Sunday, August 12, 2012

Your Hands

I realize that it's been a while since my last post.  I've been spending more of my time practicing my guitar and learning how to play Christian music myself.  I often try to write about songs here that are moving me at the time...sometimes it's because they are new songs, or perhaps it's one of those old ones that I draw on when times are tough.  There's a song that I've been returning to this last week because we have a close family member in the USA that is battling cancer right now.  It's breaking our hearts that we are not home to help her and comfort her.  But it is comforting for me to know that she is in God's hands during this crisis.  Here's "Your Hands," by JJ Heller.
I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still
Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave you
When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave
I never leave your hands

I leave you today with a Psalm that has grabbed my attention upon reflection of this song.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, you lay your hand upon me. 

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139: 1-10

Friday, July 6, 2012

Center of It

I heard this song on KLOVE today and I just had to share it.  Perhaps it's because here in England we are having the rainiest summer ever...some of the words caught my attention.  Many mornings I wake up to a dark, rainy day.  It's starting to get hard to keep my spirits up.  But songs like this can help lift me up.  God is in the center of it all, no matter what darkness is in your life, or what brightness you are experiencing....He is there! Her is "The Center of It" by Chris August.

in the dark, in the light
in the morning, in the night
in the good, in the hurt
in the places I hide
when I rise, when I fall
you'll be there through it all
at the start, at the end
in the center of it

I hope that you are having a great week!  And if not, maybe this song will turn your day around.  God Bless you all from the soggy UK.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

You Never Let Go

Last Sunday the worship team at church led this song "You Never Let Go," by Matt Redman.  It had been several weeks since we had been to church, and I also had a few sad days in that time.  I still struggle at times with missing my old life in the United States.  I am struggling much less than I was months ago, but I still have days here and there when I am feeling a bit low.  So last Sunday, I was not singing as part of the worship team, I was standing and singing with my family.  When we began singing this song, by the time we got to the chorus I was overcome with emotion and could sing no more.  I just listened.

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the earth

I think music is a way for God to speak to us.  I heard this song just at the right time.  This song provided me with great comfort that God is with me, holding me wherever I am, whether it be in one of my "highs" or "lows."  So I hope that this song is a comfort to you as well, wherever you are, whatever your life is like right now, God is with you and he won't let go.

God bless you all,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Proof of Your Love

This week's song is very new and has been playing on the radio a bit lately.  It's by For King & Country, and it's called "The Proof of Your Love."

One of the things I do to serve the church is to help out with the Senior Youth group.  Every week the teens get to hang out with each other, play games, catch up, and we spend about half an hour having a discussion about a Christian topic in the middle of the fun.  This past week the topic was: "How do you live like a Christian?"

So of course all of the obvious, straight forward answers come up when you ask the kids: read the bible, go to church, pray, don't swear, talk to others about Jesus, etc.  For me, when I think about living a Christian life, one word comes to mind: LOVE.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.  One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied: "'Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Matthew 22:34-40

One of the main messages that Jesus had for us was that God loves us, He wants us to love him and love eachother.  For those who are looking for the "meaning of life," this might just be it!

If I sing but don't have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise
If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don't have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say

If I give
To a needy soul but don't have love then who is poor?
It seems all the poverty is found in me

When it's all said and done
When we sing our final song
Only love remains
Only love remains

Let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You're made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love

This song reminds me that love is the most important part of life.  "When it's all said and done, only love remains."  Whether it be our love for God, His love for us, love for our spouse, parent, child, our neighbor....this is what makes life fulfilling....loving others, feeling love from others, sharing the love of God with the world. 

And as we share our love, we can be the proof to the world that God is real, He loves us, and wants us to be close to Him.  So may your love be the "proof" to those in your life. Don't ever forget the power that your love can have.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Life is Beautiful

Happy Mother's Day to all you American and Canadian mommies out there! This week's song is a new one by The Afters, a song that will help you reflect on all your blessings. This life that God has given us really is beautiful.
"Life is Beautiful" is from a movie called October Baby, which I have not yet seen, is about a girl that finds out she the adopted survivor of an attempted abortion.

