My Heart Will Sing

It seemed a month of Sunday’s since I sat in the familiar seat at my church. Wait! It HAD been a month. Time moves faster than I realize sometimes. Back and forth on road trips over the last few months, it was good to find myself standing in worship with my husband at my side.

I stood to my feet – the music began and the lights dimmed. As I stood raising my voice in praise at my church recently the lyrics pierced my mind first, then moved to my heart.Sunset Arms

The lyrics dug deep into my soul.

My heart will sing no other name. Jesus. Jesus.

I thought of just how often my heart sings the name of other things rather than the name of Jesus. The realization…tangible. My heart often sings the name of:

  • Relationships
  • Goals
  • Tasks
  • Approval of others

I want my heart to sing no other name than the name of Jesus.

The truth is – I fail miserably at times. But the failure itself brings me back to a humble broken heart before God. I think it brings Him joy for me to acknowledge my sin, arrogance and independence from Him. Somehow, in my mind, it is more important not to go there at all – to the place of sin, arrogance and independence – than it is to recognize my sin and call it what it is.

He is faithful and just to forgive.

The forgiveness brings depth of healing to my soul. It comes in a moment. It costs me nothing but my pride. The thing I must lay aside if I want to enter into the joy and peace that comes in that moment of forgiveness.

I wonder…can you relate? I bet like me, maybe you have experienced this reality in your life. I would love to hear about it.

Will you consider, with me, the great value in:

  • recognizing our flesh
  • seeking forgiveness
  • accepting the outpouring of redemption in the moment

May be just as valuable as getting it right the first time.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14) ESV

Take a minute to listen to the beautiful lyrics that stopped me dead in my tracks.

dependent

August

A is the first letter of the alphabet. It seems a good time for a getting things in order again, beginning with A!

I hope you have had a relaxing, amazing & fun summer. That you are making special memories to look back on.

I am grateful you take the time to read my posts. I love when you are able to let your voice be heard on the topic, it makes the post all the more richer for your having stopped in.

Spring offers numerous gifts of new life. My yard is full of surprises – floral – greenery – animals. We often say it’s like a sanctuary. Too often I miss the gifts in my distracted attempt to stay on task. Why is this an ongoing battle for me? My journal pages are filled with requests of God to help me to focus, to be disciplined. I guess He wants to keep me in the classroom, in need of Him.

Early in the light of day I often curl up on the end of my sofa to be still. Though the distractions come in my heart and my mind, I make this a place to sit quietly. To wait on the Lord. Sometimes the waiting is a bit fidgety. Other times it’s like having an ocean wave meet me on the shore and roll back out to sea. I return. Hoping for the ability to abide in the vine…my sweet Lord.

photo-1I am drawn to birds nests. You will be hearing more about that in future posts. There is something so beautiful about watching a birds nest be formed. The mama bird works tirelessly to bring each tender piece of the homestead to its new perch. The intricacy and detail that holds together against the wind and rain amazes me.

As if it’s not enough to watch this building project from my own perch at the end of my sofa, I have to get closer. Like a child I am drawn to the edge of the nest. To peek over its edge. How in the world do the sticks and hay and mud hold together for me to look upon this masterpiece? A safe place. Created by a mother to care for her young. She knows what’s needed even before they find their way out of the crackling egg. She anticipates every need before one is expressed. I now anticipate with her.

photoNew life is evidenced by the high pitch of the hungry little ones. Mother is not far off. If I am too close in my childlike curiosity, she makes a stir on the nearby branch. As if to say – back off – those are my little ones.

I wonder, as I watch the baby birds stretch their necks for food as they sense their mother coming, is this how my Heavenly Father wants me to be with Him? Waiting. Trusting. Knowing He is watching over me. Protecting me.

Desiring a dependence upon Him in all things. Does He want me to sit quietly waiting for Him?

photo-3As I watch their little beaks reach toward the sky, trusting mama to bring nourishment they could not get for themselves, I am reminded that is all God wants of us. A posture of dependence upon Him in all things.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path. Proverbs 3:5-7 ESV

WIll you curl up & trust with me?

HIS,

karen

New Life. One Generation shall commend His Works…

To another.

You might be asking where in the world I have been. Did I decide to give up blogging altogether?

Mentors still matter to me. I very much want to hear your story. Your needs to be mentored. Your recollections of those who have poured into you making a difference in your lives.

I would love to share what has captured my heart for the last couple of months.

And…time? My time? What’s time? I’ve lost track of it temporarily. And I’m okay with it.

imageI’ve never been more proud of my beautiful daughter. I watched her for nine months as she prepared for the role she has waited many years to live out. Becoming a Mama. As May 10th neared and she readied herself for the reality she would soon hold this precious baby girl in her arms, her demeanor set with laser-like focus.

Many of my friends shared how special it is to become a grandma…aka…MiMi :-).

What was unexpected was the  depth of emotion I felt for my daughter. Not because she was experiencing pain she had never felt before, but because of my respect for her. We have walked through some times of deep heartache and grief together. I believe she would agree that we share a very close relationship.

As I watched her make the decisions she needed to make with her husband I stood in awe of her respect of him and his of her. As they both presented this beautiful child proudly after sharing special bonding time privately, no words would come. None. The emotions, on the other hand, ran deep as a waterfall through my heart and soul. Becoming a mother, for her, was as natural as breathing. Watching her quiet calm confidence with her precious daughter brought a profound depth of peace to my soul. Peace that passes all understanding.

As the hours passed by that sweet day, so did my memories. Six year old Lynn on daddy’s shoes in her sock covered feet. Dancing to county music. Trusting. Drinking in the moments.

