9.11.2009

You Are God Alone

Today is a day of remembrance.
Remembering the innocents who lost their lives.

At work.

At play.

In the air.

On the land.

Today is a day of remembrance.
Remembering the heroes who gave their lives.

In the towers.

On the planes.

On the ground.

Today is a day of remembrance.
Remembering our God who was and is with us all.

6.03.2009

Music In My Head

This song has been getting a lot of airtime on the Christian stations lately, and with good reason.

It's amazing.

There are several versions out there. The original group, Bluetree, of course. And Chris Tomlin, whom I love, but honestly? I think every other song on the radio is him!

I found this lovely acoustic version by its creator, Aaron Boyd of Bluetree. It's not as polished as the full band version, but there's something true in the rawness of a simple voice accompanied by acoustic guitar.



And how cool is it to hear the story behind the song.



It is a great reminder.

5.28.2009

Been Away

Which I'm sure is painfully obvious to any readers left out there! This two-blog business is a bit more than I bargained for, but I absolutely had to share this one. Falls under the "unbelievable" category. As my fellow blogger Mary noted, I too am hoping this is a fluke and not the start of a trend.

From 10News.com out of San Diego, California:

A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold bible studies in their home, 10News reported. Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife. Broyles said, "The county asked, 'Do you have a regular meeting in your home?' She said, 'Yes.' 'Do you say amen?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray?' 'Yes.' 'Do you say praise the Lord?' 'Yes.'"

The county employee notified the couple that the small bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of county regulations, according to Broyles. Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed "unlawful use of land" and told them to "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit" -- a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars." For churches and religious assemblies there's big parking concerns, there's environmental impact concerns when you have hundreds or thousands of people gathering. But this is a different situation, and we believe that the application of the religious assembly principles to this bible study is certainly misplaced," said Broyles.

News of the case has rapidly spread across Internet blogs and has spurred various reactions. Broyles said his clients have asked to stay anonymous until they give the county a demand letter that states by enforcing this regulation the county is violating their First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion. Broyles also said this case has broader implications. "If the county thinks they can shut down groups of 10 or 15 Christians meeting in a home, what about people who meet regularly at home for poker night? What about people who meet for Tupperware parties? What about people who are meeting to watch baseball games on a regular basis and support the Chargers?" said Broyles.

Broyles and his clients plan to give the county their demand letter this week.If the county refuses to release the pastor and his wife from obtaining the permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

4.27.2009

Bless me Father, for I have sinned.



I grew up in a liturgical church. It was very legalistic in the sense that you were REQUIRED to go to church on Sunday (or you were sinning); you were REQUIRED to go to confession before you took communion (or you were sinning); you were REQUIRED to fast for at least an hour before receiving communion (or you were sinning). I learned about sins of commission, sins of omission, mortal sins and venial sins. I learned about Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo.

I grew up believing that these rules and regulations were sanctioned by God Himself. To be a "good Catholic", you went to church on Sunday (or Saturday after 4 pm), confessed your sins to the priest on a regular basis, and abstained from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. In my senior religion class, we were told that the primary reason for marriage was procreation.

Then I went to college. A public institution. Where I wasn't REQUIRED to go to church on Sunday; I wasn't REQUIRED to take religion classes; I wasn't REQUIRED to go to confession.

I was Catholic in name only.

During my freshman year, a friend shared with me some materials from Campus Crusade for Christ, an Evangelical Christian organization with chapters on many college campuses around the world.

The materials were about "getting to know God personally" and "receiving Christ". These were foreign concepts to me. "Getting to know God" sounded all Bible-belt and born-again to me, and "receiving Christ" was something I did at communion on Sundays. What really got me, though, was when she quoted Romans 3:23.

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Now, it wasn't like I considered myself perfect, or anything. I knew perfection was God's business. But I certainly didn't consider myself a SINNER! I was a good girl. I listened to my parents, did well in school, didn't lie, cheat or steal, went to church occasionally, was nice to my brother and had lots of friends. I didn't drink or smoke, and I didn't even THINK about sex!

A sinner? Me?

So we chatted and basically agreed to disagree. She was still a sweet and dear friend and we just went our separate ways when it came to religion.

Fast forward twenty-odd years.

I get it. I am a sinner. And to use the words of my three year-old, The Manimal, it makes God "so sad" when I sin. And he doesn't want to send me to Hell. He just wants to bring me back into the fold.

Now I know. True Christianity isn't about just following a bunch of rules to the letter (although rules can be good guidelines). It isn't about standing or sitting at just the right time (but again, disciplined worship isn't necessarily a bad thing).

It's about relationships. Starting with the most important one, and building (or rebuilding, as the case warrants) from there. So while my friend didn't realize it, God had a plan, as He always does. I wasn't ready to hear her words (or His).

It's about loving and living others to God. Praying for others, yes. But more importantly, SHOWING the love of God by how we live.

It's about realizing that God really loves us and wants the best for us. He wants us to make good decisions, in consultation with Him. He wants us to live our lives to glorify Him. He wants us welcome Him into our hearts, minds, bodies and souls.

