Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Serenading God

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

Lots of nights when I am having difficulty falling asleep my loving husband will stroke my hair and begin singing to me. His song of choice is usually "To Make You Feel My Love." As he sings it I feel admired, adored, at peace, and am calmed. Most nights I am soothed to sleep. I know the words he sings are true... he would go to any depth to show his love for me.

A few nights ago it came to me that this is what praise and worship is to God. It shows Him our love and admiration. It shows Him our heart and our heart's desire.

Webster's defines "serenade" as: A complimentary performance given to honor or express love for someone. When we serenade our Lord and Creator we are honoring Him. When we worship together in church even though it is heart felt it is to a degree expected because it is part of the service. But when we do it when life is caving in around us, when we are worn and tired, when we don't feel we can go on another minute it becomes sacrifice... a "complimentary performance." It's in those times that it shows that it comes from our heart and it truly brings Him honor as we express our love to Him.

Christ expressed His love for us by dying on the cross for our sins. We should live daily to express our love for Him through our actions, through our words, and in our lives. When we do this worshipping Him becomes easy. Praising Him becomes a lifestyle. The songs we sing become more than pretty words... they become our heart-felt response to His love for us.

Next time you are singing consider what you are doing. Are you participating in a service or are you showing your Master and Savior your love for Him?

Don't Waste the Now

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. 1 Peter 5:7

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in wanting the best for my kids that I become frustrated and irritable when I don’t see the fruits of my labors and efforts being produced in their lives. My children are still very young… the oldest only being nine. Yet I have such high desires for their futures that I tend to put too much pressure on them now.

The past few weeks since the days have been longer and warmer my kids have had a hard time concentrating on school. As a result the mean mommy wells up inside of me. More times than not rather than casting my cares on the LORD, I cast my frustration on my children. Life like this isn’t fun and doesn’t make for a happy family.

In a dream last week there was a situation where I was advising someone else about their own children. “Don’t throw away their now worrying about their tomorrow,” were the words I gave in the dream. I woke up knowing that God was telling me those same words regarding my children….”don’t throw away their now worrying about their tomorrow.”

I have the option not to become upset when things do not go as planned. I have the choice not to react in anger or disappointment even. I have the privilege of taking my worries and my concerns to the King of kings and the Lord of lords… to the one who created and died for my children. God promises that He is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Rather than “wasting my children’s now” by speaking harshly or by giving them “that look” that says mommy is unhappy, I can run to my Father and ask for help. Rather than creating an atmosphere of tension I can choose to give my children a happy childhood.

To further this point I’d like to share an article I read recently by Patsy Clairmont. Quote:

Life has a way of mounting up until we are slumping down. Soon our joyful noises turn into grumpy groans.

I watch young mothers board airplanes toting babies, and all the endless, yet necessary, paraphernalia, and I wonder how they do it. I do catch glimpses of their frayed nerves and exhaustion, and I sometimes see in their eyes neon signs that flash, “Gimme a break…please!”

I’m not sure David said “please,” but I do hear him plead frequently in the Psalms for a reprieve from his enemies. Psalm 70:1,5 say, “ Hasten, O God, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me…You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.”

David needed a break now. He was pleading with the Lord of the universe to drop everything else He was doing and rescue him. Now is usually when I need my help as well. That’s because I tend to let things- activities, demands, mail, dishes, bills, laundry, telephone messages, people’s expectations - pile up until I’m howling for help and blubbering the blues.

It’s obvious that, as long as we can find a reflection in the mirror, we will long for a break. And that’s not wrong. But when we reach the end of our strength, wisdom, and personal resources, we enter into the beginning of His glorious provisions. And that is a wonderful place to be. End quote.

I’m not saying that there are not times that our children need correction, but we first and foremost need to ask God for help before we lash out in our own emotions.

Proverbs 14: 1 says - The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. We have the choice to be wise….to cast our cares on God and ask for His help… or the choice to be foolish by letting our flesh get the best of us. Which will you choose?

...from Mama's Musing archives... originally published 4-07

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saved, Delivered, and Healed!


