Tag Archives | thoughts on faith

Searching for an Inn

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I lied…I kept listening to the Piano Guys and came across this one and got another idea!

Code Name Vivaldi (Bourne Soundtrack/Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto) – ThePianoGuys

I am a DIEHARD fan of the Bourne movies.  LOVE them, watched them over and over, love the music soundtracks (had one as a ringtone).  It is something I share with Jeff and my dad–we even let the kids watch the chase scenes they are sooo good.  I know, crazy.

So what the heck does Bourne have to do with Christmas and being an innkeeper???

The searching.  The never giving up to find out who we truly are.

 That is what this week leading up to the birth of Christ is!  Right?  Mary and Joseph searched and searched for a room, and there were no guest rooms/upper rooms available (plus who wants to go up stairs when you are labor???)  So they stayed in a stable.

The Hebrews had been searching for a savior.  The wise men were searching for a star.  The shepherds were searching for what the angels announced.

We are all searching to find out who we are, for the IN:

we are God’s children.  We are LOVED.  That is who we are.

We just have to open up the stables in our hearts and acknowledge it all–let it all in–throw open those doors–let all those other searchers in and just roll with all that love.

So:  directions for today:  listen to the song, imagine Joseph and Mary searching, imagine the Hebrews searching, wise men searching. US searching.  Feel the urgency.

Then, realize, as they all did, we found the IN

Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of All who Loves and Commands us to Love Like Him.  

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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Draw Nearer

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Here is today’s link to music:  The Piano Guys:  Nearer My God to Thee

This art piece has all sorts of layers of meaning:  I originally just drew it to focus on Jesus this Christmas, then it became our cover piece for the Advent art/coloring/drawing workbook for Bible Stories from the Heart.  But my favorite:  my cousin’s daughter rearranged all of their nativities (they have 3 or 4) so that every piece is facing the baby Jesus and they are in TIGHT.  Super close.  She is DEAD ON!  That is how we should all go to the manger–up tight and close facing the Christ.  May we draw nearer to our God.

And here are the lyrics to this hymn:

Lyrics

  1. 1. Nearer, my God, to thee,
    Nearer to thee!
    E’en though it be a cross
    That raiseth me.
    Still all my song shall be
  2. (Chorus)
    Nearer, my God, to thee,
    Nearer, my God, to thee,
    Nearer to thee!
  3. Though like the wanderer,
    The sun gone down,
    Darkness be over me,
    My rest a stone,
    Yet in my dreams I’d be
  4. There let the way appear,
    Steps unto heav’n;
    All that thou sendest me,
    In mercy giv’n;
    Angels to beckon me
  5. Then with my waking thoughts
    Bright with thy praise,
    Out of my stony griefs
    Bethel I’ll raise;
    So by my woes to be
  6. Or if, on joyful wing
    Cleaving the sky,
    Sun, moon, and stars forgot,
    Upward I fly,
    Still all my song shall be
    Text: Sarah F. Adams, 1805-1848
    Music: attr. to Lowell Mason, 1792-1872
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New Commandment

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I talked with two different relatives this week about where the church is currently–one in Texas, one in Ohio, and I have mine here in Illinois.

And to some degree really our conversations boiled down to this:  we see that church has forgot this commandment.  Church has become so embroiled in traditions, so used to the way THEY do things, so used to feeding themselves, that they have forgotten how Christ called us to show everyone we are His disciples.

Do the people in your town KNOW that you are a Jesus follower?  Do they even know about your church?  The ways you help people inside and outside that building?  Is that church known for LOVE?  Or for rules, traditions, cliques, and closed doors?  Is there an open path to your church or have the congregants filled it with detours to keep people from messing with the way it is?  Kind of like a little old lady with beautiful gardens filled with statuary, but no one is allowed on her grass.  And really she gives you the stare down if you are on her sidewalk.

What kind of church are we?

Just some thoughts…

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Catch a Breath

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I sketched this on the plane to Atlanta this August.  I almost missed the flight, but God opened some paths.  After takeoff I pulled out my devotions and Bible and this was the verse.  He reminded me that it is His plan not mine that will work.

I am not sure what that right direction is right now.  It is my busiest time of year with lots of Christmas orders, custom requests flying in every other day, shows, and art to create—and our modem broke.  I can use Jeff’s business computer when he is not home because mine runs off WiFi–no internet at my desktop.  At least I can still scan and print!  I just can’t do things on my own time.

