Wednesday, November 30, 2011

God is always there

I'm a musician, so I connect with music pretty easily. Sometimes it speaks to me exactly what I need. Today, I've been thinking through this song. The video is below with the lyrics following. You may not have a chance to listen to the whole song, but I still think the lyrics will bless you. I highlighted my favorite parts. Have a great day!


 


I wonder how it must have felt
When David stood to face Goliath on a hill
I imagine that he shook with all his might
Until You took his hand, and held on tight

'Cause You were there
You were there
In the midst of danger's snare
You were there, You were there always
You were there when the hardest fight
Seemed so out of reach
Oh, You were there, You were always there
You were always there

So there he stood up upon that hill
Abraham with knife in hand was poised to kill
But God in all His sovereignty had bigger plans
And just in time, You brought a lamb

'Cause You were there
You were there
In the midst of the unclear
You were there, you were there always
You were there when obedience
Seemed to not make sense
You were there, You were always there
You were always there

So haven't I learned that my ways
Aren't as high as Yours are
And You alone keep the universe
From crumbling into dust
You are God and though we would
Not have understood you
There You were
Hanging blameless on a cross
You would rather die than leave us in the dark
Every moment, every planned coincidence
Just all makes sense
With your last breath

You were there, You were there
During history's darkest hour
You were there, You were there always
You were the Victor and the King
You were the power in David's swing
You were the calm in Abraham
You are the God who understands
You are the strength when we have none
You are the living, Holy one
You were, You are, and You will always be
the Risen Lamb of God

Friday, November 25, 2011

old writing + new revelation = good stuff!


I was looking through past writings of mine and found an old "tattle-on-myself story" that ending up working perfectly with what I was reading last night in the Bible. Fun how that works out! :-) 

---

The stove.

The dials for each burner are clearly labeled: front left, front right, back left, back right. Diagrams are next to each dial in case pictures work better for you than words. You’d imagine no one could get it wrong.

And then I walk up to it.

Before going further, let me make a disclaimer. While in school, a quarter without my name on the honor roll was like blue grass or purple skies. I graduated from college with honors and have held down a job within my field of interest since then.

To be more succinct: I’m smart.

But for some reason, when it comes to the daily tasks of life, my brain doesn’t always add 1 + 2 and get 3. Case in point: once I was making quesadillas for dinner and highly anticipating the smile on my husband’s face as he cleaned his dinner plate, grateful for an amazing wife who is thoughtful enough to prepare dinner each night for him.

The quesadillas were in the pan, heating up, as my husband played with our puppy. Five minutes pass, then ten. After twenty minutes, I was flustered and concerned. Every time I flipped the quesadillas, nothing changed. No golden brown touched the tortilla and the cheese wasn’t even melting - yet I could feel heat emanating from the stove. It was so strange!

I started to complain to my husband. “These quesadillas are taking forever! You’d think they’ve be done by now!” 

"Is the burner on?"

"Of course it is! I can feel the heat!"

Then it dawned on me. The heat was coming from the burner behind my pan, not the one underneath it.

After an “oops” slipped out of my mouth, I explained the situation to my husband with blushing cheeks. Dinner was ready 3 minutes later.

Sometimes the things we need most in life are right in front of us. For me, lately, it has been God’s faithfulness. I know God is faithful, and I have remembered it time and again over these past few years. But over the past few weeks, I’ve forgotten it. It's as though I moved my hopes and dreams from the burner of His faithfulness and grace to the burner of the circumstances I see. As a result, my hope and dreams were sitting there, inactive, not "cooking" as they should be.
  
according to google, this is a rampart! 
Thankfully, last night I read Psalm 91 and the last part of verse 4 stuck out to me: “…his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” I then realized, when I find myself in God – think about Him, pray, am conscious of Him throughout the day – the reminder of His faithfulness actually can shield me from the situations I face.  I know He is faithful to His Word, truth, and love, and as a result, He will actually carry me through difficulty and bring me peace, no matter what situation I face. 

