celebrate!

You know that feeling when you see the first flowers blooming in the spring?  Or the feeling when you see someone about to overcome an obstacle and it’s all you can do to keep from screaming and cheering?

God makes me feel that way all the time.  It seems like a cliche I know, but it’s true.

Last night my husband had a call about a prayer item we’ve been trusting to God.  It came just hours after another answer to prayer.  Agonizing hope and just the hint of what is to come came over us both.  We aren’t sure what God has planned, but we are seeing an inkling of answered prayers.

Another friend just mentioned he will be starting the job he has always wanted next week. While I am sad I won’t see him at work, it was exciting to see how happy he was about his new career.

A phone call from a friend today told me of a heartache and a prayer and how God is moving and surprising the doctors with the results.

My day-t0-day conversations with people who feel like they are at the end of the rope and then find out there are options for their situation.  I love my job and helping others see that there is hope and all is not lost.

My view in life is simple.  I cannot control very much but I can celebrate what God can do everyday.

The lyrics below seem to fit why I can celebrate every day… I hope they encourage you too!

This is no time for fear
This is the time for faith and determination
Don’t lose the vision here carried away by the motion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
Oh, God is in control, oh God is in control

History marches on
There is a bottom line drawn across the ages
Culture can make its plan oh, but the line never changes
No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been true
It will be true forever

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
Oh, God is in control, oh God is in control

He has never let you down
Why start to worry now?
Why start to worry now?
He is still the Lord of all we see
And He is still the loving Father
Watching over you and me

Watching over you, watching over me
Watching over every thing
Watching over you, watching over me
Every little sparrow, every little thing
Oh, every little thing, oh

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
Oh, God is in control, oh God is in control

Oh God is in control
Oh God is in control

(lyrics from Twila Paris– God is in Control)

 

 

 

 

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sight

Every day I put in my contacts, blink, and see far distances, crisp lines, and clear colors.  I admit I take it for granted most days.  Being able to see what is in front of me, coming toward me, the smiles of my sons, the blue eyes of my husband, sunrises, sunsets, flowers, snow, raindrops, delight my heart and fill my spirit.

My husband has recently been diagnosed with glaucoma.  It is still in its early stage, but eventually he will lose his ability to see from that eye.  My cousin has had glaucoma since she was a baby and my grandmother has had glaucoma for years as well.  I know what is coming, maybe not now, but someday.  I strive to not borrow trouble about it and chose to take every day as it comes.  Medication will help, but there will be a day when it does very little.

I think of the people who have never seen any of the things I mentioned above, the smile of their loved ones, a Christmas tree lit with color and I realize the first thing their “broken” eyes will see is the face of Jesus when they step into Heaven.

Fanny Crosby, one of my favorite hymn writers, was blind from infancy, yet went on to write over 8,000 hymns and other written works until her death at 94.  It was Fanny who said, “when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”  It was her perspective that her loss of earthly sign allowed her to focus on Heaven in a way others may not be able to with sight.

Faith is a lot like sight in this way.  We often quote the verse from Hebrews 11 which says Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  We don’t see the God we believe in, but we see evidence of Him everywhere.

If we look for it.  What I mean is, we have faith based on how we view the world.  We can either view the world as a terrible place, full of fear and dread, or we can see it full of joy, opportunity, and blessings.  It’s all about how we frame it.

Fanny Crosby could have been a pitiful woman, who was miserable and lived like a victim to her blindness.  But she didn’t.  She chose to embrace her situation and praise God for it all.

It was all about the way she chose to “see.”

I need to reframe my view all the time.  Is it a tragedy or an opportunity?  Is it a set back or a chance to grow?

I pray I will open my eyes each day and praise God that it is a new day and He has a plan for me.  I don’t always know what my day will hold, but I know God does and that is enough.

 

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‘M’ere

As a young boy, our neighbor’s son used to say “‘M’ere” to someone when he wanted their attention.  It was toddler code for “Come here, I want your full attention.”

Lately, I have noticed that God is doing the same thing to my spirit.  I have felt the tug on my heart to be still a bit more, to talk a bit less, and to rest in His presence.

