A Sepia World

Before you know it, the darkness closes in and it’s hard to see anything. You search and feel for any sense of light in the midst of the walls of the storm clouds building up all around you. You are grasping for air as you are being suffocated by the storm closing in around you. You can’t hear anything as the thunder grows louder and louder. Everything that was once in color is harder to see.

The world no longer looks like a color film. It’s now in hues of sepia and black and white. You yearn to know that their is vibrancy in the darkness. That the colors of the flowers and the tress will come into full focus again. But this wall of clouds is still closing in around you. And the noises are only getting louder.

Watching my mom live with a mental illness and watching friends suffer with depression and anxiety hearts my heart. This is what I picture their worlds to be like; yearning to see the color again and knowing that this storm cloud can build up around you at anytime. Depression is an evil cunning effective liar. And together we must show each other truth.

The truth is that we are not on this journey alone. With a crayon in my hand, my hand moves across the picture adding green to the trees, blue to the sky, and filling in the colors wherever I can. In addition, I’ll stand in those storm clouds with you; blocking you from whatever debris I can.

Before we know it, the clouds will clear and the movie of life will come back into color with full focus. The storm will come again. And then the world will return to sepia and black and white. But together, this liar of depression will not win. It will be crushed by life, hope, and love in this broken world. And the world will no longer be in hues of sepia but filled with the    diversity of colors the world has to offer us all.

What Makes Your Heart Sing?

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “sing.” I love spending time with this crew. They bless me beyond words. We’d love to have you join us. Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! And by the way, you may have noticed some changes to this space. Thanks to Dan at FistBump Media! 

The words are exuberantly song by the children. Some are waving vigorously trying to get the attention of at mom, dad and grandparents. Others are trying to pull their dress up over their head. Little boys are poking each other. Yet the words of the gospel are proudly sung as they sing loudly.

Kids have this way of teaching us so much. The lesson is that God doesn’t really care how we sound. God wants us to proudly sing his praises. I will admit that I am not a great singer. In fact, I really cant even carry a tune in a bucket. Yet I love singing along to the radio.

My favorite song comes onto the radio and I crank the volume up on the radio.  I then sing at the top of my lungs. Lately, it has been jamming out to Ellie Holcomb’s new album Red Sea Road. (Seriously people pick it up, I promise you wont be disappointed.)

This last week, we proclaimed Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Allelulia. In the changing of seasons, as signs of new life are all around us, hosannas permeate the air as we trust in the promise of the resurrection. Through the Easter promise, we sing our Hosannas and declare that we are Easter people; that we are Hosanna people.

As Hosanna people, God promises to never leave us or forsake us. God gives us each different gifts and abilities. I love spending time cuddling with an infant (Emma, I seriously wanted to crawl through my phone to snuggle your new son) I love writing and words. These are just a few things that make my heart sing.

Sunday Blessings 167

(1) A sweet thank you note

(2) Stepping on the scale and seeing that it’s three pounds less.

(3) Zumba with the Zumba crew at Curves

(4) Getting my Easter dress in the mail

(5) Time with KL at one of our fave places.

(6) Running into an old camp friend. So good to see you JW!

(7) Twinings Lemon and Ginger Tea

(8) Texting with one of my faves. You’re the best MW!

(9) Qdoba–I haven’t had it in so long!

(10) A call from CM

(11) Maundy Thursday

(12) A surprise Easter package from my auntie!

(13) Lunch with KB and her friend R

(14) A much needed Spring rain

(15) Peach-pear LaCroix (my new fave)

(16) The sweet smell of rain

(17) Easter at FLC

(18) Easter dinner at a parishioners house

(19) Easter leftovers sent home with me

(20) Praying through my FB friends list as my Lenten discipline. It was such an honor to pray for you all.

(21) Success of my Easter children’s sermon

(22) Family and friends=YOU!!!

Easter and Resurrection Hope

On Good Friday, our Christ died on the cross. On Easter Saturday, we lingered at the cross. As we lingered, we waited; waited and grieved. Our beloved Jesus is dead. We are clinging to darkness and despair and death. It seems that we are stuck here. Yet today we are reminded of the Easter promise of good news; of light, hope and life.

