Smoothing the Rocks

I wrote recently about being reminded of the parable Jesus told of the adulterous woman and all of those who held stones. I was a bit put off that it was being preached in a Christmas service but I am here to say that I was wrong. As we approach the new year, a new political world, an opportunity to throw many stones awaits. Our nation is more divisive, hurt and angry voices are louder. Will we throw our stones and increase sin, ramp up the anger, or will we drop them and walk away to reflect on ourselves?

The Bible has much to say about renewal, a simple Google search brings up hundreds of verses. Must be an important concept, the chance to start over and leave our sins behind. Of course the catch is that we must turn to God, we must repent, atone, ask to be forgiven and then practice that very forgiveness with the same determination we chased our sin. Not easy, room for stumbles, yet that glorious feeling of shedding the past with all of its shame, becoming free without the weight of carrying yesterday and the day before into today, amazing. A curious thing happens though when you accept that new day, when you really believe you get to start over, that the stones will never reach you, you find it so incredibly uncomfortable to pick up even a little rock yourself. Maybe you want to keep them for a collection, like my Plum, but they no longer look like weapons. Instead, you want everyone to dance with you, that complete unselfconscious flailing of limbs that results in knowing you are new. You are a child of God first, regardless of who your mother or father were, regardless of the stupid things you did in your 20’s or yesterday, you belong to Him who doesn’t punish with endless time-outs but rather huge hugs and forever time-ins. When you truly believe that, you want to invite everyone to the dance. You want them to admire your rocks on the shelf and know they have nothing to fear from you. You become a place of time-in and huge hugs as well.

New Year’s Eve snuck up on me, so caught up in new little sweetness and many days with Plum. I didn’t realize it was time for the calendar swap, for a whole new season of worries with a new leader to begin. Maybe that is just how it should be, maybe that is naive. Still, I know I will have many opportunities to throw rocks at this new leader, at those who supported him. My fear may take hold, my day may begin with judgements rather than the urge to swirl and twirl. Always a choice, to accept that I have a new day, to realize that gift is one to offer to others as well. I pray that in these challenging days ahead, I can remember that the grace that has washed me is not a tiny cup of water, mine for hoarding, holding, setting on a shelf, allowing to evaporate. Grace is a waterfall, flowing from above with room for us all. Who sees the splashing rushing water and doesn’t strive to share that beauty? Who keeps their camera tucked away, avoiding the chance to capture the majesty? Who looks upon that glory, who hears the crashing of water over the rocks and doesn’t see God is offering to wash us all, God is smoothing the rocks?

May we begin a new year secure in the knowledge that old things are gone, He is still in control, we are forgiven. May we all offer up our rocks this year, allow grace to flow from us like the waters from heaven, may we splash on all those we encounter.  May we twirl and swirl in our pajamas each morning, knowing we are new and free in the love of the One who made us.  2017, would you like to dance?


Sharing Our Light

Watching Mama with the new little sweetness, just 3 days old and home settling in, creates an undeniably warmth, the cold winter air long forgotten as we rushed inside, removed layers of coats, hats , gloves. How can anyone deny the wisdom of our God to deliver His Son this way, the perfection of a babe, unblemished by the world requiring only the nurturing of family to survive? Every mother carries that glow despite unwashed hair and milk stained shirts, puffy cheeks and swollen feet. The shine that surrounds that circle of mother and child, with father hovering and leaning and seeking ways to provide comfort, that light defines who is in and who is on the outer edges. Important information, like warning flares, respecting the first days of that light, means no one gets burned. How much easier for those who have walked that path to take over, take the crying babe, deliver unwanted instructions, unwittingly diminishing the light and confidence of new parents? The light grows brighter though in standing just a bit back, like a candle first lit, it takes a moment to really take, for the wick to grab the heat and shine out in glory.

Knowing when to ask for and when to give help is like the dance we all do at Christmas Eve  service when we light all the candles to sing Silent Night. One candle begins, each is lit from that. But the one with the fire must hold theirs steady, the others wishing to gain the light have to turn their candle. When you have the fire, you are controlling the situation, even if you don’t realize it, others must bend. Everyone is in the dark until they make that adjustment. Whispered instructions from those who hold the wavering fires to those who forget to turn help keep us all safe. Yet we don’t need to tell everyone, some watch and learn, some have been passing the light for longer than I have been alive. A holy procession could get bogged down in over-eager directives and constant teachings, forgetting that the power one possesses in the holding of the light means knowing when to instruct and when to hush. There is nothing like a darkened sanctuary filled with slowly spreading light as the singing voices join to fill the night. Together we create enough to see, together we allow all to glow.

