Thirst Quencher

I woke up a couple of times this morning before it was time to get out bed. Each time I woke up, the same song would play. Sometimes, as I’ve shared with you before, the words come through loud and clear.  Other times, like this morning, it’s just the melody.

Yesterday, I discovered how a song was playing in the background while all the noises of life initially drowned out the beauty. But not this morning, this morning, the melody played on and serenaded the arrival of a new day.  I googled the only words trying to come through this morning….”come to the water…let me hear….”

Give me your heart
Give me your song
Sing it with all your might
Come to the fountain and
You can be satisfied
There is a peace, there is a love
You can get lost inside
Come to the fountain and
Let me hear you testify

This morning, it was the melody from a NeedtoBreathe song called “Testify”. Last year, I blogged about another morning, another instance, when I could hear the melody but not the words.  It turned out to be the David Crowder song, “Sometimes”. Here are some thoughts from that post, Trusting the Melody

As I thought more about this ability to hear the melody but not the words, I thought about how this is like the journey we call life.

We can hear the melody. We know and trust that it’s beautiful but we have a hard time hearing the words.

And then I thought of those words I couldn’t hear in the song.

“It’s Your love that we adore.
It’s like a sea without a shore.
We’re lost in You.
We’re lost in You.”

His love is like a sea without a shore and we discover the most joy and most peace in our life when we are “lost” in it. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Sounds like things that would make you panic…a sea without a shore and being lost. Yet, if we are swimming around in His love it’s the most beautiful place in the world.

Sometimes, there are seasons in your life when all you can hear is the melody…and that’s okay.

Trusting my lifeguard today.

*******

I love how both sets of lyrics mention becoming lost in Him...and how peace…not panic… flows from this lostness.

Two different scripture passages came to mind as I thought more about being lost in Him and this fountain of love that satisfies.

“They are filled from the abundance of Your house;
You let them drink from Your refreshing stream,
for with You is life’s fountain.
In Your light we will see light.”  Psalm 36:8-9

“Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”  John 4:13-14

I thought, again, about the only words coming through this morning...”Come to the water..let me hear…”  

That’s my prayer for each of us today: that our thirsty souls will hear Him calling and come to the well and drink.

“He satisfies you with goodness;
your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Psalm 103:5

Background Beauty

It was at least 30 minutes after jumping out of bed this morning before realizing it was playing over and over on repeat. My mind was going a dozen different directions and drowning out the beauty. I sat down on my couch and, for a split second, I could hear it playing. Suddenly it broke through all the other noise.

“What is that song, Lord?”

I listened and little by little it came back to me.

“So come and empty me
So that it’s you I breathe
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me
So I will fix my eyes
‘Cause you’re my source of life
I need the world to see
That it’s Christ in me
That it’s Christ in me”

I’ve noticed there’s beauty playing in the background of each new day. But, sometimes, lots of times, I’m too busy to hear it or notice it. Life and tasks I think need to get done will bully their way to the surface and that is all I can hear.

I love the mornings when beauty wins…when it fights for my attention, fights for my heart’s affection and pushes through all the noise.

This Survivor

I sometimes wear this t-shirt that has the word Survivor written across the front and underneath this word, in much smaller font, the words “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. Phil 4:13”  I’ve had the shirt for several years now.  I won it during an online blogging contest and a blogging friend shipped it to me. Because of how this word has become a word we often see surrounding those who have heroically battled cancer, whenever I wear it, I often wonder if strangers who see it will assume it’s referring to cancer.  Even though I’ve watched many loved ones fight this fight, I’ve personally never stood on that battlefield

Each time I take this Survivor shirt out of my dresser drawer and put it on, a particular verse from Psalm 118 sweeps across my mind. And whenever it does, the gates to Thanksgiving swing wide again.

“I will not die, but I will live
and proclaim what the Lord has done.” (vs 17)

Here’s the verse in context:

“There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!
The Lord’s right hand is raised.
The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!”
 I will not die, but I will live
and proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord disciplined me severely
but did not give me over to death.

Open the gates of righteousness for me;
I will enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous will enter through it.
I will give thanks to You
because You have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This came from the Lord;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
(verses 15-24)

Today

This survivor shouts for joy. This survivor remembers the One who gave her the strength to fight. This survivor remembers the moment a big God crushed the Enemy and handed her the shield of victory. (Ps 18:35) This survivor remembers it’s all grace.  This survivor will not die, but will live and proclaim what the Lord has done.

One Words and Kevin Bacon

“…then today is a day to embrace God’s recreating work in your own life.”
(excerpt from Make A Difference, Ken Castor, Jan 14 Devotional)

embrace God’s recreating work…pull it close… and hold it tight…treasure it. 

