A Journey of Faith

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My first 'performance'

So tonight I stepped even further from my 'box'. I played two songs at the midweek service at church (well, one and a half songs... the second was only the chorus). The first I did passably well. The second I bombed in a big way. I don't mean I missed a note or two, I mean I totally lost my place and couldn't even figure out where to pick it up. Not even someone trying to put a positive spin on it, or trying to be nice could honestly say I didn't bomb it. BUT... it's ok! I just learned that part tonight, and while it's really an easy one, I really probably shouldn't have attempted it without a lot more practice. And, I am ok. I had a moment of panic during it, but I made an effort to pick it up (not something I'm good at, if I make a mistake I usually just start over), and when it was over, I felt kind of crummy, but I am really ok with it, and kind of look forward to trying again. Maybe not with that particular song until I've practiced a LOT more, but with others.

LORD, I hope that the music I played sounded sweet to Your ears. I was playing from my heart to Yours! Thank You for giving me the courage to step out of my box and worship YOU with such beautiful songs. I love You more than anything. In JESUS' name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Simple Things

This morning I was making myself breakfast and realized that I was out of jelly for my toast. Now, I have to clarify that with saying that I wasn't really out of jelly, I have about 50 jars of homemade jams and jellys in the pantry down cellar. My first thought was 'oh boy! I get to pick a new jelly!!!'. Isn't it funny how something as simple as 'what kind of jelly will I pick?' can give us joy? (I picked red plum by the way... yummy). Wouldn't it be amazing if the really important choices were so simple, and brought us joy so easily? Deuteronomy 30:19 says: "This day I call heaven and earth as witness against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." It is simple though; GOD has given us many choices, after all, we aren't HIS puppets, but the simplest one is to choose life or death. Not the life or death we think of in the here and now sense, but the eternal life or death. We will all one day die to this life. It's inevitable. We have to choose now, what will our eternity be? We will all stand before our Maker in judgement. Will we be covered with the righteousness of CHRIST? Or we be cast aside for our rejection of HIM? I know a lot of people who haven't accepted HIM as Savior. Their reasons range from hostile disbelief that HE even exists, to conviction that they are not 'good enough' to be Christians. I think it is sad that the picture so many people have of Christians is that you have to be 'perfect' in order to 'get into the club'. That's not it at all. As Christians, we are called to be ever striving to be more like CHRIST, but GOD knows that we are not perfect... and HE doesn't expect us to be. HE just asks that we try our best and be willing to let HIM change us.

LORD, thank YOU for the simple joys of yummy jelly, quiet mornings, happy children, music to worship YOU with, and time in Your word. Thank YOU for the reassurance of eternal life with YOU. Thank YOU for all the ways YOU show Yourself in the small, everyday things. I love YOU!! In JESUS' name, Amen

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Crossing

The Crossing
By Lee Webber

I came to the swift, raging river,
And the roar held the echo of fear,
Oh LORD, give me wings to fly over,
If YOU are, as YOU promised quite near.
But HE said, trust the grace I am giving,
All-pervasive, sufficient for you,
Take My hand-we will face this together.
For My plan is not over, but through.

We want wings. We want GOD to make everything better with a snap of HIS mighty fingers. We want HIM to give us cushy, easy lives with not a care in the world. We are spoiled. I am spoiled. I want HIM to make all my days bright and sunshiny, with everything going the way I want it to. HE doesn't. I want HIM to never let me feel blue or frustrated or overwhelmed. HE doesn't. I want HIM to help me get to where HE wants me without any struggles along the way. HE doesn't. The real struggle is finding and accepting the strength HE offers us. And letting go of the pride that keeps us trying to keep our heads afloat in that swift raging river alone.

