refreshing

Glorious

What do you think of when you hear the word, glorious?

It’s not really a word that seems to be used a lot.

By definition it is:

glo·ri·ous     ˈɡlôrēəs

adjective
1. having, worthy of, or bringing fame or admiration.
2. having a striking beauty or splendor that evokes feelings of delighted admiration.
It’s hard to picture something that is worth admiration lately.  When was the last time beauty or splendor evoked a response of delight? Yeah, me neither.

But as I look around this Christmas I’m reminded of a scene that would definitely be described as glorious.

A night sky filled with stars.  Shepherds looking after their sheep in the dark, careful not to lose any sheep to a ravenous predator.

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Suddenly the sky rips open and reality is revealed.
Astounding sights and sounds flood the earth.
The kind of power and beauty that terrifies, weakens and causes you to weep in awe.
Shepherds both afraid and astounded.
O hear the angels voices.
God is near.
The sky explodes in celebration showering the unprepared with shouts and praise.
Light shimmering on the backdrop of earths’ tired and worn atmosphere.
Splendor and majesty were an understatement.
Caught up between heaven and earth, the shepherds laid bare. Something glorious ripped open the mundane and ordinary evening. It demanded to be heard, seen and felt.

Hidden Glory

Whether I am aware or not, heaven is alive with a weighty worship. The night sky has been opened for good but it’s hard to see this in my ordinary and mundane. Moments waiting to strike me with beauty and awe.
Glory streams from heaven afar.  Heavenly Hosts singing Alleluia. The thrill of hope.
Is my tired and worn out life the perfect backdrop for something glorious?

Heaven imploding:

  • To proclaim something altogether new and powerful
  • To give something to hold onto
  • To declare someone to belong to
  • To bring love

 

So come close to me Christmas I crave your glory.

Your carols make my heart want more.

Tear my night sky open and knock me to my knees, laid low in awe and fear.

Tell me the good news. I need to hear it again. To be wrapped up in glorious wonder.

Embrace me Christmas and hold me until I run looking for Jesus because anything other than that is absurd.

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How To Keep Showing Up For Your Life: Three

Life can be a roller coaster.  So can our emotions.  We are living in a reactionary time where people react with untempered emotions. Sometimes it makes things worse. Some times life requires a great deal of emotion to influence change.  Emotions are a part of the human story. We do need them. But what about our own emotions when hardship happens or when we aren’t doing so well in life? Each one of us has a different emotional barometer. When they rise and fall along with the up’s and downs of life, what do we lean on for hope, certainty or truth?  Our emotions don’t provide a secure foundation to hang on to during a trial.  This next post is a snippet from a friend who grappled with this very thing and has some helpful wisdom to share with all of us.

Today my guest writer is Ed Schief. Any one who knows him is always the better. He is both uncomplicated and deep. Without fail he starts a meeting with a funny story.  He is the perfect combination of artist and pragmatist.  They really do exist. Ed works as a musician. He has a duo music act with wife, Molly. You can find their FaceBook page by clicking here.  He’s also a music director for a very cool and eclectic church called, Manna.

Everyone, meet Ed.

Today I saw a red and yellow sunset and thought, how insignificant I am!  Of course, I thought that yesterday too, and it rained.” ~ Woody Allen

At a time in my life when things were very, very dark, I stood looking out my front window at the cemetery across the street.  The city kept this cemetery in utterly beautiful condition.  It was like a park with its’ mature trees, manicured grass, and paved pathways.  The sun was filtering through the leaves. It was gorgeous.

And I hated it.

I hated the beauty of it that afternoon, because it seemed like a cheat.

I thought, Yeah, it’s beautiful, but someday it will look horrible. It will look horrible because everything in this life ends up dying.  Why bother enjoying it when you KNOW it’s going to fade and rot and disappoint you. Oh sure, the next life will be great, I believe that. But this life? A complete and utter veil of tears.  Better to just hang on and try to make it through without hoping for too much.

I was pretty down that day.

Less than a week later my situation brightened considerably and I felt a wonderful welling up of hope.  I was again looking out at the same cemetery on another beautiful day.  This time I felt differently.

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I thought, Okay, there IS a reason to enjoy the beauty of this world, God HAS made beauty for us to enjoy, and I should take what I can get and be thankful. Things really do sometimes turn out good.

And then this came to mind.

Three days ago the cemetery made me feel despondent and I came to a conclusion about the nature of the world.  Today it makes me feel hopeful, and I’ve changed my conclusion to something else.

If I’m going to come to a solid conclusion about the world, about life, about the nature of the universe, I’ll clearly have to base it on something OTHER  than my feelings, because my feelings are completely unreliable.  I have to look outside myself, find the truth someplace else and bring that truth in where I can steady myself on it.

What’s the truth about God, the nature of the universe, life, all that?

The answer is:     go out and find it for yourself.

Read the Bible, talk to people you trust, read what great thinkers and theologians have written.  Ask God for wisdom.  Work for it.  And when you’ve worked for it like that, you won’t be adrift, vulnerable to every big and little wind that blows.

Curious To Wonder

Recently I was invited to participate in a conversation at Red Tent Living.  Together many of us explored what happens when we ask, what if?  Life gets interesting when good questions get asked.   

In January I assigned myself a word for the year 2017. Ironically my word was “curious”.   I was honored to share what surprised and challenged me so far in 2017.  A world of new possibility opened up when I become curious. Maybe you need a little curiosity in your life too?

You can read my article Curious to Wonder by clicking here.

Stay tuned, next week we will begin the new series, How to Keep Showing Up!  I’m eager to share with you some of the most freeing experiences I learned during a very long and difficult season in my recent past. I’m really excited to introduce you to some friends who are ready to share their stories with you as well.  You won’t want to miss what they have to say!  It will be a great Fall season together!

