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By michele

Resurrection Hope

I recently attended a retreat and as I perused the women sitting in the large circle, I became curious as to the journey each of them took to arrive in that particular seat, in this particular location, “for such a time as this.”

Later that day, I conducted a scientifically lacking survey and simply asked several women how they ended up at our retreat. Not surprisingly, the majority of them said they were invited by someone else. They were personally invited. One lady read an advertisement on Facebook; another saw it in the church bulletin. The majority, however, were invited by a friend or fellow church or Bible study attendee.

The beginning of Holy Week stirs up many personal thoughts as I spend a few extra minutes each morning contemplating what this week looked like to Jesus. As I ponder His suffering and agony and anticipation of becoming broken for us, I am also reminded of my friends and neighbors who haven’t yet experienced His great love for our very broken world.

How do they go on? How do those without a personal relationship and faith in Jesus continue to walk in this fallen world with all the aches, pains and hopelessness that would naturally accompany a journey through this life? These are questions I find myself wrestling with often as I look out my window and walk down my street, realizing the hurt and disappointment and suffering that takes place behind the wreath-decorated doors with spring flowers blooming in the buckets on the front porches.

If I really believe Jesus’ death and resurrection makes all the difference in my life, and He is the only real Hope in this world, why am I not more intentional to share His love with the hurting friends and neighbors God has placed in my life?

Easter Sunday quickly approaches. My prayer is that I will use this week to really engage in conversation with my neighbors and to offer them the Hope I’ve experienced that I know only comes from a relationship with Jesus.

People are more likely to visit a church (or any gathering) where they personally know someone else who attends. A warm and genuine invitation is often all it takes to move someone from thinking about attending church to walking through the doors.

Will you join me over the next few days in praying for opportunities to share with our friends and neighbors, for that unexpected meet-up at the mailbox or bus stop, for the inconvenience of running out of sugar and being brave enough to knock on the door to ask our neighbor if we can borrow a cup? Because I’m asking, I’m expecting God to provide an easy and natural way for me to connect and invite a friend to church on Sunday. According to Lifeway Research, Easter is the most popular church attendance day on the calendar. Let’s seize Resurrection Day and offer Hope to those we know!

You Are My Favorite Child!

On each of their birthdays, I address their cards “To My Favorite Child.” When they were younger, it was easy to call “The Boy” (our affectionate name for Eli) our favorite son, as he was the only one. Trailing him, however, were four daughters who all wanted to be the favorite, as well.

As they grew up, I decided early on that the one I was with would be my favorite. As Britain and I drove home from school, I would comment to her, “Britain, you’re my favorite child.” And she would beam. When Mallory would come in from practice, I’d greet her at the door and give her a hug and remind her she was my favorite child. At a track meet, when Eli would come and sit his sweaty body next to me on the bleachers, I would hand him a towel and exclaim, “Eli, you are my favorite child.” Lydia would dance through the kitchen and down through the hall and I would sing as she pirouetted, “There goes Lydia, my favorite child.” And when Emilie would call me from college, for the fourth time that day, I would answer the phone and cheerfully say, “Hello, Emilie, my favorite child.”

I’d hear other parents who carefully told their children they didn’t have a favorite; that they love all of their children equally. How disappointing, I thought. Doesn’t every child have a longing to be their parents’ favorite?

My children are all grown now and beginning to have children of their own. I love the adult conversations we have and listening to the memories they share of their childhood. Interestingly, not long ago, Mallory and Lydia had a conversation where they playfully argued about how they each thought they were my favorite child. And I just smiled.

God our Father has many children. And I think He longs for each of us to know that we are His very favorite. He doesn’t love us equally; He loves us individually, as if we were His one and only child.

On days I feel unlovable, I need only to open my Bible, His personal love letter written to me, and read a few of His thoughts.

With a love that is vastly immeasurable, the Father exclaims to each one of us, “YOU, are my favorite child!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3.1

Thoughts For the New Year

I wrote the Christmas card and tucked the gift card inside. Then I wrote her
name on the envelope and attached a string through a tiny hole.
Dear “Friend”,
This is a gift with a string attached. Should you choose to play along with me,
this gift card can only be used at a time when we visit this coffeehouse
together.
In other words, time spent together is really the gift. (So, perhaps this is really
a gift to myself:)
Merry Christmas!
Love, Michele


Thinking I was pretty clever, I told my daughter of this gift idea. She smiled her
cute but sarcastic smile and said, “Mom. Do you really think spending time
with you is a gift? Like, do you really think you’re a gift?”
She makes me laugh.


When thinking about the new year and a fresh start, I sat down to pray and
ponder about what I’d like 2019 to look like. What changes do I want to make?
What are some ways I can make a difference?


I decided I wanted this year’s changes to not focus on self-improvement or
what I can do to better myself; rather, changes that will make a difference in other’s lives. This year I want to be intentional to care more for those around me, to invest in the community(s) God has gifted me with.
I want my life to make other’s lives better.


