Artistry Untouched

           I was scrolling through my previous photographs,
                     and found this gem. I had to share it.  ūüôā

image

artistry untouched

                          This was taken in Holland, Michigan at
                                Holland State Park. No filter, no editing;
                                        Just #PureMichigan

Vagabonds of Christmas

wpid-wood-tent.png.png

Wood Tent (c)Gracie K Harold 2015

¬†Vagabonds aren’t always confident about where they belong.

This year, my family and I are homeless.

I feel displaced, and a bit unsettled; but not necessarily restless.

We are staying in a borrowed back room with family;

and I can’t help but be overwhelmed at how much more I understand the depth of sacrifice

that Mary and Joseph and Jesus made.

Despite their kinsman living in Bethlehem, they were not offered a guest room; but

instead were bedded down in a rustic place a bit outside of the “acceptable community” in

order to possibly avoid the stigma of appearances.

After all, Mary was about to deliver a baby; before she married Joseph.

Their families chose their religious appearances over intimacy with their Savior.

How often have I been guilty of the same?

For the last few years, we have given our kids 3 gifts…because a friend from church explained their family’s tradition of the same; “Since the wise men brought three gifts to Jesus for his birthday, so our kids can receive what Jesus received.”

We thought it was a good, spiritual idea.

This morning, though, I remembered a few things.

1st, the wise men arrived when Jesus was a couple years old. Ergo, He didn’t receive three gifts upon his birth.

2nd, shepherds came in from the elements to celebrate the birth of Jesus…in the place where the religious were afraid to go.

Therefore, to allow our children a fully Biblical Christmas experience, being homeless is the closest that they have ever come to living as Christ lived.  Technically, they received more than Christ did since He had to wait a couple years before the wise men arrived with his gifts.

My point is that if you feel displaced by the church, if you feel like a vagabond of Christmas, if you feel like the religious reality of today holds no place for you, if you feel isolated, and cast aside, and like you just can’t feel at home anywhere;¬†you have experienced the true intimacy of Christ. He has lived it, too. ¬†He is right with you in this and you are NOT alone.

You may have three gifts, or 1 gift, or no gifts at all.

You may have a home, or be homeless.

You may be alone physically,

BUT YOU ARE NEVER ALONE SPIRITUALLY.

IMMANUEL MEANS “GOD WITH US”.¬†

May our eyes be forever opened, may our hearts be changed to receive the first gift of Christ’s birth; HIM. ¬†May He always be enough.

Snow Scenes

Merry Christmas to you and yours

from me and  ours!

Stay safe, dear readers;

and may this holiday find you

overwhelmed

by the

tender loving goodness of God;

who would leave perfection

to show us that

we are NEVER alone.

Love,

Gracie K.

Reverence and Realism

A pair of ripped jeans walks into church and says,  “Why can’t you be more like a bar? I want to be accepted as I am… frayed edges,  exposure and all.”  So the church acquiesces and adds cafe tables,  couches,  and friendliness.  A pair of fleece pajama pants walks into the church that looks like a bar and asks,  “Why can’t you look more like a lounge? I want to be comfortable and cozy,  I want to feel loved.” So the church acquiesces again,  adding lounge recliners, hot chocolate and a fireplace.  

   I have been the ripped jeans and the fleece pajama pants.  I have craved acceptance,  warm reassurances and familiarity.  I have desired church that reminds me of how loved I am without always reminding me of how un-deserving of that love I am. 

    Yet,  even in my craving for comfort, I have duped myself.  At physical therapy this week,  I sat in front of a full length mirror to do my exercises.  We don’t own a full length mirror in our house so it was a new experience for me.  A while ago,  James and I had photos taken of ourselves in a photobooth at a wedding reception. I was shocked at how big my hips looked… so I rationalized that my dress was draped awkwardly, giving the illusion of big hips.  Fast forward to my physical therapy appointment when I sat in front of a mirror, monitoring my posture,  and realized that my hips are that big. 

Reality could no longer be denied because it was un-avoidably in front of me. 

    Reverence works the same way.  When I have a healthy respect for the power,  might,  and perfection of God; I am humbled and grateful because of the outrageous and unreasonable goodness that I have received.  I am aware that things have gotten huge when I wanted them to stay trim. 

      Maybe I have been self-focused,  and I have neglected time in worship of God.  Maybe this has resulted in angry outbursts when my plans don’t go as I had planned. (Maybe I wouldn’t be so angry if I would focus on thanking  God for and trusting HIS plans instead of pushing my agenda)

The point is that I have been guilty of being comfortable and flippant with God while refusing to be reverent with God.  Instead of being aware of and in awe of His Holiness and majesty; I have instead focused on my feelings,  my emotions and my frustrations.  

Don’t misunderstand me, honesty and intimacy go hand in hand… but so do intimacy and respect. 

My prayer this week is that I will have a heart that worships God in awe of his majesty… in total reverence and respect,  whether my jeans are ripped or not.  

Crippled by Humor

I will never run again in this life. I will ¬†never leap, spin or dance again…unless it’s a slow dance. Chasing my kids, racing them, or juking them out in soccer will not happen again.

I have spent the last weeks in alternating bouts of grief and dark humor. I have become introverted by my self-study. I’ve realized that there is not a single moment where I could have danced but I didn’t. I honestly have no regrets about any moments that could have been.

I have learned to find and cherish the gift of humor..especially in the absurd moments of life. ¬†Life is too short to wallow in a pity party. Laughter is such a relief from the reality of all the “never agains”.

Recently, we were at an outdoor sporting event when the wind kicked up and the rain fell hard. My husband, James, quickly covered my head with the blanket we had been sitting on. We were standing in a grassy area as the wind gusts became forceful. ¬†I quipped, “Oh sure, turn the cripple into a parasail! Be sure to grab the non-injured leg when you pull me back to land, ok?” ūüėČ

Life is short. Laugh when you can, love others in every moment, and cry as needed. ‚̧

 

Big Red & Wings

Big Red & Wings

 

Love More. Fear less.

This Spring, James and I went to Chicago, Nevada, and California.  We went to encourage friends and family who were out in California. We also went so that I could intentionally forgive and heal from so many painful memories and humiliations that I had suffered in those places through my first marriage.

We were invited to attend Fearless LA, a gathering of people who admit that their only hope is found in Jesus Christ. ¬†It also happens to meet in Exchange LA, the “it” nightclub in LA.

They have other sites, as well, but this location was exactly where we needed to be on this particular day.

Their mantra is, “Love more, Fear less”.

It’s based on I John 4:18:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love.

(Berean Study Bible translation)

For me, I went on the trip with all the gritty determination to rid myself of the demons from my past. Before we left, an elder from our church challenged us to “Lay aside all of your expectations and simply expect that Jesus Christ would be glorified.” ¬†We did.

Gone were my expectations of doing this incredible service and brave act for God, as I deliberately and intentionally visited so many hurtful places.

I never imagined that I would so tenderly be healed from so many memories and humiliations. I knew that Jesus Christ is good, and kind. I knew that Yahweh is attentive to all our humiliations, I just never expected to be so specifically and intentionally encouraged.

So many ways that would only be a specific gift to me…

I have been amazed as I marvel that the God of the Universe and the Creator of the Cosmos pays all that attention to “Li’l old me.”

I challenge you, beloved ones.

I dare you!

Lay down all expectation, and simply ask that Jesus Christ be glorified in your life. Then hang on as He tenderly and intentionally shows you specifically that HE SEES YOU!

Love more. Fear less.

LOVEMORE

Love More. #FearlessLA