By the way, dictionary.com defines “rampart” as “a broad elevation or mound of earth raised as a fortification around a place and usually capped with a stone or earth parapet.”

Basically, the fact that God is faithful shields, surrounds, and protects me through every situation.

I love that.

So when your hopes and dreams aren't "cooking" on the stove as planned and you're ready to throw up your hands and give up, don’t get flustered and upset. Step back and remind yourself of what is right before you: God is faithful. When you place yourself in His care, He will bring you through the situation in a way that only He can.

today's top 5 (11/24) Thanksgiving edition!


Today's top 5... okay, top 6 

1. Thanksgiving meals. I love the blend of Thanksgiving dinner on my fork. If I can cram a little turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, stuffing, and maybe even green beans onto my fork all at once (or any combination of the above), I'm a happy girl. 
2. Thanksgiving while being pregnant. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family on Sunday, so we've already enjoyed one Thanksgiving meal, and for the first time probably ever, I wasn't completely stuffed after eating a full plate of Thanksgiving food! I was shocked, but grateful for pregnancy. Especially when I asked for a small slice of all three of Grandma's homemade pies - pecan, pumpkin, and mincemeat. The blend of pies all together mixed with the fact that I wasn't overly stuffed from dinner made for an incredible cuisine moment. Ahhhhhh yum!
3. God. This is the ultimate top of my thankful list, but I am truly grateful for God. He oversees my life, directs it, loves me through it, and has an ultimate plan for me and my family that is good.
4. Family and friends. I am so grateful for every person and family who has reached out and helped us during this time of waiting for our baby. Thank you for helping us be cautious and keep baby safe during this pregnancy. I am grateful for the dinners, gifts, phone calls, cleaning help, dog help, errand help, and encouraging emails. We couldn't do this without your support; I wish I could do more than say thank you, but I don't know what it would be... so thank you!!
5. Blankets. I love a cozy blanket. I am surrounded by them on my sofa. Something about cuddling with a cozy blanket is amazing!
6. Family, part 2. Erik and I are blessed with wonderful immediate and extended families. From parents to grandparents to siblings and nieces to aunts, uncles, and cousins, we have an amazing family and I am blessed by each one of them.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy birthday, Brody!

Happy birthday, Brody! I hope Uncle Brian and Grandma Doris are throwing you a big party up in heaven! Okay, they might not be because you've probably just blinked and another year has passed on earth... oh the things about heaven and God's timing that we thoroughly don't understand here on earth!

What a year it's been, little boy of mine.

Since the time you met us and then met Jesus, I've been on bedrest for, well, pretty much half the year it seems! First, I rested because of you, but within about six months, I got to go on bedrest so your little brother, Brayden, wouldn't get to heaven as fast as you did. Hope you don't mind! ;-) (again, you'll probably blink in heaven's time and our whole family will be up there celebrating with you and Jesus!)

We miss you a lot. In fact, since Brayden is still in my tummy, we think about you and sometimes mix you and Brayden up. Yeah, we named Brayden after you and knew that we'd mix the names up, and we're doing a good job of it. But that's okay. Even though it is sad, I love remembering you. You're my precious firstborn.

We're about two months or less from meeting Brayden. I'm excited to see what he looks like. I do wonder if he looks anything like you! And I wonder how you look like us! If I get to heaven and you're a grown man like some people say happens in heaven, I want to see baby pictures. :-) Not sure if that's possible, but then again, with God, aren't all things possible?

Brody, you have a beautiful place down here where we can remember you. You actually share a grave and tombstone with your great great aunt - my Grandpa's mom miscarried a baby girl before he was born. You're right next to Uncle Brian and actually your tombstone looks a lot like Uncle Brian's. That's very special. You know all these people already because you're with them, but I just wanted to tell you that we visit you there when we can. (I really wish we could visit you today, but there's snow on the ground, and it will be slippery and a little hard to find you. I don't want to fall and hurt myself or Brayden at all!) As Brayden gets bigger, we'll bring him to visit you too, and maybe even release balloons to you - something special as our little way of connecting with you. I'm pretty sure that the balloons don't actually reach heaven, but you never know. :-) I can dream.

