A New Kind of Worship

Wow!! It has been a really, really, really LONG time since I have written on my blog!! I apologize for the long absence. Life, well, you know life. It gets hectic, it gets messy, it gets away from you.

I have been processing a lot. Especially about worship. I know, I know. I am a worship junkie. I get it. It’s always on my mind and always on my heart. Here lately, I have been feeling this pull, this tug to worship differently. By differently, I don’t mean church as normal, let’s go and see what God does-maybe-kind of worship. Something that literally goes into His inter chamber, where the Lord is His most vulnerable, and where I can be my most vulnerable. We sing songs about going higher, going deeper, of longing for more of Him, but do we really, do I really know how to do that? For years now, Psalms 27 has been my chapter. When my world was blowing up around me, burning from underneath me, I ran to Psalms 27. It assured me that God was on my side. I could trust Him. But more than anything, this:

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.

Music has been my bridge to this. I worship the Lord with my voice in song and it opens heaven to me. Because I want to go deeper, to know Him more intimately, I desire more of Him in every part of life. I also feel that the Lord wants to do this for the church as a whole but in a way that looks vastly different than our traditional ho-hum-this-is-just-how-we-do-it-church-service. He is calling us into our worship services, in every area, with no agenda. None whatsoever. Just to be open to HIM. The only expectation we have is to encounter Him. I’m willing. I’m ready to go deeper, to be one of His closest confidants and friends. I’m ready to learn what it really means to be His, to be His daughter. Are you?

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Giving up

Giving up

That’s it!

I’m done!

I throw in the towel, the count down is over!

I QUIT!

I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to struggle through classes or find an internship or be in this stinking situation anymore!

I want it to all be over. Finished. Completed. I want an end to this crazy impossible, mind numbing, soul draining, turning-my-hair-white situation. I want things to finally get, well, easier. If it’s not having to figure out what is going to happen next, it’s figuring out how to make things, everything,including myself, stretch farther. And in the middle of all of that it’s the never ending constant companion of stress. How do you constantly find faith in the midst of this? How do you keep on keeping on when all you really, desperately want to do is curl up in your bed, cry-no sob really-until you finally, exhausted, fall into sleep? And then all you want to do is sleep and sleep until hopefully you wake up to either an angel by your bed or the booming sound of the Lord’s voice giving you very detailed instructions of what your to do next. And then what your supposed to do after that and so on, until there is finally, blissfully, a resolution to the oppressive craziness that has become your life.

You see, I LIKE not running around like a chicken with my head cut off going hither and yon. I actually LIKE my falling-down-around-me house (though I do pray to have one that isn’t soon. I just like that it’s mine, on my own, ya know?). I LIKE being home with my kids. No, I love it. Because I love my kids. They are by far two of my favorite people. I have a whole list of favorite people, but they, along with my husband, take the top three slots.

I like not interacting with a lot of people.

There.

I said it.

I’m not good at interacting with others.

In fact, it down right aggravates me and wears me out. I feel like I’m constantly pretending that my life doesn’t exist or that my husband isn’t in prison. I’m constantly pretending to be someone I’m not. And it’s beyond taxing. Putting a smile on and pretending that all is well, having to answer that I’m good when someone asks me how I am, when in fact, I’m not, no I’m not really ever good. I’m tired and lonely, sad and hurting because this stupid situation, this injustice that my little family has been through isn’t over. I still go to sleep at night and desperately wish I could remember what it’s like to hold my husband’s hand or to have seen him helping the boys with something. And if I was totally honestly, I didn’t see much of that when he was home. But I have hope of seeing it when he gets home and we get to know the man he is now and not the man he was. I lay in bed at night and desperately try to figure where we can go when I can’t afford rent or the gas in my car to get me back and forth to a job I don’t really want runs out. And it’s not because I don’t want to work, but because I wholeheartedly believe that my kids are my job. Did you know that kids in our situation, kids with a parent incarcerated are 75% more likely to do the same? That’s not going to happen to my boys! And the only way I know how to do that is to BE there for them, to homeschool and to pour into them constantly. And all of that pressure gets to a person. It gets to me because I want to do it well. I want my boys to be able to provide for their families, to love the Lord with all they have and for us to have a lifelong relationship that is healthy and close.

