Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's the Story?

Love it!  The type of music I can turn up LOUD and jam to while I'm doing the dishes... the kind I sing to at the top of my voice - to everyone else's dismay...except for the One I'm praising :)  The kind that lives in my IPod and sees play on a regular basis... the kind where the songs are played over and over and over.  Who is it?????  Laura Story.

I saw a promo for her on a Third Day email that I received to my inbox.  Mac Powell was touting her as one of the up and coming Christian artists.  As a matter of fact some of her songs you may already know if you are into Praise and Worship music --- like Indescribable - you know the lyrics "Indescribable, uncontainable - You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name - You are amazing God."  This former aspiring symphony conductor now holds the award for Inspirational Album of the Year and Praise and Worship Album of the Year for the 2008 release "Great God Who Saves".   She has quickly become my new favorite.  Of course, I have my old stand-bys that I love dearly... but you know how it is... when you find a new album that you REALLY like...  it's like a new romance - you try to listen ever single chance you get.

The reason I absolutely adore this gem is not only for the type of music - sounding much like Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs - the acoustic guitar driven choruses, but for her lyrics... they happen to hit me RIGHT WHERE I AM.  Isn't funny how God does that?  He delivers exactly what you need - when you need it...every. single. time.  Check it out.

Here are the lyrics to one of my fav songs - Great God Who Saves-

Oh the promises of God, the Rock on which I stand, the Truth to which I cling. His love that knows no bounds showers us with grace withholding no good thing. When I stumble and my faith is small I will call Your Name - great God who saves.

And I would have despaired if I had not believed that You would come to me  great God who saves. And in my darkest hour Your mercy and Your power reaches out to me great God who saves.

Oh the mystery of God holds all space and time yet knows my every need. The vastness of Your power the strength You give to me. I soar on eagles' wings and when I stumble and my faith is small I will call Your name Great God who saves.

And I would have despaired if I had not believed that You would come to me great God who saves. And in my darkest hour Your mercy and Your power reaching out to me great God who saves.

And in my pain and in my need You heard me callin out Your name.  When I was blind and could not see You stepped in a saved a wretch like me, You saved a wretch like me.

And I would have despaired if I had not believed that You would come to me great God who saves. And in my darkest hour Your mercy and Your power reaching out to me great God who saves.  I would have despaired if I had not believed that You would come to me great God who saves. And in my darkest hour Your mercy and Your power reaching out to me great God who saves. Great God who Saves.

It gives me chills just to think about the lyrics...  "oh the mystery of God holds all space and time yet knows my every need "  - have I been THERE lately.  He has provided every time in that past months, weeks, days!  AWESOME!  How personal!

So here's a chance to check it out without even leaving the site.... on the side bar to the right is my playlist... on pause for you to turn on... cuz sometimes when I go to a site - I have a hard time concentrating if someone else's playlist is going while I'm trying to read. She's the only one on there - just for you... hope you enjoy it.

PS - so sorry - the song I was looking for - the one I typed out isn't available - but here is another one to listen to  called Grace -- also very good. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

1000 Gifts: A Successful Christmas

When I say we had a successful Christmas it sounds a bit odd.  This year our family really tried to focus on the fact that the GIFT of Christmas is Jesus and the reason we exchange gifts is a representation of the greatest gift we have ever been given - namely the opportunity for salvation through Him!  My boys didn't receive nearly as much - 3 gifts each - 2 of 6 gift total are shared gifts for them.  But seeing their eyes and hearts just as excited about making a birthday cake for Jesus as opening Christmas gifts was a real blessing for this momma.  So here are my 1000 gifts continued...

0112.  The simplicity of Christmas - remembering our true GIFT given by our Heavenly Father to last forever - never rusting or breaking.

0113.  Cookies by the dozen, made, wrapped, and shared with friends

0114.  Phone calls from far away - the closest that family hearts can get - but knowing that we're tied by something much more lasting.

0115. our quiet Christmas night - sleepy heads nodding off to sleep - a very busy day and a new one to come with just as much excitement

0116.  helping pack up a kindred spirit - my friend Susan - feeling the call to obedience and heeding it even though she really doesn't desire to go... what a testimony!

