Monday, June 29, 2009

Processing Thoughts

I am just coming off of a crazy week so this week I decided that we need to slow down our days and take some time to enjoy summer. We still have days filled with ball practice and ball games, but we are also going to take a break and get out of town. To Grandmother's House We Go tomorrow. . .YEAH!

This afternoon we spent a little time at the pool. It must have wore my little one out completely because she laid down on the couch and took a nap. This does not happen very often. She outgrew naps a year ago. So, I took full advantage of some quiet time. I grabbed my copy of The Shack and headed to the front porch.

I was over half done so I was hoping to finish it. . .and I did. I am a fast reader, but I have been taking my time reading this book because their is a lot to process. If you have not read this book, you should. In my opinion it can be a book that really helps you on your faith journey. It is a book of fiction, but it really makes you think about the relationships you have in your life. Especially your relationship with God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Right now I am trying to process a lot of thoughts that came to me while I was reading this book. I will share more tomorrow after I have some time to get into my Bible and process everything that is running through my mind. Plus I am having a hard time concentrating on my writing. There are three little girls singing Kid's Church songs while they are drawing at the table right next to my computer. :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mighty to Save

He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave --Mighty to Save by Hillsong

I humbly come before the throne of Jesus this morning. I am overwhelmed by the amazing power of the God I worship.

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

I read the above scripture yesterday before I left for church. I have read it before, but for some reason it caught my eye. Well this morning as I sit here and reflect on the day, I know why I read that scripture. I think God was speaking to me through it.

Yesterday I saw the power of intercessory prayer at work before my eyes and I am praising God for answered prayer. I saw God at work in the lives of my friends and it was amazing. Last week my husband and I prayed together every night on behalf of our friends. This is out of character for us. Usually our evening prayer time is separate, but last week we felt overwhelmed for our friends and it brought us together before Christ. God is so good!

God continued to speak loud and clear to me this morning. I sat down with My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers and The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian. I opened up Utmost and I read the title, The Unchanging Law of Judgement.

I took a deep breath and read the entry. You see, these friends we have been praying for have not always been our friends. This is a rather new friendship.

I have to remind myself often that I was not put on this earth by God to judge others. I cannot see into the hearts of those that surround me, just as they cannot see into mine. We are all sinners and God will be the judge in the end. The only thing I can do is love others, right where they are at, hope they can do the same with me and God will do the rest.

As I set Utmost down and picked up the Power of Prayer book. The entry today was The Power of Intercession. Wow, I really do believe that God was affirming to me the power of praying for others. Omartian says, "Base your prayers on the truth of God's Word. You can stand before God "in the gap" (Ezekiel 22:30) and intercede for the lives of others."

The Mighty to Save song lyrics in the beginning of this post say, "Saviour, He can move the mountains." The Bible says we can move those mountains, too. We just need to have faith.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Journey

I sat down yesterday with a calendar and tried to make so sense out of our summer vacation. It seems that our effort to have a relaxing summer is getting busier and busier. The harder we try to slow it down, the busier it gets. Luckily, most of our busyness is filled with making memories with our girls. And of course, they like to be busy. I don't have to deal with as many, "Mom I'm bored, what can WE do?"

The other day my husband and I were talking about our oldest daughter and how she will soon be 9. He said, "9 more years and she will be in college." That is scary when I think about how fast the first 9 years flew by. It has me thinking about my faith journey. I started to think about where I was at 9 years ago.

It has been an amazing journey so far. Nine years ago, I rarely went to church. Nine years ago, I wasn't even sure where my Bible was at in my apartment. Nine years ago, I was focused on myself and I was very selfish.

Wow, I thank God today that I worship and amazing God that can move mountains and transform hearts. As I sit in my chair today praising God for this journey I think about how different my life is. My Bible is on my kitchen table, I am in church every single Sunday that we are in town. I do still have days that I try to be selfish, but it doesn't take long for me to snap back into reality and I know that this journey is not about me.

Someday soon I will share my story. Today I am just going to spend some time thanking God for His power in my life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bible Camp

My oldest left this morning for a few days at Bible Camp. This is the second year that she has gone and she was so excited to go. Two of her best friends went with her so that makes it even more fun. It is amazing that she is only going to be gone two nights, yet she had so much stuff???

