Hold on to love, laughter, beauty until the end-it is your grace

This morning I am listening to Ralph Von Williams on my Pandora.

I poured myself a cup of Yorkshire tea and lit all the candles around me.

I sat in front of these beautiful roses left from the weekend. I am looking out on tall, lean pines amidst the bluish-purpleish gray sky, with gleaming white snow peaking out here and there. 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 weekend I spoke at the conference, I met so 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, MS, and others; children who are downs syndrome with moms new to these precious babies and figuring out a new sort of life, single moms who have been abandoned by their husbands. 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.

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 souls that has created havoc, abounding in so many corners.

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 does 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 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 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 laughter in the very midst of despair.

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 every day.