Sunday, December 11, 2011

Inspirational Picks of the Week

If you’re my friend on Facebook, you’ve very likely seen my posts on these things already.  But I was so inspired by them that I wanted to extend them to those of you who are friends here in Blog Land.  I hope you find at least one thing here that makes you smile or stirs your heart (or both)!

Let’s start with a little music.  Here are a few selections to put you in the mood to celebrate Christmas and worship Jesus...

Silent Night:  This is a beautiful rendition of this song, and here it is accompanied by a gorgeous, flowing ballet.

Christmas This Year:  I love Christian music artist Toby Mac and this fun Christmas song doesn’t disappoint.  I just makes me want to get up and dance and clap my hands! 

O Night Divine:  If you watched America’s Got Talent, you no doubt have heard of Jackie Evancho.  At the time of her appearance on the show, she was 10 years old – but God has blessed her with the voice of an angel far beyond her earthly years.  Here she is singing at the National Tree Lighting (and listen to the short interview at the end – she is a delightful young lady)!

And now, let’s move on to some things that will make your heart swell with joy and will give you hope for the future generations to come!

The Biggest … Loser?  Well, Dan (and his mom Jackie) may have been big losers when it comes to their weight, but when it comes to getting over life’s hurdles and passionately pursing his dream – I’d say Dan is definitely a Big Winner!  

Here’s their story:  
And here’s his first music release:  

Victoria’s Not-So-Secret – Sure, supermodels make selling clothes, make-up, and a million other things very profitable.  But what is this standard of beauty doing to our youth today?  Here is a young man who attends Baylor University in Waco, Texas – he has a different outlook on what a REAL woman is:  

Ever been to a poetry slam?  I haven’t, but I’ve watched a couple of videos and this one is one of my favorites.  I may be old in years, but never too old to learn (and pass on) this lesson:

And from Blog Land, my favorite post this week:

May you all be richly blessed through this next week, and continue to remember what CHRISTmas is about.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

O Come All Ye Faithful

Most of us know this Christmas carol…or at least the first few words of it:

Oh, come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
Oh, come ye, oh, come ye, to Bethlehem.

Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
Oh, come, let us adore Him, oh, come, let us adore Him,
Oh, come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Over the years, as we sing this and other songs over and over, I wonder if the words get lost behind the familiarity.  I wonder if the meanings of the words in these carefully written songs are even pondered.  It seems there is a bit of a “movement” to put CHRIST back into CHRISTmas, and since singing these songs is a big part of our celebration throughout the season, maybe thinking about what we’re singing can help. 

I have picked out some of the words and/or phrases in this song in an attempt to bring them to life a bit, so to speak.  I hope they help you to remember and focus on the true meaning and reason of CHRISTMAS.

All Ye Faithful
Have you ever wondered who these all these “faithful” are?  That would be those who believe in God the Father and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ!  The “faithful” don’t just profess love, allegiance and loyalty with their mouth.  That’s a great first step, but truly faithful people of God will be evident to the world around them by the way they live their lives; not in showy works that make themselves look good, but through loving actions that bring all honor to God above.  To be faithful is to be loyal and constant; to be true to one's promises and vows; to be devoted.  How do you show or express your faithfulness to Him?

Matthew 25:23 – Well done good and faithful servant!

Come…Let Us Adore Him/Come…And Behold Him
The song invites us to come to Him.  To adore Him.  Adoration is defined as follows:  paying honor; worship; reverent homage; fervent and devoted love.  How often do you go to God (it’s an open invitation!)?  And when you do approach Him, is it in adoration?  I hear about many who approach Him in desperation, but adoration isn’t always first priority.  Oh, most of us eventually get around to that part after we’ve listed all our needs and wants.  But I’m pretty positive we’ve got that twisted around a bit.  Adore Him.  Seek his face.  Behold Him.  Gaze upon it with great affection.

Psalm 95:6 – Come, let us bow down in worship (adoration),
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

As we accept His invitation to be with Him, we can do so with great joy!  Even when our situations make us deeply sad, we can still be joyful in Jesus' presence.  Joy has little to do with US, and everything to do with Him.  To be joyful is to be delighted with something, jubilant and elated!  Just knowing that God is sovereign, and that Jesus has paid our ransom – that is pure joy. We can delight in that!

