Monday, December 29, 2014

When Jubilee Is Here


My One Word for 2014 has been bigger than I am.

And weird.

All while being kind of mysteriously unsettling, yet exciting.


It’s a word rarely used in the places I hang out.

When was the last time you worked that word into your conversation?

“Hey! Jubilee friends!”

Ya, me either.

A word like jubilee doesn't just pop into your mind and make you feel all warm and fuzzy like some words. Honestly there are so many nice words I could have gone with, such as: focus, love, or grateful.

But that is the problem.

This choosing One Word?

Well, actually I believe the One Word chose me.

Even as I type, I am more convinced than ever, that God gave me this odd word, jubilee and He is still unfolding what that means in my life.

Historically the Year of Jubilee, comes every fiftieth year and was to be observed by God’s people. It was how God protected His people from ever permanently losing their freedom or inheritance since all debts were to be forgiven and slaves were set free. What would happen in our world if that happened?

From what I've read, the Year of Jubilee is no longer observed because all the tribes of Israel do not currently occupy the land they were given in the Old Testament.  

May I just suggest this? I think there are lots of people who believe in Jesus who aren't occupying their promised land either. People like me.

When I first came to trust in Jesus I claimed Isaiah 61: 1-4 as verses that spoke to my life calling.  It would be years before I understood that Jesus himself began His ministry by quoting from Isaiah 61, verses 1 and 2.

I found it interesting that this source claims that His official ministry began on Wednesday, September 11, 26 A.D., the Day of Atonement, which began.... the Jubilee year.

So there is that.

And I’d say, that this Year of Jubilee thing, was important to Jesus, so it is still important.

Part of the problem for me, was to apply this word, jubilee, to my 21st century life.

What I knew about the word jubilee, was that this was a time of great rejoicing and liberation. A time when things are returned to their rightful owners. A time when poor people are set free.

So in the beginning of 2014, I scribbled down a simple prayer asking God to truly set me free. 

Less than a month later I was flying home from attending the IF:Gathering and this song popped up on my i-pod. 

"A time of jubilee is coming." 

"A time when young and old return to Jesus."

That is the message of this song. 

Flying high above the clouds, can I just tell you that it was a very moving thing to let the words of this song pulse over my soul? It has been like an anthem for my year. 

It was as if God Himself sent me a reminder that He was in it all. He was in all the stuff that has made up my messy life. He has not forgotten all the things that have ever, ever happened. It gave me a deep sense that it was past time to get ready and live free, so that others could find their way to Him and live free too.

I had some ideas what freedom would look like in my own life. 

I wanted to be debt free, lose some weight and throw off some things in my life that hinder how I walk with the Lord.

That would have been a very human approach to what freedom looks like. 

What has happened is that the Lord has been lovingly speaking to me about things in my heart and how those things translate in my daily life. 

He has revealed places that I compromise.

Things I considered, not a big deal, He has spoken to me as important.

There has been a transformation in my thoughts and tests of my integrity. All of which has shaken up my self-life. The life I live when no one else is looking.

There have been plenty of people who have said this: “Most people will not read a Bible, but they will study your life.”

So every little thing I do matters. I'm not talking about perfection, but I am talking about making one sincere integrity choice at a time.

It matters how I speak to the clerk in the slow check-out or that I am kind to people who were unkind toward me. 

And forgiving people, there is always that. And there is the hope that others will forgive me too.

There was a matter that God put on my heart to go apologize to someone I had wronged over thirty years ago. It involved returning something. Someday I hope to write more about that. It didn't seem like a life changing thing, but God clearly placed it on my heart to do. Obedience brings peace is all I know.

At Thanksgiving there was an email I felt prompted to send. Just a few kind, heart-felt words to someone who had been a source of deep pain toward me for years. I didn't expect a response. I didn't get a response. Still I felt it was something that God was asking of me, so I have tried to obey in love.

So many daily choices seem insignificant.

Some harder than others.

Mostly there is my normal response and there is the one that fly's in the face of my flesh and is grounded in love.

This has been a year to release the outcomes to the Lord.

A year when people’s opinions have lost their power. 

