Good Monday morning, Company Girls! This little nest is in the rosebush right outside my front door and I couldn't resist sharing it with you today.
Know that God is with you and is watching over you with great delight. He is covering you with His grace and keeping you safe in his care.
You are in my thoughts and prayers today. I'll be back to my regular posting schedule in just a couple of weeks.
Do you ever stop to think about how far you've come?
Most of the time, I'm thinking about how far I still have to go. I get a little discouraged when I see mountains up ahead and I think, "I'm gonna have to have to climb THOSE suckers?? Yeah, right."
And then something comes along. Maybe a conversation, or a sight or a smell that reminds me of the past and where I've come from. I remember the challenges I've faced in my faith and the mountains I've already climbed. I remember the silly grudges I've held and the times when I've failed even myself.
Somehow through all of that there has been a Faithful God.
He's changing me. Molding me. Creating something new.
With each failure, with each victory, with each passing day, I'm not who I was.
OK. I don't always know who I am TODAY, but I sure as shootin' am not the same person I was yesterday.
That's because He's taking the garbage I bring him and making it into something beautiful. I can't always see what or how or why He's doing it, but He is.
Spend a few moments today reflecting on just how far you've come. Forget for just a minute where you think you ought to be, and take joy in being right where you are. Right where God wants you to be.
See. You're not who you were, either.
Today's Small Thing is about reflection. And let's tie it to a task, because that's how we roll. Take a few minutes to clean the mirrors in your home.
Get them all shiny and clean! And as you do, reflect on that girl in the mirror and the Faithful God who's NEVER given up on her.
Want to share? Leave a comment or write a blog post about not being who you were. If you blog it, be sure and let us know so we can stop over!
Some of you might be familiar with Flash, my stray donkey who showed up....and never left. He's the lovesick dude that Priscilla Shirer and I tried to pull home in the story featured in the "Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed" Bible study.
Yeah, that donkey.
See, we'd only meant to keep Flash overnight, or at least until we could find his rightful owners. And now, six years later, we consider him permanent yard art in our pasture. He meanders from the north woods to the open fields, and entertains himself by flirting with the fancy mares (and trash-talking at the stallions) on the other side of the fence. Oh, he makes a great conversation piece, because there is never a dull moment with him around.
I was scratching Flash's long ears and looking at those soft brown eyes the other day, and thinking about the donkey that Mary might have ridden on as she and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem. The Bible doesn't say whether or not she actually rode one, but if her sciatic nerve was anything like mine, I'd guess that she was more than happy to climb up on a sturdy little guy for the trek.
Even so, it couldn't have been a fun ride.
Donkeys have very boney backs. They have a short, choppy gait. They walk like they have no idea where they are going. They balk. They're stubborn. They think they are smarter than people.
But donkeys ARE loyal and hard-working. Well, Flash is...loyal. I haven't seen him do a decent day's work since he's been here so I can't attest to his personal work ethic.
Yet somehow I think Mary's donkey knew he had been singled out for a very special job. As he picked his way along the rough path and kept his nose close to Joseph's side, he must have known that this was no ordinary journey. The very God of the universe was resting in a young girl's womb - in the form of a baby whose arrival was imminent. And it was HIS job to safely ferry that mama and her baby to their destination. It was to be the culmination of prophecy and promise: mercy and grace for a sinful world, to be wrapped in a woven blanket and placed in a manger. Now, THAT'S a load to shoulder.
As I look at the preposterous donkey in my pasture, I'm reminded that Jesus made another trip on a donkey...this time into Jerusalem, where he was hailed as King before his crucifixion. Again, it was a lowly beast of burden who carried the king of Kings on a mission of mercy and grace: the redemption of mankind through His death and resurrection. That young colt gave the ride of his life that day.
One donkey carried the King to His birth, another carried Him to His death.
Aw, Flash. If only you knew the honor that was bestowed on your kind. The world sees you as a clumsy, laughable cousin to the sophisticated horse, but you were chosen to carry the Promised One, the Messiah who came to save the world. How like God to use the lowly to confound the "wise," and the humblest of creatures to magnify His glory.
