Friday, October 30, 2009

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” 1Peter 5:6

The job of every believer is to help spread God’s fame and tell His story to the world. It’s a big job, no doubt, but if each of us commits to do his or her part, it makes it all the more achievable. I’ve always believed that God has given me an ability to communicate via the written word. Now, don’t get me wrong, I took that gift as an ability that would be helpful in the everyday stuff of life. You know, work memos, reports, a poem or two here and there, etc. I never, ever thought He had a bigger plan for it. Oh, boy was I wrong!

Six months ago, I was able to spend a weekend in a place that opened up a very direct connection to God. I sat in wonder at His creation, all alone with Him. Just being. I was at a point where I wasn’t sure about a lot of things, mostly about His direction and purpose for my life. As I prayed and meditated in that profound place, God revealed that He intended for me to help write His story. No doubt about it, direct, clear and intentional. THAT is why He gave me whatever gifts I have. In response, I started this blog. I really didn’t know what to expect, other than I prayed that God would provide me with enough words and maybe a little wisdom to begin to populate it with something worth reading.

In these short six months, I have been overwhelmed by the response to it. Just when I think no one’s reading it, I get an email, or a comment or text that profoundly moves me. Many times, I am moved to the point of tears. People DO read it, and God is using these pages and words to move hearts, encourage steps in faith and trust in His plan. And for that, I am humbled, honored and extremely grateful.

As I move through life, I am constantly challenged and find myself praying and seeking His guidance more and more. What a wonderful place to be. It’s when we learn that process and submit to His will, not ours, that we are set on a course that is beautifully designed to bring Him glory. And, I am slowly discovering, in that process, I am blessed with the opportunity to do something that I love deeply and brings me great pleasure. Of course! God didn’t just haphazardly throw us together – the gifts and talents that each of us possess are specifically placed in us to knit together the greatest story of all. HIS story!

If this blog has been an encouragement or challenged you, please tell me. I genuinely care what you think about the topics and thoughts contained. I’m certainly no expert, and I am definitely not looking for recognition, but your feedback will help make the next six months (and beyond) better. We are all working together. I’m just playing a very small part in a much bigger, much more important story.

I’m humbled before God and you, thank you for the opportunity to somehow, ever-so-simply touch your life. My prayer is that in our own way, we will bring forth new chapters in His story. Blessings!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

“…This is what the LORD says to you:'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.” 2 Chron 20:15

Four times in 72 hours I was presented with this verse. Sometimes it takes me a time or two to “get it.” That was almost two weeks ago. Interestingly, I knew there was something in it that God wanted me to understand and apply, but until the past few days, life was rolling along and I wasn’t challenged to do so.

The fourth time I encountered the story in 2 Chronicles was the most profound. It was then that the meaning in this passage was very clearly delivered in a message delivered by Joyce Meyer. Joyce’s programming was one of the first I stumbled upon as I began transitioning from watching 'whatever was on TV' to actually seeking something that would be more meaningful. I love the clarity and frankness with which she delivers the Truth. So many times, I have been forced to look at areas of my life and my personality which are not comfortable, but hold me back from the life that God wants for me. So, when I heard Joyce was bringing one of her conferences to Denver, I did everything possible to make sure I could catch at least one session.

The theme of her message that day was how important it is for us to be stable, dependable and reliable. Dependable and reliable are usually pretty achievable for me. Stability, well, I need a lot of work in this department. My tendency is to be more roller coaster than smooth ride. So as Joyce delivered her message, and I jotted down notes feverishly, I started to see the relevance to my life as it began jumping off the page at me. God needs me to stay stable and trusting in all things. As I sat there processing the words, I started thinking about all those times when I tend to overreact, or worry excessively. Those are obviously not times when I am leaning on God as I ought to be. I don’t know why it is such a struggle. Every time I consciously decide to trust and wait, stay steady and let God be God, I am amazed at what happens. He is always faithful.

And, how come it is so much easier to be the messenger of this advice? With my family, friends and children, I am always on message – trust God, He is in control of this. So why don’t I catch a dose of my own medicine more often? I wish I knew.

Small steps, I’m reminding myself these days. Joyce’s message (which was, upon reflection, reiterated in the other three times this passage was presented) was that God is telling us to keep going forward and do what He is telling us to do. The battle isn’t up to me to figure out, or fight. It’s God’s. And when I can trust that, worry falls away and overreacting isn’t among the options. We heard a bit more from that passage in the message:
"Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever." (2 Chron. 20:21)

That has to rank up there in my favorites. And in that passage, the people are not just saying those words, they are worshipping with all their hearts. And it is impossible to focus on “me” and “my stuff” when worshipping like that. Looking upward keeps the priority on God.

