When Light Breaks Into Darkness

Centuries ago, darkness was convinced it had the world in its grip and victory in the bag, but then again it didn’t really know its foe.  That day was a dark one, the friends and family of Jesus had just witnessed him mercilessly beaten and crucified on a cross.  Grief stricken and confused by the course of events, it must have seemed like darkness had overtaken them, after all the Messiah, the one they had been waiting for, had just been put to death.  Yet, at that moment so much more was happening…light itself was breaking into the darkness.

The Passion of Christ is a powerful moment in history.  It speaks of an unconditional love we cannot fully comprehend.  A light so powerful that darkness cannot stand it.  Jesus, love and light, made the ultimate sacrifice to bring freedom and restoration.

Imagine what could be accomplished if we received God’s unconditional love more freely and in turn loved more unconditionally.  Imagine if we let that light shine within us…oh how it would break into the darkness and the darkness would flee.

#easter #goodfriday #LoveofGod #lovewins #light

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Voices Wanted…

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said,

Silence in the face of evil; is evil itself. 
Not to speak; is to speak, not to act; is to act.

This is a powerful statement when you let it sink in.  Human trafficking is a great evil, there is no other more accurate word for it.  To buy and sell human beings is modern day slavery, and is an evil more people need to stand and take action against.  To love your fellow man is easy when there is no action to it, but then is it really love?

Not too long ago the End It Movement had their campaign asking people to put red X’s on their hands to show support (and bring awareness) in ending modern day slavery…I love seeing all the people posting on social media sporting their big red X.  It is exciting to see how the injustice of trafficking is gaining awareness.  What is hard is when the day ends, people wash the x off and move on.  Now, I’m not saying that everyone moves on with no more thought to it, but I do know that we need more people and their voices in this fight.  We need more Ashton Kutchers who use their voice and also find a way to take action.  We need more Emma Thompsons, Mira Sorvinos, and we need more yous and mes.

As someone who has been bringing awareness and fighting trafficking and exploitation for a good 9-10 years I have seen how people shy away from this issue and I get it…its heartbreaking, dark and hard to look at in the face.  There are so many ways people can help from donating their time and resources to taking more time to learn about this issue and how it is impacting those around them.  We need more safe houses, resources and more voices.  Join your voice with ours…it’s time for it to end.

“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” -William Wilberforce

Ways to help:
Contact Illuminating Love @ illuminatingloveministries@gmail.com
https://enditmovement.com/
sharedhope.org

A Holiday with A Cause

I love this time of year, Thanksgiving with a lot of great food, family and friends and the beginning of the Christmas season.  Maybe Black Friday is your thing or maybe Cyber Monday (both of which are now becoming weeks instead of days), whatever way you enjoy your holiday shopping I would love to share a few “slave-free” options.  With an estimated 20 million people enslaved globally today, it’s easy to say that human trafficking and modern day slavery are an epidemic hitting our society as a whole…and hitting us hard.  Many of our items that we purchase on a regular basis and especially during the holidays, such as clothing, coffee and chocolate are made with slave labor (including child labor).  These are precious people who are trafficked and/or exploited into harvesting materials and making these items for retail.  We can take a stand against slavery, do something about it and still buy our loved ones beautiful gifts.  When you are out shopping look for labels that read,”Fair Trade,” or you can also check out below just some of the websites that are out there.  There is no better time to start doing something for our fellow man than now.  Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and happy shopping!

*Fair trade coffee and chocolate can be found at local grocery stores.

*Girl Set Free

*Thistle Farms

*Freeset USA

*iSanctuary/ Purpose Jewelry

MORE INFORMATION ON LABOR TRAFFICKING AND FORCED LABOR
https://polarisproject.org/labor-trafficking

 

Love is Hard.

We have all heard the phrase, “Love is a choice.” Sometimes that choice may feel easy, but lets face it there are many times when that choice feels hard. It feels easy when our children are smiling and obeying, but when the laundry and dishes are piled high, you are flat out exhausted and your children are throwing a fit because you didn’t cut the crust of their sandwich…it can get hard. It may feel easy to love when your spouse is being sweet and thoughtful, but when they are short with you, or say something thoughtless…it can get hard.

It’s not so much choosing to love, but choosing to respond in love that can be hard at times. I struggle with it, we all struggle with it. Recently, I saw this great picture of a scripture verse out of Romans 5:8. The scripture reads, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV) The image paraphrases the verse and says, “I loved you at your darkest.” Wow. In my darkest moment God loved and still loves me. He also calls us to love like that, except it is much harder for us to do. That is why we need His help.
As I write this, Ed Sheeran’s song “Photograph,” is playing in my mind.

Loving can hurt
Loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard
You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive…

Loving can heal
Loving can mend your soul.

It isn’t hard to love the “lovely,” but what about the homeless man you see downtown that hasn’t bathed in a while? What about the woman who spits in your face when you tell her she is worth more than the $50 her pimp is getting for her? What about the person close to you who breaks your heart? I think about what Christ endured; the ridicule, the physical and emotional pain, the sting of death. And what for? Love. The cross wasn’t easy. Therefore love isn’t always easy. Yet, it is the most vital. It encourages, uplifts, frees, heals, restores, makes new and is desperately needed.

Remove the word “is” and you get…love hard (and with all you’ve got).

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The Night Love Came Down

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So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:16-20 (NIV)

The book of Luke goes on to talk about (Ch.11) giving good gifts and if we as imperfect people love to give good things to our children, then how much more does God?  No matter what we have been told or believe; God is love and He loves to give good things.  Christmas is truly about promises fulfilled, when love came to earth and the greatest gift was given.

