Get up out of the dirt and dust

When I was opening my journal to write this morning, the pages fell open to an entry I made in July of last year. It has to do with forgiveness, and although it’s personal and I’ve never shared a journal entry before, I feel prompted to share this one. I’m not sure if these words are my own, or if they came from someone else. There is no notation in my journal as to where they came from…but they certainly touched my heart today, and I hope they touch yours, too.

Who am I that you would forgive my sin?

Who are You that You forgive sin so easily?

I don’t have to beg for it. I don’t have to earn it. With Your loving heart You simply let go of what I have done and fill the hole of shame with Your grace. You say, I see you and I love you just the same. Get up out of the dirt and dust…I don’t accuse you. I love you. I don’t want to punish you, I want to teach you. I don’t want your heart to be burdened with guilt and sorrow, I want it to love like mine. 

Thank you heavenly Father, loving Jesus, magnificent Holy Spirit. Thank you. 

Grace is a gift. A loving gift we are meant to accept freely through Christ Jesus. What a joy to know how completely we are loved.

 

 

Hiding in the Dark

When I was about eight years old my cousins came to visit us in Texas. We had moved from Ohio about a year before their visit, and I was so excited to see them. I had so many plans! I wanted to show them my favorite spots for catching lizards, take them riding on our hike and bike trail, go hunting for crayfish in the stream that ran along the edge of our neighborhood, swimming at the pool…but something happened during their visit that crushed my plans. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do remember where I ended up. Hiding in the darkness of my closet.

We were roller skating down my street. I remember that. And I remember my lanky cousin skating with what looked like bricks on the ends of his feet, arms flailing wildly as he tried to keep his balance, skates smacking against the sidewalk. Then something happened. Maybe I said something mean to my cousin. Or maybe he said something mean to me and I cried. That wouldn’t be unheard of since I was so sensitive, and sensitivity wasn’t looked upon as a good character trait. All I remember is that whatever happened made me feel like I wasn’t a good person anymore. I never had a great self esteem, so when the gig was up, it was up. I didn’t feel like I was worthy of hanging around with. I didn’t feel like I was fun or had anything to share. I was ashamed of who I was, so I crawled into my closet and hid in the dark. Plans over.

Isn’t life like that for many of us? Without even realizing exactly what drives us there, we end up hiding in the dark. We feel that whatever we’ve done or whatever has happened to us is just too much. It’s beyond repair. So we start turning out the lights one by one. We stop stepping out, sharing thoughts, opening up. We may carefully craft a bright facade to the outside world, but inside, we’re curled up in the dark, afraid to make a move.

That’s what shame does. It drives us into the dark where unworthiness grows. Shame tells us what kind of person we are. Liar. Cry-baby. Brat. Stupid. There is no hope in shame. There is no feeling of belonging in shame. Shame separates us from the ones we love. Most importantly, shame separates us from God.

God doesn’t want us to live in shame, because he knows when we do, even the best laid plans for joy aren’t going to come to fruition. That’s why he gave us the gift of salvation through the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.

There is no such thing as living life to the fullest when we are living in shame. I know from personal experience, because I’ve been there. And I know you may be there, too. Whether you’ve been a Christian as long as you remember, or you’ve never stepped into a church…the darkness calls us all and we can find we’ve made a home there without even realizing it. If you’re there, come into the Light of God’s grace. There is no room for shame in the Light. The Light drives out all darkness. The Light says, you are free.

Stressed this Christmas? Get a Sparkle Box

A salon I drive by on a daily basis has a sign out front that changes to reflect current promotions and seasonal specials. This week, the sign reads, “Stressed this Christmas? Get a massage.” I’ll admit, a massage would feel good right about now. But I know the feeling wouldn’t last. If I could change the sign, it would read: Stressed this Christmas? Get a Sparkle Box.

