June 27, 2012

Forgiveness (Worship Wednesday)

I love this song by Matthew West and this story that goes along with it. Beautiful!

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

June 22, 2012


Definition of "Redeemed"

to buy or pay off; clear by payment: to redeem a mortgage.

to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.

to recover (something pledged or mortgaged) by paymentor other satisfaction: to redeem a pawned watch.

to exchange (bonds, trading stamps, etc.) for money or goods.

to convert (paper money) into specie.

to discharge or fulfill (a pledge, promise, etc.).

to make up for; make amends for; offset (some fault, shortcoming, etc.): His            bravery redeemed his youthful idleness.

to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom.

Theology to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.

Exodus 15:13 

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.

Isaiah 43:1

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

June 21, 2012

When Worry Makes Me Weary

I was so incredibly blessed by this devotional yesterday. Hope it touches you as well. I believe it pertains to so many of us.
"When Worry Makes Me Weary"
Renee Swope
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
As we drove home from a weekend in the mountains, I felt a heavy sense of dread and sadness. Laying my head back on my seat, I told my husband, J.J., "I don't want to go home."
After talking through my reasons with him, I realized the stress and strain of countless commitments - at home and work - were taking a toll on me. I just wanted to go back to the mountains where I could rest.
J.J. encouraged me to make a list of everything on my plate and ask God what I needed to cut back. At first I resented his suggestion. It felt like he'd just added one more thing I "needed to do." Yet I knew J.J. was right and eventually I made the list.
Then I asked God to show me where to make changes. Much to my surprise the changes I sensed Him leading me to make weren't in my schedule - they were in me.
God didn't show me I needed to cut back at work or in ministry. He didn't show me our kids were in too many activities. He didn't lead me to take a sabbatical, although I was kind of hoping He would.
Instead, I sensed it was worry - not my workload - that was making me weary.
I thought about the months leading up to this point and realized I'd spent almost as much time thinking and worrying about deadlines as I spent working on them. Some days my concerns about commitments and meeting people's expectations had consumed me.
I had let my mind dwell on the possible outcome of several different decisions - all at the same time - and it left me depleted mentally, emotionally and physically.
Honestly though, until I stopped and talked to God about it, I didn't recognize my mental mayhem as worry.
My mind is wired to think a lot so I'd gotten used to the constant flurry of motion in my brain. Yet anxiety had crept in slowly, causing tangles in my thoughts, a tightening in my chest, and tension in my neck. Some days I couldn't stop thinking about ALL I needed to do.
Instead of going back to the mountains to rest, I sensed God wanted me to find a resting place in His presence right in the middle of my busy life. Through today's key verse from Matthew 11:28, He invited me to come to Him with the worries that were making me weary.
Do you sense Him inviting you to come to Him today?
He promises a place to quiet your thoughts in His presence. "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (Ps. 91:1-2 NIV)
He offers freedom from the captivity of your concerns when you bring them to Him:"'Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. And I will lead you back from captivity.'" (Jeremiah 29:13-14 NIV)
Today, instead of letting our worries make us weary, let's respond to God's invitation and come to Him - asking, seeking and finding a resting place for our restless thoughts.
Dear Lord, when my concerns consume me, help me remember You are there inviting me to come to You and talk about all I'm thinking and doing. Show me if my workload or my worries are making me weary and help me trust You with both. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Here Renee gives some practical tips to help our weary souls :)

June 5, 2012

I Need a "Me Too"

I have been in a sort of a funk/battle over the past month. It's been tough to say the least. But honestly, it's something I have brought on myself in many ways.

Somewhere life has gotten out of balance. Somewhere I stopped listening and hearing God's voice the way I used to. I've gotten inconsistent with being in the word. I've become distracted with life. It didn't happen over night but over the course of a couple of years I would say.

On top of that I feel like I have to be strong all of the time or else something is wrong with me. Does anyone else feel that way? I feel like I should be happy all of the time because life is good. I AM SO blessed.

If I am so blessed, which I am, why does my soul feel so down trodden?

I think that has been the hardest thing to grasp these past 5 weeks that I have been on this roller coaster.

These past 5 weeks I have felt depressed, anxious, hopeless, and confused.

My life has gotten out of balance.

I have allowed anger & bitterness to get the best of me. The anger has caused a lot of anxiety. Bitterness has caused me to focus on what has been done wrong over the years and has given those things more power than seeing the blessings in my life. I've allowed times of sadness to turn into anger, instead of crying them out.

I've held things inside and remained silent all in the name of "not wanting to gossip" or be "negative".

The thing really is that I tend to deal with things alone. For as much as I want to be vulnerable and truly me, I fear what people think. I assume that if I am not strong and full of joy continuously then something is wrong with me.  But it's normal to feel. It's normal to hurt and be sad when things happen.

There's times I have been vulnerable and my words have been twisted or turned and used against me. So then I keep more inside.

Looking back on my life, when 'big things' have happened, even stemming back to my parents divorce when I was 16 years old, I have internalized my feelings & emotions. I try dealing with things on my own in my own mind rather than talk things out with trusted sources. I remember people trying to reach out to me during that time and I responded with a smile & an "I'm fine". When I was in 3rd grade a friend of mine died and I didn't even sit with my family at his funeral because I didn't want to be consoled by anyone. I just wanted to wallow alone. This habit of "I'm fine" hasn't worked well for me. So I don't really know why I do it. I don't know why I feel like needing others is weak.

It's probably a lot of pride, which I admit, is one of my biggest battles.

In my life there really has been more good than bad. But if I compare my life to many others it would 'appear' to have had more hardships & tough situations that many haven't had to ever deal with or go through. Problem in that is comparing my life to others in the first place.

So when and how did my life get so out of whack now? Even too much of a good thing can be bad. Life has gotten busy and I have consumed my mind with too many "Other" things.

I worry what people think. I feel guilty easily. I worry about others hurting others. I worry about things I can't control. And then I get anxious and my stomach gets in knots.

In this time in our lives where God is allowing a time of refreshing and rebalance I find "crap hitting the fan" in my head-internally- in my time of stillness. I've been in this place before. But that was about 15 years ago when I didn't even own a computer or have a cell phone.

So now as I get my life back in proper balance, I know I need to limit my time with social media as well, because when you are struggling and all you see in the world is how "GREAT" life appears for everyone else it's just another dagger in your funk battle. Most people only post the good and it's too easy to compare ourselves and our lives to others. Facebook and Twitter isn't reality though. Social media is filled with a lot of people pretending everything is fine.

And then there's the news and politics...Sorry friends, I just can't do it. It stresses me out and gives me anxiety about my kids' future. I've had to "hide" friends on fb who just stress me out. :)

I've had to really get back in the word. Say no to people and embrace the stillness as a time to heal and mend from life's ups & downs through the years.

Sometimes the best thing we can hear in our times of need are two powerful words... "Me Too"

I've been able to say me too to many people and I do take my battles as blessings which allow me to empathize with others. To be understanding and be a shoulder to lean on. The more you go through in life the more people you can relate to. I never want to come across as a know it all, but I do understand a lot because I've experienced a lot.

Right now, I need a shoulder. I need some "Me Too's".

To know I am not alone. To know another has been there.

I'm ready to get out of this funk. I'm ready to have joy & contentment in ALL things. But I know that a life out of balance takes time getting back on track. Even if the things we have been balancing are mostly good things. I know that "This Too Shall Pass" but it's not feeling like it will be soon enough.