A Sure Foundation

      I have heard some folks preach a gospel that seems to imply that if a person would only accept Christ as their Savior all their troubles will be gone and life will be like a never-ending  trip to an awesome amusement park on a sunny day when your pockets are overflowing with money. That is not the case. Following Christ is a wonderful journey, and He is good and He blesses and He comforts and He carries our burdens and He leads and guides and loves. But He never promised that this life would be without obstacles and trials, He never said there would be no sorrow, nor pain.

      Perhaps that is why there are disillusioned people out there wondering why Christianity didn't work for them. I have been a Christian now for over 26 years and I have had my share of trials and troubles. Many of them were self inflicted and due to a lack of wisdom and obedience on my part, and many of them were through no fault of mine at all, they just happened. Life is like that. In this world you WILL have troubles, you can guarantee it, after all it was our Lord who said those words. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Those are the words of Jesus to His disciples.

     In this world we WILL have trouble, but in JESUS there is PEACE because He has overcome the world. I can only speak to my own experience, but for me I often get overwhelmed with things, with my troubles and the troubles of others. I get discouraged, I get sad. But when I examine myself I can easily see why this is. If you recall the story of Jesus as He walked across the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee, you will remember that as the disciples in the boat saw Him coming they were afraid, and then He spoke to them, saying "Take courage! It is I"  and Peter yelled out "Lord if it is You bid me come to You on the water!", and Jesus said "Come", and Peter did just that. He stepped right out of that boat and he walked on the water. But he made a mistake, He took his eyes off of Jesus and he put them on the water and the waves and when he did that he began to sink.

  Life is like that, if we as Christians keep our eyes on Jesus, if we seek after Him with all our hearts, if we pray, study and commune with Him and as the troubles come into our lives, be they ours or someone we care about, we will have peace, we will be effective and we will get through the trial and in the getting through it we will bring glory to God and good to ourselves and others. It is when we take our eyes off Christ and put them on the troubles that we begin to sink. When I do this I can feel myself sinking, I begin to despair, I get really sad, the weight of the things going on around me become impossible to bear, to even tolerate, and I want nothing more than to run into a dark room and hide my head under a pillow to turn off the constant suffering I see all around. But when I place my eyes fully on my Lord, I am strengthened, I have joy and hope, even in the middle of painful circumstances, and when I keep my eyes on Him, I am able to be used of Him to help others. My calling is mercy, that is what He has called me to do, I am to care for others, to pray for them, to help them in a variety of different ways, all in His Name, in His strength and for His glory. Your calling might be different from mine as we all have different gifts and therefore how you feel when your eyes come off Jesus might be different than how I feel, but regardless the principal is the same.

  Keep you eyes on Jesus and everything will be okay. It might be hard, you might have to walk in some difficult places, but if you keep your eyes on Him you will always be standing on a firm and solid foundation and you will not sink. It will not all be sunshine and roses in this world. There will be many days when being a Christian hurts. If it doesn't hurt then you might want to consider carefully whether or not you are truly following Christ. As a Christian you will be misunderstood, you will probably be ridiculed on occasion, you will be burdened and pressed with the needs of others, God will ask you to do things that seem very difficult to do, things that stretch you out of your comfort zone,  but through it all, if you keep your eyes on Him, and follow Him,  you will  have the joy of knowing Him, the pleasure and comfort of His company and His care, the knowledge that He is using it all, every last bit of it, for His glory and for your good and/or the good of others. 

  Following Christ is not easy, He told us very clearly that it wouldn't be easy. But He is faithful in His promises of a peace that passes understanding, joy that is evident even in hard times and a hope that does not diminish when circumstances are not as you wish they were. There is no greater pursuit in this life than following Jesus, there is no better way to spend your life than in His service.

   Following Jesus does not remove you from the troubles and trials of this world, but it does give you the sure and present assurance of His presence with you as you walk through those troubles and trials and His strength and power to get through them in a manner that brings glory to Christ and that shouts out the message of the gospel to a world that is hurting and broken, because that is what Christianity is, it is walking through the troubles and trials and sorrows of this world with Jesus as your Lord and Shepherd showing forth the gospel of His good news of forgiveness and redemption and reconciliation to a lost and broken world.

