Faith Reflections from Today’s Solar Eclipse

Today, I met my friend Katie at our city park for a picnic lunch with our kids to watch the solar eclipse. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in this phenomenon. I pressed my protective eye wear against my face and looked up at the bright sun.

And there it was. The moon was beginning to cover the sun and it was beautiful. My eyes were focused on the bright orange ring. The darkness began to steadily cover the light within a matter of minutes.

I was amazed that though I couldn’t see this spectacle with my bare eyes, it was still there. God’s creation and glory was clearly on display. His handiwork. His doing. And here I stood as a finite, imperfect being, staring up at the sky observing all this grandeur. I was just a tiny dot on the map. God is the Master-craftsman who formed it all – the heavens and the earth, the skies and the seas, the plants and animals, you and me.

I think about the verse in Hebrews:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” –  (11:1)

Even though I cannot see God, he is here. Even though I can barely scratch the surface in understanding his beauty, holiness, majesty, and greatness, He is still God. Creator and Father. He holds everything together.

Observing the solar eclipse, among many other people today, gave me greater confidence in my faith. Just because I don’t see God working in the darkness and struggles in my own life or in this world, doesn’t mean he is not doing something. The truth is that he’s always moving. He is not slow to keep his promises.

“Look on the ground!” Katie says.

Circular, light reflections from the eclipse dance on the park’s sidewalk below the swaying trees. We snap pictures with our phones and the kids continue to play. The sky grows a little darker and an eeriness is in the air. The landscape looks “metallic-like.” The breeze brushes against our cheeks.

Our friend Sarah joins in on the fun.

The eclipse is at 98% – almost completely dark from where we stood. Darkness covers the sun, but there is still a speck of light. It certainly was a historical moment.

“I want to be out here with the eclipse forever!” says Katie’s daughter Alaina. We agree tickled by her joy.

Sometimes what we see here on earth is jaded. The lens through which we see is muddled. When we begin to see life through the correct lens and ask God for a greater understanding of who he is, we’ll begin to see the glory and beauty we’ve been longing for. We’ll see that our faith, after all, is solidified and we can trust Him fully for who he says that he is and what he will do in our lives.

“I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me…” – Isaiah 45:5

For the Love of October

This article was originally published in Samantha’s Salt in The Holyoke Enterprise – October 22, 2015 (photos included in this post only).

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when you can wear long sleeves & go barefoot

If there were a month out of the year I couldn’t live without, it would be October. And it’s not just because I was born at the beginning of the month, along with my husband and two oldest children who are late October babies, but I’ve always loved and anticipated this change of season and all of its splendor.

I love the way the wind blows the leaves and they fall patiently to the ground. I love how the trees pop with reds, browns, and golds like a crown of glory. I love the cooler mornings and the warmth of the late afternoon sun. And I don’t think your front porch could ever have too many orange pumpkins or that you could have a shortage of anything pumpkin-spiced.

Just this past weekend while I was at Homesteader’s Park taking some family photos, I was instantly caught up in the beauty of my surroundings – everything from the sun’s golden rays, the shadows, the yellow leaves coming through on the trees, the green landscape, and the slight breeze against my skin. I would’ve planted myself there all morning if I didn’t have responsibilities at home.

In the novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne declares: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.”

IMG_9848Don’t you just love Anne’s words? “Thrill” couldn’t be a more perfect description of autumn. Each morning I step outside and see the colors changing and notice new trees shining in their brilliance, I sense that thrill and rush. The beauty is revitalizing and inspiring.

On Tuesday, my daughter Rebekah was playing in our front yard and picking the leaves off the tree while she waited for her ride to preschool. “Momma look – a heart-shaped one,” she said as she brought the leaf up to my face. The sun sparkled in her light blue eyes and she smiled while she continued to pick them off one by one. “Look Mom – another one!”

I told her that we needed to keep them on the tree so we could enjoy them. I soaked up the sweetness in our moment together, remembering these were her last few weeks as a four-year-old. It was hard to believe another October had arrived.

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Rebekah’s joy and excitement gave me the opportunity to celebrate the stillness of the moment. It reminded me of God’s goodness in my favorite season and in every season knowing that in no time the multicolored leaves will soon grow brown. They will cover our yards and be thrown into bags. Winter will bring its chill and barrenness and will have us waiting for the spring flowers to bloom.