The words of this song are really comforting to me.  When I listen to it I just think about the little things that are so beautiful in my life.  As a mother, of course I see beauty in each of my children every day.  But if I make a conscious effort I can look for beauty everywhere I go and in every person I meet. 

So I hope when you listen to this song, it helps you to make a conscious choice to see and feel the beauty in life.

God Bless you all!  Have a beautiful week!

Sunday, April 29, 2012


So we've had a lot of rain here I'm seeing the weather that England is typically known for! Today was particularly wet, and windy....and though I'm a bit tired of the rain, I found myself thanking God for the rain this morning in our worship team prayers at church.  Not only did I thank God for the rain because of all the good that it does for nature, but the symbolism that the rain provides us...cleansing, purifying, leading to new growth, new life, new perspective.
This week's song is called "Closer" by Shawn McDonald. It's a bit of an extension of the last song I shared...moving beyond "the motions," beyond the "mundane".

Looking for a color in a shade of gray,
Looking for a love in a drop of rain.
Trying to find change from the old mundane.
Everything I do just feels the same.

So today, on this dreary, rainy day I was able to find "love in a drop of rain."  To feel a a bit closer to the God who created this miraculous place called earth and everything on it.  This song reminds me of my desire to just be closer to God, my desire to understand Him, trust in Him and listen carefully for his guidance. 

Spending my life out in the weather.
Been gone so long and I need some shelter.

When we finally find the shelter that God gives us from the weather of life, we can feel so peaceful. Like this afternoon when the wind was blowing, the rain was whipping, and we just snuggled up in the warmth of home for the rest of the day.  This sheltered afternoon at home gave me comfort in being with my family and appreciating all of the blessings in my life.  The shelter provided by my Lord also gives me comfort in knowing that I am loved by Him, and that He will take care of me.

I just want to be closer to you.
I just want to be closer.
I am yours.
You can have all of me,
Anything, everything.
I just want to closer.
May you feel the shelter of God today, regardless of the weather, and find ways to get closer to Him so that you can feel the warmth of His embrace.

God bless you all, and have a great week!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Motions

"The Motions" by Matthew West, though a couple of years old, is still one of my favorites.  It can be interpreted in many ways depending on your life, your circumstances, your relationships.  What I had not realized was that the video that Matthew made for this song tells the story of a time of fear in his life, a time when he had to really trust God with his not "go through the motions" of being faithful, but really live it.
We all go through seasons in life when we don't feel as connected to God.  Perhaps it's because something happened in our life that is disturbing our faith. Perhaps we can't explain why, we're in a routine, caught up in our busy lives, focused on day to day.  It can be easy to find ourselves "going through the motions."

I have to admit that I've been feeling like that a bit lately.  Sometimes I find that the routine practices of faith, like forced prayer at certain times, recited prayer, some religious routines can result in me forgetting about the meaning.  It helps for me to break the routine once in a while and do things differently.  Eventually I may go back to my routines, but then hopefully I'll be refreshed in understanding why I do them.

It's not a good feeling when you realize that you're just going through the motions.  But I'm at least grateful that I can recognize when I am so that I can make a change.  It might mean making changes in my life, changing priorities, taking a risk.  God doesn't want us to "go through the motions," he wants us to live this life with passion, His passion.

I pray that you aren't going through the motions this week, that you do feel God's presence in your life, a connection with Him in your prayers.  God bless, and have great week.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Sorry for missing last week. I've been entertaining my parents this past week and doing some castle hopping! Well, Easter Sunday has finally arrived. I've been holding on to this song...waiting until Easter to share it with you because it is likely my favorite Easter song. The song is called "Redeemer" and it's by Nicole C. Mullen. It's an oldie, but I think it will forever hold a place in my music favorites.
I'm not going to write a whole bunch this week, I just want to share this song with you. I hope it reminds you of the amazing gift that the Creator of the Universe (!) has given to us all. Jesus is alive in heaven with the Father now, and alive living in us here on earth. Happy Easter everyone! He is risen!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