Brody, you've impacted your daddy's and my life in a really special way. You'll always have a treasured place in our hearts. Because of you, we now have influence in people's lives who we would never have met if we hadn't met you. Crazy. I'm so glad you're well taken care of in heaven, although I wish you could be down here instead hugging me, your daddy, Tucker, and little Brayden.

Oh and yesterday, Daddy and I were blessed with toys and blankets and clothes and all sorts of wonderful things for Brayden at our first baby shower. It made me think of you and miss you a lot.

I'll end with a quote from a friend whose baby went to heaven a few years before mine: "Most people only dream of angels. We've held one."

We love you, Brody. Happy 1st birthday. See you soon.

 

Friday, November 18, 2011

today's top 5 (11/18)

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, it's a good day to do another top 5 things I'm thankful for today.

1. Chocolate sauce. I love me some ice cream, caramel, and chocolate sauce! YUM!
2. Hunting. My hubby gets to go outside and do what he loves, then he brings back meat that we eat right away or store in our freezer. I especially love when he gets a deer because he processes the meat himself so we get steaks, roasts, homemade bratwurst... all sorts of goodies that last throughout the year. I honestly can say after a few years of having my freezer well-stocked thanks to hunting I can't imagine living without venison in the freezer!
3. My leather sofa. It's been my pal for a good part of the last year! It's a recliner sofa and I've been grateful over and over that it's easy to clean and super comfortable. It has already been broken in plenty for Brayden!
4. Ice cream. Okay this goes along with #1, but there's something super wonderful about just a little bit of ice cream to brighten your day!
5. Optimism. Hopefulness and cheeriness and faith makes my world and hopefully the world a better place. :-)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

today's top 5 (11/16)

Happy Wednesday! It's been a while since I've written what I'm thankful for today, so here we go. (By the way, I already have my main top five things I'm thankful for written here! These are just little or big things I'm thankful for today. Helps keep me grateful!)

1. Heat. Winter weather where I live is cold. Period. I'm very grateful for heat in my house!
2. Thanksgiving. I love the cozy feeling I get when eating a good Thanksgiving meal for lunch and leftovers for dinner while surrounded by my family. 
3. Maternity clothes. They make life a little easier when your belly keeps expanding. 
4. Family and friends. I know this is a main top five for me, but I do have to say, I am SO thankful for everything my family and friends have done to help me and Erik while I'm off my feet waiting for baby to come. Words really can't express my gratitude enough. Thank you. 
5. Pillows. Where would we be without comfortable pillows? We sleep on them, nap on them, I have my head on one or two pretty much all day long on the sofa... they're wonderful!

Oh and today I'm expanding it...
6. I'm 30 weeks and 2 days pregnant today. According to doctor's measurements, Brayden might even be a little ahead of that growth-wise, which is nice to know. I'm feeling much more confident that we'll have a healthy baby boy in January!
7. Brody. One year ago, we were in the hospital praying he would stick around in my tummy for just a little while longer. I'm sad he didn't, but he was a fighter to the end and impacted our lives forever. His birthday is Sunday, and I have a special birthday post I'm excited to share with you then. 

Hugs and love~

Monday, November 7, 2011

a lesson of beauty from my plant

So I recently came across a beautiful allegory thanks to one of the flower arrangements I received after Brody went to heaven. Here is the pic of the plant last fall.


This has quickly become a favorite of mine. I love the leaves and the occasional pink flowers - they are always a pleasant surprise to see when they come. 

I don't consider myself to have a green thumb. Erik handles the plant department way better than I do. We have watered this plant when we remembered (and probably forgot about it quite often, but thankfully it's a cactus) and it has kept on going. 

We don't have a lot of sunlight in our current home, so all of our plants are battling for whatever sun they can get. This plant stayed about this size for most of the past year until I moved it to a window sill with some other plants, and that's when the plant really started to flourish.