I'll never think of you in the same way again.
Today's Small Thing is to magnify God's glory in some small way.
We often don't see our acts of service to our families or employers as "worship," when in fact, everything we do is a way of offering our praise to Him. No matter how humble, how menial, how insignificant or lowly, see your efforts as a worship offering to the King who delights in you. Put your heart in an attitude of serving Him and watch what He will do with it. You will find joy in giving. Purpose in serving. Blessing in working. Bring an offering of worship to Him through all that you do today....bring glory to your King.
Song of the Day: Offering, Paul Baloche
"The end of the world as we know it." ~ every other Facebook status
I've heard a lot of gloom and doom since the election, and today I want to encourage you to, well.... put a lid on it. At least in front of the kids.
Yes, I know. I'm well aware that there are big huge problems facing us, and we have social issues up the wazoo. We must discuss them. But sometimes we get so wrapped up in talking about how bad things are and how much worse they're going to get, that we forget about the little listening ears that are taking it all in. To kids, all this grown-up talk can be scary, frightening and depressing. And it can leave them feeling hopeless about their future.
When you're ten, you should be dreaming of being an astronaut, or a doctor, or a fireman... not worrying about whether your family will survive a future holocaust. A six year-old shouldn't have to overhear talk that our country going to hell in a handbasket. A high schooler shouldn't have to think "why bother?" because the world might end. We need to filter the information we present so that it is age-appropriate and constructive.
Today's Small Thing is to give your children (and everyone around you) the gift of hope.
Refrain from talking about political catastrophes and instead, talk about your child's dreams. What are his gifts? What can she contribute to this world to make it better? How can God help us be lights in our neighborhoods? What can WE do to make a difference?
There is so much we can't fix around us. The economy, immigration, unemployment....but none of that means anything to someone who just wants to color with you, or be pushed in a swing, or have you listen to a new song they found on itunes. Don't rob your children of the joyfulness of life because you are disappointed in the election outcome. Speaking positive and hopeful words will communicate to them that you trust God to watch over you no matter what. Regardless of the political landscape.
God has mighty plans for the next generation of kids, and it will be amazing to see them rise up and take them on. We need future astronauts and doctors and firemen and mommies and daddies who believe in Him, and whose parents gave them the gift of hope in the midst of turbulent times.
Song of the Day: Hope Now, Addison Road
On our recent trip to Colorado, I was absolutely enchanted with the aspen forests, displaying their glorious fall foliage on the mountainsides. It seemed like each turn of the road revealed new vistas of the trees in blazing colors - golden, orange, red, green and yellow. It was as if they were on fire! All I wanted to do was get out of the car and walk into one of the forests so I could experience it from underneath the incredible leaves.
One day, we spotted a perfect forest to explore from a vantage point on roadside pull-out. Through our binoculars, we looked across a wide canyon at a blazing hillside, and discovered that a dirt road wound right though it - and after consulting our map, we decided to take a hike there the next day. I couldn't wait to get inside that solid mass of color!
And when we got to the interior of that golden aspen forest, it was indeed...absolutely breathtaking. It was a cathedral of trees: quiet, except for the rustling of the leaves above, and there was an incredible sense of wonder that enveloped me as we stepped into the sanctuary. Within seconds, I stopped in complete amazement and turned in all directions. "Ohhhhhhh...." was all I could say. I could hardly take in all the beauty.
The floor of the forest was so much more open than I'd expected! There were huge spaces between each white trunk, leaving room for a soft undergrowth of grasses and shrubby plant life. We followed a meandering little animal trail, and admired the towering trees that formed a solid canopy above. I remembered how, from our far-off vantage point the day before, this forest looked so massive and formidible, I couldn't see any individual trees.
But from here, right up close, I could see how each aspen had its own space - each had its own uniquely patterned trunk - and it was only waaaaay above my head that their branches touched and interlocked to create their shimmering cathedral ceiling.