   Jesus is worth everything, absolutely everything this world has to offer. As the apostle Paul said, " Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." 

Keep your eyes on Jesus and off the waves and everything will turn out okay, and remember, this life here is just a tiny piece of an enormous tapestry. 




Mosaic Church Launch January 10th 2016

   Today was launch day, the very first public service of Mosaic Church Albuquerque. And what a glorious day it was! 

  The sunrise on launch day was spectacular, as I was getting ready this morning I looked out my back patio and marveled at how beams of light were shooting down out of the clouds. As I drove to church this morning alone, since my husband had left earlier to help with the setup, I noticed a large amount of balloons in the air, looking out over the city of Albuquerque it was almost like a Balloon Fiesta day. I thought it delightful that so many balloons were joining in on our "launch" day with such a beautiful display of colors.

  I and others have prayed and prayed and prayed some more for this day, for the service, the pastor, his family, the music guys, the setup and tear down guys, the greeting team, the pastoral care team and for everyone involved in launching this new church as well as all those who will be drawn to her doors. As Launch Day dawned this morning  I was excited and optimistic but trying to keep my hopes reasonable, after all this was only day 1 in the life of this brand new church.

  I should have known better, after all how many times in the past has God not only met my expectations but totally exceeded them? I have long since lost count. Today was no different. The sanctuary was filled with people!

  The music was uplifting and what a marvelous thing to hear all those voices singing His praise together as one! I felt such a love for all of these beautiful people that God in His good grace had drawn to this place, this new church. Many of them I knew from the launch team but there were a whole lot that I did not know, but I loved them. Looking across at that sea of faces, it truly was a beautiful mosaic of souls. My heart also filled with love for our great God and His incredible blessings!

 Pastor Adam preached a powerful message, from the gospel of Mark, Chapter 1, verses 14-20, the beginning of what promises to be an exciting and powerful series called The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside Down World. He spoke of how following Christ demands our all but also changes us completely. The gospel was proclaimed and I am excited to begin this series and eagerly looking forward to the next message.

  We had our first communion together and that too was a beautiful ceremony of grace, watching the various faces as they came up to take the elements was a great blessing. I felt the Lord's love for His people as each one came up to take the bread and the cup.

 The last song was beautiful as we sang a doxology together, but was sad, because I really didn't want to leave. We could easily have went straight in to next weeks service and I would have been fine. Sort of like Peter up on that hill with Jesus, he wanted to just throw up some tents and just stay right there, to bask in the glory of it all. But like Peter we are called to come down off the hill and walk out our faith right here in the world. I can honestly say that after this beautiful and uplifting service I feel well equipped to do just that.

  God has brought a lot of beautiful souls to Mosaic, the ones I have thus far come to know are already dear to me, and I look forward to getting to know everyone. God is making something awesome in bringing all of these people to this place to gather together and worship Him and proclaim Him to our city. What a great start to this wonderful collection of the broken coming together to form something beautiful!

 What an exciting time!


 At the foot of the snow capped mountain,

 By the river along the Bosque

 At a school turned into Sanctuary

 The broken pieces come,

 Some are worn

 Some have sharp edges

 A multitude of colored souls

 Each unique

 Each beautiful to the Creator

 They come together in His hand

 Laid out in rows

 Voices lifted together

 In praise to the King

 A beautiful mosaic

 Broken made beautiful.

 







Heart Squeezed Out

World filled to brim with sorrow,

cringing from the pain

behind its closed doors

trapped within the fake smiles.

So much suffering.


Why do I feel it so,

why such overpowering,

empathy for the abused,

tears for the hurting?

Crying out for the broken..


Why this gift, this curse,

of bearing their sorrow?

It is too much for me,

my soul cringes

with the pain of their wounds.


And yet to this,

You have called me,

taken my heart of stone,

replaced with one that bleeds,

gushing blood staining my shoes.


No gifts of riches

to ease their way,

no healing touch,

to remove their disease.

Just words "I see you, I care for you!"


How empty the words

feel to my soul

as I speak them in love

to the broken ones,

while prayers rise from my heart.


Heart squeezed out

like empty sponge

nothing left to give,

curled up in heap

upon the floor...no more! no more!


