After All

This morning, I came awake with these lyrics in my mind from Meredith Andrews, Not For A Moment (After All)…

After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me

… And it got me thinking about that phrase, “After All.”

After ALL.
After everything that was and is…
After everything good and bad…
After everything known and unknown…
After all my bad decisions and poor choices…
After all the beautiful and ugly things in my life…
After I failed Him more times than I can count…
After I turned my back on Him, God will not abandon me, even for a single moment.
After all, He is constant as the sun rising in the morning.
After all, He is only good and in Him there is no darkness at all!
After all, He is the supreme Ruler of my life and my heart because, After all that, I don’t have a choice.

Click here to listen to Not For A Moment.

The featured image courtesy of Carol Mattingly, my aunt, who this moment is undergoing radical cancer surgery. Please pray for God’s healing for her.

The Loudest Voice

I’m not so sure it was a silent night. Anybody who has given birth knows that it is NOT a quiet process. When Jesus was born in that manger, was his newborn cry tiny and frail? Could Mary and Joseph hear it over the sounds of the animals in the nearby stalls? Or was His the loudest voice of all?

When my babies were born, I saw nothing in that delivery room except that baby. Did he have hair? “How small she looks!” I counted all the fingers and toes… 40 fingers and 40 toes altogether over the years. “She has so much hair and its sticking straight up!!” “Look at his back… It’s covered in fuzz and there are rolls of fat.” I was so grateful and thankful to finally get that baby here, my focus was only on him. On her. And when I heard that first cry, I laughed and cried at the same time. Every time. It’s the most beautiful sound in the world!!

I think that Jesus’ voice was all his mother, Mary, heard that night. I think the sound of cattle and sheep, chickens and donkeys, and anything else in that stable receded into the background so far that Jesus’ voice is all she heard. She was listening for it at His birth, waiting to hear that first cry. And she was grateful and thankful to God for that sweet beautiful sound!

Jesus’ love is still the loudest voice. It reaches us in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. If we listen for His voice, everything else recedes into the background and HIS will be the only voice we hear. The world would have us believe otherwise. So many other voices are thrown at us all day every day, and if we aren’t paying attention, we could miss the sweet precious voice of Jesus and His love… His love that washes us in peace at Christmas time and every other time.

Start a Fire

We left the city of Copenhagen today for a few days visit north at the shore of a fjord. Aside from being stunningly beautiful, it is windy and chilly. After days and days of rain, we finally have a hint of sunshine, but the chilly wind cuts through. Back at the house after a long walk, my son-in-law lays a fire in the stove in the corner of the living room. After just a few minutes, the cold and chill of rainy damp days is gone. Warmth fills the room, and suddenly we are cozy and drowsy.

Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me

This song, Start A Fire from Unspoken, has been in my head for days now, singing out a prayer for a God to start a fire in MY soul. I’ve started this same post three or four times and only after our adventures today does it become clear to me.

No matter how far we go outside our own territory, no matter how beautiful or stunning the scenery before us, no matter how tempting the world and all it has to offer, it can be cold. And bitter. And chilly, windy, damp, and downright insufferable at times. Only when we come home to The Lord, home to the truth of God’s word and permit God to “start a fire” in our souls are we able to get warm and dry. To feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit and relax into the coziness of Jesus arms. To crawl up in His lap and be renewed and restored.

But we aren’t meant to stay there – all cozy and warm. We come in from the cold, bitter world to get warm by the fire of God’s love, and then head back out into the World again so that others will see Jesus in us and want to come and stand by the fire of the love of God.

Click here to listen to Start a Fire by Unspoken.

Featured image: the fjord in north Denmark. We don’t have these in Kentucky, y’all.

 

NEW LIFE

It’s a boy!!! All the waiting is over. My beautiful daughter is now a momma to a beautiful precious baby boy. I was overcome with emotion as we Skyped when he was merely an hour old. Still in his birthday suit, he was raising his head and looking around with eyes wide at this brave new world he had just entered.