I pray this season you are surrounded by such love and that your time is filled with peace, joy and invaluable gifts.

Merry Christmas!

Illuminating Love Ministries.

Perpetual Hope

perpetualhope.001Christmas is known as the season of perpetual hope. Hope, a simple four letter word that carries so much meaning and something that so many are desperate for…sometimes the only thing people have to hold onto. The only thing they can see to hold on to.

I was thinking the other day about the word perpetual. Dictionary.com defines perpetual as:

  1. continuing or enduring forever; everlasting
  2. lasting an indefinitely long time
  3. continuing or continued without intermission or interruption, ceaseless
  4. blooming almost continuously throughout the season or year.

So perpetual hope means a hope that doesn’t cease, it continues without interruption, it’s everlasting…then really a “season” of perpetual hope is an oxymoron…there is no season for hope, but it is to continue without ending. Hope is essential to our lives even the Word of God says in Proverbs 13:12 that,” Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

What is it that you are hoping for this season? Let your heart not be sick in the waiting and let us also keep in our hearts those who have a hope of freedom and pray that 2016 will bring just that.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

When Love Comes In

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This is a bit of a different blog for me. I haven’t written in awhile because I have been busy getting married and adjusting, quite nicely, to being a wife and mother.

If you were to ask me 10 years ago “when do you think you’ll get married?” I would have given you the Christian answer “In God’s timing,” all the while only my heart and closest friends knew I wanted to be married and having more children before 25.

25 came.
25 went.

30 would come and go in the same fashion yet in the waiting, and lets be honest; in the moments of frustration, loneliness, and the times of fun being a single mother God did something in my heart…all the while doing amazing things in the man He would bring to the door of my heart.

For years I, as some would say, wrestled with God, many times asking, nay pleading with Him to take from me the desire to be married, especially if it wasn’t in His plan for me. It is difficult to have a desire for something and not have it fulfilled. The only thing about the desire that would leave me was hopelessness. God had more in me that He wanted than for me to just get married. Being married is so much more than being in love and having babies. Being married means learning to be selfless on a whole other level, as a single mom I learned a mother’s selfless love, but marriage would be a love quite different. It would be learning to love in a different way. But that wasn’t the point, I needed to learn my worth and how to be loved, because past pain caused me to shrink back and view myself less than.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, love is like a ray of light that finds it’s way through the smallest of cracks, illuminates darkness, and causes good things to grow in the un-likeliest of places. In all of my waiting God’s love came in, deep into my heart, healing, refreshing, preparing, strengthening, and instilling a sense of belonging to Him…as His daughter. When we allow the love of God to come and fill us, heal us, strengthen us and when we wait upon Him…it is always worth it. It causes good things to grow in us. He would stretch me to have faith in Him and His promises, the things He spoke to my heart- I would cling to when doubt and hopelessness would come at me like a storm to knock me down, because hope needed to grow freely in me as did love.

In all that time the point was not to learn some “lesson,” or fix something on the long list of things that people concoct to understand why someone may still be single. The point was to learn to know that I was valued by the Creator, that His love for me would in turn help me to love myself and to love others deeply which would turn into a ministry (Illuminating Love). In that ministry I would meet a man with a great passion for God and turns out a great passion for me (and my children), so the old adage that good things come to those who wait is true.

So the greatest thing that happened in waiting was I learned to love and love is needed everyday. When love comes in, selfishness leaves, wrongs are forgiven, chains are broken, lives are changed, hope is renewed…from love springs forth so much that our soul needs to grow, that our world around us needs in order to grow. In our relationship with Christ, in our marriages (or other relationships) and in our daily lives love is what makes the difference and the world could use that difference.

Let love come in.

So, April 2015 I became a Mrs…
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her! Luke 1:45

(I love these pictures of the two of us before our ceremony. Dedicating our hearts, lives and marriage to God.)

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A Little Longer

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God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His word to my heart is never ending. I am getting married in just a few short weeks and with all the excitement, the endless list of to do’s, preparation and more it has been hard to keep up with so many things…as you might see my blog being one of them, but more important my time with the Lord. He is my light, the One who lifes me, strengthens me, speaks directly to my heart and often moves me to tears of joy. So, I find condemnation easily besets me when I don’t give Him my time either in worship or reading the bible, journaling, and the list of what I am not accomplishing with excellence, or just accomplishing goes on. There is a song Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music wrote back in 2004 that I came across when hunting through my worship sheet music to just sit and play something, it is called A Little Longer. I loved this song when I first heard it years ago, and I was reminded of why I love it still. As I sat frustrated with myself over all the unaccomplished things, half done things, or things I deem done without excellence, especially not giving God the undivided attention His is so worthy of…I pulled this song out and played. As I sat and my fingers embraced those keys, something of much more importance embraced my heart. The words of my heart, somewhat matching the words of the song were, “what can I do for you God, I know I am not doing enough…” and my mental, but heartfelt list of self condemnation went on. Until God, in His infinite wisdom and love, drew my attention to the actual lyrics of the song instead of the lyrics I was reciting…

What can I do for you
What can I bring to you
What kind of song would you like me to sing
I’ll dance a dance for you
I’ll pour out my love to you
What can I do for you beautiful king…
Then I hear you sing to me
You don’t have to do a thing
Just simply be with me and let those things go
It can wait another minute
Wait this moment is too sweet
Please stay here with me
And love on me a little longer
Cause I’m in love with you

Need I say more? Goodbye list of undone and to do’s…I have a date with the King of my heart.