To simply say thank you <3

Thank you to those who went before us and believed that America had a calling to stand for freedom…

to defend ours and to help others gain theirs.

Thank you to those who love this country and what they believe it stands for.

Who understand the sacrifice of leaving home and family to serve others.

Thank you to those who fought in “unpopular” wars.

Thank you to those who were disrespected because politics got in the way of people.

Thank you for bearing scars we cannot see with our eyes.

Thank you for understanding better than any of us what it is like to lay down your life for a brother or a friend.

Thank you every day for the freedom you have preserved for us and extended around the world.

We salute you…men and women of the armed forces today.

We remember those who went before you.

Thank you <3

Before the week slips completely away…

As we head into the big Memorial Day weekend, you just might find yourselves eating some graduation cake and something or two cooked over the grill, putting flags on graves and gathering with friends and family for some fellowship.

Russ and I have a graduation and a double birthday celebration to look forward to…because some little dudes in our lives will be turning another year older…

So before all that merriment ensues, I wanted to share a little about our visit to City of Praise Church last Sunday.

Our church has begun a partnership with this congregation and quite a few of their members ventured out to visit us one weekend.

Russ and I were kind of touched that they would make the effort to worship with us, so we found a weekend where we could go there for their 11:00 service. We were joined by three other class members this past Sunday.

Pastor BJ told us we would be welcomed warmly and promised it would be a lively service.

He was right on both counts.

I have never been hugged so many times by so many people nor have I been so blessed.

I don’t just mean I felt blessed.

I mean THEY kept blessing me…just speaking blessing over me.

Then there was the pastor who in the midst of the worship songs admonished us to just focus on the Lord…whatever we brought in with us…leave at the door.

He said that over and over…

Leave it at the door…just leave it at the door…don’t bring it in with you today…just leave it at the door…..

because he must have realized some of us are slow to listen and there may have been a blonde lady in the third pew that needed to be told repeatedly to forget everything except how wonderful Jesus is.

Cause she finally did.

Finally forgot about the worries and the cares and the things I am always and forever asking Him to do and fix and take away and give.

And I just entered into praise about who He is <3

And they just kept inviting and welcoming the Holy Spirit and He most assuredly felt welcome because it was impossible to not sense His Presence among us.

The message was honest and powerful…about asking ourselves all the time…”Why do I do what I do?”

And how if it is for recognition or thanks or notoriety…well…that’s not the right answer.

We do what we do…I do what I do…because I love Jesus…and it is my joy…and my job….to serve Him.

We knew it would be a longer service than we are used to so when the pastor apologized to the ladies who were going to be setting up the bake sale in the back that he was ending early …

so they better get scooting to get the table set up…

I looked at my watch for the first time and realized we had been enveloped in this precious service for 1 hour and 58 minutes….

Apparently we were two minutes shy of the usual service time.

All in all….

Best.Day.Ever.   <3

 

Just a random from the Journey <3

I have been reminiscing a bit about my piano lesson days thanks to attending a recital at our church and having about ten days worth of life application lessons in my morning devotions because the author was a concert pianist of sorts.

While she is able to pull all kinds of teachings from her years of disciplined practice and study, my recollections produce a gamut of emotions including slight trauma, minor pangs of guilt, heavy doses of longing and fits of giggles.

I would probably need counseling to sort it all out; but in a nutshell, I had a great desire to play the piano well but no disciplined drive to motivate me to do the work and no natural musical talent.

Or at least not the in the measure that my dad had.

My dad could play a song just by listening to it. He tuned pianos after he retired from the Air Force and he did the fine tuning by ear.

By ear.

Perfect pitch.

He understood rhythm and timing and it was more than he could stand when I didn’t.

And that would be where the minor trauma came in…but let’s skip that and move on to the guilt and fits of giggles.

Because back when I took piano, recitals were as rigorous as boot camp.

There was no carrying a book up with you or having your teacher lovingly sit beside you on the bench with her arm gently resting behind your back.

Oh no.

I grew up in the 60’s when piano lessons and teachers were as serious as the white patent leather shoes and ankle socks we wore with our spring frocks as we sat in hard-back chairs and waited our nervous turn to be called up to play.

I was probably in 5th or 6th grade the last year I took piano.

My recital piece was Beethoven’s Fur Elise. With two dots over the u…but sorry…not sure how to produce that either.

I still get kind of sweaty when I hear it played on the Pandora Classical station.

