How could I forget?

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In yesterday’s sermon, the pastor said, “if God never did another thing, He still deserves all the glory.” So true. Yet, when I pondered what he said, I realized I don’t live that way.

When a crisis hits, I don’t immediately remember all that God has done for me. I jump to “what if” scenarios. I sit in the “this is impossible” or “I can’t handle this.” mode. When reality is, I can handle this if I lean on God. Yet, that isn’t my first thought. It often isn’t even my 2nd or 3rd thought. Sometimes it requires a friend to nudge me back to God’s reality before I get my mindset on things above.

How could I forget the time I pulled onto the freeway in tears after a devastating meeting at church and my dearest friends were in the car in front of me? We both pulled over and I got hugs and encouragement.

How could I forget my son crying in the back seat as I drove him to the ER to get stitches in his leg? As soon as I prayed for God to comfort and soothe him, my son stopped crying and he said the pain was gone.

How could I forget the sunset and sunrise every day?

How could I forget the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s son?

How could I forget all He’s done so easily? The answer is, the enemy. His goal is to distract me. He wants to keep my focus on myself and my problems, not the One who can hold my hand through it all. The enemy want me to forget. He doesn’t want me to get help and strength from God. He wants me to crumble and be ineffective. For when I remember, God gets the glory.

If God never did another thing, He deserves all the glory. Every day. Every moment. In good times and in bad. In sickness and in health. In sunshine and in rain. In everything. He did the ultimate thing, sacrificed His son, Jesus for our disobedience (sin) and gave us eternal life if we believe in Him. That was more than enough. Yet, we also get the sunrise, sunsets, comfort in times of pain, miracles, hope, joy and on and on. We get more than enough all the time. Let’s not forget – regardless of our circumstances. He deserves all the glory. Let’s not forget!

Dream Big! Pray Big!

 

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New Year New You

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How is that for a New Year’s blog title? Fitting, right? It isn’t true though. We don’t get a do over because it’s January 1. We bring all the junk from last year into the new year. We may think we are going to do it all differently but reality is, we won’t. Unless, we make one change – put God first. Honestly, all your efforts will fail unless you are choosing Him. You may succeed for a bit. You may even find new things that peak your interest. Over time, new problems replace the old ones. New disappointments fill your heart. It’s life. It’s tough. Without God, it’s impossible to live new. How to get a new you for the new year? God.

With all New Year resolutions, they say to start small. Baby steps gets you there. Slow and steady wins the race. I heard a suggestion on the radio that if you plan to increase your exercise, start with a goal to exercise one day a week. Once you made that a habit, add a second day and eventually a third and so on. If you start with 5 days of exercise, you will burn out with all the others who started at the gym in January and are sipping lattes at Starbucks by February.

So I suggest, start spending time with God one day a week (or one day more than you normally do). You can read the Bible, listen to a Christian song, read a devotional, pray, journal or just sit in silence listening to Him. Let God be your New Year’s resolution. More time with Him.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Isn’t that what we all want? A new life in the new year. A fresh start. A new beginning. What does it mean to belong to Christ? It means you are part of His family with God. It means you have a relationship with Him. When you believe that Jesus is God’s son and He died on your behalf, you became a part of God’s family.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.  – Ephesians 1:5 NLT

Embrace God. Let Him make you new for the New Year. Abide with Him. Spend time with Him. Start with one more day a week than you are already doing. It’ll be the best New Year’s resolution you have ever made and kept.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Christmas Carols

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I had the pleasure of going Christmas caroling with my former church choir. Our former director gathered a group of us (about 30) to visit 6 assisted living centers in our area. We sang several carols with the Christmas story interspersed between songs. Simple yet powerful. The men and women in the facilities were visibly moved by the music. Several sang, some wept and others waved their hands to the music. We even caroled through the hallways to visit those who were unable to leave their rooms. It was a beautiful experience.

