Tag Archives: jesus

Podcasts

Recently, I’ve started listening to some podcasts. I know, I know; I’m a several months (years?) late to that party. With young children constantly around me, it’s sometimes hard to listen to spoken word (you know, something that I actually need to pay attention to if I want to comprehend what’s happening), and that’s most of the reason I’m late to the podcast-listening idea. I can’t just turn one on when I get in the car because I usually have several people communicating wth me at once. I don’t need another voice added to the fray. But I’ve really enjoyed getting recommendations from friends about what podcasts are making them think, which ones are encouraging them, or even affecting heart change. So naturally, I’ve started putting in my headphones a little more often, and, you know, crying while I mow the lawn or fold the laundry. It’s almost like reading a book, but I can work on something else while I’m doing it.podcast

It been so interesting to me how God has ordained things in my life, right down to which podcasts I’m listening to. Ever think He doesn’t influence the small things in your life? Just look for connections between your struggles and an innocent book or podcast suggestion made by a friend. I know He is wooing me through different ways every single day, pursuing me by letting me hear from Him even in the oddest of places.

That all being said, I’ll tell you about these podcasts I’m checking out. I started with The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She brings another person (often one of her friends) onto her show and they talk about real life and I have LOVED it. It’s often a faith-based writer or speaker and I can get choked up just hearing them have real conversation about their lives. It’s so fun listening in on a conversation that feels like it would’ve happened the same way, even if they weren’t recording. After I blasted through several episodes of Jamie’s show, I got turned onto That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs. She has similar guests and conversations, but she has a cool perspective, too. Basically what I’ve realized is that these two hosts are writers, they have writers on their shows frequently, and I am totally inundated with books I want to buy/read because of it. And these aren’t usually novels that I can get on my Kindle and just blast through in a few days because they’re easy reads. These are the sort of life-changing books that I want to dig into. I want to have my own paper copy because I like underlining and circling and reading them again and again. For instance, I’ve already ordered Annie’s Let’s All Be Brave and one of her guests’ (John Mark Comer) books called Garden City. I want to hear the Lord speaking to me, I want to learn about Him and others’ experiences with Him and His goodness. Wouldn’t you?

Now don’t think I’m all crazy – I don’t necessarily think that God ordained these people to say things that are meant just for me. But I do think that there is knowledge we can glean from hearing about others’ journeys. I think we can hear from God when hearing someone else talk, teach, preach. I think we are more in tune to His voice than we think, but we often don’t give Him the credit when He speaks to us through the words of others.

Do you have any podcasts that you think I’d like? Please comment with them! I’m LOVING listening to them!!

A Good Friday Prayer

Tonight, I helped lead worship at my church’s Good Friday service, as I’ve done for the past few years. It’s a truly beautiful service, somber, quiet, slow… but not without hope. Our pastors do an incredible job of planning this evening full of dramatic lighting, powerful songs, and the last words of Jesus as he prepared to give his life, and as he hung on the cross. It’s haunting.

When I got home, I was still in the mood the service had left me in. I was lost in thought, as I had been on and off all day. Good Friday has always been a sobering day for me. But as I put my youngest son to bed, I started to sing him one of the songs we had sung in the service. It’s appropriately called “Passion Song”, written by some friends of our worship pastor. (Click that link. It will bless your soul to hear it.) It’s based on John’s view of how Jesus’s last week went down. The pastor who spoke just before the song presented it perfectly, emphasizing how Jesus was John’s very best friend, the only person who had ever known him so completely. Here are the words, so you can see the powerful emotion packed in them…

I was with Him when He rode into town
And the crowds gathered round Him like a King
Their smiling faces joined a sea of branches waving
Though they were masquerading in the end

And my heart rose in my throat
When I heard them sing
Hosanna in the highest
Oooh oooooh oh

We went upstairs broke the bread and drank the wine
From the only living vine that we would taste
And I watch them take Him up the mountainside
Where He was crucified though innocent
And they mocked Him and cursed Him with their mouths
And told Him to come down if He was God

And my heart broke in my chest
When I heard Him say
Forgive them it is finished
Oooh oooooh oh

I remember in the garden
When He sweat like drops of blood
And how He begged the Father
Just to let Him pass the cup
I can still feel the anguish
When they pierced Him in the side
And how the ground beneath us shook
Upon the very moment that He died
Oooh ooh oh oh oh

Three days later we found an empty grave
And the stone was rolled away where He had been

Tears of joy streamed down my face
When the angel said
Oh fear not He is risen
Oh fear not He is risen
Oooh ooh ooh oooh oh oh oooh

You can see how this song would be lingering in my psyche, right? So I’m singing it to my son, as I’m settling him in for bed. And when I finally wipe the (my) tears away, and get to his goodnight prayer, I began to pray like always, and for some reason, I was led to utter the words, “…and thank You for giving Your Son. I could never give my son.”