Plum was playing a new game on one of his presents, a spelling game. Apparently he has to spell out what ever he wants to build, brilliant. While I was visiting mama, he conned his maternal grandpa into spelling all the words for him. When I reentered the room, he asked me for some word help. I helped him sound it out. I knew he could do it by himself, I knew he was leaning on the skills of those already educated to do the work for him. Yet that means he won’t grow, he won’t gain the confidence to play the game when no one is next to him, he will grow up to never be able to spell “pond!” Okay, maybe that part is not true, but still, building confidence is more important than showing off my own light, butting in to do things for others that they can do for themselves. Which brings me to my on-going battle with Chef.

I am completely aware of my rescuing tendencies. I understand I have a girl scout badge, an Olympic Gold medal, a Presidential (whatever the President gives out) in rescuing. I am like one of those well-trained dogs who go into disaster areas to find survivors, the ones who go crazy if they don’t get worked often enough. I KNOW this about myself. I am critically aware when it comes to building up Mama and new hubby as they establish themselves as parents, I am fully invested in Plum learning to read and write and spell. But when asked to hang up his own coat or find his hat, I get weak. When Chef is having a conversation with Plum and it is taking too long by my standards, I butt my rescue snout in and save the day. I forget that my intervention extinguishes the light of their circle, their interactions. Sure, mine grows brighter but at what cost? Learning to back off, stay quiet, allow them to discover how to bend, twist, turn is the greatest gift I can give to us all, allowing this child to realize he has a grandpa who teaches with amazing wisdom and patience.

I have been open about my own flickering candle, about the times I have sat in the dark. How blessed I am to have others who have shared their light, who understand the balance between doing for and doing with, who celebrate when my glow is bright again. I love that my circle is wider now, including many who share warmth from their own lives and wish to be included in the messiness of ours, not concerned if a little wax falls on them. Bending, twisting, learning, teaching, somehow we are getting through this together. Sometimes I hold the fire, most times I wait for the Light. I know the story says there was a star that led the way but I really think the glow from Mary holding her new babe would have bright enough for anyone to see, if only they looked. May your Light shine brightly today, may you be surrounded by others who crave your warmth. Lastly, may you remember that allowing others to learn how to light their own candles will only make for a brighter world.

My Own Story

When I was maybe in 8 or 9 my cousin gave me a diary for Christmas. My own secret place to write my thoughts and feelings, someplace to record the inner me. Probably most little girls had diaries, with tiny golden locks which gave a false sense of security. I loved that diary, my first book. I snuck into my closet to jot down the most important secrets an adolescent girl could have, does this boy like me or does that one, do I like him or the other one. I thought my writings were safe within that little book, behind the little lock. I had two brothers though, one 4 years older who thought it would be hilarious to violate that privacy and make his own entries into my writing. The pages were filled with pictures (he never was a writer) of stick figures and clouds of farts.  I never wrote in the diary again. My sacred place was ruined.

My father was furious, the boys were in serious trouble. Of course he must have been terrified at what I had written and what they might have read. A secret keeper writing things down? Very dangerous stuff. I didn’t write about the real secrets, my inner most quandaries, the deepest hurts. Surface worries only, dipping my toe in, maybe, testing whether it was safe to tell all. It wasn’t. I didn’t. Not for a very long time. How differently would my life have turned out had I actually written about the abuse in our home and handed my writings to a trusted teacher? But I was shut down, before any truth came out.

My blog is somewhat like my new diary, a place to share my story and my perspective. I have published my deepest feelings, shared shameful events, celebrated soaring joys. My story though is not just my own because I am connected, I am joined even if the bonds are broken through divorce and estrangement. As much as I would like to have some relationships forever terminated, never to hear from an ex-spouse or his wife again, I am forced to confront that once joined, we are never truly released from those bonds. As much as I would love to write about the beautiful reconciliation of all the brokenness in our family, that is not this story, at least not yet. So, while they each have their perspective and side and truths, I have mine and my feelings and thoughts and search for meaning through it all. The difference between my diary and this blog though is that it is faith based, I am searching and seeking with my adult eyes and a mature soul to find healing in the hurts, to share what is broken in me and my connections to my children, the sins of my past to find the redemption that comes with grace.

