*Free MP3 Download (Compassion) for Newsletter Subscribers!
*Free MP3 Download (Compassion) for Newsletter Subscribers!
I spent the first days of this year by the sea. I admit - the ocean is one of my closest friends. There I find fragments of something I am always searching for. The sea's edge holds the fragrance of eternity; vastness, intensity, quietness, depth, and unforgettable dances with light. The tide is an unending poem, threaded with mysteries and metaphors that matter.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
Eternity is in our hearts; we are searching for it. We live with an ache to touch and experience that which transcends ourselves. If we are honest, most of us struggle with contentment. We try hard to settle down and love where and what we are. But, do we? Do we not ache to experience, find, and discover - more? Maybe we ache for more because there is more. Maybe this ache is not an injury to resolve but a compass to follow. Maybe, His world is calling us to live more aware of our true Home.
Grab a pen: When have you felt aware of eternity? What does it tell you?
Have a great week, let's look beyond!
Let's listen for longer ...
A New Year & Listening Prayer, Part 2! Take a few minutes to ask God these questions. Write down the first thing that comes to mind. Wait and take note of what you see/feel/sense/hear in response. (If you missed Part 1, you can access it here -->).
Listening creates space for something outside of ourselves to bring influence and perspective. We are always listening to something; sometimes by choice, other times by proximity. What we listen to informs our perspective and lifestyle. Let's determine to listen to God ... for longer.
The voice of the LORD Is powerful; the voice of the LORD is majestic. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon. Psalm 29:4-5.
January. It's listening time.
Have a great week! Happy New Year!
It is my practice to spend the first few days of the new year listening. Below are a few listening prayer prompts that I am working through this week. I invite you to join me! Grab a pen. Ask God these questions. Write down the first thing that comes to mind. Value the thoughts, pictures, feelings, and words that emerge as you listen to God's voice. Don't analyze in the process. Simply capture what you sense. Weigh it later.
Far too often we spin our wheels investing in things that do not matter, and often "for God." His voice of friendship and council cuts through that fog and instructs on how to focus our lives.
Take time to listen in January.
January. It's listening time.
Have a great week! Happy New Year!
To those who grieve on Christmas, who have experienced the loss of a loved one, or found yourself in an harsh circumstance today, perhaps disappointed, living with a loss of some kind, I want to say, "Hello" just to you this morning! This greeting is for and about you.
It can be easy to feel like you are crawling along on the outskirts of this day, pressed outside the worldwide joy parade by a sorrowful circumstance. You are watching it happen, trying hard not to be sad while the world sings, "Glory!" It can feel like the festivities are more like arrows to your heart than gifts, the sounds and visuals of the day a blaring reminder of what you are living without. In particular, if it is your first Christmas without a loved one, it is likely no less than a hike up Mount Everest to make it through this day emotionally. Even now, for me, years later, I still miss those who beat me Home. Christmas holds amplified emptiness when those we love are not with us in it.
I have a word for you. Hear me, beloved! You are not on the outskirts of this day. Do you know what everyone is gathered around? They are celebrating the coming of King Jesus, who is a man who was familiar with sorrow and well-acquainted with grief. I believe, although it is rarely acknowledged, that every single twinkling light is a sign that there is hope for those who are brokenhearted. This man Jesus came, and courageously pursued those who were most hurting. He is still doing that very thing today, on Christmas. His eyes and heart are towards you. You are not alone. You are not outside of what "Christmas" is about. You are actually the reason for this season.
YOU are the reason He came.
You grumpy grieving sorrowful beautiful person.
Perhaps feeling very much alone.
"He is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Today is a holiday about Jesus, and Jesus sees you in your grief and loves you more deeply than anyone ever could. He is near to you, nearer than breath. It is possible to be comforted today and benefit deeply from the good news that sits at the core of this holiday. Jesus came, and is still coming, to save, rescue, and redeem those who are hurting. I declare to you – beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and praise for despair. Isaiah 61:1-3 belongs to you! Unwrap it. It’s all yours. You are at the center of what this day is about.
My love to the grieving today!
Love, Katie Luse.
The times held perilous darkness.
People were running for their lives.