I see the work of Your Hands
Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

Overcome, overwhelmed, overjoyed, over-the-moon in love with this brand new grandson! I can’t wait to meet him in a few days… Days that will be longer than most because of the waiting. My spirit, my heart, my mind, and my voice have been singing praises to God since his birth yesterday, giving God the glory and honor for this precious new life.

I delight myself in You
Captivated by your beauty
I’m overwhelmed
I’m overwhelmed by You
And God I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed
I’m overwhelmed by You
(Overwhelmed, Big Daddy Weave)

Once again, this God I love and worship with everything in me has knocked me off my feet and to my knees with His grace, mercy, love, graciousness, provision, and so much more! Here’s the thing… If I feel this way because of the birth of a grandchild, as I did when my own children were born, what kind of love must God feel over us? He gave us the same thing… NEW LIFE!!!!

What love the Father has lavished upon us
That we should be called His children
I am a child of the one true King
(Hello, My Name Is, Matthew West)

God is good. All the time.

Click here to listen to Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave.

Click here to listen to Hello, My Name Is by Matthew West.

featured image: brand new grandson, brand new life

Because of Mercy

My spirit sings when I’m sleeping. Sometimes it wakes me very suddenly, as though someone turned on the radio. Other times, like this morning, it’s a very gentle awareness. “You are beautiful. You are beautiful. Oh God, there is no one more beautiful.” These are the first words I heard this morning. Big Daddy Weave’s song, Overwhelmed.

I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I feel like a little girl, twirling in a pretty dress before her Daddy, waiting for Him to tell her how beautiful she is and how special she is to Him. And when He does, she runs into His arms for a massive “Daddy” hug. That feeling of pure joy and love, safety and security, knowing that you are in the most special place on the planet… Your Fathers arms.

God, I run into Your arms, unashamed. Because of mercy, I can run boldly to your throne and lay my requests before you, knowing that I will find Your Grace to help me. Hebrews 4:16…

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Click here to listen to Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave.

Featured image: Little Girl Twirling Dress painting by artist Debra Hurd

Sleepless in Kentucky

I can’t sleep. Can I stay here with You? You’re the reason I can’t sleep anyway, You know. I mean, I tried to sleep. But I was just keeping my husband awake with all the trying… the tossing and turning and shifting. But You’re heavy on my mind, so I thought I might as well get up and come talk to You.

How do You do it? How do You overwhelm me so completely? You show me every day how much You love me in the little things like this morning. Flowers, birds, crickets, breezes, wind chimes, coffee… I am blessed every day by these and so much more. But lately You have blown me out of the water with Your love and grace and mercy!

Only this week, You have shown me how Your love is like a waterfall that I have been standing behind. You’ve kept me there, safe and sheltered from the world. But something (You?) compelled me to step up into the falling water of Your love, to let it wash over me. I’m not even drenched yet, and it’s almost too much! It’s too beautiful, to wonderful for me to think about.

Your Grace showed up and Mercy came along with it. That was on Wednesday. Well, today they were back with a double portion! You sent me exactly what I needed at 5:00 and I was grateful. At 8:00 You threw in an extra helping, and at 9:00 You added dessert with whipped cream and cherry on top! My heart is full to overflowing… So much so that I can’t sleep for thinking and rethinking how You’ve loved me this week.

What does it look like when I love You?
What does my heart say?
Do my soul and mind and strength
Reveal who I am in You?
What does it look like when I love You?

I want the world to know how crazy in love with You I am, and how much You love me. Because it’s not a quiet love. It’s not a keep-it-to-myself kind of love. It’s a BIG wrap-me-up-in-mercy-and-never-let-me-go kind of love. The kind that can only come from You. You are perfect love.

Thank You for pouring Your perfect love into my imperfect heart. For washing me in the water of Your Grace and Mercy and showing me just a tiny little glimpse of Your beauty. I love you, God!!!!

Good night.

Beautiful

Armed with coffee and a full tank of gas, we pulled out of the driveway at 4:30 this morning, off on the next leg of our vacation. Even at that incredibly early hour, I was… still am as we travel this morning… hearing God sing over me that I am beautiful, treasured, His.

