I walked in the rain

 in Just-spring

Last night I did what I always say I’m gonna do when it rains, I went out and took a walk in it. And it was marvelous. It was almost Holy, a Baptism from the skies. I walked once around the park, the silvery cold drops hitting my skin like mercy. That is what rain in the desert feels like you know. Those who have rain all the time just don’t understand what heaven it is.

I walked past all the dark and shuttered houses, and I heard the drops like music on all the metal carports, God’s percussion.

I kept walking as the rivulets of water started to collect en mass and pour down the middle of the streets. Amidst the stream there was a bubble parade and each one caught the streetlights, otherwise I never would have seen them. They were marching onward and I watched as they gathered, pooled and ran down the middle of the street like they were all-stars in a Mr. Bubble commercial.

My glasses covered in drops, I was looking out on a world transformed as though I were looking through prisms……I was the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. It was like when I was very small and would press my face to the glass when it rained, imagining another world in which everything and everyone were made of diamonds.

I wondered at all the quiet houses. Walking in the rain sounds crazy when you are inside looking out, but when you are actually in it, it seems like the most rational thing to do. Ask any kid. Watch them laugh as they turn their face to the heavens, catching drops. We tell them, come inside you’ll catch your death. When they are really trying to catch life.

I came inside. E was on the couch with the iPad and didn’t look up. She is used to my weird notions. She just smiles and nods when I say I’m gonna go around again. And I did.

On the way home I passed by Mama dove who was snug on top of her nest, where she has been for the past month. She peeked out from between the thorns, totally dry, totally safe……

I was soaked and it was wonderful. It was the perfect way to wash off the workweek.

 “But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
    I would lay my cause before him.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
    miracles that cannot be counted.
He provides rain for the earth;
    he sends water on the countryside.
The lowly he sets on high,
    and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He thwarts the plans of the crafty,
    so that their hands achieve no success.

Job 5:8-12

photo credit: google images

For those who long for freedom

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You feel grounded, rooted to this spot, and you feel like things can’t change soon enough. You feel discouragement nipping at your heels because you have the sense that by the time things do finally change it will be too late.

This is a prayer for those who are in the uncomfortable place of waiting:

For a change…..the crack of dawn in the darkness……for healing to come…..to get out from under that boss…..to not have to view the world from the window anymore. Maybe it’s the past that keeps pulling you back. Maybe it’s just one person.

You want to hit the open road and never look back because fighting the good fight is tiring. You don’t want to be the one left behind anymore, you want to be the one planning to fly off to fun without a care in the world. You want to get off the Merry-Go-Round and take a turn on the Ferris Wheel.

Maybe you’re in a care-taking role you never asked for, and you feel like you have been playing that role most of your life and you want another part in the play. Maybe it’s a parent who really hasn’t ever been there, and you wonder why in the world you feel you have to be there for them.

And even now, in their weakness, their neediness, their disease, their negative words still have the power to deliver a death sentence to your hopes and dreams, to rob you of every victory you ever almost enjoyed. But only if you let them.

Sometimes you wonder why God keeps them alive and you feel like it’ll only be after they’re gone that you will taste true freedom………part of that freedom will be the absence of the albatross of all that guilt hanging around your neck.

Stand tall, and know that God is fighting with you and for you today. Even now, it’s His freedom, His salvation that makes it possible to continue doing what you do. You have the living promise “that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Because of Him, hope has made a permanent home in your heart and right now, today you are a living testimony with a future filled with promise.

Hope flickers like a candle in her heart and this hope is what the negative voices have tried to stamp out again and again but the voices are becoming silent now because this is her time. The seed that hope planted in her heart has given birth to success, and no one and nothing can ever take that away, because now she knows she is worthy. Sometimes you must have the courage to step over the loss of that thing you never had in order to have the strength to move on.

