Hope CAN change everything

Hope can change everything.

These are the words singing through my mind this morning as I sit in the pedicure chair at the salon, waiting for my turn to get my feet and hands beautiful. (One of my favorite things to do on vacation.)

I don’t know about you, but the word “hope” falls too easily off my tongue and out of my mouth. As in, “I hope it doesn’t rain.” Or, “here’s hoping!” Or, “I hope this color looks good on my toes.”

If hope CAN change everything, and I believe it can, then should I use the word so freely and carelessly?  Paul’s famous letter to the Corinthians says, “faith, hope, and love abide, these three.” They abide, they dwell, they live in us if we are in Christ. We don’t have to go looking for it… hope is already there, deep in our hearts!  Just when we wonder where it went, it reaches through the darkness and shines His light on us, showing us there is more. There is a future. There is a reason to sing.

Hope CAN change everything. Click here to listen to this song by K-love fan awards artists.

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THRIVE!

Great things about vacation… No schedule, no makeup, good food, dress down comfy clothes, sleep late. I’m pretty sure that list could be endless, but I’m still up early! Though I did sleep a little later, I’m the only one awake at the B&B in these beautiful surroundings. I can’t help it. I can’t miss my morning appointment with God… He waits for me.

I love these quiet hours in the morning before anybody else is stirring. I get to have time alone with God and His Word… Time to dig deep into the scripture… Time to listen to what He has to say to me. And time for God to mold me and make me into someone useful for the work He has planned for me to do. It’s refreshing to me… Like a little mini vacation! I leave my studio ready to face whatever comes today.

As I write this, Casting Crowns is singing through my head…

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun, make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to Thrive

“To know You and to make You known.” How can I know God if I don’t spend time with Him? And how can I make Him known to others if I don’t know Him myself? For me, that means keeping these early morning appointments with God. It means digging into the Word with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and so many others with my precious friends in Bible study.

For me, it means doing more than just surviving each day. Casting Crowns has it right when they sing that we were made to THRIVE! Because others are watching, do we want to show them that we are merely surviving? Or that we are thriving??

Before the Morning

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We finally got out of the house on vacation! We are calling it a “progressive” vacation, spending a couple of days in the mountains, a couple of days with family in the south, and a few days at the beach. One day into our time away and we already see the majesty of God’s creation in these beautiful smoky hills.

“Would you dare to believe that you still have a reason to sing?” Josh Wilson’s song, Before the Morning, is running through my mind. And after watching the sun come up over these magnificent hills, my answer today is YES!!!!!

The hurts of this world can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. Just like the sun rising this morning, burning away the mist and fog, the Son will rise again and burn away the lingering pain that keeps us from shining brightly for Him.

Back to You

“You took a heart so black and blue and, piece by piece, You make it new.”

These words have been running on a loop in my head. Since the wee small hours, Mandisa’s gorgeous voice has been singing out, “I give it all back. I give it all back to You.” Have a listen…

Was this song in my head because that’s what I want more than anything? To give it all back to God? To thank Him for every good and prefect gift that He has rained down on me? Absolutely! Do I give it all back to Him? Probably not.

See, I’m hung up on that little line about a black and blue heart, because I didn’t realize that mine WAS so bruised and battered. For the most part, I have a great life. At this point in the journey, though, I can look back and see that my heart was a shambles. Pitiful, really. I am a tender-hearted person, so it’s easy for me to get it trampled on… But God is good all the time! And faithful! Through His great love and mercy, He took what others thought worthless at best and, piece by piece, has rebuilt my heart into His own special creation.

Funny… I have been a Child of the One True King since I was a little girl, but my heart has been my own. It took a little battering, bruising, and trampling for God to be able to use it, to mold it, to rebuild my heart a little at a time into a heart for HIM.

God I give you my heart and my soul. You remade it into what You need it to be, so here it is. Take it back and do with it what You will. You and You alone know how scary these words are for me to write. But I’m trusting You to take good care of my heart.

I love singing these words from an old hymn, “Here’s my heart, O take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”

Dig Deep

This is one of those mornings. You know the ones… I need more sleep, more coffee, more energy, more motivation, more stamina, more willpower, more umph! Is today going to be a “fake it till you make it” day? I hope not. I don’t like faking it. I don’t like that feeling of just getting through. That’s not what abundant living is about!

Sometimes it feels like my well is dry, like my ability to dig a little deeper is just gone. Brene’ Brown calls it a “dig deep button” and mine is broken. When I envision a “dig deep button” I think of one of those little app icons on a smart phone. Here’s the one I came up with…

20140617-062710-23230953.jpgWouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a button we could push that helped us dig a little deeper, bring it when we don’t feel it? Well, I do. It’s God’s word, the scriptures, my Bible. As cliche as it may sound, what better place to go when I need refreshing than to the One who created me and loves me? Isn’t that what we want our kids to do when they need refreshing? When they’re hurt or upset or just want a hug, we want them to come to momma or daddy, not the neighbors or a stranger. Us. Me.

I think God feels the same way. When I need help because I’m just too worn out, when I’m tired, when I feel like it’s just too much, I need to go to God. Nobody else loves me like He does. Nobody else is sitting and waiting for me to turn to them at any given moment. He never feels like I’m in the way, or that I’m interrupting Him.

He didn’t send His only son to die the death of crucifixion so that I could vent my frustrations with a friend or eat a whole pizza instead of turning to Him. He came that I could have an abundant, joy-filled, unrestrained life of freedom in Christ. He left me His Holy Spirit so that I can dig deep when I need more.