Yep, focusing on a One Word every year is often like a round of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.  I can follow the breadcrumbs on the path back…not to Kevin Bacon…but to the word and to the lesson. 😉

I then went on to read a reminder in an online YouVersion devotional centered around this verse in the Book of John:

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” John 21:25

The reminder in the devotional?  The Bible is sufficient. Jesus has supplied us with all the Word we need.  What’s needed is for us to stop pining for more, and begin reading and studying more earnestly what we’ve got right in front of us.

And so God gives us clippings and snippets (which–admit it–you could stand to read more often). He thinks we have enough Word for everything we need. The Bible is sufficient; it is able to make us wise for salvation and prepare us for every good work. It reveals the incredible identity of our Savior and tells us what we need to know about his wonderful saving work. Instead of pining for more, let’s read more earnestly what we’ve got.”

“stop pining for more, let’s read more earnestly what we’ve got.”

read more earnestly…more intensely,  more sincerely…things we approach with sincerity…we treasure 

See? What did I tell you? Just like a round of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

It’s fun.  Give it a try!

There’s more…

Dreamstime

“There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.” Psalm 119: 11-14 Message

Ever read scripture as if you were on a treasure hunt?

Ever run to those pages with joyful expectancy seeking nuggets of encouragement and Truth?

Ever dive deep, like a sea voyager, on a quest to find beauty resting on the ocean’s floor?

Ever approach the God-breathed  (2 Tim 3:16) like a child filled with wonder, eagerly looking for gift-filled eggs on Easter Day?

Ever uncover delight in the most surprising of places?

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:18

Grace and Salt

Yesterday I was talking to a coworker about a certain “somewhat out of the ordinary task” that recently came up and had to get done.

The task got done but could it have gotten done more efficiently if a better go-to system had already been in place?

In hindsight our answer was easy…yes.  Now comes the challenging part…figuring out what that better system is and then communicating that better system to others.

What I loved about yesterday’s conversation was the ease in which it happened. It was just two people acknowledging a problem and basically saying..

Yes, that was messy. Let’s use this as a learning experience and let’s get a plan in place so that we can hopefully do this task better next time.  

As I was thinking more about this conversation it reminded me how the journey through life (at least my life) and navigating the ups and downs seems to resemble that statement.

Unexpected curve
Life gets messy, inconvenient, or painful
We acknowledge the mess, inconvenience, or pain
We (hopefully) make the choice to learn from the mess, inconvenience, or pain
We implement changes wherever improvement or healing is needed (we make the tough choices, we take the awkward next step in a new direction, we have the hard conversation)
We are (hopefully) better prepared for the next curve

As I thought more about this conversation yesterday the one word that came to mind was “graceful”.

Grace doesn’t fixate, or wallow on the problem, it transcends the problem and looks and moves toward the solution.

I then thought of this verse from Colossians, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

I’m thankful to work side by side folks who show me, everyday, what grace and salt conversations look and feel like.

Treasured and Useful

I wasn’t going jump ahead and read tomorrow’s devotional but I couldn’t help myself once my eyes caught sight of one of the words in the first paragraph.

“Jesus shapes and tinkers and molds and forms. It’s what he’s good at. He walked the earth as a carpenter- trimming edges, nailing boards, and constructing treasured and useful items. “

Treasured and useful…these words made me think of the words the Lord used to describe Paul during his conversion. He is my “chosen instrument.” (Acts 9)

Jesus shaped and molded Paul. He opened his eyes to Truth and once Paul’s eyes saw how the carpenter had personally chiseled and hammered away at his own life, he believed.

The beauty and fascinating aspect of this “chosen instrument” choice was that Paul was far from being the most efficient discipleship tool when the Lord pronounced him special and treasured. Paul came with plenty of broken blades and dented up perceptions. And, yet, the Lord said. “He’s the one.”

Even instruments that, at first glance, appear to be the completely wrong tool for the task can create beauty when placed in the hands of a capable carpenter who has a track record of making masterpieces out of broken things.

One Word 2017

My One Word for 2017 kind of took the scenic route to get here this year. 😉 I was reading a devotional earlier this month about Jesus coming to earth to restore all things and the word restore caught my eye. Here are some definitions I pondered as I studied the word again.

  • bring back (a previous right, practice, custom, or situation); reinstate.
  • return (someone or something) to a former condition, place, or position.
  • repair or renovate (a building, work of art, vehicle, etc.) so as to return it to its original condition.