That spring I was more interested in playing outside and riding my bike than practicing, so my mom would set the timer and call me in every 30 minutes to play through my sheet music.

The idea was that retention would come from the repetition.

Good idea…but I would zip through it as fast as I could and then head back out to my friends.

Well…apparently all that discipline helped me get the first bit down because to this moment I can tell you it goes like…nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah naaaaaaaahhhhh nah-nah-nah-naaaaah nah-nah-nah….repeat a time or two and then…

I hit a blank.

Just like I did that fateful Sunday afternoon in the basement of the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church as my hands would hover over the keys, willing my mind to remember what came next.

Our teacher had told us if we forgot, we should just go back and start fresh.

In front of all those eyes, I started that piece over and over and over…until…well…I have blocked from my memory how it finally came to the place where I could get up and slink back to my seat.

However; I still vividly remember my mother’s reaction. In living color and surround sound.

Apparently I had given her the apex of the most embarrassing moments of her life, and considering she was older when she had me so that was pretty impressive.

She also informed me, in no uncertain terms as we exited the building, that my piano lesson days were F.I.N.I.S.H.E.D.

I was both completely mortified and strangely elated.

It was weird.

It still makes me sad that I couldn’t muster the discipline to play through that song mistake free on that Sunday afternoon.

And there is still a longing somewhere in me to be able to sit down at a piano and produce music.

But it also makes me laugh in the way that I was actually super relieved to be freed from the lessons and practice.

And she was wrong.

I did way more embarrassing things than that over the years.

I don’t really have a point to this today except maybe that I hope you can laugh at my eleven year old self.

We need to laugh and share our stories.

The real ones…the ones with no point except to share the parts of the journey that contributed to who we are today.

The parts where we were red-faced and goofy and that still make us stop and ponder just what happened there and how would we do it differently.

It’s what makes us human.

In a photoshopped world where we can carefully calculate our persona and create a phony sense of “this is the real me” even though it is only the cute parts of our quirkiness that we are willing to expose, it’s kind of freeing to ponder those moments that are filed away…and sometimes to just share with people you care about.

People like you.

Thanks for sharing the journey every week.

And if you are getting stuck on the opening bars of the song you were supposed to know by now…maybe it’s nice to know you are in good company <3

A glimpse from the journal on the journey today <3

I am on Day 24 of the Redeemed study by Angela Thomas-Pharr and I am feeling like the little exercise I just did might bless someone else today so…here you go <3

On page 117 she has a list of “You Are’s”…promises of God for those who are Redeemed….those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD of their lives.

The assignment was to read through the list and then select four passages that stood out and expand them to hear what God might be showing me.

Since I have a tendency to chase rabbit trails and get distracted in my distractions, I wrote out a prayer first and just asked God to use a Holy Highlighter for me to key in on the four He would like to talk about this morning.

I love how He knows me…cause He let me have five…but one of them we were able to combine.

I prayed for the working through of the Scriptures to transform me. I hope it works.

Here are my 4/5:

God’s promise: I am promised abundant life

The passage:  While the enemy of my soul comes only to kill, and to destroy and to steal…Jesus Christ has come to me to give me life and to redeem and to restore               John 10:10

My assignment: To realize that everything the enemy has attempted to do to take away God’s blessings and anointing in my life, Jesus Christ has given me super-over-the-top-excessively-more-than-enough-plus-beyond-that. And to live like I believe it. **and let me add here…the struggle is real and the journey has it’s ups and downs. Honestly addressing those struggles is part of our refining! So when we have to work out that refining…we have NOT failed!!!! God is with us through it all! Just because we share honestly about those days when this is a hard truth to apply, we are not being hypocrites and we have not backtracked…we are just a work in progress…praise God!

God’s promise: I am chosen to bear fruit for God

The passage: I am a believer because Jesus chose me. I bear fruit for Him because He chose me to bear fruit. And the fruit I bear because of this, will last. It will have meaning and purpose because of Him.  John 15:16

My assignment: Steward faithfully the Word that I am His because He chose me – chose me to belong to Him and to bring about much good for Him and to know and believe that whatever I do in His name and for His glory will last and it will matter.