Take heart, take hope today. He has already given you success. He is with you in the middle of wherever you are. It’s true freedom He gives and it belongs to you today!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

 

What Matters Most

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How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away; therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:1-6

I was grieved by the news today. We’ve become a nation that now thinks it’s okay to openly negotiate with murders and cold-blooded killers. (I am speaking of the Taliban) Our government traded five notorious radicals that would think nothing of beheading your children, your elderly parents, your wife, your husband, your best friend, for a U.S. soldier who went missing as a deserter of his platoon. His own father uttered an Islamic greeting, referring to allah, during the press conference at the White House and he has also said he wants every detainee released from Guantanamo.

Meanwhile, Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Pastor who converted to Christianity, is serving the first year of an 8 year prison term for working with the underground church in Iran and protecting Iranian Christians from persecution. He was also working to open orphanages in Iran. He has endured long stints in solitary confinement, according to his supporters, beatings and torture at the hands of his jailers and fellow inmates. For months, he has been “denied proper medical attention for his injuries, according to his family and attorneys.”

His wife has repeated appealed to congress and the President for his release with no response.

All this to say, that while events of this world and the news distress us, we shouldn’t be surprised by any of it. Jesus Himself said as such. Instead we need to be focused on keeping our eyes on the One who keeps us in His peace and holds us in His grace. While there is always much to worry and stress about in this life, there is more beauty still.

Lately, my prayer has been that I will wake up before it’s too late. I don’t want to live from weekend to weekend just getting by. Sometimes, those of us with particularly stressful jobs (and really, who doesn’t?) put ourselves on autopilot. When we do that, we fail to really see the people and situations around us.

There is so much to be thankful for every day. Time is flying by at warped speed and I don’t want to miss what God has for me. No matter what we might think about the current political climate, with eternity’s values in view, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is our relationship to our Father and to each other.

And love, love always matters most of all.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

 

Elaine

I’ve never thought about how it would feel to have a Birthday on Memorial Day but she takes it in stride, happy for a day to celebrate both. Last night as we were watching the Memorial Day concert hearing about all those tearful testimonials, she looked over as I grabbed yet another tissue and said, “They died, you know…..so we could be here, doing this, enjoying life, being free.” Yes…..they did. So today as we celebrate them, I will also celebrate my best friend whose Birthday it is today.

She hasn’t had an easy week. The school schedule was crazy and she stayed late helping another lady with her bus at the end of the shift. By the time the day was over she was fatigued and ready for it to end, but then the care home called and she went by to check in on her Mom and ended up staying there for 3 hours, and taking she and one of the aides out to dinner. A long story goes with it but suffice it to say, by the time she got home she was spent.

My friend, Elaine spends a lot of time sacrificing for others. She may not be in the military, but she gets up each day with her boots laced and polished, as ready as any person in combat has to do. The fight or flight instinct kicks in early when you grow up with an abusive older brother and that never really goes away.

Even so, somehow she remained ever joyful, ever hopeful for things to change. She was the kid who got to know all the neighbors and did their lawns in the summer.

Much was expected and not much was returned and yet she is one of the most positive people I know and the most fun to be around. She’s one of those people who bring a party wherever she goes. If she’s in a room, you know it by the laughter that erupts soon after. She truly is a people person, and they know it.

Strangers tell her things and old people and kids gravitate towards her. Every Thanksgiving she ends up helping some older lady pick a Turkey out of the bin.

This kind of thing happens all the time. I will ask her about someone she talked to for 15 minutes and she will tell me all these incredible details about their life, in addition to what kind, make, color of car they drive, how many kids they have and what illness or heartache they are currently dealing with. And she doesn’t even pry, they just tell her voluntarily. She has one of those faces you trust.

She is a truly unique individual and I mean that in the best possible way. She is a fixer of people and things and she never likes to throw anything away if it can possibly be salvaged. She is always saying, “I can fix that.”

And usually always, she can.

So today, it’s a privilege for me to celebrate her life and her Birthday. She may not have ever been in the military, but she has fought many battles and won. And my wish for her today is that she would see herself how God sees her and know just how much He loves her and celebrates her too!

Happy Birthday, Elaine. You are a blessing to all who know you.

