Saturday, December 25, 2010

♫ Musical Interlude ♫

          I love Christmas. The feel of the season, the family time, the tradition. I especially love the music of this time of year. Christmas music always seems to uplift people and get them in the spirit of Christmas. (I realize that the start of this entry has sounded a little cliche', but just go with me on this =]) Maybe it's because we've all grown up listening to the same music during the holiday season, maybe it's something else I don't know. I do know that unless you are Ebenezer Scrooge Christmas music usually brings a smile to a person's face.
           I have always been the kind of person to start listening to Christmas music as early as possible - what can I say? I was in choir for the last 3 years in school, you get into the habit of starting Christmas music in like October haha ;o) - and I have my favorites.
           This year has felt a little different for me.  It didn't really feel like the Christmas season until yesterday which - as you know - was Christmas Eve.  I'm not really sure why. I think it might have to do with the fact that at my house we didn't decorate much for Christmas. My roommate and I put a string of lights up over a doorway and in the front window but other than that not much to let you know Christmas was coming.  Growing up there were always decorations and lights up everywhere. Now am I saying you need the decorations for Christmas? "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" has taught us all that you don't need any, Christmas will still come... In any case I have babbled my way onto a rabbit trail.  Back to the main point: Music this season.  One traditional hymn keeps catching my attention this year. "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day."
I've of course heard it before but I had never really listened to or read the lyrics:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound the carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn, the households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

           I really loved the promise in the words and the meaning and thought behind each verse. The song really tells a story of the author's faith. Starting out with such great faith, hitting an obstacle and stumbling a little, growing to despair and then finally realizing there is hope in God, that God is alive and well, watching us and guiding us.  I wanted to share a version of this song that a friend shared with me. Some of you may have heard this version, it's been on the radio - especially 104.9fm (positive life radio)- quite a bit this season. I hope you enjoy it, and I would encourage you to really think about the words in the song.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Letter to Myself

Dear Me,
    How are you doing?  I think you hardly know these days.  Look, I just wanted to send you a quick reminder about something.  God knows what He is doing.  I know that it's hard to believe at times, or maybe it's just that you are stubborn and can't get past the issue of giving up control... AGAIN.... BUT IT'S TRUE!!  I (we?) have been OCDish my whole life, you know?  Just get past it now, ok?  It's hurting me to hold on to everything... You know how when groceries need to be taken into the house it seems like a hassle to carry everything into the house in more than one trip?  So you try to take everything at once so your hands hurt by the time you get into the house because there is so much strain from all the baggage you're holding onto?  Well... I think that's kind of what I've been doing. (we've been doing?)  I don't think we can do it like that anymore.  My hands are tied, they are strained from the junk you're holding onto.  I think it's time we put the groceries down and try it in more than one trip, Ash.  Something to consider...:
     “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."**
p.s. It's long past time, wouldn't you say?
** Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suck it up and Talk about it!

I have been very frustrated lately because it seems to me that people don't communicate well with each other.   They are bothered by something or upset by it and rather than talking about it like decent human beings to see if a solution might be reached they stuff it down inside and refuse to acknowledge it until it comes out in a huge ordeal. I don't really see the point in this since it only leads to complex and dramatic situations that could have very easily I am the first one to admit that in the past I have been guilty many times of the very thing I am frustrated by now, but  I would like to think I have learned from it enough to communicate openly with the people in my life and avoid the drama of it now.  I will keep this entry short, I just want to say that if something is upsetting you, follow the advice in the title.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Do I Reflect You, Lord?

Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such things there is no law." 

This is a passage that I've been taught since I was a little girl. Today in church the pastor preached out of this passage and I was struck with something that I've never thought about before... See, before today whenever I heard this passage I thought that the fruits of the Spirit are traits we, as Christians, are meant to strive towards - end of story.  While it is true that these traits are good to master, that is not the whole point. When it says, "The Fruits of the Spirit," it's talking about THE Spirit, as in the Holy Spirit. Love, Joy, Peace, etc, all of these are traits that make up who He is. What a blessing to be able to have such an amazing example to follow!
Verse 16 of the same chapter says, "...Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18, NIV)

I am called, you are called, to reflect God's glory.  In this passage, it says that the Lord is the Holy Spirit and with Him we find a freedom from our past selves (see also 2 Cor. 5:17).  Now, to me, the logic here then is simple.  The Spirit is the Lord, We are called to reflect God's glory, to do that we must follow after the traits the Spirit possesses.

