What if your Christmas isn’t Merry and Bright?

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Feliz Navidad! Joyeaux Noel! Frohe Weinachten! It’s a festive time of year with holiday greetings everywhere you turn. Local radio stations are proclaiming that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” and Hallmark Christmas movies are trending high in the news.

But what if you find yourself a little distant from all the holiday cheer? Maybe this is your first Christmas with an empty chair at the table. Perhaps you find yourself away from family and friends, and not feeling much like celebrating this year. Maybe your home has been fractured by loss, illness, divorce. For any number of reasons, many folks find themselves on the outside looking in this Christmas season.

The Census at Bethlehem (The Numbering at Bethlehem), 1566
Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Oil paint on wood panel
115.5 x 164.5 cm
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Brussels, Belgium

I know it can be hard to “get in the Christmas spirit” when your heart is broken. Can I suggest a helpful resource? I enjoy doing special devotions during the advent season and have happened upon a fabulous resource from Biola University . The Advent Project is a series of meditations on Scripture, accentuated with music, art, and poetry. I found have the daily emails to be a tremendous help in refocusing my attitude – both turning me towards gratitude for Christ’s first coming, and in creating a real longing for His second advent when He will put all that is wrong right. You can access all the devotions for the month here.

© Laura Gabel, “You Are His Masterpiece”. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10. Private collection.
© Laura Gabel, “You Are His Masterpiece”. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10. Private collection.

Two of my favorite websites also have helpful articles for those facing a deep sadness this Christmas. Celebrating Christmas with a Broken Heart suggests three strategies for walking through this season. What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas provides some useful insight and tips for those of us walking with you in this time.  Both those articles are well worth your time to read.

Nativity (2 views), 2006
Brian T. Kershisnik
Oil on canvas
17 x 7‘
Utah Museum of Fine Art

Laura and I will be taking some time off over the holidays, and we hope you will too. In the midst of all the busyness of the time, take time to stop, breathe, rest, and remember. He has come, and He will come again!

 

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O Come O Come Emmanuel!

Emmanuel  – God with us! What an incredible thought! It’s that time of year again when our schedules seem more crowded than ever, our bank accounts lower than ever, bills mounting, “to do” lists staggering, stress rising. I know many of you will hear “Jesus is the reason for the season” so often that you will tune it out. Please don’t. This post isn’t meant to be guilt inducing or full of trite platitudes to get you to spend less and worship more.

Instead, I just want to share my favorite Christmas song with you, give you some beautiful art to enjoy, and ask for God to come and be with us in the midst of everything else clamoring for our attention.

You probably guessed from the title of this post that my favorite Christmas song is O Come O Come Emmanuel. The hymn was originally written in Latin, with the first published edition in the year 1710. However, there are paraphrases of the lyrics in existence as early as the year 800.  The music we currently associate with the hymn originated in France during the 1600s. There are so many versions of this hymn and of all the verses, some with three verses, others with as many as eight.

When I was in college, our advent chapel services were each crafted around a verse of this hymn, and I found that practice so helpful for shaping my outlook on advent. While I enjoy writing, I am not even in the same universe as the ancients who crafted this hymn, so indulge me as we just take a look at the lyrics and allow them to sink into our hearts and minds.

O come, O come, Emmanuel

botticelli nativity emmanuel 1
“Mystic Nativity”, Sando Botticelli. 108.6 x 74.9 cm, oil on canvas, 1500. The National Gallery, London.

 

O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

Rembrandt Moses Emmanuel 2
“Moses Smashing the Tablets of the Law”, Rembrandt, 168.5 x 136.5 cm, oil on canvas, 1659. Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

 

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud, and majesty, and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

chagall jesse tree emmanuel 3
“Tree of Jesse”, Marc Chagall. 81 x 130 cm, oil on canvas, 1975. Private collection.

 

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell They people save
And give them victory o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

“Adoration of the Shepherds”, El Greco. 319 x 180 cm, oil on canvas, 1614. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

 

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

GloriousForetaste emmanuel 5
© Laura Gabel, “Glorious Foretaste”. Pastel Private collection.

