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Category Archives: You Make All Things New

This is my song

“Wow, how I have missed this.” It’s the comment made on a live Facebook recording our worship pastor posted from her piano, in her home, on a snowy morning. We had all missed church that morning, thanks to the several inches of snow that had fallen in our Virginia town, but we were still enjoying our time together in song. And, while I was definitely enjoying the time spent in my pjs; I was also missing the time spent together, in each other’s presence in worship as well.

It’s your breath in our lungs/So we pour out our praise, pour out our praise/It’s your breath in our lungs/So we pour out our praise to you, only. -All Sons and Daughters, Great Are You Lord

Praise and worship can come in many forms. Giving the words of one’s testimony. Prophecy. Service. But nothing gets to the core of my soul and my connection with God (aside from prayer) quite like a song. The lyrics. Well-written and perfectly timed. Sang directly from the heart can speak to the place in my heart that God may want to reveal or ignite.

Music can speak to those overwhelmed and hidden emotions. It can often say the things I dare not speak. The things I can’t quite find the right or most eloquent words to say. Surely someone, somewhere wrote some song, or catchy chorus that said just what I needed.

Music was the gateway that led me straight to God in the first place. It is how his prevenient grace kept calling to me over and over, before I ever realized what was happening. Whether it was belting out “His Eye is on the Sparrow” as a teen, and not quite understanding the greatness of those words. Or dancing on a stage to “Joyful, Joyful,” God was pursuing me through song.

As I sat in my favorite chair, reading His Word, listening on this snowy day to a new song, I stopped when I heard these words:

Take a look at my life/I’m not who I was before/Look in my eyes/I’m not hiding anymore/We all fall short of perfect, and I’m living proof/So, if you think God’s love could never find you/Take a look at my life. -Branan Murphy, My Life

That song tells a story. One that could easily be mine. Or yours.

Because I was not perfect when I came to Jesus, and asked for forgiveness. When I asked for his mercy. His grace.

But there is this idea that we need to be.

And I still remember that song that was playing when this mess of a young woman decided she needed a Savior. What that song said she needed to be “perfect.”

Perfect submission, all is at rest. I in my Savior am happy and blessed. Watching and waiting, looking above. Filled with his goodness, lost in his love. 

This is my story. This is my life. It was not perfect. There are days it still is not. I was broken. Confused. Saved in a worship service, while a song played. The only thing I had to offer him was “perfect” submission. And thanks to his love, I am not the bitter, negative, unhappy person I was before.

I can sing a new song. Boldly. Praising my Savior. All the day long.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2019 in Mercy, You Make All Things New

 

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Only One can “fix” them…and it’s not me

“Well, we can’t wait for you to work your magic on this one!”

And, yes. Sure. I couldn’t wait either. But, magic? Was the idea that I had magic dust in my pockets to make people do what needed to be done, destined to deem me a failure?

What was the “magic?”

The “magic” was the thought, and a common misconception that counselors, or anyone else in a helping profession, including doctors, pastors…are known to “fix” people. That it is their sole responsibility to fix what is broken.

See, that comment about “magic” made by a colleague at that particular time, though surely meant as a compliment, placed undue pressure and responsibility for me to do all the “fixing.”

I need to fix this kid. I need to ensure he/she makes good choices. Makes progress. Is changed.

I absolutely have to guide them from taking the wrong path. I have to make them listen. Behave. Never err from where I am pointing. Tame the impulse to act or speak without thinking.

I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to work my “magic.”

To “fix” what was deemed broken. Wave that magic dust in my pocket, and have everything and everyone fall neatly into place.

And, I can’t handle that pressure. I am bound to fail. Miserably. Magic dust and all.

He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

He holds the “magic.” He holds the answers. He protects. He takes on that responsibility. And, while I like to think I hold all the magic to make change happen. To know that they will always make the right choice. I just don’t.

I do have something that is pretty magical. I have the reassurance that God will restore and repair what needs to be fixed. My job isn’t to do it on my own. It’s certainly not to take all the credit. To manipulate someone to listen to make myself look good or “magical,” and make anyone here honor me and my supposed success (or failure).

My job is to offer prayers for each child’s “fixing.” To ask Him to provide me the words that will touch a tender heart. Ask Him to show me how to come along someone who needs a little “magic” to help them handle tough stuff. I don’t get the credit. I ask for the Father to work His magic, and I watch and praise Him while He does His work!

