Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Psalm 33:1

My son, Trevor, me and Chris Tomlin

Music has always been a huge part of life for me and my family. It seems like we always have music playing and we’re singing. I’ve been a music nut for as long as I can remember. But the past six months or so have been truly transformational in the music department! For the past few years, the music at our church has been slowly filtering into our everyday listening. First, we added KLOVE to our presets, and then The Message became a staple on my satellite radio top 5. And, the music of artists such as Chris Tomlin, Third Day, Tree63, the Newsboys and Mercy Me found its way into my cd collection and onto my iPod.

I’ve written about how this past January, I was blessed to win two tickets to see a Chris Tomlin concert in Denver. We were also lucky enough to meet him and other band members, along with Israel Houghton, who was touring with him. They were all so amazingly gracious and humble. I’ve been able to meet many “famous” people over the years in one capacity or another. Gracious and humble are not usually the words that come to mind when describing those encounters. But Chris, Israel and others were different. As great as it was to meet them and see that they were truly special, it was the amazing worship of that night that really opened up my eyes. I’ve never felt that way before. Sure, numerous times during church services, I am moved to tears – almost every week, actually. But that night took it to a much higher level. I didn’t want that feeling to end ever! That had to be a taste of what it will be like in Heaven one day when we’re all praising Him around the throne!

So, from then on, the joyful noise in my life has almost exclusively become worship and praise music. I can’t think of better ways to start and end my days – I have noticed my temperament has softened and I am less stressed. Even with things in life that are pretty trying, the music and praise that has become a staple of every day keeps my focus in check. And the best part is the impact it is having on my children. They both love to sing and we’re always singing when we’re together, especially in the car. To hear my son sing like Chris Tomlin or my daughter tackle a Francesca Battistelli song brings the biggest smile to my lips. I am joyful, thankful and humbled by how God uses such gifted people to spread His message. And I am so thankful that He opened up our hearts to receive that message.

I just put the kids to bed before writing this. Each one has their own special cd of their favorite Christian music. And, for months now, they each ask for it to play as they’re falling asleep. A I left Trevor’s room, he was listening to this: “Sing, sing, sing. And make music with the heavens, we will sing, sing, sing. Grateful that you hear us, when we shout your praise, lift high the name of Jesus.” What a wonderful way to head into slumber and what a great way to wrap up the gift of another day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Do not put your mortal men, who cannot save…But happy are those . . . whose hope is in the LORD their God. Psalms 146: 3, 5 NLT

Those who know me pretty well know what a big fan of Jimmy Buffett I am. Music, books, an unbelievably successful brand and an all-around lifestyle – laid back and beach-ready. All pretty great stuff and I’ve been a Parrothead for over 20 years. I was in Phoenix at one of my company’s corporate offices. I also happened to have a ticket to Jimmy Buffett’s concert while I was there. The day of the show, as a co-worker and I were leaving a restaurant, we literally ran right into Jimmy! I was pretty shocked, to say the least. Embarrassingly, I stumbled, didn’t say a lot but did manage to ask him if he had a moment for a picture. He has a pretty solid reputation for being humble and gracious, so I really didn’t think it was asking a lot. However, to my surprise, he refused. I was completely deflated. I went on that day, went to the concert that night and had a great time, but something kept nagging at me – I kept coming back to the thought that I need to be careful about placing too much faith in anyone but God.

Then, in His perfectly accurate timing, God delivered the hammer of a reminder in the form of a daily devotional. The day after this encounter, this verse from the Psalms arrived in my inbox! And there it was, the Biblical reference point to drive home what the Holy Spirit was working on in me. I prayed and prayed – please Lord, work on my heart in this area because I know I have a tendency to put too much faith in everyday people. Help keep my focus on you because only you will never leave me nor will you ever deflate my perception of you.

I still love Jimmy, his music and his brand – I just know that he’s merely another flawed human being just like me. He needs the same grace and mercy that I do on a daily basis. So, rather than carry anger or resent the act, I pray that my God will look out for him and continue blessing him so that people can continue to find a little bit of earthly happiness in Margaritaville.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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

Man, talk about a power verse! I know that a lot of people relate and cling to this particular part of Scripture. It is one of the first versus I memorized because it captures so very much in such a simple, declarative statement.

This was the verse that came to me when Steve, my husband, and I were having a pretty heavy discussion about his future and job prospects. That’s a subject for a whole other entry, but just know that this verse was the one I shared with him after that talk. It was the first verse we’ve ever really discussed in depth.

Now, fast forward a month. I’ve shared the story of my literal walk on the beach with God. As I sat on the “Heaven on Earth” bench on the beach pondering what it is that He has planned for me, the words of this verse took over my mind – “for I know the plans I have for you…” Whoa! That truly made me sit with my mouth hung open. And yes, I heard the emphasis on the I. He was telling me, Patti, don’t worry – I am in control and you are exactly where I want you to be.