IMG_0064 (1)No matter the doubts, struggles, anxieties, and fears we have at times­­– even in the midst of such a beautiful time of year, the Lord gently assures us that He is here. His creation, handiwork, and creativity are all around us and they are ours for the keeping to enjoy to the absolute fullest, similar in the way that He desires for all of us to live our lives (John 10:10). May this season of coolness usher in the warmth of God’s nearness to your life.

Well, it appears you are finished with this column. What are you waiting for? Get outside!

 

Life is in Creating

This post has been inspired by one of my new favorite blogs: History in the Making with Ben Arment. Ben’s passion for the church and for creativity leaks all over his blog. It’s awesome.

Yesterday he wrote about how creating is worth all the potential consequences. He lists what those consequences might be and says to not create is simply…

the greatest tragedy.

This struck such a chord with me because all my life, all I’ve wanted to do was create. Whether it was through creating a photo book for my family for Christmas, an imaginary story while playing dolls or building forts with my friends, a short story in creative writing class, a scrapbook, photos in the darkroom, a non-fiction article from scratch… the list goes on.

For me to not create would be impossible because it’s part of who I am. It’s how God has designed and wired me. And this desire to create doesn’t make me better than someone who doesn’t particularly love to “create” or would say that being creative isn’t one of his or her gifts. It’s all about how God is best glorified through us, whether that’s working with numbers, performing surgeries, or writing scripts.

In a sense though, we all have the ability to create something. We’re made in the image of God, the Creator.

I don’t know if I’ve come to the place yet where I’m willing to risk it all though. I have a huge desire to craft a book proposal, but I wonder if it’s worth creating even if it gets rejected a thousand times. Is it worth writing if I have to rewrite it or if it never sees the light of day?

For some reason I think God would say yes. It’s just up to me to dive in and risk.

What about you… Can you live without creating? What are you currently creating or hoping to create in the future?

Running for Sunrise

Part of the White Rock Trail

Part of the White Rock Trail

On Sunday morning, John was up and ready at 4:30 AM so I decided to do my long run of 7 miles for the day. I started at 5:00AM. Since it was still dark out, Jeremiah followed close behind me in our SUV. Running that early just isn’t fun to me. Everything is closed. No one is around. And I longed for sunlight.

No matter how far I run, I always run on Swiss Avenue, a well-known street in Dallas lined with historic mansions. I pictured everyone snug in their beds. Past Swiss Avenue, I jogged on the sidewalks of Lakewood, a charming area where my final destination would be. On the left in the distance, I saw a few workers at Whole Foods getting their day started. I smelled doughnuts from a local shop, reminding me of my intense hunger pains. Past the neighborhoods, I reached White Rock Lake where I had around 3 miles left.

At last, the sun  pierced through the clouds- bursts of bright pink and orange. Fishermen were out for their morning catch. Cyclers, walkers, and runners breezed by- sweaty and short of breath just like me. The light I had longed to see had finally arrived and it was beautiful. It gave me a new burst of energy to finish what I’d started.

There are days where I sense darkness, that I’m in a valley and I just long to be with Jesus and to be at home in heaven. This is not at all to say I don’t love life. I absolutely do. God has given me fullness of joy in His presence. I love my husband, my son, family, and friends. I’m overwhelmed all the time by God’s grace and goodness in my life. And it’s depressing to think about dying one day. But I still have days where my heart longs for my eternal home in heaven- where I’ll be healed from the brokenness of sin within me and restored to God’s perfect image.

At the end of 7 miles and wanting to eat a dozen doughnuts, I was encouraged that in Christ, there is no darkness at all. He is the light and gives light to everything. He alone is what our hearts are chasing after.

Video: You’re Beautiful

No matter how eloquently I try to describe the beauty of the Lord through words, they would never do justice. One thing I know for sure is that as the years pass by, the more I realize just how badly in need I am for a Savior. As I’ve drawn closer to him in these 20 years of being a Christ-follower (since I was 6!), the peculiar thing is that the more I see my sin and ugliness.

But because of his beauty, perfection, and holiness I continue to see who I really am– absolutely nothing apart from him. I’m a sinner saved by grace, nothing added. Nothing taken away. But yet I am everything because of him alone and what he does through me.

It’s truly the place we all must come to grips with- that a life lived a part from Christ is really no life at all.

The video below was produced by a very gifted guy at our church and captures just a glimpse of the perfection and beauty of God. The song put to the video is “You’re Beautiful” by Phil Wickham.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DEL0R32eU8]

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