When you don’t fit in and it’s okay

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I grew up in a church that was somewhat legalistic. I didn’t think much of it until the first time I went to an Assembly of God church where people clapped and raised their hands, and not just shoulder height, all the way up! It was like a whole new world opened up to me. You see, in our church we weren’t even encouraged to clap. I am not sure what’s wrong with clapping. Maybe they thought it would lead to other outward expressions and then God forbid where would you draw the line? There has to be some control after all. Otherwise you might have people jumping over pews and rolling in the aisles.

I say that tongue in cheek, but looking back I always felt somewhat restricted there. One false move and you might be visited by two men in dark suits. I will never forget the time we had an outstanding musical performance and someone must have forgotten the rule because there was a burst of applause. It started strong, but then the Pastor raised his hand in admonition……”No, no clapping please.” The people (us) being properly chastened, it quickly died down.

I remember never quite fitting in. Don’t get me wrong. I have many good memories of church and I am thankful, so thankful my Mom insisted we go. I have to say, I got a wonderful Scriptural foundational knowledge there. People that love the Lord with all their hearts still go there. And yet, when I got out. I remember feeling a profound sense of freedom that I had never had before and it was a little bit of Heaven.

My joy was no longer contained……I felt like a balloon taking flight for the first time. I could feel totally comfortable lifting my hands to the sky, or equally comfortable going down to the altar and planting my face to the indoor outdoor carpeted step. I finally felt I could express my joy over being forgiven, being redeemed properly.

I have taken part in all different types of church services, and I am glad I have. I consider myself  bit of a church mutt. I have been immersed in liturgy and felt extremely moved by its beauty. I have been to services where people felt totally free to kick off their shoes and dance in the aisle. And what I have come away with is this:

There is no right way or wrong way to praise God and as soon as you start making people believe they have to do worship a certain way, then you are excluding those who don’t quite fit your mold.

There is room, my friends. Room for all of our individuality at the Cross. And as long a congregation is true to Scripture, it’s all good. Just because I lift my hands in church doesn’t mean someone else has to. Their hearts might be bursting with praise within. God knows hearts. He knows each thought, each feeling, He hears whispered praise as well as praise that shouts to the sky.

He is big enough to contain it all.

Another slice please……..don’t mind if I do.

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Trip continued from yesterday……..

The next morning I was like a little kid, hyper and chomping at the bit to get down to the ocean because, well….the water was so close! I have never lost my excitement at getting that first glimpse of the water, it’s tied to so many good memories I have as a kid, and each time is magic, but breakfast was included in our stay and more importantly, I was in dire need of coffee.

As you can see, I fell in love with how the light was streaming in the morning windows…….and the coffee was much to my satisfaction. I had a feeling, since the night before, Nashua had shared with us that she enjoys a good cup of Turkish coffee. Somehow I knew it would be strong enough to stand up to my specifications and I was not disappointed.

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We were ushered to a table and given fresh orange juice, and a wonderful frittata filled with cheese and potatoes with a side of sausage and fresh fruit. It was all excellent and it tempered my anxiety about getting on the beach enough that I could sit and enjoy it, as well as take a couple of pictures.

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After that, a long walk on the beach was in order. We watched dogs play and collected some interesting rocks along the shore. The weather couldn’t have been better and that added to the almost surreal atmosphere. It was like God’s stamp of approval on the day. Having spent many cold and foggy days at the shore, I was ready for anything.

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When we came back we headed up to the rooftop again, since we had only seen it at night before. The view from the rooftop was stunning……….It is definitely yet another selling point to this Hotel. Unfortunately, the only photo I got was with my iPhone and it wasn’t very good, however you can check out the Hotel website, where you may be able to see it.

Another benefit of staying in the smaller Hotels is the people you meet. I have already told you about Nashua, but we also met a very charming young gentleman named Lance who also is employed by the Hotel. He was very well spoken, with an unbridled enthusiasm for life that was catching. He poured us each a glass of wine and the four of us talked together in the lobby for a very enjoyable hour or so and I never got the feeling they were merely being polite, they were really interested.

We also met a couple from Brisbane, Australia, both very friendly, celebrating their anniversary. They asked for a recommendation for dinner and we gave them the name of the place we were going to right down the Pier, the Sandbar Grill, a local hangout which was excellent. We ended up seeing them come in as we were finishing up. As we left they were getting on very well with the couple beside them.