As always, thank you for reading.

Grasping for Christmastime

 

It’s close to that time.  You know, “that” time.

They call it Christmastime.  Yes, it’s a real word.

It’s the time we work so hard to make space for, to create, to celebrate, to forge new memories as we honor family and faith traditions, to conjure up a little more magic for the kids again this year.

I was looking at this old star.

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It belonged to my grandma. She had a flare for the colorful when it came to Christmas decorations. Her style would definitely not be found on Pinterest. But it was colorful and full of imagination.  It was grandma.

I remember as she got older it became more of a chore for her to set up her Christmas village.  What once was an exercise in celebration and fancy became a duty of deliberation.  She did it because of the kids.  Something compelled her. She did it because it was Christmastime.

But isn’t that like Christmastime?  It urges something inside.  It says, “Wake up, something special is about to begin.”  The senses are lured with smells, sounds and lights.  We are drawn to the brightness of Christmastime.  We are convicted that light doesn’t live very long in our soul.

We grasp for Christmastime.

Isn’t that a good thing?  Christmastime brings us to a place in our year where we accept that we are longing.  Longing for that which fills us, brings us peace, holds us near or sends us on a wild adventure.  Christmastime reminds us that we are human and long for something Divine.  We can almost taste it we are so hungry.

Awake my soul to see all that Christmastime brings.  Awake my soul to know the riches that Christmastime told. In the brightness of your light, you beckon me to find, the wealth of Christmas cheer that comes from Love drawn near.

With each bite of your Christmastime treats, may you hunger for richer delicacies.

Every party you attend, may you know loves embrace.

Each time you see Christmas lights, may you realize you were made for brightness.

When the sounds of Christmas fill the air, may a melody deep inside you resonate.

May we together grasp for Christmastime.

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“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son,” ~ Galatians 4:4

Are you feeling stuck lately?

I know how you feel. 

Often we get stuck with consistent problems at work or with friends, our families or marriages battle the same issues over and over again or our own unhealthy behavior seems to rule over us.  Feeling stuck is a universal experience often with no quick solutions.

Recently I was thinking about feeling stuck. Processing my own “stuck-ness” I began to realize surprising signs of help and hope. I am simply inattentive to the small graces around me. Suddenly a story began to form.  I’d like to share it with you today to let you know that you are not alone. If you feel stuck, keep looking for signs of help and hope in the unexpected places. That’s where the small graces rest.

 

Original art work by Randi Perez Helm

Original art work by Randi Perez Helm

Lionel

The jungle was hot and sticky. Lionel’s fur was matted and icky.

It was time to get out of the heat and find a shade tree or a pond for his feet.

Across the way he saw a large tree. Slowly he made his way through the jungle heat.

Coming up close he noticed a pool. No, not with water, but mud. It was cool.

He tipped toed in and it felt sweet. With a belly flop splat, he was off of his feet.

He rolled over and over, one messy cat. Making mud angels with his legs and his back.

But after a little while the mud wasn’t new. It didn’t feel cold. It felt more like glue.

Flat on his belly he couldn’t flip back. He felt like the jelly to a peanut butter snack.

I’ve rolled and rolled in this cool muddy muck. And now I’m afraid that I’m completely stuck.

 He looked to the left and then to the right, but none could be seen. There was no one in sight.

He started to think he’d be there for good. He started to worry like anyone would.

Oh no, what do I do? Lionel thought and thought it through.

Tired from thinking and feeling kind of stiff Lionel noticed a monkey carrying a stick.

Hello furry friend, I see you are stuck. Grab hold of this stick and I’ll pull you unstuck.

Oh thank you, thank you. You’re a friend indeed. Lionel grabbed hold of the stick, wishing to be free.

The monkey pulled and pulled and pulled with all his might. But it was no use. Lionel was stuck tight.

Just then a large hawk swooped down from the sky.

Can I help you Lionel? He cawed. I’ll give it a try.

 The hawk clutched Lionel’s tail and flapped up and down.   But Lionel’s muddy fur, still stuck to the ground.

And after a while it became clear that Lionel the lion wasn’t going anywhere.

Why did I slip into this muddy old place? He frumped and he grumped with no smile on his face.

Don’t worry old Lionel I won’t fly away. I’ll stay here with you until you find a way.

The hawk was sincere and the monkey agreed. Both now would and wait until Lionel was freed.

Tick, tock, the time traveled by, he was still, stuck and Lionel wanted to cry.

Hawk and monkey soon became sleepy but this was no time for Lionel to be dreamy.

How long was he stuck? Lionel didn’t even know. Ker-plunk, ker-plunk, something fell on his nose.

 Splat, splat, it started out small, but soon it was heavy, a real rainsquall.

Hawk and monkey now up in the tree called down to Lionel to see how he’d be.

Lionel oh Lionel, we’re sorry you’re wet.

But something soon happened he’d never forget.

With a slurp and a slosh he moved in the muck. With a squirm and a squish he finally got unstuck.

The rain that poured down was a good thing you see. It loosened the mud and now he was free!

With a jump and a roar Lionel hopped to his feet. His friends danced beside him all happy these three.

The rain washed the mud clear off Lionel’s fur. He felt so much better, that was for sure.

With his friends right beside him all squeaky and clean, Lionel realized one thing, then two, then three.

It’s never a good idea to roll in mud puddles. It might look like fun but you’re asking for trouble.

Real friends stay with you even when you are in a rut. They might not have answers but they stay ‘till until you’re unstuck.

And just like the sunrise the rain knows when to fall. You might need to get a little wet to be free after all.

Copyright 2015 Randi Perez Helm