Psalm 37:4 - Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Oh, I think this is my favorite part…come to him triumphantly! Do you know why?  Triumph means victory.  And through Jesus’ blood, we already HAVE the victory over all that is evil, all that is sinful, all that is not of God!  Death has no hold on us.  By Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are redeemed by grace to our rightful place as co-heirs.  I think that is an amazingly exciting revelation and truth!

1 Corinthians 15:55 - Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

King of Angels/Christ the Lord
Christ is our Lord and the King of Angels.  He lovingly reigns over all – He is in absolute control of everything.  I don’t know about you, but that is a BIG relief to me.  Because I know he has already claimed victory, there is no need for me to try to be in control of anything.  I can (and should) certainly do my part in the work He has set before me, but there’s no pressure to try to figure out the why’s or the how’s of it all.  The Lord and King above all has everything worked out already!

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD;
plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I hope this has inspired you some, so the next time you’re singing your favorite CHRISTmas hymn, you might stop and think about the words you’re singing.   Behind the pretty music, there’s a “reason for the season” and a message just for your heart!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh No - Not Another Thanksgiving Post! (Oh, Yes!)

Among the hundreds of things I am thankful for, one that comes to mind over and over again is my “small group” from church.  The church I attend is rather large, with an attendance upward of 5,000 on any given Sunday, just at our main campus!  These small groups allow us to connect with other people in a more intimate way outside of attending church on Sunday.  We basically “do life” together.  It is always God-centered; this is a place where we are able to share our highest highs and our lowest lows without fear of being judged or ridiculed.  We are supportive and encouraging of each other, and speaking truth in love to one another is ever-present.

I recently sent out an e-mail to the group as part of a thread that was circulating, and one of my sisters encouraged me that its content would make great blog material, so I took that as a prompting from the Holy Spirit to share this message.

Even though we are only a couple days away from celebrating Thanksgiving, giving thanks is something that goes beyond one day out of the year.  The message is short(-ish), so I hope you’ll continue reading.  I would love to know your thoughts…

I got a little curiosity going in my brain and looked up the words "thanks" and "give" - this may not be new to anyone else, but I know for me there are so many words/phrases I use daily that I really don't even think of the meaning behind them.

to express gratitude, appreciation or acknowledgement to

Give -
to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation

Did you get that?  

"without expecting compensation"

I know that I have been guilty of giving Him thanks out of a sense of obligation, AND in the hope that if I do so He will compensate me with the "desires of my heart" (which aren't necessarily in line with His will for me). 

But that's not how it's supposed to go.

We are to be thankful in ALL things. 

Check this out from scripture:

Not just when we get a prayer answered.
Not just when we are blessed with something awesome.
Not just when things are going our way! 

In ALL things.

In the hurt and pain; in the pit when we are there.  Yes, especially there.

Because although it is unpleasant and sometimes almost seems unbearable, we who belong to Him know He is working it all out for good - for HIS good. And THAT is the *ultimate* thing to give thanks for (in my opinion). Knowing that He is all powerful and working everything out for GOOD. 

On that note, I do sincerely hope you all have a beautiful, blessed Thanksgiving celebration with your families and friends. I pray that it will be Day One of the next 365 that you will continually give thanks to God. 

{{P. S. - I have a favorite blog writer and author, Ann Voskamp, who has written a book on the very subject of giving thanks in all things. Visit her blog here, and read about her book here.  I don't think you'll regret it.}}

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset - A Legacy in the Making

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.”
--Psalm 113:3

I was driving to an evening appointment last week, headed due west – straight into the prettiest sunset I’d seen in a long time.  Truth be told, there had been plenty of beautiful sunsets for days on end here in the Texas Hill Country. 

{{This was the first I had actually noticed in quite a while.}}
Sad, but true.

My heart stirred as my eyes marveled at the glorious array of colors reflecting off the clouds in the sky that evening – blues and grays, mixed with rich gold, amber, orange, rose, pink and soft wisps of white clouds mixed in a symphony of perfection that could only be created by the One.

I thought about the sun then;
how its daily cycle seems to
parallel our own lives.