I get discouraged sometimes... overwhelmed with the prospect of trying to master all of the traits necessary to reflect God.  It is in these times God reminds me: I am not alone! The Holy Spirit is here to help us (see John 16:13-15, Acts 1:8) and no matter what He will be there.

Jesus says that, "... out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." (Matt. 12:34)  So shouldn't that mean that if we are truly striving to be like God, to reflect His glory, we will produce the very fruit we are striving to possess in our lives?  As the pastor at church said this morning, "The evidence of the work of God in us in the observable form of  "fruit" is necessary."
I hope that this post has served as an encouraging challenge to you, as these thoughts are to me. Pray and seek the Lord in this area.  Search after the Fruits of the Spirit to be more like Him, that we may reflect His glory to this lost world - Be forewarned though, if you pray for the Fruits, the Lord will give you a circumstance to practice having them ;o)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

WARNING: Curveballs ahead...

This last spring, when I was a student at Corban College, I attended a women's conference. One of the speakers was talking about life's curveballs, how when things in life happen that we don't expect it's easy - and oftentimes our first instinct - to just hide away and try to fix it yourself.. I know that I find myself doing that when I get overwhelmed or scared.  This woman talked about a situation in her life where she didn't even know if her daughter would live to see the next morning - this situation lasted for almost a year at least.  She came to a point where she was so physically and emotionally overwhelmed that she just broke down in tears in her bedroom, too exhausted to do anything else. . . She was broken, tired, unsure of how to proceed, and feeling far from God.  

She told us that just before her breakdown she was given a small trinket with a scripture reference on it,  Romans 15:13. It reads:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
She didn't think much of it, in fact she discarded it after glancing at the passage. It was not on her thoughts again until the night she broke. God used that verse to remind her who her life preserver was that night. From this I see the fragility of the human experience, how easy everything comes crashing down. . .

I took detailed notes of each class I attended that day, but filed them away somewhere w/o another thought.  I remembered to call my mother and share some thoughts with her about it but other than that it was just a pleasant memory.  This verse, however, began popping up everywhere I turned it seemed.  As I look back now, I see it as God moving - with each reference to the verse it was being engrained into my memory, making a permanent home in my head. 

Although I now remembered the words to this verse I, for some reason I'm not quite sure of, regarded it only as a nice way of remembering the conference - not as something that I could also use to hang on to when times got overwhelming in my life. I suppose I didn't think that anything in my life that would be that unexpected to me. Everything seemed in order: schooling, finances were tight but manageable, relationships were good at the time in every aspect, etc. But, as each of us knows, things happen --> Life happens.<-- Things occured that fit into the good as well as the bad and what came as a surprise to me was that I continually found that both were overwhelming to me at times.  

None of this may make any sense to you at all... but what I want to emphasize in this post is not what makes a good memory verse or what verses can be used to make you feel better when you're sad or frustrated with life. I want to emphasize the words of this verse. "May the God of hope FILL you with JOY and you TRUST... so that you may OVERFLOW with the power of the HOLY SPIRIT."  

In my understanding, God does not want to be the go-to-guy/back up plan whenever things go wrong.  He wants to be ever present in our lives. He wants to fill us. In fact, He wants us to be constantly filled. As the pastor I heard this morning said, we should be like sponges - soaking up all He has for us.  In this case, soaking up all the hope that we can get from the God of hope. He will give us the peace and joy we so desperately desire, and like the pastor also said, sponges have flaws, just like we do. They leak and need to be consistently refilled in order for them to stay filled.  God will keep us filled to the point of overflowing if we would only go to Him everyday. 

Now, though this is advice I hold in the highest respect, I am guilty of not holding to this practice.  I am human like the rest of you and with God's help I am working on it but it is not always easy. There is something that really jumped out at me from the verse: " the power of the Holy Spirit."  To me this says: "hey! quit trying to do it yourself because it's never gonna happen! It's through Him and Him ALONE!"  I think I should write that down somewhere and post it in a place I'll see it everyday because no matter how many times I say that to myself I never seem to quite get it, you know? It's so true though. All that I've talked about in this post, all we can achieve through going to Christ daily, is not possible through our strength or power.  Only through His.  Remember that next time you're struggling. (Ps. 46:10 might also be a good reminder verse for you if this is the case!)