In fact that has been a huge-little thing. God revealed how I've always wanted the acceptance of certain people. Even as a little girl, I can recount the people and times I longed for acceptance and it was withheld. And as an adult some of my deepest wounds have come from people who I loved, not loving me back.

People’s opinions have lost their power but God in His mercy has replaced an attitude of hardness toward those who reject me, with a feeling of honest love and prayer on their behalf.

This year, I have more deeply embraced that there is never condemnation with Jesus.

Someone does need to hear that.

Whenever He brings up things in my heart that needs transformed, He does it with deep love and for His glory. Never for shaming. 

No matter how others treat me I serve a God who has given blood-bought promises for all who believe and I can trust His love for me.

Friend you can trust His love for you too.

It has been in these small things that freedom has found its way into nooks and crannies of my heart that I had no idea were keeping me captive.

There has been a huge shift in my life of doing things.

I’m a big doer.

I would rather make a decision, take action and be wrong, than sit around doing nothing.

Maybe the word, “wait” will be for 2015?

Many things in my life are fairly public and I have felt a shifting to do many things that would be unseen.  

In all this, self-preservation or being concerned about self-promotion have faded.

My year of jubilee has been a year of yielding.

Yielding my ideas of what I want God to do, and being more attentive to what He is doing.

There is so much power and freedom in that friends.

Surrender seems like you lose, but it is what brings the victory.

I’m grateful that the Lord has given me the platforms He has. Things like this blog are a gift where I can write words that bring Him glory, yet if God wants to advance it or shut it down, that is up to Him.

Even though I adore you all, I’m not writing for the accolades of people.

More freedom.

Hannah Whitall Smith said this; “No life is complete that fails in the little things.”

These have been days of developing my inward-life which has brought freedom in my outward life.

I haven’t arrived, I’m just on the journey of untangling the junk and allowing God access to my whole heart, soul, mind and strength.

One more kind of interesting piece of information that came up about The Year of Jubilee?

Some believe that a Biblical Sabbatical Year began on September 25, 2014 and runs until September 13, 2015. This source contends  that the 70th Jubilee will begin on September 23, 2015.

These things are bigger than me. 

The study of eschatology is too much for this one wife, mom, grandma, & lover of Jesus. But I know this; what was important to God in Genesis through Revelations will be fulfilled at some point. And somehow Jubilee is part of that. The event on the calendar and the right-now reality. Ultimately the Year of Jubilee is a foreshadowing of the Ultimate Jubilee. 

The Day when we are all truly set free, all things are redeemed and everything is turned back to the rightful owner -which is Jesus.

And today is the day the Lord has made.

It was for freedom that Christ has set us free.

As we wrap up another year, may we follow Him fully and embrace His deep love for us.

It is in that, we will find true freedom.

I hope you know the One that loves you so deeply. 

May we not only know Him, but may we be people who walk in freedom.

Someone please blow a rams horn?

May the celebration begin. 

Jubilee friends!

Check out how this woman is spreading beauty?

Monday, December 22, 2014

What Does Christmas Looks Like

It’s quiet.

Only the whirl of the motor and the crunching sound that tires make as they turn under the weight of the vehicle against icy groves in the road can be heard. 

The low-beams try to pierce the darkness but the light seems to shatter against the black. Misty fog adds another layer to the depth that dulls my senses. 

It is unnerving to be up this early and driving into this murky obscurity.

To be honest it is dangerous. 

This part of the highway is where the lifeless carcasses of deer can often be seen laying on the side of the road which makes me wonder if the people who had the impact, are all okay. 

The roads are ice packed and visibility is not much more than the front of the car. 

So I drive slow, straining to see into the darkness, wanting the light of day to come.

That’s kind of how it was before the very first Christmas.

Heavy darkness enveloped the whole world. 

All of mankind was trapped in the darkness of sin. Sin that weighed thick and heavy. 

Heaviness that enveloped all of God’s creation. And the very same God who spun the Universe into existence knew that people could not find their way alone so he came to earth as a baby to walk to the cross. 

All this He did, so darkness would be shattered. 

That is the story of Christmas.

The Light, coming to shine in the darkness.

These past weeks, well, it's been hard not to rush around grabbing for what I think has to be done to get ready for Christmas. 