All This Time

I'm excited to share a song with you this week that is relatively new.  If you have Christian Radio near you, you've probably heard it lots already.  It's a catchy tune, and I think you'll like it.  This song is called "All This Time," by Britt Nicole.
I think I've said in previous posts how I'm very fortunate to have lived a life relatively free of tragedy and pain.  Yes, I've had my struggles, but as I look back on them I recognize that they are nothing compared to the challenges that many other people face.  I know some of you, my readers, are going through very difficult times right now.  Times that could test your faith, and also times that could bring you closer to God. 

As I listen to Britt Nicole sing this song, one special person comes to my mind.  This person has faced some scary moments in recent months and it's these moments and the help of a good friend that have caused her to turn to God for perhaps the first time.  Sometimes we just reach that point where there is nothing else to do but acknowledge and trust a power that is beyond ourselves to get us through an overwhelming situation. 

I remember the moment
I remember the pain

So I think of this woman, because I believe that this may be her "moment." This is the moment where she will see that God is with her.  She will get through this situation and I pray that she will look back on this period in her life and realize that He was with her "all this time."

All this time
From the first tear cried
To today's sunrise
And every single moment between
You were there
You were always there
It was You and I
You've been walking with me all this time

I pray that if this song doesn't apply to you now, that it eventually will.  God is walking with you now, on your best days and on your darkest.  You are not alone. 

You might feel the emotion of the song more by watching a recent performance in the video below.  God Bless!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This Is Your Life

Today in church we were learning about Paul and his life changing experience on the road to Damascus. The pastor mentioned how many people don't experience such a life altering event like Paul did, completely and instantly changing the direction of one's life...some would say "doing a 180."  You see, Paul was a persecutor of Christians, he supported the killing of Jesus' followers!  And after this "Damascus Road" experience he instantly became a Christian Leader, a disciple of Jesus, and his subsequent missions led to the widespread communication of the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We are not all called to be world traveling missionaries for God, but we all do have a purpose in God's Kingdom.  Over time there are moments in our lives that we may choose to evaluate whether we are serving that purpose. Sometimes it's so hard to know what our purpose is!  I believe that our purpose in God's Kingdom can change over time as we go through different phases of our lives.

So this week's song is an oldie from 2004..."This Is Your Life," by Switchfoot.  This song always is a reminder to me to make sure that I am going in the right direction, and a call to action to adjust my path if I'm not.

One of the phrases I like the most in this song is "yesterday is dead and over."  Like Paul, it is possible to totally abandon our past sins, our mistakes and move forward in a new direction.

As I listen to this song, I would add one thing...not only "are you who you want to be?" but also, "are you who God wants you to be?"  To know that, we really do need to do some listening to understand what our path should be.  This is something that I really struggle with.  Sometimes I wish God would just talk to me in a loud clear voice like He did with Paul, come to me in a dream or something, give me a clear sign.  I can only conclude that the journey of discovering our purpose though our own trials and the subtle nudges of our Heavenly Father may prove to be more meaningful and rewarding than if we were just handed the answers on a silver platter.

I pray that you will come to know your purpose, if you don't already, and that you will stay on the right path, making corrections along the way.  I hope that you are working towards being the person that you want to be and that God wants you to be.   I know many of you are on this road, this journey of faith with me, not having all the feels great to have travel buddies.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Phillipians 2:13

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A More Beautiful You

This week I learned that a daughter of someone I know in church struggles with an eating disorder.  She's doing alright now, but has friends from her support group that are in serious trouble.  So I have this young woman in my mind as I choose this week's song, "A More Beautiful You," by Jonny Diaz.
I would imagine that we all have that little voice in us that tells us we're not good enough sometimes. For some it might be occasional, others every day, and sadly others may hear this voice every hour. It seems like it may be more common in girls, but I don't know...steroid use in boys comes to mind.  I even felt myself giving into that voice a bit today.  Whether it's how we look, how we think others see us, our perceptions of our abilities/skills, there are many opportunities for negative thoughts to creep in and take over, even affect our decisions. 