LORD, please give all Your children the humility and strength to cross that raging river with YOU. Please help us to recognize that all we really need is Your grace, and that that river will cleanse us of the things we don't need to be your humble, faithful servants. In JESUS' name. Amen

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


1 Chronicles 16:34Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever
Psalm 36:5Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Psalm 57:10For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies
Psalm 103:11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
Psalm 119:76May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

I did a search on Biblegateway.com to find references to love (it is Valentines Day after all). 686 references came up. Many of them refered to the love between two people, but verse after verse refered to GOD's love for us. The most common by far was 'HIS love endures forever'. Forever. How can we wrap our minds around that? How can we fathom something that limitless. Our brains can't even hold onto the concept.
Who do we love? We love our parents, our siblings, our spouse, our children, our friends. I would do anything for my family and for my friends. I would die for them in a heartbeat. And yet my love for others is a cheap imitation of HIS love for us. When I think of my family, I can't imagine loving anyone or anything more than I love them, and yet, HE loves any one of HIS children with a love that blows mine away.

For GOD so loved the world that HE gave HIS only begotton SON, that whosoever shall believe in HIM shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Give Me Peace

Give Me Peace

With eager heart and will on fire,
I strove to win my great desire.
"Peace shall be mine," I said; but life

Grew bitter in the barren strife.

My soul was weary, and my pride
Was wounded deep; to Heaven I cried,
"GOD grant me peace or I must die;"
The dumb stars glittered no reply.

Broken at last, I bowed my head,
Forgetting all myself, and said,
"Whatever comes, HIS will be done;"
And in that moment peace was won.

-Henry Van Dyke

It is so hard to set our pride aside and wait. It is so hard to accept that GOD has a plan for us, and that we need to 'let go and let GOD'. We hold onto our wounds, and our battle scars like hard won trophies, feeling like the known is better, or easier to deal with than the unknown. When really, if we would just lay them at the cross, we could trade them for the peace GOD wants us to have. Again it comes back to trust. (why is it I can't seem to master that? Must be that rotten pride again.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Joy and Woe


Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born;
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight;
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul devine;
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Safely thru the world we go.

-William Blake
Freedom, Love and Truth
William Inge
London: Longman, Green and Co., Inc. 1936

I'm not sure how I feel about this poem. I know it has a very simple ring of truth. We are made in the image of GOD. The Bible says that JESUS knew joy and woe; HE cried, HE laughed, HE grieved, HE rejoiced. I think that many of us want to deny the tendency to experience 'woe'. We want to embrace the joy, the happiness, the exhileration of our lives in CHRIST. And reject the despair, the fear, the uncertainty of just being human. So how to reconcile who we are in HIM, and who we want to be as a human being living in a fallen sinful world? I wish I had a great 'light bulb' moment to share. I don't. I am slowly coming to understand how to walk that fine line, how to see HIM even in the times where I am experiencing more 'woe' than joy. I am slowly learning to lay my woes at the cross. I am so thankful that HE is. (I was going to add something after 'is'. But really, I'm just glad that HE is. There are so many things that HE is, that I can't list them all. 'HE is' will cover it.)

LORD, thank YOU. Thank YOU for not giving up on my, even in my trying times. Thank YOU for the reminder that I am Yours, and that YOU made me to experience all of life. Please help me to remember to rest in YOU. In JESUS' name, Amen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Simply Love HIM

This is a song by Ginny Owens called Simply Love You. I thought it tied into the "Stay in Love with GOD" rule. (lyrics from elyrics again) (I couldn't find a video... sorry)

Simply Love You lyrics
Seems that life's become so complicated I don't think it was meant to be this way I find myself so distracted Caught up in the chaos of each day When did I stop asking for your wisdom?As if your words were meant for someone else Why do I choose to second-guess you? Oh, I only frustrate and confuse myself I just wanna love you, simply love you The way it used to be When your love was new to me I just wanna love you, simply love you To hear what you say and live every day Like you asked me to I just wanna simply love you Many times you spoke of us as children Childhood seems to me so long ago You say, I can trust you like I did then If I give you my hand then you'll lead me home I just wanna love you, simply love you The way it used to be When your love was new to me I just wanna love you, simply love you To hear what you say and live every day Like you asked me to I just wanna simply love you Oh, to fall on my knees With the fresh disbelief Stirred once again by the story Of how you loved me I just wanna love you, simply love you The way it used to be When your love was new to me I just wanna love you, simply love you To hear what you say and live every day Like you asked me to I just wanna simply love you