Trumpet fanfare, the Hallelujah chorus proudly being sung, lillies blooming all around us. Easter has arrived! The tomb is empty. Jesus is no longer there. And light not darkness, hope not despair and life not death have the final word.

Easter shows us that death doesn’t stay in the grave; that resurrection is possible. Yet there are times in our lives when we can’t see the resurrection promise. We grasp to hold onto whatever we can; to give us a glimmer of hope.

I sat with my mom several years ago as she laid in her ICU room. The buzz of the machines humming all around us. Mom is there, but yet she isnt. I am grasping onto every little sign of hope that I can; a slight movement, a muffled sound, anything. It seems that there is no hope in sight, but then one day she wakes up. She isn’t ever the same again, but she has regrained her health. Resurrection hope embodied!

Friends who daily struggle to find the light in the midst of their darkness of depression and mental illnesses. They are grasping onto whatever hope they can find. There are days the darkness is so overwhelming. The hope is stifled when it seems there is no end to the pain and despair. Yet one day they wake up and find themselves feeling better. Another sign that light, hope and life do indeed have the final word.

In the rubble of the Haiti earthquake, resurrection also bursts forth as they continue to rebuild. Out of death is born a new relationship and out of that relationship, new life continues to grow.

There are so many days when it is hard to find the light. We grieve the losses of our lives. But then we run to the tomb and find the tomb empty. Jesus is supposed to be there, but he is not there. In finding the empty tomb, we know that resurrection is indeed possible. And because it is possible, we trust and know that light not darkness, hope not despair, and life not death have the ultimate word. We see that beauty can come from ashes; that God can redeem our brokenness as he makes beautiful things out of dust; out of us.

From the table, to the cross, to the empty tomb, there is hope. There is light. There is life. And as we proclaim in the resurrection we know we can proudly declare, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!” Christ is risen and together we run to tell everyone about this amazing gift; the gift of God’s son sent not to condemn the world, but to save it. The gift of a savior who was born to bring hope, light, joy and life.

“Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”–Psalm 30:5

And today, my friends, it may seem like you are in a season of weeping, but joy will come again. Christ promises that joy to each of us. Easter breaks forth from the weeping and the darkness of Good Friday, to the empty tomb and joy bursts forth into this broken world.

I am linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday.  


 
 

Linger at the Cross

The world is dark! Flashes of lightening and thunder bolt across the sky. The sounds of his mother sobbing uncontrollably penetrating the air. Jesus is gone. All of us surrounded by darkness; a darkness that closes in all around us.

This is not a place I want to linger, but it is an important part of this beloved story. Every day, darkness finds its way in this broken world; the darkness of mental illness, the darkness of racism, the darkness of so much. I find myself grasping to find the light,

Several years ago, I sat with my mom as she lay in the ICU. My hand holding hers as I waited for sone sort of sign from her. The hum of the machines buzzing all around us. Mom laid in that bed for two weeks. I’d sit with her, chatting with her and yearning for some glimmer of hope. Then one day, she woke up. In her waking up, hope and light broke forth from the darkness.

Since that day, nothing has been the same. I find myself sitting today, sitting in the darkness with my friends and family. This darkness is a reminder of what Christ did for us; because of the sin of the world. Sin that comes in doubt, anger, death, betrayal, hate, addiction, guilt and in so many other ways. We are all guilty of these very sins,

It can be so easy to move past the cross and the darkness, but today we must linger there. With uncontrollable sobs, we grieve –grieve that Christ had to die because of our sins; because of the world’s brokenness.

The sun will shine again, but not before darkness covers the earth after Jesus breathes his last. Sunday is coming! But first, let’s linger at the foot of the cross joining our voices with the prophets of old knowing that “Easter says you can put death in the grave but it won’t stay there (Clarence W Hall).”

The Empty Cross

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “empty.” I love spending time with this crew. They bless me beyond words. We’d love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there!

Judas and Peter sat with Jesus at the table. Even knowing that one would betray him and the other would deny him, Jesus still stoops down and washes their feet. It is an incredible act of love. From that meal, we move to Good Friday.

