Poor Reflection

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“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face.”

This verse is taken from 1 Corinthians 13, most known for its initial verses as the Love Chapter. It’s read at weddings and carries a romantic reputation within its words. However, this passage of Scripture came alive in a new way to me last night.

I have a new nephew. He’s only three months new, to be precise. He was born thousands of miles away from me, in Japan, yet I had the joy, privilege and honor of being with him in his third and fourth weeks of life. I held him, shushed him, sang to him, wrapped him and rocked him. I read Scripture to him and prayed over him. I told him that I was his and he was mine. I laughed at his tiny yawns and little noises, and cried at the mere thought of leaving him. As he began to trust me, he nestled his way not only into my arms but into my heart. We bonded deeply.

This Thanksgiving, as was the same for the past two, I was blessed with the chance to travel home to spent time with family and friends and in NJ. Of course, baby nephew was the talk of many conversations and I was able to show him off through the pixels of my phone’s screen.

We video chatted with him and his parents and I just about bursted watching him meet the friends and family I love dearly. I could sense them falling in love with him as well. He smiled and cooed at them. They “oogled” and “awwed” at him. It was magical and special. We could hear him and see him and interact with him and smile at him. It brought joy to my heart and wonder to my mind that a small piece of technology can span great distances across the earth. And yet, there was a sense of sadness in my heart because it was only a poor reflection of the real thing!

Screens cannot convey the warmth of human touch. They cannot accurately portray the three dimensions of reality. They cannot recreate the fullest sense of sights, smells, and intimacy as when sharing a moment with another person, face to face.

This is how it is with our relationship with Christ. We are able to hear Him, to interact with Him, and talk to Him. We can read all about Him in His Word. We can love Him and know Him and experience all of that in return, and it brings joy and relational intimacy. I know His voice and can feel His touch and He responds to my cries. I find wonder at His a Creation and marvel when He speaks to me in subtle impressions on my spirit. But, my friends, it is only a poor reflection of the real thing. Because of sin, we are separated from the fullness of relationship that God intended from the beginning.

And yet, in the midst of that sadness while talking to my nephew, there was hope. You see, he is coming home with his parents in a few short weeks from his birthplace of Japan. Soon, we all will be reunited over Christmas and the New Year! We will be together, sharing laughter and tears. We will be able to touch and hug and kiss one another. We will see each other face to face. We will experience the fullness of relationship in real time. Oh what joy that day will bring! The anticipation in all of our hearts is enough to fill an entire ocean!

And this is when it hit me. God the Father longs for us to be reunited with Him in the same way, but so much more. He is crazy in love with us and desires to be in right relationship with His Creation (us!). He sent Jesus, His Son, to take the punishment of sin on our behalf so that we can enjoy relationship with Him now on earth. We just have to let Him into our hearts and cultivate intimacy and love with our Perfect Father this side of eternity. If the glimpses of relationship with Him are this good, I can’t even imagine what the real thing will be like! There is more to come when we reach Heaven! On that Day, when He returns, we will be reunited and experience the fullness of relationship forever! We shall see face to face. And, one of the best parts is that we shall get to experience it all with our friends, family and loved ones who similarly believe in Jesus as their Savior. Oh, what joy THAT Day will bring!

In the meantime and until then, instead of letting the sadness of the dim reflection dominate my heart, I’m letting the anticipation and the hope of future reunions reign. And just as those little glimpses through my screen sustain my relationship with my nephew, the glimpses through prayer and the Bible sustain my relationship with my God. And it is good.

What are you anticipating this Christmas season?

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭12-13‬ NLT)

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Welcome Summer!

Welcome Summer

Even though it feels like summer most of the year in my small corner of the world, tomorrow marks the official start of summer.  I have only the fondest memories of summer as a kid, when my mom would throw us a “School’s Out” Party, endless water fights in the backyard with my siblings, getting water-logged from all of the swimming we did, and of course, spending all day playing at the beach.

By the end of August, our hair had turned lighter and our skin would be golden brown, all thanks to the hours we spent in the sun.

Our family always looks forward to our annual summer vacation to Wildwood, NJ, with its miles of beaches and boardwalk, the roller coasters and water parks that nearly touch the Atlantic, and of course, the food!  It’s a tradition that we’ve had for as long as I can remember, and that I’m most looking forward to this summer.