Maybe that is God’s way of making me slow down in this busy season.  Yes, that is how I am going to think of it.  This maybe one of those times that I am being a bit headstrong, and God knows I need something else.

Do you ever feel like He does that for you?  Stop right now, really consider, is God putting up some roadblocks?  Are you fulfilling what YOU want, or what HE wants?  What paths are free of detours?  Maybe we need to take a deep breath and head down those back roads for awhile.

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Serenity Prayer

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I remember seeing this prayer hanging in my Grandmother’s house as a small child.  It is printed on a plaque.  And even as a child I remember thinking it was very wise and correct.

Serenity is NOT a word I would use to describe myself in any way shape or form.  I am a bit of a live wire.  🙂  I realize this, always have been.  My ADD seems to be getting worse again as I get older, and along with it my ability to be serene.

But I do pray for serenity–a state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.  And I do pray for the courage and the wisdom to do so.  I pray this a lot.  A LOT.  I have to pray to calm myself down many many  times a day.

The good news:  it works.  There is something about stopping, taking that deep breath and thinking about the whole courage and wisdom thing that helps me re-center and realize that God has got this, I don’t have to freak out.

How about you?  Do you recite this prayer?  Any memories surrounding it?

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Strong God–and a bit of a soapbox on shootings

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This is from the song “Strong God” (Writer(s): Meredith Andrews, Jason Ingram, Jon Egan).

(link and verses at the bottom)

This is such a powerful song.  I pulled it up for the link, and as it started to play I had to stop writing, I just sat and rocked, listening and singing along–and it has that effect on me every time I hear it.  It stops me in my tracks.  As Jon Egan, the writer, says in another video, he based this song off Psalm 68.  He wanted it to be “a massive proclamation of truth, to sing out”.  He achieved that.

Our strong God is so needed.  The latest mass killing in California saddens me.  But even more so, I saw this article from PBS news about all of the mass shootings in the US in 2015.  We hear about some of them, but only a select make national headlines.  That is what is really sad.  The number of people shot in Chicago on a DAILY  basis is alarming.  2, 771 have been shot this year just in Chicago–on average EIGHT people every day.  THAT is really sad.

This weighed heavy on me yesterday, especially as I listened to others discuss this incident.  And I came to two conclusions:

  1.   There are a lot of people who need our STRONG GOD.  It is not guns that shoot people–it is people shooting people. People who are sad, and mad, and lost, and hurting, who feel unloved.  These people need God in their lives.  And not Christ shoved down their throats God.  But gentle, sweet assurances, deep help for what is wrong in their bodies, brains, and hearts.  They need to know there are other ways.  So today I am singing this song to the powerless, to the father of the widows, to the weak, to the prisoners of hate and sadness that God will move in their hearts.  And I will do what I can for those around me to spread His love.
  2. I will NOT BE AFRAID.  I heard a Christian radio station morning host talking about how he is afraid to let his kids go places because of the shooting.  It ENRAGED me.  Really–I was yelling at the radio in the car.  (I know..strong reaction…maybe a little crazed myself.)     But this is why I got mad:  we are not to be afraid.  We are the ones who are supposed to trust our Strong God in all circumstances.  We are the ones who are supposed to go out and help these lost–NOT HIDE in our homes and cower in fear.  If we are afraid as Christians then our culture is in even worse shape than I thought.  And as those numbers up above tell–if we are going to hole up in our homes afraid of a shooting, we  might as well never leave because it happens every stinking day in every stinking place.

Our nation is at war.  We are at war with ourselves.  We need our STRONG GOD.  Focus with me on Him, pray with me for our nation this weekend that we will stop fighting each other.

Father to the fatherless Defender of the weak

Freedom for the prisoner we sing

This is God in His holy place
This is God clothed in love and strength

Sing out lift your voice and cry out
Awesome is our strong God mighty is our God

You’re with us in the wilderness faithful to provide
Ev’ry breath and ev’ry step we see

There is no higher no
There is no greater no
There is none stronger than our God

 

 

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Hey!

thinking about you city

I slept in again.  🙂  And I do not have any posts pre-scheduled.  So here we are, late again this morning.

But it’s all good.  God is with me.  He is thinking about me.  It is a new day and I am awake and enjoying it.  Praise to Him.

This new print was pretty popular this weekend at the show.  I think we all just need this little reminder.  We just need that big ole billboard sometimes right in front of us that God is thinking about each of us individually and He loves us in the midst of our day in our human world.  We need reminded that He is bigger and has more impact than any of our human constructs.  Yet, He stops to think of us and get our attention.  Again, Praise to Him.