It isn’t a new concept– the tug is there every day, throughout the morning routine, the quiet in the car on the way to work, and when I have a moment or two between tasks at work.

The gentle whisper of “M’ere” reminds me to find a better way to show His love, His plan, to pay attention to His purposes–not mine.  To check my attitude and adjust it.

I can ignore His “M’ere” like an alarm clock or I can hear it and respond to it.  Some days, I ignore it, the rush of “now” pushes out the need of “listen” to God and I always think I will catch up later.  When I go to bed at night I recognize I never listened and responded and my actions proved it.  I was moody, short-tempered, and shared less grace with those around me.

Then the days I do respond to His “M’ere” I find myself full of more joy, more kindness, a gentleness toward those who can be difficult to be around.  One would think I would recognize the difference and choose time with God every day, yet every day I must choose.

Scriptures is full of God calling out to us– inviting us into a conversation with Him, a relationship with Him, to join Him in Heaven.  We just need to decide if we will respond to the request.

Come to me…. He says.  What will your response be today?

 

 

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Here He comes

This weekend marks Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.  Easter will be here in a week and I am trying to figure out how to better engage my heart into the best weekend in all of history.

I am still broken every time I think of what God allowed happen to Jesus.

  Don’t miss what I said– God allowed it, no doubt– Scripture proves it– Jesus could have called a legion of angels to His rescue to remove Him from the Cross.  He could have spoken and with the very power of Heaven dethroned Herod, set to right all that had been made wrong from the Fall forward. 

 But He didn’t. 

 Jesus went to the Cross, for you and for me.  Willingly, like a sheep to slaughter (Isaiah 53:7),  He died for all of us– whether we claim to want Him in our lives or not.  He gave up His life for ours.

Jesus came in love.

He didn’t come because He *had* to come.  He wasn’t forced to obey.  He understood the cost.

  He came out of love for all of us. 

 Those of us who embrace His love and those of us who reject it.

He came.

One of my favorite memories of Easter weekend was at my old church– the Good Friday service actually.  

Our pastor spoke about what Jesus looked like hanging on the Cross that Friday; beaten, bruised, swollen, bloody, dislocated bones (Isaiah 53:3-4) all of it and the brutal details.

He quoted David Crowder’s song, “Here is our King.”  Spoken with the reality of what Jesus’ death meant, 

 
Here is our king, here is our love
Here is our God Who’s come
To bring us back to him
He is the one, he is Jesus, Jesus 

 Our pastor then explained within three days we would be standing on our feet cheering these very same words– from the other side of Resurrection Sunday–
 

Here is our king, here is our love
Here is our God Who’s come
To bring us back to him
He is the one, he is Jesus, Jesus

It was such a paradigm shift between that Friday and that Sunday so many centuries ago.  And still– to this day–every time I sing these lyrics I am reminded of all that Jesus did, all that I deserve, and all that I received. 


Majesty, finally
Majesty, finally here

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secret codes

A team from our out-of-town office came to check out a new system we use on our computers.  While sitting next to me to listen in on calls I would take, one of the team members noticed my wristband, Psalm 139:14 I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He immediately asked about the bracelet and I explained the significance of the verse with the story of where I got the bracelet.  It only took a moment or two, but I knew in that moment that I was talking with someone who was a brother in Christ.

He didn’t ever say what he believed, where he attended church, no “church-y” statements were made.  And yet, we understood each other.   In that unspoken moment we knew we shared a relationship with the same God and it encouraged me.

In the days of the early church after the Persecution of the church began (Acts 8) it was dangerous for the believers to openly express their faith without risking arrest, beatings, loss of property, or even loss of life.  So the Faith community devised a secret code, among them the sign of the fish.

When a traveler would meet another in a city where believers were known to be living, one person would drag his or her toe in an arc and the other believer would draw the other half of the arc forming a simple fish design.  Twenty centuries later, believers use this fish to decorate their cars or in their choice of jewelry and fashion.

While those of us who live in areas of religious freedom can choose to wear a cross, or a fish pendant– there are those who still must use secret codes to notify other believers of danger, prayer meetings, and other gatherings.