All around in this busy crashing world people are trying to figure out what Christmas really looks like. 

There are the decorations, the gifts, and the mounds of food.

There are the children singing sweet songs and the lights strung up high.

In my own life, Jesus Christ is often buried under layers of activity and the darkness that sets in all around me. 

I always want a simple Christmas. 

One big noisy holiday that has more quiet mixed in. 

One, where the gifts wrapped, will be a blessing.  

One that has soft lighting sprinkled everywhere, because this holiday is really all about the Light.

That morning as  I drove into the darkness, the sun finally began to rise, slow. 

The streaming light pierced the night and unveiled thick frost all laid out like a prickly blanket on the landscape.

As if God Himself has taken His strong sweeping arm and waved it across the terrain of trees, fence-lines and houses, everything was flocked with white sparkling frost. 

Like a Christmas painting, my world had been decked out for Christmas. 

The rising sun broke through all the darkness and now sunlight flared off of the brilliant white scenery. 

That scene was breathtaking.

The light had pieced the darkness.

What a picture of what God has done for us.

The Light has come and shines into the darkness.

That Light has a name.


Christ came to eclipse the darkness.

That is what Christmas looks like friends. 

You are seen by Him. His light can invade every piece of darkness in your life. 

So, go slower than you feel like you can. Embrace the people within your reach. Be the light to those who need you to shine life into their hearts today.

Unwrap the real Gift of light, peace and joy.

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light; 
on those living in the land
of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Finding Joy

I drive slower on the way home than I normally do. 

The neighborhoods that I pass through, glimmer with lights that dance into the cold wind, like illuminated glory that cannot be suppressed by the darkness.

The words of our Pastor whirl in my head. 

He spoke today on laying a foundation of joy. 

And this joy is not dependent on the circumstances I find myself currently in. His point was that joy should indeed be a reality of who I am, because of Whose I am. 

The fact is, this season has not typically been a time of great joy for me over the years. 

Holidays seem to bring to the surface of the heart, all the sorrow of the soul. 

Loved ones lost, expectations failed and relationships that are strained on a normal day, are now stretched to the ripping point.

I've sat alone in pews on Christmas Eve trying to keep sobs muffled and I have eaten the weeks leftovers on Christmas Day, by myself. Those days have left me looking for this comfort that is suppose to be part of Christmas.

You know this too, how the world strains to find the joy that we hear about.  

We buy up toys and vacations. We plan prime rib meals and nibble on platters of cookies, but still there is a longing for the deep, real, wonder of Christmas.

This right now season of Advent has been stirring it all up in me. 

A season of preparing for the celebrating of the coming of Christ and the lighting of a candle each week. 

And this seven days, the focus is joy. 

I want joy to be a reality not just a word study.

So, it didn't surprise me when I saw that my word for the year, jubilee, means to shout for joy! 

Jubilee was a celebration when all the slaves were to be set free. And in Hebrew, it involved a blast of a trumpet. 

This old, rarely used word, seems to tie, shouting for joy, with being free.

As someone once said, "....that is a message that will preach."  

There is something about lifting our voice, engaging our heart and shouting out joy to the Lord that brings our freedom, no matter what our life circumstances are. 

And it isn't just the shouting or the joy that bring the victory. 

It is Who we are believing in, that brings the joy that makes us shout! 

There are over twenty verses in the Old Testament that make reference to shouting for joy.

As their part, the people marched and then at the sound of the trumpet they let out a shout for joy. That was their part and the victory delivered was God's part. 

It is still that way. Only now we shout for joy because our Deliverer has come. 

That is what this Christmas celebration is about. 


His coming as a baby. 

His choosing to meet us in a manger in the mess and among the mire.

A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, so we could unwrap the free gift of eternal life that His death on the cross would secure for us. 

Jesus plus nothing, and it all equals joy.

So no matter how much wreakage is in our lives there can be joy.

I want to shout for joy and embrace some quiet. 

I want to slow down this week, yes, this week.--One of the notoriously craziest weeks of the year. 

I want to sit across the table from a friend who isn't afraid to have the hard, deep conversations.

I want to notice the people who get overlooked and passed by.  