Here's a picture of it now: 

I love how the plant keeps growing and growing. The cactus leaves keep growing longer, and the flowers are back in bloom. Something that started so small and beautiful has grown into something bigger and even more beautiful. 

I think it was that extra dose of attention from the sun that really pushed this plant to blossom. It held on to life until then, but when we finally put it in better circumstances, it thrived. 

It makes me think that things that are beautiful now can become even more beautiful when placed under the direct care, supervision, and influence of our Lord. The more time we spend in God's presence, the more we give ourselves a chance to grow and become even more beautiful to others around us. 

if you only reach one

As a writer, I can quickly get caught up in how large my audience is... I mean, wouldn't it be great to be the next best-selling author who sells millions upon millions of books to people around the world? Or wouldn't it be great to become the next best-read blog, read by hundreds or thousands every day?

But then I remember something a writer told me a few years ago at my first writer's conference. If you only reach one, your message and your writing is worth it.

The writer went on to say that he heard back from one girl who read one of his blog postings and as a result decided not to commit suicide. He knew then his blog post was worth it - even if no one else read it except that girl.

That has stuck with me immensely. Right now, I have been published, but I'm not a best-selling author, and I blog, but my blog isn't read by hundreds every day. That doesn't matter though. If my writing impacts one life, it's worth it.

Everyone seems to have stars in their eyes about being a big author or movie star or singer or fashion designer or whatever. What they don't realize is that every person - the well-known to the not-well-known - has a purpose and a place on this earth.

For example, people are needed to write articles for USA Today, but they are also needed for the local city newspaper and the school's monthly newsletter. Every writer is necessary. In the same way, business people are needed at the top as CEOs and business people are needed in the middle of the company. The CEO influences a lot more people than the employee a few rungs down from him, but the direct impact that employee has on his or her coworkers is much more profound than the CEO's could ever be.

So as I'm continually remembering, be content with who you are and your current circle of influence. Your impact on the people around you is invaluable and can be replaced by no one.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

be bold to use your talents

I've often quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 when dealing with fear, but today I actually took time to consider the context of the verse.

Paul is writing to Timothy and telling him that he prays for him and is excited to see him again. Then Paul writes this:

"That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. So don't be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner." (verses 5-8, Message)

I re-read the verse in a different version. 

"Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment." (verses 6-7, Holman Christian Standard)

God has given us gifts to use on this earth - gifts of leadership, encouragement, natural abilities, etc. These gifts make us who we are and give each of us a unique impact in this world. From what Paul writes, it sounds like if we're not careful, these gifts will subside and we can walk through life without fully utilizing the gifts we've received - kinda like that Christmas gift you got last year, that you absolutely loved at the time, but you haven't touched since.

Paul encourages Timothy to remember all that God has given him and use it for God's kingdom. 

Now the reason I think it's cool that these two verses connect is because God's gifts to you are so extravagant that we can be afraid to use them. We need to remember the gift of God inside of us... but not be afraid to use it. Instead, we are to be "bold, loving, and sensible." 

Bold: the gifts God gave you may be intimidating for you to think about, but you have every right to trust God and utilize them to their full extent. 

Loving: don't be prideful about these gifts. The reason you have them is to impact the people around you for God's glory. 

Sensible: be wise in your use of them. As the phrase goes, "don't throw pearls before swine." Situations will arise where it will be appropriate or not appropriate to use your gifts. 

Say you have the gift of teaching or explaining things. You really understand the Bible, and God has plans for you to teach people about God's kingdom. You will need to be bold to accept that teaching position at your church's Bible study, but you'll also need to be wise on how to let your teaching gift be used when someone is telling you about a difficult time in their life, especially if that person is an unbeliever. They may only be able to handle a small portion of everything you could teach them.

So when God gives us the opportunity to use our gifts and talents, we don't have reason to be afraid. God has given us grace to be bold, loving, and sensible with the use of our gifts and talents. We simply need to seize the opportunities and allow God to work through us to reach others.