So, for today, in this moment, I quit.

But tomorrow, is another day. We’ll see if I’ll quit tomorrow.

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Another Piece of the Story

Moving-Mountains
In this post, I wanted to share how God came through for me in a big, big way. He’s provided for and taken care of my children and I, my husband even, in some supernatural, super amazing ways. The following is just one of them. My sister friend, and quite honestly, another supernatural way that God has blessed me, Annalea,wrote this. If you guys totally love her writing (I definitely do!!) you can read this and more at her blog at http://www.anewdaydawns.com/. I hope that this testimony of God’s goodness and love will touch someone and help them to know God’s amazing, wonderful, never ending, never ending love.
Moving Mountains is a piece of Cake
But how about raising money? Finding a car?
My good friend LeAnne recently totaled her faithful Rodeo. The poor thing was on its last legs, with a crunched fender, smashed-in hood and half-spider-webbed windshield (thank you, big horse in the dark pasture–so glad all involved were okay), complete with red bungee cord to keep the hood down. But it kept on going, and kept her and her boys safe when they slid on black ice on a bridge up here, bashing both sides of the Rodeo into the cement barriers as it pinballed back and forth.
Suddenly, she had no car. And just $200 in her pocket to buy a new one from selling the Rodeo for scrap. She’s a single mom going to school online, and hasn’t found work that accommodates the needs of her sons and schoolwork. And as much as I wished differently, my family is in no position to buy a car. We looked and looked, and two different possibilities presented themselves. One local that needed significant work, and one twelve hours away that we had no pictures of, and no way to inspect. But she just kept telling me, “Annalea, I really feel like God has an amazing car out there for me, and I don’t want to settle.” So I wracked my brains, and one Sunday night, it occurred to me to wonder about something like Kickstarter. Vern thought it was a good idea, so I did some research the next day, and discovered gofundme. It took a little while to get the campaign set up, and a few more days to actually start some publicity.
Said publicity consisted of adding a little over 200 email contacts, more than 350 facebook contacts, and a whopping eighteen twitter followers. (Yeah, I’m big stuff over at twitter. lol) Unbeknownst to me, gofundme immediately sent out emails to all of the newly-added email contacts. (If I had understood that, I know I wouldn’t have added so many, if any at all.) No more than two minutes later, my phone rang, and it was my brother calling from where he works out of state, wanting to see if the email from gofundme was legit. We got to talking, and I told him a little about LeAnne, but the conversation went another direction before I managed to tell him why I was raising money for her. Then, after a good fifteen minutes on the phone, I realized I hadn’t told him, and gave him the details of the accident and where it left her.
“Well, I have a car I could give her,” he said in his matter-of-fact drawl.
“A car?!?!?” was all I could come up with.
“Yeah, I’ve got a car I could give her. I was just given a car down here, so she can have the SUV I’ve got sitting in the driveway at the house. It hasn’t been driven in more than a year, and needs new tires, but it runs good.”
“Ummm, SHE’LL TOTALLY TAKE IT!” I managed to get out, around the laughter and shock.
Come to find out, not only is it in pretty good shape, but it’s a Lincoln Navigator . . . a super-nice SUV. (HELLO!!!!! Wow.) He didn’t need it, and wanted it out of the driveway.