Monday we celebrated with some close friend and then again at Nana's.

I'm so proud of my boy and thrilled that he has made the decision to follow Christ whole-heartedly!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Beautiful Scars

I have my share of scars, and I am sure that you do too. Life is hard. We make big plans and dream big dreams. Sometimes things go according to plan, but other times we get hurt and jaded. We are too trusting and at times naive and end up in a world walled in by bitterness and anger. We give our hearts (and bodies) away too easily and are left with the turmoil of brokenness and shattered hopes. The pain of a loss is more than we can bear... loss of innocence, loss of peace, loss of freedom or worse yet, the loss of someone we love. So we shut the world out.

It's not the way God planned it for us though. We have to make a choice whether we are to be overcomers by the blood of the Lamb or whether we are to continue our lives living in defeat. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Isaiah 61:3 promises us that He will provide for those who grieve - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

In the bleakest of circumstances when we truly lay our scars at the foot of the cross, God can and will make them into something beautiful.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." That includes you and me and all of our heartaches and despair.

Besides, we aren't the only ones with scars. Jesus has some too.

Beautiful Scars by Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore
Sit here with me
And tell me your story
Even if it breaks my heart
Let me see Your scars

Shame will whisper
Oh but we can't listen
'Cause these are the stories that make us who we are
And I love who You are, and Your

Beautiful scars, Your beautiful scars
Reminders of the wounded love that has carried us this far
Beautiful scars, turning the marks
Of our pain into beautiful scars

For us, bruised and broken
For us, He was forsaken
Our wounded Healer suffered to set us free
We see in His hands and His feet

Beautiful scars, beautiful scars
Reminders of the wounded love that has carried us this far
Beautiful scars, turning the marks
Of our pain into beautiful scars

See in His hands and His feet

Beautiful scars, beautiful scars
Reminders of the Saviour's love that has carried us this far
Beautiful scars, turning the marks
Of our pain into beautiful scars

Oh how I love Your beautiful scars
So beautiful, so beautiful
Beautiful scars

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How You Live

Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.
Proverbs 20:11

I heard a quote once that went something like this: One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I made or what my clothes looked like. But one hundred years from now the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.

So often we make our life about where we've been or where we are going, what we've obtained or hope to gain, but those things are not what make us who we are. Our lives are defined by the choices we make each day. If you make a habit of making good choices, you will reap the rewards. But if you make a habit of making bad choices, you will suffer the consequences.

Praise God that we don't have to live forever with the mistakes of our past. Our God is a God of forgiveness - casting our sins as far as the east is from the west. Our God is also a God of new beginnings. He says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:19)

We can start right where we are becoming the person we want to be. Paul said in Philippians, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." When we join Paul in that race by forgetting our former way of life and by making our choices based on God's instruction book we will win the prize. In the process we will have also lived our life.

Jesus says in the book of John that He came so that we might have life and live it to its fullest! When we live a defeated life we are not pursuing the prize He has promised us, and we are living in vain to the power of the cross.

Proverbs says even a child is known by their actions. What about you? Are you proud to be known by the acts you are choosing? If not, start anew. Forget what is behind and press on towards the goal of the most high calling that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

One of the songs I would pick for my life soundtrack would be "How You Live" by Point of Grace. The lyrics are below.

Wake up to the sunlight with your windows open
Don't hold in your anger or leave things unspoken
Wear your red dress use your good dishes
Make a big mess and make lots of wishes
Have what you want, but want what you have
And don't spend you life looking back

Turn up the music Turn it up Loud
Take a few chances Let it all out
Because you won't regret it
Looking back from where you have been
Because it's not who you knew and it's not what you did
It's how you Live

So go to the ballgames and go to the ballet
And go see your folks more than just on the holidays
Kiss all your children
Dance with your wife
Tell your husband you love him every night
Don't run from the truth cause you can't get away
Oh no
Just face it and you'll be ok

Turn up the music
Turn it up Loud
Take a few chances Let it all out
Because you won't regret it
Looking back from where you have been
Because it's not who you knew and it's not what you did
It's how you Live