A tyrant raged with orders of death,
and hope felt like a distant illusion.
A man called to support her.
A Savior was born.
A dirt floor was the Chosen Stage for the grand entrance of Messiah. Centuries foretold the event, and yet only the unseen realm knew to cheer. Dreams, visions, and supernatural experiences were the catalysts of His coming. They still are. A bright light hung on the canvas of a dark sky. Wise people followed that star. Wise people still choose the journey of hope, abandoning the guides of despair. Underneath life-threatening oppression something magnificent was birthed. History pivoted in the prickles of hay and the scent of cattle.
It smelled – bad.
It felt – bad.
It looked – bad.
But, it was actually goodwill for all.
Through the pain of childbirth, God unwrapped the gift of Peace to mankind. This performance will never be outdone. Gruesome. Painful. Targeted. Glorious. Complete.
God still chooses dirt floors.
We still weep for hope.
But now …the angels’ song is caught into an eternal sound -
That vibrates around your name, your story, your purpose, and your life.
No one is excluded.
The Light has come - One for all!
We are never without hope.
Anyone who wants hope can have it.
Do you need hope?
Follow the star.
My heart is at rest,
when I draw strength from you.
Presence in the pilgrimage
is far more valuable to me
than a golden destination.
The journey is where our friendship is forged.
Even the low points of my story are wells for the water of life.
Like bowls waiting to be filled, mine is the shape for your outpouring.
I no longer fear the strenuous climbs.
Each are invitations to be strengthened, to conquer new dimensions.
You are always there to hold me as my heart expands.
Your voice of affirmation clothes me at the end of each great climb.
As a pilgrim, I am confident that –
Every step matters.
And every step is beautiful –
If I dare to face reality –
And find you present in each step.
Bliss or struggle -
you are not surprised -
But present - whole - and right -
Shifting seasons baptize me with provisions,
as every season is obedient to your leadership in my life.
My frantic search for strength has stopped, at last.
I come to you for strength now.
Your strength is regenerative!
In your strength –
I go from strength –
to strength –
and then arrive with a full heart –
To face you,
In your home.
It is where I belong.
Press into my heart -
the highways to heaven.
So that my pilgrimage leads straight -
Today I want to celebrate the graduation of my baby girl, Aimee Star, from the outpatient care of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was cared for upon birth for 39 days in the NICU, followed by outpatient care for months. We re-visited her doctors there the week before last. All of her tests came back normal and healthy! God be praised! This was a six-month journey of “following the Star.” Only God knows the depth of it for me as her Mom. I had to entrust her to God, to let go, and now I am being handed her back. My heart is expanding for Aimee in a brand-new way, like a balloon at last finding its full form through the pressure of fresh air!
Dr. Dori stepped into the room, “Well … look at her! This child does not need to be in this hospital!” His eyes turned to mine and after mine were caught like a fish on a hook he continued, “Go home! And, enjoy your life!” All of the sudden, I felt the need to leave the building fast. Happiness became a tyrant of grace pulling me, Aimee, and her stroller out of this gigantic nest of medical care for children. I took a beeline for the door without a single sentiment of wanting to farewell it slowly.
And, we went home.
And now, our orders now are to enjoy our life.
When one has orders to “Enjoy your life” after a life threatening journey, it trumps all the other orders that dare to contradict it like those that command fearful existence, uncertainty, anxiety, isolation, and the other stream of orders that threaten to destroy our sense of being alive these days.
From my life to yours – I am extended this order to you.
Whatever it looks like for you, this is an order from Aimee Star …
ENJOY YOUR LIFE!
Grab a Pen: What are 3 things that you enjoy? How can you gain access to them again?
It's the middle of the night. I just put a whole turkey in the oven after swirl of activity over it's defrosting method. It is 21 pounds. My hands smell bad. It's weird that we eat birds. And yet, something about this ball of meat will make my table full of people feel at home today. The power of tradition.
As I think about this day, I desire to express something to you before it begins. I am thankful for you. I believe the Father is also deeply thankful for you. You bring joy to our world. Your spunk and personality color for the rest of us. Your decision to listen well is a gift. Your sacrifices really matter. As you live your life, you are seasoning this planet and we are all better off because you are here.