God’s promise: I am being helped in my weakness

The passage: I have no idea what I am doing most of the time, even though my heart’s desire is to bring God into every setting. So His Spirit in me prays through me, comes alongside me and those deeper prayers that provide the current for my feeble and often ill-informed, emotion driven ramblings …. that’s God’s Holy Spirit…God’s very mind and heart…wrapping itself around my child-like thoughts and prayers and forming perfect prayers that bring about God’s will in me and for others. Romans 8:26-27

My assignment: I have help constantly in my weakness and humanity. I seriously don’t know how to pray rightly on my own – but the Spirit comes along and helps me – prays through me. He knows the mind of God and He knows my limitations and He prays and works through me <3

God’s promise: I am filled with a spirit of love, power and self-control and I am supported by my Advocate, Jesus Christ

The passage: God has not given me a spirit of fear and doubt that marked my unsaved self, but He has given me His Spirit. Thus the spirit that rules in me is

Love..His kind of Love…not my kind of preferences

Power…His kind of dynamite power that raised Christ from the dead…that kind of power;

Self-control, so that I am not a slave to my wants, needs, thoughts and feelings….

and all of this is bolstered by Him who sits at the right hand of God on my behalf and speaks up for me to Him. 2 Timothy 1:7 and 1 John 2:1

My assignment: When I am filled with fear, doubt, anxiety, ineffective and negative thoughts…those times are NOT from God.

The Spirit that dwells in me and sealed me and guarantees Christ’s redemptive work for me and in me and through me….also FILLS me with the ability to love in ways that I can’t. He gives me power that isn’t mine and He enables me to have control over my wandering thoughts and self-indulgent tendencies and old patterns of thinking and reacting. And when I mess up, and forget, and take more steps backward than forward… which I do and I will continue to do until I am called Home, I have One who stands in the gap for me and speaks assurance and forgiveness and reminds the Father….

this one…belongs to Me.

I hope you are blessed today by the Word of God and His promises to YOU…

We can’t know them if we don’t read about them in His Word.

He has given us everything we need to live fully in the gifts and blessings of His inheritance through Christ.

Bless Him by believing the promise of His blessings on your life <3

Abhor evil…cling to what is good

In a normal day it is not uncommon for me to cry several times.

Tears will slip out when I am talking or thinking or praying.

I rely on family and friends to regularly point to the corner of their eye as a tip that I have smears of mascara that need tending.

Yesterday I shed tears twice for people I don’t know at all.

The last time was just before we headed to bed as I cried for parents who were frantically waiting for news on the fate of a child outside a concert hall in Manchester, England and for first responders who had to hold it together as they did what they do in the mayhem.

I shed tears for the deception that leads someone to take his own life so that he can take out as many strangers as he possibly can.

I shed tears for a world system that keeps thinking somehow if we all just agree to disagree we can end the bloodshed and the confusion that comes when we all do what is right in our own sight, refusing to believe there is anything called Absolute Truth.

And I realize that’s a lot of thoughts swirling around the chaos that has become so much of our daily diet thanks to the internet and 24 hour news programming.

We can get so overwhelmed that we shut down.

So let me share the other thing that caused my heart to lump in my throat and generated some gentle tears at work.

Around lunch time a couple came in the store that I see from time to time.

I don’t know factually, but I assume they are husband and wife.

She walks slowly with one of those four-pronged canes. He gently holds the back of her jacket…just enough to steer her and keep her upright without her knowing it.

She’s a shopper and I totally get her.

As she gazes over each display, something will catch her eye and she will reach for it.

If she lingers more than a few seconds with it, he will gently ask her if she likes it…does she want it?

He will use his free hand to hold it for her and when he gets her to a place where she is holding steady, carries them to the counter and starts their pile.

I don’t like interfering with this tender dance they have going.

But as they move farther from the counter area; I begin to become the runner for him.

When she has covered the whole store, he asks her if she is sure she is finished. Is there anyone she is forgetting?

He will suggest some upcoming birthdays and events and when she’s sure she is done, they come to the counter.

I ring it up and he pulls out his wallet.

He never asks why she wants this or that.

He never makes a joke about her spending too much or the cash he is doling out.

He simply attends her shopping.

He lovingly takes her arm and the bag and he always says they will see me in a year…to which she says she hopes it’s sooner than that.

It will be.

Even now my throat is tightening and tears sting.

While I can pray for anyone in the whole wide world, I can’t do a thing today to offer comfort or support or love to the wounded around this globe.

But I can love the people I will come in contact with today.

I can extend a gracious patience with them.

I can be tender towards them and wait on them…and I don’t mean wait for them to do for me….I mean serve them..attend them…be attentive to them.

Not just for them…but because the world will see and know Christ by the way we love one another <3