And really, all it takes is a simple request on our part.

Bless me Father, for I have sinned.
I have offended you and I am most truly sorry.
I firmly resolve, through Your grace,
to do my penance and change my life.
To live my life...

Enthusiastically.

4.20.2009

Remember


I was riding in a car from Chicago to Indianapolis for a work event when I heard what happened. Because our event would feature the talents of hundreds of high school-aged musicians, we were especially shaken.

What if the same thing had happened, not in Colorado, but in one of the schools that would perform throughout the weekend?

And then there were the kids. They were thinking the same thing. What if? What if the shooters were students at their own schools? What if their friends had died? What if....?

And yet, that Colorado high school moved on. The kids from the school rebounded, as kids do. They moved on, and graduated. Got jobs and went to college. Had relationships, got married, stayed single.

Lived their lives.

Today, take just a moment to pray. Remember the kids, those who lived and those who died. Remember the community. Remember the two shooters who, in a matter of minutes, changed the world forever.

But most of all, remember the life. Like the flower for which the community is named, the school came through the adversity of a long, cold winter.

And blossomed.

4.12.2009

He is Risen!


How sweet the sound!




I once was lost,
But now am found.





My God, my Savior
Has ransomed me!



Unending love...



He is risen indeed!

4.10.2009

Good Friday


A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

It was the third hour when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!"

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah."

One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

Mark 15:21-38 (NIV)

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

4.09.2009

Enthusiastic Inspiration

This week, I've been blessed to be able to participate in the A Woman Inspired Web Conference. There have been so many wonderful speakers and I'm really looking forward to downloading the mp3's when they become available and listening again!

Yesterday, I heard Melissa Michaels and Allison Worthington talk about what God can do through you. Melissa is the creative genius behind The Inspired Room, her blog and redecorating business. Alli is known to Blogland as Mrs. Fussypants, as well as the media matriarch behind Blissfully Domestic and The Worthington Wire.

These women are amazing! Both have incredible stories about God carrying them through some serious issues in their lives and how He inspired them to create their businesses and ministries. They talked about hearing God speak to them and how you know something is God-inspired, rather than just "a good idea".

God must've known that I needed to hear them at that time, because it was exactly what I needed to hear. I've had an idea rolling around in my noggin for awhile now and feel as though God has been trying to tell me something. My dear girlfriend (also a believer) suggested that I take some time to do guided journaling, to listen to Him very closely and try to write what I hear. Then Melissa and Alli talked about listening for His voice.

Hmm....maybe I need to clean out my ears!

Enthusiastically listening for His voice, and praying for His grace, but all in His time...

4.08.2009

A Woman Inspired

An Enthusiastic Hello to all my new friends from the "A Woman Inspired" Conference! I'm SO enjoying the sessions and hope you are as well!

3.30.2009

Above All

I love the music of Michael W. Smith. I first heard of him when I was a summer camp counselor and a friend introduced me to the classic "Friends".

Growing up in a liturgical church, I didn't really have that "personal" relationship with Christ. Living in the northernmost portion of the Bible Belt, that was something I left to the "born again" Christians. My friend Bonnie was "Christian" and shared with me her love of the music of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.

I loved it and have been a fan ever since. Lately, this worship song has been speaking my heart. Whenever I really get to thinking, I can't wrap my brain around a God who loves us more than ANYTHING. A Father to whom we are all HIS FAVORITE.

It's just bigger than my simple little mind can imagine.

So I enthusiastically sing...





Above all powers, above all kings

Above all nature, and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began.

Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what You're worth.

Crucified, laid behind a stone.
You lived to die, rejected and alone.
Like a rose, trampled on the ground,
You took the fall, and thought of me

Above all.

3.26.2009

Circle of Life

Please take a swim over and visit my friend Michelle at Island Time Blog. She and I were college classmates (and fellow Bandos) and have recently reconnected through Facebook. She has a wonderful post up about life, death and resurrection...

3.24.2009

Dance Partner

Being raised in a liturgical church, we never talked about having a "personal relationship" with Jesus. That was for those "born again" Christians so prevalent in the area of the Bible Belt where I grew up.

Over the last few years, however, I've seen what I've been missing. So as not to become depressed about what I missed, I have to believe that God brought me to my new church in His time, and my church/faith/religious experience to this point was simply preparing me for this new relationship with Him.

This video is incredible. I'm unsure of the origin, but there are several versions on YouTube. This was the first one I saw, and very well-done. Take a few minutes to watch it. Drink it in. See the symbolism.

See the dancer, as she struggles through life, and perhaps you'll recognize some of the struggles in your own life. See the Christ figure as he strains to reach her grasping hands and know that He is ALWAYS there, even in your darkest hours, fighting for you.



Dear sweet Lord,
When we struggle with life
May we always remember that You
are waiting in the wings.
Ready to once again
become our enthusiastic dance partner.

3.09.2009

What Is Easter?