We, as believers, live in a time when we have great freedoms and great responsibility to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Each time you wear your cross, your Christian t-shirt, or carry your Bible in public, pray for your brothers and sisters who serve God with their whole lives– sometimes giving their whole lives– all while being under the reign of governments which declare Christ is forbidden.

Hebrews 13:3 says, Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. 

 

 

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Paul, Barney, and Tim

Once again, it is the season to stand on the sidelines and cheer for my runners.  Reminding my son to keep his pace, keep his stride, and push hard at the end– leaving it all on the track.  It is an emotional moment when you watch your child push it all out, passing an opponent in the last lengths of the race.  

Each team has a cluster of teammates who gather around a stopwatch to help the runner keep pace and to remind them how many more laps there are to run.  Each team has a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy.  

One of my Carols reminded me of this recently and I have seen it played out in real life and in my Spiritual life.  

Paul is our mentor, the “been there, done that– let me tell you how it really works” friend.  Someone who guides and corrects as needed while we go on this journey.  In my life it’s been teachers and study leaders and in my son’s life it’s been a teammate who is 2nd in state as a runner.  The whole team knows when Wyatt tells them something it is time to listen. 

Then there is the Barnabas in our life. The best friend, the encourager, who reminds us the battle isn’t over and there is still room for growth and they will be there all the way the the end.  I have had a couple dear friends who have been a Barney for me and my life has been the richer for it.

Timothy. This is the person we are now training and teaching; mentoring just like Paul did for us.  We will love, direct, guide, and correct this person or persons, along their journey. 

The teams my sons have been on have blessed them and me as they help the boys become a better athlete and a better person along the way.  

So, who is your Paul? Have you thanked them for their teaching?  

Who is your Barney? Have you encouraged them the way they have encouraged you?

Who is your Timothy? Do you have one? It may be time to pay attention to the people around you– someone needs direction and guidance.  Be their Paul. 

Stand along someone’s sidelines and cheer them on today. 

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fresh

Each day I wake up and listen to what my day will become.  I listen to the birds singing in the ornamental cherry tree outside our apartment or the wind blowing by my window.  I listen to the song my heart sings even before my mind is awake.  It is as if my soul is striving to align itself with God’s new day.

Today I woke to a song by Darlene Zschech, “Miracle” from the album Change Your World.   It was a reminder that with each new day comes a new opportunity to be a part of God’s work, His plan, and to use my gifts for His purposes–not my own.

These past months have been such a season of trusting, believing, and hoping and it seemed like my heart was calling out what my whole being has been growing inside.  Preparation for the next step, the next season, in my faith journey.

I am not one to believe in the “name it, claim it” kind of faith.  Instead, I have seen God move when His timing was perfect and I was in the very center of His will.  Never a moment before then, never a moment later.  I have seen this kind of faith proven true again and again.  God is faithful and true and never fails to provide exactly when it is time.  I love that kind part of His character.

I don’t know what is coming– I don’t need to know– God knows and that is enough.  He will let me know when I need to know and not a moment before.  This is the way my faith grows– every time God draws me to Him, to see the next step, to anticipate the way He will show up.  It keeps my faith fresh and strong.

It is this kind of faith that I know will stand strong when difficulties rise up and seem to stretch out for miles in front of me.  But it is also the reality of faith– trusting and waiting to see what God has planned.  In the mean time, my heart will continue to sing….

 
I am ready for a miracle
I’m expecting a miracle
That the house of God
Will be glorious
And the world will see
Every harvest starts with a seed of faith
See the nation rise and take its place
I am ready
Ready for a miracle

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miracles

Spring does funny things to me.  It’s a season of change– it shakes off the slumber of winter, the cold, dormant, dead-look of plants and trees seem to erupt overnight with riotous colors, vibrant greens.  Ducklings, calves, piglets, kids, and lambs– all of my favorite farm animals– seem to be born all at once and barns are full of sounds.

Spring brings me hope.  Hope that the dead-ness of winter will not win, either in the heart or in the natural world.  Hope is one of my favorite aspects of God.  He brings a sense of whatever is lost can be found, whatever is broken can be fixed, there is a sense that nothing is final or impossible.