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn't straight her body isn't fake
And she's always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you've already done
Anything to get ahead
And you say you've got a man but he's got another plan
Only wants what you will do instead

Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come
You starve yourself to play the part
But I can promise you there's a man whose love is true
And he'll treat you like the jewel you are

So yes, this is infuriating that young women get this message from the world that they need to change themselves to be successful, to be loved.  And it is our mission as parents to contradict that message, to enable our children to realize their own beauty given to them by God. 

It breaks my heart that a young woman would hurt herself in hopes of reshaping her body into what the world advertises as "beautiful," or hurt herself when she is not able to achieve that beauty.  Her life may depend on someone helping her to change her path.

So turn around you're not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path go another way
It's not too late you can be saved
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the one who's strong can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light He will show you truth
And again you'll see through the eyes of a little girl

I pray that if you know someone in this situation, that you will be able to help them change their path.  But I want you to also consider this, are you also falling into the trap?  Do you listen to those negative thoughts, and act on them?  Perhaps you don't have an eating disorder, but do you give up on yourself because that voice in your head tells you you're not good enough?  Do you feel ugly?

Believe me, as I do most weeks with this blog, I find myself giving myself advice through these posts, not just you.  I need to realize my own beauty at times when I'm feeling low, and not give in to the negative voice.  I hope you can do the same, because God really does love us JUST THE WAY WE ARE.  We have a purpose, and it is a beautiful one. Believe it, live it, rejoice in it!

God bless you all and have a wonderful week.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Praise You In This Storm

I'm still reflecting on "The Shack" from last week, specifically that question...why is there so much suffering in the world?  Why do horrible tragedies happen to innocent people, to people that love God?  I mentioned last week that I really struggled with the beginning of the book, the horror, the nightmare of any parent, the kidnap and murder of a child.  Our world is filled with these horrors.  Sometimes, likely more than we are aware, God intercedes to save us from them, and others it seems that He does not.  Sometimes we witness miracles, and other times the miracles that we pray for don't come.

The last time I shared this song with someone was when there was a little boy in my town that had been diagnosed with a very rare cancer, and his chances were not good.  I shared this song with his parents, though I have no idea if they listened to it.  I wanted his parents to know that in times like these, God is still with us and we should cling to Him.  This week's song is "Praise You in this Storm," by Casting Crowns.

I'm delighted to say that in the case of the little boy in my home town, a miracle eventually happened, and hundreds of prayers were answered the way that we hoped they would be. This boy and his family did endure a year long storm before this miracle was experienced. As I reflect on my reactions to this book I've recently read, I'm recalling the many storms that I have witnessed or learned of over the last few years.  Babies lost, the deaths of young adults with so much more to give the world, attempted suicide, divorce, disease, a child's life seriously altered by abuse.  Some of these storms are due to the sins of people, others have no known reason. And so the big question could God allow this to happen?

I like how Mark Hall introduces the song, saying that "sometimes He calms the storms in our lives, and sometimes He just rides them with us." I know it's so frustrating to not be able to understand why He chooses the latter.  I don't have the answer.  It can feel like God has abandoned us, but I do think it's so important for all of us to realize that He is still with us experiencing the storm with us.

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

If you're in a storm right now, may you realize that God is right there with you feeling your pain.  He has suffered this pain before, and he will get you through it.  Allow him to hold you and comfort you.  And for those who are not currently in a storm, I pray that when the time comes, you will remember these words and not run from God, but hold Him closer than ever.