I crawl to You,

Lord take this pain,

exchange it for Your love,

to fill  my empty squeezed out heart

that I might rise again.


Your hand reached down

and took my heart

squeezed out dry and frail.

I watched You fill it to the brim

with grace and peace and love.


I stood on legs

that quaked and shook

I stood with outstretched hands

to receive the blood filled heart

as You place it in my chest.


It was filled with but a taste

an inkling of the love

that You poured out, upon a cross

on that hill so long ago.

A love that none deserve.


So called to be Your hands and feet

and called to show Your love,

for broken ones and hurting ones,

I rise to carry on.

Fresh heart within my breast.


He is enough, Christ is enough!

All is grace

The race goes on

Run, run, run!

Every moment matters.


Attempts at Poetry

Snow Swirling on a Cold Winter’s Day

The low clouds move in fast,

Across the face of the Sandias.

One moment the mountain is visible

And the next it is gone.

Hidden in deep clouds.

Snow begins to fall,

Swirling in the wind

Falling in spiral

Cold in my bones,

Down to the core.

Softly it falls,

Frail little snowflakes

Dancing to the earth

Then fading from sight.

Winter so cold,

Like death

Nothing stirs

Birds huddle close

On frozen lines

Too cold to seek food

Miserable birds,

Snow swirling around them,

How they yearn,

For spring

Like I yearn for home,

A sure hope,

But a long wait.

I wait with them,

Cold in my bones

Down to the core

As the snow softly swirls

In the winter wind.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Today My Friend Buries Her Son

Today my friend buries her son,

He was 23 years old,

Handsome and vibrant,

Beautiful brown eyes,

He reminds me of my Adam,

One day everything was normal,

And the next he was gone.

And today she lays him in the ground.

What words of comfort can one offer

For such a time as this?

Words escape me,

Therefore I pray,

That the sorrow in my soul

Will rise up on wings

And fly to her

And she will know

That I weep….

 

The death of a child

To lay them in the ground

Is a deep fear of mine

Darkness fought against

Prayers upon prayers

Lifted to the heavens

On knees

Face down on floor

I know this fear

But I know not the reality.

Today my friend lives this reality

And buries her beloved son.

 

What comfort can I offer

What comfort is there

When one lays a child in the ground

Such things should not be

It is not normal

Should be the child

Laying us to rest

Words of comfort escape me

I have none

Only sorrow

And the hope, the sure hope

That You are there.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A Mother's Tears


I sit and watch the tears

slide slowly down her cheek,

Tears I have cried so many times,

I see them,

I feel them

as if they were mine,

For they are mine.

A mothers tears,

a mothers burden,

A heavy one,

pressing down hard,

Prayers expressed on bended knee,

Burdens pressing down,

They sap the strength,

They rip the very fabric of the soul,

Prayers expressed through tears that fall,

A mothers tears.

I see your tears,

They are mine.

Lets shed them together.

Lord hear our prayers,

Lord behold our tears,

Lord carry our burdens,

Lord grant us strength,

Lord heal our wounded souls,

Not for us Oh Lord,

But for our children we pray,

You who remember

the tears of a mother,

as she looked upon You,

Torn and bleeding,

Beautiful precious son,

Murdered on a bloody tree.

You spoke to the disciple,

Son behold your mother.

You see us,

You love us,

You hear us,

Our tears carefully collected,

In Your bottle.

We lay our children down,

at Your feet,

Because we believe,

Lord we believe.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Winter Is Coming, Long Lonely Winter 

The snow crunches softly under his huge feet,

His thick black fur rustles softly in the frigid wind,

He sniffs the wind carefully,

His senses heightened,

He smells something, something in the wind,

He knows this scent,

it has crossed the nostrils of thousands of his ancestors across the length of history,

This is no rabbit he smells, no elk, nothing edible,

In fact this scent brings the foreboding knowledge that meat will be lacking,

It will be difficult, his brothers and sisters will suffer much,

They will labor long and hard for their prey.