It is dark. Jesus is stretched out on the cross; his hands and feet nailed to that very cross. A crown of thorns on his head. In this moment, we see that the authorities have won and Jesus is about to take his last breath. But not before, Jesus looks to his mother. I can imagine a single tear in her eye as she says good bye to her beloved son. Then he breaths his last. The silence penetrating the darkness. Blood dripping from both his hands and his side. Blood shed for all of us!

Slowly, Jesus is taken down from the cross, wrapped in burial cloth and placed in the tomb. The stone is rolled in front of the tomb. They leave Jesus in peace and walk away. Three days later, the women come to the tomb and are surprised by what they see. This man–Jesus–who was oppressed and sent to die on the cross is no longer there. In this moment, we are awakened to God’s power as life not death and light not darkness have the final word.

Yet we cannot come to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday without experiencing the entire road to the cross. We must stand on the road as Jesus rides in on his donkey. We must sit with him and break bread together. We must watch as he breaths his last on Good Friday. Without any of this journey, the empty tomb doesn’t make sense!

So today, feel,, listen, and experience the depth of what Christ did for all of the world. Then on Easter Sunday, come to the tomb and find it empty as Jesus epicly has been risen from the grave. And proudly shout “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Allelulia.” And watch as new life springs forth all around us: flowers blooming, butterflies waking, and so many other signs.

But most of all, see the empty cross; the promise of God’s love for this broken world.

Witnessing to Your Prayers

Throughout life, I’ve been surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses–people who have continually shown me what it means to show love to all Gods people. My mom has been one of those incredible witnesses. Through her mental illness, she’s never let her faith waiver. She seriously would give thr shirt off of her back to anyone in need. Her example, along with the examples of many, call me to witness to the power of the cross and God’s love for all of us. Jesus came “not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through it.”

Throughout Lent, my Lenten discipline has been to pray through my Facebook friends list. Today I wrote on the last wall. The requests that my friends and family have trusted me with is incredible. It’s hard to put into words what it means to pray for others. And in return, to have them ask me to pray for them. I’ve witnessed the power of what it means to lift these prayers up to God. There have been times that God has answered these prayers as we have requested but often it’s been in totally different ways.

To be a witness to the very depths of my friends and families prayer requests is extremely humbling. I  started this practice to remember what Christ has done for us. I never expected to be transformed by lifting up these prayers, but it’s totally what’s happened.

To watch my friends and family experience relief or joy or whatever in the midst of their lives, I’ve learned that prayer truly can and does make a difference. Are we willing to be cloud of witnesses for one another? Because in doing so, the world can become a much better place.

Children of Light

“Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’ “
(John 12: 35-36)

Have you ever noticed how a little light can make a big difference? A few weeks ago, I was sitting watching television when their was a big car accident near my neighborhood. The lights flickered for a moment and then everything went dark. The car had hit the transformer and knocked out all of the electricity. I opened my front door to see my neighborhood and several surrounding neighborhoods completing pitch black. I went to my kitchen and grabbed the lighter and lit some candles. Those candles gave off enough light that I could still sit and read in my living room.

Light has this amazing power to bring hope in the midst of the darkness. Light is indeed a sure sign of hope. Yet sometimes it can be so incredibly hard to find that light when it seems you are surrounded by darkness. The darkness too often overwhelmingly distinguishes the light. So are we willing to believe in the light when it is there? Are we also willing to be children of light to help spread the light of God’s love, light, and hope in this broken world?

Yet this world is so often–too often–filled with darkness. There are my LGBTBQ+ friends who yearn to see the light and be accepted in this world. There are my friends who are searching to find the light in the midst of their own battle of depression and/or anxiety. There are my friends who fear for their safety. Can we truly be children of the light and show them the light of Christ?

The truth is that too often the world is blinded by the darkness. We are afraid to show the light to others. Yet it is because of what Christ did for us that we have been given this gift; this gift of grace that opens our eyes to the hope of the resurrection and to the hope of light and life. For in dying on the cross and being raised again, Christ shows us that God indeed has the ultimate power; the power to overcome death and darkness with life and light. 

The Injustice of the Cross

Yesterday we watched as the kids came into worship proudly waving their palm branches. Cheers of “Hosanna in the highest” quickly change to the words of conviction as the crowd yells “Crucify him.” This week begins with a parade and ends with one of the most horrific acts; the crucifixion of Jesus who came “not to condemn the world but to save it.” Our hands–dirty and blood stained–because we too are guilty of not saying a word and letting Jesus die for our own sins. The power of Jesus’ life, ministry and death reminds me continually of the amazing power God has and also of the scandalous love God has for all of us.