Where ever you are and wherever you've been
Now is a time to begin

So give to the needy and Pray for the grieving
Even when you don't think that you can
Cause all that you do is bound to come back to you
So think of your fellow man
And make peace with God and Make peace with yourself
Oh yeah Cause in the end there's nobody else

Turn up the music Turn it up Loud
Take a few chances Let it all out
Because you won't regret it
Looking back from where you have been
Because it's not who you knew and it's not what you did
It's how you LIVE

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Lord's Lullabye

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

A few nights ago after having lulled Connor to sleep I was flipping through my Bible when I came across this verse. It has long been a favorite of mine, but I guess because of this season in my life it had new meaning to me.

As I read it I pictured myself a baby in God's arms. He rocked me back and forth gently patting my back to quiet me. As He did this He sang a lullaby to sooth my soul. He says, "Child, you are mine! I have called you by name." (See Isaiah 43:1.)

How great is the love of God for us. He is ready every moment of each day to let us climb up on His lap to be comforted by His love. He is truly my Abba Father.

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you...
Isaiah 66:13

From Mama's Musing archives. Originally published 10-06.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Those Things Concerning You

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

As a mother of four young children, we have come to be on a first name basis with most of the doctors, nurses and other staff at our local emergency room. I remember when Dacey was about 20 months old and fell landing on a solid wood table bruising her nose. When Isaac was a toddler he was running into a bedroom as another child was coming out. The door knob landed in his eye socket creating an array of blues and purples for days. Last fall we ended up at the emergency room with Jaden after he jumped off of the top of a tunnel slide at the park. And Connor had his third visit this year to the emergency room last night after he went over a play gate, down six concrete steps, and landed at the bottom on his head.

My mother has often joked about how protective I was with my first two children. Until they were each several months old each visitor was instructed to wash their hands before handling my precious offspring. However, with the last two kids, the dogs were licking them in the face as we walked in the door from the hospital. With each child I learned that they weren't quite as fragile as I'd before thought. With each child I gained more confidence and discernment. At this stage in the game it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. Last night my feathers were ruffled indeed!

We arrived at the emergency room as a shift change was taking place. It took several minutes before an admissions clerk signed us in and several more minutes after that before the triage nurse came to take Connor's vitals. However, after she saw him things moved a lot more quickly.

Orders were immeditatly given for x-rays as they suspected he might have fractured his skull. My concern was that he might have a concussion. The doctor came in as Connor was being put on the x-ray table. After his initial exam he quickly determined that there was no need to fear a concussion as Connor was very active and seemed extremely coordinated. The x-rays showed that he did not have any fractures, and we were released to return home after being advised that the bruising and swelling may appear worse in the days to come.

Last night I pulled Connor's baby bed as close to my bed as possible, and I watched him sleep for hours. I paid close attention to his breathing and often placed my hand over him to feel him inhale and exhale. I laid there thankful that God had protected my child.

As parents we can't always keep our children from getting sick or hurt. We can't always prevent them from making a mistake that might bring harm to them. But as parents we can constantly bring our children before God in prayer knowing that HE is well able to take care of what we have given to Him. I am so thankful that He kept guard over Connor last night and his injuries were not more serious than they could have been.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Running Ahead of God

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Our family often enjoys taking walks together after dinner in the evenings. One particular evening a few months ago as we were walking, my children had run ahead of me and my husband. They were a few yards in front of us when a neighbors pit bulldog charged at them. The neighbor happened to be in their yard and were able to call the dog off without incident. When I got to my children I bent down looking them in the eyes and told them, "If you run too far ahead of me, I can’t protect you." As I said that to them I heard God whisper in my spirit, "The same is true for you."

Sometimes we want to see things happen in the flesh. We are surrounded by situations that we feel we have no power over and we want an end. We step in and try to force things open when sometimes we need to just wait on God. If we run too far ahead of Him, we take ourself out from under His covering. If we act without seeking Him we are running too far ahead and therefore forefeiting the protection He freely offers.