Today I am just spending time in prayer thankful that she has this opportunity at the age of 8. As she grows up I know that she will deal with a lot of people that will challenge her faith. My prayer is that she develops a relationship with the Lord that will overcome any future struggles.

Now I will spend the next two days trying to entertain her younger sisters. . .and keep them out of her stuff. Before she left her only request was, "Please don't let Madi sleep in my bed while I am gone."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Narrow Gate

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

I have been thinking a lot about the above passage the past couple of days. I have a picture in my mind of this gate that is hidden like the gate in the movie The Secret Garden. Yet, I have found this gate and I have the key.

Then this morning I came across another scripture that has me really thinking. It is found in John.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. John 15:13

I am blessed with awesome friends. I have dear friends that I have known for years and I have wonderful friends that I have only known a short time. This morning I am thinking about all of my friends. Some of my friends are strong Christians that have played a big role in my faith journey. Some of my friends don't even go to church.

I do not judge, I do not know for sure where any of them are at on their faith journey. However, I think about these two scriptures and my heart aches. We all struggle with life. Some of us are dealing with loss and sickness, some of us are dealing with financial issues, some of us have tough marriages, and the list goes on and on.

I like to think that I would do anything for my friends. I hope that if any of them ever need anything they would feel comfortable to call me and ask me for help. I love my friends and the relationships that I have formed with all of these wonderful women.

My mind wanders back to the gate that leads to everlasting life. The gate in which I have found the key. . . I can do a lot of things to show my friends that I care, but am I sharing with them the key that I have found so that they can also walk through this narrow gate?

It is very easy for me to sit with some of my friends and talk about my relationship with Christ, but I have other friends that it is not a subject that is ever talked about. Why is it so hard? I love the Lord with all of my heart and He has changed my life. So, why can't I share my story with everyone?

I have a girlfriend right now that is on a tough road. I want to reach out to her, but I don't know how. I have spent the last two days praying for her and the opportunities that I will have to show Christ's love to her. My mind just keeps going to the image of a gate and a beautiful key.

I know that I did not discover this key to hide it and enjoy the relationship I have with Christ in secret. I tell myself that I would lay down my life for my friends, but it terrifies me to think about sharing Christ with them.

My prayer today is that everyone that is reading this post will think about this beautiful gate that leads to everlasting life. Let us not let the gate remain hidden. Some may still choose not to enter through this small gate, but I do not want to ever feel like I could have shown them this gate, yet I remained silent.

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. John 6:47

Friday, June 12, 2009

Call to Worship

I am preparing to lead worship this weekend at our church. Every time I am preparing to lead worship I go through some very interesting emotions. I think it is God working on my heart and preparing me to be in this leadership position. I love to sing. I feel that it is a gift that I have received from the Lord.

It is always interesting how the worship set comes together for me. Some weeks songs will be placed on my heart and they just fit together musically. Other weeks there will be one song that I find and I will build the entire set from that one song. I am always trying to find a balance. I have found through the years at different churches that being involved in music ministry can be a very difficult place to be involved.

Most churches have a congregation that is filled with a vast array of ages. With those ages comes different tastes in music. Some big churches have multiple services to fit these tastes: contemporary, traditional, etc. Currently I am in a church with one service so it has been a challenge to try to make this all fit into one worship set.

In the beginning of this leadership role I would get so worried about pleasing everyone that I was not bringing any glory to God in the process. I was so worried about making the congregation happy that I was doing a horrible job trying to lead them. It has been a learning process and I have wanted to give up many times. So many times, the comments that people give, (which in their minds are suggestions), can tear me apart.

I have learned that the best way to prepare for this role in the church is to spend a lot of time in prayer. For all that read this post I ask that you pray for the music ministry of your church. Although those involved in that ministry were given a gift from God, it doesn't mean that it is always easy to use that gift. I thought I would end my post today with my music selection for this weekend.

Friend of God - I love the words to this worship song. I think it is a great Call to Worship.

Lord I Lift Your Name On High - The kids are in worship services all summer and they all know this one really well. Even the kids that can't read yet can sing along.

Majesty - I haven't done this song for awhile and I stumbled across it after I had picked everything else out.

Your Name - If you don't know this one, it is definitely worth the $.99 on Itunes to download it.

Praise the Name of Jesus - What a great way to end a worship set. Giving glory to Jesus.