I am searching for a way home, a way to that place where connections feel good instead of threatening. Where words written are seen as a victory that one woman who was silenced for over 50 years found her voice. I am seeking those who understand imperfections and dings and dents. Just as my father was terrified of what I might write, how much trouble he could get in if I told the truth of his sexual abuse, there are those who wish I would be silent again. Violating my sacred space every much as my brothers did long ago, texts with threats, emails with demands, it all boils down to fear. Fear of truth, fear of getting into trouble, just like my father. Had he not been doing anything wrong, it wouldn’t have mattered. A little girl’s diary could be just that, her story. A woman’s blog can be just that, her story.

I write a great deal about addiction. Anyone who has attended even one family session at a rehab center knows that it is a family disease. The addict is not the only one in need of healing. All those around who enable, deny, support, rescue the user are reenforcing the disease. When I write about my experiences with my son, it is from the place of a mother who has spent the last decade dealing with his use and relapses, supporting him through thousands of dollars in inpatient and intensive outpatient services and attending every session available to us. We joined in his recovery. We were invested in the healing portion of the family disease. We supported him through his legal issues. When I write about addiction, it is with the eyes and heart of a mother who has traveled that very broken road and no longer accepts lies or excuses, won’t be part of any addiction family unit that includes continued use. This is my perspective. Addicts all have their own.

I write a great deal about the brokenness of my relationship with my daughter. A young woman who married and began an estrangement like it was a wedding gift she just opened, the present her new husband gave her. A matching set, like the one he has with his own mother, if you will.  Brokenness in relationships takes more than one act though, it takes a series of wrongs, escalated to the point of no return. Forgiveness can’t seem to find a way into this relationship, I write about my aches. As much as she may wish to have our association forever destroyed, that web is connected from multiple sides. Estrangement is like that, one edge may be severed, the other still hangs on. This is my perspective, surely she has her own.

I write a great deal about the sexual abuse that occurred in my childhood, the damage that led me to try to save other children. I write about failing, about taking my damaged psyche and soul into a setting where more trauma happened. Sharing such intimate details, risky and freeing at the same time. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I just keep getting up, starting over. My mistakes are pretty public, no chance to hide from them. My life diary has been read by many, interpreted, analyzed, gleaned for salacious nuggets to spread. When the book is already opened, it no longer matters though. My past is part of me but not the whole me, not the now me. That is the beauty of redemption, the glory of grace.

I write a great deal about looking for the light in dark times. This is a dark time. I am looking for the hope that comes from the One who understands that even when we try to break those connections, He is always there. I am seeking the grace that comes from the One who knows my sins and still forgives me. I am seeking the Light that shines on my value and worth as a child of God, my wholeness in Him, sharing the warmth that comes when secrets no longer have power and diaries don’t need locks.

This is my story, my search for meaning. The resurrection of my voice, the renewal of my writing, a window into my faith and the slow process of healing. May you find your own story as freeing, as filled with hope and redemption. May you follow the path God sets out for you, with Him guiding your motives, may you find renewal of your soul in leaning into the light, escaping the darkness of anger, fear, hate, bitterness.  Thanks for reading and supporting the opening of my life, may grace follow you today.

No Trespassing

A truth-teller has a critical role in the family, the historian of events, the keeper of stories. Reminding others of the progression of actions which led up to the big celebration or catastrophe is a big job, but of equal importance is the role of the listener. Without the ones who hear, the truth wanders out and about, wasted maybe, wisps of smoke floating away. Truth-tellers depend on listeners to accept their offerings, to soak in the stories and become their own truth-tellers. What happens when listeners are robbed of the chance to hear? What becomes of the village when raided by false story tellers who spread lies like wild fires, burning not only bridges but charring all the inhabitants? What turns listeners away from the truth, what encourages them to follow a false prophet? Discounting hard evidence to believe a lie takes effort, requires a conscious turning. But why? I learned long ago to ask what is to be gained to find my answers to any set of behaviors.