Our beginnings have us bursting forth out of the darkness, all in splendor and glory, boldly announcing arrival.  Little by little, light is seamlessly shed on that which surrounds us – all the discoveries that await us.  New and fresh and bright, we are filled with colorful energy that can’t be held back.

As we slowly begin our climb, we burn a path straight upwards.  Sometimes we burn too much, too soon, too hard.  We scorch everything around us.  Sometimes, we hide behind the clouds of life hoping that we can just make it through by remaining hidden and unnoticed.  And sometimes, we burn directly overhead with warm love and passion that spreads and brings life over everything we touch.

Then comes the time we being our slow descent.  Our light and warmth not yet gone, but our colors mellow and blend.  We are able to show beauty to those around us in a way that only can be done after we have experienced the passionate burning of mid-cycle.  Once again, we bring forth a beautiful blend of rich color, much different from the vibrancy of our beginnings.  This softer light is more compassionate, wiser, more forgiving.

And as we begin to dip down past the horizon, as the coolness of the evening sets in, and those around us can no longer see us – this is not the end my friends.  For although we cannot be seen with human eyes, we are still very much alive and burning brightly – only in a different place – continuing to shine light through the legacy we have left behind.

“The Light shines through the darkness 
and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
--John 1:5

What legacy are you leaving as you travel this life? 

Are you striving and going at things so hard that you are burning everything in your path, and perhaps even the path of others? 

Are you hiding behind the clouds because you are afraid to step out from behind them and live out your purpose?

Or are you shining your light for all to see and bask in its warmth so they may know Love?

"Let your light shine before men, 
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
--Matthew 5:16

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Great Destroyer

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer
is too small to be made into a burden.”
~Corrie ten Boom,
Clippings from My Notebook

Just looking at the word brings on a bit of anxiety in me.

And yet, I know from experience that worrying about things does NO GOOD what-so-ever!  Not for myself, and certainly not for others in my life.  Excessive worry in my own life has produced an unhealthy mind, an unhealthy body and an unhealthy soul.  And it is the root cause of the loss of a relationship that couldn’t bear up under the weight of it.

“Worry weighs a person down;
an encouraging word cheers a person up.”
Proverbs 12:25

Worry is a burden not only to ourselves, but to the ones that love us as well.  It’s bad enough that we cause this trouble within ourselves, but to put that kind of pressure onto others is, to say the very least, unfair and, more importantly, unloving.

My own worrisome nature stems from a long time ago when, as a child, I never knew what was going on.  I was thrown into situations that were scary and uncomfortable, with little or no preparation or instruction on how to handle them.  I was told to just do it, and then if the outcome was not pleasing I was ridiculed for it.  That caused a cycle of worry in my life, never knowing what would happen and then worrying that I wouldn’t get it right.  Over and over and over.

Most of my adult life, I have been nearly insistent on knowing the who, what, where, when and why (and at least some idea of the ultimate outcome) of everything before I take even one step.  I like to call it “being prepared”, and often in my head it is being prepared for the worst, without thought of how things just MIGHT turn out to be just fine.

It all comes down to trust really.
Or, more accurately, lack of trust.

As a child, I wasn’t taught to trust and stand on the promises of God.  We didn’t attend church for most of my growing up years, and the only scripture I heard was used in “discussions” with my wonderful, Christian grandfather, by family members trying to twist it to fit the ungodly lives they were living.  In my house, “God” was my mother, and what she said was “gospel” – what she told me to do were the commandments of my life.  And all too often, I was lead into painful situations where I finally figured out that I couldn’t trust people.

I’m not bashing my mother.  She was a human being.  She had faults, she had “stuff” from her past, and she acted out in the ways that she was raised in, or in the ways that gave her the self-preservation she needed.  It took me a long time to realize this, but when I did I was able to let go of the anger, bitterness and sadness and fully forgive her.

What I have learned on the long road since her death is this:  I may not ever be able to fully trust people, but I can always – ALWAYS – trust God.  When He says not to worry, he isn’t asking me.  He is telling me.

And as an adult, who is currently entering into a life-saving transformation, I must make that choice every day.  Every hour.  Sometimes even every minute.  If I do not trust Him – if I continually worry – what am I saying about God?  That He is not trust-worthy?  That He is a liar?  That He doesn’t love me?  That He doesn’t mean what he says?