Growing up, my family and I loved listening to a group called the Winans (To this day Cece Winans is one of my all-time favorite artists!) and one of our very favorite songs by them was entitled, "Count It All Joy."  I want to leave you with a link to this song.  It is based on James 1:2-4. Look it up, be encouraged, and remember the passage from earlier in this post along with it.  Allow God to help you use trials and unexpected, overwhelming situations to grow in your faith and your walk with Him so that you can be filled and overflow with hope and peace that only comes from trusting our savior, Jesus Christ. 
I hope this song encourages you :)

In Christ,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

~*~ Life Update ~*~

With this kind of post I want to  - as said with the title - update you on some things in my life that have happened recently.  Today I had my appointment to ....... get a tattoo!! It was very exciting and only cost $80. (the child within me raised in that single parent home is yelling right now, "what?!?! you spent $80 on what?!?!" ^_^ ) Well as far as tattoos go, that is very very inexpensive *pause for dropping of jaws* ;o)
now, if you all would like to close the dropped jaws, I would like to show you a picture!
Well?? what do you think? ;o) jk I know you can't say anything here. In any case, this is the image located on my right shin as of today at 2:30/3:00 pm :o)
The verses read:
"I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High"

I thought that this passage was appropriate for the design because the treble clef fills the heart just as our praise should fill our whole heart. It was a reminder I wanted always with me.

Anyways, just wanted to share that :o)
hope you enjoy your night!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

♫ Musical Interlude ♫

i don't have much to say tonight... but this song speaks the truth and encouraged me. i hope it does the same for you. <3

Thursday, September 30, 2010

♫ Musical Interlude ♫
Psalm 62 (Not Guilty Anymore)
by Aaron Keyes
My soul finds rest in God alone, My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes, And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse, And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness, I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah!

        This song, taken from Psalm 62 in the Bible, was introduced to me tonight by a good friend of mine.  Though I'd read select verses from the original passage (1-2, 5-8,11-12) at previous times in my life, I had never fully realized the words before.  It seems that everywhere I turn these days God is emphasizing resting in Him alone and also the power and majesty He posseses. 
        "Find rest, my soul, in God alone; Amid the world’s temptations; When evil seeks to take a hold; I’ll cling to my salvation...
What a powerful lyric!  Granted there are quite a few lines in the song that are just as powerful... but these lines just jumped out at me.  There is a lot in this world that tempt us, try us, and make us want to just give up and give in.  But thankfully for us.... there is something that trumps this world and it's temptations!  God created this world, He created us, why wouldn't He be able to take care of whatever is making us struggle?
            12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Cor. 10:12-13; NLT)
God. Is. Faithful. what more is there to say? I'll leave you with that reminder tonight.

An Example Worth Following

In this video, you will see a woman by the name of Gianna Jessen.  To the naked eye she is an average woman but in all reality she is a miracle.  She is an abortion survivor - but not in the way you might think. You see, she was the baby in the abortion, not the mother.  She tells her story in this video but the reason I wanted to share this with you is not because of her story.  It's because of what she's done with her life.  She lives and breathes to declare God's glory and all that He has brought her through and done through her.  She challenges her audience to live a life obsessed with Christ and to live for Him no matter what the circumstance; living the life that we, as His children, deserve.  One of the things I liked about her was that she really emphasized the roles that men and women are made for and the value each holds.  Watching this video really encouraged me, I don't think that anyone could question how God feels about them after viewing this video, and I hope that it encourages you as well.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

♫ Musical Interlude ♫

One of the most important aspects of my life is music.  Through music I feel like I can share my heart... and one thing I really want to do with this blog is every now and again have a "musical interlude."  I'll post song lyrics that are prevalent in my life at the time. 

Right now in my life, I am working on focusing on God and letting Him lead me.. and each time I try to get closer I am so in awe of who He is and the amazing power and love He possesses. So, there are 2 songs that really mean a lot right now.. here they are:

Cannot Say Enough
What can we say to describe
just a glimpse of your glory
how can our words portray
just a thread of your majesty.
but still we praise our savior
in spirit and in truth.
for we cannot say enough about you.