If I am an addict and I need you to believe that my use is behind me, I can follow the charted course of those who live that life. I can practice honesty, humility, follow the tried and true steps of atoning and staying abstinent. What I cannot do is use a different substance and call myself clean, I cannot behave as if I am owed everything while giving nothing. Typical using behaviors that aren’t ignored by truth-tellers. But what if I want you to believe my version of the truth? What will it cost? Do I have to accept the lies you also tell? Stories of happiness that hide dangerous secrets, stories of bliss that cover mental illness? The lies that bind that village will ultimately burn it down, pillaged by the very distrust inherent in the creation. The Bible talks about building houses that way:

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27

I built my house on truth and it is costly. I was never promised an easy life, surely haven’t experienced it. Yet I know my little village is safe from marauders who seek to destroy it. No longer enslaved by shame, no longer at the mercy of false story tellers, I shout my truth and count on the listeners to hear. Or not. Because it is always a choice. We each get to build our house, invite in who we want. This is my house. My story.  Pillagers are not welcome here. My home is protected, my heart is safe from those who would ransack,  those who would spread shame, crashing into my home, uninvited invading intruding What’s that other verse?

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Ah, yes, that one. The one that sheds light in the darkness, that restores the broken, that destroys the power of evil. Grace abounds in my village of brokenness, where light finds the truth and we are free. Glory be to God.


Family Fusion

The room was too tiny for all of us, squished together in the apartment living room and kitchen combination. Toys and gifts littered the floor, boxes of new cologne sets and bath products lined the steps up to the bedrooms. The countertops held vegetable trays and dips, desserts and bits of Legos, snowman napkins and plastic silverware. The kind of disaster that normally sends me into evacuation mode. A cluttering of all things holiday complete with grandparents, two uncles, the favorite grandchild, the Mama and the step-father. The assortment of people couldn’t have been more odd, as if they each were dressed for Independence Day or Halloween. But it was Christmas as a very blended family and it worked. A holiday with those who put aside bloodlines and chose each other.

Seven years ago my son was deep into his drug use, his girlfriend was riding along with him. They were never together sober. When they discovered she was pregnant, she moved in with us, we really didn’t know her but she had no other options. Thus began a long and often tortuous relationship with Mama. We have loved, battled, rescued, stepped away and jumped back in so many times that others question our sanity. It took a serious court proceeding over Plum’s custody for her to determine she was all in with her son, she has never looked back. What should have broken us completely was actually the ultimate glue, the deepest honesty brought us all together. No longer being careful to not hurt feelings or being afraid of the consequences, we had to act and tell the truth. She was forced to hear it and choose. She is a wonderful Mama to her son now, we are grandparents along side her. The process of letting go of our Plum, little by little and supporting her as his mother has been healthy for all of us, she leans on us more, rather than him doing the leaning.  Today she will deliver her second child, my bonus grandchild (thanks LuAnn for the terminology!), a child not in any way blood related and yet still somehow we will be gran and gramps. This is blending, we are choosing to stay in.

Mama married a young man who has taken in not only her but her child, my Plum. Plum celebrated the union, asked if he could then call him “Dad.” While my heart broke just a little, I knew this man would not abandon Plum, he would be present daily to play games and nightly to see him off to bed. He would make sure money was in the lunch account, that rough play on the floor occurred. He would make fart jokes and tell Plum to respect his mother. We have embraced this young man, he comes to our house and reaches right into the candy bowl, walks freely upstairs to Plum’s room to play Lego. They join us for dinner, he texts me with questions about the pregnancy. He is my bonus son. More than that, his parents have taken in my Plum, they treat him as one of their own grandchildren.  Special nights out, amazing gifts, time to play, complete grandma duties. I love that they love him. They have chosen to blend, to combine and accept the wholeness of who to love with all of their love. I was honored to help plan the wedding with Plum’s new grandma, to coordinate decorations and food, the glueing of the new us. We found there was space for all of us to be, an expansion of family, no bloodlines needed. Fully blending.

This child needs all the love that can be poured into him. His father has checked out, his aunt disappeared. His paternal grandfather is just as he was with his own children, absent.   Yet a new family has assembled who will worry less about roles and bloodlines and past hurts to create new memories, to allow room for all who want to love on Plum and  celebrate this new baby. So we found space in the tiny apartment for all of us to sit and eat and play and chatter, a regular holiday scene with unusual players. We have labored hard to get to this point, the ability to rejoice without worry, nurture without scorekeeping, clean up without judgment. We found harmony.

While my heart was saddened that Arrow could not choose to see his son yesterday, not even on a special day, I knew it was for the best. Plum didn’t seem to notice his absence, even sadder still. Addiction does that to families, teaches you not to count on the one using. Without sobriety, my son is unable to see truth, accept humility, be the man I know he can be. The monster is raging within him, taken over again. Soon he will have a second child, just a matter of months, God only knows if he will be able to care for that one, create a family. Just as we could never have predicted the blending that has resulted in the beautiful holiday we just celebrated and the wonderful everyday we live out now with Mama, we have no idea what 2017 holds. I pray that next year more of our bloodline is present in whatever space we all occupy, more combining of love and trust and noise to round out our family scene. Maybe Arrow will be swept up in another grouping, a different merging of those who are unanchored and now finding connection. If so, I pray they share as much joy as we did last night.