O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

wisdom of solomon emmanuel 5
“Dream of Solomon”, Luca Giordano. 245 x 361 cm, oil on canvas, 1693. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things, far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

crucifixion messina emmanuel 6
“Crucifixion,” Antonello da Messina. 42.5 x 59.7 cm, oil on panel, 1475. National Gallery, London.

 

O come, desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

 

 

Be our King of peace, cause us to go in the ways of wisdom and knowledge. Bring cheer in the midst of misery and gloom by the remembrance of your first coming and the anticipation of your second coming. Show us your power and might as we stand in awe of your works. Bring salvation and freedom. O Come O Come, Emmanuel.

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Peace on Earth isn’t just for Christmas

“Peace on Earth”…no, I’m not starting to sing Christmas songs already. I’m a strict “not until after Thanksgiving” kind of girl. But in light of recent events there has been a lot of clamoring for peace.

America seems more and more divided lately – republicans vs. democrats, trump supporters vs. never trumpers, black vs. white, standers vs. kneelers. There seems to be no end to the disunity that clutters my newsfeed. Is there no peace to be found?

I want to introduce (or perhaps reacquaint) you with an artist who is famous for his depictions both of war and of peace.

peace and picasso 1

Peace and War

Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain in 1881. His father was an artist, who happened to like painting pigeons or doves. Picasso’s early paintings were not necessarily political in nature, and he gained quite a following rather quickly. He is frequently referred to as the father of cubism.

Picasso’s approach to art began to change radically in 1937, when he painted one of his most famous paintings:

peace and picasso 2
“Guernica,” by Pablo Picasso. (1937)

This painting was in direct response to the Italian and German carpet bombing of the Spanish city of Guernica. Picasso began to see his art as more than just a unique decoration. He had a message and wasn’t afraid to speak it through his art.

“What do you think an artist is? …he is a political being, constantly aware of the heart breaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” Picasso

Guernica came to symbolize the abject horrors of war and was used as a rallying cry for the Peace Movement of the 1940s. Picasso himself became an active participant in the movement and in speaking out against totalitarian regimes.

Peace and Picasso

In 1949, Picasso painted another watershed work.

peace and picasso 3
“La Colombe” (The Dove) by Picasso, 1949

Entitled simply “La Calombe” (the Dove), the lithograph was featured on posters celebrating the Paris Peace Conference. Picasso’s daughter was born that same year and he gave her the name Paloma, which is the Spanish word for dove. She is in her father’s arms in the family photograph above.

Since then, Picasso’s dove has been modified numerous times and used as personification of peace.

peace and picasso 4

Lasting Peace

For centuries, many different cultures have used a dove to symbolize peace.  Art and images have great power to shape the way in which we think. Sadly, true and lasting peace will require more than a lovely painting, a change in one’s profile picture, or a serene bird.

The Scriptures speak of a King who is coming who will “speak peace to the nations”. At His very birth, the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” His peace did not come with political unity, but with His brutal death in the place of sinners.

There is a day coming when wars and divisions will cease. There is a time approaching when reports of mass shootings and natural disasters will not grace the news headlines. True peace will reign when our Prince of Peace returns. And oh what a glorious day that will be:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and might,

the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,

or decide disputes by what his ears hear,

but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;

and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,

and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,

and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,

and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,

and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;

and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,

and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.

They shall not hurt or destroy

in all my holy mountain;

for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD

as the waters cover the sea.

Amen. Come and bring your peace, Lord Jesus.

 

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In Search of Some Good News

Do you find yourself tired of hearing the phrase, “I wonder what’s going to happen next?” Are some of your friends programmed into the continuing saga of the “terrible”? Sometimes it seems that there is constant chatter which revolves around tragedy, sickness, poverty etc. I’m in search of some good news – how about you?

Please understand, I’m not denying that those things exist. I, myself, want to look for the good. Sometimes though, I think my brain is calibrated to look for the negative. Yet, last Saturday, I felt a stirring of hopefulness beating in my chest. A whisper that said, “look around and see what I have been up to and it’s good.”

So I’m encouraged, a lot! In fact, lately I’ve experienced true heroes and heroines in my everyday life. I want to share a few of these with you.