As I thought about this word restore, I realized that “storing” comes before re-storing…if that makes any sense. I then immediately thought of a passage in Luke 2:19

“But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Do you see that? Mary “stored” all these things. Everything she saw and did and experienced…she held these things close to her…like treasure.

In fact, some translations of this particular verse use the word treasure instead.

“But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.”  Luke 2:19

This year, 2017, is the year to re-store treasure. Like Mary, I want my heart to be a storehouse for this treasure.

“All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him.” Colossians 2:3

“My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
 furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and discover the knowledge of God.”
Proverbs 2: 1-5

“The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool hastens destruction.”
-Proverbs 10:14

“Have you understood all these things?
“Yes,” they told Him.
“Therefore,” He said to them, “every student of Scripture instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who brings out of his storeroom what is new and what is old.”
-Matthew 13: 51-52

Gifts in the Gap

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I think we often have post holiday blues because seasons of gratitude, hope & love were never intended to be seasons.

I shared this thought for the first time a number of years ago and read it again today. I’ve experienced more frequent waves of sadness (both pre and post Christmas) this year than I usually experience. Twice on Christmas Day and once yesterday the thought “I need to call and see how my dad is” crossed my mind.  It’s been over three months since his passing and, yet, this new normal is a hard one for my mind to fully adjust to. Calling my dad’s care giver several times a week was just part of my routine for the last four years.

On Sunday, I texted my two brothers to wish them a Merry Christmas and then found myself in a bit of a funk because that was the extent of reconnecting with family. I had quickly exhausted my “Must Touch Base With My Family” list. Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not complaining.  I love my family. It’s just that my already small family has, once again, shrunk…and that makes me a little sad.  On Christmas Day, I was stuck in the middle of a conundrum. I still wanted to reconnect with family but was out of family to connect with. So, I did the next best thing. I texted my dad’s former caregiver. 🙂

Me:  Twice today I’ve thought about picking up the phone and calling my dad. Hard habit get out of ): Hope you and your family have had a nice Christmas.

Frances: Awwww thank you, we did have a good Christmas but you can always call us, we will be here for you whenever you need to talk. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Me: Thank you! I really appreciate that. Just weird getting used to a new normal…

However, one of the positive things about a small family? I’ve had to lean on good friends. Once again, I find myself incredibly thankful for the friends in my life who are more like sisters, brothers, cousins and crazy aunts and uncles. There have been times when I could not have made it without them in my life… standing with me in the dark gap, arms stretched out and reassuring words:  “We’re here for you. We’ll hold you up, Eileen. We’ve got your back.”

I’m reminiscing and crying tears of joy now.

“I think we often have post holiday blues because seasons of gratitude, hope & love were never intended to be seasons.”

What beautiful, precious gifts these loved ones are.

I’m grateful….every day…every season.  

Thank you family and friends!

When Hope Plays on Repeat

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We sung the song You Have Come to Save Us at church during our Christmas service Thursday night. Last night it was these lyrics that woke me up a little after midnight.

“You have come to save us
Jesus, You have come to save us”

They serenaded my heart over and over and I couldn’t fall back to sleep. And, part of me, didn’t want to drift back to sleep. I needed this reminder. I needed to listen.

Finally, I got up, grabbed my pillow, an extra blanket, and headed out to the living room.  Pitter patter of dog feet were quick to follow me.

The three of us piled up on the couch together while hope continued to play on repeat. 

“You have come to save us
Jesus, You have come to save us”

I thought about some good friends whose dad unexpectedly passed away yesterday. I pray the peace of His presence will comfort each of them.

“You have come to save us
Jesus, You have come to save us”

I thought about my dad. It’s been three months and, some days, I still forget he’s left hospital beds and paralyzed limbs behind.

“You have come to save us
Jesus, You have come to save us”

I thought about my mom. Our pastor mentioned Psalm 23 in his message to us Thursday night. I can’t hear any mention of that Psalm without thoughts of my mom coming to mind. Some of her last words to me were a reciting of that psalm. Her hope was secure and her undeniable joy locked eyes with my fear-filled eyes on that day.

And, on that day, Truth planted its seed into my “prone to wander, Lord I feel it prone to leave the God I love” heart.

“You have come to save us
Jesus, You have come to save us”

I thought about one of the Christmas songs my music-loving mom wrote when I was a little girl. Those lyrics hugged my heart as well last night.

Shepherds saw a star shining in the sky
Heard the angels singing a lullaby
In a lowly stable one wondrous night
Shepherds saw the perfect light

Jesus, I love you so
And I know why You came
It was because of me

When hope plays on repeat.
You wake up.
You turn up the volume and listen.
Love is about to break through the darkness and usher in the Light again.

“You have come to save us
Jesus, You have come to save us”