To that end, these five attributes encompass what I want 2019 to include:
To be more generous
To be more kind
To be more encouraging
To be less critical
To give the gift of time


1) To be more generous-
You’ve heard the old (but true) saying, “You can’t outgive God.” This year I
want to test Him on this. I pray that my giving would be marked by sacrifice
and great joy. I pray for new and creative ways to give generously- not only
financially, but by the generous giving of praise, encouragement, kindness,
and time.


2) To be more kind-
Having or showing a friendly, generous and considerate nature.
I want to be like Tabitha, who lived in Joppa and was mentioned in Acts 9.36.
“She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.”
I don’t want to win the approval of others, but simply to live out of the
abundance of kindness the Lord and others have shown me.

3) To be more encouraging-
“You can do this!” “I am for you!” “God is bigger than this insurmountable
mountain you’re facing!” “I understand.” “I’m so sorry.” “I’ve been there, too.”
“Let’s pray.”
Perhaps the most encouraging story in scripture is that of Aaron and Hur as
they encourage Moses.
While Joshua led the troops into battle, Moses, along with Aaron and Hur,
watched the battle from a nearby hill. Exodus 17:11 reads, “So it came about
when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand
down, Amalek prevailed.” As Moses became weary both physically and
mentally, Aaron and Hur took their places on either side of Moses and held his
arms high. We all need those in our lives who walk beside us and lift us up.
This year I want to be more of an encourager to those around me.

4) To be less critical-
I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. As I was telling
her about this conviction I’ve had of being less critical towards others, I came
to understand how personal a conviction this really is. What is a critical spirit
for me may not be for everyone else. It all comes down to spending time with
Jesus asking Him to reveal your heart and motives.
For me, it is usually birthed out of my thinking someone else isn’t doing a task
the way I would have done it. That my way is the better way.
This year I want to value others opinions and ideas and walk with an open
heart and open hands. I want to hold my ministries, my projects, my ideas
loosely, ready to give up ownership when needed, especially in order to
honor others.

5) The gift of time-
Lastly, I want to give those around me my most valuable asset, my time.
Granted, not everyone’s love language is the gift of quality time, but I believe we all could benefit from a little time spent with a friend. As I decorated our farm house in Ohio, one of the first things I did was add a saying above the
doorway in the kitchen that read, “Never too busy for friendship or tea.” I
cringe when people tell me I’m too busy. I may have a full schedule and lots of things on my calendar, but I never want anyone to think I’m too busy to spend time with them.
People are one of the few things we get to take with us to heaven. They are
where I want to spend my time.

Advent

Advent, my favorite time of year.

I love to sit every morning in front of our tree, the ornaments reminding me of days gone by, many made by my grown children’s little hands of years ago. A cozy blanket wraps me in warmth and reminds me of His comforting love.

The quietness and stillness slows my morning and bids me time to ponder anew the mystery and majesty of this time of waiting. Of anticipation. Of Hope arriving as we usher in the celebration of the Word becoming flesh.

I sit with great expectancy of hearing the “Still Small Voice” whisper a new truth to my heart.

I meditate. I wait. I process. I worship.

The twinkling lights remind me of the Light that has come to pierce the darkness. Once again, I ponder those words. Pierce. To penetrate, to force or make a way into. According to another source, you can “pierce confusion by saying something that makes everything clear.”

Perhaps this is it. This is what the Light has come to do to the dark. It has come to pierce the confusion and to make everything clear.

The Word became flesh so He might live and dwell in us and among us; to rid us of the doubts and confusion, which is this dark world’s only meager offering to us.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you.

For look, darkness covers the earth, and total darkness the peoples: but the Lord will shine over you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance.

~Isaiah 60. 1-3

Someday

 

For most of you, today was Saturday.

But for me, it was Someday.

I left work in DC and what should have taken me 3.5 hours to get home took me 7 hours.

Because it was Someday.

I’d taken the back roads home before and as I passed little antique shops in tiny towns, I would say to myself, “Someday, I’m going to stop in those little shops.”

And I passed a beautiful Methodist church and whispered, “Someday, I want to stop and take pictures of their door. And the cross that faces the field.”

As I drove north on Hwy 213, I came to the crossroad of Main Street in Cecilton and told myself, “Someday, I’m going to

take a detour and drive by Mike’s Nana and PopPops house and reminisce about all the ice cream we ate on their front porch.”

“Someday, instead of passing over the Chesapeake City Bridge, I’m going to go under it and see what’s on the other side,” I declared to myself.

So, guess what? Today was my Someday.

I stopped in those little shops and met friendly locals and told them that my husband was born just up the road.

It was drizzling and dreary when I came to the Methodist church, but I pulled over and got out of my car and took those pictures.

I took a left onto Main Street in Cecilton and stopped to take a picture of Mike’s grandparents’ house. And pulled into his elementary school to turn around.

I was so excited when I got to the drawbridge a little further ahead, and I had to stop so a boat could pass through the waters!

And I was tickled to drive under the bridge in Chesapeake City and get a glimpse of a beautiful wedding party, including the new bride and groom!

I’m so grateful today was Someday.

And I look forward to adding more of them to my calendar in the days ahead.

What are you waiting to do Someday?