Let it Shine

One of the most beautiful lights, are the sunsets and sunrises.
The holiday season is here and for some it means lots of joy, cheer, love, and lights. On the flip side, it can mean chaos, debt, high blood pressure as a result of stress, dreading the full house of family and drama, or simply the thought of going at it alone. Do you ever feel like hope is lost when you’re surrounded by so much negativity or evil? Do you feel your own faith is slipping right through your fingers? I do. It’s so easy to overlook the joy and love that is surrounding us especially since we live in a broken world. It’s so easy to walk downhill, on that slippery slope. Sometimes, negativity or darkness blinds us from love and seeking joy. It’s hard to live in a broken world with so many unanswered questions, with the feeling of anger, or the weight of darkness. We may not live in a perfect world, but that glimmer of hope is there! Let me explain…

One of the many memories of listening to my Pee Paw preach, were the Sunday nights we had a lighting ceremony right around Christmas time. The congregation gathered as one large circle under the old, wood siding auditorium holding 1 candlestick (unlit). Then there was darkness. It got quiet. It felt lonely. He spoke of the experience being surrounded by complete darkness in Mammoth Cave (a National Park in our very own backyard in Kentucky) and the depth of darkness felt there. He reflected on the magic of how the strike of 1 match lit up the entire cave! In the auditorium, he would light one candle to demonstrate how 1 light could illuminate the entire room from the floors to the vaulted ceiling displaying the shadow of every person standing side by side. That one candle represented one person. Then he lit a candle next to him and as the glow covered the auditorium, the glimmer of light got brighter and each detail around the room including our faces were highlighted more and more with each new light. Then he continued on with the meaning of light with scripture. Can you imagine the symbolism? When looking up the symbolism of light on the World Wide Web, light has a lot of positive meanings such as goodness, life or hope. When surrounded by darkness, light attracts our eyes and gives us hope. Imagine if we traveled with our one little light even on the darkest path, how much goodness, life and hope we could spread around the world!
My Mee Maw directed a cherub choir when I was little, every year, all of us kids stood in the formation of a tree and held flashlights with colored plastic over the light to create a Christmas Tree and sing:
"I'd like to be a Christmas Tree
with lots of colored lights on me,
I'd shine my star so bright above,
To tell the world of Jesus' love."
No one said being a Christian is easy. Even Christians in the Bible were persecuted and endured the unimaginable, but their faith pulled them through. There are days we feel completely lost, confused, and even hopeless. Being a Christian is not a cure for all, nor are Christians perfect. In fact, no human is perfect. Being surrounded by negativity, evil and the unknown are all circumstances that can drain my joy and blind my faith.

There are days I have no clue what I’m doing, what my future holds, or what God has planned for me or my husband and I as a couple. Confidence is a constant struggle of mine that is like a ball and chain around my ankles. In fact, during a recent hearing test, I found out I only recognize about 50% of the words I hear during conversations on a daily basis. My severe hearing loss is challenging enough! Although, misunderstanding some words do create quite some comical moments, if you can only imagine the confusion of the conversations between 3 words (or 2 depending on how my ears interpreted it): mortar fire vs. mortified. I suppose these are entertaining moments that lighten up the mood. My poor word recognition is low enough for doctors to often suggest a cochlear implant. My brain has to work harder to listen and I rely heavily on reading lips (definitely a plus, especially when someone wants to know what the person said across the room or on TV!). The mental brain work is draining and because of this, my confidence is on the rocks in almost everything I do especially the work force. Regardless if I hear or not, there have been many times when I have faced disrespect or witnessed someone else endure it and wondered “why would anyone treat another like that?” In addition, it’s hard to trust anyone after being robbed or taken advantage of. And, the walk with infertility isn’t easy with lots of unanswered questions. To be honest, I struggle with my faith at times trying to understand the world around me which is impossible for anyone to understand. But, I couldn’t walk this life without my relationship with God.

God brings a glimmer of hope, peace, love and comfort through all good times and bad. He gives strength to overcome all obstacles (Phil 4:13) and redirects us to cling to the simple things around us that are worthy. He removes the heavy weight of worries so we can focus on the present (Matt 6:33-34). Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship with our Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. Living through Him brings light into this world regardless of the darkness surrounding us (John 8:12). Instead of feeding into the circle of evil and fueling the fire, we can choose to put it out with kindness which brings so much joy (Luke 6:35). Over all the good, the bad, the highs and lows and the chaos, in the end love truly perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-13).

Sharing simple acts of kindness and showing respect can spread love like the light in a dark room. We cannot control others or the world around us, but what we can control is doing our part to share love, kindness, and compassion. We can choose to shine the light. There may be darkness and evil around us, but don’t let darkness creep into your world. Let your little light SHINE!  


This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine…

Take a break from the media, politics, drama and seek stories of joy, inspiration, and love or simply share acts of kindness…the joy is there:    
  • Follow @pupsandkiddos on Instagram – each photo will make you smile, like this one: 
  • Mila is quite the entertaining kid via @kcstauffer on Instagram, be sure to see her Thanksgiving clip and her spill about Santa
  • Check out what your locals are doing…here my Uncle, Chief Jeff Cross, is part of programs at their police department to provide backpacks for foster children and an Autism Awareness Program: Radcliff Police Department launches new community programs
  • For the athletes, a doctor saved another athlete’s life in an Ironman race and was later surprised with a spot at the World Ironman Championships in Kona: Surprise for heroic triathlete
  • Volunteering is definitely one way of lighting up the world. One of the local organizations that stands close to my heart, providing children with cerebral palsy opportunities to Tri My Best in a triathlon (I also volunteer in the summer camps where they can play every sport all summer!). There are lots of great local organizations to check out: Tri My Best Triathlon turns kids with disabilities into stars
  • High school boys honor a homeless veteran with a funeral: Homeless Veteran is not forgotten
  • Words of wisdom from a 3-year old to her mom: Why God took so long...
  • Good News! Today has a section devoted to inspirational stories – good news to watch, hear, and read: Good News with Today 
  • Watch inspiring movies: Wonder, Courageous, and more.
  • Search YouTube for a few laughs: animal videos, kids are always cute and funny, and there are a couple (clean) comedians that will give you the belly giggles, Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan.
  • Check out the outreach programs at your church. Our church serves various parts of the community in our city such as the schools, other ministries and food drives.
  • Simply thank people for their service or maybe start with “good morning.” Each time I race, I’m [breathlessly] yelling “Thank you!” at almost every corner and road block there is a volunteer or someone in red/blue. When I just run around the neighborhood, I wave to folks and yell “good morning.” It feels good even if they don’t hear me or give me a weird look. Mainly, because that joy is contagious and most, are just happy to know someone sees them.
  • Charities: there are several to choose from to participate in or give. So many around the world that need support, but don’t get too overwhelmed or stress about time and/or money…start with something on your heart. 

Bible verse of the day: You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  ~ Matthew 5:14-16

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. ~ Psalm 119:105

Quote of the day: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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