Ok. I’m motivated now. I better get to work!!!! Have a blessed day.

Press On

A couple of days ago, I wrote about living with abandon and what that means for me in Surrender and an Apology. Living with joy and freedom in Christ. Stop all the lid-sitting and let the joy overflow. So… How am I doing with that??

Every time I woke up last night, and again this morning, I had Building 429 singing these two lines in my head…

I am a mess, I am a wrecking ball
I must confess that I still don’t get it all

I love these lines from their song, Press On, because sometimes I don’t get it all… But I’m trying, I’m working on it. I Press On. I’ve spent a couple of days saying “YES” more than often than “no.” Not taking things personally. Letting things go… And that’s really hard for me to do on my own!

Philippians 3:13-14 says this.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I know that I will continue to be a mess and a wrecking ball because I’m a human being living in a messy world. But I will press on. I will continue to walk with Jesus every day, to learn all I can, to PRACTICE. I’ve spent a lifetime practicing on a piano bench. I know how to do that.

Life goes on, life goes on
But Your love will prove
All I need, all I need
I will find in You

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

What’s in a name?

As I sit here in the quiet on Fathers Day, I’m thinking of my own. What do you call your dad? There are lots of names for the man who raises a child or children. For me, being from the South, it has and always will be Daddy, though the occasional “Dad” slips out. Both are terms of endearment because, no matter what I call him, I love him dearly. That’s not enough. I love my father in the deepest part of me, a place I can’t even name.

I know that Daddy loves me. Though he’s not particularly demonstrative, I’ve known my whole life that my father loves me enough to teach me right from wrong, to raise me in the church and to know and love The Lord Jesus Christ. He loves me enough to provide everything I needed growing up to thrive. Now, as a grown-up, he is still providing what I need. He’s the one I call when I don’t know what to do, or when I need something fixed, or when I just want to talk about something on my heart.

I think that’s how God loves us… In that deepest place we can’t even name. He doesn’t mind if we call Him God, Father, Lord, I AM, Abba, Jehovah… He still provides everything we need, and wants to be the One we call on when we don’t know what to do, to fix what’s broken, or when we want to talk about something on our heart. Can we go one step further and be open so God can share what’s on HIS heart with us?

Be still and know that I AM God.

Surrender and an apology

Abandon: to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in… A feeling or attitude of wild or complete freedom. I looked it up.

I looked it up because I woke up with the Newsboys singing, Live With Abandon in my head, particularly these lines.

There’s gotta be so much more to life than this
A higher calling that I missed
I want my life to count, every breath

I wanna live with abandon
Give You all that I am
Every part of my heart Jesus
I place in Your hands

Sometimes, I like to think of a thing by looking at its opposite. And the opposite of abandon, when I’m thinking of this song, would be restraint, inhibit, constraint.

It makes me sad to think I have lived most of my life inhibited and restrained. Maybe reserved would be a better word. I have reserved part of my self for ME, rather than giving it all to The Lord and to those I love. I’ve only given God some of me, part of me. The part I want Him to see, which is pretty ridiculous considering He sees all and knows all. Dear Father, forgive me. Dear family, I’m so sorry and I promise to give it all I’ve got!

Oh, how I want that feeling of complete freedom in Christ. To know and trust that His will for me is perfect. That the will of God won’t take me where the grace of God won’t follow. To let go of all this reservation, restraint, inhibitions, constraining legalism and just let God guide my heart and my life. Abandon… I’m giving it up with the ‘intent to never again claim a right or have interest in’ the old life.

Today is Flag Day. I’m waving the white flag this morning and surrendering to the JOY!!

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Kings and Queens

Self-esteem
Self-respect
Pride
Dignity
Self-regard
Self-worth
Personal value

We teach these concepts and try to instill them in our children and grandchildren, but what about the kids out there who don’t have someone telling them how special they are? How important they are? How beautiful, smart, funny, loving, talented… Just because they exist.

The song in my head this morning has me thinking on these things. Audio Adrenaline’s song, Kings and Queens.

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout Your name in victory
When we love, when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

As a Christian, I am called to love the least of these. To be the hands and feet of Jesus. Like the song says, “if not us, who will be like Jesus to the least of these?”

I did not grow up feeling like a queen. I was raised in a time when complimenting your child, bragging on them, telling them how good they did or pretty they look may “give them the big head.” That’s southern for making them puffed up and proud. But as a result, I think, I’ve spent much of my life looking for the affirmation that I didn’t receive as a child. Most everything I put my mind to whether it’s relationships, cooking, music, my work, and even Bible study, I do to the best of my ability (most of the time). And mostly so others will notice. Validation. Affirmation. Positive strokes.

BUT, I was so blessed to learn about Jesus from my mom and dad, to grow up serving Jesus in my local church. I don’t have a moment I my life when I didn’t know who He is. He is everything to me. I grew up in a time where my needs were met… Plenty of food, shelter, clean water, clothes, shoes… I didn’t go without. When and how did we get to the place where every school in this country has more than it’s share of children who show up hungry on Monday morning because there was nothing to eat at home on the weekend?

I work on a residential campus where we see kids all winter without a coat or gloves or protective shoes. Every day, kids are pulled out of abusive situations and placed in foster homes, desperate for the baser things we take for granted.

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend
Won’t you look around
These are the lives that the world has forgotten
Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open

If not me, then who will be like Jesus to these kids?