Where are you heading?

Have you listed your goals for this year? Ways you want to improve? For many of us, this past year was tough. Challenges. Trials. Pain. Grief. And some of you are struggling right now. I always told my children when hard or frustrating things happened that trials build character. One of my daughters, who has had a particularly rough couple of years, asked, “Don’t I have enough character yet?” I know how she feels. For years, I struggled to try harder, live better, do more. My efforts mostly took me down a lot of dead ends. I’ve found the key to really living is not in how hard I work, but in who I am walking with. What I trust. How I am willing to open my heart.

Is 40 27-28 Santa Cruz by Jack H Thompson
Galapagos Islands

I can’t explain the hard stuff, but I think God wants far more for us than we seek. Our eyes looking way higher than our glances take us.

Is 40 25-26 Miami at night by Jack H Thompson
by Jack H Thompson

There is so much more life available with God than we ever reach out for. How do we go from trying hard to trusting much and receiving more?

My path changed when I began to listen to — really hear — the voice telling me I am loved.

Then I learned what we tirelessly teach our little ones – to say thank you.  Giving thanks for what I have, seeing the blessing, however tiny, puts a new lens on my day.

Maui beauty by Jack H Thompson
Maui beauty
Cloud forest fern, Ecuador,  Jack H Thompson
Cloud forest fern, Ecuador
bee in flower, Isabella, Galapagos
bee in flower, Isabella, Galapagos

And the gratitude heart leads me to trust. My hard edges melt when I find the thanksgiving places.

Is 40 29 w bird in flight by Jack H Thompson
Soaring by Jack H Thompson

Then I can relax into hands far stronger than mine, and more loving than any earthly hands could ever be.

Is40 30 Dolphins Jack H Thompson
Dolphin pair by Jack H Thompson

What are you aiming for this year?

 

 

 

Where is the peace on earth?

All the ho ho ho-ing and season’s greetings, Christmas carols, crowded malls and grocery stores, packed restaurants and TV commercials promised happiness and warm fuzzy feelings, a Christmas of unsullied glee. Even the angel’s song, quoted in Luke, promised peace on earth. We had so much to look forward to as we decorated trees and hung wreaths, baked cookies and wrapped gifts. So what happened? Where is all the peace on earth?

Jeremy singing carols
Jeremy singing carols

Peace tree

Christmas morning
Christmas morning

 

Why do we still have a world in which two police officers are murdered as they sit in their squad car? What do we say to their children when they open the last gifts they will ever receive from their father?

What about the families of the school children slaughtered in Pakistan to make a political statement?

The ones beheaded by crazed Isis militants for refusing to deny Jesus, the one whose birth was meant to bring peace?

The ones who have lost a child or spouse to disease or accident?

The ones whose children died too young, live with grave disabilities, or never lived at all?

The one who doesn’t even have someone to grieve?

The one whose family has been desecrated by joblessness, abuse, unfaithfulness or addiction?

What do we do with all the broken pieces of our world, and our lives?

 

cross
cross

manger scene

 

I can only see the manger as the portal to joy if I see the empty cross standing high above.

The child who began with a bed of straw became the man who ended with a crown of thorns.

It is a strange, seemingly twisted reality:  He died to conquer the darkness.

He rose as king, opening the door for each of us to pass through the valley of the shadow of death into marvelous light.

 

Ft Jefferson, Dry Tortugas
Ft Jefferson, Dry Tortugas

My earthly heart still feels pain, and my earthly eyes still see darkness,

but my heart knows the wonder of the manger.

Beyond the stable, beyond the hills of Judea, and beyond that cross

is Life, reaching for you, for me,

to guide us through the portal.

The manger entrance to eternity.