And then, there’s the rest of the verse, which just takes it even further. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Seriously, what could be better than that? Nothing, I firmly believe. I don’t have to be concerned, I just have to listen and follow Him and he will guide my steps.

It’s interesting that it was a powerful verse for both Steve and I, and really, for different reasons. I’ve known for a while deep in my heart that God has a path chosen for Steve. I believe it took this verse, and some pretty amazing instances, to open his eyes to see it as well. (Again, the subject of another entry, soon!) And, I think for me, I’ve felt this longing to know Him on a much deeper level, to really experience His power in our lives. This verse has started to do just that for me. So many amazing things have been lining up on the path lately – and they’ve all pointed me to these beautiful, hope-filled, comforting words.

He is simply amazing and I am humbly grateful!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

And God Said… Genesis 1:3

Three pretty powerful words, really. Recently I bought myself the NIV Women’s Devotional Bible. I’ve had several different Bibles over the years, but I really wanted one that would be more portable, my sole motivation. Boy, was I in for a treat with this one! Portable and pretty, yes. But really powerful! Something about this translation, combined with the daily readings, really brings the Word to life for me. I have been more inspired and connected since beginning this version than ever before.

I was working on a daily reading and it featured Genesis 1. Those three words, “And God said...” really struck me. I was seeing them and understanding them in a whole different way. Yes, He made everything – pretty amazing and hard to grasp in itself. But beyond that, He also said yes. Yes to coming to Earth in human form and yes to unbelievable pain, suffering and punishment, just so that our sins could be forgiven and we might have freedom from sin – not to mention a key to the door to Heaven. Wow, I don’t know about you, but that is an extremely gracious and generous gift in my book!!

Most people who know me pretty well know that I dabble a little in poetry. I have been blessed with very kind family and friends who encourage it, mostly because it becomes a somewhat creative Christmas card every year. I hope people find it a little entertaining – at least they tell me they do!

Well, when I pondered those three words, “And God said…” I found myself frantically writing down what is either a poem, or possibly lyrics. Now, I am no musician for sure. But, I hope that possibly one day, someone with that gift might be interested in some of my “poetry” to work into worship songs. There are a few folks on our worship team at church who write music. Maybe one of these days I’ll be brave enough to strike up a conversation and share eventually. Or maybe my favorite Christian artist, Chris Tomlin, will see some of it here and want to write his next big hit! (Hey, I can dream, right?) In the meantime, I’ll continue jotting the ideas down in my journal.

But since I brought it up, I’ll give you just a taste of “And God Said”

And God said

He made the earth
He made the sky
He made all things
that walk and fly

And He made you and I

He made the way
He bore it all
He paid the price
He took the fall

And he loves you and I

And God said
For you I will
And through my life
You can be still
Reach out and take
The gift at hand
And forever more
Together we will stand

There’s more, but you get the idea!
I hope you enjoy – until next time,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14 NIV

For the past few years, I’ve been on an amazing journey to discover the grace and mercy of Jesus! It has been fantastic. The past couple of months, however, have hit turbo speed! It all started with a cancer scare, and today I stand amazed and in awe of Him. In January, I found out I needed a biopsy and was potentially facing a cancer diagnosis. Only a few days before, I found out I won tickets to see Chris Tomlin in concert in Denver! I had REALLY wanted to go, but finances are pretty tight these days and I just couldn’t swing it. God had a plan! I was so grateful! Chris is my favorite Christian artist and his music has inspired my journey.

During the show, Chris and Israel Houghton said everyone there had “stuff” on their hearts. They encouraged the audience to leave it there, give it to God and let Him take care of whatever “it” is. Right at that moment, I prayed and asked God to take whatever it was that I was facing and use it for good. It was like a wave came over me. I had to fight back the tears. At the end of the show, Chris Tomlin talked about writing the song “I Will Rise” and then played it. Wow! Wow! Wow! It’s was truly amazing to experience God’s power through worship. That song, and the whole night, ignited a fire in me that rocked me to the core.

That music carried me through the biopsy procedure. From that point on, life has changed. I have a new peace about me and that can only be a gift from God Himself! And now, I just returned from a splendid weekend with my sister at the beach. During that trip, I spent so much time in the presence of God. The beach is where I feel closest to Him and where I truly connect on every level. During a walk early one morning, I was praying and worshiping and just being receptive to everything around me. All of a sudden I heard it – “help me write my story.” WOW! If that’s not clear direction, I don’t know what is!

So, I’ve started this blog to serve Him and be a place to begin to capture the thoughts that have been in my mind for quite some time. I pray that this can become a voice for God so that others may discover the grace and peace of a life centered on Him.