Tomorrow morning, my family will be at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade with a whole slew of tap dancers. Phoebe’s studio was invited to join in the fun–watch for us on tv.  🙂  So excited for her opportunity to tap among the buildings of downtown.  I pray that 1.  we will not freeze and 2.  that we will help people see God’s billboard through us while we are down there.  Wherever you are for the holiday I pray that 1.  you are warm and 2.  that you shine some Jesus too.

Love ya’ll!

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I am His lighthouse

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I have been worrying a lot lately.  I know, I know, I preach don’t worry.  But I am human, and there have been several things in the last month that I just don’t feel sure about.

I have not been faith full.  I have not been constant.

And yet, God is coming through on my prayers.  Despite myself, I am His.  What an amazing light in the darkness.

As I have prayed, with eyes closed, I see a light behind my closed lids.  I am sure there is some scientific thing about the light transferred or mirrored or some such thing.  But to me, it is like seeing the light of God shining as a beacon to remind I am His, He will take care of everything in His own time.  Sometimes faster than I expected, sometimes slower.  But He is always there reminding me.  What a comfort and joy!

I hope that you see that light and are reminded as well.

 

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Our Heart Yearns

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C.S. Lewis was a wise man, from as far as I can gather.  He at least has some really good quotes!  I have three to share with you this week.

I love the word YEARNS, and it is a word that we just don’t hear anymore–

  • have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from.
  • be filled with compassion or warm feeling.
    synonyms are:  long for, pine for, crave, desire, want, wish for, hanker for, covet, lust after/for, pant for, hunger for, burn for, thirst for, ache for, eat one’s heart out for, have one’s heart set on

And it carries so much meaning!  We do yearn for heaven.  We don’t just want it, we search for it with intensity.  So many people are searching for that one thing that will bring them joy–and when we do finally surrender to Christ and feel that joy–we understand.  As Lewis says, Earth cannot supply it.  Only Heaven.

I am so glad we have found Heaven and joy.

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Yoke is Easy

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This is the great thing about freedom and letting Jesus be the focus of our schedules!  The easiness and lightness of it.

Our demands in our schedules feel heavy a lot of times.  Especially when they are things we don’t necessarily want to do.  (Although, I have to admit I really enjoy most of the scheduled things I have and I am doing them for that reason, they just tend to get heavier the more of them there are!)  But what I really desire is that free,easy, light feeling of when I leave time to relax and rest in my schedule.  Don’t we all?  Isn’t that why we look so forward to vacations and weekends?

So why don’t we do as Jesus says?  Why don’t we take up His light burden and easy yoke?  Why do we make it heavy and hard?  Why in our culture does everything have to be done to the nth degree?  What Jesus calls us to is simplified.

I haven’t figured out how I am going to simplify, but it is coming in the winds.  I need it.  My kids need it.  My husband needs it.

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In His Hands

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I have done a HORRIBLE job lately of putting things on my calendar.  And saying yes and being over helpful, but then not helpful at all–because I have been not only double scheduling but triple scheduling.  We showed up late a lot last week.  I had to cancel plans because of previous things that I should have known about.  I needed a lot of grace last week.

This week, I am putting myself in God’s hands.  I need Him to take care of me.  I need Him to help me say no, to get organized, and to remember what is actually on that calendar.

How about you?  Do you struggle with margin and scheduling?  I am realizing I set this precedent for myself in junior high and I am only getting worse.  I don’t want my kids to be like this as adults.  I want to model something different.  How about you?

So let’s pray on it:

God we ask you to hold us right in the palm of your hands.  Hold us close and help us to see the big picture, lead us to a time of sabbath that will refresh us.  Show us the ways to leave margin in our schedules that we may have more time for you and our families.  Let us remember that we must set an example of margin for others, that by leaving space in our schedules we are encouraging others to do the same.  May this habit of allowing space in our schedules bless us and remind us that we are in your hands, that you care for us at all time.

Amen

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Free Indeed

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Free indeed!  Isn’t that wonderful knowledge!  That when we believe in Jesus we are free indeed:  we can trust in the knowledge that our worries and sins will disappear when we join Jesus in heaven.  And even here on earth, when we are secure in that knowledge the worries of our everyday life seem a lot smaller, a lot less disruptive, and not nearly as important.

