Posted in Living this Life

Prince of Peace

I was probably 13 years old. I heard them talking, and something about the way she spoke caught my attention. So I continued eavesdropping as she and my mom worked on dinner in the kitchen of her home in Duluth, MN. I didn’t know her well, she had no idea I was listening, and I’m sure as the conversation moved on to other topics, they quickly forgot what was said.

cooking

But I didn’t. I can’t tell you all that was said that day, but it planted an idea in my heart that I have pursued throughout my life. As I listened in on that conversation, I heard her talking about peace, and it made my young heart hungry. Before that day, I had always thought of peace as something you stumble across. When the weather is perfect and your heart is unbothered. When circumstances align and everything is magically “right” – you feel peace.

But she talked about it as something you could plan for. An atmosphere you could set boundaries for and pursue. The boldness of that concept fascinated me. To not be subject to the ups and downs of happenstance – to be able to choose my way into a peaceful existence was mind blowing to my young 13 year old heart… and I desperately wanted that.

 

Fast forward more years than I will put in writing … here I sit with a world spinning in chaos. An amazing husband and 3 kids later, and her words still ring in my ears. A peaceful home is a concept we have built our marriage and family on – foundational in so many decisions we make along the way.  Yet the reality can so often feel elusive and many days it can feel like a fairy tale. That happily ever after promise that never comes true.

Kids bicker, frustrations flare, and selfishness takes over. Maybe I’ll feel peace when I get my way. Maybe if my husband would just agree with me all the time and the kids play happily and quietly in the corner. Maybe when I finally get all my projects done and can rest happily in a clean and organized home with perfectly manicured flowerbeds outside. Maybe when the world settles down and we get answers to so many questions plaguing us right now. Maybe when we get clarity on the big decisions that seem impossible to make in present circumstances. Why does the Bible talk about peace so consistently when everything around us screams the opposite?

This morning I woke in the first days of a new month. A new month blaring questions without answers and uncertainty about so many constants in my life. And I read these words – some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples, as their worlds were about to be turned upside down:  “MY PEACE I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. LET NOT your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” John 14:27

Not as the world gives? Is this where I get so off track? Despite what I know, what I tell myself and others, why do I continue to look for peace from outside circumstances?   This is all backwards.  So today I make my confession and prayer.

I have tried to manufacture peace with control. I have interpreted peace as “everyone getting along with each other”. I have been frustrated when reality doesn’t match my expectations and have let it erode the peace in my own spirit. So you will understand when I read this and get spun a bit sideways.

“the fruit of the Spirit is peace…” Galatians 5:22

Fruit … fruit is a product, not an effect. You don’t start with the apple, you start with the tree. You prune, you water, you care for it if you want the best fruit. Isaiah says, The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.“(Isaiah 32:16) Fruit of righteousness? What does that even mean? That big word that sounds so alien at times. It simply means being in a right place before a holy and perfect God. Walking straight when the path feels so crooked.

And since we can’t pull it off on our own – we surrender ourselves. And let Jesus who truly did live perfectly carry our mistakes and be our righteousness – our “right-ness”. Is it enough? Can this be real? That His right-ness, can cover me and I get to experience the peace – the fruit of what only He could do? Come, get to know Him if you don’t. Really know Him – you will find Him more real than the most tangible thing you can touch.

Talk to Him and let Him carry it all for you. Let His right-ness bring you peace! And the rest of this promise – it sounds like it was written for today. I think it was…

“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places… though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be…” (Is 32:19-20)

How many of us feel like our “normal” has been leveled? Do we feel blessed in the midst of all the unknowns? This disruption in our lives shows us where our true treasure lies, where we plant our hopes and find our peace. I find myself coming up short some days – still defaulting to myself and the fleeting quicksand of the blaring news cycles and circumstances surrounding me and not the true Source. I want to dig my toes into the firm foundation of our true Source of Peace.

They call you the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Come on in…

 

 

 

 

Posted in Living this Life

What day is it?

Pooh bear

“What day is it?” Pooh Bear asked
“It’s Today”, said Christopher Robin
“Ah,” said Pooh gratefully. “My favorite day! Yesterday, when it was Tomorrow, it was too much day for me.”
I love this. I’ve been saying it to myself a lot. Because coronavirus or not, quarantine or “normal”, all we really have is today.

And though tomorrow can feel daunting, boring, scary, uncertain – when it becomes today, God makes a way. That’s His promise – let’s choose to really believe it. “ Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,” Jesus says… “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

Jesus knows our limitations – He is actively protecting us from carrying more than we can handle.


So let’s make today our favorite! And let tomorrow worry about itself – my God is already there, and I can trust Him

Posted in Living this Life

Let us REJOICE!

I didn’t know 14 years ago, when I started this habit, how much it would impact the rest of my life. And today I needed this reminder, cuz truth is, it’s been a rough week … I don’t need to go into details because I suspect you’ve been through it on some level yourself.

Here’s the story: when my daughter was little, I would start each day by announcing “this is the day the Lord has made! Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!!” I would take her little baby arms and wave them in the air. As she grew, it led to full body happy dances as we would rejoice in our day.

One sad day, my little 1 1/2 year old munchkin was quite sick – she spent the day laying on me and being miserable. Near the end of the day, speaking mostly to myself, I said, “well, sweetheart. It’s been a rough day. But it’s STILL the day the Lord has made…” and with all the strength her little spirit could muster, she lifted up her arms and waved them slowly in the air. I get teary remembering that moment even now, because that simple act reminds me on a daily basis that we can rejoice even when our arms are too tired to lift.

When our spirit feels depleted and we have nothing left. We rejoice with what we have, and Almighty God will pour in what we need for the next step. Thank you, Charissa, for this beautiful lesson – I needed it today, 13 years later. My friend, in this place we are all in, this is my prayer for you this week: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13