And I cried some more.

You see, the sacrifice is beyond what any one of us could do. In the Old Testament, Abraham was told to sacrifice his son. Whether he would’ve (or could’ve) actually gone through with it we’ll never know. There was a ram in the thicket, and God was preparing, even then, to give His very own son to save the world. Jesus willingly gave his life to pave the way for us to enter into fellowship with his Father. One of our pastors this evening titled it “a beautiful exchange”. His life for ours. What else could possibly be a better exchange for us?

Musings About Prayer

How do you pray? How often? Whose words do you use – yours? The Bible’s? Those of a trusted pastor? These are questions I struggle with every time I try to pray. I think all answers are valid, and ones that I haven’t thought of are, too. I think prayer is something that evolves as your relationship with the Lord evolves, and that’s a good thing.

I find that oftentimes, when I remember to pray is when I am asking for something. I’ve just heard that someone is sick or hurt. I’m having a hard time being patient with my kids. Or, I’m praying to stave off difficulties or issues in an upcoming situation. Either way, I’m asking the Lord to do my will. Or asking Him to help me with something. Or I’m just plain hoping that His will and my will are the same.

Why would I ever put the Lord in a box like that?

I am all about giving the Lord my honesty: all of my feelings, my fears, my hopes. He’s a big God, and he can handle those things. I can pray continually – without ceasing! (1 Thess. 5:16) – and I can pray about anything and everything (Eph. 6:18). But what I want to pray more often is for HIS WILL to be done, not mine (1 John 5:14). I know He has a plan more wonderful than I can imagine, and while it seems trite to only pray for that, that’s what He loves to hear! “I trust You! Your plan is perfect! I want for me and mine what YOU want for me and mine!” There is nothing greater we could tell Him than how awesome He is, and how we trust Him.

In alignment with praying, I think that worship (all kinds of worship!) can be prayer, also. Taking the sacrament is an act of prayer, communicating with God, a covenantal practice. Musical worship can be prayer; the words and melodies sung and played are indeed a prayer, especially when we know we need to connect with God but don’t necessarily have the words we desire to say.  I love James 5:13 – “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” Prayer and praise often go hand in hand. Don’t just pray when you need something (I’m talking to myself, here!) but also pray when you are happy, pray when you are sad, mad, glad, tired, and full of joy. Pray without ceasing, depend fully and always on the Lord.

For me, to pray without ceasing is an act of submitting my will, my words, my actions to Him. This is me saying, “Lord, I can’t do this (anything!) without You.” I know I’m flawed, I’m a sinner, I need and desire His grace and mercy. As in Psalm 40: Come Lord, and pull me out of the muck and the mire; set my feet on solid ground.

Some Thoughts on Evangelism.

Evangelism is something that used to scare me. In my youth, to me it meant that we would go around handing out gospel tracks, or randomly starting conversations with people, so that we could pray with them, hoping to lead them to Jesus. It had less to do with fostering a love of Jesus or a desire to worship him, and more of a way to get another tick on our evangelist’s counter.

As you might imagine, this didn’t work very well for me.

As an adult, the word still scares me a little bit, because I don’t quite know how to put my feelings into words. The scars are still there from my misinterpretations as a youth. But there is so much hope, for me and for you, to be able to overcome the scars of myself and others, and continue on into the love of Jesus in a true sense, and then share it with the world.


Recently, during my quiet time (I’ve been studying through the Psalms, in case you didn’t know) I was convicted as I read Psalm 71. I’ll put the part I’ll focus on here so you don’t have to look it up…

Psalm 71:14-18
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.

Well, I have to begin by saying that the psalmist surely stirred up some excitement and laid a healthy burden on me to share more of the Gospel. Our mouths should tell of His righteous acts and deeds of salvation! We should proclaim His wondrous deeds and His might! It not only encourages our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only spreads the truth of the Gospel to all ears, but it fosters our believing but sometimes wayward hearts by proclaiming and declaring what we know to be true.