So, my first real opportunity to apply this revelation in my life came in what is any parent’s nightmare. A potentially serious illness affecting their child. And, this wasn’t just one child. You see, both of my kids were diagnosed with H1N1 the other day. Talk about knocking the wind out of your sails! As soon as they had come down with symptoms, I was praying. And when I couldn’t do much more to help than hold them, I was praying. And when we were in the waiting room, I was praying. And when the doctor poked her head back in the room to tell me the tests were positive, I surprised myself with a calm, slow exhale and feeling that God is in control of this. Stay calm, steady and press on with whatever is needed and let God deal with it.

So that’s what we did – and we prayed, and our friends prayed and people we hardly know prayed – it was amazing. And staying steady in the midst of the storm, surpsisingly, was me. The best new is, this morning, both children seem to be on the road to recovery, praise God.

Any mother will tell you when it comes to her kids, there is nothing she wouldn’t do to try and protect them – it’s the fiercest feeling I personally have ever had. So, instead of facing that potential health battle alone, by enlisting (and trusting) the Warrior of Warriors, this fight became one where my job was to stay steady, worship and trust. I will testify – that is a much better job than trying to take it all on alone!

Friday, October 16, 2009

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Chris Tomlin - Glory In The Highest Preview from Worship Together on Vimeo.

This is a slight twist from what I have been writing on this blog. But, I truly believe this is something that is so powerful it can only be from God Himself. If you’ve read any of my earlier postings, you already know that worship music has changed my life. And, while we’re not supposed to play favorites, I cannot help but declare that the music of Chris Tomlin, his band, the people he writes with, etc., etc. are at the very top of my list. It was some of the first music I discovered on this walk of faith and it has carried me and my family during trials, triumphs and tears – both happy and sad.

My son and I had the privilege of meeting Chris back in February when we won tickets to a concert in Denver. It was during that time, I had a cancer scare. While it all turned out fine and I’m grateful for my continued health, it was wake-up call to me of sorts. It was the quiet voice of God in those uncertain moments that took my faith to a new level. And, as crazy as it may sound, it all happened at that Chris Tomlin concert. I left that show and have not been the same since. I have a zeal for God that I never thought was possible in me. It’s wonderful, to say the least.

So, when I heard this summer that Chris and his band were working on a Christmas project, I’ll admit, I did a happy dance! Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I cannot wait to sing the songs – I get in trouble at home when I start playing them before Thanksgiving! And to hear that my favorite artist was putting together a Christmas worship music project, was just beyond cool. I counted down the days till October 6, the day it went on sale. I couldn’t get back to my desk fast enough to listen to it!

And boy, did Mr. Tomlin and the gang deliver. No, they didn’t just deliver, they hit it out of the park! This is a Christmas CD for the ages. If you watch the link above, you get a small glimpse of the experience. It is simply AMAZING. The music on this CD will lift you higher than you could ever imagine. Its like angels are right there with you! I swear I am going to get in an accident because I cannot listen to this music without closing my eyes and lifting my hands. Driving over the past week or so has become a challenge because we keep playing the CD over and over! My kids are just as excited. We’ve all already memorized the new stuff and just sing our little hearts out in the car together!

Both of my children has a copy of it and asks to play it in their room at bedtime – is there anything better than falling asleep to “Joy to the World?”

This Christmas season will be one to remember. No matter what is happening in the every day – the challenges, struggles or the wins and blessings – we have found a wonderful way to keep our focus on the best present of all – Jesus! Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalms 82:4

Wow. A couple weeks ago, my kids and I attended a concert at our church. It was the Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda, Africa. If you’re not familiar with Watoto, it is a project built to help the millions of children affected by the AIDS epidemic. All the kids in the choir are AIDS orphans and each has a story that will break your heart.

What is truly remarkable is that this is not a sad story. I say this because Watoto is also a story of hope and healing. In between amazing singing and choreography, every child had a chance to share his or her story with the audience. And every story ended with a resounding shout of praise to Jesus, who saves us. Each child has found hope, healing and a vision of the future through power of the Cross.

As the kids and I watched, danced and worshipped, we were all incredibly moved by this super talented and wonderfully spiritual group. The kids each found some way to relate to at least one or more of the Watoto kids as they told their story. The fact that most of the kids were very close in age to Trevor and Abby really impacted them. I think they began to process, even if just a little, how very different their lives are from the Watoto kids.

At one point, the performance included a video that depicted life in Uganda – what the kids were rescued from. It was not a pretty sight at all. In fact, we all had tears in our eyes and sweet Trevor was visibly shaken by it. But, it gave us the opportunity to talk about how God has moved in the lives of the kids on stage, and those who created the Watoto project – and that’s the story. That God moves in our hearts to rescue those who cannot help themselves.

When the show ended, the kids hung out around the auditorium and talked with audience members. I had tears when my kids went up and gave hugs to many of the Watoto kids. They wanted them to know how much they enjoyed the show, and that they cared about them.

