Drops in the ocean

Where do you go when you want to know? Most of us grab our smart phones and get any information we need in an instant. Is it going to rain tomorrow? There’s an app for that. How many times a day does someone ask a question or speculate on a topic and everyone in the group picks up their phone to look it up? 

Some things I need to know can’t be found on Google. Like how much my husband loves me, or whether my friend’s test results came out okay, or if another friend was accepted for the graduate program she desperately wanted. How about God’s love for me? Can I Google that or should I look elsewhere? The song in my head tells me where to look. It is Drops In The Ocean from Hawk Nelson.

If you want to know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If want to see
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean

It’s all about relationship. Do I want a relationship with my phone or with people? With God? Our Heavenly Father created us to love us, to be His children. To put down whatever is distracting us from Him and pay attention. How often have we done that with our own kids? “Look at me. What did I say? Pay attention.” This song reminds me of the promise in Romans 8:38-39…

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If I want to know about God’s love for me, I must go to the source and open my Bible. And read it. And reflect on what it says and remember what it says. I must look at the hands and feet of Jesus. I must fix my eyes on the wounds He suffered, the cruelty and shame He took on Himself so that I could live this life He gave me. Thousands of times he has forgiven me, even before I knew I needed forgiveness. More than the drops in the ocean. There’s NOT an app for that!!

Click here to listen to Drops In The Ocean from Hawk Nelson.

Featured image: Drop in the Ocean by David Ardley, 2012. Click here for more information on this artist. 

Are you married to what you think?

What do you believe? Not about Santa Claus or the tooth fairy or whether Kentucky will win the NCAA championship this year, though most Kentuckians would rather discuss the championship than their faith. (Trust me on that one… I live here.) March Madness is in full swing here in the Bluegrass State. I was at a basket-making class last weekend. All women, all my age or older, and (you guessed it) the conversation eventually turned to UK basketball. One lady even made a UK basket and several were wearing their blue and white.

We believe in God the Father
We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit
And He’s given us new life
We believe in the Crucifixion
We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection
And He’s coming back again
We believe

I woke up with the Newsboys singing We Believe in my head this morning. It got me thinking… DO I believe? As I read the lyrics, I can answer without hesitation, “Yes, I do!” But do I live it out? Does my life look like Jesus is coming back again? Would I rather talk about basketball or basket weaving than my personal belief in the One True God?

I love the ASL sign for the word “believe.” It’s a combination of the sign for “think” and “marry.” It’s a whole different perspective when you think about being married to what you think. Watch it here. Am I married to what I think about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? About His crucifixion, death, and resurrection? Is it something I know deep in my heart and believe enough to be married to it? Those of us who have accepted Christ as our personal Savior have become part of the Church… The Bride of Christ.

I believe, I am married to what I think, because Jesus loved me enough to be married to me, to His church. He is our bridegroom.

What do you believe?

Click here to listen to We Believe from the Newsboys.

Something Beautiful

This is one of those rare mornings when I overslept. I have an excuse, though! My son is home, and we talked until 2:00 in the morning. One of the joys of my life is talking with my kids about anything and everything. I love listening to their plans, hopes, dreams, thoughts, ideas, stories, poetry, songs, ramblings… For me, it’s like watching them find hidden treasure. I knew it was there all the time, just waiting for them to find it themselves.

And God says
I’m gonna turn it into something different
I’m gonna turn it into something good
I’m gonna take all the broken pieces
And make something beautiful like only I could
So put it all in the hands of the Father
Give it up, give it all over to
The only One who can turn it into
Something beautiful
Something really beautiful

Stephen Curtis Chapman’s song, Something Beautiful, woke me up in the middle of the night (when I didn’t really want to be awake because I didn’t get to bed until 2:00!) It’s the song in my head this morning. One of my favorite lines from this song says

While we’re living down here in this “yet to be”
Is to watch God take the most broken things
and to hear Him say
“When I get through, you’re gonna be amazed”

My kids are living the part of their lives that I sometimes wish I could go back and fix or change in my own life. Best laid plans, dreams never fulfilled, bad choices… All of these and more could make me morose and regretful. But God says He will turn it into something beautiful. Isaiah 61:3 says God will give us “a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit.”

God can take all the stuff in my life that Satan would love to use for his own satisfaction, and turn it into something beautiful. Something wonderful and perfect in God’s own eyes that He can use for His purposes. Something that will glorify God and put Satan in his place. But ONLY if I give it all over to the Father, to the only One who is able to take my broken pieces and make me whole, beautiful. Wholly beautiful in HIS sight. When He gets through, I know I’m gonna be amazed!!!!

Click here to listen to Something Beautiful.

Featured image: Oil on a functional box with magnetic closure, 8.5″ x 6″ x 1.75″ What can I say? I love flowers!!!!

Keep your barn doors open!

The sunrise was beautiful this morning. When I woke up, the color was just creeping into the sky. When I looked out the kitchen window, I saw the sunlight starting to wake up the world behind the barn on our neighbors farm. The coolest thing is that the barn doors are open so the light from behind was shining through. The picture is grainy, but maybe you can see it.IMG_0941.JPG
It got me thinking… The light of God is like that sunlight shining in our lives. It warms and fills everything it touches! Our job, as Christians, is to have our barn doors open so the light can shine through us. We can’t save it all for ourselves and keep it locked inside. We must throw open the doors and windows of our hearts so that God’s love can shine through us and touch others.

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Do you hear the bells??