This smell upon his nostrils, this scent in the wind,

It is winter, long hard brutal winter,

Deep snow drifts, iced over ponds,

Prey desperately digging for the frozen grass deep beneath the snow,

Winter is coming, long, lonely winter,

He lifts his head and howls,

Across the miles his brothers and sisters join him,

Great heads lifted to the night sky,

Howling, Howling, Howling,

Winter is coming, long hard winter,

Long, lonely winter,

Beware!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Words

Words spoken fade upon the wind,

If lucky perhaps one or two will be remembered,

Or perhaps people will just say “she spoke often of this or that”

Without really remembering the words.

 

All those conversations,

All those attempts to get your message out,

Lost and forgotten for the most part,

Words spoken fade upon the wind.

 

Written words hold more hope,

They can capture your thoughts

And hold them for a time

Until said time and elements degrade them into dust.

 

I look back on my childhood,

Wishing I could go back

I would take notes this time

I would capture his words on paper.

 

I remember now how he tried so hard to impart his thoughts

Tried to put them into me, make them mine

He prayed for them to stick

But now, all I have is “he spoke often of this or that”.

 

The exact words are lost to me

Words spoken fade upon the wind

I wish I had paid more attention

Wish I had grasped the importance of it all.

 

So now I write words down,

In hopes that one day they will be read

That one day they will be cherished

That one day they will be understood.

 

Words spoken fade on the wind,

Words written crumble to dust over time,

But the Word of the Lord stands forever.

And that is enough for me.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Winter

Days of winter,

Winds howling cold and bitter,

Birds huddled in trees,

Snow covered mountain top.

Brown dead vegetation,

Much like the hard times,

When you wait with baited breath,

For the warmth and promise of a new tomorrow,

The appearance of death,

At first glance,

But upon keen observation,

Life goes on,

The birds seek out food

The rabbits leave their tracks,

The coyotes sing in the winter night,

Inhale deep,

The cold crisp air,

Feel the wind cutting through your jacket,

Gaze upwards,

Into the cold dark winter night,

See the stars,

Brilliantly shining,

Inhale deep,

The cold crisp air,

Alive, life, even in the winter of things.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Weathermen

 What strange creatures

These weathermen

Whose work is to predict

The coming day

I stand in

The swirling snow

Perplexed

As my weather app

Tells me zero %

Chance

Of precipitation.

Perhaps I alone

Am blessed to see

This falling snow

In dawns faint light

And the rest of the city

Is bathing in the warmth

Of the rising sun.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Beautiful New Mexico

Mountain range

Covered in snow

Sun glinting on rugged peaks

Shining like gold in the evening light.

Spectacular beauty!

Brown fields of wild grass

Filled with wild geese

They take flight slowly

Like awkward teenagers

Then suddenly graceful in perfect unity they fly.

Black volcanic rock

As far as I can see

Rugged mesa, remnants of molten lava

Coyote headed out to hunt

Desolate beauty.

High mountain lakes,

Tall pines singing in the wind,

Utter stillness and peace,

Apart from the wind song.

A place to be still and know.


Lush green Valles Caldera

Formed from volcano

Elk roam wild and free

The herd stretched out

across the valley,

Takes your breath away.



Dark Night  of The Soul

I lay quietly upon my bed,

Gazing out the open window,

Darkness is upon the earth

With points of light shining

I see the light begin to reflect

Upon the crest of the mountain

As the sun begins its slow climb

The dark so cold and frigid

Earth awaits the warmth of sun

My life of late is like the day

Of darkness and of light

Sorrows in the deepest night

With points of light shining

And when it is more than I can bear

I see the light upon the crest of mountains

The Son of glory shining grace

He rises slow some times it seems

But then there are the times of noon

When His love and grace are clear

And I bask in His glory

But of late night always falls

Coming slowly, warmth fading

Replaced by fear and sorrow

Dark night of soul

Falls upon me

And I wait

I wait

I wait

For Son to come.


SUNDAY

Sunday

Blue skies

White fluffy clouds

Setting off for church

To worship the Lord Jesus

Such a beautiful fine winter day

A short prayer walk along the Bosque

Prepares my heart to worship Him in truth

Asking His blessings upon the service and the people

Giving Him the mornings disappointments that have offset my peace.

