It’s Friday and Holy Week has been hard leaving holes in our hearts as we participate in His suffering…

Western Wall (2) - Copy

Sometimes we just don’t see it coming, that thing that slams us into a wall.

And evil stirs dark as Palm Sunday dawns and a torrent of words mean cut deep and we bleed.

Tears like rivers flow over banks and we are drowning as we swim against the tide of taunts that tries to pull us under. Sleep disturbed and weeping remains for nights. Betrayed by one of our own.

Dazed.

Loveless lashing out from a precious heart sorely broken sinful — one of many through the years with cheeks turning but now a threat of physical harm demanding stronger boundaries until something changes.

Wailing, we increase our prayers for one dearly loved. Always loved. With nothing that will ever stop our love.

If you are reproached for being Christ’s followers, that is a great privilege, for you can be sure that God’s Spirit of glory is resting upon you. But take care that none of your number suffers as a murderer, or a thief, a rogue or a spy! If he suffers as a Christian he has nothing to be ashamed of and may glorify God in Christ’s name.
1 Peter 4:15-16

Ache in our heart is too great to bear until we remember the passion of Christ and Him being betrayed by one of His inner circle after breaking the bread and giving thanks.

And us called to give thanks in all things and wondering how in the midst of all this pain.

COURTYARD

Then a second blow unexpected on Holy Thursday. Full price offer withdrawn at the point of contract on our house too long for sale. And there will be financial ramifications. And we are not sure what to do.

Bewildered.

I beg you not to be unduly alarmed at the fiery ordeals which come to test your faith, as though this were some abnormal experience. You should be glad, because it means that you are called to share Christ’s sufferings. One day, when he shows himself in full splendor to men, you will be filled with the most tremendous joy.
1 Peter 4:12-14

We begin to feel those lashes on His back as we participate small in Christ’s suffering big. Weight of the cross we carry is a twig compared to the Man of Sorrows holding a world of sin on His shoulders sinless as he journeyed the cobbled way in chains.

Blood leaking.

We are not called to sacrifice to the point of death yet we must offer the sacrifice of praise through the slaying.

STAIRS 2

Step by step we walk out the pain while praying and praising and the sun shines warm though the air is chill, and we think of Him walking bruised from Gethsemane along the Via Doloroso with one thing on His mind.

Us.

You and me and all of us. Beloved objects of His great love.

Sunlight slipping we open a bottle of red and break the bread reading holy words.

And while they were still eating Jesus took a loaf, blessed it and broke it and gave it to them with the words, “Take this, it is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after thanking God, he gave it to them, and they drank from it, and he said to them “This is my blood which is shed for many in the new agreement. I tell you truly I will drink no more wine until the day comes when I drink it fresh in the kingdom of God!”
Mark 14:22-25

Dip and eat — baring our souls full of holes — in remembrance of Him.

Father forgive us — and the one who has hurt us — for we are all part of them that Christ cried out to the Father for at Calvary.

WAY

Humbled as we hush for we are the worst of sinners.

Desperate moment by moment for our Savior who keeps saving, and crying out for those who do not know. Yet.

Then they arrived at a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to the disciples, “Sit down here while I pray.” He took with him Peter, James and John, and began to be horror-stricken and desperately depressed. “My heart is nearly breaking,” he told them. “Stay here and keep watch for me.” Then he walked forward a little way and flung himself on the ground, praying that, if it were possible, he might not have to face the ordeal. “Dear Father,” he said, “all things are possible to you. Please—let me not have to drink this cup! Yet it is not what I want but what you want.”
Mark 14:32-36

All is bleak on Friday. Hearts still staggering we only see the cross.

They hit him on the head with a stick and spat at him, and then bowed low before him on bended knee. And when they had finished their fun with him, they took off the purple cloak and dressed him again in his own clothes. Then they led him outside to crucify him.
Mark 15:19-20

Love hung on a rugged tree, dark clouds covering and everything quaking.

At midday darkness spread over the whole countryside and lasted until three o’clock in the afternoon, and at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? — My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Mark 15:33-35

Letting out a great cry He died so that we might live.

Embracing this Life we see with spirit eyes not fleshly that the fight is against unseen forces hateful, holding others captive, sent to destroy us. Powers of darkness celebrating then and now.

But Love always winning and the stone will roll away.

Hallelujah. Easter!

So we hold each other tight and He holds us tighter.

Christ in us the hope of glory.

Holding on till Sunday comes…

~sheila

Holy Land photos compliments of Kimball Family International

How are you waiting?

JESUS Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

All hail King Jesus! All hail Emmanuel!

Emmanuel, God with us, in our midst, loving and healing and saving us. But hearts were and are dark.

Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us

To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.

To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
From Luke 1

 CHURCH Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

CROSS Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball (2)

PALMS Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

PALMS 2 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Palm fronds waved and coats were strewn on the road and He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of donkey.  To ultimately bring peace.

Yet eyes did not see and ears did not hear, only what they wanted to, missing the immensity of the visitation.

We still do that, don’t we?

We can see God as what and who we want Him to be. To benefit us, to make our lives easier, to fulfill our wishes.