That day I was reminded, in such a beautiful way, how in life, vantage point makes all the difference. It is so easy to miss the forest for the trees....or get so wrapped up in the trees that you miss the glorious forest they are creating. I took a deep breath of the crisp air and thought of how many times I've been so focused on the obstacles I've faced that I've missed the grace God was providing for me to get through them. How I would get so tired of the daily tasks of motherhood that I failed to see the progress that was happening right before my eyes as my children grew and matured. Or how sometimes I still get so overwhelmed with the enormity of my problems that I fail to see the individual steps I can take to solve them. I am forever thinking tasks are so big, so intimidating, that I don't see the small, simple things I can do to accomplish them.
Forests. Trees. So often I'm blinded by one for the other.
Today's Small Thing is to change your vantage point.
Perhaps you are facing something that seems just too big to handle and you can't make any sense of it all. Or maybe you have a vision for your life that feels unattainable, unreachable. You can see the solid mass of forest, but not the trees it will take to make it.
Maybe you are stuck in the daily-ness of raising children, a difficult health situation or a job that seems pointless - trees that are blocking your view from a glorious canopy just above you.
I challenge you to step back from your life for just a moment and ask God to help you see beyond it to the to the work He is doing. Allow Him to give you wisdom to see the forest - or trees - that will make all the difference in how you view your circumstance. Changing your vantage point will give you a whole new perspective and will lighten the burden you're carrying because you'll be able to see a bigger picture. Trust Him to show you the details you've been missing, and to give you a grand view of what He is creating in and through you. His beautiful plan for you is unfolding....and you've got a front row seat.
“A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.” A.W. Tozer
My question to you: how will changing your perspective transform your world today?
Ladies, today I'd like to introduce you to Keeplets - super cute bracelets that double as verse holders that allow you to keep God's word in front of you throughout the day.
Fashion and faith....all in one!
Sitting in church, one Sunday I was inspired by the verse; "Blessed is he that hears the Word of the God, and keeps it." Luke 11:28 and I came up with the idea of wearing verses on your wrists that could be swapped out. Keeplets bracelets come in a variety of fabrics and sizes. To compliment the bracelets, verse cards are available for purchase that have 24 verses on a variety of topics.
As a Christian I know there is power in the Word. As a mother, I want my children to have a love for God's word and learn to "keep it". When we learn the scriptures, they become tools that will help us in our daily struggles. In Matthew, Jesus used the power of the Word when he was tempted by Satan. We too must use the Word to strengthen us, comfort us and guide us. We approach God through prayer, and he speaks to us through his Word. I hope that people will use keeplets to learn God's word so that they can truly say; "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalms 119:11
Jennifer sent me a bracelet, which came with a 24 pack of verses on hope. I have Psalm 27:14 in mine: "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall stregthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." It has been really cool to glance down and be reminded of the verse - and I'm working on memorizing it throughout the day! Love it. When I'm done with this verse, I can pop in another that came with the Keeplet, or I might make one of my own choosing. Brilliant!
Here's how you can be entered to win your own Keeplets bracelet and verse set.
1. Leave me a comment, telling me which scripture verse you are currently memorizing or meditating on. If you don't have one, then getcha one. The Bible's got a whole buncha good ones. Get it and bring it back here for a comment, girl!
2. For double the chance to win, pop on over to Keeplets FaceBook page and like it. I'd love to get Jennifer up to 200 likes! Let me know in your comment if you've done it so I can enter you twice.
Meanwhile, you can stop over at the Keeplets shop...and you'll see that there are lots of sizes and styles to choose from - even camo for the boys! They are reasonably priced, and you can save even more if you purchase more than one item. This would be an awesome Sunday School or VBS gift to help with memory verses.
Now, I do have a Small Thing for today....and it is all about scripture memory! See that #1 just above, for the contest entry? Well, that's it.
Today's Small Thing is to commit to memorizing one Bible verse this week. If you're already working on one, awesome. If not, then make today the day you begin.