“Try not to become a man of success rather try to become a man of value.” –Albert Einstein

Good news at church

The men at Faith Community Church designed and developed a breakfast tribute to the women of the community last Saturday. It was awesome! I was amazed to see men with hearts to say, “you women are super special to us and we want to spoil you.” We were served, sung to, and encouraged by men with genuine hearts.

good news

It’s heartening to know that we have men in the land that value women. Men who value women not just on a special day, but every day!

And I’m encouraged by the bravery and solid strength of our young women of today. A month ago, I visited Ft. Worth and was overcome by the zeal and love for the Lord in so many of the young women I met at City Life Center. Young mothers, teaching school, bringing up their children, walking next to their husbands, walking a hard, but godly road.

good news 2

Good news in families

I am impressed by Michelle, my co-blogger who daily makes a decision to lovingly serve her family with joy in her heart. I was excited to be with one such mother yesterday, who is looking to strengthen her identity in God and impact her family.

I’m encouraged by a young couple, Jeremy and Cammie, who adopted 4 girls. They have recently made a heart wrenching decision to sacrifice so much, in faith that one of those daughters would grow stronger in a program away from them.

It’s hard to shine in a culture that cultivates a “me first” attitude.  We are reminded to “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Phil. 2:14

I know that television and radio generally features bad news. But if that’s all we see, it’s a mighty narrow vision. A negative focus isn’t a healthy focus. I was reminded of this, when I read Psalm 16:2-3, “I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you. The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!”

I want you to be encouraged to look for those heroes and heroines  right in your own back yard. I’d love to hear about those folks who are being a light of encouragement in your life!

 

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A Wonderful Reunion

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a surprise reunion with someone you loved and lost?

Unexpected, joyous…a warmth in the heart. At least that is what I hope for Ian when he sets eyes on his beloved dog Sally in this painting.

Ian reunion

This painting of Ian was commissioned as a surprise from his sister-in-law Joy and I was excited to create this for many reasons. This is an international painting, as they live in England. Second, I love making memories come alive for my clients. Time stands still and yet travels right into the heart when a painting speaks to him or herIan’s beloved dog is no longer with him, but what a sweet reunion he will experience through art.

Simply, when I paint, it delights me to delight the viewer. 

The painting should be in Ian’s hands by the end of this week. So I’ve included a few progress shots for his family and you.

reunion progress 1

The challenges of developing a painting stroke by stroke are well worth the effort. Pastel is such a vibrant medium and I really wanted to show the tender love these two had for each other.

The way they look at the camera together mirrors a long and loyal relationship.

I am very much believing that Ian will be totally surprised at seeing his special friend come alive.

An Easter Reunion

It’s one thing to see a painting of a friend you think you’ve lost forever, but it’s another to see that friend resurrected and very much alive after he has been in the grave for 3 days!  What a reunion that would be!

Imagine the heart palpitations, the joy, the disbelief, the overwhelming feeling that it really can’t be.

That’s what Mary saw as she lingered in the garden, looking for her loving friend Jesus’ body. But it wasn’t his dead body she found. He was alive! She saw him, she spoke to him and he said, “go and tell the disciples that I am he, I am alive!”

Yes, she saw him with her own eyes. Some say, seeing is believing, but Christ emphatically told one of his disciples, Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

That should give us all hope this wonderful Easter week.

Perhaps you have not believed, but are ready to now.  Realize that according to Jesus and His word, you are blessed! Talk to a friend, visit a church, email me at laura@lgabel.com.

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Tidings of Chaos and Noise

Does it feel like your world is too full of chaos and noise instead of comfort and joy this season? Too often lately, I’ve felt more like this picture:

chaos and noise

My calendar is too full. I’ve forgotten yet another appointment; I’ve missed another friend who said she wanted to get together. A different family has said “maybe after the holidays” when I’ve tried to schedule something. Not criticisms, just reality. I’m busy. You’re busy.

My “to do” list has overflowed my calendar and endless “post-it” notes are scattered around to vainly try to cut through the noise of obligations and remind me of the endless tasks that need to be done. Everything seems “urgent” these days.