Glossing over the mess and the pain and the sacrifice of love that brought Him to earth in a stable and took Him all the way to the Cross.

CROSS 2 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball (2)

DARK CROSS Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

He entered Jerusalem to fulfill the ancient plan, laying down His life and dying, the greatest example of love we have ever seen. Yet so many missed it. So many still miss it.

And Jesus wept.

But what about you? And what about me? On this Monday of Holy Week, where do we find our hearts?

Contemplating the Passion of the Christ?

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84

Or are we just “me” focused like so many of our days?

Running about all crazy and hectic, pushing to meet deadlines at work, scrambling when the babysitter calls to say she is sick, worrying over bills unpaid, arguing with our spouse, picking out the perfect flowers for our Easter table or buying yet more candy and trinkets for little Easter baskets?

And if all we do is swirl in our daily madness, we too will miss Him this Holy Week.

As we wait for His glorious return someday, we will miss Him on any day when we shift our focus earth bound and not heavenly.

And how He misses us!

Each day is a holy, precious gift and life is sacred. He came that we might have life abundant, but only when we are abundantly abiding in Him.

So as we begin the countdown to Calvary let’s stop throughout each day, perhaps marking times of prayer and contemplation at dawn, noon and bedtime.

Let’s hold His passion in our hearts until we sweat drops of blood.

Let’s wait in holy, grateful anticipation for the Resurrection with hearts that bend the knee, contrite. Seeking forgiveness for our sins. Giving praise to the Almighty.

Let’s be like Jesus. Let’s let this last week of Lent and this magnificent season of Resurrection restore and renew our hearts aright.

Let’s offer our hearts to Him wanting nothing more than to know and love him better, to obey Him rightly, and to serve Him faithfully.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Romans 12:10-13

CROSS 3 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

CROSS CLOSE UP Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Touching hearts, helping others open to life in Him forevermore…

~sheila

When glad is an effort…{Lenten series, part four}

SNOWY ROAD Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

SNOWY POND Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

SNOWY CABIN Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

SNOWY YARD Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Glad! He will make me glad…that’s what the song says that’s running through my mind this gray morning. And the candle is lit and the bible is open and I am searching God’s word for encouragement.

But the glad can be long in coming and I wonder if the glad really will show up for the circumstances are dismal and gray.

And all I can see is an overcast sky and yet more snow falling softly and even though it looks lovely, my heart is chilled at the prospect of another sunless winter day in the Northeast.

My heart tightens when the news interrupts the classical music softly playing with word that seven Marines have died in a training exercise and I think about their wives and mothers and the screen blurs. Convicted! My burdens are so light and temporary.

And while there is no hot mug of tea to chase the chill and offer comfort that only a cup of strong tea can, I am glad for giving it up. For the letting go of a “woobie.”

I had no intention of giving up anything for Lent this year, thinking it cliche. He has other plans, and spoke it so directly that morning that I immediately determined to listen and obey and trust that He would teach me in the giving up during the days leading up to the greatest of days.

Resurrection.

Hoping and praying for resurrection in my heart. And my thinking, which gets gloomy with a touch of SAD.

And so I purpose to choose glad. And am gladder still that the giving up makes me press in tighter and hold on longer, seeking comfort from that one true source of comfort. And of joy.

Jesus.

And dawn slides into our living room and I smile, warming slowly to His touch, receiving what He offers knowing that I know that He knows best.

DAWNS LIGHT Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

So I ponder the gladness that can evade when I ruminate over that which isn’t. Whether my worries center on physical infirmities or painfully tight finances or where in the world we will set up “our home” when this one finally sells, it really doesn’t matter.For in those unholy moments of worry I shift my focus from the truth of Him who is and was and will always be, to what may never be, letting fear squeeze me tight, my breath coming short and shallow.

Exhaling intentionally, I close my eyes and then take in a deep breath, breathing into my heart, just like a dear girl has taught us. And my heart starts to expand…

KIMMI YOGA Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

I read through the Psalms for the day: 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100. In His faithfulness to meet my every need, His words resuscitate my weary soul and I rejoice remembering that today is the FIRST DAY OF SPRING, seemingly so long in coming this year, but finally here at last!

WORD IN LIGHT Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

WORD Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

And hope springs eternal and someday He will return, at long last. The waiting and the groaning shall be over. We will all sing loudly and joyfully.

And we will be unable to ever thank Him enough for all that He has done and exactly how He did it.

And once again, in His quiet way He teaches me the Way of gladness as a choice, like everything else. And words from a devotional poem speak loudly.

But soon my heart spoke up from ‘neath our burden,
Rebuked my tight-drawn lips, my face so sad:
“We can do more than this, O Soul,” it whispered.
“We can be more than still, we can be glad!”

So like Pollyanna, that delightfully optimistic girl character created by Eleanor H. Porter in 1913, I will play the Glad Game and find the joy and nod my head to the words of James:

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1: 2-4

And I pick up my cross which is blessedly light even when I think it’s heavy and I’ll follow my brother to Calvary and then onwards to glorious resurrection.