If you're not sure where to find one, I'd start with an old-fashioned concordance, in the back of the Bible, or by simply Googling "Verses on Hope" or "Verses on salvation" or whatever topic you like. While you're waiting for your own Keeplet order, why not write out your verse on an index card and place it where you'll be reminded of it? The bathroom mirror, computer screen, or fridge are great places.
God's word is the one thing we can count on in this mixed up world. When we let it go down deep into our hearts, it has the power to free us from sin and breathe new life into our spirits. Let's commit to "hiding it in our hearts" today...and watch his Spirit go to work.
Song of the Day: Word of God Speak, Kutless
What are you wearing today?
Print available here.
Proverbs 31 says quite a bit about the type of clothing the virtuous woman wears. Have you ever read this chapter in The Message version of the Bible? I smiled the whole way through it as I read it. Her clothing is well-made and in good repair...but most of all, she is clothed with something far more important than fabric and linens.
She is clothed with strength and dignity.
She carries herself with honor.
She respects herself for who she is and she respects the job she handles with grace.
I've got laundry on my list of things to do today, as well as a run to the grocery store and work in my office. I've been thinking about being clothed with strength and dignity as I finished this art piece yesterday, and it's made me want to go about my tasks with a new attitude.
Today's Small Thing is to clothe yourself with strength and dignity.
You are uniquely gifted and beautifully made. Respect your role as a woman enough to dress attractively, even if you are at home with no one to see you. Let your words be positive and uplifting to others, and choose to do right. Take on your tasks with enthusiasm and delight. Hold your head high and know that you are the woman God created you to be.
What is on your To Do list today? How will "clothing yourself with strength and dignity" change the way you view your role as a woman, a wife, a worker, a friend? List one or two ways you can "put on" a new attitude.
Song of the Day: You Alone, Kim Hill
Note: This artwork is also available in my store as a canvas print.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Sufficient grace. I've been thinking a lot about that lately.
Somehow I've always sort of thought that "sufficient grace" meant "just barely enough" grace, as if God was doling out scant measures of grace and when you had your limit He'd say, "you've had enough, now move along." And then leave you to figure out how to budget the grace you were given to last through your trial or circumstance.
But what 2 Corinthians 12:9 is really saying is that sufficient grace means there is ALWAYS enough grace to meet your need. Like a deep, bottomless well you can drink from as often and as deeply as you want. If you need more, there is more.
There is always enough. More than enough.
God's grace is infinite. Unending. Unrelenting. Unwavering.
His grace is enough for whatever you are going through today. No matter how difficult the "thorn in your side," as Paul experienced, His grace will sustain and strengthen you. It will flow over you and through you. You see, the end of this verse says, "my power is made perfect in weakness," and then Paul goes on to say that he actually glories in his weakness because it magnifies God's power.
Somehow we tend to think that we must have the strength or ability to meet our challenges on our own. Or, like Paul we keep asking God to remove our trials from us so that we can really get on with glorifying Him. We forget that the end of our own strength is the beginning of His power. And that He who has called us will be faithful to perform it. If we were doing all the work ourselves - by our own strength - there wouldn't be any room left for His glory. He allows us to be in circumstances that require us to be dependent on Him and His grace and power.
Most times we simply forget the power of His grace. But you see, His grace changes us so that we can see the eternal purpose in the midst of our temporary trial. His grace carries us when we can't take another step on our own and it sustains us when we feel the weakest. His power is completing and perfecting you, even when you can't see it happening.
Today's Small Thing is to thank God for His infinite grace.
As you go through your day, simply be aware of His presence with you. His grace is at work in you - creating a beautiful tapestry that brings glory to Him in every circumstance and situation.
The artwork today is for you to enjoy. You can download it, copy and paste it, give it to a friend or frame it. Let it be a reminder of His infinite grace in your life.
How are you experiencing His grace in your life today?
