Night

It’s sunset outside my window and inside my heart. The sky to the east is dark, to the west it is fire. Night is wrapping itself upon the earth. The end of this day has come and now the long dark winter night settles in.

 

Just as this day is ending so is this chapter in my life. The chapter of marriage has come to an end for me. Night is closing in. And what light remains blazes in the night, burning the last remnants of what once was.

 

I tried so desperately to cling to the light. To stop the sun from setting on us. But I was as powerless to stop it as I am from stopping the earth from turning on its axis.

 

I know that tomorrow the sun will rise again. That light will flood my heart and warm my face. I know that this dark night will not last forever. That joy will come in the morning.

 

I also know that I am not alone here, in the darkest of nights. I know that there is One who stays with me, One who will never leave me or forsake me. The Light holds me in the darkness. Holds me close and I am not afraid.

 

I do not know how long this night will last. But I do know that there is purpose in the night. In Isaiah 45 God tells His anointed one:

 

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel.” Isa. 45:3

 

He is speaking of buried treasure. Priceless gifts set aside and kept in dark secret places under close lock and key. Hidden riches that belonged to God’s chosen one. Not only riches of silver and gold but the riches of knowing the God of Israel.

 

I look into this dark night and I wonder… I wonder what tomorrow will look like. I wonder what adventure it holds. What challenge it brings. I wonder a lot about the day ahead. But here, now, in the night I’m mining for treasure. I’m digging up gold and silver, truth and joy. I’m discovering freedom and grace. I’m uncovering mercy and love.

 

Here in the darkness I am finding God.

 

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isa. 9:2

 

Here in the darkness the light of Christ shines brighter and I have nothing to fear.

When All is Not Jolly & Bright

She would have been ten.

I just assume that I only make girls. Being a self-professed girly girl, I soak in all the sugar and spice. Fairy tales and make believe, chasing after dreams like clouds thinking if I jumped high enough I would hold them in my hand.

I haven’t thought about her in a while. But, for years thoughts of her consumed my waking moments and my dreams.

It was Christmastime; all was jolly and bright with the gentle mixture of fear. What would motherhood be like and would I be good at it? All I knew was that strong desire to mother was within and we would figure it out together. I would grow into motherhood with each breath she took.

Three days before Christmas something happened. I knew something was wrong, I began to miscarry a dream, and a fragile life. I could see it every time I looked in the mirror, fear staring me in the face. I spent a few hours in an ER room longing to hear a heartbeat that was never meant to beat.

I pulled myself together, packed our gifts in the car, and said goodbye to my mother. All I really wanted was to stay there with her, but there was more family to be seen with Christmas days away. I tried my hardest to celebrate the birth of the baby that changed everything for me. And yet all I felt was heartache tinged with anger and questions. Why me?

A tiny cry that all of heaven celebrated, the God-child. Immanuel, God with us, and even as my heart broke He was with me unafraid of my questions. Never once did I feel Him condemning me. I just felt His all-consuming love.

I opened maternity gifts and cradled the tiny, new additions to our family with a sting in my heart. Then I slipped upstairs to grieve without watching eyes. I curled up  in the bed, pulled the covers over my head, and fell apart.

My mother-in-love followed me upstairs, sat next to me, and cried with me.

“It was our baby too.”

I’ve never forgotten that moment or that feeling, but at times I have returned that same gift of just crying with those who are hurting.

I don’t know what you are experiencing right now, but I know so many of you are dealing with a loss of a loved one or maybe even a death of a dream. I pray that you find joy, deep joy, in the season and know that God-child came wrapped in flesh so that we might identify with Him. His love caused Him to leave the comforts of heaven to die for our sins.

Because of the baby in a manger I have great joy and hope.

I have experienced the pit of depression and have been awakened with greater joy in knowing that through the pain, God alone has a purpose in forming us into His likeness.

I have experienced healing and restoration in my body and received the joy of two beautiful girls. But, I haven’t forgotten that Christmas filled with tears and how God met with me and cradled me through it all.

So many this season have experienced loss and I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you, and if I could I would sit beside you and carry that pain with you and just cry. My prayers and thoughts are with you. If you have a prayer request or maybe a testimony like mine, leave a comment and we will be praying with you.

May the God of all comfort cradle you this holiday season. You are loved.

~Jennifer

It’s Not About Us…

Hi friends,

I just wanted to invite you over to (in)courage today to read my guest post. I truly love this community of writers and want to support this amazing ministry to the hearts of women! Love you all so much!! This year I’m giving up normal because the world is asking us this: Do You Have Something For Me? 

Love and Hugs from a Former Broken Girl,

Jennifer

Rise Up Shepherd and Follow

There’s an old African-American Spiritual that has been haunting me the last few days. The words have crept into my soul and wrapped their fingers around my heart. When I wake I hear their refrain. All through the day it echoes in my mind…

Leave your flocks and leave your herds

Rise up shepherd and follow

Can you imagine it? A cold hillside on a dark night. The lights of Bethlehem in the distant. The bleating of sheep all around. Small fires surrounded by weather hardened shepherds; nomads. I wonder if they were tired. If they missed home, or if the endless pasture was their home. I wonder how long it had been since they had heard the cry of a baby, felt the smooth skin of a child, heard the innocent laughter of a little boy. Calloused hands holding wooden staffs and wooly coats. That was their life. No women, no children, no roof over their heads. Only sheep, shepherds and endless sky.

Until…

there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Rise up shepherd.

Rise up from outside the city gate. Rise up from your comfortable place around the warm fire. Rise up from the routine of your day.

And follow.

Follow the star to the baby. Follow the baby to green pastures and still waters. Follow the Shepherd of your souls.

Leave your flocks.

And leave your herds. Leave the things you depend on. Leave everything behind.

Rise up shepherd. And follow.

And they did. They did exactly what the angel told them to do.

Yet here I sit. Clinging to the comforts of my life. Glued to the seat of my complacency. Deaf to the Harkening of the Angels. Afraid to follow. Afraid to leave the flocks & herds. Afraid to rise up.

Yet, still I hear the chorus repeat. Rise up shepherd and follow. And softly in the distance I hear my Shepherd call; rise up, child, and follow.