I love how traveling opens our eyes and ears to new sights and sounds. Take magpies for instance. We don’t have magpies in Kentucky, or at least not that I’ve seen. And swans! The lakes are full of beautiful swans, so graceful and white. I didn’t know that swans rest with one foot tucked up on their back almost like a rudder. As we walk the streets of Copenhagen on a perfect blue-sky day, I hear the usual city sounds accompanied by voices speaking other languages. And church bells. I hear church bells.

I know we have church bells in Kentucky, and we hear them sometimes, especially in small towns. But these bells were every 15 minutes, presumably calling worshippers to come. Not just a mild ding-dong sound, these bells were clanging like Quasimodo himself was up there swinging on the rope!! Hearing the bells and seeing the huge old-world church buildings made me wonder what it must have been like to be in Copenhagen when World War II ended, and all the church bells were going crazy with joy.

Crazy with joy… Like a child at Christmas. Like on your wedding day and the rest of your life is in front of you with the one person God placed next to you. Crazy with joy at the news of the birth of a child or grandchild. Crazy with joy… Like the Angels at the news that another name has been written in the Lamb’s book of life. Like the Father felt when his prodigal son returned. Crazy with JOY… Like the Disciples at the news that Christ had risen from the dead, that He is ALIVE!!!

Featured image: the bells I heard were coming from this church, the oldest in Copenhagen as we were told by a gentleman coming out of the church yard as we passed. Indeed, St. Petri Church is the oldest preserved church in Copenhagen. Click here for more information on this beautiful landmark.

Shine

This blog is supposed to be about the songs in my head, the songs that God sings over me as I sleep, the songs that my spirit sings as praise to God while I sleep. Sometimes, the song in my head when I wake doesn’t match the way I feel, the heaviness in my heart, the sadness in my soul. But I think the bottom line is to live my purpose in life regardless of my feelings or my heavy heart.

The line in my head this morning is from a Casting Crowns song called Thrive. “To know you and to make you known. We lift your name on high. Shine like the sun. Make darkness run and hide.” Maybe this song is to remind me of what my purpose in life is about… To know and love God. To make him known to others. To bring a little bit of light into my world and push back the dark, even if for just a little while. Even in the middle of a heavy heart. Even when I don’t “feel” like it.

Matthew 5:16… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

It’s not about me. So no matter what is going on in my life or my world, my job is to love and care for others. To shine a light. Be the hands and feet of Jesus in this dark world so others can see a tiny bit of God’s glory. The funny thing is that, when I do shine a light, when I do love on other people, when I do stop thinking about myself and start thinking about others, my heavy heart gets lighter! My darkness takes a step back to make room for fullness of God’s glory.

Featured image: the sky over the Gulf of Mexico last year on vacation. I love how it looks like the darkness is in retreat.

Go here to listen to Thrive by Casting Crowns

Excuse me, but I don’t think so.

I need to go back and read my own blog. Just when I think I have a grip on my life and what I need to do in a tough situation, or how I need to behave in a particular situation… BAM! The devil jumps right in and says, “Excuse me, but I don’t think so!” He knocks the starch right out of me.

The last two days, post-vacation yet pre-retirement, have been nerve-wracking and exhausting. I’ve asked myself, “Why?” The answer comes down to this: I love these people!! Yes, I’m so busy I can’t find my desk. Yes, my Julys are usually super busy. Yes, I’m anxious about getting it all done before I retire August 1st. But the bottom line is that I love these people, and I love them for the work they’re doing for deaf kids across the state.

When you love someone, you hurt for them when they’re hurting. We do it with our children, our spouses, our friends… We cry with them, commiserate with them and try to find solutions. Mostly though, we are there. I think these days wouldn’t be so hard if I didn’t care so much.

Jesus did it for us. He loves us so much that he took the cross of shame for us. Beaten, scorned, spit on, bleeding, dying… All for this broken people He loves, no matter what we do or say. He cries with us. He intercedes for us with God the Father. And mostly? He’s there!! He’s HERE. Right here, right now. In this very room with me feeling the pain in my heart and begging the Father to make it better.

With my whole heart I want to glorify God in all I do. I keep falling and failing. And I try to get right back up again. Sometimes it’s just hard. But if it was easy, then Jesus wouldn’t have needed to suffer for us. His resurrection from the dead gives me hope that bits and pieces of my life can be resurrected. And made new and whole once more. And MY Lord can knock it out of the park!!

I have many songs running through my head, all discombobulated. I selected the featured image, a painting of a knockout rose I did a couple of years ago, because my favorite name for Jesus is the Rose of Sharon.

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.

I Give You My Heart

I woke up this morning with Michael W. Smith singing this wonderful prayer chorus in my head. Sleepy as I was, I was excited to write about this song when I got to my desk. But now that I’m here, I’m stuck. I’ve started several times and deleted. The simplicity of these words and this melody speak for themselves. In fact, they are so simple and beautiful that I’ve written them out as my prayer this morning…

“This is my desire, to honor You. Lord, with all my heart, I worship You. With all that is within me I give You praise, and all that I adore is in You. Lord, I give You my heart. I give You my soul. I live for You alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord, have Your way in me.”

If you don’t know this song, please listen to Michael perform it. I’d love to know your thoughts on this song. It’s an old one, and when I tried to get the stats I could find nothing about when it was recorded. But when I typed “I give you my heart Michael w smith” into the search engine, it returned OVER 108,000,000 results!!!

In my wildest dreams, I cannot imagine having that kind of impact for The Lord!!! Millions of people searching for God in the internet. And finding this beautiful, simple song. I hope they listen, and I hope they search for others and listen to those. I hope they find what they’re looking for… Because if we seek Him with all our heart, we WILL find Him.

And if we worship the Father in spirit and in truth, He will seek us! (John 4:23)