Let’s talk for a moment about “proclaim” and “declare”. As a worship leader, sometimes I am moved during a song to encourage the congregation to proclaim or declare some of the lyrics we’re singing. There’s a slight difference between those words, and so it’s important to do both, sometimes. To proclaim is to announce something openly, publicly, and officially. To declare is to solemnly and emphatically say something. Another definition even says to reveal one’s intentions or identity. To proclaim the righteousness of fearsome and loving God, and the salvation attainable through Christ Jesus are things that should be proclaimed, shouted from the pulpits, platforms, and rooftops. To declare that death has been defeated, and that we are made new in Christ is a truth that can reveal our identity, and alter our intentions.

So as I read those verses of Psalm 71, and then read them again, and then prayed them then and there over my life and my vocation, I was convicted. I was reminded that we, as followers of Jesus, are called to live by his example, which was indeed proclaiming God’s righteousness and mighty acts, proclaiming His wondrous deeds to every generation and all those to come. In one of the books I’m reading (Lioness Arising. Lisa Bevere. Find it. Buy it. Devour it as I have done.) she encourages us to use our circles of influence to share God’s truths and Jesus’s words. While I’m on the platform, every Sunday, worshiping the Lord, and hopefully bringing everyone in that journey alongside me, I have even more opportunity than I allow myself (or at least remember that I have) to actually speak Scripture and truth into the congregation. I have this very site where I share funny quips from my kids and what we ate for dinner last week, but I shouldn’t neglect the possibilities this site provides for the sharing of God’s Word. I have family members, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes strangers that I can come alongside and encourage, pray for/with, and speak truth into. Why should I be scared of being an evangelist? Why should I be nervous to do what Jesus did?

Light in the Darkness

This morning, as I started to read my devotional and get into the Word, I realized there was a common theme of my study today. Doubtless, it’s a common theme throughout the Bible in general, but it seemed like today in particular I was being bathed in the concept of “light”.

The two scriptures that I wrote out in my journal (above, and yes, please excuse my writing mistakes, ha!) are two that I’ve heard before. They are familiar, and sometimes that means they get a little stale… not because they lose their meaning, but because we get desensitized to their power. So today, as I read them anew, I prayed to not be desensitized to the Word of God.

The Bible has innumerable passages about light. Some are just brief mentions, some mean “light” in the natural (sunlight, moonlight, firelight) and some mean “light” in a spiritual sense. Here, and in most cases, Isaiah refers to Jesus… Jesus has come. He is our light. He appears over you in His glory. I love that the heading for Isaiah chapter 60 is “The Glory of Zion”. Metaphorically speaking, the glory of God in the man Jesus has come to earth to bring healing and hope and LIGHT.

I always love the tension between light and darkness in verses like this. Darkness cannot exist where there is light. It is IMPOSSIBLE. Where there is a light, especially a light as bright as Jesus, there can be no true darkness. There are shadows, but no impenetrable darkness. Moving forward to John 1:5, I love the different words that are used in the second half. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” That’s the most common word, but in some other translations (overcome was in my ESV) we see comprehended, understood, apprehended, and extinguished. This light, the light that  shines straight into our own personal darkness, and also the same light that shines into the darkness that seems to run rampant in our world, that light cannot be understood, or fought, or dampened, or extinguished. Put simply, that light won’t be put out. It will triumph over the darkness. It has already done so!

One last little piece that was a huge encouragement to me was Isaiah 60:3: Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. My prayer and the prayer of many fellow Christians is that our world leaders would be leading in a God-glorifying way. That they would love as Jesus loved. That they would come to the light, and the brightness of His dawn. Isaiah was a prophet. He speaks words that are coming true and have already come true. We pray for our leaders to be in tune with how God is leading them, changing them, and shepherding them. We cannot possibly know or understand God’s will and the way He works, and this discourages some. But take heart: His light permeates the darkness, it won’t be extinguished, and He is already playing out the victory that He has won. He’s been working on this since the beginning of time! Trust Him to see it through.

Isaiah 9:1-7 (ESV)
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 
The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Stir It Up -Finding My Calling as I Go

As I was reading and having some quiet time yesterday afternoon, an image came to me, and I just had to stop and pray about it. I was led to pray for God to “stir up” my calling within me. I haven’t ever had a single moment in my life where I thought, This is it! This is the thing that I’m supposed to do forever! I’ve had many times where I’ve really been enjoying a job or a season or a ministry with which I’ve been involved. But I don’t know that any of those things ever resulted in a clear “Aha!” moment.