What is it about Christmas caroling that brings such emotion? Is the topic being sung about? Is it the music that stirs the heart-strings? I think it’s the memories associated with those songs. Some memories are good. Some are bad. Many are bittersweet. Christmas carols are the ultimate way to reminisce. It leads us down memory lane.

What song brings back the most memories for you? Which one leads to the happiest memory? What song are you avoiding because it was the favorite of a loved one who is no longer here?

If you aren’t listening to KOST 103.5 FM and their Christmas music daily, I encourage you to do so for an hour or so. See what memories can be stirred. ‘Tis the season to reminisce. ‘Tis the season to have fond memories. ‘Tis the season to be reminded of those we love.

I encourage you to enlist some friends to go caroling. You can sing along with a CD in the living room or walk to a few neighbor’s houses and bring them some Christmas joy through carols. Let the songs of the season bring back the memories of years gone by. Soak it in. Let the carols stir your heart this season.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Christmas busy

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‘Tis the season to be busy. Fa la la la la la la la la.

I ran into a friend at my daughter’s piano recital. She asked how I was and I replied “busy.” That is my standard answer these days. She said she is working hard to wrap up their homeschooling so they can enjoy 3 weeks off for the holiday season. Wow. She didn’t want to be busy this year. I applaud her intentionality. I want to follow her lead.

We have already finished the orchestra Christmas concert at the junior high and now the piano recital. All that’s left is shuttling kids to Christmas parties and events. However, that is an endless list of random events on various nights up to Christmas Eve. How can I slow down with 3 teenagers? I don’t want to rob them of attending the fun things planned for them by their friends and church. We are even hosting one of these Christmas parties. Saying no just doesn’t feel like the answer. To me, the answer is presence not presents.

I will be present with my kids when they are home. We can play a game, watch a cheesy holiday movie or bake something. I can even sit in the room with them while they study for finals next week. We can just be in the presence of one another. Since they each have so many things to go to, I will get 1-on-1, or 2-on-1, time with them. That will help a lot too. I have found with 3 kids, just changing the mix from 3 to 2 changes the dynamic.

So I will be intentionally present with my kids. I don’t plan to cut our events but to savor the in-between times. I love the season and the joyful events that surround it. I don’t want to say no. But I can say yes to being available in-between. So savor the season and the things you love about it. Attend the Christmas cookie exchange, go to the last-minute party that popped up and when you are home, be fully home. Be attentive to those in your house. Be intentional.

‘Tis the season to be present. Fa la la la la la la la la.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Christmas Music

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I must confess, we started listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving this year. Thank you KOST 103.5. My eldest daughter and I love it. The house is decorated except for the tree. We still get real trees so it’s a bit too early to buy it. The lights are hung outside. The blow up nativity is puffed up. It’s Christmas time.

I love walking through the mall or Target or even Albertsons and hearing songs about our Savior, Jesus and His dad, God. He is being proclaimed in public places. Truth is being heard. People can learn about God just by listening to Christmas music. What a joy that these songs are still being played every year. Obviously Jingle Bells isn’t going to lead you to Jesus but O Holy Night or even Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (if they use the line “If the Lord allows” not “fates allow.”) will. When you hear His truth being played, say a prayer for your fellow shoppers. They may be hearing about Jesus for the first time. You never know.

The other part about Christmas music is how inspired it is by the Holy Spirit. I had the pleasure of attending the Bonner Singers Christmas Concert this year. I sang in this professional choir over 20 years ago. It was a powerful experience. Sitting in the audience, seeing old friends in the choir and watching the amazing conducting of Doc and Judd Bonner touched my heart. Yet the music – it touched my soul. I wept through a lot of the songs. These singers, who love Jesus, are able to convey the true message because the spirit is in them and in those who wrote the music. When performers know the Lord, the music is elevated to a higher level and reaches to a deeper part of us. I am sad to say that I had forgotten the power of music until this concert. Thank you Lord for the reminder. I was changed by being there.