There are gifts to buy and wrap, packages to send, cards to address, cookies to bake. And that’s just this week! Christmas carols remind me that the reason for the season is the Prince of Peace, but my world feels at odds with that at the moment.

Can you relate? Does life feel a bit out of control for you? Do you want to cover your ears and scream – if only to blot out the external noise for just a moment?

As I was rushing home the other day from a bevy of errands, I was convicted by hearing the song “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” on the radio. I know that song, I’ve heard it many times before. But a line grabbed my attention “O Hush the noise, ye men of strife/and hear the angels sing.”

Did you catch that? “Hush”, hush the noise? I don’t remember that being in the song…. And as it turns out, that line is in a 3rd verse that is often not included in hymnals. The story behind the hymn is fascinating, so do have a read over at that link.

What I need is not more time or less stuff to do. I need to HUSH. I need to stop striving, stop rushing and just HUSH. Can I hear the angels singing? Have we missed the message of that first Christmas in all the noise of our “preparations”? Take a minute – or several – and just stop what you’re doing. I know, you have too much to do. Stop anyway.

Take a listen.

He has come, He is coming again and that day will bring real and lasting peace. Let’s not miss that promise of peace in all the noise of our day.

Merry Christmas!!

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Joy for the Sad

There are some paintings you just can’t part with. The painting below, “I’ll Fly Away” was really my first pastel painting. 

© Laura Gabel, "I'll Fly Away". Pastel on art.
© Laura Gabel, “I’ll Fly Away”. Pastel on art.

I didn’t like pastel, I thought it was messy, dusty and difficult. I persevered somewhat, but my teacher Laurie McKelvie was so passionate and so encouraging I just had to plod on. Kudos to her; I ended up loving pastel, learned about the amazing history and longevity of pastel, and developed as a pastel painter. But this blog isn’t about that story, as wonderful as it is.

I wouldn’t sell this painting, not because it’s my first, but because it is somewhat autobiographical. It’s really about the story of how I saw myself.  I was determined to compose and design a painting that portrayed the old me. My art was born out of some very raw pain, sadness and hurt. If you are not familiar with how I came to art very late in my life, please do read my story

When you look at the painting you see a young, unhappy girl gazing at the bluebird, wishing and hoping she could fly away. Believing that beauty was somehow in her future, that freedom was right around the corner. Sadness and pain is on her face but the bluebird is her hope of transformation. 

Finding True Joy

We hear so much about “Joy to the World” during this season and the joy of our Savior’s arrival is real. But as the light of His birth grows brighter and brighter, as we draw nearer to Christmas day there are others, for whom the days grow darker. Sadness overtakes them, loneliness beckons, darkness tries to overtake the light. 

But a prophet (Isaiah 61:1-3) promised that Jesus would come to comfort all who mourn, to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. That promise is real! In fact often when people see this painting they can’t possibly believe that this was me! But it was.

Here are some things I learned during this transforming time:

  • Misery loves company and it’s usually the wrong kind of company! Choose to be with those that will feed your soul with joy, not your sadness.
  • Practice looking for beauty in nature. Peace can be found in the quiet contemplation of His creation.
  • Concentrate on what you have rather than what you don’t have. This is important! All advertising points to what you must have in order to make you happy. But as we all know, the happiness of a new phone, car, dress doesn’t last long. So as my good friend Pam says, “turn your wanter off!”
  • Focus on the Light of the world. 

joy to the world

I’d love to know what you think of my first painting. How have you learned to repaint your life?

 

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What are you waiting for?

waiting of advent
The Annunciation by Leonardo DaVinci

Waiting…..it feels like we as a culture have lost patience with waiting. Our smart phones give us immediate access to anyone and anything we could want; our microwaves allow us to provide sustenance to ourselves (and our households) without the time it takes for a home cooked meal to be prepared. We have “self check out” lines in stores so we don’t even have to wait for a cashier.