Those are all lies directly from the enemy of my soul.
And yours.

Take a minute to think back on your life and the many things you have worried about.  How many of them came to fruition?  And if any of them DID come true, were they as horrifying as your mind made them out to be?

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
And why worry about your clothing?
Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.
They don't work or make their clothing,
yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed
as beautifully as they are.”
Matthew 6:27-29

I know in my own life, very few of my worries have come true.  And the time I spent worrying is time wasted, energy wasted, and often has destroyed my own happiness, but worse yet the peace of others around me.  I unrightly invaded their lives with strife that wasn’t theirs.

So, do I still worry?  Of course I do.  I’m human.  I’m weak on my own.

Do I have a better way of dealing with that worry now?  Yes, I do.

“And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers
that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,
he will certainly care for you. Why do you have
so little faith?”
Matthew 6:30

My new way is called faith and trust.  I choose to have faith.  I choose to trust.   Trust in God’s word, not only in the Bible, but those loving words that He has whispered into my heart.  Through those actions where time and time again, He protected me, loved me, and put me back on my feet because He knows my path, and He knows the outcome.  And it’s all good.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Cliché?  Maybe to some.  Truth? Definitely to me.
What will you choose today?

“This day I call the heavens and the earth
as witnesses against you that I have set before you
life and death, blessings and curses.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
and that you may love the LORD your God,
listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
For the LORD is your life…”
Deut 30:19-20

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Standing on the Edge of Darkness

When you come to the edge of all the light you know
and are about to step into the darkness of the unknown,
faith is knowing that one of two things will happen:
there will be solid ground to stand
on or you will be taught to fly. 
--Author Unknown

In my “feeling” heart, it feels like all light has gone out.  I feel rejected; lonely; completely discarded and unwanted.

Behind me is a small glimmer of light; of what used to be.  Before me looms the darkness of all that is unknown.  My eyes search desperately into the depths for something…anything that looks like the slightest ray of light, of hope.

I bow my head in great sadness, with tears that stream down my face and fall at my feet, the sound in my head like shattered glass.

It’s when I open my eyes, in this bowed posture, that I see the light at my feet.  I look up and around and find myself immediately enveloped in soft light.  Just enough for one step.  That’s all that is required.


Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

So even though my "feeling" heart senses that all is lost, my "faith-filled" heart knows there is something better. 

As I move forward into this life that is not what I had hoped for – not what I had dreamed about for so many recent years – I know this light will wrap around me like a blanket, warm and protective.  It will comfort me amidst the darkness and it will guide me through it.

I don’t expect it to be easy; I don’t expect the pain to go away immediately.  But I know there will come a day, when little by little as I grow stronger, more light will be given to me and the path will be made clearer, and I will fly like an eagle in freedom.

Until that day, my walk will be slow – it will become more sure and steady and strong with each small step I take forward.

What darkness are you walking through?  Won't you allow the light to surround and comfort you as well?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heaven Bent to Take My Hand...

This song was my “theme song” during the first year after my divorce. After a while, other (happier) songs began to take its place. But recently things have happened to cause it to resurface and to make it seem to ring true to my feelings once again. 

Thankfully, the pain hasn’t lasted *quite* as long this time…

Heaven certainly did (once again) bend to take my hand, and lead me through the fire… 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” ~~Isaiah 43:2 

At first I didn’t want to reach up and take hold of the hand that was being offered to me freely… lovingly… patiently… 

I resisted vehemently. I wanted to wallow in my mess and my self-pity for a while longer. Surely if I did that, someone would notice and come wallow with me…misery loves company, yes?

No…that wasn’t what was to happen. There was a better lesson to be learned here. One that I have learned before, but easily forget. Which, in the circle of life, is how I end up getting myself into that big, hot mess laying on the bathroom floor sobbing my heart out over and over again.

Hesitatingly, I reached my fingers out…just a little…just enough to brush the tips of His fingers. But like a stubborn terrible-two year old, I jerked my hand back, stuck my bottom lip out, folded my arms and proceeded to pout and wallow just a little bit longer.