Addiction has ravaged our family, caused my Arrow to retreat again from his son. The ugly truth is also the blessed honesty, Plum doesn’t notice. He is surrounded by a mixture of people who embrace him, his normal is somewhat crazy maybe to anyone who would ask to chart the family tree. Just as in a tiny stable so long ago, crowded and messy and noisy, we all came together to be with this child on Christmas. Those who missed it may still be traveling, searching for the star to guide their way. May they all find it, may it lead them to the Christ child who will surely lead them home, back to the tiny places that hold what is most dear.

Room for Me

I started to send an email to my pastors but decided to make it an open letter instead. I mostly only communicate with them regarding business, meeting times and content, ministry issues. I feel compelled though to communicate regarding their messages from the Christmas Eve service last night. A critique maybe, a little feedback. Probably not what pastors hope to see pop up in there inbox. Still, I can’t stay quiet.

My church is not a mega church with millions of dollars in sound system, lighting, production equipment. We don’t have bands worthy of The Voice chair turns. Still, we are bigger than little country churches so maybe somewhere in the middle. We have a dedicated praise band who meet once a week after their day jobs to prepare for Sunday worship. They sing with passion and beauty and count on us to fill in as well. We may never throw a concert but we join together with all of our imperfect voices and I am sure God still smiles.  This is not to fault those big churches with professional musicians and full on concert arenas, I enjoy the music there. But somehow my church just feels like home to me, I know there is room for my brokenness, there is space for my humanity.

I was recently invited by sweet sweet friends to attend one such concert that was really a church service in my home town. Given that I already came into that with baggage more full than Santa’s sleigh, it is no wonder I felt prickly, I got edgy about the church. Still the music was amazing. The gifts these people were sharing with all of us were truly from God.  All was good until a video during a song that showed old home movies of families at Christmas. Image after image of small children and parents, grandparents together, all loving and enjoying each other. My soul was washed in an overwhelming sadness because I could only see my own home movies of my children who would not be present this Christmas, a grandchild I would not see. Parents missing, family fractured. This video was my old life, hurts I have to move away from to rouse from bed each day. To be confronted with this video coupled with Christmas music was not charming or uplifting or heartening, it broke my soul and left me with nothing. I wasn’t supposed to feel that, I am sure. I was supposed to accept the positive theme and keep singing.

Then the pastor began to preach. The subtle message I received that night was that I didn’t belong, there was no room for me. “Is your marriage one that needs the Light? Are you considering leaving it? God wants you to stay.”  I am a divorced woman, remarried for longer than the first union. He spoke about being afraid of the dark and grabbing a huge knife to take with him when checking out a noise in the basement, slashing with each opening of the door. I felt afraid of this pastor, one who was going about such a serious subject. I didn’t think he would understand events surrounding fear and helplessness, he bragged about protecting his wife with this knife. He discussed adultery on this night when the seats were filled with children, the young girl in front of me leaned over to ask her mom what that word meant. Was that the Christmas eve message? His point was about judging but still I felt as if there was not room for my brokenness in such a perfect setting.

Back to my home church, Christmas Eve service. I needed it, craved it. I wanted some healing, I wanted to know there was room for me there, in God’s house. Of course the welcoming of friends helps. But the prayer that Pastor Joseph spoke out, true beauty. He acknowledged the Light but also the darkness of our lives. Addiction, depression, loss of loved ones. He made room in that sanctuary for us, the real us who had assembled seeking room and a flicker of the light, hoping some warmth from a candle could ease the chill of our wounded lives. I knew my humanity was accepted there, I could hold the collection plate even though I am broke, I could greet people at the doors even though I often struggle to smile. My church finds room for me, a broken child.

Pastor Chris preached words of wisdom regarding the birth of Jesus, the story we have heard so many times. He focused on their marginalized status, their lack of resources to secure a room at any inn. He described the feed trough that held Jesus, the Bread of Life. As he imagined Joseph returning to Mary, dejectedly having to admit that he was unable to get his pregnant wife into any safe place for the night, my mind took over.

I heard her say,” Are you serious? What am I supposed to do? This baby is coming soon! Joseph, do something! Did you even try?”