0117.  lunch at Chick-fil-A with the moving crew - all members of our church family - coming out to help a sister and say goodbye with one last meal.

0118.  seeing old friends at church from "past life experiences" and inviting them to join us for Bible Study... a glimpse of God's beautiful tapestry that connects us time and again even though we haven't seen each other in ages.

0119.  experiencing the truth that God NEVER changes... even though my actions and beliefs sometimes reflect the contrary.

0120.  a wound being not as serious as it could have been on December 23rd... a kind ER doctor who was the best thing for my 3 year old boy

0121.  crashing out during a breathing treatment -  in new pjs

0122.  sharing fun places with childhood friends - sharing the day at a familiar hang out with new exhibits.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Mary Moment

Do you ever wonder sometimes why God is doing what He is doing?  Not questioning His sovereignty or His authority... but just wonder why He chooses those He does?  Like Mary - I'm sure she had a lot of questions.  Not disbelieving the Father's capability to do what He did - but being surprised that He chose her.  Why her?  She was from a poor family.  She was just a teenager.  She was just - Mary. I'm sure she wondered what He saw in her.  She was sinful just like the rest of humanity.  She was just another girl.

But that's what is so God.  He used the least of these to bring about some of His biggest miracles.  Take just a second and think about it.  He used Abraham and Sarah in their late 90s to have their first child that would eventually bring a Savior to humanity.  He used Gideon and an army of 300 to defeat a mighty Midianite army. He used David, a common shepherd boy, to defeat a giant and later become king of the children of Israel.

God takes people who are willing to be used.  They may be confused misfits - but because of sin - aren't we all?  God is looking for those whom He can use.  Those He uses must be pliable to His molding.  The more stiff the clay the more it needs to be worked.  Being worked clay is tough.  Obedient clay can be formed into vessels used for a purpose, otherwise the clay might as well be a pile of dirt on the ground to be trampled.

My desire is to be a beautiful vessel that the Lord would want to put on His dinner table, as it were.  You know - the kind that is precious to its Owner.  And from my vessel I want to flow pure Living Water... you know the kind... the kind that was described in the Gospel of John when Jesus met the woman at the well.  I want from my life to flow easily and freely the gift of Living Water that Jesus gives to those who are lost without Him.  

But sometimes when I see how HE is working in my life I wonder... why me?  What can He do with me?  The answer - if I have an obedient heart and attitude - is whatever He wants.  May it be so.

How Many Kings

I borrowed a CD from our local library from a new group called Downhere that has caught my ear.  Really great sound, but even better - really GREAT lyrics!  Thought I'd share on this night before Christmas - a true celebration of a baby KING born in a cave/stable so long ago, but a KING who resides in hearts of men - the men He came to save:

How Many Kings

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we've projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in His mother's shawl
Just a child
Is this who we've waited for? 'Cause

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek
Because we believe
Gold for His honor, and frankincense for His pleasure
And myrrh for the cross that He will suffer
Now, do you believe? Is this who we've waited for?
All for me, all for you

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

May you have a blessed Christmas remembering the Messiah with the TRUTH that "the message of the cradle is NOTHING without the message of the CROSS!"

Difficult Gifts and Obedient "Thank Yous"

This morning as I was driving around finishing up a few things I was listening to KLOVE - one of the regular stations on our radio dial.  The DJs were talking about a well known Christian author, Jennifer Rothschild, and a story that she told about one of her Christmases.

They quickly patched in to the prerecorded anecdote that she was telling about a Christmas when she was about 8 years old.  She recalled that she really wanted a Barbie doll.   As their tradition the kids were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve before bed.  Jennifer KNEW that the Barbie she so desired was in THAT certain box under the tree. The children carefully chose  boxes they wanted to open... both boxes happened to be from a favorite "cool" aunt who always got the best presents for the kids.  Jennifer's brother went first - the boxes were approximately the same size.  So as her brother tore open the wrapping to reveal a G.I. Joe complete with the battle scar on his face Jennifer became excited because she just knew that her aunt had gotten her a Barbie doll.  She anxiously unwrapped the package to find a plain box underneath... she continued excitedly thinking that her aunt was just trying to be sneaky.  Each piece of tissue was carefully taken out of the box only to find days of the week underwear.  You could imagine what this 8 year old wanted to say, but as her mother smiled a "porcelain mother smile" from across the room and reminded her "What do you say?"  Jennifer obediently said "Thank you" for the unexpected unwanted difficult gift.