In case you haven’t read The Sparkle Box: A Gift with the Power to Change Christmas, a Sparkle Box is a gift you give Christ on Christmas. About eight years ago, my husband and I started the tradition of giving a gift to Christ on Christmas morning, and it filled our home with a joy and peace we had never known. As I read the gifts we put in our box that first Christmas morning….mittens for those who don’t have any, a shoebox filled with toys and small gifts for a child in another part of the world… I could barely get the words out. It was the most humbling, moving experience I had ever had.

After that first Christmas, giving a gift to Christ became a focal point of the season. We talked about what we wanted to do to honor Him. We looked for opportunities and ways we could make a difference in the world, for His glory—not our own. And something amazing happened.  For the first time, I wasn’t stressing about how many cookies I baked or whether or not I got my Christmas cards out on time. I wasn’t fretting over whether or not I bought my children enough, or worrying that I bought too much. Christmas wasn’t about any of those things. It was about the joy of Christ coming to this world. It was about honoring Jesus on the anniversary of His birth. It was about celebrating a love that is deeper and wider than any other we’ll ever know.

Stressed this Christmas? Get a Sparkle Box and discover the joy and peace that comes from centering Christmas on Christ.

Who am I to say I’m the light of the world?

If you read my previous blog, you know I felt called to write the book, The Sparkle Box and that I had never felt called to do anything before in my life. In fact, it all seemed a little strange to me. What was even stranger, was the letter I wrote at the end of the first manuscript. The letter was from Jesus and it began, “Dear Child, you are the light of the world, make it sparkle.”

 

Now comes confession time. Although I had gone to church most of my life since I was about four years old, I hadn’t spent much time studying the Bible. I remembered that Jesus said He was the light of the world, and that recollection left me feeling more than a little uneasy. Who was I to say, “You are the light of the world”? I went to the living room and grabbed my Bible off the shelf. There is a great index in the back so I looked up the phrase, “light of the world.” I found the verse I knew, but I also listed in the index is “You are the light of the world.” I looked up Matthew 5:14 and realized I had read this verse before, but it was like I was reading it for the first time.

 

“You are the light of the world, glowing in the night for all to see.” Wow. Jesus told us we are the the light of the world? Suddenly it made perfect sense. When we are kind to one another, when we reach out with love or forgiveness, we when are compassionate…we are Christ’s light in the world. And He was calling me—He was calling all of us—to make a difference. 

Every journey begins with the first step.

I was standing in my kitchen when I heard from God, and the words He gave me changed my life forever. I had heard people say they felt called to serve God, or that God gave them a message or spoke to them, but quite frankly, that was way out of my comfort zone. At that time in my life, I thought things like that didn’t really happen.

 

But there I was, standing in my kitchen. I had just gotten off the phone with a friend who called to cancel our plans because her daughter was sick. I had the morning off and as I looked out the kitchen window, I thought to myself,
I have the whole day in front of me. What am I going to do?
No sooner had I had that thought than the words “Write the book” fell into my vision. I don’t know how else to describe it except to say the words came down out of nowhere. A grayish type that just appeared in my field of vision.  I remember knowing instantly what the book was, and I answered “Now?” in my head. The command “NOW” appeared in response. I wanted to laugh. Really?

 

I hadn’t thought about the book in nearly a year. My laptop was sitting on our kitchen table and I sat down and opened it up. There was a legal pad to the left of the computer. I picked up a pen and wrote the words, “The Sparkle Box” on the pad of paper. I liked the sound of it. I started typing and when I stopped an hour and a half later, it was done. I put my face in my hands and wept. I felt a flood of light and warmth cover me and fill my body. I had never experienced such profound joy.

 

At the end of the manuscript, there was a letter. The letter began, “Dear Child, you are the light of the world, make it sparkle.” I believe it’s a message from God to all of us, and that’s why the bookThe Sparkle Box starts out “Dear Child, you are the light of the world, make it sparkle.” 

 

This blog is about learning to be the light. It’s a journey filled with laughter, lessons, heartache and joy. I hope you’ll come along.