That is still hard as humans though.  I still think about the future and worry if I am making the right choices.  I still wonder if this is what I am supposed to be doing.  It can still be hard to think about that big picture and to let ourselves get caught up in our everyday.

But at least we can trust that if we are making decisions in light of what Jesus calls for us, that we will be free in the long run.

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Truth Will Set You Free

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This verse seems to be coming to me a lot lately.  Do you ever have that?  That a verse sort of follows you around?  It pops up all over the place, here and there, and then sticks in your mind–that is what this verse is doing.

I am studying the book of Revelation right now, and actually for the whole year.  So the format is going very slowly.  But that is a good thing.  It is making me go really deep to accept that the Word of God is the Truth through and through, that He has had a plan from the very beginning.

I find myself not thinking of God as having an exact plan for me:  for example you will eat a fried egg for breakfast, you will park in this spot, you will wear blue today.  But instead I find myself enjoying the big plan of truth He has for us all:  He wants us to love Him back, He wants us to serve Him by loving others and serving them, and He wants to pull us close back to Him when we have completed that task.  So He does what He can to steer us in the directions that will do those things.  That is the truth.

And when we believe that, we are free–free from worrying that we are loved, free from knowing our purpose, free from knowing what will happen to us.  We KNOW–Jesus does it all.  That is the truth.

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Storm #1

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One of those things about not living in the now is getting caught up in our storms–worrying how big they are going to get, thinking about past destruction.

I hate the new radar weather things on phones.  I find them ridiculous.  “Well, it says there is a 20% chance that it might rain at 2:00 tomorrow, but tonight will be just fine.”  Hmmm, yeah.  Ask your phone why it rained an inch and blew down my garage sale in the middle of the night when there was no percent.

I think the wind may have blown if it off the course and the weatherman didn’t catch that.

Yeah.  I don’t trust that stuff.  (Now I will admit, I should check it a little more–being a little prepared isn’t all bad.)

And personally, I like storms.  I find them fascinating and beautiful.  If something is going to happen, it is going to happen.  I just accept it.

I think this quote (forget where I found this one) says it all.  Who cares how big the storm is?  Who cares what path it is going to take?  If I live in the assurance that God will provide, if not on earth at least in heaven, it doesn’t matter what the destruction of stuff the storm does.  I can overcome any of that with a God as big as mine!  He has made some seriously big crazy awesome promises.  And one of them was NOT that life would be easy as His follower.

In FACT, if anything, God says over and over in the Bible that it will be harder and we will face more trials.  Yep.  You know it’s true!  Ya’ll have read it in there before.  Why don’t we believe this?   Just because we are Christians does not make us impervious to the world and the sin that is in it or the natural disasters.  We just have a much better coping system–if we actually use it.

So let go today of your storm.  LET GO.  Right now.  Quit complaining to God about it –He knows about it anyway.  And just tell the problem, “I am NOT going to let this get the better of me!  I am handing you over to God and I trust He will take care of you, you big stupid storm problem.  Now, GIT!”

And see what happens.

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An Open Window

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Yesterday was a gorgeous day here in Chicagoland.  Low seventies and a bright blue clear sky (that doesn’t happen much).  I went to Bible study all morning and when I came out,  I knew I would have a hard time going in the house and staying in.  I needed to be out in God’s creation.  So Phoebe and I skipped homeschooling and went for an hour walk in the woods of Pilcher Park just south of us.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the beautiful day, the squirrels, chipmunks, and other little creatures were busy scurrying around.  The leaves were just barely rustling in their new colors as they started to turn around the edges.  The blue sky poured down through little vents in the canopy above and rays of sunshine beamed onto our path.  It was quiet.  It was sublime.

I felt the Spirit in that place and I opened up the window of my heart to let Him in.  I breathed deeply, letting Him fill every cell that He designed in such an intricate way.  And I prayed silently the whole walk for Him to fill me with that peace, not only in the midst of His beautiful creation, but that I would hold onto it as I went back to the world that humans have created.

This morning (and I am typing this Friday morning in October, no prescheduled this week–hence why I am behind), anyway THIS morning I am praying for the Spirit to come fill me, that He will come fill you, that we will feel His wondrous peace and hope.  That we will feel comfortable in knowing that we are loved unconditionally in the biggest most radical way.

Today I open my window and let the Spirit in–I pray that you do as well.  Christ’s peace be with you.

Go, Tell, and make disciples of all nations--spread the good news.
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