She went on to associate the "difficult" gift that she received with many of the "difficult gifts" that we receive in life.  Many times God allows tragedy, pain, and suffering to come in to our lives.  A loved one with a diagnosis of cancer or the loss of a child.  Financial stress or marital problems.  It may be for our growth, for our chastening,  or to draw us nearer to Him.  We usually don't know when it's coming and it's typically not a welcomed gift.  However, as Jennifer was reminded to be obedient and say "thank you" for the gift that was difficult to receive, she reminded me to say "thank you" for the difficult gifts that God will allow in my life.  Gratitude, like love, is not a feeling.  It's a choice.  We obediently choose to express gratitude not for the gift, but for the honor of the giver.  So as you face trials this year, and they will come, remember to show gratitude and heart of thankfulness to honor the Giver for whatever difficult gift you may receive, because He has His best in mind for you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

1000 Gifts

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Matthew 1:23 

102.  the opportunity to show what you've learned through a test - and passing it! Thank YOU, God!

103.  a visit with a hurting friend to tell her she is loved and cared for during a hard time of the year.
104.  the privilege to be on my knees before the Father - and that He knows why I'm there even before I ask

105.  being blessed to be told of the potential that is seen in me - may I live up to that potential for God's glory.

106.  sweet kisses from a three year old.
107. a 5 year old boy wanting to cuddle with his momma.
108.  loving, being a hard choice at times.... but SO WORTHWHILE.
109.  God's provision for His children - not missing a beat.
110.  a birthday celebration - with cake, and games, and our focus - not being on us... but on an infant King who came to save the world.
111.  the dirty kitchen meaning food for dinner, loads of laundry meaning clothes for our backs, a cluttered house - for all of the extra blessings that God bestows and allows.

Praise be to God for His indescribable Gift!


Friday, December 18, 2009

I need a Mentor

 Reading... love it.  Unfortunately, too much time is lost doing other things - settling arguments, cleaning, folding laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cleaning - you get the picture.  Every so often a book grabs me and, against my better judgment (in pushing things aside) I read. 

Wednesday I started a book that a friend loaned me (Thanks Amy).  I gobbled this book up in one day.  All 220 pages of it.  Of course I was up until about 1:30 am and paid the price the next day, however, it was definitely worth it!  It is the basis for the journey the Hwy 30 Bible Study group on Sunday mornings will be taking this upcoming year.  Lately, our teacher has been really getting into meat about studying the Bible - you know - PERSONAL Bible study.  Not using another source and the Bible as a reference, not just reading to read, but STUDY!

Now - growing up in church all my life you may think that this would come pretty easily to me.  WRONG!  I was a great student throughout elementary school all the way through my masters degree - I should know how to study, right? WRONG!  I just didn't have the right tools. I lacked consistency. I would start strong and then after a few months life would happen.  I would miss a few days and then feel defeated and slack off altogether.  The enemy won.  He told me a lie and I believed it. 

Well - I can no longer say that.  After reading this book I have a whole new appreciation for Bible Study. This book gave an easy to follow set of tools. Our awesome Bible Study teacher found a reading plan to read through the Bible in a year and has encouraged us to find a "road warrior" or accountability partner to meet with once a week to review what the LORD has said to us. Together they are a recipe for success.  And after much prayer I have given this battle over to the LORD and I will have success because my goal is NOT to read - it's to become closer to Jesus.  I want to know everything about HIM.  I want to know what HE wants me to do. 

The author states that 80% of what you do anyone could do, 15% of what you do someone else could do if they were trained. Which leaves 5%.  That 5% of what you do can ONLY be done by you.  Only you can be a spouse to your husband/wife, only you can be a mom to your kids, only you can grow yourself spiritually through being in the Word (by saying this I am in no way saying that you can grow spiritually without the Holy Spirit), etc.  We are solely responsible for the last 5%. It certainly puts into perspective what is important in the grand scheme of things.