Unfortunately I never knew quite what he said because his accent was so thick and he talked so fast, we never understood a thing he said. He sounded a lot like “Gimli” from Lord of the Rings. We nodded back and forth a lot. Fortunately, we understood his wife quite well so that helped.

We also met a very interesting lady named Rika, who is a film set designer in LA. She talked to Elaine quite a bit, being interested in just about everything. She wanted to know how long she had been driving her motor home.

She had an elegant, yet understated and humble way about her. Graceful in the way that always makes me feel somehow lumberous and awkward, while not meaning to. She is also part owner of two restaurants and I love the name they chose: Can’t Fail Cafe.

We were thinking of heading out after only one night but we were so captivated by Hotel 1110 that we had to stay another night and I am so glad we did. It was a great send-off to the rest of our trip along the coast. We ended up meeting up with Rika again at Phil’s for lunch before we all went our separate ways. Phil is famous for winning a throw-down against Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay for his Cioppino.

Hotel 1110 was a delightful surprise and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we will be back this way again someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

I had a dream…….

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I landed here in this place through no fault of my own, but because my body no longer cooperates with what I want it to do. The only thing is, nobody has told me the rules. There are people who skim in and out briskly. They give me things but they are not my things.

It is morning now and I miss my coffee. My kitchen. I miss having the whole pot if I want it. I am given a plastic cup with coffee but it’s lukewarm. And weak. I have never drank lukewarm in my whole life, and I never drank it from a plastic cup. I can’t heat it so I leave it……but then I think maybe if I don’t drink it now I may not get it again. Grimacing, I drink it down.

I remember the days when I was mobile. I never thought about getting up and walking across the room, I just did it. I try not to be terrified. This feeling of helplessness is new and strange and I feel trapped. Things are in disarray here……plates left on tables, and no one asks me where I want to sit at breakfast they just push me to the table. What’s more, they don’t give us anything to drink with our food. It’s difficult to eat with nothing to wash it down. I ask them, and they bring it but by then my food is no longer hot. I look around and see if everyone looks as bewildered as I feel.

A dish of ice-cream at lunch sits melted. She is sitting too far from the table and she misses her mouth. He is fiddling with his napkin, tearing it into bits like shrapnel it falls to the floor.

Where am I? Where is the place I used to call home?

I miss my dog and cat. I can’t think where they are now, it hurts too much. Tears course down and I wish I had a Kleenex but I use my sleeve. How I would give anything to feel their soft fur under my hand, see the love and loyalty in their eyes. How they would comfort me here.

I told someone I needed to go to the bathroom but that was hours ago. I have been reduced to wearing those adult diapers. The ones I used to see on those awful commercials. I never thought I would have to wear these. They are soaked through. It’s been hours and still they don’t come.

I dread the time I will need a shower. That’s the worst. I try not to think about it much. In my room are things I know. They spark memories, good ones. I surround myself with those now. I say a prayer of thanks for those. They are like pearls on a string and my mind caresses each one. For many here memory draws no comfort. They only have today. In a way, I envy them.

I watch the staff and see their anguished faces. I don’t imagine they make very much money here. I wonder what they go home to. They sit in corners and huddle up in groups peering into their phones. And yet, I find compassion in some of those eyes. They don’t think they will ever have to be in a place like this. And yet in their eyes I see a helplessness also. We are not so different. When it’s all said and done, we are all doing the best we can.

Night is falling and I dream and it’s long ago and my Dad comes and I can walk again. We walk far, past the grounds, through big buildings and streets and I am free again. He is my rescuer again, just like when I was very small.

I awake and I forget where I am. There are shadows in the corners and unfamiliar sounds. Bumps in the night.

I turn over to find my Bible on the nightstand which comes from home and a warmth washes over me. My life lies between the pages and it rushes out to greet me when I open it. I am home. And in my mind flows free with the songs I learned in church so long ago. I am so thankful they have never left me.

I am not alone. My eyes fill with tears at the wealth of this knowledge and my being is flooded with that realization. Joy finds me.

I am not alone. The Holy Spirit whispers and I want to shout it out!