I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:20

Saturday, February 25, 2012

7 x 70

I spent my week reading "The Shack," a book written by William Paul Young and published in 2007.  As I mentioned this book to other people this week, I realized I must be the last person to read it.  So many people have told me, "Oh I loved that book."  While I have to admit that it was hard for me to emotionally handle the tragedy that occurs in the beginning, the rest of the book just left me in awe.  It's one of those books that I will keep forever and definitely read again.  Yes, it is a work of fiction, but I gives us a view of God, His love and forgiveness, and the love and forgiveness he wants for us. The book goes through all those challenging questions that so many of us wrestle with and gives some answers that fall right in line with what Jesus' message was for us. 

So as I choose this week's song, I have the messages of this book in mind.  One of the most powerful themes is that God wants us to forgive those who have wronged us, even if it seems that those people are unforgivable.  For most of us that is a tough pill to swallow.  But as I learned in the book, and is described in this song, with forgiveness comes healing. This week's song is by Chris August and is called "7 Times 70."

This was a very personal song for Chris August to write, and it comes from his background of living in a broken family.  But his story of sadness and forgiveness is one that we can all learn from regardless of our situation.  Forgiveness is not easy and it may not come instantly. In "The Shack" God says "you may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely."

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Matthew 18:21-22

Seven times seventy times
I'll do what it takes to make it right
I thought the pain was here to stay
But forgiveness made a way
Seven times seventy times
There's healing in the air tonight
I'm reaching up to pull it down
Gonna wrap it all around

Being able to forgive the minor offenses in every day life quickly can really change your behavior and mentality.  Having the courage and strength to forgive those who have caused you great pain will be harder to do but allow you to move your life out of darkness and into light again.  Forgiving yourself of your own failures and mistakes can possibly be the most difficult kind of forgiveness, but the knowledges that God has already forgiven you can encourage you to take that step.

So if you're being faced with a decision about forgiveness today, I hope this song and these words help you along the way.  And if you don't find yourself being faced with such a decision right now, it's likely that you will at some point....whether its small or something major.  I pray that you will remember this song when that time comes.

If you'd like to learn more about how Chris August wrote this song, check out this link:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

More Like Fallin' in Love

With the Valentine's theme in my brain this week, I thought this song by Jason Gray might be appropriate.  It's called "More Like Fallin' In Love.  I really can't resist these Live Studio Videos from KLOVE, especially when there's amazing guitar playing. For me this song is about being faithful out of love, not obligation.

I had to think about posting this song for a bit, because this song touches on some things that can tend to offend certain people.  Any time there is discussion of "religion" not being perfect, it's bound to cause some people to get defensive.  The last thing that I want is to be misunderstood and for people to think that my choice of this song means that I don't approve of religion or the Church.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  But I do acknowledge that there are some parts of the Christian religion in the world's history, and some that exist today, that can go against what Jesus' message was. Unfortunately, it's those things that have made the word "religion" a bad word for some people.

Give me rules
I will break them
Give me lines
I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet
It ought to be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

Give me words
I'll misuse them
I'll misplace them
'Cause all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free

For me this song is about realizing that our faith in Jesus should be based on our love for God and His love for us, not because it's what we're supposed to do, or because we're afraid of the consequences.  We should go to Church because we want to, because it refreshes us, recharges us, brings us closer to God, not because someone "upstairs" is watching and keeping count.  When we realize that God is a "living, breathing" force in our lives now, and we can have a loving relationship with Him right now, our lives can be transformed.

If you've every experienced falling in love, you know that it consumes your thoughts.  The heart beating in your chest feels different.  Your world feels different.  And that's how it can be when you're in love with Jesus...your life will feel different and he can be a part of your everyday life.

This song also acknowledges that even with our faith, we are all still sinners and though we hopefully are less sinful, we still find ways to go against God's intention for us.  And we pay the consequences here in this life.   This is not always understood by some people outside or even inside the Church.  Sometimes people think that Churches are filled with people who are flawless, or at least trying to appear so.  And so Church can be an intimidating place.