He didn’t move, though. He didn’t walk away, and He didn’t give in to my tantrum. As He always does, He remained steady and strong. He is the one constant in my life. And sometimes, to be really {REALLY} honest…it ticks me off!

Like that night on the bathroom floor… 

When I was crying… 
And screaming… 
And begging… 
And asking, “WHY MEEEEEE?” (Oh, yes – it’s always about *me* isn’t it? When will we learn?) 

When I had finally exhausted myself mentally, emotionally and even physically – that’s when it happened. Sweet relief. When I was completely spent, completely empty.

That’s when He caused me to look up again, to reach up and put my whole hand in His. And from that Hand flowed beautiful, renewed life. 

He wiped away the tears. He set my shoulders straight. He gave me… 

Faith that all is well with my soul.

Hope that none other can promise
(and keep that promise).

Love that none other can *ever* provide. 

I had to be empty to be able to receive those gifts (again). I had filled myself with so much worry, anger, self-pity, self-loathing, you name it! I had feasted gluttonously at the banquet table of my enemy and my soul was full of the sickness and death. 

God knew that He would have to empty me (again) in order to fill me with Life. 

So yes… 
I’ve fallen…
I’ve messed up…
I’ve sunk very low…
Yes, I should have known better…
I’ve been told “I told you so”– so many times my heart and soul have bled from it...  

But I have also been given unchangeable, unshakable, unmistakable Truth.  Truth that crushes my enemy and sends him back to the depths of hell…so, Satan…run…run with your tail between your legs. You have no power here!

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”


Isaiah 54:17 says, “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, said the Lord.”


Ephesians 6:11-13 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” 

I am standing by the grace of God.
My small hand in His.
Fully clothed in the armor He made specifically for me.

What about you…will you stay in the viper pit? Or will you reach up to the Hand that is freely, lovingly and patiently being held out to you as well? 

Here is my new theme song…hope you enjoy it, too. Come awake…


“Oh death where is thy sting? Oh grave where is thy victory?” 
~~1 Cor 15:55

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fly Away, Little Birdie, Fly Away

Cradle Song
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

What does little birdie say
In her nest at peep of day?
Let me fly, says little birdie,
Mother, let me fly away.
Birdie, rest a little longer,
Till thy little wings are stronger.
So she rests a little longer,
Then she flies away.

What does little baby say,
In her bed at peep of day?
Baby says, like little birdie,
Let me rise and fly away.
Baby, sleep a little longer,
Till thy little limbs are stronger.
If she sleeps a little longer,
Baby too shall fly away.

Almost from the moment our children are born, we love them, nurture them, teach them, and grow them.  We shape and mold, we laugh, we cry (sometimes both at the same time) and we fall to our knees in prayer. 

All in the hope
that they will become strong, happy adults
who make the world a better place through the gift of their love for others.

Why, then, is it such utter shock when, before we blink twice, it has actually happened

When they first start to become independent, we are happy and proud and the little pang in our heart isn’t very noticeable.

It the teen years, the "pang" sometimes just outright feels like our hearts have been torn out of our chests.  There’s the chaos of a heart swollen with so much love you think it might burst, mixed in with the ache of watching them make many of the same mistakes that you also made at their age, and all the while they move away from needing you like they did before at break-neck speed.  They are just {{this little tiny bit}} out of your grasp.

And then – it truly seems like only a very short time – “suddenly” – ha!  Yes, suddenly they are driving, they are spending time with “significant others” (whose names are not mom and dad); they are working and schooling and you barely catch a glimpse of them as they come in the door and head off to bed.

Before you know what has happened, shelves and closets are emptied; boxes are packed and vehicles are loaded to the brim with all their worldly possessions.  You stand at the doorway or in the driveway with them, giving “just one more” hug, not wanting to ever let go, but knowing you must.  This is their time to fly.

It leaves an empty feeling in the heart.  A place that is not easily or quickly filled.

Yet, every time they come back for a visit, it’s beautiful to watch how the gap seems to close back up – little by little.  There is a new respect for life, for how the world “really” is, and sometimes – just sometimes – the realization that mom and dad were not as wrong as they seemed to be at one time.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.
~~Proverbs 22:6~~
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