Have any of you ever watched Howl’s Moving Castle? It’s one of my favorite movies. Up there with LOTR, Ben Hur and the King and I. Which are also my favorite novels. One line from the movie is often quoted by fans. ‘A heart is a heavy burden to cary.’
Our hearts are one of our heaviest organs. Don’t ask me to explain because it gets gross. But our hearts also carry the most weight. They are the main necessity of the body, everything works through them. Our hearts also carry the burden of our lives. Our emotions effect our hearts; our wants and desires flow through that one muscle causing it to ache and need. Heartless people have hearts to live on but they don’t use them to their full potential. They shut off tue part of the heart that causes one to care and help and be kind. The mind helps them shut off this ability of the heart. When Howl’s heart is restored to him and he wakes up his first words are.
“Why does it feel like there is a weight on my chest?”
Because being frivolous and heartless takes nothing out of you, but to be compassionate and loving takes a great strain. A heart is a heavy burden.
When did you fall in love with God?
What was the moment that changed it from serving God to loving God for you.?
For me, I think I always loved God in that child love that says ‘God’s so amazing!’
But I don’t think I truly loved God in a mature way until the first time I really suffered. I mean really really suffered. It was in that blackness that I found God’s hand reaching so invaluable. Before that God was always like a Jeanie. A sort of fun bright light that bounced around and made flowers grow and puppies bark. Suddenly that bright light was a burning, piercing flame that tore away the pain and darkness until I was free from my chains. That was the moment I truly fell in love with God.
What was yours?
Setting your mind
In one of my favorite movies the main character loves the song ‘country roads’ and rewrites the lyrics to it. The new version has a line that says:
Determined to live alone but fearless, my constant longing is to be courageous. Loneliness is bottled up inside, going down this path that I must try.
It’s a beautiful description of who she is. She knows herself and is willing to allow that to be enough for her. She knows her path is lonely but she takes it anyway with determination to contain that feeling and not allow it to control her. She is fearless and longs for even greater courage. These simple lyrics could apply to many of us. We all have a path to travel and we all have struggles along the way; some we can foresee others we can not, it’s how we handle these struggles that define us. Will we take them on like a ship breaking through a squall, heading for the light? Or will we shrink back inside our cabin and hope that it all goes away? Maybe we try to run from the storm, but we know that that never works out, just ask Jonah. However we face our troubles, however we take on our paths, God knows what He’s doing. He saw these squalls even before you were born, and He also saw a way through them. Some people fear asking for courage because they think that it will add turmoil to their lives, but lives will have turmoil whether you ask for courage or not. Isn’t it better to have already built up your courage before the big struggles come? If you haven’t then those times when you feel you’ve hit rock bottom will be harder to overcome. It’s not easy to look down the road ahead, feel the wind grab your hair, feel the hard path beneath your feet and take off your fear like a cloak throwing it over your shoulder, stepping off the threshold of your comfort zone at a run and smiling about it. Those who have done so have had the chance to touch their stars, yours are still waiting for you. When you look at those who have left their fear behind and taken hold of their path you will see a person scarred. Their cloths may seem torn and their skin marred by the hard falls, but you will also see a brilliant smile of triumph on their faces and when they walk by they drip of starlight, because they have touched the heavens. Why? Because they trusted God would lead them and never doubted His perfect, guiding hand. Do you see starlight in your future? Your future as an accountant, a plumber, a teacher, a doctor, an electrician? You don’t have to be an artist to gleam, you just have to give what you are meant to do everything you’ve got and trust that every time you fall a nail pierced hand will be there to help you back up.
If Jesus proposed to you, would you say ‘yes’?
Are you ready to spend your life with this man from Nazareth? This carpenter’s son, hated and despised by the world. Are you ready to give up everything to follow Him and His dreams for your future? Yes? To say ‘yes’ would mean He is master over your mind, body and soul, are you ready for that?
I’m not always sure I am. Does He have my soul? Oh yes! Does He have my heart? Definitely! Though, sometimes I admit He gets a little lost in all the other ones, things, activities I love; but in the end my heart is focused on Him. Does He have my body? Okay. Harder question. Do I always help the needy? Do I always step in for the little guy? No. If I feel the Holy Spirit say ‘GO!’ Do I go? Sometimes. And here is the big one. Does He have my mind? My mind goes through so many thoughts a day/ a minute/ 1/100th of a second, that it is hard to see what or whom my mind is centered on. There are times when I should pray but I watch Netflix instead. There are times when I am not up to reading my Bible. There are times when I just can’t. Oh I could if I tried, but I feel I just can’t. Does that mean my mind isn’t centered on God?