Song of the Day: Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) Chris Tomlin
**UPDATE** This giveaway is extended through Sunday @10 pm CST. WOOT!
**AND** Jurgen is giving a special gift to everyone who leaves a comment so get those comments/tweets/FB likes in. You won't want to miss out!
I love great music - as you probably have noticed from my very eclectic daily song selection. Some of my favorite things to listen to are film scores, and I often picture scenes from the movies as I listen. Wow, music makes a movie come to life, doesn't it?
Jurgen has written the film scores for several Christian films like Standing Firm and The Penny. He truly knows how to bring a story to life through music - and how to TELL a story through music...without using a single word. "Reflections" is an instrumental CD that takes the listener on a journey to the Father's heart and it's terrific. I'll tell you how to win the CD at the end of the post, but first I thought I'd invite Jurgen to tell us a little about it in his own words: (Note: Jurgen was born in Germany but came to Texas asap...so be sure to read his answers with a slight German accent!)
Jurgen, what was your inspiration for writing the music for this album?
The main inspiration for the album series came from a desire to create music that could be used for healing specific areas in the listener’s life.
Music is a phenomenon that has no parallel. It can affect us in an instant. It can put us into a certain mood, or get us out of one. It has the ability to magnify our emotions. We can't escape its effect and often don't even notice when it happens. We love music, we also hate certain music. Those are emotional responses.
As a film composer, I observe how film music affects the viewer and tells them how they ought to feel about a film scene. I had a desire to create music that plays like a film, but instead of having the images pre-packaged and presented to the listener, I wanted to allow them to create their own story surrounding the music. Sort of like reading a good book where your mind paints the setting of the story.
The albums are designed to be used during quiet times of meditating on Scripture. I am trying to carve out time to write companion booklets to help the listener get started.
What do you hope the listener experiences through Reflections - The Father?
Each album in the series has a main theme, with the individual tracks addressing specific areas, allowing the Holy Spirit to point out certain aspects in the listener’s life. The first release titled “The Father” was born out of a desire to help reshape how we perceive God as a Father.
We often have blinders on when we approach God, shaped by experiences with father figures in our lives. Bad experiences tend to cause us to perceive God in a negative light and keep us captive to those emotions and perceptions.
While the music itself is not able to bring freedom and a new insight, the desire is for the listener to experience it by meditating on Scripture in conjunction with letting the music guide those emotional responses.
We have had wonderful reports of how the music is being used. There are massage therapists that play the music in their practice, while others pass the album to their friends who are hurting emotionally. We have a ladies group that frequently requests listening to the album in their prayer time. It is quite remarkable what the Lord has done so far.
Do you have a favorite scripture that comes to mind that goes along with the music?
Since each album has a theme, there are several passages in Scripture that are fitting. The listener is encouraged to study God’s Word based on the titles of the individual songs.
The experience in 1 Samuel 16:23 though is the most telling. Whenever Saul was troubled emotionally and spiritually, David’s music would bring relieve. The hope is that the music on these albums does the same to the listener, by assisting in the healing process.
What are some of your recent projects?
As a film composer, I have had the privilege of adding the musical signature to a growing number of Christian films. Among them is the extremely successful “Standing Firm” and other award winning feature and short films.
I also hope to get started on the next album in the “Reflections” series. A friend of ours suggested creating an album for those who have trouble sleeping at night, sort of lullaby music for adults. We’ll see where the Lord leads.
I'm giving away THREE Reflections CD's today. Here is how you can be entered to win:
1. Leave a comment. Simple! You'll be entered in the first drawing.
2. But wait! Double your chance to win by "liking" Jurgen's Facebook page. Now you'll be entered into a SECOND drawing for CD #2.
3. But wait there's more! Triple your chance to win by tweeting, using @JurgenBeck in your tweet. Now you'll be entered in a THIRD drawing for CD #3.
My favorite piece is #9....
If you don't see the player, just click here instead.
PS Jurgen has assured me that he can solve the slipper dilemma by me giving him gift card to a slipper store. Such German ingenuity!