Today was the last week for the '3 Rules for Christians' series at church. Last week we heard the third rule "Stay in love with GOD". The sermon was about ways to do that: praying, worshiping, reading the Bible, fasting, communion; and how those things bring us closer to GOD and keep us in love with HIM. Another point was that we should be intentional about our faith. Be intentional about doing no harm. Be intentional about doing good. Be intentional about staying in communication with GOD, so to stay in love with HIM. I know that I don't always choose my actions with the intention of drawing me closer to GOD with my actions. Instead I often look back and wonder why I didn't see HIM in that day. Would I see HIM more if I were more intentional in my choices,if each choice I made were with the goal of having that action draw me closer to HIM? Would I feel HIS presence more if my actions were more in line with what HIS choices for me were? HE has made it (somewhat) easy. Read the book. Say prayers. Be still. Listen. It's not rocket science. It's so beautifully simple and so wonderfully real, why do we find it so hard to do?
I remember when it finally hit me that HE was for real. That the Bible wasn't just a book of nice stories, but a history of HIS people and HIS love for them. I couldn't believe how much HE loved HIS children. The more I learned (and am learning) about all the details HE has worked into HIS creation, I was (and am) blown away by the intricacy of HIS planning. From the smallest cell, to the way HIS stars follow their clockwork pattern, HE has it all planned out, and it runs like a well oiled machine, only better! Did you know that the first sentence of the Bible is a trinity of trinities? "In the begining GOD created the Heavens and the earth." In the beginning=>time (past, present, future) GOD created the heavens and the earth=>space (height, depth, width) and matter (solid, gas, liquid). Three 3s. A trinity of trinities. Awesome! HE didn't just slap a habitat together that would do. HE planned everything so that we could look at it and see HIS fingerprints (again!) all over it all. Because HE loves us.
Ok, got off track there.
I have posted about ways that GOD's timing has taken me aback, and it happened again today before church. I posted yesterday about how I wanted that 'different' that people returning from a mission trip had. Today before church a friend who just got back from a mission trip came up to me and told me she thought I needed to go with them next year, that she thought I would love going. So maybe I will be able to go on a mission trip next year. I can't wait to see how GOD works this time :) HE seems to be on a roll lately. Every time I turn around I am getting glimpses.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wesley's Rule

I found this in the book I have ("GOD's Treasury of Virtues"). It's by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church. Tomorrow is the last week of the sermon series about his 3 rules for Christians, so I thought I would post it.

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

I guess the best part would be that if you are that busy doing good, there is little time for negativity. It's hard to feel negative when you're doing something positive for someone else. It's hard to indulge in self pity when you are lifting someone else up. And while you are busy doing all the good you can, you don't have time to do harm (*rule #1 is 'do no harm', #2 is 'do good', #3 is 'stay in love with GOD'... I may still do a post on that rule too)

Instrument of HIS Peace

Instrument Of HIS Peace

LORD, make me an instrument of your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled, as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

-attributed to St. Francis of Assisi

It occurs to me that part of our problem as Americans is that we are too blessed. As a society we don't have to worry about where our next meal will come from, we don't have to worry that we will be persecuted for our beliefs, we don't have to worry that our children will die a young death due to war, famine, disease, poverty. As a society we have enough, more than enough really. Our houses are filled to the brims with... everything. More clothes than anyone can wear in a month. Some people in the world have only the clothes on their backs. More videos and video games and electronic dodads than an army of people can use in a year. Some people don't know what electricity is. More dishes and pots and pans and places to store and prepare food than we use in a lifetime. Some people pray that their children won't have to go to bed hungry. Again. I read somewhere that it is hard for people returning from mission trips, there is a difference in how they look at the world. I want that different. I want to stop looking at my life thru the eyes of one who has never truely needed for anything. I want to see GOD's people thru HIS eyes, and be an instrument of HIS peace.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ok, a little homeschoolers humor :)