It is so crazy how a worship set comes together. I had printed it all out and was sitting down at the piano to figure out an order when I realized that the last four songs all talk about all of the names of the Lord. Here is a little list from these songs just for fun: Friend, Savior, Majesty, Kingdom Authority, King, Strong and Mighty Tower, Shelter, Rock, Fortress, Deliverer. I don't know about you, but I know that it gives me great comfort to know that I am singing praise to an Awesome God!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Answered Prayer

Last night we got to give praise to God in our nightly prayers as a family. We got a new addition to our extended family yesterday. One of my sister-in-laws had a baby girl. We welcome her with great joy. The road to her getting here was not an easy one for that family. They experienced two miscarriages before this healthy birth.

My girls have been praying for this beautiful baby girl every night since we told them that she was on the way. It is so awesome when they experience answers to their prayers. It gives us a great opportunity to talk about the goodness of God. Last night our oldest daughter said, "How does the Lord answer so many prayers at night?" We got to share with them how powerful He is and how He hears their prayers.

It was wonderful to be able to share with them answered prayers that resulted in joy. We realize that this will not always be the case. Sometime, we will have to have this same conversation and the answer they receive may not be the one they want. However, that will present a new opportunity to tell of God's power and God's plan.

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Monday, June 8, 2009

Backyard Beauty

Proverbs 31 Homekeeper started a weekly Bible Study post today on her blog called Feeding Time. Her first assignment was to read Genesis 1-3.

So last night I spent some time in Genesis. I have read the story of creation numerous times, but it seems the more I focus on creation, the more of an impact it has on my life. In her Feeding Time post she talks about appreciating the flowers more and the squirrels and birds. She wrote, "If you had asked me a year ago about animals and flowers, I would say “No I’m not really into it.”

It caught me off guard because that is exactly how I felt a year ago. I had learned to really appreciate God's Beauty in the Black Hills of South Dakota or in the beautiful sunsets of Hawaii. But, I could have cared less for the Beauty of my own backyard. I failed to remember the scripture from Genesis 1:1 that reads, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It doesn't say that God created the beautiful mountain ranges and sunsets. Scripture says, "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array." Genesis 2:1

He created everything we see on this earth. All things were formed by His hands and He spoke things into existence. When I really started to believe this, I started to look at my backyard with completely different eyes. When I step outside, I notice things that before I did not ever see.

I am trying to pass this on to my children. Especially now in the technology driven culture they are growing up in. They don't want to take the time to appreciate God's creation. They have to be coaxed outside on beautiful days because the comfort of inside is much more appealing.

Last week each girl was given a nature journal at their Kick-Off to Summer Party we hosted at our house. I was busy on Friday getting our camper ready for a weekend adventure. While I was running around the house, I noticed they were outside in the field across the street. I wondered what they were doing. Later they came in the house for tape, glue and pens. When they were finished they came into the house with their Nature Journals. They had been collecting things to put into them.

It was so wonderful to see. I didn't have to make a big deal about it and organize a structured activity. They were bored so they decided to do something with the journals they received. They have also started to see nature through new eyes. Last week they found and tried to care for two baby birds that had fallen from their nests. They dug for worms and cut them into pieces to feed the birds. They found boxes to build them little homes. Unfortunately the one they found in our yard did not survive so it got a funeral and was buried. I am unsure of the second birds fate. After it pooped on my patio furniture, I sent it home with the little girl who brought it over.

God created our beautiful backyard for us to see that everything He created was good. He doesn't want us to rush through life without stopping to appreciate the little things. Every day I try to remind myself that although I don't live in the Garden of Eden, I am surrounded by God's beauty in my little backyard.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Overcoming Fear

I admit it, I am a scaredy cat. I am afraid of way too many things. I wish that I wasn't and I honestly try to overcome my fears. However, there are certain fears and I do not know if I will ever overcome. Thankfully, I have prayer and a Big God that helps me overcome situations that I get myself into. And although these fears have not gone away. I am at least able to function in spite of them.

For some of you that know me I am terribly afraid of two things. Sharks and Snakes. Luckily I live in the Midwest so I only have to deal with sharks on few occasions. I have been in the ocean many times, and I am able to enjoy myself, but I enjoy myself at warp speed. I see what I need to see and then I appreciate a good book on the beach or I swim very quickly back to the safety of a boat.