...It's like I'm falling in love, love, love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made
Me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me
Yes, as John tells us:
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

It was God's love for us before we knew him that made us realize our love for Him. So may you realize your love for the Lord, and accept His love for you despite your flaws.  Let that love consume your life beyond the depths of our earthly love that we experience here with our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

No new song this week

Sorry everyone, I'm on holiday this week with my family. Check back next Sunday for a new song and discussion. Have a great week!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Good Morning

This week I'm just going to mix things up a bit.  Over the last few week's the songs have been fairly serious...this week's song was chosen just because it's fun!  Mandisa's "Good Morning" is a song that you'll either love or you'll find it annoying....perhaps depending on whether a you're a morning person or not.  I first discovered this song when I heard that people were calling in to KLOVE requesting it on their morning drives to school.  My kids love this song...we've played it when they wake up, in the car on the way to school...I've even caught my somewhat reserved oldest daughter dancing in her seat with her arms in the air as I watch her in the rear view mirror!
So did that make you want to dance a little bit?  I hope this song picks up your spirits this week, especially at the beginning of each new day.  No matter how hard yesterday was, you can still start each new day fresh, even if it's just with a slightly different perspective to help you through the day to come. 

Today I will leave you with a verse from the Psalms,

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.  Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.  May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.  May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90: 14-17

May you feel His unfailing love and be filled with joy.  God Bless.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Only Grace

First, I must acknowledge that though I try to mix up the artists so that you get to hear a variety, this week I just have to share another Matthew West song.  Sometimes I know days ahead of time what the song will be for the week, but often I haven't decided, or I change my mind based on what I hear on Sunday morning at church and on KLOVE was the case today.

The song "Only Grace," is not a new one but it fits in so well with the sermon that I heard this morning and includes words about starting a new life which usually attracts my ears.  It's about losing the guilt and accepting the gift...

In Romans 5, Paul tells us about the sacrifice that God made for us, even though we didn't deserve it, we didn't love him, we didn't believe in him, we even sinned against him.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5: 6-8

Jesus suffered the most excruciating death for us, without us even knowing it.  His death has paid for our sins no matter what they are, and is bridging the gap between our sinfulness and God's purity.  It's like he is reaching out his hand to us and saying, "it's OK, I've taken care of all your junk, don't worry about it anymore, now come be with me." 

What's amazing to me is that he has given this gift  to everyone, to all of his creation, whether we know it now or not. 

In him we have redemption through blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavishes on us.  With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Ephesians 1: 7-10

He wants to be connected to us, he wants to be with us, living through us here on earth.  As with any gift though, the receiver needs to accept it.  I pray that you have accepted it.  This gift changes your life.  If you have accepted it, are you still feeling guilty, unworthy?

There is no guilt here
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterday…has disappeared
The dirt has washed away
And now it's clear

The pastor in church today told us, "God already did this for us, it is done!"  and Jesus said "It is finished." (John 19:30).  God has given us this gift, he's not still thinking about it, still mulling it over to see if you deserve it...he already decided that you do!  So don't feel guilty about the gift, just rejoice that it was given to you.

You're starting over now
Under the sun
You're stepping forward now
A new life has begun
Your new life has begun

An’ there's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy and believe me…it's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
And there's nothing left now
There's only grace…

As we accept this gift we are faced with a new in which we aspire to be the children that God wants us to be, desire to serve our intended purpose, strive to show God's love to everyone around us. 

Unfortunately, even though we have accepted His Grace, we are still not perfect, not totally pure and we will mess up.  But His grace still lingers, it lasts, and so we can recover from our failures and keep trying to live the life that God wants for us.

And if you should fall again
Get back up, get back up
Reach out and take my hand
Get back up, get back up
Get back up again

My prayer for you today is that you receive God's grace over and over again.  Do not be plagued by guilt for receiving this gift or for feeling like you've failed God.  He forgives you, and wants you to accept His gift with joy.

God bless you all, have a wonderful week!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Learning to be the Light

You have my husband to thank for this week's song...I was worried that I wouldn't find a video for it, it's fairly new and I couldn't find it....but my hubby did!  This week's song is by a great band called NewWorldSon, and I'm amazed that I haven't posted one of their other songs already.  The song is called "Learning to be the Light," and you'll probably recognize that it's a bit of a follow up to last week's song and a reflection of what's been going through my heart and my brain these last few weeks. 

