Dancing Through Life

Life is a dance,
Full of joy, sorrow and grace.

Sometimes we feel like doing a reel,
And sometimes we feel like dancing in place.

We never know what music will come,
As we dance through this thing we call life,
But if we keep dancing and give it our all,
We’ll find in the end a beautiful waltz
That ends all our struggles and strife.


Over the past weekend, my family experienced a huge loss as a dear friend of ours who was actually living in our basement, passed away. He went in his sleep, so his dancing here has ceased, but I know he’s dancing in heaven.

We all have ups and downs and turnarounds in our lives. That is, we do if we live very long at all and get involved in the world and with people around us. The ups keep us encouraged and hopeful. The downs remind us that life on this earth isn’t perfect and is only temporary. However, if we keep on keeping on, never ceasing to improve our dance steps/actions and selves, we know in the end, we’ll find peace.

I, myself, believe I have found salvation and peace through Jesus Christ, God’s son. I believe that He was crucified, died, and then rose again so that all who believe in Him might rise again after we die and live eternally too. For some people, that sounds like too fantastic a story, too unbelievable to accept. Some people call it a fable, a myth, a fairy tale. I call it the most beautiful example of love I’ve ever heard of and so…I take the risk. I accept the story and the gift of Jesus. My prayer is that when I pass away, I will keep on dancing, but my partner will be Jesus. I think Chuck is dancing with Jesus right now, happy, free, and completely devoid of pain. That gives me peace and joy. I pray it will give you peace too, knowing there is someone (God) who loves you so much that He let his son die for you.

God bless you all and may your Christmas be merry and bright!

D. Elaine Wood-Lane
December 14, 2016

Joy

My eyes view beauty through tears.

Yet my heart is joyful.

Golden leaves peek through.

D. Elaine Wood-Lane 9/11/16

My past week has been full of everything you can imagine. In the midst of it, I attended the memorial service for a very young poet friend who was so talented it blew me away. At the service, the same words were repeated so often about this young man: “Blake was so calm, quiet, and wise.” The memorial service itself was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever attended. Family and friends spoke about him and most of them read one of his poems after they spoke. It was a gathering of love, sorrow and even joy for having known such a remarkable young man. As I walked out of Shove Chapel at Colorado College, my eyes full of tears and my heart aching with loss, I looked up at this view and it took my breath away. It’s a perfect visual representation of what lay in my heart. Yes, there is darkness, sometimes seemingly overwhelming in our lives, yet if we have God with us, we also have glimpses of golden joy. Underneath the photo below is a daily devotional from a daily meditation book I read. It so perfectly expresses my underlying joy that I had to share it. The book in question is called, “Be Still And Know,” and was compiled and edited by Michelle Winger.

 

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Do no grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Joy is not necessarily happiness. Happiness is dependent on circumstances; joy is not. Happiness is fleeting; joy is constant. Happiness disappears when trials come; joy grows through troubles. Good times bring happiness and laughter; difficulties bring sorrow and grief, but joy resides beneath.

Joy is not an emotion that can be fabricated or faked. It is a deep-seated sense that all things are well because God is in charge. Joy is expressed in praise, song, laughter, a peaceful countenance, a light in the eyes, or a serenity that belies any adversity. It is the substance of the soul that holds us together as we trust in God, who does all things well. Jesus wants our joy to be full!

Thank you, Jesus, for the joy that gives me strength. I choose today to fill my mind with truth, to think about those things that are praiseworthy, and to trust you fully. With a thankful heart, I choose joy!

Endurance…

My body is tired,
my heart is weak,
yet to God,
more faith I seek.

I’ll not give up,
until my time has come,
my crown I’m given,
and I see the Son!

© D. Elaine Wood-Lane
6/16/16

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Don’t lose heart, dear ones who are struggling so mightily right now, because God holds you in the palm of His hand and will carry you through. No, it won’t be easy, but you are not alone! Look around you and see the troops God has assembled to carry you through this! Family, friends and God are with you to give you courage, strength and endurance.

Peace and love, always,

Elaine

Resting Is Important

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Looking out the window into utter tranquility.

Resting is important to all of us, especially in our go, go, go society where it sometimes feels like you only are recognized or feel validated if you can say you are SO busy. I remember a time when I was truly busy, but I was also adding things onto my “to-do list” every day that weren’t really essential or even necessary. Was it really necessary that I reorganize my files for the new year with new colored tabs every single year? Was it really necessary to change my bed sheets every seven days like clockwork, especially when I was the only one sleeping on them and I only used about a 3×5 foot space? (This was when I was single, I should point out.) There are many things we do that are important, but there are many things we do that have been handed down to us from either experts or our parents or both. (My mother was the wash your sheets every seven days queen and had a whole other host of household rules that, quite frankly, were unnecessary and exhausting.)