Over the past few months as my life has at times seemed to be raveling out of control there have been many instances where I wanted to take things into my own hands. I wanted answers. I wanted solutions. Most of the time though I have just had to wait.

Waiting is hard for me. After all patience has never been at the top of my list of virtues. But more times than not, the circumstances we’ve been in have insisted that we wait. Why is it so hard for us to wait? Perhaps it is because it means leaving parts of our lives that we feel we don’t have control over in the hands of strangers who really have no concern for us. But even in these situations God does have control. When we are seeking His will for every part of our life, He is is control of every part of our life. Sometimes it just requires waiting on Him. We are promised in Isaiah that"those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." And God has reminded me time and time again during this time to "trust in Him with all my heart, not leaning on my own understanding but to acknowledge Him in all of my ways and he will make my paths straight!"

Teach me, Lord, to wait.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mission Minded Mommies

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19,20

The last thing Jesus commanded us before ascending to Heaven was simply to "go". He desired for us to seek out others and teach them of Him. Yet as stay at home moms we often feel we aren't equipped as "missionaries" because we are limited in how much we can go and how much we can do outside our homes. We allow ourselves to become confined dreaming of bigger things hoping for opportunities of grandeur such as foreign missions or working at orphanages or feeding the masses when we have ministry opportunities in front of us every day.
Here are a few ways that we can minister to others in our lives.

1. Housework. Yes, it is one of those dirty words that no one likes hearing, but as wives and moms it is a ministry to our families. The root of ministry is serving others and by cleaning, cooking, and doing all of those piles of laundry we are serving those closest to us. It's not a glamourous job, but most ministries that make a difference aren't.

2. Teaching our children. When you think of homeschooling you typically think of providing a quality education for our children and securing their future. That is such an important responsibility and it is ministering to a basic need in each of our children's lives. However, if while we are teaching them math and language arts we are also teaching them to have a heart for God and a heart for others we are equipping them with a servant's heart. One day they will be able to reach the world for Jesus too. Why not start now preparing them for that?

3. Wal-Mart. I have long said the world is our mission field. That includes trips to the grocery store. A smile can change someone's day. A word of encouragement can give someone hope for their future. We may never know the eternal values of a conversation with a cashier, but we have the opportunity to allow God's love to shine through us in every situation we find ourselves to make a difference in the world around us.

There are so many other ways we can minister to people and be part in the great commission. Cooking for sick neighbors, visiting people in the hospital or nursing home, or even listening to a friend on the telephone are all ways of serving others. We can make a difference for God's Kingdom. It starts with having a heart attentive to God's voice, to having a servant's attitude, and looking for the opportunities that surround you every day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pursued by the King

I was feeling so down... forgotten and alone. I pressed in. I prayed. I sought the face of our King. I went to bed with more peace than I have had in weeks.

I was in that foggy morning dream world somewhere between being asleep and awake and I heard God speak to me, "Pursue me. I am pursuing you." And then the story of the woman with the issue of blood came to mind. I woke up wondering what in the world the story of the woman with the issue of blood had to do with being pursued by God. I got up, opened my Bible and read for myself what exactly happened.

From the NKJV: Mark 5:25-34 - Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well." Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?" But His disciples said to Him, "You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'" And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction."

When I read this the first thing I saw was in verse 28. Her thoughts were that if she could just get into his presence she would be made whole. "I've been doing that, Lord." He knew my heart and showed me that it doesn't end there. Knowing that power was released from Himself and into the life of another, JESUS SOUGHT HER OUT. Not only did he minister to her physical problems when she touched the hem of his garment, but He also ministered to her spiritually and emotionally by seeking her out and responding to her with kindness.

I am no different. I fought to be in His presence when I felt alone and afraid. I continued when I felt no change. But then the Master touched me. He showed me that He is "pursuing me." James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." As I dwelt in His Word, He made Himself known to me in a new way.

Psalm 63:1-8
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

It has been almost two years to the day that I wrote this but lately I have found myself in a similar place. Again God has reminded to seek Him first and most and everything else will fall into place.