OK, so we know that Jesus was the light of the world, there's numerous Bible references to this, songs that we sing ...even today in Church we sang "Here I am to Worship," which begins...."Light of the world, you stepped out into darkness, open my eyes, let me see..."  He brought and continues to bring light to a dark world.  But we can bring light to this world too....and Jesus wants us to!  Do we need to go back to our childhood..."this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine"?

This past week I was studying the beginning of Acts, before Jesus leaves this world to return to heaven.  He says:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1: 8

I talked last week about how when you are living life the way Jesus taught, you can feel an energy, a power...and it's such a wonderful feeling when you realize that this is the Holy Spirit alive within you....the Light within you.  This power can give you abilities that you didn't think you had, skills that enable you to do things you thought you were never meant to do. (On a personal note, who would have thought that a former engineer who struggled in english classes in college would be writing a blog about God and music 15 years later?)

But what makes you want to be the Light? to be a witness? These words capture it so well:

It's so much brighter living in your world
Savior what you did for me
You gave me something I want everyone to see

When you feel God's grace, when you receive the hope that comes with it, you're living in a brighter world, and you will want to share it.  Whether it's talking about God's love with someone, or showing them God's love through you're own heart.  It's not about's about loving.

When a heart is cold as ice
You can't melt it with advice
No one wants to listen to
A list of things they shouldn't do
So I build a city on a hill
And I light a candle on the sill
Knowing you'll be always knocking at the door
Oh God I just want to love on everyone
All I have is yours to give so let the people come

We're all on a journey here, still learning, struggling, and hopefully growing.  I hope you will take this challenge with me and learn to be more of a Light in this world.  It's definitely not easy all the time, but it's what Jesus wants us to be, and I think he knew it would improve our lives here on earth.  I like to think of it as a privilege, a blessing, an honour to have been given this knowledge and Light so early in my life that I don't have to live as much of my life in darkness.  Let's share this blessing with the world around us.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Own Little World

This week's song was really popular about a year ago.  It had special meaning to me because I was working with our youth group at church to start thinking beyond themselves, to think about people in other parts of the world living in extremely different conditions.  And now today, I find that this song is still sending me an important message that I can use in my daily life. 

The song is called, "My Own Little World," and it's performed by Matthew West, one of my favorite artists who still continues to inspire me. 
In simple terms, I continue to remind myself that Jesus' message was to love God and love people.  So easy to remember, but not necessarily easy to do.  This song reminds me of some verses from one of Jesus' parables.  He is talking about what it will be like when the Son of Man comes in his glory:

The King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father;
take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me."

Then the righteous will answer him. "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"

The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Matthew 25:34-40

Today in church, a man unexpectedly stood up to share a story with the congregation.  He talked about how he had been in the city and someone had approached him asking for some spare change.  The man shared that he just continued walking and did not give the stranger any money (I'm sure he's not alone in his reaction and response).  He then shared with the congregation that he later realized that the man who approached him was Jesus.  He didn't tell us how he knew this, but he talked about his feelings of regret and remorse.  He knows that he will be forgiven, but is stuggling with this awful feeling of having failed God.

God wants us to love each other, he wants us to be compassionate for each other.  It seems like it's so hard to do sometimes...especially with strangers.  These one-on-one encounters with strangers also require a level of trust.  To trust a stranger in a dangerous world....that's tough.

I do believe that we can experience the Kingdom of God when we are in service of others.  I believe that loving God's creation ignites the Holy Spirit within us.  I've felt it myself.  At times when I've been serving others, making a difference in someone else's life...outside my own little world, I've felt so alive, so charged with energy, so alive in Christ. 

But then there are seasons in life when I am less alive, less filled with the Holy Spirit, more focused on myself.  I have to admit right now, with this new life that I have started in the UK I am not in balance.  I have been so focused on my own little world, my life, my family, our challenges and problems which are so minor relative to others in this world.  I've just come to the conclusion that I need to expand my world.  This song has been telling me that over and over, every time I hear it, and now it's finally sinking in.  I need to be more active in bringing God's Kingdom to earth. 