Watching the sun shine down through the cottonwood trees

Twisting mighty cottonwoods reaching up to the sky

Winding path through the golden brown grass

Calls and bids me walk along

Birds singing from tall trees

Gentle breeze blows past

As I walk

The Bosque

Today

A Poem About Love Without Saying Love

My heart fills with a warmth
my eyes fill with tears
my soul hurts within me
I am moved to do, to act, to move
to pray, to beseech the God of heaven...
to reach down and touch you.
I awake in the night with your name upon my heart
the God of everything reminding me to pray
for you, for your situation.
This gift, this burden, no wonderful trait of mine
to which I was born and cultivated over years,
It is nothing of me
It is all of Him
for He is ..........

A Mother's Tears

I sit and watch the tears

slide slowly down her cheek,

Tears I have cried so many times,

I see them,

I feel them

as if they were mine,

For they are mine.

A mothers tears,

a mothers burden,

A heavy one,

pressing down hard,

Prayers expressed on bended knee,

Burdens pressing down,

They sap the strength,

They rip the very fabric of the soul,

Prayers expressed through tears that fall,

A mothers tears.

I see your tears,

They are mine.

Lets shed them together.

Lord hear our prayers,

Lord behold our tears,

Lord carry our burdens,

Lord grant us strength,

Lord heal our wounded souls,

Not for us Oh Lord,

But for our children we pray,

You who remember

the tears of a mother,

as she looked upon You,

Torn and bleeding,

Beautiful precious son,

Murdered on a bloody tree.

You spoke to the disciple,

Son behold your mother.

You see us,

You love us,

You hear us,

Our tears carefully collected,

In Your bottle.

We lay our children down,

at Your feet,

Because we believe,

Lord we believe.



Artwork by astarvinartist entitled A Mother's Tears

A Mother


Poem by Donna Griego

Winter Is Coming...Long, Lonely Winter

The snow crunches softly under his huge feet,

His thick black fur rustles softly in the frigid wind,

He sniffs the wind carefully,

His senses heightened,

He smells something, something in the wind,

He knows this scent,

it has crossed the nostrils of thousands of his ancestors across the length of history,

This is no rabbit he smells, no elk, nothing edible,

In fact this scent brings the foreboding knowledge that meat will be lacking,

It will be difficult, his brothers and sisters will suffer much,

They will labor long and hard for their prey.

This smell upon his nostrils, this scent in the wind,

It is winter, long hard brutal winter,

Deep snow drifts, iced over ponds,

Prey desperately digging for the frozen grass deep beneath the snow,

Winter is coming, long, lonely winter,

He lifts his head and howls,

Across the miles his brothers and sisters join him,

Great heads lifted to the night sky,

Howling, Howling, Howling,

Winter is coming, long hard winter,

Long, lonely winter,

Beware!

A writing exercise asking for a poem regarding animals and weather predictions. It is said that he wolves howl long and hard when they sense a deep hard winter.


Let's Be Real

 “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”  

   A few months ago I and my beloved became part of a small group of people who are assisting to launch a brand new church on the west side of Albuquerque. The church will be called Mosaic Church. I was given a beautiful red t-shirt that says " Bringing the beauty of Jesus Christ and His gospel to the broken places in our lives." That's what Mosaic Church's vision is. God taking the broken and forming them together into something beautiful, something glorious, something He will use to bless the community.

   We have been attending church plant meetings where we have discussed the various identifying factors that we want Mosaic to be seen as. The central part of the vision is the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is the key to Mosaic, that is how Mosaic will be known, as a church who portrays the gospel not only in the services but also in the community. Many words were offered up in our meetings, words that define how a church ought to be. One of them jumped out at me. It's the word REAL, or authentic. So with that in mind I shall leap out in faith, in an attempt to be real. Being real can hurt, because sometimes it impacts our image, that thing we grasp so tightly to, that thing that other's use to define us. But today, let's be brave, let's be real.

  I am in my fifties, and have been attending church for sometime. I have it fairly easy in that respect because the church I attend is way over on the far end of Albuquerque and it's a long drive. Work schedules do not permit me to take part in mid week activities. And I can easily use a multitude of excuses for not attending. So being a member has really been not much more than praying for my pastor and the leaders, giving my tithes and attending Sunday worship service. There, I confessed it, I have been a lazy church member for some time.