From the parade, we move to the table where Jesus washes his disciples feet. At the table, Jesus washes all of their feet including Judas’s feet who will betray him and Peter’s feet who will deny him three times before the cock crows. Jesus should have been the last person to wash their feet. But in this gracious act, Jesus embodies God’s love and also embodies “diakonia” (service) for all the world. We too are called to pick up our basins and towels to wash the feet of all God’s people. This act also links us back to the waters of our Baptism where we have been called and claimed as God’s beloved children. In the waters of Baptism, we are washed clean.

From Maundy Thursday, we journey to the cross where Jesus is nailed to the cross. Hanging on the cross, a crown of thorns upon his head, and nails driven into his hands and his feet, Jesus simply states, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Then Jesus breathes his last. In the silence of that dark Good Friday, the silence pierced by the mourners gathered as Jesus dies. At Good Friday services, I often shed tears as I recall the incredible thing Christ did for me—did for all of us.

And then from that night, after he is placed in the tomb, three days later, the women come to the tomb, find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Jesus has been raised from the grave. Again I cling to the promises of these words from Clarence W. Hall “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.”

Easter proclaims that life not death and light not darkness do indeed have the final word. Yet there are days that it can be so hard to see light and life. Too many of those that I care about (friends and family alike) struggle with finding the light in the midst of their own darkness of depression. Too many I care about fear for their own lives as they go out into the world. Too many I care about are searching to find their own resurrection hope in the midst of life’s joys and sorrows. Too many….find themselves trying to see the light and that death does not have the final word. And in watching them suffer, I deeply want to rush to Easter, yet I cannot fully experience the promise of Easter without traveling through Maundy Friday and the darkness of Good Friday myself.

On the cross, Jesus “opens the eyes to the blind, brings the prisoners out of the dungeon; from those who sit in the darkness.” Yet in the midst of life’s hard, it can be so incredibly difficult to trust in the promise of the cross. But as Spring beckons forth, new life is all around us; new life that reminds us that God does indeed make all things new again. Or in the words of Martin Luther, “Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

Yet even though I know the end of the story, I still find myself asking, “Does he have to die again?” The injustice of the cross though calls me to be one of Jesus’ disciples in the world. In the words of Micah 6:8, God calls us all “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” In other words, it is because of the cross that we know the power of God’s scandalous love for all the world. So are we willing to proclaim in that scandalous love and fight for peace, justice, and mercy in all the world?

For in doing so, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled and Jesus comes as this profound gift that overcomes death and the grave. We confess in resurrection hope and the promise of God’s love for all of us through these very words from the second petition of the Apostles Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day, he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”

Jesus is the very embodiment of atonement—as Jesus in his humanity–becomes at one with us. Jesus sits with us in our darkness. Jesus wipes away our tears. Jesus gets down and dirty with us and isn’t afraid to experience the depths to which we experience life. And Jesus is the first to proclaim in God’s love for us by dying on the cross. And because of God’s love for us, we know the end of the story and can proudly proclaim on Easter morning, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!” But not before first experiencing Jesus’ last supper on Maundy Thursday and the darkness of Good Friday.

I am linking up with these lovely ladies: Carol and Anita at Inspire Me Monday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Holly and Testimony Tuesday and Jennifer and Tell His Story.

 
 

Sunday Blessings 166

(1) Getting my prize in the mail. Thanks Krafty Kash!!

(2) Glorious Spring weather

(3) Talking to my fave on the phone

(4) Voxing with KA

(5) Starbucks Iced cinnamon Almond macchiato

(6) Enjoying a gorgeous 70 degree day

(7) Starbucks Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher

(8) Binge listening to some awesome podcasts.

(9) Finally watching Finding Dory

(10) A text from my aunt and uncle because they saw me on the news.

(11) A great meeting with awesome colleagues.

(12) A short PLN

(13) Sweet little ones wanting to share with me this am.

(14) Tackling Mt Laundry

(15) Compliments on my devotion from each other.

(16) Tons of people asking me if they saw me on the news last night.