You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His
You’re beautiful

Please listen to MercyMe sing their song, Beautiful, here.

Let me just say right here and now that every girl, every woman, needs to wake up hearing these words first thing in the morning. Every morning!! Though some women are lucky to have someone to whisper these words to them on a daily basis, most of us don’t hear them as often as we like or need. My husband says he thinks them all the time, he just forgets to speak them aloud sometimes.

But God NEVER forgets to tell me that I am beautiful. My Lord never forgets to say how treasured, sacred, precious I am to Him. He even wrote it out in a love letter to me, written in red. No matter what I look like, no matter what I’ve done or said, God thinks I’m BEAUTIFUL!! And this morning, He wanted me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

A Sweet Sound

One thing I love about birthdays is how I get to hear the precious voices of the people I love all on the same day. A surprise visit, a Skype call, phone calls, a long lunch, and a birthday date. Beautiful voices all. Beautiful because they are special to me, and I can’t imagine a world without these people in it.

I feel the same way about the music in my head. So many different voices, all beautiful, all singing over me while I sleep every night. All waking me with words of praise to God, or singing songs of healing over me. This morning it was Citizen Way singing How Sweet the Sound

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I’m found
And it’s beautiful
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent
I am found
And it’s a beautiful sound

And it is a beautiful sound! I was so tired last night after a long day of birthday celebrations and getting home late. When I woke in the middle of the night, there it was… That beautiful sound. I smiled and thought how loved and secure it made me feel, but went promptly back to sleep. And when I woke up this morning, it was still there, still singing over me. Still beautiful. Still loved and appreciated.

God’s amazing grace is sweet when it’s washing over me in my sleep like this morning’s rain outside my window. And just like the rain, it covers every part of me if I stand in it long enough to let it soak into my heart and soul. And it’s a beautiful sound.

Beautiful Day

I’ve been up for 30 minutes and it’s just now 5:18 in the morning. Dark. Quiet. Still. The birds aren’t even up yet. This is my favorite time of the day. I look forward to this time and I’m extremely protective of it. Doesn’t matter what time I go to bed, I’m up and in my studio with my coffee about this time every day.

It’s kind of funny today that it’s so quiet and dark, because the song in my head this morning goes:

Ooo, There’s somethin’ ’bout the way
Your sun shines on my face.
It’s a love so true I can never get enough of You.
This feeling can’t be wrong.
I’m about to get my worship on.
Take me away on this beautiful day!

I’ve got no need to worry, I’ve got no room for doubt
No matter what’s coming at me,
You’ll always be the beautiful I sing about
There ain’t no limitations to Your amazing grace
And there’s somethin’ ’bout the way Your love shines on my face

This is an upbeat Jamie Grace song called Beautiful Day. It makes me smile and sing along. It makes my heart happy even when it’s dark outside, or dreary and rainy, or if I’m just having an awful day at work.

To wake up with this song singing through my mind gives me a brighter day before my feet even hit the floor. It’s so hard to describe! It’s NOT a Disney kind of feeling with blue-birds dressing me while squirrels bring me my morning coffee. It’s a deep knowing that, no matter what the day brings, I have a joy deep down that I cannot even describe. A “joy unspeakable and full of glory” as the old hymn says.

There’s another line from this song I love…

When trouble seems to rain on my dreams
It’s not a big, not a big deal
Let it wash all the bugs off my windshield
Cause Your showing me that in a You, I’m free
And Lord, You are the refuge that I can’t wait to get to

The “rain” of trouble or problems in my life and all the mess they can cause, or hurt they bring up in my heart… Washing the “bugs” off the rose-colored windshield I tend to use sometimes. My bugs of selfishness, pride, vanity, doubt. One thing I know without a doubt is that trouble in my life brings me closer to the Giver of Life. They bring me to my knees and back to the One who can turn it all around.

So “no matter what’s coming at me, You’ll always be the Beautiful I sing about.” In my head, in my heart, in the shower, in the car…

I wonder if I could get a rose-colored windshield installed on my car…

listen to this song on YouTube