My youngest daughter is enamored with the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. One of her favorites (and mine too, honestly) is called Waiting is Not Easy. In this book, Piggie wants to surprise her friend Gerald (the Elephant), but Gerald hates waiting. His moans and groans during his forced waiting are hilarious. In the end (I won’t spoil it all), Gerald finds out that Piggie’s surprise was more than worth the wait. In fact, it couldn’t even be enjoyed without the wait. Try as we may to eliminate waiting from our lives, sometimes it is absolutely necessary.

When it comes to art, waiting is often essential. Great works of art are not created in a brief moment. Appreciating art doesn’t happen in a fly by glance. We need time to create, time to enjoy, time to ponder.

The waiting of Advent

We are currently in the season of Advent, traditionally observed by the church universal as a time of waiting – waiting for the coming of the Messiah, of Jesus the Christ. First, as a celebration of His coming at Christmas, but also as a looking forward to His second coming at the end of time. I find it interesting that in a culture so obsessed with NOT waiting, the observation of Advent has fallen out of favor in many churches and families.

waiting of advent

Here in our family, we do observe Advent. We started our advent wreath this past Sunday. And we begin our advent calendar on December 1st. We try to combine a countdown of fun activities with decorations for a small Christmas tree in my daughters’ room and a nightly devotional reading.

waiting of advent

The wreath, the calendar, the decorations, the lights, all the visual trimmings that go along with this season bring a sense of wonder and beauty to our world. Children in particular are easily engaged through these tangible representations and through both the visual symbols and the devotional readings, we want to cultivate in our family a deep sense of delight in the waiting. The waiting will be worth it when the celebration of Christmas arrives. Not for the gifts, not even for the family that will be gathered in our home. The real joy will be found in the True Gift, the baby in a manger. That same baby who is our one day returning King. The waiting will be worth it.

waiting of advent

Are you waiting?

What about you? Do you dread the busy-ness of the holiday season. Maybe you’ve lost a family member and celebrating Christmas without them just doesn’t even seem doable this year. Maybe you just do Santa but don’t want to be bothered with all the “Jesus” stuff. Perhaps you celebrate Hannukah or Yule or nothing. Can I boldly challenge you to try one of the devotionals I linked to earlier? I know it may be WAY outside of your comfort zone. It may even make you angry that I would suggest it. But in this time of waiting, there is hope to be found. There is comfort and joy in abundance for the Lord is indeed come.

What are you waiting for?

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Hope, Hopelessness and Cancer

This is not the post I intended to write this week. I’ve been working on a post in my head about encouraging the imaginations of our children and ourselves. I did a little online research, listened to a podcast, saved a bunch of links and even had some pictures ready to plug in. Then I sat down to write and……nothing. So then I checked my email, partially from distraction and partially just out of habit. There were three emails in my inbox all from friends dealing with cancer – one needs a bone marrow transplant, one is undergoing experimental chemotherapy that (for the moment) seems to be working. One has been given a terminal diagnosis. I hate cancer. I. Hate. Cancer.

Earlier this year, a beloved former teacher at our school died. Cancer. It’s been just over year since a student at our school died. Cancer. My love for watching sports helps me see that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (I’m saddened that we even need such an awareness.); next month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My mom is a breast cancer survivor. Another teacher friend of mine is also a breast cancer survivor. So many lives touched by cancer. So many lives taken by cancer. If you’re reading this post, the chances are high that you too know or have lost someone to cancer. I hate cancer.

Yes, I know, this is an art blog. You come here to be encouraged, to look at beautiful art. You don’t come here to read about cancer or think about those who’ve been ravaged by this hateful disease. Don’t quit reading just yet!

Hope in Cancer

When I sat my girls down to tell them about our friends who are dealing with cancer, my sweet five year old immediately said, “but it’s ok Mom, because they can go to Heaven and be with Jesus.” Yes, yes they can. But we who remain will grieve and rightfully so. 1 Thessalonians instructs us not to grieve as those who “have no hope.” Why? how is our grief as Christians to be different? Because our hope is in Christ and His return, the promised resurrection, the future of an eternity reigning with Him. Notice that we are not instructed not to grieve. Grief over death and loss can be God honoring. Death remains the enemy.

I find myself going back to Laura’s painting and thinking about my daughter’s response.

© Laura Gabel, "Glorious Foretaste". Pastel.
© Laura Gabel, “Glorious Foretaste”. Pastel.