For a while in the 1990’s and early 2000’s I was really caught up in the Stephen Covey organization/calendar/setting goals system. I faithfully wrote every single thing down in my pretty little organizer that I felt I had to do each day. I made goals, I made appointments with myself, I put all of my sons’ activities on my calendar, all of my singles’ group church activities on my calendar, and even times when I would be at my parents’ home, helping them out with some housecleaning and just visiting them. (They were elderly and lived across the street from me at the time.) Once I had every single little thing that I did in my life written down on that calendar and wrote down my “to-do list” every day, I looked at it all and immediately felt completely overwhelmed! I thought to myself that there was no possible way I could do everything that I had put on that calendar or reach the goals I had set for myself. You know what’s funny about all of that? I had been doing all of those things for quite a while and handling them just fine until I saw how much I was doing! Hahaha!

My point is that life is life. There are times when we are busier and have more responsibilities and there isn’t a lot we can do about it at the time. There are other times when we’re not as busy, but don’t wish to look unproductive so we add things to our lives and our calendars to feel more productive, more involved, and more important, quite frankly. Why do we do that? Do we really have to be busy 24/7 to matter, to make a difference, or to earn other people’s admiration or to earn our salvation from God? NO! As a matter of fact, it says in Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” http://bible.com/114/eph.2.8-10.nkjv

Yes, we have responsibilities and things to do, but there are things which God has prepared beforehand for us to do and there are times when we need to rest. We have to rest in order to be able to continue to do the things God has prepared for us to do. He doesn’t want us to be busy just to be busy. He wants our work to be purposeful, in obedience to Him, and for us to rest in between times. How often have you said to yourself over the years, “I’m going to either get up early or stay up late to study God’s word and pray?” Yet most of us never do either of those things on a regular basis. I’m not preaching here, because I’m just as bad as anyone when it comes to this particular topic. As I said above, there was a time when I was busy, it seemed, 24/7. If I had even a moment of slowing down or resting, I felt guilty. Guilty for crying out loud! Even God rested on the seventh day after creating the universe. Jesus regularly went apart from the crowds to meditate and pray. Do you think perhaps we take ourselves a little too seriously and need to give ourselves a rest and respite from time to time? I do. I think most people in the developed world have become so busy and attached to their electronic gizmos that we rarely just stop, sip a beverage, sit down and just be. How will we ever get to spend any time with God if we’re contstantly on the go? Didn’t God Himself say, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (NKJV).

We have to have a balance of work time and rest time. If we never take the time to rest, do you know what happens? We wear our bodies out and suddenly we are forced to rest. How do I know this? Because that is exactly what happened to me. I managed to always complete everything on my list back in the day and then one day I was unable to get out of bed. I felt like a ton of bricks had fallen on me. I had no energy, every place, space, and part of my body hurt and I felt so ridiculous. I had things to do, places to go, people to see! God said, “Nope! We’re going to spend some time together, you and I. You’re going to be still for a while.” It turns out that I have fibromyalgia. Now, for the most part, it is controlled by medication, but I still have to be careful and organize outings and workloads carefully with periods of time to rest. If I don’t, well, let’s just say it’s not pretty!

So, all of this is to say, this morning it is cool and overcast here in Colorado Springs. I opened my windows, have my cat sitting on the window sill, have a cup of coffee in a jaunty orange mug by my side and am enjoying the sounds of all the birds. God is good, isn’t he? He gave me the perfect time to rest and enjoy the morning.

Peace and love, Elaine

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A New Perspective

As I sit here drinking my coffee in my humble, but thoroughly middle class American home, I think of all of those people, Christians in particular, who go through hell and back just they don’t fit the mold of their neighborhoods, towns, and countries. Can you imagine being told you cannot remain true to your faith and that if you do, you will be tortured or killed? Can you imagine having to meet for bible study in secret hideaway places, praying as you do that your group of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will come to no harm simply because they wanted to worship God and study His word? I cannot really imagine these things, even though it is undeniably true that these things are occurring in other parts of the world.