 Now I find myself caught up in this group of people, excited people, energetic people. They want to serve the community, they want to go out and attend events wearing shirts that proclaim the gospel, sharing the gospel in graceful and thoughtful ways and they radiate (to me at least) youth and life and vibrancy. That alone is pretty scary for a introvert female in her fifities.

  I'm not certain I can keep up with them, not certain if I can be of use to this vibrant young church full of youth and vigor. But I feel God calling me, and if He is calling me, then I trust He will supply all that is needed.

  So I sit down, strap in, and hold on...this ride is about to take off, it looks scary, but I expect it will be exciting, and beautiful......go Mosaic!

Join us for our first public service on Jan 10th 2016!

Reflections

       

     2016 Day one. I am in deep need of strength for the journey before me and in truth a part of me want's to crawl into a warm cave and just spend 2016 hidden from the world, surrounded by books and dogs. Happiness just might be possible if one could simply spend life with books and dogs. But God has more in store than a hermitage despite how appealing a hermitage might be. Speaking of this, I can truly understand why people are driven to retreat from life into monasteries or desert abodes and spend their days in prayer and reflection.

    I am troubled this morning, troubled for people whom God has brought into my life, people who are hurting, people who need help, people whose needs are so often overwhelming to me, needs that I simply cannot meet no matter how much I might yearn to do so. I am also troubled by the fact that I often feel so alone in trying to meet the needs of the suffering. Lord why do You bring all this into my life and then give me only prayers and desire and maybe a few dollars to try an meet an ocean of need? Why not lay this on someone like Donald Trump, or Mr. Facebook owner? Some days I almost feel like I slap folks in the face with my meager prayers and my fistful of crumpled dollars and I feel like some bedraggled beggar pleading for enough money to buy a cup of coffee on a cold day from strangers who really prefer not to be reminded of the need. I know in my heart that these thoughts are not true, yet oft times they plaque me still.

    I find myself often disappointed in my lack of ability to inspire passion and care. I feel like I spend a great deal of my time trying to inspire and yet feeling like a fingernail scrapping across a chalkboard, folks really just want that to stop, they really don't want to hear it. They tire of my constant blather,, enough already, put it to rest and say no more. After all, you cannot change the reality of what is so why beat yourself bloody trying to? My heart cries out to God, "Lord, am I making any difference at all ?"  Again, I know these thoughts are not truthful, nor are they helpful, but still I am often troubled by them.

   Last night I was deeply discouraged and retreated into my room to sit and read and to pray. I opened up my little book of Psalms and began to read. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." My problem is now defined. I have placed my trust and my hope in people. I am trying to inspire an army of people to defeat the problem. God doesn't often work like the world works. Numbers mean nothing at all to Him, He doesn't need armies. It doesn't matter if you are only one, or two, or a handful, if God places a burden on your heart then you run with it and you keep running and it doesn't matter who joins in. It is God who has called you to run and He will bring about His purpose. 

   Years ago I prayed a somewhat dangerous prayer....."Lord, break my heart with the things that break Yours." He has been faithful to answer it. There are days when I really do not want to care. Caring hurts. I have enough hurt with my own dear ones to last a lifetime, why take on more? Why shoulder the burden of another's cares? Why not take care of your own and forget the suffering of others, why not try on apathy and indifference?  Now in reflection I ask myself, do I really desire apathy, do I really want to be able to see the things I see, know the things I know and not be bothered by it? Do I really want to just live my life with my problems and the problems of those closest to me and not worry nor think about the suffering of others? 

   I can answer that with a resounding NO! I would rather be dead than to have a heart different than the one He gave me. He gave me empathy. He gave me a heart that soaks up suffering like some kind of super sponge. Over time it becomes saturated, unable to take in any more and it's times like that I need to remember to squeeze it all out and fill it back up with His promises, His love, His endurance, His grace, His mercy and then run right back out there and do it all over again. Again and again and again for as long as He gives me breath and life.

   I keep going back to the image of a large bucket in need of filling, and I equipped with what seems to be an eyedropper and a limited amount of water. As I transfer my drops, from the tiny cup I hold into the bucket it is easy to become discouraged. The bucket is huge, the water I have been given is limited and even if I expend every last drop of my cup into the bucket the bucket still looks empty. So why bother? Bother because it matters, one act of kindness even if it does not fully meet the need will touch the heart of the one in need. Sometimes that is all that is needed is for people to know somebody cares. Bother because before you started the bucket was empty, and now it has a little water in it. Bother because the God you serve once took a handful of fish and fed a crowd of thousands. Bother because He has asked you to transfer your meager water into someone else's giant bucket.