Let the truth of the season soak in – Jesus came to live as a human in order to relate to us on our level and ultimately to pay the price for our sins through His death and resurrection (Easter). Let the music of the season seep into your soul. Be changed by the lyrics. Find the message in each song. Let His Spirit invade your heart this Christmas. May the music, inspired by the truth of Jesus, be your guide this holiday.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Grateful vs. Thankful

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In a recent Thanksgiving email from Axis.org, they discussed the difference between thankful and gratitude. I looked up the definitions in Webster’s dictionary online and found the following:

Thankful is defined as “conscious of benefit received.”

Grateful is “appreciative of benefits received.”

Do you see the difference? Conscious implies you don’t do anything about it. You just have an awareness of something you are thankful for.  You are thankful but may not communicate it. However, grateful implies action.

Appreciative is “having or showing appreciation.”

Appreciation is defined as “a feeling or expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude.”

Let’s act on benefits we receive in life. We have a ton. I’m sure this past week you took time to think of things you are thankful for. Some families even go around the table and share what they are thankful for. With those ideas in the forefront because of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to act on it. Be grateful. Express your admiration, approval or gratitude.

If you are a note writer, send a thank you note. Send one to your friend who brought flowers or a pie to your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving meal. If you are a texter, text a thank you or a picture from your gathering. If you are a talker, call your friend. If you are a baker, drop off some cookies. Express your conscious awareness of the benefit received.

Thanksgiving may be one day a year but expressing thanks should be every day. Take the warm fuzzy feelings from Thursday and apply them every day. Let’s make our lives one of expressed thanks.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Christopher Robin

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Who doesn’t love Winnie the Pooh? He’s a “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” So when I finally got to see the movie Christopher Robin, I wasn’t at all surprised I would love it. However, I not only loved it but I recommend it to everyone with the highest rating. It’s not just a movie, it’s an experience.

My 17-year-old daughter and I watched it together on our couch at home. We both snuggled up for a good movie night. When you first see a non-animated Pooh Bear, you squeal with delight. (OK, we squealed with delight but I’m sure a few of you are squealers too). Piglet (my favorite), Eeyore and the gang were just as incredibly cute. They were puppets of some kind and I’m not sure how they did it. They walked and talked and looked incredibly cute. Every time the stuffed characters came on-screen, it was a delight.

Cuteness factor aside, the message of the movie is powerful. Predictable story: Christopher Robin is all grown up with a family and a workaholic. He’s forgotten what it’s like to be a kid and is ready to send his daughter to boarding school to raise her properly. Then Pooh shows up. Reluctantly, Christopher returns to the 100 Acre Woods. After some extremely hurtful words to Pooh Bear, he finds his inner child. Even though the show is predictable, it hits home. It reminded me of what’s important. Do I stop enough to spend time with my kids or keep rushing from event to event? Do I savor my friendship as much as I should? These stuffed critters were Christopher Robin’s best friends. They love him unconditionally even after years of not seeing him. We need to value and cherish those friends in our life.

Another takeaway in the movie for me was vulnerability. Christopher had never told his wife about these friends from his childhood. Why not? They shaped him. They helped him. They were his world. Once he let her into this part of his life, it reenergized their relationship. When we keep a part of ourselves from those we love, we rob them of fully knowing us. Let’s strive to be vulnerable, even in our silliness. Share that you love eating just the middle of Oreos. (That’s one of mine). Trust a dear one with your love of all things Snoopy. (Another one of mine but it’s obvious to those around me.) Reminisce about your childhood to your sweetheart.

The movie had us in tears. Not for sadness. They were tears for how heartwarming this show is. Both of us needed Kleenex. Tenderness, friendship, love, simplicity, cute stuffed animals and good old-fashioned kindness are the hallmarks of this movie. Enjoy it this holiday with your family and those your love.

Dream Big! Pray Big!