Yeah. God sure did have a really awesome car for her. Wow. I got the rest of the details and called LeAnne.
“Hello?”
“Hey, girl! I just got some publicity going on the gofundme campaign, and my brother called after it sent him an email, thinking it looked like a scam. I told him a little about you, and then we got to talking, and it wasn’t until a while later I realized I hadn’t told him why I was running a campaign for you. So I told him, and” . . . I had to pause here as a grin split my face . . . “he said he has a car you can have.”
“WHAT???? No way!!!!” She laughed and cried and praised . . . and kept going the whole time we’re on the phone, only to stop every now and then say, “But Annalea, that’s a really. nice. car!
Talk about an answer to prayer, and God making good on His word. I’m not sure how to express the depth of gratitude and what a significant sign this was that followed LeAnne’s faith. I believed that she believed God had an awesome car out there for her, but I can’t honestly say that I believed it fully, myself. But now, now I could see she had been right to trust the word God had given her, and my own faith sprang up to new height and strength.
I posted an update to the gofundme campaign, letting everyone know WE HAD A CAR!!! ALREADY!!!!, that it would need tires and a few things, but that we just took a huge chunk out of our funding goal. Then, throughout the rest of the day, donations rolled in.
People I knew well, family members, people I barely knew, people I didn’t know at all . . . they all chipped in what they could. My heart kept filling and overflowing with an incredible, unique warmth I’d never experienced before: the selfless generosity of others expressed for someone I love dearly. Before I knew it, we had enough for tires, and we were in business! It has been two weeks, and I’m still having such a hard time putting into words the depth of the humbling, honored feeling it was to accept those donations, some from people who I knew were sacrificing to help someone I love so much. Caring for one another in this way is something we should do much, much more often, because it blesses both sides immeasurably. I now understand what fuels people who dedicate their lives to charities. Truly astounding.
A week went by, and we went down to pick up the Navigator. We got it all squared away with new battery, checked all the fluids, put a bunch of fuel treatment in the tank, and LeAnne’s dad showed up to look it over and ran the compressor to inflate the tires enough to get it down the road to the tire shop where we got some new all-seasons on it. As she backed it out of the driveway, the rear end went up onto the sidewalk, and the air ride suspension on the back end bottomed out. And stayed that way. lol The front seemed to hold just fine, though, so we caravanned down the road to take care of the tires. (Which ended up being about $150 less than we had planned! Yea!) At the tire shop, we learned the rear brake pads would need replacing soon, and the front ones not too long after that.
So, in addition to a new suspension system, we’ll need the brakes repaired. Soon.
Okay.
LeAnne looked at me, worry showing on her face. I looked at her, a buoyant feeling pushed up into my chest, and the words just came out of my mouth seemingly of their own volition:
“It’s all good, it’s all good. God got you a car. He paid for tires. He can pay for repairs, too. He’s got this!”
Throughout the rest of the day, as we learned more about what it might cost to fix the suspension (ouch), that feeling stayed with me. Solid. Light. Sure. I could hardly believe how easily and how fast God ponied up for LeAnne’s car. The repairs would be no big deal. Far more people have money than a spare car, right? Right.
We got the Navigator home alright that night, and LeAnne drove back into town the next day to drop it off at the auto shop, owned by a friend from church. I posted an update to the gofundme campaign that afternoon, and left it in His hands. Not long afterward, we had the news: the total for repairs (which could be broken down into two phases, one now and one within a couple months) was over $1000. Wow.
Still, that buoyant feeling persisted: “God’s got this,” I found myself saying, absolutely confident. (Although, I did add a couple of times straight to Him, “God, I haven’t the faintest how You’re going to pull this off. But I know You can do it, so it’s all Yours. Take it away!”)
I’ve never had an experience like this before. The pattern I was taught all my life was “Trust God, ask Him for what you need. But be totally prepared to work hard for what you want, and even more prepared for Him to not give you what you want, because it might not be His will.” I was taught that God gives us our trials, that He often gives us really painful, deeply difficult hardship for our own good, and that we just couldn’t understand the workings of His will for us. Even though those things seem bad to us, to Him, they weren’t.
But this . . . this feeling of absolute certainty that everything would work out, of laying all of it at His feet in an absolute absence of fear, THAT is faith, folks. And it was so shiny new.
Faith is knowing that He’s got your back, because He told you so.
He will take care of it.
Faith is trusting Him.
 