   The world cries out Apathy! Indifference! Take care of yourself and to hell with the world! You cannot make a difference so why bother?  Why get upset over things you cannot change? These are lies. There is nothing worse than apathy and indifference, selfishness kills and everyone has the power to make a difference. Your cup, my cup and the cup of a hundred more can fill that bucket.

   Our example is Christ, the Redeemer, the Suffering Servant, The Merciful One, His life is filled with examples of how we ought live.

   So I set out now, on this road called 2016 with my cup that overflows, and my eyedropper, with purpose in my step, with my eyes lifted to the One who holds all things together and I pray, I pray a prayer for 2016, for every soul upon this planet.

May we live with eyes wide open,

May God break our hearts with the things that break His,

May we unclench our hands and let some of the water He has given flow out to others,

May we live out mercy,

May we live out peace,

May we be inspired to know with certainty that we can in fact make a difference,

May we trust in Him and not in the things of this world,

May we speak gospel,

May we remember that we serve the One who took a handful of fish and fed thousands,

May we not grow weary in doing good,

May we cease struggling for happiness and instead embrace joy,

May apathy be erased from our hearts,

May indifference die,

May we constantly immerse ourselves in His word,

May we remember His promises,

May we follow His instructions,

May we be people who love in word and in deed.

   I wish you and yours a 2016 filled with His presence, inspired by His promises and joyful in the expectations of His will being carried out in your life. Happiness is fleeting, joy is everlasting.

O Lord, length of days does not profit me

Except the days are passed in Thy presence,

In thy service, to Thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,

sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour

that I may not be a moment apart from Thee,

but may rely on Thy Spirit

to supply every thought,

speak in every word,

direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth Thy praise;
testify Thy love
Advance Thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with Thee, O Father, as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, as my helm,
Thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to Thy call,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,

Thy right hand to guide,

Thy counsel to instruct,

Thy law to judge,

Thy presence to stabilize.


May Thy fear be my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy. Amen.
(From The Valley of Vison)

   


A New Word for a New Year

   My word for 2015 was LIVE. I had spent so much time waiting, holding my breath, hands clenched tight on this roller coaster of life. I felt God was telling me to breathe, and to live gratefully and joyfully despite the circumstances.

   I have been somewhat successful at my endeavor for 2015 although I have at times fallen back into my habit of holding on, breath held tight, waiting for something to pass. I have found that certain things are key to living despite our circumstances. Primarily one must believe in God and have relationship with Him.  One must look for the blessings, the common daily things, the moments of beauty and grace that are always there, even in the middle of the not so good times. And last, but no means least one must have an attitude of praise to the Giver of life.

   This attitude of thankfulness is cultivated (at least it has been so for me) by seeking to see the blessings and acknowledging them. How many sunrises do you fail to see, how many sunsets? How many beautiful flowers, trees, mountains, lakes and streams do you fail to really take notice of? How many times have you heard the laughter of a loved one, seen the smile cross their face and failed to really even notice how beautiful it is? There are a hundred thousand things for which to be thankful.

 I am thankful for the living, for the everyday blessings of beautiful sunrise, beautiful flowers, still mountain lakes, pink mountains in evening sunset, the sound of a loved ones laughter, the feel and smell of a good strong hug, dogs who are so happy to greet me, the sight of snow softly falling on a crisp winter day, hot tea on a cold evening, the sound of voices raised in praise to a good God, for friends joining with me in prayer, for words written on paper, for birds around the feeder, for the strong warm man who is my husband, for the hope that burns within my heart, for the Savior who loves me........

 A new year is coming, the old one is passing and as it passes I will take into the new year the lessons I have learned in the old one. The new year requires a new word. After much reflection I have determined that the new word for the new year is PURPOSE. It seems like an excellent word to follow after LIVE.

