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