So I share this song with you today, just in case you're feeling like me right now...unbalanced, consumed with the issues of your own life.  Perhaps God is calling you to look outside yourself.  I don't know about you, but I'm going to give it a try.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Love Never Fails

This week's song has been around for a while..."Love Never Fails," by Brandon Heath.  Yesterday my husband walked in the door from work and told me how he was listening to this song and wondering about all those people out there who have suffered pain because of love, how is it that "love never fails."  "Oooh," I thought, "that's a really good question, and something that would make a great discussion."  I then proceded to tell him how I interpreted the song, and those words.  Have a listen, and then I'll share with you my thoughts....

It's true that I have listened to this song when I was dealing with feelings of disappointment about someone I love.  When I felt that my love wasn't reciprocated in the same way.  And that's what my husband's question was about, what about people who love someone so deeply but never receive that love in return?  Is love failing them?  The way that I interpret those words, "Love Never Fails," is that true perfect love is God's love and it is that love that never fails us.  His love will never fail us.  His love is something that is an example of what our love should be like, though it may be impossible for our love to be as perfect as His. 

So when I listen to this song and think about the hurt that I have felt from someone that says they love me or the hurt that I have caused someone that I love, I am reminded that this humanly love is far from being that love that God has for us.  It is not perfect, it will fail us sometimes.  But we can aspire, dream, hope for loving relationships on this earth that will come close to that perfect love.  And if we don't ever find those relationships, we know that we do have the greatest love of all, that of our Maker, our Father, our Counselor.  Though our circumstances that cause us pain may not change the way we want them to, God is always there for us to cry out to, to hold us, to be the ever-forgiving Father that we need. 

This song for me is an extension of the words that likely inspired it, from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians:

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres.  Love never fails.
1Corinthians 13: 4-8

Love is not proud, Love does not boast, Love after all matters the most
Love does not run, Love does not hide, Love does not keep locked inside
Love is the river that flows through, Love never fails you

Love will sustain, Love will provide, Love will not cease at the end of time
Love will protect, Love always hopes, Love still believes when you don't
Love is the arms that are holding you, Love never fails you

Love is right here, Love is alive, Love is the Way, the Truth, the Life
Love is the river than flows through, Love is the arms that are holding you
Love is the place you will fly to, Love never fails you

As I read this again, I realize that I should read this every morning.  If we were to have these verses be our commandment in our daily lives, how different would our lives be? 

May you read these words, listen to this song, and be renewed about the meaning of love, what true love should be.  I pray that you are encouraged, that though it sometimes seems that we are not loved as much as we desire, we are always loved unconditionally by our Lord.  And if we do our best to share His kind of love with those around us, we can truly impact the lives of those around us, and our own as well.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

You Love Me Anyway

With the arrival of another New Year, I am drawn to think of the past year, the great things that happened, the challenges, my failures, what I want to change for next year.  So with all this reflection, some of which is a bit sad, I am so uplifted in knowing that despite my failures, I am starting the new year with the love of Jesus Christ.  And what's even more uplifting is that I know I have started every year with His love, even when I didn't know it, and I will have His love every year, and every day to come.  Despite all my mistakes, there is nothing I can do to make God love me less.  He has shown me this, proved this to me through the sacrifice of His Son. 

And so this week's song is by Sidewalk Prophets, and it's called "You Love Me Anyway." Watch, reflect, and enjoy....

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
Romans 5:6-8

May you realize that in this new year, God loves you and wants your heart, just as you are.  He always has and always will.  We can all work to improve ourselves as disciples, as people, to be more like God's son, but it is not to earn God's love....He already gave us that long ago.

God bless you in 2012!  As an extra treat, here's the official video of "You Love Me Anyway" performed by the Sidewalk prophets.  Enjoy!