  I desire to live with an attitude of gratefulness, and an attitude of praise to the One who holds all things together, and I desire to live with PURPOSE, to make the moments count as best I can, to spend them on the things and the people that matter most. I have learned this past year that God always has work for us to do, ALWAYS. We so often miss the moments. I don't want to miss them anymore. I want to live with my eyes wide open, and my heart wide open, so that I can see the needs, and I can do what ever I can do to meet them.

    Lord, I want to make the days count, to pause for prayer, to pause for praise, to pause for reflection, to greet each soul as if this greeting is the very last one, to depart from each soul as if this is the final goodbye, to forgive easy, to love hard, to trust always in Your grace and to fall on Your mercy, to hold onto hope, to live with eyes wide open, to embrace it all, even if it hurts, to speak truth, always in love, to be a source of comfort, a source of encouragement, to always build and never tear down, to believe in miracles, remember Your promises, feast on Your word and to pray without ceasing. Only by Your great grace can I accomplish these things. Help me Father, help us all Father, to LIVE with PURPOSE.

  A new year is coming, I see the road ahead......off we go!


 

 

Christmas 2015

  It's Christmas morning and as a mom I couldn't be happier. With my sons both being grown, 27 and 21 years of age, it is a rare time when I have them both under my roof at the same time. For the first time in a long time I went to sleep last night with my sons both under my roof. It's a small thing, but the older I get the more I realize that it is the small things that most often matter.

  The Griego clan had a wonderful Christmas Eve last night. We laughed, we ate, we opened our gifts to each other and we just enjoyed time together. In this hectic world it's often difficult to find time to just be together. I am very thankful for this Christmas. Everyone loved their gifts and it was fun opening them but another thing I have learned in life is that stuff really doesn't matter. I would gladly burn every last bit of the stuff accumulated over the years to see the ones I love most well and content, safe and joyful. It's the people that matter. Like Paul I have learned to rejoice in plenty and in little. God has abundantly blessed us, with a warm safe roof over our heads, with enough to enjoy some of the finer things in life and with love, much love, but I can recall times where there was none of these things.

 As a youngster I once walked the streets of Baltimore, with blistered feet and no home to rest in. As a child I have lived with the bare minimums and very few "things" to call my own. I have sold my blood to purchase food. I have been very hungry. It is good to remember these times, and to reflect on the blessings God has given.

 As I sit here this Christmas morning, reflecting on the wonder of it all, I rejoice in knowing that there is always an end to a period of waiting. The world waited for a very long time for the promised One to come, waited in darkness and sin, waited such a long time that I imagine folks began to think that they had somehow misunderstood the promise (and many did). But He came, that first Christmas morning, came to humble settings, came as a tiny babe, came to save a lost and suffering world. I do not know what you are waiting for now, perhaps you are waiting on a loved one to get better, perhaps you are waiting on a time when you don't have to struggle so hard to make ends meet, maybe you are waiting on love, waiting on that person that you hope to spend your life with, the truth of the matter is most of us are waiting for something. When you belong to Christ, when you are His, you can know with assurance that there will always be an end time to your waiting. God is at work, and His work is always amazing. So keep praying for the thing you yearn for, and rest in the knowledge that in His time He will bring about even more than what you hope and long for.

 I have been so very blessed this year, I am blessed with a wonderful family. A family that understands loyalty and grace. I happen to have three of the most wondrous men in my life daily and am very proud of them all. We have had some tough times, but these times have strengthened our bond and taught us much about what is truly important. I am so very thankful.

  This Christmas season we saw the launch of a new church, Mosaic Church, and we as a family have begun to see some positive change in the many things we have been praying for. For all these things I am most truly grateful.

  Yesterday we got to watch our son's silly service dog sporting her new sweater, and I got to watch my sons open their gifts from my husband and I.  I got to watch my eldest veteran son hand my younger son a special coin, and tell him that he has everything in him that he will need to be Infantry should he choose to do so, and also told him to just consider it carefully, very carefully.

  I enjoyed sitting around the table with the ones I love most, eating the Christmas Eve feast, laughing and talking and remembering old times long past.

 This morning I was blessed to wake up in a house with both my sons present, and made a nice breakfast for everyone. For me it just doesn't get any better than this.

 I got to watch my granddog running around in her new sweater.

 I am very thankful for this 2015 Christmas.