So next time you find yourself trying to fix everything or everyone that is broken.

Next time you feel the pressure to be the perfect parent, raising perfect kids, who make perfect choices, only to realize you are failing.

Next time you find yourself trying to figure out why that individual got burned on a hot stove again. Why those kids just won’t listen. Behave. Do what is expected.

Next time you expect someone to wave a magic wand, remember the one who truly fixes. And pray that folks will come to seek Him for their “fixing.” Call on Him to restore the broken, because he is the only one who can “fix.”

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2018 in Grace, You Make All Things New

 

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What is planted will bloom

It was both bittersweet, and nerve wracking-the day I walked out of the Children’s Church room for the last time on a Sunday as Children’s Pastor. Knowing that the next day I would start another journey of which I am still uncertain, and still leaning on God tremendously to get me through.

Someone asked me how I felt. If I was sad, or would miss it? Both transitions have proven to be quite different. It’s probably why there are so many mixed feelings and emotions attached.

At times I feel afraid. There are times I am still heartbroken. Other times just numb. Clinging to that last ounce of hope that I have been known to hold onto even when others don’t. Change is always hard. Especially when you can’t see the road in front of you. When you know where it leads and who guides you, but you have no idea what waits for you along the path.

But, I was still able to give this answer: “I’m not leaving them behind. Im watching them grow, but in a different place.”

It didn’t dawn on me until later just how profound that statement really was.

Until I sat in Sunday School.

With the teens who I had known, had even taught on Sunday mornings from the time some of them were 5. Now high schoolers. Some close to graduation. All talking about their hopes, dreams, and desires.

Some I had a hard time dealing with as 4th and 5th graders. Many who I thought just weren’t getting the message at all.

Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time! Mark 4:26-29

We plant seeds. But, we can’t really know when, why, or how they will grow.

Many times we can plant a seed, and never see it grow, until many years later. Until those seeds planted at the age of five, have sprouted into soon to be high school graduates.

God is the source of that growth. We just have to be faithful sowers. Never ceasing to continue to plant in the hopes that one day, a desperate heart will hear His Word, and bloom.

Even when it looks like that seed is being choked by thorns and weeds. Not taking root. Not growing. We never stop planting.

We always pray and hope for the harvest. Because there WILL be a season of harvest.

One day we will look out among the kingdom of God and see all the seeds we planted and then left to grow-blooming gloriously in front of us.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2018 in You Make All Things New

 

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His masterpiece

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

It’s another day down. Another day when I wake up, put on my “game face,” which means I bathed myself in prayer, opened up His Word, put on my battle gear, and vowed that I would stand against the attack from the enemy every step of the way.

But, I have to admit. I have been in a season when that enemy has been hounding me. He has been whispering lie after lie after lie. And…on those days when I pray, and I am ready to fight, that is when his voice gets louder.

See, he tells me I am useless. That I am not reaching anyone. That this light I hope is shining through the darkness is only burning out. He tells me that no one is listening. Really cares to hear what I have to say. It goes in one ear and out the other. I will never make a difference. That the cycles of despair and defeat will repeat themselves. My God will never use me to make a difference.

When the lies he starts to tell me don’t work, he uses people to try to convince me I am unworthy. Broken. Bruised. Damaged. Not capable. Until I start to believe all of it.

But, God? He tells me something different.

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I was sculpted from nothing into something.     Psalm 139: 14, 15 MSG

He has made me.

Yes, I do have bruises, scars, scrapes, and blemishes. But, God has pieced this masterpiece together. There are hills and valleys that tell stories of triumphs and despair. Battles I have fought and won; and many more lost.

Yet, those bruises, scars, scrapes, and blemishes all tell the stories of those battles. The hills climbed to reach those triumphs, and the valleys where I often wallowed in defeat. Those scars, blemishes, and imperfections…those are the ones seen and picked apart by the outside world.

Thankfully, like any masterpiece I was crafted by my maker. Who believes I am altogether flawless.

Who placed those hills and valleys just where they are so they can be a testimony.

Who healed the wounds. The bruises. But left the scars and blemishes.

And, like a masterpiece counts me as priceless. Worth an exorbitant price.

Worthy enough to die for!

