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What’s the Point of Singing “Peace on Earth?”

Bombs exploding around the world.

Children gunned down in their schools and classrooms.

What's the Point of Singing Peace on Earth??The “Land of the Free” and “Home of the Brave” ripped apart once again by racial tensions and ethnic divides.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket and it flies in the face of what we see and hear during this Christmas season.

We sing songs of Joy, Hope and Peace. We declare peace on earth and goodwill to our fellow man, and yet what we find when we step outside our doors or turn on our televisions or scroll through our Facebook feed is the exact opposite.

I read an article the other day bemoaning this exact state of affairs. The author shares her experience of how she no longer anticipates Christmas with excitement and jubilance, but rather with lament. She says,

Around this time of year I become a battering ram of lament, pounding against the season’s greetings and wreath-clad doors. We are dying here and there are none to comfort. Does anyone sense the dissonance between our Christmas songs and our actual stories? Does a quick scan of the headlines remind you that Christ, the deliverer, is a long way off? Does anyone care that West Africans are still dying of ebola, Syrian families hang by a thread and brown bodies are under constant threat in their own country?

When I first read that, my  heart groaned in agreement. Yes!, I thought. Why are we proclaiming peace and joy when we should be mourning and lamenting the state of the world and the godless existence so many experience?

Yet, something didn’t sit right with that thought alone. My heart laments the state of this world. It breaks under the weight of grief, despair, depravity, hatred. And yet, I sing.

Peace on earth, good will toward men is not some naive declaration of the way things seem to be every time December rolls around. It is not some empty platitude used only to fill the void and make an attractive Christmas card.

Joy the the World is not merely a rote exercise in remembering better days long past. On the contrary.

It is a prayer. It is a cry lifted to the Holy One, to continue to bring about His master Plan.

It is Hope embodied as I turn from that which is seen to that which is unseen yet so desperately hoped for.

It is a reminder that the best is yet to come, and this world hasn’t been fully left to its own devices. Yet.

These days, these dark times are but a glimpse of what humanity without Divinity would be. We are looking head-on into a dingy mirror of our own souls and seeing what would become of us if left to our own devices. If the Holy, the Almighty, the Great and Compassionate God were to remove the entirety of His presence from among us.

I sing JOY because I see what could be, and I see what He has done.

I declare HOPE because I see what Christ has rescued me from. It may seem now like a mere tiny candle flame in a Grand Canyon abyss of darkness, but it flickers there nonetheless.

I sing PEACE because I look ahead to the day when our Prince of Peace will come and make all things new; will make things as they were always meant to be before the decay of pride set in on that day so long ago under the apple tree.

The darker the day, the louder I will sing.

Because though my heart lament the Shadow of the Valley, my soul will sing His praise because the break of dawns glows dim on the horizon.

My soul grieves in the depths of me for the evil in this world, yet my heart shouts joy! because I’ve been lifted out of that miry, disgusting grave.

My view today is only as  a smeared image through a filth-coated glass, but I see it anyway and it burns hope so deep and so hot that song nearly bursts forth on it’s own.

These days are hard. They are dark. Full of pain and grief. Humanity groans just like a woman in labor for the pain. But I sing PEACE and I sing JOY and I sing HOPE all the stronger because I know Whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is more than able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

Will you sing with me?

When JOY Seems Lost

5 Verses to Renew Your JoyLights twinkle white and rainbow in windows, on trees, stores and street lights, and one words seems to be on everyone’s lips.

We sing songs about it, pose our kids with cardboard letters of it, and plaster smiles on our faces as we spread Christmas cheer near and far.

JOY

Yet, maybe it all feels lost on you this year? Maybe you’re singing Joy to the World out loud, but inside you feel like a big, fat liar because joyful is the last thing you feel. Overwhelmed? Yes. Tired? Oh, yeah. Guilty? Bingo. But joy? Not so much.

I’ve been there, friend. In fact, I am there. So I decided to take action to try and reawaken true Joy in my heart, and in my life. I want to share some of what I have been learning with you. Join me at The Better Mom, where I’m sharing 5 Verses to Renew Your Joy {and they might not be the verses you think!!}. So if, like me, your joy is running a bit low, come on over and see if these help it start to bubble up.

If you’ve just clicked over from The Better Mom, I want to say thanks! And welcome you into my crazy little corner of the Interwebz. Grab some cocoa and a gingerbread man, make yourself comfy and look around!

The Best Gifts are the Ones We Don’t Ask For

You’re four today.

FOUR.

You love Star Wars and big trucks, your sisters and the color green – followed closely by blue and orange.

You have a laugh that goes for miles, your joy even farther. You bring energy, life, love, mad-crazy-hugs and a new perspective to this family.

Isaac CollageAs I sit and remember this day unfolding four years ago…the waiting, the wondering, the worrying if we were both going to be okay. I remember you coming thundering, screaming into this world and exploding my heart into a million pieces.