Lead Me to the Cross
Savior I come
Quiet my soul remember
Redemption's hill
Where Your blood was spilled
For my ransom
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as lost

Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

You were as I
Tempted and trialed
You are
The word became flesh
Bore my sin and death
Now you're risen

To your heart
To your heart
Lead me to your heart
Lead me to your heart
(repeat chorus)

With "Cannot Say Enough," I feel like it's such an accurate description of the reality we as God's children face as we are giving Him praises. There is really no way to fully describe God or what He does for us and this song so beautifully portrays that.
"Lead Me to the Cross" has been my prayer for quite a few weeks. Going to the cross and laying down whatever or whoever we're struggling with is the only way to find true peace: letting God take over and going straight to His heart to find the love and peace and answers we seek. These songs have brought me encouragement and I pray that they will encourage you as well.

Change? ...ugh...

"When God takes someone out of a situation, its to make room for something better and more capable.... I'm sorry to see this chapter end, but I know its for the best." - Ashley Johnson (a friend of mine from Corban)

Sometimes I look at my life and think, "man it's so great where I am, I can't believe I'm at this point, hope it never changes..." Which, thinking about it at this moment, is completely ridiculous! From the point of my birth until right now I have changed hundreds of thousands of times and truth is I --> and my life <-- will continue changing even more as I grow older. I have never liked change, always fought it tooth and nail and I probably always will.... but that doesn't mean I haven't survived the changes with God's help, right?

By the way.... where do I get off thinking I can be whiny about change?? When God clearly states in His word that He and He alone gets to be the only one who doesn't change, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) So as I sit here thinking about it... I shouldn't complain about change when it happens or I think it's gonna happen. 'Cause the truth is? I have no idea how it'll turn out. But as my friend mentioned, When God takes a situation and changes it... it's usually the best? False. When God changes a situation it is always for the best. I can trust that and quite honestly I should remind myself of that each time I start to feel panicked by a daunting situation or by something "different" than what I'm used to because for all I know.... it's gonna be my new usual.

In any case, three things stay the same: God is good. He wrote my life story. No matter what happens He's gonna take care of me.

So as far as I can see, there are some things I can do to remind myself of these truths: Stay in His word daily, Pray continually, and TRUST. You may be thinking to yourself, hmm these things sound familiar... well yeah I bet they do, cuz I didn't make them up... God told us to do these things... so it just re-emphasizes it - He's got it covered.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Starting Out....

"Let your mind start a journey thru a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be...Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you'll live as you've never lived before." - Erich Fromm

Hello, since this is my first blog post I suppose I should explain a few things.  I started this blog in the first place because I wanted to have a place where I could freely lay out my thoughts.  I have many and - along with updating you on my life from time to time -  I wanted to share them with you... whoever you may be (family member or friend of mine I would like to assume).

I think I will start out with explaining the title of my blog.  I was sitting here thinking about different possibilities for a blog title and I was coming up blank until I came across a small passage in the book of Psalms, "I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." (psalm 9:1-2)  These verses got me thinking.... what does it mean to live life praising God with your whole heart?  Personally I think it's a lot more complex than it would seem.  Life comes with so many distractions it's hard to dedicate your whole heart to any one thing at every moment. In my opinion this is a worthwhile goal: To live life with passion, dedication, and in constant praise of God for all the world to see.
Why? because, in my opinion, "Passion Speaks Louder Than Words." Showing someone your dedication is a lot more valuable than going on about it all the time. This is why I chose the title that I did - and the url "" came from the first verse in the passage.

Little known fact about me? I love quotes. I am not sure why but a good quote can be the perfect beginning to any written work. I am going to try my hardest to start each post off with a quote I found interesting. If you read above, you'll see I already put my first quote. I think this quote is so appropriate for my first posting. Each day is a new journey, a new beginning, and this quote really embodies that thought. "....Let your soul take you where you long to be...Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you'll live as you've never lived before." Living life with passion means having a fresh perspective, living to the fullest. In this quote that idea is a challenge; making whoever reads it or hears it go step by step into each new day. The mind is a powerful tool and it is essential in living with the goal mentioned above. Work to take life one day at a time, one choice at a time, taking advantage of each opportunity you get to live life to the fullest - all the while using those opportunities to praise God.

I enjoyed this first post and I will work on posting again soon! Love you all!