I like to put it into a less ginormous perspective. My dog is my life. And my horse. Most days they are why I smile and feel I can push through whatever it is that is happening. Sometimes I come home and don’t play with my dog because I feel I just can’t that day. Too worn out. Sometimes I ignore him and watch Netflix, sometimes we don’t walk because it is too cold. He is the center of my world, but sometimes I don’t give him my whole attention. That doesn’t mean he is out of my focus, just not my whole focus for that time. Believe me, he will make it known if he feels ignored.
Just because my mind is 1000% off 60, and I haven’t yet taken time to focus on God, doesn’t mean my mind is off of Him. He could draw all my attention to Him in a millisecond if He wanted to, because I love Him. So does He have my mind? Yes.
If Jesus proposed to you today, what would you say? I say to say ‘yes’ and hang on, because it is going to be a wild ride.
Where faith may fail
Do you ever feel as though your faith has failed?
Ya, me too.
You build yourself up with courageous words and scripture verses to make your heart feel okay, but deep down you still feel faithless. A nagging voice says, ‘you know God doesn’t operate like that anymore! You know that those kinds of miracles ended before the 20th century began. So why pray for it? Why run after something that you will never catch? You’ll just end up looking silly for trying so hard. Give up. Faith has no ground.’
Wow. Say ‘hello Devil, when did you get here?’ because that’s the voice I hear when I hear such words. It is clearly the Devil saying such things; eating away at your Faith like a monster devouring flesh, but that doesn’t stop us from believing such wicked and common lies. We hit a wall where our Faith feels powerless and we just can’t fight through. I realized something the other day. Why do we fight with our Faith? Faith isn’t a weapon. It’s a shield. The Holy Spirit is the weapon! Our Faith feels battered because we are using it to beat down our enemy. We drop our sword, take our shield in both hands and smack our enemy with it with all our strength! And we get knocked back on our belt of hard truth. The truth is that with our own strength we can’t do anything. But if we attack our enemy with the sword of the Spirit the enemy will fall! Because we are using God’s strength to win! Our Faith gets battered because we wield it as a weapon. Which it isn’t. But as a shield, as our defense, our Faith is unmatched in power because our Faith is in the unmatched, powerful God. Whose name is Jesus.
So then, put on the full armor of God-Ephesians 6:10
The cold mountain air burns the lungs of the young astronomer as her eyes take in the night sky. Orion winks at her playfully and her gaze swings as she grins back at him; she sees a star larger than the rest and her heart takes her back to a time when a similar star drew men from far and distant countries to a small town called Bethlehem.
These days we don’t have a star to help us find Jesus, but we do still have guides. The Bible, word of mouth, pastors, musicians, artists. God sends us ‘stars’ to guide us. Little lights that show Jesus.
Many say to look to the sky for your answers, read the stars, listen to their voices. I am no astronomer, but that night when God sent a special star to guide people to the stable must have been wild. Angels dropping from Heaven into our night sky and praising their God?!? It would have been a light show like no other. Look to the sky to for your answers? why not? Look up and see 100 billion or more Galaxies and hear them answer you. ‘Yes! There is a God, and He made all this… and He made you!’ Follow the stars around you to the stable and find Jesus.
Life, Death, and Resurrection all held within this baby’s tiny hands.
The very first Christians led to the stable, by a star.
When all the lights go out
Crunch, crunch, crunch. Each footfall leaves another indent in the snow, a small trace that you were once there. A tiny blaze is nestled close to your chest as you carry a candle for just a little added light. There are other lights around you, barely visible, just a flicker, like woodland sprites dancing among the trees. The lights make their way softly through the woods and into the town. There, in a single window, is a candle; like the one you carry except for the meaning behind it. Your candle is for light, this candle is for hope. Inside the house you know you will find others like you, Christian worshippers gathering secretly to praise Jesus. You blow out your candle and step inside.