It may be your birthday, lil man, but I am the one receiving the gift.

We’ve all heard before that God’s ways are not our ways. They are higher, holier, more mysterious and not to be understood fully. The Bible also says that God is the most amazing gift giver. If I, a mom who messes up, loses her temper, gets lazy, gets tired and frustrated knows how to give good gifts to my children – and revels in doing so! (I’m so giddy for you to open your gifts, dude, I can’t stand it!) – how much more wonderful is God, the awesome and perfect Creator of the universe at giving gifts?!

And boy did He knock it out of the park with you!

What’s more amazing is that you are an extra special gift. You’re the gift that God had hiding in the corner only to bring out at the last second when we thought the party was over. You were the gift we didn’t know to ask for, and then with a teary-secret-keeping smile He pulls His hands out from behind His back…

And hands us you.

Oh, the breath taking awe, my son. What a humbling, honoring, laughter-filled gift you are!

With every tackle hug, every belly laugh, every dragon fight, every Captain-America-Weilding-A-Light-Saber-Fighting-Off-Ninjas moment, I stand in utter awe of the little man you are – and are becoming.

I am so thankful that God knows how to give such good gifts – and that He delights so much in it.

So enjoy your day, Buddy. Fall asleep tonight clutching your blankie (don’t worry, it’s totally manly to sleep with one) and your newest favorite toy and rest deep and well knowing that you are loved, you are cherished, you are special.

Happy Birthday, son. I love you.

Just Do It?

Wow, friends…..wow. It has been a heckuva year and a half, ain’t it??

When I wrote this post back in February 2013, I had absolutely no idea what the future held for our family. But, basically, that post means this blog has been essentially dormant for the better part of two years. I’ve had my monthly posts over at The Better Mom, and the occasional post here and there, but by and large I have been silent.

Just Do ItFirst, it was the bustle and busy of our six months in the States. Then it was the stress and uncertainty of not being able to return to Ireland. And for the last 10 months or so it has been the transition and adjustment into our new home and culture here in Vienna.

Through it all, the words just…wouldn’t come. What had become a true source of refreshment, insight and stress-reflief for me (writing) became stress-inducing. When I used to find inspiration and life lessons out and about in the real world, now I was using all my energy and strength to just….function.

Our first several months here in Vienna were filled with apartment hunting, language learning, and generally just figuring out how to, you know, get to the grocery store, how to function in the grocery store without looking like a total freak, settling in to a new home, new schools, etc. I desperately wanted to get back to writing and sharing life with you all…after all, silence is the blog killer, right?? But deep down I really sensed it needed to be a season of silence. Active silence, though. I time of listening, learning, growing.

Now, however, I kind of feel like I’m hiding…avoiding. I’ve been waiting for the inspiration to return, and have not been trying to actively seek it out. It has sort of become now one of those things I know I need to do for my own good, for my own health. Like eating well or working out. You know once you do it you will feel so much better, so much stronger. Yet getting started is the hardest part. Pushing play or stepping out the door for a run…passing by the bakery and opting instead for a home-prepared, nutrient packed meal might as well be climbing Mount Everest. It’s simple physics, really. That whole inertia thing – you know, how an object at rest will tend to stay at rest.

Friends, I have truly needed rest. I’ve needed quiet, introspection, and to walk around for awhile with eyes wide open, mouth clamped shut and just take it all in. However now, I believe I need to get back into action. The inspiration? Still absent. The beauty? I’m still having to intentionally and actively seek it, rather than it slapping me in the face as soon as I open my front door.

Yet…I’m an object at rest…I’m going to attempt to take the first steps of coming back here, of “working out” with you all. I can’t promise there will be deep, beautiful word pictures flowing forth from my fingers to your screens. It may be more like the very first workout on the season opener of The Biggest Loser…awkward…painful…breath taking – but not in a good way. But, friends, you’ve been a safe place for me over the last three years and I trust you will continue to be.

I’m going to just…do it. And hope and pray the feeling follows action. I’ve been waiting until I felt more like myself before sitting down to do the hard work of writing. But could it be that perhaps…just maybe…I won’t truly start to feel like myself until I let the words come free again?

So, thank you for those who have stuck around through the silence. And to those of you who have incredibly joined our little community over the last two years and continued to visit. I look forward to seeing more of you all again.

So…here we go….let’s….do it.

Midnight Holy Ground

Mother presents me daily with a myriad of lessons. However, the most common – and most painful – is the daily hourly lesson of just how extremely selfish I truly am. Motherhood confronts every natural comfort, desire and longing. It stands in direct contrast to what comes easily to me – serving myself.

However, every now and then by grace alone, I am able to get beyond myself and tread on holy ground. Join me at a The Better Mom as I share the story of one of those times that happened a few years ago.

If you’ve just joined us here from The Better Mom, I want to say thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you will make yourself at home, look around awhile, and maybe even introduce yourself.

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