I find the placement of Easter in spring is not an accident.  I know Easter and Passover go hand-in-hand on the Judeo-Christian calendar, but I see it from a different perspective today.

In Exodus 12 the entire nation of Israel is poised to leave Egypt.  They are instructed by Moses of the final meal they will have in Egypt as slaves– a meal full of rich symbolism and deep meaning for the men and women who have been under harsh rule for over 400 years.

The final player in this event is the Angel of Death, who comes through Egypt and slays every firstborn Egyptian and even the livestock.  It is a night of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. It is a night of death and sadness that had never been seen to that point in history.

Then comes Passover in early first century A. D. and a meal in an upper room with men and women who had come to know the Son of God.  This meal probably started out like others had in years before– but this one meant so much more.

This meal had the Sacrificial Lamb in their very presence.  It was the time in history when all of Heaven was poised at the edge to watch the outcome here on Earth.  God’s very own son was about to lay down His life for the whole world.  Every race, every nation, every tongue, every person, everyone– was about to have the Ultimate Gift offered to them.

 Life– abundantly, overflowing, refreshing, healing; bringing restoration in all things, life is the very thing Jesus offered through His death. The very thing only Heaven can offer.

Jesus’ very death was to be our gift of LIFE– through the Son of God– every Easter– offering Life, Hope, and Grace in ways we can only experience when we receive the gift of Life.

 

 

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perspective

Many mornings I wake up before my alarm, not ready to get out of bed, not ready to wake up fully.  My mind recycles through past struggles, trying still to find a solution to something that cannot be solved.

In the end, I shake my head free of the carousel of negativity and get out of bed.

It is important for me to remember that while things look messy from my viewpoint, God sees the bigger picture.

He sees the hurt, the sorrow, the misunderstandings, the anger, the disappointment and knows how it can be through His eyes. From His view.

If we look through His eyes, we can see it too.

I find I need to remind myself that who I am and how I was made is because of the Great I AM.  I cannot change the way others see me, my sons, my husband, or my friends and family.  I can only focus on the way God sees them and me.  His view of me is what matters, nothing else–especially the nagging thoughts in the wee hours of the morning.

A song I learned years ago  as a very new believer comes to mind often. I was yearning to see things–especially myself– from a different perspective.  Twenty-five years later, I still feel the joy, the peace, and the hope that comes in these words.  I hope they help you too.

 

If I could look through your eyes,

I would see that I am precious,

and I would know that I am prized.

‘Cause I know your love never changes…

If I could look through your eyes

 

If I Could Look Through Your Eyes-
from the album ~Ever Devoted – 1987
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Scraps

I woke up this morning humming David Crowder.  With all of the posts I have seen lately on sadness, teen depression, anxiety, and fear I think my heart was reminding me of the promise God offers us.

We don’t have to come to God’s throne room in our “Sunday best;” we will never be dressed in a “best” that is good enough for God.  Instead, we come to Him in our rags, our scraps, (Isaiah 64:6) and He builds us into the Child of God He created us to be from the beginning of time.

We just need to come to Him.  Broken, dirty, bleeding, angry, hurt, scraped up, torn clothes, He doesn’t look at us and think “Be gone, filthy soul…” Instead, He looks at us with love, draws us close, up on His lap, hugs us and offers to heal all of the mess we have found ourselves in at that moment.

He offers and we can choose to take Him up on His offer– or we can dismiss it and Him and decide to try to repair it all on our own.  This kind of thinking leads to disastrous results.

We aren’t qualified.  We aren’t  capable to restore all that needs to be restored in our lives.  Only God can do it.

Only God can mend the broken, heal the hurt, give us hope, only God. 

Only God. 

I leave you with the words that have been whispering in and out of my heart today.  May you find the joy, the hope, the possibility of change that can only come from going to God– just as you are–right now– no polish, no practice, just as you are….

Come out of sadness
from wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner, come kneel

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal

So, lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer, come home
You’re not too far
So, lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t cure

Come as you are
Fall in His arms
Come as you are

There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner, be still

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal

~~Come as You Are by David Crowder
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