I want to sip pretend tea, from play teacups with the tousle headed children who ask so many questions.

I want to dance slow with my husband.

This is more of what I think living joy might look like. 

Even in the failures of my flesh, joy can be one of the most fundamental things that people know about me. 

It cannot be purchased or drummed up with emotion. 

It has nothing to do with how good things are or aren't.

It has to be in me, since Christ himself, resides in my heart.

Can I challenge you too friends?

Can you join me and take time in all that you have going on in your life, to shout to the Lord with joy and get quiet enough to embrace what that looks like in your life?

It will make our days more full of what we all long for. 

And I believe that we all long to be be truly free. 

These words became are so true in my own life, when I believed that Jesus came to earth as a baby to walk to the cross for my sins:

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. 
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.
Psalm 30:11

Embrace Jesus with me? And our joy will be like the lights that glimmer and dance into the cold dark world and illuminate the glory of God which cannot be suppressed by the darkness. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Expect Delays

So, I’ll begin in the beginning.

This spring, I had timed my decent to town right down to the last minute.

That is what I do.

It takes sixteen minutes to arrive at the backdoor of my office, so I leave fifteen minutes before I need to be there, hoping that I'll hit all the traffic lights just right.

This particular morning I was making it happen. It involved a little bit of speed and a break in traffic at the highway intersection. Just as I was coming into the area where all the morning traffic intersects I saw the ribbon of orange construction cones and amber lights blinking this message: Expect Delays. Road Construction next two miles.

My poorly laid plan, crept to a halt. That day and every day since there have indeed been delays.

It wasn't long after that, when the little cloud who wanted to grow up and be a hail storm came over our home. I wrote a little about it here.

We embarked on a journey of gathering estimates and talking to contractors. We have a large, thick notebook full of information on all the repairs and upgrades we decided to do on our home. We started at the top with the roof. Then we worked around the outside with soffit, fascia, and siding. This revealed windows and doors that had not been installed correctly or were poorly made to begin with.

We were told once the work began, it would take two weeks… but expect delays.

2014 is screaming to the end like a movie stuck on fast forward and we are still plodding along.

When I drive to town, the sign flashes the reminder. 

When I come home, I live in the dust of slower-than-expected progress. 

This has been a season of learning about patience and process. 

Me, the woman who wants the lines to be short at the checkout, my gratification for chocolate to be instant and prayers answered sooner than later. 

One thing I can tell you with a degree of authority, is that God is not usually in a hurry like I am.

We have examples of people in the Bible who had to learn this too. 

What seems slow-moving in my opinion, usually means that things are happening behind the scenes, which I am not aware of. 

I want to skip all the middle stuff. You know, all the steps that arrive at the whole?

Step by step the road construction advances. Stage by stage the work on the house progresses. 

Why does a ten minute delay frustrate me? And what does a few weeks later than projected matter, if the contractors all do quality work and restore our home to soundness?

I believe God cares about the details of our lives. 

Yes, He cares about the construction process going on in my zip code of the world, but more, I believe God cares about the building up of my character, patience, and dependency on Him. 

These delays have developed a sweet anticipation of what the completed work will be like. Not only in the tangible things but also the stirring going on in my heart. 

The delays do not mean there is inactivity. 

Would you join me and slow down to embrace the process?

You have heard it before, how life is not about the arriving, but about the journey. 

The Message says it like this in 2 Peter 3:9: "He's giving everyone space and time to change."

Giving people space and time to change. The journey always brings transformation.

And if that is true friends, we can expect delays.

Monday, December 1, 2014

When You Are Waiting

I had waited for this last week with sweet anticipation.

Waiting for the kids to all be home and for the gathering around turkey, mashed potatoes and pie. 

I waited to embrace the faces of all my grandchildren and to join hands around the table with everything served up with love, on fine white china. 

It all happened and was sweeter than I had hoped.

There were conversations and time spent with family who lingered long and relaxed, splayed out on the ground, with sale ads and bursts of laughter.  

There were consecutive days all strung together of sweet unstructured time spent with so many loved ones and friends.

Days filled with grace, not perfection.

I tried to breathe it all in.