It's for that last 5 percent that each of us will be held accountable in that great and final day. It's the last 5 percent that will determine the depth of influence we will have on the generations after us.  It's the last 5 percent that will decide how joyful our marriage will be and how genuine our legacy is.                       

-Wayne Cordeiro, The Divine Mentor

Wow!  When I consider what my role is with future generations of my family and others that I am in contact with I am humbled and motivated.  I want to be one who points to Jesus throughout generations.  I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren to speak of what a godly woman I was - not for my glory - but so that they may know Jesus and love Him with all of their hearts.

So the journey starts January 1.  I have my tools ready (pen, Bible, journal, planner, and my Bible reading plan).  I can't wait.  By next year I will be close to being finished with my first year.  I am so excited to see what the LORD has shared with me through HIS word... through experiencing the heroes and villains of the Bible.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

24 verses

Well today marks the day of the last memory verse for this year.  One year ago I embarked on a journey to memorize 24 verses - 2 per month.  I've posted many of them.  I was part of a greater group of women who committed to memorizing 24 verses this year.  We were accountable to each other by posting our verses on a website.  The goal was to keep all of those verses by memory and to hide them in my heart.  Now I must confess that I need to review some of them - but the task has been accomplished.  I've made it through.  And you can be sure that next year I will be continuing to hide God's Word in my heart.   He has used every single verse that I memorized in this year.  This year that has been one wild ride.  Never in a million years would I have thought that at this time I'd be sitting at home on a Tuesday morning blogging before taking my boys to Kindermusik.  If you would have asked me, I would have answered that I'd be in a class with 10 little munchkins with special needs teaching for CPS. 

God's ways are not are ways - and boy am I glad that they aren't!  His plans are so much better.

So here is the last verse of the year.  I will be posting the new verses in the sidebar for 2010... continuing to hide His Word in my heart so that I may talk about it when I'm sitting down, and walking along the road - when I lie down and when I get up. 

Psalm 27:4
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

1000 Gifts: Signs of the Season

I really enjoy Christmas.  What better reason to get together with friends and family than to celebrate the birth of our Savior: Emmanuel - "God with us."  God, Himself, coming down from the perfection of Heaven, to dwell WITH US!  I praise HIM for His perfect Humanity and His Complete Deity.  What an awesome combination!  The only combination with the power to save! 

0092.  Lights of the Christmas Season reminding us of the LIGHT OF THE WORLD!

0093.  Beautiful adornments to decorate our tree symbolizing Joy, Hope, and Life in the Promise of a Savior.

 0094.  Hearing little voices acting out the Christmas story with figurines just their size and placing them "just so".

0095.  A gathering of brothers and sisters in Christ, family that will remain forever because of the common bond we share under the blood of our Savior who was once a Babe in Bethlehem.

0096.   The true realization of the meaning of Emmanuel - God with us!

0097.  The humility of giving and receiving of gifts with the most important thing being the knowledge of the MOST IMPORTANT GIFT EVER - JESUS!

0098.  Making Christmas cards for those in need - sharing Christ's love to the "least of these."

0099.  The Jesse Tree - new traditions used to share with our children God's plan throughout the ages to save His creation.

0100.  Cherished songs: "Joy to the World", "The First Noel", "Away in a Manger", and "Mary, Did You Know?"  playing to glorify the only ONE who is Worthy.

0101. The message of the cradle meaning NOTHING without the message of the CROSS!


"And you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin" Matt. 1:21.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back to Egypt? Really?

photo by

janetfo747's photostream

I've recently felt convicted by Holy Spirit after having some incorrect ideas about myself in comparison with certain people from Biblical times.  Being educated has it's downfalls.  Even though I didn't realize it - I thought I was smarter, better - if you will.  Here's the story.