My second fear, one I hate to think about, but am obsessed with hearing about is snakes. Unfortunately for me, these can be found in my backyard. Well, my big fear here is rattlesnakes and generally they are not found in my backyard, but you never know. . .I take extra caution wherever I step.

Last summer I felt that I was able to overcome this giant fear because my husband and I purchased a camper. With the purchase of this camper, I knew that we would be camping right in the midst of the rattlesnakes territory. Now I would be in their backyard. Well, we camped a few times and I did not see one. Phew. . .

Well, now it is a new camping season and the snakes seem to be out in full force. I have camped twice now and have yet to see one, however, there were three seen within the week we camped and one person was treated for not one, but two snake bites. The kicker is that my kids and I. . .walked right near the area that this snake was at, numerous times. (I am trying to breathe deeply to get through this post). And to make matters even more interesting, the second siting was at the camping site right next to the one that I was in. . .(more deep breaths)

Now, comes a lot of deep breaths and huge trust in the Lord. In three weeks I will be camping in this area again. It will not be easy for me. I will probably have nightmares about it until we get through it. I will be saying many prayers of protection over my family.

My husband thinks that I just need to see one and I will be able to overcome my fears. I do not agree. I think that if I see one, I won't need to overcome my fears because I will fall over dead! So here is me trying to overcome my fears by writing frantically about them and praying just as frantically.

My mind drifts to Acts 28. I was drawn to this passage before we moved to Rattlesnake country and it offered me a little reassurance that God will literally protect me from this (not so wonderful) part of creation.

Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live." But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. Acts 28 3:5

Why is it that fear can overcome us? Is it a lack of faith or trust in God? I don't believe so. I think that some of our fears draw us even closer to God because we must lean on Him or we would not make it through.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day

I love it when I roll out of bed to a clear blue sky with the sun shining. It is a little chilly this morning, but it is a beautiful day. My little ones have actually been sleeping in a little bit. (well it is 8:30 and it is still silent in the house) I love this new found quiet time that I have enjoyed the past two days.

I have a busy day ahead, but I am praising God for this day. We are trying so hard to get our children to understand that they are so blessed with the life that they have. When at times, I need to also stop and reflect on this very same thing.

I do not believe that as a Christian our lives are meant to be easy. Just because we believe, it does not mean that we will be blessed with material things. We will suffer. People we love will be taken from us. We ourselves may suffer sickness that will not heal.

At the season of my life that I am in right now I have so much to praise God for everyday. I am blessed to stay home with my children and live in a beautiful home. It is way too easy to forget that I need to praise God for everything that I have.

So today as I am running through this crazy house trying to get through my list of things to do I am going to continue to offer my thanksgiving to the Lord.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. Ephesians 1:3-10

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This Little Light Of Mine

My heart is heavy today for some of my girlfriends. One who is suffering a tragic loss of a young child and one that has not yet suffered a loss, but is at a point that it feels like she already has.

Life happens. Sometimes a person is on this earth for many, many years and sometimes they are here only a very short time. My heart aches for these women.

Last night my husband and I had a conversation with our girls about suicide. This is a conversation I didn't think I would have to have with an 8 and 6 year old. However, I wanted to be the one to talk about this topic before it was a conversation between their friends.

My innocent little 6 year old, did not understand. Her first response to our explanation was, "Did they want to get to heaven faster to see Jesus." We explained it all the best we could. But I cannot get this statement out of my mind.

I have a scripture running through my head that I want to share with her from Matthew 5.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

One of my friends yesterday said to me, "There is a lot of darkness in this world." She is right. But even in darkness, one light can overcome that darkness. We can be in complete darkness, but if we light a small candle, we are able to see.

We do not know the path of our life. How long it will be or how short. But, we can shine our light so that those that are around us will not be engulfed in darkness. Our light can offer hope to people that feel like they do not have any.

I am trying to teach my 3 year-old some of the classic bible songs that I learned as a child. One of them is This little light of mine. One of the lines is, "Hide it under a bushel, No. I'm gonna let it shine."

The faith I have in Jesus Christ is no good to anyone if I keep it to myself. If I hide it in my home or in my church. I have been given a gift and I have the opportunity to share this gift with everyone. The world we live in is full of a lot of darkness, but I am not willing to let the darkness of the world overcome me.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46