Totally.
No backups, no “Plan B”. Just Him. The husband that has covenanted to take care of every need of those who accept Him and the terms of His covenant.
Later that evening, I got a facebook message from an acquaintance I’d only known for a short time. She asked, “How much will it be to fix your friend’s car?” I wrote a detailed breakdown of the two phases, and she commiserated with me heartily. And then, I’ll never forget seeing the message she sent back back: “Do they take American Express?” (?!?!?!?)
Once again, I found myself laughing and jumping around, totally stunned at the way God works. I had envisioned working for weeks to gather enough donations to cover the repairs, doing a lot more writing for the campaign, even contacting a couple of previous contributors who mentioned they might be able to contribute more, if necessary. But God just got’er done in one fell swoop, only a few hours after learning the total cost.
Hallelujah, God be praised, for He IS GOOD!!!!
Jesus was serious when He said:
“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?” ~Matthew 7:9-11 NLT
God just wants us to drop all of our insecurities, all of our fears, all of our excuses, and go to Him. Trust Him. Open ourselves to Him without reservation, and without fear. Think of what He has already done for you . . . the incredible sacrifices He made, over and over throughout His life, His atoning sacrifice, all so He could have the power to come to wherever we are, and fill our deepest needs. He wants to show us, however and whenever and wherever He can, that we can trust Him. That we can love Him, utterly and with total abandon. He only asks we approach him with one thing:
” . . . faith, nothing wavering.”
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. ~James 1:5-7 KJV
Love you!

Annalea
http://ThenThereWereEight.com
“The only difference between a rut and a grave is depth.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
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What it means to Worship

Baruch

Ssshhhhhhh.

I have a confession.

I am a worshiper who hasn’t been worshiping.

I know! It’s beyond terrible, beyond reprehensible.

But it’s truth.

You see, I was reminded of something a few days ago. My pastor posted a video from T.D. Jakes titled Living with Uncertainty and listening to what that preacher man said reminded me of something. Something that in the midst of my worry and inner crisis, I had forgotten.

But before I go there I want to share something first. The word in the picture I posted with this, baruch, means to bless. Now, not too many people know this, but to bless someone literally means to bow down to them. In Genesis 24:48 it says,

“And I bowed down my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, Who had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter to his son.” (from the Amplified, emphasis added by me)

To worship is to literally put God higher than yourself, to bow before Him, to physically put yourself lower than Him. Can I just say “WHOA!”  I mean those Israelites really got what it meant to worship someone. It brings the whole reason why Mordecai,Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego all wouldn’t bow down to the king to light with new understanding. Because they understood that in doing so, they would be putting the king not just physically, but spiritually, above God and they weren’t about to even symbolically do that. They loved the Lord too much to do that. I mean, you have to figure they loved Him because they were willing to give their lives for Him.  At least it sounds like love to me.

So, to commence on what I started out in saying and to tie all of this together, let’s get back to the T.D. Jakes video. I’ve actually had to listen to it several times because it’s just that good. Cause you see, I worry. I do. My problems seem to loom over me, sometimes getting so big, that not only do they cloud my vision, they make it hard for me to breathe, to even function. But Pastor Jakes made such a good point, one that I stopped remembering. When we worship the Lord, when we bow down, and bless Him with our worship, our eyes aren’t on the problem. Their on Him. He steps to the center of our vision, above us, taking up all of our vision and the problems, oh those dark, pesky worries and problems are behind Him. Instead of the problems being bigger than me, He’s bigger than my problems and my focus shifts off of me, and onto Him. His goodness, His faithfulness, His blessing, His love, His just stinking awesomeness!! When I focus on Him, I’m reminded of just HOW GOOD He’s been to me, how He’s never, not once let me down or me and my kids go without. NOT ONCE. And my heart swells with not just my love for Him, which grows more and more, but with His love for me, which is enough to get lost in. (Yes, please!!)

So, if your problems are seeming bigger than you and the solutions seem short in coming, bow down, bless the Lord and worship Him. Get a focus shift and trust in His goodness. If ya gotta wear blinders, they might as well be filled with Him, right?