 

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in You Make All Things New

 

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we have all been in the boat

Boat

I am blessed to live in an area that affords me space to seek quiet and solitude surrounded by nature and picturesque views. I often find myself when I have a few moments alone scurrying down to the fishing pond close to my home with a book to read for a few, and to spend some uninterrupted time just taking in the sights and sounds around me.

On this particular day, I was not the only one who happened to find a few spare moments alone, and while I am not a fan of sneaking pictures of strangers (because in a small town you learn quickly no one is a stranger), I couldn’t help but capture this moment. Simply because it took me back to so many of the moments I had as a kid on many other lakes fishing with my father and my younger brother.

Those moments were not so quiet. And in those times there were three very different people in the boat. With very different personalities, serving three very different purposes.

My dad. He was the patient fisherman. He never really caught anything. And, he had to be pretty patient to spend all day on a boat with two young kids. He was the one who steered the boat in the right direction. Who picked the good fishing spots. Who baited the hook of the girl who refused to touch any worms!

Then, there was me. Every now and then I cast a line. I liked to fish, but I liked to read more. I liked to sit back on the boat, feel the breeze, and finish the book (or two) I was reading. If I did happen to take a turn fishing, I was the one who managed to snag the “sneaky” fish. The fish who managed to get the worm, but not the hook. Then, sometimes…if I studied the “sneaky” behavior long enough, took a break and read a few more books, I’d cast my line one more time, and manage the biggest catch of the day!

Last, but certainly not least, was my younger brother. Not to be out done by his older sister; and sure he knew that the fish would bite in the farthest reaches of the lake-he spent most of his time tangled in the trees.

There are all kinds of people in our boats.

All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

Some of them are the patient kind. They keep us on course. Steer us in the right direction. Even untangle our messes.

Some of them may just sit back and watch you get tangled. Maybe they will read a few books on how to help. Everything may seem easy to them at first, but if you look below the surface, there are people waiting to take whatever they may offer them on that baited hook, or behind that book they often sit behind, while they wait-studying the fish, so they know exactly how to help them in the future.

Then, there are those who just fall into the mess each and every time. And, that is OK.

We need these fisherman in our boats.

Because they remind us that we all have some mess we have been tangled up in at some point. Some time when we got our line stuck in the trees.

When we needed someone else to steer the boat. Someone else to guide us. Someone else to help get us out.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who you are. Romans 3:22

They remind us that no matter the mess. No matter how tangled the line, or how many times we needed someone to rescue us…we are all worthy of saving.

And, that we have all been in the same boat.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in You Make All Things New

 

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one word: acceptance

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God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. 

Surrender. My word for 2016. A word that challenged me to let go. And while I did drop off some baggage in the form of thoughts, practices, and even people; there is something telling me that I still have a ways to go on this journey.

As I reflected on the past year. The chaos. The times I felt attacked. Uncertain. The many days I walked around dazed, all because I was carrying too many of my own burdens, and attempting to lug the baggage of others around, I realized an important truth.

With surrender must come acceptance. Once I let go, I have to be willing to accept that I laid down that burden. Never to be picked up again.

Acceptance of the ups and downs. Knowing that each blessing. Each trial is the divine work of God.

Acceptance of my flaws. Understanding that I am not perfect, but “made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Accepting that others are not perfect either. Realizing these flaws are what makes us vulnerable. What makes us crave the power of a savior.

Accepting that not everyone will get me. Support me. Even like me. Knowing that it doesn’t matter. Since God always loves me. Knows all the traits others don’t “get,” and accepts me as I am-depsite what may bug others.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you. John 15:7

Acceptance of differences. Being willing to explore a different opinion. Engage in a conversation with someone who may not have the same views. Realizing our differences, and our ability to see past them is what makes human relationship so sacred. So beautiful.

In doing this, I will also accept that some may not value my differences. May judge my choices. My parenting style. My words. My actions. Learning to shake it off, and instead walk in empathy with others, when others may not show it to me.

I will take defeat. Embrace failure. Accept it as an opportunity to grow, to become humble in my weakness. Relinquish the pride that comes with being successful and right all the time.

Accept the situations I cannot change. The people I can’t change. Recognizing God’s will is more important than my desire to “fix” all that I see is wrong. Relinquishing control to the only one who can change circumstances. Hearts. Minds.

