impossible or inconvenient it seems.

BE PRESENT.

With the God who gave up everything to be present for you.

BE PRESENT.

God knows your presence is magical in the lives you chose to be present for. This holiday season, don’t just give presents, be present.