However, I do think that I’ve been easing into my calling for years. I love music. I love worship. I love Jesus. I love my husband and my kids. Just recently, I’ve been made aware (through His grace and a little bit of providence) that I love women’s ministry. I’m reading two books right now (Wild and Free by Hayley Morgan and Jess Connolly, which I’m almost done with, but I just can’t read more than a little bit at a time because I cry a lot, and Lioness Arising, by Lisa Bevere) that are focused on women, and focused on freedom in Jesus to be who He has called you to be. These books are changing my thoughts about women and ministry, and women’s ministry. I am learning that freedom and wildness is what Jesus wants for us, especially as women, where we can feel so bound by our roles (familial, cultural, etc) and the chains that come with them. The most beautiful thing about us, as women who follow Jesus, is that we are all different. We have things that we’re good at, and not so good at, things we love, and things we don’t like to do as much. We are fierce, whether loudly or quietly. We are called and equipped and FREE to do His will, and that’s an incredible (and overwhelming) feeling. These books, coupled with the Scriptural references within, are truly opening my eyes to a new way of thinking about myself and how Jesus sees me.

So when I felt like He was leading me to pray for a “stirring up” of my calling, I pictured it this way: there are lots of pieces of me – things that I’m good at, things I love, and spheres of influence that I have been welcomed into. There are all these ingredients for Him to work with, as He is crafting me into a woman of His own design and His own purpose. What will it all hold for me? I don’t know yet. But I am praying now more than ever that I will be cognizant of His call, sensitive to His voice, and willing to go wherever it is He would have me go. And isn’t it usually true that it’s going to be uncomfortable along the way? I’ve been praying about that, too.

You see, I have had this idea about what I should be doing with my church job, my blog, my family, my friends. I felt like I had found a good niche with all of these things. But I’m learning that it can grow stale if I don’t listen to what He is telling me. (Disclaimer: I’ve not been unhappy in any of these situations. I’m just learning to grow in them instead of stagnate.) I truly do want Him to stir up a calling. I want Him to take all the ingredients of which I am made, and have Him stir it up into something for His good.

So let it be, Lord. Stir it up within me. Make me into a wild, fierce woman for Your kingdom.

40 Things for Which to Be Grateful

While I’ve been doing this NaBloPoMo, it’s been interesting to see what I have to write about. I decided for the last day in November, I’d write forty things I was thankful for. So here they are. 

1. The roof over my head. A roof that is also known to be atop a hospitable place, known at least for good food and friendly faces, if not insurmountable messes.

2. The clothes on my back. I am always dressed in clothes without holes, appropriate for the weather, and typically at least a little bit stylish. I can be grateful for each of those things, and the incredible blessing that is all three.

3. My little big girl. At four and a half, EK challenges me every single day to be a better mama, have more patience, and pray about everything. I can see that my strong-willed daughter will be much like I was growing up, and I must prepare my heart for what is to come. But I am also immeasurably grateful for her heart, her energy, her intelligence, and her defiance, because they make her who she is. And who she is is wonderful.

4. My marvelous middle child. Even at not quite three, I can see J’s sweetness and gentle heart blessing others. While he certainly has his moments (I mentioned he was two, right?), he is generally thoughtful and kind. I don’t know how he does it, when the dominating females in his life have little patience (I mentioned EK and I are the same, right?) but he lives with us well. Just like his daddy.

5. My miraculous baby boy D. Spending a month not knowing whether you would live to see us or not was the scariest thing I have ever done, and I will be forever thankful for your healthy, joyous self. So full of smiles and giggles, you are the sunshine of our lives.

6. My kind and talented Hubby. He loves me unconditionally, and is a true saint in the way he treats me and puts up with my messy heart. He is patient with me when I am at my worst. He is an incredible father to our children, and I look up to him in every possible way.

7. The sheer number of good friends we have in our town. We have countless friends, new and old, that we love to hang out with, and that we could depend on in a time of need.

8. My church family. I really, really do consider myself blessed (#blessed, y’all) with a huge group of people who do life alongside me, who encourage me, teach me, push me, challenge me, and celebrate with me.

9. My women’s small group. These women are fun, insightful, encouraging, and genuine. We often have deep discussions, but we also enjoy hanging out together. Those are both so important, and I’m thankful for them and their discipleship alongside me.

10. My community group. These families are kind, funny, loving and helpful. We get together a couple of times a month, but I always find myself wishing we hung out more often.

11. The Bible. I know it sounds a little cliche for a Christian to say they’re thankful for the Bible, but I really am grateful for the comfort, encouragement, and conviction it provides.