When we re-did our home page I wrote:

We don’t know where you stand on the idea of Heaven, but as Christians we believe there is a Heaven. The Bible describes Heaven as a place where there is no more death, sickness, pain, or even crying. Heaven is where all the wrongs and brokenness we experience here on earth are wiped away because Christ is seated on His rightful throne. 

Can you even imagine a place where there is no pain, no broken relationships, no sickness? A place of perfect love and perfect community. Here, it feels as though everything is a little off, a little out of focus. In Heaven life works the way it was meant to work, and we see things as they really are. And when community and relationships work here, despite the messiness and mistakes, we get a glorious foretaste of what it will be like there. There is real beauty, real goodness, real truth. We see dimly here, as through a veil. There we will see clearly, because we will see Christ face-to-face.

Hope of the Gospel

My friends may well see Christ earlier than I would like. But they will know no more pain, no more cancer, no more sadness. And one day, I will see them again, because of the hope of the Gospel.

So today, I will pray for them; I will remember that life is fleeting; I will hold my loved ones a bit tighter; and I will give thanks to the One who will one day wipe all those tears away. Reflecting on our mortality and holding on to the hope (and the Hope) of Heaven can be an encouraging thing after all.

In what do you find hope? How do you remind yourself of that hope? Maybe you find yourself desperately in need of some hope – leave us a comment or send us an email. I promise we will pray for you! And if you or someone you love is facing a cancer diagnosis, may these articles be an encouragement to you.

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First Time Jitters and Virtual Friends

First time jitters – terrifying, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, heart pounding joy—all of that! Those feelings were just a few of the feelings I had when first meeting Pam Jarvis. I’m an adult who’s met lots of new people and made a lot of new friends over the course of my life. This time was different. Why?

Well, I had spoken with Pam over the phone since 2000 but I had never met her in person.  Some people thought I was crazy; some people thought she was crazy; but when she proclaimed generously, “I’ve got to meet you! I’m getting an airplane ticket. Will you come to Ft. Worth, Texas for a week?” I said, “yes!” I was thrilled;  and just a bit nervous too.

First time jitters and virtual friendsWhen I got there, it was quite a meeting, really a reunion of sorts. Pam and I had worked virtually together for years, studied the Bible together by phone, shared our time, trials and advice. We had become friends in spirit. So while it may have been our first face to face meeting, in many ways it felt like the most normal thing in the world.

Pam is such a good friend, I thought I couldn’t love her more; but as the week went by quickly, I found new wonderful little things to enjoy about Pam. I’ll share more about our week together in future posts. I’m disciplined and am naturally reserved. Pam is sociable, vivacious, a genuine connector and lover of people. She’s unflappable, I’m a bit of a wreck if things don’t go as planned. These two opposites had a blast! Pam knows how to roll out the red carpet and did she ever! Here a picture of all the lovely goodies she had chosen for me. first time jitters and virtual friendsA beautiful bathing suit (it fit perfectly), two lovely dresses in my favorite color purple and a basket of all kinds of lovely toiletries, the kind you’d never buy for yourself! It was as if she knew me better even than I knew myself!

first time jitters and virtual friends

Before I left for my trip, my lovely friend Dona prayed for my trip along with my other Bible study buddies. I was dumbstruck by her insights into my trip and continued to ponder them while I was with Pam. Dona said that meeting Pam would be just a tiny foretaste of meeting Jesus in person for the first time. I love that!! There is an old song by E.E. Hewitt (1898) redone by Brad Paisley “When We All Get To Heaven”  that has a lyric “When we all get to heaven, What a day of rejoicing that will be!”

I’ve never met Jesus face to face, but I know Him through His Word, through prayer, through other Christians. One day, I will meet Him face to face. A more recent song by MercyMe wonders, “I can only imagine what my eyes will see when your face is before me.” Sometimes, I’m not sure I can even imagine! How would you feel about meeting the King of the Universe in person for the first time? He is the very special Lord of your life that you’ve known and loved for years, what would you do? What would you say? What would you feel? Can you imagine? What a day of rejoicing indeed!!

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