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encouragement Archives - Come and Break Bread

Light…

The Light on the farm today keeps changing.

The brilliant, blinding of the sun warming us, energizing us, gives way to cloud cover that brings on a quietness in the yard. This quietness allows me to see the soft white Alberta roses or the purple faces of the viola that only moments ago were washed out in the sunlight— the glare inhibiting me to see the depth of June’s colors.

I have always been fascinated by natural light; how it evokes such emotion from me. How it stirs memories. The quiet light of Northern California is one of my favorites. Light filtered by eucalyptus trees, softening it as it makes its way through windows, shaded by Arts and Crafts eaves.

Natural light is very powerful. We are affected by it every moment of the day. Even in its absence.

I wonder if that is why God uses it to describe himself, what He does in us? He is so powerful, His power in us so powerful to change.

“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!

          For this light within you produces only what is good, right and true.” Ephesians 5:8,9

We being merely the vessels for his powerful light:

“Awake, o sleeper, rise up from the dead,

and Christ will give you light.” Eph 5:14

I wonder if we have fooled ourselves by believing that people of light only “look” one way, only act one way. The permagrinned, bright faces of those who seem to have it all figured out. While there is no question that many of us will have seasons of His light manifesting itself this way in us, I wonder if we miss recognizing the quieter light, the light that actually gives way for us to see things more clearly, more brilliantly?  Somehow this quieter light in a person is filtered, and it settles as a presence to be seen and experienced, quietly, sweetly, and constantly—a life awash with God’s light.

There have been those encounters and then I find myself on holy ground. Experiencing the transforming nature of God’s light through my life.

God’s fullness is that, FULL. It encompasses the seasons of permagrin and it envelopes the steady seasons of a humble, quieter but no less powerful light.

We can strive all we want to be God’s light, but doesn’t the true washing of light come when we cover our eyes before the Lord, lay low and surrender to His power?

This is where all parts of our lives become bathed in His powerful light, which in turn will take on whatever form of light He sees fit: bold and brilliant or quiet and revealing. May we stop striving for what we think His light in us should look like but instead accept whatever it looks like as His powerful work and thank Him, knowing either way it’s grace.

Sometimes I’m a little hard of hearing…

    • Sometimes I’m hard of hearing. Which is why I love when patterns and themes appear in my hectic life, God gently repeating affections and direction to my too often inattentive mind. Knowing that I am pulled in so many directions – papers to write, meals to be made, babies to be held, relationships to be cultivated – and that it’s all too easy for me to miss Him, He gently repeats themes to my heart as many times as it takes. “I am here. I am with you…”

This often happens when I’m anxious or feeling unsure, doubting myself, or the steps that I take. Just in case I might miss Him, God whispers again and again until I finally turn my attention his way. Lessons in my upper-level business classes will closely mirror an encouraging message at church, or a conversation with my baby sister will repeat exact phrases that I’ve just read or heard in a song.  My husband will speak sentiments, or my 4-year-old son will pray words so closely addressing my unspoken fears that I finally identify the voice that desires but does not demand my focus.

“Yes. I’ll stay with you, I’ll protect you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this very ground. I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.”                                                                                          Genesis 28:15 (The Message)

Recently, I was offered a job at our church. I wasn’t looking for a job, or even wanting one. I’ve been home with our small boys for the last three years and, though I want to work again at some point, I planned on being home until they were in school. When this job came up, though, my husband and I prayed… and prayed and prayed. We really felt like this opportunity was from God, so I accepted it. I kept on worrying, though. How would we find or afford childcare? What if our schedules didn’t work out? What if I fail, or I can’t be what the church wants me to be?

It took me a couple weeks before my stubborn heart finally identified a pattern, God’s voice reassuring and encouraging me. In my Innovative Management course my professor reminded our class that, “Though we put in the work, make the spreadsheets, think of all potential problems and solutions… sometimes God prompts us to make decisions that just don’t make worldly sense.” My grandmother and sister offered to watch the boys, the best possible scenario in my mind – family members that know and love them. Schedules fell easily into place and the work felt like second-nature. And finally, twice in one week I read these words in Genesis, God encouraging Jacob and making promises to all of us:

“Yes. I’ll stay with you, I’ll protect you wherever you go, and I’ll bring you back to this very ground. I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you.”

Why was I so astonished that God had taken care of everything? If I was confident that this job was from God, why wouldn’t everything fall into place? Of course he’d work out the details, provide the means.

So often it’s easy for me to become distracted, to lose sight of who I am and why I do what I do. But I am thankful that my Father gently, but relentlessly pursues me… determined that I not forget who He is and how he cares for me. And I recognize that I need to work on my listening skills…

The Secret to Ministering to Your Family: For Busy Wives and Moms

I read this passage by Henri Nouwen recently and was so impacted by its relevance to life as a wife and mom, so I wanted to share. (By the way, if you have never read Henri Nouwen, put his books on your “to read” list. They are fantastic.)

“That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was. In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, “Everybody is looking for you.” He answered, “Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.” And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils. (Mark 1:32-39)

In the midst of a busy schedule of activities— healing suffering people, casting out devils, responding to impatient disciples, traveling from town to town, and preaching from synagogue to synagogue— we find these quiet words: “In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.” The more I read this nearly silent sentence locked in between the loud words of action, the more I have the sense that the secret of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn. In the center of breathless activities we hear a restful breathing. Surrounded by hours of moving we find a moment of quiet stillness. In the heart of much involvement there are words of withdrawl. In the midst of action there is contemplation. And after much togetherness there is solitude. In the lonely place Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not his own. It is in the lonely place, where Jesus enters into intimacy with the Father, that ministry is born. In solitary prayer Jesus comes to understand his identity and mission.” (From Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Formation.)

I know of no one more busy than moms. This reflection of Jesus’ activities sounds very much like the life of every wife and mom I know: a busy schedule of activities, tending to the suffering- mending the constant bumps and bruises, addressing the sin that goes on in our homes, responding to the immature and impatient ones in our care… and so it goes, hour by hour, day after day. Jesus knew the secret to not burning out— he knew the secret to be able to sustain this life of constant ministry and outpouring: he spent time regularly with the Father, where he gained perspective, refreshment and the strength to minister daily— to minister loving and patient words, full of instruction and grace.

If you have been “out of practice” of spending regular time with the Father, try to find a way! He will bring refreshment and sustain you for this journey that can be so wearisome. When my oldest was two and I had a newborn, the only way I could get in that time was to let her watch a little video every morning. These days, I stay up late to find time for quiet. It can be so hard to make it happen with little ones, jobs, sicknesses, and the busy lives that we live and sometimes the only options to make it happen— getting up early, videos to entertain the babes, or staying up too late, are not ideal. But the alternative is so much harder! In order to live this life we need Him, the One who is the source of all life. So… find a way with me today?

 

We are linking up at the Better Mom today.