I’m currently reading I am N, which is a series of essays about Christian individuals living in Muslim countries and the persecution and dangers they face every day just because they decided to follow Christ. There are two very provocative common themes in most of these essays. First, they don’t hate Muslims, but forgive and pray for their Muslim persecutors daily. They do this even if family or friends have been kidnapped, tortured and killed. Christians in persecuted areas of the world seem to have read the gospel more thoroughly and have absorbed it into their souls so deeply that they would rather die than judge others or let others go without hearing about the saving grace of Christ Jesus their Lord.

The second provocative theme in these essays is that they beseech, seek and even beg for the prayers of their brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. They are doing magnificent work in responding to the Great Commission under horrible, almost unbelievable circumstances and all they ask from their fellow Christians, us, is that we pray that they may reach more people for Christ before they are captured or, worse, killed. They truly have found the “peace that passes all understanding” and taken the Great Commission seriously. The Great Commission came from Christ in Mark 16:15-20 (NIV)

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Oh, that more of us would have the strength of faith and grit found in our fellow believers in persecuted nations! We feel persecuted here in the U.S. if someone teases us sarcastically about believing in “Jesus and all those other myths and fairy tales.” Even though we are uncomfortable in those situations, we don’t ever fear being jailed, tortured, or killed as a result of them. Our greatest persecution here in the U.S. is that someone might find out we’re a Christian and then tease us, openly mock our faith or at the worst, think we are uncool, foolish, and close-minded.

I almost envy those who are being persecuted for following Jesus because they have a faith that is vital to them; so vital in fact that they are willing to die for it. Would you die for Christ? Would you willingly and knowingly subject yourself, your family and friends to danger for your faith? If not, you need to read I Am N. It will change your whole perspective on your faith and your life.

Please pray daily for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith. That’s all they are requesting from us. I expect God is asking us for much more than that. What do you think?

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Let Your Love Shine!

“Romans 12:9-21 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

http://olivetree.com/b1/Rom.12.9-21.ESV

This is one of my very favorite passages in the bible. (I think, even if you’re not a Christian, this is good advice.) We live in a mean world where people are killed, maimed, raped, degraded, debased, and ignored every single day. Perhaps you feel as though you’re not ever seen or thought of by others, but, you are! Every single day people see you and get an impression of who you are and what you believe through your actions, attitude, and even facial expression. Now, here’s my question for you. If today was your last day on earth and it was the last time your family, friends and even strangers were to see you, what would you want them to see and remember forever? Every person’s answer will be different, but I will tell you what I want people to see in me. I want people to see a positive influence, a sweet smile, a loving touch, a person generous with love, comfort, helpfulness and maybe even a little colorful zaniness that makes them laugh for a moment. I want to be a person who, even if for just one minute, helps others forget all the meanness in the world. I want them to see someone who leaves them with hope, love, peace and a sense of “they matter.” I want them to see God’s love through my actions.

God loves EVERYONE, not just Christians, people like us, people in our political party or of our sexual orientation or ethnicity. GOD LOVES EVERYONE. His son, Jesus, revealed that love in everything he said and did every day of his ministry. Jesus revealed his love for us through the awful torture he willingly endured on that Friday thousands of years ago, and through rising from the dead on the third day. That’s what real love looks like! If God is love and we claim to love God, our mission every day becomes bigger than how we want people to see us or remember us. Our mission is to show God in everything we do. If we follow the instructions from Romans 12:9-21, we will be showing people God. God who is love, love and more love. So, the next time you see or meet someone, whether they be people like you or people completely different from you, show some love, even if only through your smiling eyes. I know this is a rather preachy post, but I say all these things out of love. Love is something special only if you give it away. I promise you, you’ll end having more love than you could ever imagine. You can start giving away love by following the instructions of Romans 12: 9-21.

 I’ll hush now before your eyes glaze over. I love all of you very much and pray that you have a blessed Easter weekend!

Elaine 

 This is a photo I took this morning just before dawn. Even though it was cold, snowy and mostly dark, look at what was shining through!  
   

Light and Life

Holy God, you have shown me light and life,

You are stronger than any natural power.

Accept the words from my heart

That struggle to reach you.

Accept the silent thoughts and feelings

That are offered to you.

Clear my mind of the clutter of useless facts.

Bend down to me, and lift me in your arms.

Make me holy as you are holy.

Give me a voice to sing of your love to others. 

Ancient Christian prayer, written on papyrus

Quoted from the book, “Simple Prayers & Blessings,” Margaret Anne Huffman & Gary Wilde, 1999, p. 292