So I have been reading this blog: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ that is really very good. I have been accused of being too overprotective (rightfully so) but even I am not as bad as some of the things she posts about. The kids and I were talking about one of the things she talks about, letting your kids walk alone to places like the store or school. When I told them they should be walking to school everyday, littlest duckling pointed out that they do walk to 'school'. So then we had a laugh that they do in fact 'walk to school', even in bad weather, often barefoot, and 'uphill' (also known as going upstairs). It's kind of a family joke. My grandmother will often make 'when I was your age' statements. The 'when I was your age' has evolved into "when I was your age I had to walk 15 miles to school, uphill both ways, in 10 feet of snow, barefoot, fighting off bears and wolves with my lunchbox. Only I didn't have a lunchbox, so I had to pretend I had a lunchbox. Only they didn't believe me, so they ate me. And that's why I'm not here to tell the tale today."
Anyway, I am inspired by this blog, and the concept that our society really does have a 'think the worst and assume it will happen' mentality. So maybe I'll make my kids start walking to the store. Or maybe not, since we live about 10 miles from the nearest store:)

More fingerprints

Our GOD amazes me. HE really does. We went to the midweek service at church last night. Our pastor started off the message by telling us that the way she picked the scripture to base that nights message on was to randomly open the Bible and use the passage GOD gives her for that night. As I sat there listening to the message, I was just blown away by GOD's care for HIS children. And humbled because, just days before I had been frustrated and angry that HE wasn't answering my prayers the way I thought HE should. Even in my frustration and anger, HE was at work. HE saw my heart, and put the message I needed where I needed it. I almost didn't go to worship last night. I was tired, and I have a to do list longer than I am tall. I went back and forth until I finally decided that we would go, I needed to get out of the house, and I do enjoy the fellowship of the potluck meal before service. I am so glad I went. I needed to hear that message. Oh, I have heard the message before, and it's a really good one. But what I needed was the timing of the message. I needed to see that GOD does hear me, even when I am not praising HIM, even when I am angry at HIM and throwing a spiritual temper tantrum, HE will not get angry at me and walk away. HE will continue to love me, HE will continue to feed me, HE will continue to walk with me. Amazing. Humbling. Unfathomable.

LORD, thank YOU again. I can't begin to understand how YOU work, why YOU love me the way YOU do. Thank YOU for not losing patience with me. Thank YOU for sending YOUR word in just the right way, at just the right time. Thank YOU for sending our church a pastor who really listens to YOU and lets YOU lead. Thank YOU for your neverending love and care. In JESUS' name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Make a Joyful Noise!

I got new music!! I have been learning to play some hymns on the piano and last night the music teacher gave me two new songs!! I am now learning to play Amazing Grace and Crown HIM With Many Crowns. The last one is a challenge, but I can't wait to practice it. This will make eight hymns I can play. Our music teacher is great, she gives me the chords, shows me what to do if there is anything new, and lets me work it out. I love practicing, it is relaxing and I find that if I am feeling stressed, it helps me get back on track. Maybe it's that there is a fair amount of instant gratification... as long as I push the correct keys, it sounds like music! Maybe one day I'll take actual lessons for real, but for now I'm learning to play some of my favorite music, and it is most definately a very joyul noise!!!!

LORD, thank YOU for music! Thank YOU for our music teacher who is so willing to help me learn how to play for YOU, and for all the wonderful music available to praise YOU with. Thank YOU for the time and abiltiy to worship YOU thru music. I love YOU!! In JESUS' name, Amen.