Accepting that life is messy. Ministry is messy. Parenting is messy. And, people….yes, they are, too. Accepting that it’s not my job to “clean-up” this mess. Instead, taking in all its glory. Recognizing the beauty in all that is not neat and tidy.

And, accepting that my home may be a mess. Void of neat and tidy. Knowing that as long as those that inhabit it are happy. Loving each other. Enjoying each other. That it doesn’t matter if the bookcases are dusty. The counters are crumby. Or the carpets are dirty.

Accepting me. All that makes me who I am. My personality. My body. My pet peeves. My past. My wants. Desires. Dreams. Even if others can’t handle it. I will accept the woman He has called me to be.

This year I will accept the mundane. The chaos. The beautiful. The ugly. Those that are different. Those that love me, and those that don’t. The messy, and the neat.

Whatever He throws my way. Whatever His will.

Acceptance.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2017 in One Word 2014, You Make All Things New

 

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after the decorations are gone

christmas-spirit

The days after Christmas. Memories of the laughter. The time spent with family. The remnants of gifts not yet put away. The lazy days. The leftovers. Naps. Netflix. The promise of a new year.

With this promise each year also comes the burning desire to reclaim the space in my house. Get back into my 10 and a half month routine. Everything in its place again. Time to rid my house of the Christmas glamour for one more year.

Usually this need to reclaim my territory fuels me. Sends me on a cleaning frenzy. But, this year was different. If it wasn’t for our choice of fresh fir, and the limp, dying branches that forced me to take the soon to be fire hazard of a tree down, all our shiny and glistening decorations would have just stayed.

As I packed up every ornament. Every tinsel wreath. Beaded garland. Dancing Santa. I had a thought.

Shouldn’t the spirit of Christmas, and the Christ child born on this day live all year long? Is the Christmas “spirit” really only reserved to one month a year. To a plethora of shiny decorations?

Certainly it couldn’t be! There must be something we can do to make sure that spirit remains here. Lives in this home. Lives in us as we carry out a usual routine for the remainder of these months.

But, how?

Well, it can begin with hope.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19

After the expectation of those wondrous gifts. After the anticipation of Christmas Eve night. Still lives the hope that His promises will be fulfilled. Living each day knowing, expecting, anticipating  His faithfulness. His strength. The promise that even though some days in the new year may be hard, we KNOW, and EXPECT that there is hope in the days to come. Bringing a promise of glorious days with Him in Heaven.

It can continue with peace.

“I have told you all this that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But, take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

It is not letting the stress, worries, and anxieties of living in this broken and rushed world cause our hearts to be troubled. It’s letting go and feeling relief. It’s choosing calm over the chaos that claims to measure success. It’s being still and rejoicing in Him, even when life gets crazy. It’s living in harmony with each other, even when we don’t agree. It’s accepting our flaws, and those of others unapologetically.

The spirit of the blessed babe can live on past Christmas day with joy.

You will live in joy and peace. The mountain and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Isaiah 55:12

The spirit of Christmas doesn’t live in packages and bows. It’s not the blessings under the tree that give joy after all the decorations are gone. Happiness doesn’t live in those boxes. It lives in the laughter of your kids on a family game night. It lives in the songs of praise raised to Him on Sunday morning. It lives in the full heart as you snuggle with a small child. It lives in the praise that escapes your lips for everything He has done. For the small things. For the blessings He has given that can’t hide under a tree. All He has promised. Made happen in your life. Not just on Christmas Day, but everyday.

And finally, how do we continue to show the spirit of love?

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:12

Despite flaws. Despite differences. Despite who has “wronged” you. It’s being patient with the lady in front of you with too many items in the express lane. The driver that cut you off. The colleague that always comes in late. Talks to much. Does something too much. It’s remembering that once the ball has dropped. The last song has been sung. The clock signals the beginning of a new year, to be kind to each person we meet, not just those in our “circle.” It is responding with kind words, not words to tear down. It’s praying for our enemies, and those who have hurt us. It is forgiving and choosing to show mercy those that make is angry, frustrate us, and make our eyes roll. It’s reaching out our hands to life the fallen, and expecting nothing in return. Loving as He has loved us.

It is extending this love past the month of December.

And choosing to reflect the Christ child. His love. His light. His everlasting spirit.

After the lights have come down. The gifts have all been opened. The decorations are all gone.

All year long.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in Like Jesus Does, You Make All Things New

 

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