Part 1:
Ever since I was a kid and grew up in church I heard the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness freed from the hand of Pharaoh under the leadership of Moses.  They had seen miracles, one right after the other - the Nile turned to blood, plagues of flies, frogs, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, the Angel of Death taking the first born son, and the Red Sea parting before them so they could cross on dry land to escape Pharaoh's army.  After years of oppression they were finally free. The relief.  They were finally headed to the Promised Land.  What joy!  The long awaited promise was close to being fulfilled.  Israel would have the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  Immediately after their escape... moving around in the wilderness... God provided for their needs.  Manna - heavenly food that He delivered. Every. day.  For one night? For a week?  No, for what ended up to be forty years.  What was their response????  They wanted to go back to Egypt.

Numbers 11:5b-6

and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, "Who will give us meat to eat?
 "We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,
 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna." 

After all the miracles they had see the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY perform for their good why would they want to go back to Egypt...to slavery and bondage?  Whenever I heard this story I frequently thought to myself, "If I were in that position I would never say that.  I would be one of the ones to protest.  Why would they ever want to go back to bondage? That's ridiculous."

Part 2:

Fast forward to present, I had a great opportunity to be involved in a women's retreat this fall which has changed. my. life.  Previously after attending a conference or retreat I felt good, was inspired to walk closer to the Lord, even made a few changes in my daily life after attending.  But this wasn't like that.  This was an entire change of direction.  It's one of those situations that changes your life. Forever.

I find myself struggling with my newfound knowledge, realizing it was so much easier living in ignorance... to just go along blindly.  I said those words to the Lord in a quiet time with Him as I was struggling in my transformation - "It was so much easier before. I wish I could go back." I really loved what God was teaching me, but as He was teaching me He was testing to see what I would do with what He had given.  I was having trouble passing the test.  I felt like a failure. But God doesn't give us tests to make us feel like a failures.  He gives them to us for our growth... so we change our ways.  He wants us to get an A and then give Him glory.

Part 3:

Shortly after my little prayer about wishing to go back to my ignorance and sin I was sitting in Bible Study Fellowship one Thursday morning.  We are studying the Gospel of John.  The leader lectured about the Jews who were following Jesus and the disciples.  The people were murmuring... the leader connecting the Jews of Jesus' day with the children of Israel in the wilderness.... those silly children who wanted to go back to their bondage.  And then, like a lightening bolt for no one else but me, it happened.  The Lord gently "spoke" and said - "You are just like them. Do you really want to go back to Egypt - to your bondage?"  "OUCH!"  I am like that.  I would've wanted to go back to Egypt with those silly Hebrew slaves out in the wilderness... even after all of the wonders they had seen the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY do because He loved them. 

Sometimes it seems easier to go back to our sin and bondage, but in reality - do I want to give up the growth I have experienced?  Do I want to sacrifice the intimacy with my God?  Do I want to return to my sin?  A thousand times NO!  I would not ever desire to go back - with the help of God.  My sinful flesh would, but my spirit changed by Holy Spirit desires to grow closer to Jesus.  Daily.

So now I walk. One step at a time.  Continuing the transformation and growth... with the Lord's help.  Heading to the Promised Land.  And only with His help - never going back to Egypt.

Monday, December 7, 2009

1000 Gifts: A Thanksgiving and Christmas Celebration

Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights in His commandments.
For his descendants will be mighty on the earth;
The generations of the upright will be blessed.

He will not fear evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is upheld, he will not fear,
Until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries.
Ps 112:1-2, 7-8

0082.  a visit to Columbus to visit family for Thanksgiving and early Christmas.

0083.  frequent treks in the woods looking for treasures untold.

0084.  hearing shouts of excitement over a light delicate snowfall.

0085.  decorating for Christ's birth... beginning to prepare our hearts for the birth of a KING!

0086.  best friend cousins... cherishing time to play, run, be silly together, and share everything!
0087.  a chilly, yet fun day playing at the park... and spelling out one of our favorite places - using kidlets.

0088.  the women in my life-  strong, beautiful, tender...silly

0089.  the crowning glory of old men --- grandchildren as they listen to a story read by a booming voice.

0090.  the gifts of family - visiting, sharing, eating, laughing, playing, growing, hiking, etc., etc.
0091.  the bountiful blessings given by God - and remembering to be thankful for them.