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Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

Joy in the midst of sorrow

Tonight as I was surfing the web, I came across a blog about hypothyroidism that shook my world. In 2006, after trying to get pregnant for awhile, I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were over the moon, beyond happy. I went to the doctor to confirm that the little pink strip was correct and got an ultrasound. I saw the little flutter of our babies heart beat. I went home and told my husband and our oldest son the great news. I was so happy. But I wasn’t getting morning sickness like I did with my oldest, so I figured I was having a girl. Then, at a little over 12 weeks, I began to spot. I immediately went to the doctor where they did another ultrasound. I watched the once strong and hearty heartbeat of my baby, flutter, stop, flutter…..and my heart shattered into a million pieces. The ultrasound technician, poor thing, saw my tears, and excused herself to go consult the doctor. The doctor came in and told me what I already knew. I was never going to get to hold my much wanted, very much loved, long longed for baby in my arms. I would never count her fingers and toes or look at her beautiful face and wonder if she looked more like me or my handsome husband. I would never hear her small voice wake me in the night to snuggle. And I had to go home and tell my excited little boy that he wouldn’t get to have a sister after all.

Fast forward a few months. I get pregnant again! Yay! And 10 months later (Cause really, 40 weeks IS 10 months), I gave birth to an amazingly sweet, bouncy, funny, challenging little boy who weighed 7lbs, 14 oz., had beautiful blue eyes and stole my heart for a third time. Praise God for answered prayers!

A few months after I had my youngest, I had a postpartum appointment. I felt like something was off, so I asked my doctor about it. She had my thyroid tested and it came back severely out of whack. Through much research and digging, I always felt that some how, my miscarriage was related to my thyroid. Before I had gotten pregnant with my Mabel, I had a whole 8 months that I didn’t have my ‘monthly’. Loosing weight was, and still is, difficult for me. I have had horrible headaches since I was a teenager and when I did have my ‘monthlies’ they were extremely painful.  I was loosing hair in massive amounts and depression has plagued me for, well, a long time. All symptoms of and related to hypothyroidism.

And tonight, as I was surfing the web, I found another heartbroken mother who had lost a baby due to her thyroid. And though I felt relief at having a piece of the puzzle put into place, I also felt a new surge of grief for my losses in life. As I sat crying, lamenting the losses that have happened to our family, my son, my first born, sweet, amazing son, comes to comfort me and his words were wise beyond his years.

“Mom, it’s not your fault that you lost my sister. It’s the devil’s. He comes to steal, kill and destroy, right? And yes, he’s taken a lot from us in the past, but the Lord is going to give us so much more in the future.”

And I smiled through my tears. Much more is caught than taught and in the midst of our sorrow, God, in His great mercy, His abundant love, shines upon us and out of the mouths of babes, He lifts up our heads up to see that light. There really is joy in the midst of sorrow. And a God who loves us enough to make sure we see it.

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Following Holy Spirit on a new adventure

overcome

Hi! And welcome to my new blog. Up front, I just want anyone who is reading this to know that I have NO IDEA what I’m doing!! I kept asking Holy Spirit what I should do as a means to make some money and provide for me and my kiddos, and He just kept telling me over and over again to write. So, I asked Him what I was supposed to write and He said, “Your testimony.” I’m working on that part. Finding a starting point is hard! I’m only 33 and at first glance, I look at my life and it seems like there isn’t so much to tell considering I’ve only been on this Earth for a little over three decades. But when I remember what all has happened in my life, I can’t believe that I’ve been through so much…….

But I digress. Continuing on with my conversation with Holy Spirit…..So after He told me to write, I prayed over what avenue of writing I should pursue.”I could write I book”, I told Him.

He said, “You’ve already got a book started.”

“Okay. I could just write a paper for myself to keep as a memento of my life.”

“Sure, but then you’d be the only one who would get to see it. Think bigger.”

“Bigger? Um, why?”

And in my mind I head the worship song by Jeremy Camp Overcome:

“We will overcome, every one over come

by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony”

Over and over I heard this song. I would wake up with it in my mind. I would find myself humming it at random moments. As I write this, my heart aches with it resounding inside of me. And I knew. Holy Spirit once again spoke to me.

“Your testimony is going to change people. It’s going to help them overcome their circumstances and give them hope. I’m going to use your testimony to bring people to Me.”

So, here I am. I am here, writing this blog, with no idea in which direction it’s going to go, or how God will use it, but I’m willing. I’m willing to share my story, my testimony of His goodness, His faithfulness, His amazing grace in the midst of my sin, my mess ups, my failings and flaws.

I can’t wait to share the adventure with you all and to see God move in our lives.

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