I marvel that it’s possible that I have something to give here. Something to teach them. Something that sorrow and years and weakness can never take away. Someone to introduce them to.

I breathe a prayer. “Make me your instrument, Lord. Even in this place.”

Soon I will be going Home.

A dream I had last night sparked this post, and when I read my Sarah Young devotional today, I was amazed. Here is part of that reading:

Some of the greatest works of my Kingdom have been done from sick beds and prison cells. Instead of resenting the limitations of a weakened body, search for My way in the midst of these very circumstances.

God wants you (and your baggage)

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Some things come easily to me. It’s a gift, I know. I hear of people who struggle to believe that not only is there a God, a Supreme Being who created everything we see; but that He also wants to hear from us. We don’t serve a passive God. We serve one who wants to be involved in every aspect of our daily lives.

It wasn’t enough for Him to create everything and disengage. That’s not how He works.

What is hard for me to imagine is eternity. I always think someone will mess things up like what happened before with Adam and Eve in the garden. But the Bible says that we will live with Him forever, so I take Him at His word and I thank Him everyday for that future hope.

I pray for those who are struggling today to believe, and my belief humbles me because I know that it is truly a gift from God.

We are a flawed people loved by a perfect God. That is what I rejoice in today. My struggles come in the form of fear, worry and anxiety which the Bible says pretty much points to a lack of faith. The other day I awoke on a perfectly wonderfully free day off with my mind literally teeming with anxiety. I knew the cure so I headed out to pray.

I lit my lantern and with a dove softly cooing from a neighbor’s rooftop I gave myself a talking to. Then I talked to God.

Sometimes things like anxiety…..fear….worry, are choices, my friends. We have to choose who we will serve on any given day.

That day, I rejected my anxiety. Sometimes you have to do that. I had to ask myself who I believed. I had to put my faith into action by trusting the One who told me I didn’t have to worry. Each day is a choice whether to take God at His word or not.

My prayer went something like this:

I love you, Lord. I really love you. I am an extremely flawed individual, wrapped up in anxiety, bundled up in worry far too much of the time, but what I do have I give to you. Thank you for taking me as well as my baggage. Amen

While I was praying I envisioned me and Jesus sitting on the shore of a lake sometime in the future. We were sitting on a large rock side by side listening to the water lap gently on the shore, when He turned toward me with love and a bit of a twinkle in His eyes and said, “See? I told you there was nothing to worry about.”

My friends, give Him your baggage today, whatever it is.

He knows what to do with it.

 

 

Hope with a big “H”

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We sat there, all of us potential jurors. There were about 100 of us who drew the short straws, whose group was not ticked off the list. I sat with my Kleenex and stuffy nose and heard others hack and cough. There was one loud talker, as it seems there always is. He sat in the front row and we heard his whole life story told to the hapless man next to him. Maybe it started with a comment, and that was all it took to throw open the gateway of conversation, albeit one-sided. But that was okay, he gave us all something to listen to as the minutes ticked by.

The clerk came in and we all watched a video about what an honor it is to serve on a jury. And really, it is. And yes, I do take it for granted. We all do. I complained about going, I got up early on my day off. I put makeup on, selected a nice outfit and drove the 30 minutes to a small town east of me. A depressing town, really. The main source of work are the several prisons there. Yet on the perimeter of my heart the question taunted me, haunted me really. What if it was someone I loved on trail? What if it was me? What if there were no one to stand for you? What if you were innocent? What if you weren’t?

When we finally got up to the courtroom they began the selection process. One by one names were called. Down to the last 26. I wasn’t among them. The rest of us sighed almost collectively when the last name was called. Now began the questions. We weren’t off the hook yet. We all sat through several rounds of questions given to the 26 selected. A few were eliminated, so three more names were called from our group to replace them. Still wasn’t me.

Then came questions from prosecution……then defense.

We heard stories, lots of them from the prospective jurors. Things came out. One woman found it hard to talk when she was asked if she had ever known anyone personally who had been arrested. She had to put a restraining order out on her abusive husband. And he came for her and held her at gunpoint. The SWAT team had to be called. I could tell it all came back to her…….all that heartache.