Leaving the doubts caused by fear and opting instead to think on the bright side.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8

And counting my many blessings all along the way…

COUNTING Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

~sheila

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When the clouds begin to clear…{Lenten series, part three}

DUCK Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

GRAY 1 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

GRAY 2 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Gray 3 Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

I spread honey on a slice of sprouted grain toast in a house that’s dark and empty and quiet. The day is all cold drizzle outside and my heart feels damp, too. I lick my fingers for the honey has made them sticky and wonder if my heart will get unstuck as easily.

And a dark funk sits with me imposing on my silence and solitude, and nothing seems quite right. Questions spin in my mind like tops gone mad and I tell myself it’s probably a bunch of things all bundled together that weigh on me.

Perhaps it’s the doldrums from working at home, missing colleagues? Or a shoulder that still gets sore and throbs when I overuse it? {rotator cuffs take forever to heal} Maybe it’s the stress of trying to earn enough tent making to pay the bills while we chase our God given dream? Or could it be the weather as winter hesitates to yield its grip to the new life of spring?

Whatever it is, muse slumbers and words stall like a fog that hangs forlornly on the horizon. And I really want a strong cup of Irish Breakfast tea. And a piece of dark chocolate. And I realize the comfort these substances give me. But I resist the urge and remind myself that there is no substance on earth that can comfort my heart the way the Spirit can.

Yet the house is chilly and I am only half convinced that I will survive without a cup of tea and I wonder if anything I write today will make sense?

But it is the writing filtered through faith that helps me interpret life and love. And as the words inside begin to spill, somehow I start to fill warm and I feel His hand upon my shoulder. And my fingers fly and my heart races and I remind myself that this too shall pass so just do the next thing.

And the next thing, the only thing to do, is to set my face like flint towards Him.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
    I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
    and I know I will not be put to shame.
Isaiah 50:7

The same way He set himself to the work of the cross and His passion for us was His shed blood.

Now as the days before he should be taken back into Heaven were running out, he resolved to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers in front of him. They set out and entered a Samaritan village to make preparations for him. But the people there refused to welcome him because he was obviously intending to go to Jerusalem.
Luke 9:51-53

Jesus lay down His life at Calvary with an iron will to obey the Father no matter the cost or how He felt. If we are His we must do the same, ignoring stinking thinking that brings us down and feelings that are highly inaccurate at times. In those moments of weakness we cling to the words of truth and in so doing defeat the enemy who is always nipping at our heels.

So words come and the clouds begin to clear for whatever the weather the Son always shines. But I will only see Him when I choose with my will to open the blinds and let light in…

~sheila

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Linking with Emily and Ann.

 

Breaking down…{Lenten series, part two}

JESUS Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball Sometimes we just need to break down.

Breakdown wills that don’t line up with His, pride that pouts while pointing fingers as it parades like a princess in a tarnished crown; strongholds that hold us hard; and a faded past that we need to let go…

Breakdown and have a good cry. Acid rain eroding soil that spoiled in a dry and dusty heart that reigned sin.

Have hot tears like this ever flooded you? When you’ve let down your guard and your mind swirls old? Stuck in the former that He has long forgotten?

Until He reminds: You ARE a NEW creation.

Forgiven!

TRUE sign

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.
2 Corinthians 5:17

Since we are forgiven and made new in Christ, let’s shake off the shackles letting love loose so we can really live.

Life springs new when the stone is rolled away.

And lent is all about love, isn’t it? And the new life that love brought us.

Love’s sweat equity rendered in blood. Love’s sacrifice on a hill where the cross pierced the horizon and His sinless body was pierced for our transgressions.

Body piercings a cry for attention and for love.

And in attending to the sins of the world, Jesus shed abroad a love that knows no bounds.

A love that reaches to the far distant corners of the cosmos that it created and is yet no further away than the cry of a humbled, repentant heart. A heart crying out for change.

His heart crying in agony to the Father, whose own heart stepped back broken, watching His son slip into death.

Death by sin, ours. Nails pounded in place so that we could take our place in the heavenly realms.

And an enemy who never gives up, gloating over a presumed win short lived. For the third day proved Christ’s victory in mighty resurrection glory. Him alive again, our freedom won.

Lent reminds us to never give up but to always give in, bending the knee to our Lord in obedience and awe and running the race until the prize is won.

Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honor of being called by God in Christ.
Philippians 3:13

And in all things always giving Him our thanks.

But how can we ever really thank Him enough?

We can obey Him.

We can follow His word all the way to the Cross and back.

But we can only follow His word if we know His word.

And let’s do it all in love, not fear,or compulsion.

And my hand and my heart, they’ll keep stretching out to Him until all the walls are broken down, nothing holding me back. Never giving up, nor looking back.

BERLIN WALL Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

BERLIN WALL HANDS ON Copyright 2013 Sheila Kimball

Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He did stretch it out, and it was restored as sound as the other.
Matthew 12:13

Me and you stretching and reaching, and Him bending low to pick up our pieces, loving and restoring us.

And grace calls my name and yours and cheers us on in this race called life where Love lights our course even on the darkest nights and there’s healing in every step we take when we hold His hand.

Living Redeemed.

So even when weary, I’ll keep running the race…

~sheila

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