What are some things you’re looking forward to this summer?

Read about what my friends over at Circles of Faith are looking forward to, as well!

Advent 2013

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I love Christmas.  The family traditions.  The food.  The decorations.  The music.  The movies.  Everything about Christmas brings warm memories for me.  I look forward to this season all year (ask my roommates, to whom I asked if we could get a Christmas tree in October).  Now that it’s here, I’m trying to make time each day to reflect on the reason for the season.  We hear that phrase over and over, so much so that it’s lost its meaning.  But this season, called Advent, is the time of year that makes me anticipates the celebration of the first coming of Christ on Christmas morning, but also reminds me to anticipate His second coming on that Day. 

However, this season to some doesn’t bring the childlike joy and anxious anticipation that bubbles up within me.  It is a painful reminder of lost loved ones or family members who are far away or children who’ve begun to make bad choices.  This past year, in my world travels (Japan and the Bahamas) and my interactions with friends, family, students, and members of my congregation, I’ve become aware of so much brokenness, hurt and suffering on a global scale.  I’ve heard people ask, “Why did God let this happen?” and witnessed others question their faith.  My heart aches with them and everything in me wants to bring restoration and healing to their brokenness.

But I can’t.  I’m not their savior, but I know the One who is.

For now, I can celebrate Advent with them, share Hope with them, and look forward to the second Advent, when Jesus comes back and fixes what I can’t.  

My neighbor bought me an Advent Calendar this year, and every day my roommates and I get to open a little tin and enjoy the delicious treat inside.  It’s a tangible way to countdown to Christmas and a reminder for me to be thankful this season.  I’m also reading John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy, a free ebook of daily devotionals written specifically for Advent 2013.

How are you celebrating the season this year??

 

Year In Review

I wanted to spend some time reflecting on what God has brought me through this year. Remembering in retrospect is a valuable way to see how He has planned every step, and gives me confidence that He will continue to do so with my future.

In 2012,

I nannied for two wonderful families, bonding with their three children and learning valuable life skills for my own children one day.

I celebrated (and cried about!) the engagement of my sister.

I was offered and accepted a new job as a full time Music Minister.

I planned a surprise bridal shower in 2 months for my sister, with the help of amazing bridesmaids and my mother.

I thoroughly enjoyed our annual family vacation in Wildwood NJ.

I watched my sister walk down the aisle to the man who is the answer to countless prayers and celebrated the beginning of their lives together.

I also mourned the end of our four years together living in Ocean Grove.

I packed my entire life, minus my winter clothes, and moved to South Florida with the help of my brother.

I wept when he left.

I began mentoring and discipling young women who are students at Oceans’s Edge.

I studied Pastor Counseling from Liberty University Online and completed my Master’s Degree in December.

I’ve kept the airline companies in business by visiting my family or researching the cheapest flights for them to visit me.

I’ve met and bonded with new people, adjusted to a new life, and embraced new challenges in my career.

These are major life changes and it is wondrous to watch them unfold! I am thankful for 2012 and hopeful for 2013. What about you?

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divine “coincidences”

I know, I know. Two posts in a few days!? But a few cool moments have happened spontaneously recently that I feel compelled to share, two of them relating to the devotional book I’ve been reading this year called Jesus Calling.

A few days after I blogged about sabbathing, I read this powerful insight… On my sabbath. Huge.

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Then two days ago I blogged about listening to God’s voice and I read this insight yesterday. I mean, really?

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On Thursday night, the five busy and very independent members of my immediate family all “happened” to be free, so we gathered around the dinner table at Olive Garden, without planning it or having to go out of our way to clear our schedules. We enjoyed a delicious Italian meal together and shared a ton of laughs. We hadn’t done that in ages and I echo my brother’s sentiment, “I love this.” It felt like a divine coincidence.

If that wasn’t enough, though, God brought us together again last night over another Italian meal (prepared by my talented Italian mother) but this time with the addition of my future brother-in-law. It was again, wonderful to sup, to laugh, to dream, and to celebrate another member of our family. What a joy!

In times like those, I know the Omniscient Creator of the Universe cares about little ol’ me. Love those moments. Have you had anything like that recently?