Hold Fast to Love, Laughter, Beauty. In the end, it is your Grace.

IMG_4818This early morning I am listening to Ralph Von Williams on my Pandora and sometimes switching to Alexander Desplaut, two of my favorite composers of film music. I poured myself a cup of Yorkshire tea and lit all the candles around me. Indulging myself by looking at velvety red roses in a vase that I found on sale at the grocery store is bringing me much pleasure.  Afterall, I am an adult and I can buy myself flowers once in a while when I think I need them! I am looking out my windows on tall, lean pines amidst the bluish-purpleish gray sky, with gleaming white snow peaking out from Pike's peak.



I have taken literally thousands of pictures of beautiful flowers, sunrises, scenes in nature I find because it is a sort of worship in the moment a recognizing His fingerprints as I go through my days.

I am taking time to love Jesus and tell Him how very happy I am that He is real and with me--that He has painted the sky and made music to stir my soul and that He is with me loving me. I am seeking to cultivate love notes to heaven as I appreciate the lover who is invisible but here in my life today.

Last week, teaching a Bible study I have hosted for 10 years, I mingled with a variety of sweet women varied in age and in life puzzles. Flying one more time, I spent time with dear, inner-circle friends I have long known in California, Joy's friends, my children and some new women I met through graduation at Biola, ending on a cherished friend as I came home from a week of travel.

Many beautiful, precious women who have deep burdens to bear--a prodigal son or daughter; a heavy and dark marriage partner who refuses to love or give grace; many with chronic illness--cancer, pain, many living quietly with years of heart-break they bear in silence.

A truly lovely single mom was abandoned by her husband for a woman he met on facebook. I could go on. I am familiar with deep sadness in my own life, some things I will never be able to share publicly because I believe in loyalty and protection of my family from the public eye. It is my sacred trust to bear up through dark passages and to trust it just to Him, as He has promised to be with me.

We are subject all round us to the consequences of a fallen world--so beautifully made, so scarred and marred by the illness of our own souls that has created havoc, abounding in so many corners of life.And there it is for our children to figure out. Innocence and hope are my heart's desire--to be like a child fully delighting in life. But God has trusted me with adulthood and so I bow to His will.

Much of the sadness or at least sad circumstances will be with these precious women, who are in my heart, for many, many years--if not their whole lives.

But the circumstances of their lives do not need to define who they are or how they live.

Home is a place to light a candle in the darkness, to bring hope to sadness, to celebrate that He has overcome the world. Yet, making home the best place to be requires a grid that says, "I am the one called to bring light."

I often hum the old Steve Green song from scripture, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

I have added my own verses, "Do not be overcome by darkness, but overcome darkness with light."

"Do not be overcome by hatefulness, but overcome hatefulness with love."

"Overcome death with life."

"Overcome sadness with joy and celebration in the midst of the mundane."

The invisible, the Lover, the maker of beauty, the servant King is in our midst as a devoted Father. He is a bridegroom preparing a wedding feast. He is a wonderful counselor who has compassion on us when we feel lost. He is a shepherd who lays down His life for his sheep and leads them beside still waters.

As long as I keep my soul alive by dwelling in His presence, remembering the roles he plays in my own life, as long as I cultivate and practice a heart of love and give it and live in it, I can overcome the darkness--all darknesses of my soul here on earth.

But love and beauty and faith must be cultivated daily, in His presence, looking for His reality, so that my heart will be filled with the reality of Him and His overcoming goodness and redeeming light.

The glory of a woman is her ability to stir up Life and light in this dark world.

We are born to civilize, to encourage, to inspire, to heal.

Women are most beautiful when they are engaged in creating the reality of His life and love wherever they go. But this love comes from intentional cultivation--it is the grid that we see life through--

I am created to be an overcomer, an artist who leaves beauty, a counselor who brings peace, a magician who brings hope and comfort in the very midst of despair, laughter and joy amidst the draining moments.

I am given the possibility of leaving a fragrance of words that bring hope, inspiration, affirmation to one who is starving for soul food.

And so today, I become a co-creator with Him, who is the source of all that is beautiful and good--celebrating His reality into the midst of this puzzle that is called my life.

The strength of any woman is built on a foundation of what she cherishes, practices, waters, cultivates.

Love is there, waiting to strengthen--the soul of a great woman depends on Him flowing in and through her every day.