This story you have entered feels like it happened a lifetime ago to someone you will never know; But even today Christian families are having to hide from those who would seek to harm them. I wonder how many are gathering tonight? Slipping through the streets with candles to light their way?
Surprisingly I found many different opinions on the origin of lights on Christmas trees, but the one that I like the best is the one that says that Christians used to come and gather in the woods, to worship in secret because the Government wanted one religion and Christianity was not it. They would put lights deep in the branches of a tree so that the glow would be muted but visible. Even if that is not the origin I wouldn’t be surprised if it did happen. Maybe that is why lights on the Christmas tree feel so warm and homey. I would go so far as to say they make one feel secure.
On this Advent Sunday I want to send out a simple feeling. Gratitude. I am grateful for the Christian people who are faithful to the point of meeting under the cover of a midnight sky, maybe even outside in the cold, so they can keep the candles of Faith burning. Isn’t that the first place Jesus was worshiped? A cold manger stall, the only light probably a candle. Think of that as you feel warmed by your Christmas tree lights and let it fill you with a sense of wonder.
We all have a seed inside our hearts. A part of us that is undiscovered and trying to grow. A potential. A dream left to the wear of time and long since forgotten. Deep down in your heart, however, that dream left a seed. We all have someone we want to be. A chef, a weatherwoman, an accountant, a movie star. But to fulfill a dream takes hard work, good people, and a bull dog drive. Stats say that over 90% of people give up on their dreams instead of seeing them fulfilled. I think that is very sad. A dream is something important to us, and things that are important to us should be things we fight for. Sometimes we dream of being something that other people say we can’t be. An artist who can’t draw, or a musician who doesn’t know how to play. It is possible that maybe that means your true seed is growing into something else. Perhaps a music teacher or an art studio director. Don’t drop your dreams where you stand and move on. Sometimes the true dream is a vine of the original one. Fight for your dreams and water them. See what your seed grows. Like buying a surprise packaged of flower seeds at the plant store. All you can do is scatter them in the dirt and care for them. You know you want a flower, but what that flower looks like is entirely up to the seed. So you care for it and as it grows you love it more and get more excited to see what it will be.
Let your seed grow, and never give up on it.
We don’t always spring back up, sometimes we need to kneel first and that’s okay too.
When we fall, to get back up, first we have to get onto our knees. Sometimes on those knees is all we can do until someone comes and offers us a hand to lift us back onto our feet.
When we fall in life and spiritually, first we must climb to our knees and turn it all over to Jesus in prayer. Sometimes it takes a long time of prayer and kneeling before we see an answer, but that is waiting in God’s timing. As my Poppa says, ‘in the waiting we gain sustenance from the knowledge that God is doing something.’
Eventually we will look up from our folded hands to see Jesus reaching down an open hand and smiling brilliantly as He lifts us to our feet.
Home is behind, the world is ahead, (J.R.R. Tolkien). I usually see this phrase of this song as a sentence of awe and thrill. Images of camping and wooded trails, tall mountains and pounding waterfalls overtake my mind and I breathe deeply. However that was not the scene around this statement. In the Lord of The Rings masterpiece epic, ( I mean the novels) Pipin sings a song of what would seem to be great adventure, in fact it is a song of war. They left their homes behind and took to war. Trenches and hill tops and beaches. Skies, oceans and forests. Deserts and mountains and jungles. Comfort left behind, loving arms and gentle words long forgotten as feet ache in heavy boots and backs sweat under heavy packs. You almost don’t dare make friends because you don’t know how long you will get to hold to these people around you, but you become family. Our soldiers learned the line Jesus said about true friends, and what Paul said, Rare for a person to lay down their life even for a righteous person; perhaps for a good man one would dare to die for.-Paul ( this is not a direct quote)
Our soldiers dared to die for those they never met. War is UGLY! Suffering and death happen and it is awful! But freedom doesn’t come by hoping for it. We should always honor those who suffered and died, AND those who suffered and live, because our freedom came from their blood. Hate war always, hate our soldiers NEVER! They did not ask for the wars they fought and fight in, but they saw the suffering of the innocent and had the courage to stand up and do something about it. God bless our soldiers! Semper Fi.
I found the cover image on the internet and hope that it is okay that I used it because it is so powerful. My uncle was in Vietnam and this painting reminded me of the few stories that he was able to tell when he got back.