What I came away with was this:

All this procedure for a theft. And yes, it is right. It is just. It is how we do things in our country. It’s how we do justice.

But for many in other countries, and this one too, there is no justice at all. I am thinking about the African Bloggers today. I am thinking of the things they have seen over there. The people they have met. Where is the justice for all those children who have no parents. Who stood for them when their parents were mercilessly killed? Who stands for them now? Where is the justice for the 1,000,000 who were murdered? Who will stand up for them? Well, I can tell you there are people who stand for them now, who want to make a difference, who are making a difference. Read about one such group right here. Read all their updates, I know you will be moved.

Someone has given these precious children in Africa Hope. Hope with a big “H.” For the first time in their lives, they have a heritage. They have a family.They know that someone cares very much what happened to their parents, for He was watching, and He will never forget. And when He hands out justice, it will be swift. It will be right. It will be final.

Someone is also giving them Hope so they in turn can give that Hope to others. Now they know they have a Dad who is so big that He can swallow up all the sorrow they ever held. For good.

There are all kinds of unfair things that happen everyday. Maybe you are one to whom life has been very unfair. I can tell you one thing that will make a big difference if you accept it. There was one very unfair thing that happened around 2000 years ago. The King of Kings willingly died a criminal death. He was put on a trial that wasn’t even a real trial. There was no jury selection of His peers. You would have had to call down Angels for that. Yes, God Himself was there, and the Holy Spirit was uttering the few Words He would say then. But no words could have ever saved Him.

He died so that we might have the justice that we don’t deserve. He died and rose again so that we might receive new life and a new heritage. And life with Him forever for in a perfect world, a world very unlike this one. Read Romans 5:6-10

Amidst the turbulence and heartache everywhere, there is One who embodies Hope. That’s our story, that’s our message. Blogging and writing is our way of holding up the light of Jesus to a weary world who needs Him more than ever.

Bring Him into your daily mess. Nothing scares Him.

Photo source: http://worldhelp.net/missionaries-build-cathedrals-not-strip-malls/

Assurance about what we don’t (yet) see

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Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3

 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

I can’t think of a better way to bring in the New Year than sitting on this shore watching the New Year roll in along with the tide, but since I can’t I thought I would post this pic and visualize myself there anyway. Yet, sitting here gazing at the lights on the tree that will soon be packed away, I am sipping coffee still snug in my big robe and I find that ain’t too shabby either. There is much to be thankful for.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I can’t say that I felt all that hopeful about 2014. In the immediate, I will be going back to work on Thursday, and work right now is very stressful. I’d just as soon not go back. As I don’t have that luxury, I will continue to trust God to get me in the door each day. He’s never failed me yet.

It’s easy to get bogged down with unknowns, but thankfully, the knowns and what I know about God far outnumber the unknowns.

For that reason alone, this New Year rings with hope for me. I found myself surprised by joy this morning. I am rich with a heritage of belief in a God that holds me and all those I hold dear close.

God surprises me with His love again and again. No matter how many times I failed myself, others and Him last year, He reminded me this morning that His love for me has no end, it is infinite and unconditional and reaches past eternity.

On the edge of this world is another one shimmering in the light, where He is. That is where all our hope lies. That’s our future, and we carry it with us even now.

There is no room for fear in that kind of hope. It goes along with my new phrase for the year which is:

Faith over Fear.

As I prepare to enjoy this day, Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being here with me, with us. I can’t imagine a better way to start the New Year.

As I sit here teary eyed watching the Rose Parade, I remember the year we got to go work on the floats with Home Depot. It was an unbelievable experience to see those huge floats up close. I will never forget it, and now each year I find myself crying when I watch, remembering how beautiful those floats, those flowers were.

As the Marine Marching Band plays, I cry again. I still love my country, despite all I am unhappy with in the current administration. Yes, I am bowled over with the beauty of the world. Amidst the backdrop of so much heartache and strife on the news, there is so much good.

Happy New Year world……Keep looking up, for our redemption draws nigh!

As for me, I am hoping for what I can’t yet fully see. God is working behind the scenes for our good, always. That’s always reason to hope.