Keep expressing yourself.
Keep taking up space.
Keep letting your hair down.
Keep choosing that hat.
Keep valuing yourself.
I am thankful for you.
I am sitting in a rocker with a bottle, eyes staring at the darkness outside of my window. It is morning, a dark cold morning. The blackness of the earth speaks of night, the time speaks of day. Sometimes reality tells you one thing, but your heart discerns another. It’s supposed to be morning, but it looks like night. Aimee is hungry. I pulled myself out of bed to feed her. Her eyes are shut as she eats. Mine watch the horizon. The light will come. As the sky enlightens, ever so slowly, I notice first the silhouette of the trees. Their branches are strong and dark against the early morning sky. They speak to me about growth, and my reflection on growth begins …
Growth. If. How. Where. When. Why. How do we actually grow? Not in size or stature, influence or reach, but in depth of spirit. How do we grow in the way that matters?
My eyes follow the biggest tree outside my window from its roots to its to sky-scraping branches. Father, how does that happen? How does one grow to such depth and height, such strength and beauty? Is it about my willingness to stay on the same plot of land? My willingness to extend kindness? To embrace humility? To repent? Is it nurtured by memorization of the Scriptures? Taking risks? Holding unto convictions? Is it about reading? Listening? Discipline? Resting? Is it about my attitude holding this bottle?
Growth is a part of life. Things that are alive grow. Things that are dead no longer grow. The way that growth happens is a bit mysterious from the outside looking in, but that is because it is not an external process. Growth always has to do with something internal working its way out. Growth is about space for what is authentically inside of you to expand. The seeds that now press these trees into the sky did not discover their grandeur through an external opinion, impressive presentation, or recognized influence. They were tiny pockets of life inside that were given the right environment to expand. True growth is about your authentic self getting bigger.
There is a lot of pressure in our culture to grow wide with influence, wider with accolades, wider still with followers. But in the darkness of an early morning, in the face of a few towering trees, holding a bottle, I am caught up in the wonder of what it looks like to grow deep and high. These trees are magnificent. They are loyal to their plot of land. This physical stability gives their seed the best opportunity to reach their potential. They are staying still long enough to grow down deep. Their reach is not wide, it’s high, it’s the sky.
Deeper – in authenticity.
Higher – in nearness to God.
Growing deep begins with honesty about what is inside of you. Then, giving yourself permission to expand. God’s leadership creates the environment that you need to grow. He will draw your authentic self into explosive growth if you are willing to let your roots grow down deep in Him. You are God’s seed. He believes in the “more” of you, and so do I. Permission to throw off the pressure to grow wider. Get into growing deeper. The higher comes as a result.
Father, help me to grow - deeper in love with You.
Reflection: Are you growing? What can you do to position yourself for growth?
This year held unexpected experiences for many people. It is historic both in activity and lack thereof. The challenges of the pandemic, unemployment, fires, distancing, rioting, etc. birthed a tension that wrangled the lives of many people, and left others in a disoriented chaos. To some the tension of this year was physical, to others emotional, to all of us - something significant. Whatever your situation, this year is important. It will long hold history that is ours to live and tell.
In the midst of both the living and telling, we have yet an important decision to make this year, and that is - how are we going to land this year? Are we going to be found in mental distress or in joyful expectation? Despairing disappointment or trust in God? Grasping for security or being held secure by our Father? Depressed or expressed? Burned out or renewed? Shouting or listening? Hoarding or giving? Negative or hopeful?
I am part of a community, ConnectUp, that is setting out for a 21 Day journey leading up to Thanksgiving Day through a daily devotional on the topic of gratitude. I personally want to invite you to join us. We want to encourage a washing of hearts through the power of gratitude this season. It is time to re-discover the beauty of a single focus on Jesus, His goodness, and the ways He is working brilliantly around us - every single day.
Starting on November 6th, we will be posting a daily devotional on gratitude to guide this process. Each devotional is written by someone different in our community, each holds a nugget of hope about how we view our lives, each is an invitation to consider the immensity of the goodness of God.
Come along! Starting November 6, 2020! Follow on the ConnectUp Blog, Facebook, or Instagram.
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.