Sometimes in the midst of Lenten sacrifices it's easy to get caught up in the rules, and forget that we are to be preparing ourselves, body, mind and spirit to receive the Risen Christ in our hearts.

This past Sunday in church, our pastor reminded us of the meaning of Easter.

Easter is when God turned to Satan and yelled, "Surprise!"

Enthusiastically preparing,

3.04.2009

Pay It Forward

Ooohh! I'm SO blessed! Last week I entered 12 Arrows "Pay It Forward" Giveaway.

And I won!


Now I have to decide what I'm going to give away! Stay tuned! ;)

VERY Enthusiastically,

2.28.2009

Anyway

One of my pet peeves is having to deal with stupid people. Rude people irritate me to no end. Fortunately or unfortunately, it's not likely that I'll be able to walk away from those types of people, nor will they quit appearing in my life. I consider myself to be fair and patient with most folks. Sadly, that fairness and patience sometimes goes out the window, and I find myself struggling to not be sarcastic and biting.

I love this passage. It's called "The Paradoxical Commandments". Often attributed to Mother Teresa, it was actually part of a booklet by Kent Keith, titled "The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council".

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People need help, but may attack you if you try to help them.
Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Maybe I need to go back to school.

2.13.2009

Pray Hard

If I have any readers left at all, just wanted to let you know I'm still here! Things have been a bit crazy for the last couple of weeks, but hopefully I'll get back on track soon.

I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of the 24 hour news channels, like CNN and Fox News. Aside from the fact that they tend to repeat stories ad nauseum (because seriously, how much news happens within a 24 hour period?), most of the daily news is, well, depressing. And in the grand scheme of things, there's not a whole lot that most of us can do except continue with our day-to-day lives.

Take, for example, the economy. It stinks right now. Some call it a "downturn". Others, a "recession". Most of us don't care what it's called. We just know that prices are higher than they used to be, and more people are out of work.

In our family, we're more frugal than we used to be. We put off purchases, try to spend our income more wisely. Which, in any economy, is really a good thing. We are spending more time at home. For example, Friday nights have become family movie night. Microwave popcorn and a movie from Blockbuster are a great way to spend time together without leaving the house and dropping about forty bucks! AND you can talk and laugh during the movie without fear of offending fellow viewers. And it doesn't hurt that you can pause when you have to, ahem, use the facilities. :)

But what about these politicians and media outlets that warn us of impending doom? Now, don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not concerned about the state of things. I just don't think it does any good to get all freaked out and worried when I'm really doing what I need to be doing. I'm watching my pennies. And praying. Prayer always helps.

Maybe if our elected officials did a bit more praying they wouldn't feel the need to spend money to save the economy.

Dearest Lord,
In these times of uncertainty, You are here.
In the times of plenty, You are here.
Remind us again, that nothing has really changed.
You are still here.
And we are still here.
And that, as always, is good.

Enthusiastically,

1.15.2009

For Jacob...

I think you would've liked this...



"There's one more angel in Heaven
There's one more star in the sky
Joseph we'll never forget you
It's tough but we're gonna get by..."

With a heavy heart, but trusting in Him...

1.06.2009

Worship

A post from fellow blogger Heather inspired this post...

Our church services are a lot like many other Protestant churches. We have the traditional "worship songs" and prayer time. We have the Pastor's message. We have quiet time to really be "in the moment". Recently, our pastor and his wife (our worship director) have been incorporating more opportunities for individual worship into our services.

This led me to really consider how I worship. What goes through my mind, my heart, my soul. I grew up in a liturgical church where "properly worshiping" included standing, sitting and kneeling at the right time and knowing what to say when. I thought I would be in that church forever. I even did graduate studies thinking that God was calling me to help teach youth about the Church.

Then one day, my "worship experience" seemed flat. I was "going through the motions" more than really seeking God with my whole heart. After a long period of doing nothing, returning to what I knew, and seeking elsewhere, I found a new church home.

Suddenly, the comfort of routine was gone. I was worried that I "wasn't doing it right", whatever "it" was. I loved the "feel" of my new church. The pastor was wonderful, the people were loving, and somehow I could really sense the presence of God in that place. I knew in my heart that I was in a good church.

But I still never really THOUGHT about worship. Music is HUGELY important to me (I was a band and choir director in a former life!) and I rely on it often as a primary form of worship. Now I wonder if I've been relying solely on music. The focus of worship should be about WHO, not HOW.

Over the past couple of years, God has really been working in my heart and life. I have a lot of "baggage", as many people do. My pastor and church community have been a huge support system for me. I've been able to get involved with so much in our church and have come around to the thinking that anything I do can glorify God, if done with a servant's heart and loving spirit.

That is worship.

One of my resolutions for this year is to eat better and exercise regularly so I can lose weight and become healthier. Taking care of my physical body is not just self-preservation. It is wanting to be there for my children and husband. It is wanting take care of God's precious gift to me, to be a good steward of this temple.

It is worship.

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” - John 4:23-24 (The Message)