12. My jobs. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed at the loosey-goosey, different-every-day nature of my jobs, and I often remember to do something or attend a meeting at the last minute. But these jobs allow me to spend an immense amount of time with my children and my husband. I am very grateful for that.

13. Food on the table. In the fridge. In the pantry. In my belly. Many people in this world – a staggering percentage – do not have enough of this basic thing of which I have an abundance.

14. Clean water. So many places do not have this luxury that we as Americans take completely for granted!

15. Sunshine. It is healing. I know, I know… it also could get you burned, but I think just knowing it’s right outside the window can make you feel better than a rainy, dreary climate.

16. Coffee. That precious, delicious treat that borders on necessity. Whether I make it, Hubby makes it, or the local barista makes it, I do so love it.

17. Wine. That deep red, or that bubbly… it’s a perfect addition to dinner or a snuggle on the couch watching TV. It’s certainly not a necessity, but it sure is a nice treat.

18. My family. For this one, I mean the dynamic between the five people that live in my house. We love each other and play well together. Sometimes we fight and get on each others’ nerves, but that won’t really go away. We work through it and move on. We love being together and for that I’m thankful.

19. My family. Like, the extended, everyone’s included family. I’ve got the best parents, brother, grandmother, and more I could ever ask for. They might live far away, but I love to see them!

20. My in-laws. You guys, I really hit the jackpot with in-laws. It’s a HUGE family, and I love every single person in it. I’ve got cousins, aunts, and uncles galore now, and also three more brothers, three sisters, and adorable nieces and nephews. I win on the family thing.

21. Music. It makes me feel all the feels. It relaxes me. It allows me to be in community with others in a special way.

22. Running and exercise. This is huge for me, since I use it as a stress reliever. I like being healthy enough to go on a run, blow of some steam, and sweat the feelings out.

23. Leggings and boots. They cover a multitude of sins (like not really wanting to be dressed, and feeling fat).

24. My health. I might not be the healthiest person in the world, by choice or genes, but I am far from unhealthy. I exercise, eat fairly healthy, and have been blessed with little sickness or other issues in my life. I’m thankful for that!

25. My car. I am blessed to be able to get from point A to point B with three children in tow. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to use public transportation with three kids under 5!

26. The right to vote. And to take birth control. And to drive, to stand up for myself, to work, to not work, to make money, to spend money, to be a person who can have any life I want. Women have come a long way. I’m particularly thankful for the right to vote this year, when it seems to have mattered a little bit more.

27. Technology. It’s proven to be dangerous sometimes, and when used incorrectly it can be awful. But it’s nice to be able to do things like check the weather, talk to friends, take pictures, and look up recipes all on my phone.

28. Heat. I’m particularly thankful for this one at this time of year, when it finally has gotten cold here. I’m thankful I don’t have to be chilly at night.

29. Gifts. The fact that we are able to buy gifts for our family and friends without worrying about what we gave up.

30. Humor. We love bent funny in our family. All things silliness are a blessing to me.

31. My love of reading. I truly do love getting lost in a book. It’s an enjoyable activity for me, and has been all my life. I hope I can pass it along to my kids!

32. Books. In addition to my love of reading, I suppose I should be thankful for what I read. I have learned so many things, been transported so many places, and felt so many emotions (all the feels!) due to the books I’ve read.

33. Sunshine. What a mood lifter! I never tire of seeing the sun.

34. God’s glorious creation. He has crafted each colored leaf, each ocean wave, each mountain’s peak, and ray of sunshine into a perfect masterpiece.

35. Modern medicine. I am thankful for vaccines and medicines that keep my family healthy, and the access I have to pretty much whatever we need.

36. The fact my kids are siblings. I love that they’re learning to share, love, give, and solve problems alongside each other. They are fiercely loyal to each other and rude to each other all at the same time. Perfect.

37. The holidays. I love seeing my family, Hubby’s family, lots of friends, and my kids all together. I love celebrating (no matter the reason) and I love all the sparkles and lights this time of year. I love sharing the wonder with my children, and helping them learn about why we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas (and other holidays as well). It’s such a warm and fuzzy time of year right now!

38. Dessert. Specifically cookies. My favorite. I don’t need to explain myself. 

39. The rain. What a cleansing and healing thing for the earth, and often for my soul. Especially thankful for it in the mountains right this moment. 

40. My town. Y’all, I love Winston Salem. I love this community, the diversity, the cool spots and nice places, the parks and playgrounds, the shopping, the eating, the beauty of a perfectly sized downtown. I just love it.