I tried to let go of the things that maybe should have been done. Things such as this blog post. 

Instead I embraced babies that needed their flushed cheeks kissed and sat to hear the heart of those who had words to share.

Isn't it just hard to let go of the good, to embrace the best? 

Isn't it hard, not miss what you have been waiting for by being preoccupied with the things that distract us?

Well, all too soon we waved goodbye to the last sweet face.

And this morning as I lean down to pray, I notice the sprinkle of glitter that covers my footstool. In fact this glitter can be found all though our house, even in closets, bathtubs and on the beds. The two little girls with bouncy waves of hair, they are also the ones who like to dress up as Princess Rose and Princess Snow White. As they ran through the house with wands in hand and lopsided crowns, their dresses leaving a trail of pixie dust, as we played round after round of the game, Sardines.

If you are like me and have never played the game before, it is a version of hide and seek. One person hides, and the others split up and look for that person. When you find the hiding person, well, you have to hide with the hiding person until everyone is hiding in that one place. The last person to find the hiding group is the next hider.

Yes, it sounds silly and it was.

The laughter of small children, grown men and women stacked in bath tubs, closets, and behind couches rings precious in my heart. It was honestly so fun.

To live a life of thanksgiving is easy, yet does require a little of living with intention. Mostly the thankful life beckons us to live fully in the moments that present themselves.

On the last warm days before Thanksgiving, I wanted to drag out Christmas decor, but resisted.

It seems like the celebration of Thanksgiving and real living can get run over by the noise of Christmas with sales and being so consumed with my own life that I can’t see the needs in other lives. Those Pinterest boards of glossy perfection and loud commercialism all around, it is easy for me to rush though, to brush past, the day I am living.  

And now the leftovers have been eaten and the rhythm of the season seem to shift as naturally and as drastically as the temperature here. Yes, Saturday ended nearly at  70 degrees and we woke to the sharp bite of 9 degrees and wind. As if on cue, we had the fire place lit, and drug out the tree while JQ and I told each other that we were going to keep it simple this year for Christmas.

Honestly how do you do that in this tangled world?

I think Thanksgiving helped prepare my heart for the Christmas. Just to pause. To gather and give thanks. Taking time to reflect with gratitude, seems to set my heart up for the days ahead. 

Just as Thanksgiving can be buried under the push of all the glossy world, clamoring and counting the days left to shop, I can miss the real point of Christmas. 

Sometimes I love the gifts more than I love the Giver.

So this year I am counting the days of Advent.

Advent, is a Latin word that means “coming.”

And since Advent is coming and hasn't arrived, there is some waiting.

Ann Voskamp has profound truth in her book, The Greatest Gift, Unwrapping The Full Love Story of Christmas. She points out that in the Bible, before we ever read of the first Advent, the coming of Christ as a baby, we read about the family tree of Jesus.

It has always been of some strange comfort to me that Jesus has some crazy family in His genealogy. Imperfect people. All sorts of messed up folks, that fought and lied and who had affairs and who had more than a few dark secrets.

Perhaps best of all, are the women named in the line of Jesus. Women who the world would look on as unfit to be named in a royal line.

I love it.

Love. It.

It has never been about how good we are, but only about the perfect Gift of the Great Giver.


He is the greatest Love Story ever told. 

The whole Bible threads stories together of people who were waiting. 

Waiting for the Miracle. 

Waiting for the Promised One.

They were waiting for the fulfillment of the scriptures that said a King was coming.

The very God who spoke all of creation into being, comes to earth as a tiny baby. This swaddled Son is the Savior of the World.

Have you accepted the Gift He offers?

Have you embraced the fullness and freedom of that Gift?

Our Christmas tree is now lit with soft lights, in anticipation of the Christmas celebration. 

And these days of waiting for the big day, I am counting. 

I'm not counting how many shopping days are left, but I'm counting rings on the family tree of Christ.

Would you be interested in joining me?

It would be sweet to journey and count down the days together, remembering how The Story unfolds from Genesis to Revelations.

And as we wait, as we count the days until Christmas, would you share what God is doing in your life? 

What is something you are waiting on? 

I'd love to pray for you.

© Rhonda Quaney