Joseph in my mind, “Yes, honey, I did,” in that way husbands do when they are trying to placate their wives and know they is on the verge of a meltdown.

“Joseph, I told you we needed to make reservations, I asked you to call ahead. One simple thing, but no. You can’t even do that.”

“Now, Mary, if we had left when I told you we needed to, if you had walked a little faster, kept to my schedule, we would have gotten here in time to get a room.”

“You seriously did not just say that. You are not blaming this on me. I am PREGNANT Joseph, I couldn’t walk any faster. “

“Yes yes yes, I know you are pregnant. Everyone knows you are pregnant.” Heavy sigh. “Come on dear, we can take shelter here for the night.”

“You want me to sleep in here, in this barn? It smells like dung, it…um Joseph, my water just broke.”

“Oh Mary, it’s time!

I was overcome with their humanity, not just figurines in a nativity set, looking serene and accepting of the craziness life was handing them. I saw two people who were stretching to find room for themselves in a new marriage, finding trust in each other and their circumstances, finding room for their faith to govern over all. I saw two people who were on the verge of having a baby with no healthcare in a strange city. I saw bickering and uncertainty and I found two new friends. These are my people, the ones who show up and keep trying but are not perfect, the ones who are like many of the nativity characters I have, a bit broken in places.

So ultimately I want to say thank you to Pastor Joseph and Pastor Chris who spoke words that found their mark on my soul. I love my church, I love our focus on authenticity and seeing, really seeing those among us and those outside our doors. There is room in our church for me, also for you if you are seeking a community that gets what it means to be born in a stable. Merry Christmas, may your soul find healing, may light shine into all the hurt places and may you rejoice in knowing God loves broken people too.


Bountiful Light

I spot clean our bathroom sometimes, overcome with the ability to tolerate the drips of coffee on the floor or the soap scum in the sink. Not during my regular cleaning schedule, more often than not, it is when I am heading to bed or have just woken up in the morning. When it is dark. Moonlight filtering in, a shadow no longer on this area but edged to that, I see the drip, the mess and grab a cleaning wipe stored just for this purpose. A hurried scrub, a half-hearted swipe, I go to bed or downstairs for coffee, my heart a bit lighter but not taking the time for a thorough cleaning. A little bit of light can be enough to see there is a problem, it takes real illumination to see those dirty corners and cobwebs and dropped q-tips. So it is with this season where our homes are filled with lights yet our souls may be aching for the Light.

My upstairs hallway is really dark at night, when spare bedroom doors are closed off to beasts. I often go back downstairs for a snack or more orange juice after I have gone to bed. Many nights see me wandering about the house at 3 a.m. The beasts keep removing the hall night light, something I don’t remember until I fly trip stumble careen along the hall, having missed that there right in front of me is a 100lb. dog sleeping soundly. My efforts to sneak about without disturbing anyone else fail as I crash into the wall, utter words best not repeated, splash my drink on the beast and floor. Simpler to turn on the overhead light, I forget this option EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Punishment doesn’t teach me, clearly. I remember to don my robe, I feel the chilled air. I don’t remember that I risk a great fall if I don’t allow light to guide me. A really easy fix, a flashlight bedside or even using my smartphone, I just don’t realize how dark it is, how little I can see until I am already in trouble. The light comes on when I am on the floor, in the crisis, but how many times could I have avoided the crisis, the spilled coffee on the bathroom floor, the extra messes to clean up if I just began with the Light?

During this season of lights we are invited to cherish the trees sparkling shining shimmering, reflecting in windows and snow covered yards. The lights may all come down in just a few days, leaving us in a darkness that endangers our walk. Just as I can choose to put a flashlight in my robe pocket, I can choose to accept the true Light of this season, of all seasons. It takes courage to flip the switch, to acknowledge those corners that need attention, the cobwebs that dangle, the areas that we avoid. Yet the glorious feel of a clean home is nothing compared to soul no longer burdened with the filth of secrets and hidden worries. Allowing the bountiful Light to truly shine on us, seep within us, generates a glow beyond the places we can see. This Christmas when we are offered the Light, I pray we all accept Him not just for the night but rather allow our lights to illuminate all year long. How clean and safe would our world be if we stopped walking in the darkness?  Light on our brokenness, our dirty secrets, our shameful pasts and messy bathrooms, returning grace, healing, acceptance. True radiance. May my light shine enough to reach you, may I see yours as well.