We purchased a CD of a live performance and have been listening to it ever since – it is a beautiful performance. The whole experience has given us a lot of opportunities to talk about helping others and living life as Jesus wants us to live. It has also reminded all of us how incredibly blessed we are in the life we have and no challenge we may face could compare to what these beautiful children have not only faced, but have boldly overcome.

My hat is off to the organizers of Watoto and everyone involved with this amazing movement. My prayer is that more people will respond to the call and do whatever part they can to help rescue the those who are needy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

…Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, this verse has become a very powerful driver in our house. First, for my daughter, and then for my husband. It’s been a pretty astonishing thing to sit in the wings and watch, too.

My daughter is six years old. She’s been given an unbelievable physical gift in the form of the ability to perform gymnastics. At less than three years old, her aunt, a former gymnast herself and now a coach, told us that Abby had something special. So, as soon as she could, she was at the gym. In the past year, she has tested up and is now part of the first level of competitive gymnastics. She’s a full year younger than her peers, but stands shoulder-to-shoulder with most of them in ability. Last weekend, she competed in her first-ever meet. To say that she is driven is almost an understatement. She’s focused, competitive and realizes that she has a natural gift that is from God above.

I think the part that amazes me the most is that at such a young age, she recognized the gift that God gave her and is using that gift to the best of her ability. She talks and sings about Jesus constantly, asks for “Jesus songs” in the car and loves to lead our family in dinner prayers. God has a keeper with this one! I think if there is a verse that aptly describes Abby, it’s this one!

The second instance was with my husband. As we’re living out turning his gift and passion for baseball into a livelihood that is intended to honor God first, and provide for our family second, this verse has come into special prominence for Steve.

One of the high school kids who come to Steve for instruction proudly showed off a tattoo of this verse. It got him thinking. It got us talking. We looked it up in my Bible and talked about how appropriate those words were for his life. I think this one’s going to stick.

It wasn’t until pretty recently that I started hearing people tell about “their verse” or “their favorite Scripture.” We met some folks in Christian radio and in the course of getting their autographs for Abby, each signed their name and their Scripture. We went home and looked each up and talked about the relevance to each of those people’s lives.

Now that each one of us has discovered the verse that is perfectly suited to us, I think it’s time to memorialize it so we are each reminded of God’s power in our lives every day.

I’m so grateful that God has given me children who have, at a pretty young age, realized what they are passionate about and know that it is God who graced them with those talents. As a parent, there isn’t a better realization. He has entrusted Steve and I with their care and instruction so that they can become the people our Heavenly Father intends for them to be.

I’m also very grateful that He has used those around us to demonstrate so clearly to Steve and me how much He loves us and how well-equipped we are for the life he has laid out so that we may honor Him.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Gen. 9:13

I never really knew the significance of a rainbow. I just always knew how much I liked seeing them and there was something special about them. Was I in for a big surprise when I learned what God said a rainbow represented. It’s kind of like the light bulb going on. Wow, of course, that’s why we are SO drawn to them and we’re always looking for them after a storm.

Our family has seen some trying times lately. We believe God has laid out a path for my husband’s career. He is passionate and enthusiastic about this direction. More importantly, amazing examples of “God-moments” have been present throughout the journey that led to this direction. I have witnessed true miracles and have literally stood with my mouth dropped in complete awe over many of the incidents of the past year or so. There is not a doubt in my mind that He has this path set for Steve.

With that knowledge, our job is to remain committed to the direction, yield to God’s leading and step out in faith knowing that in God’s time, it will work to His glory. In my broken humanness, however, that is not always easy to do.

One day last week, I was driving to work and allowing myself to fret over the situation. Things haven’t been easy, we’ve cut out a lot, even some necessities frankly. But, we have tried to remain faithful and not let doubts creep in. So on this particular morning, we had had a “big discussion” over finances the day before and it was settling into me where I fear the most. What if world. What if we can’t pay for this, what if we don’t have it for that. The what if’s will kill you if you let them.

So, I’m driving along, fretting and not really paying much attention to everything around me. Something grabbed my attention, however. The song on the radio. It was “Let the Waters Rise” by Mikeschair. The words of the song say –
“Don't know where to begin
Its like my world's caving in
And I try but I can't control my fear
Where do I go from here?

sometimes its so hard to pray
When You feel so far away
But I am willing to go
Where you want me to
God, I trust You"

And, just as I was caught up in those words, I looked out at the mountains ahead. Through a bank of clouds, the smallest sliver of a break appeared and through it sprouted a beautiful, perfect rainbow. I felt God’s presence. I felt peace. I felt security. I felt assured that He is in control and we don’t have to be. I felt protected and loved. I felt the promise He made all those years ago with Noah. A covenant is sacred. God entered into that with us and He always keeps his promises. I can count on that.

I finished my drive with a renewed sense of hope, knowing that He is with us every single step of the way. It’s up to us to hold on, yield and let God be God. And I’m totally okay with that.