How did we get here? To this hospital room. To this new home that seems to have always smelled like a newborn baby girl. Who seems to have always been a part of our lives.  God had a plan. Plans of a future and plans of hope. For He knew the plans He had.

As I stood holding her for the first time, rocking her, all I could think was –

..and one generation shall commend His works to another. There was a time in my life I could not have told this little one of God’s mercy and His grace. As I looked upon her soft newborn skin I thanked God that my life is different because of Him. My daughters life is different because of Him and partially because of God’s impact on my life. And she {this little one} will grow day by day hearing of God’s love and mercy.

So, as you turn the future pages of Heart to Heart Journey in the weeks, months and years to come I feel certain you will see glimpses of the precious little one woven into my ponderings from time to time. Thank you in advance for taking the time to care to read my words tapped out on ivory keys.

HIS,

karen

 

 

 

Mentors Matter Monday – Love, Sticky Floors, Cobwebs & Jesus

Have you ever spent time curled up in your favorite chair after loosing your temper and saying things you wish you could take back? Wondered what might be different if you had another woman who has been here before to talk with? What it might be like to ask her just how she made it through? Tired of feeling like a failure, wishing you could talk with someone who understood?image

Lean in and listen as you meet my new friend, Christi. Her transparency encourages me as I hope it will encourage you.

It was one of those Sundays. The janitor walked in on me disrobing to breastfeed my son. My baby spit up all down my back. Then a little girl peed her pants—while sitting on my lap! I was a mess.

I balanced my purse, Bible, diaper bag, and sour-milk smelling son. Then I held out a finger for my shoeless daughter to hold on to. (I didn’t notice until we arrived at church that she left the house without shoes.) As I struggled to the car, I saw a young man kiss his mother’s cheek. They were going home so she could fix her typical huge Sunday meal for her husband and 7 children. I got in my car and planned the Sunday dinner I would fix. Would we have leftovers or frozen pizza? I felt defeated. I would never be the mom my friend was.

As I recounted my day to my husband, he snickered then gave great advice. “Why don’t you ask her to mentor you?” Brilliant idea! I would love to know how she manages to create a family atmosphere so warm and loving teenagers WANT to spend time with their parents.

I caught up with my friend at church and invited her to lunch. We set a date, and I lined up a babysitter.

We met at an adorable little sandwich shop. I listened intently as she shared her secrets to a happy home.

She explained how she quickly plans meals. She gave tips for prepping food in advance. I listened as she talked about how they simplify their schedule. She told me how they save money on food by growing their own garden. It was all so fascinating-and all so far beyond what I could imagine accomplishing at my house.

And then she said the words that gave me hope. “But right now your job is just to love on those two sweet kids,” she smiled. “Laundry will wait. Dishes can be dirty. Don’t worry about planning gourmet meals. Your kids just need to know you love them. Spend time reading to them, hugging them, tickling them, racing them, and blowing bubbles together. Tell them about Jesus and how He loves them. That is your job in this season. And you are already doing that job well.”

I cried right there in the café. I wasn’t hopeless. I may have a sticky kitchen floor and a living room filled with cobwebs, but my children are happy. My daughter can sing songs, tell Bible stories, and knows all her letters. I may smell like spit-up, but they still want to snuggle in the rocking chair and listen as I sing them to sleep.

My days are easier now that my kids are 9 and 7. The spit-up is gone. My kids almost always wear shoes to church. Dishes still pile up and laundry still waits, but last week my son kissed my cheek and told me I was the best mommy ever. Thanks for the advice, Kim.

viewer

 

Christi Brooks is wife to a wonderful man and mother to two sweet children. She owns Chaplain Publishing, a small Christian publishing company. When she is not getting other people’s books ready to sell, she is writing one of her own about how to use your Christmas decorations to tell the story of your family and of Christ. Teaching Sunday school, going to ballgames, and helping her husband with his business takes up the rest of her time. Christi can be reached at christi@chaplainpublishing.com

Do you have a story you would like to share?

Has this story spoken to you?

i would love to hear from you.

HIS,

karen

 

All Things New

sea glass 2As we drove down the sand edged road I recalled the years of growing up near the ocean, the freedom I felt to be a child once the courts took us from my dad’s house and we moved in with my mom & step-dad. The wide open ocean beckoned me to get lost in its waves. To tumble and not fear. To get back up on my feet and run. To laugh. To play.

But the laughter and play soon faded as if into the horizon. Again.

As my husband drove down the sand edged road toward our early spring beach destination recently I felt it. It washed over me like an overpowering wave. Not the one I mentioned earlier that invited me to trust it. It caught me off guard. Made me uneasy, off balance. I knew instinctively where I was. It surprised me – I had not been there since middle school. As looked to my left and read the letters plastered on the street sign it confirmed what my body was alerting me to. What  had been buried for 40 plus years was welling up within my gut and moving upward to threaten choking out the natural rhythm of my heart.

“Do you want me to turn?” he asked. It will be different. I am with you.

As I felt my way through the twists and turns leading back to the neighborhood where so much happened so long ago, the scenes flashed like the click of an old fashioned Fischer Price Viewmaster set on automatic! viewmasterLooking to the left and to the right, each memory found its home on land where trees had grown taller – aged and ragged. What happened along these streets and behind these doors brought trembling fear to a little girl who had known the brief freedom of being a child on that sandy beach. Terrified by the sounds of her step-father raging against her mother. Things she chose in order to escape the fear. Now all passing before her as if in a movie.

Sitting in front of  the home where, more than once, we were awakened in the middle of the night and told to leave with only what we had on our backs, holding tightly to our mother, my brothers and I, my husband reassured  me. As I inhaled deeply, I could hear my husband’s voice, “It’s ok, you already told me.”  I was safe in his presence. No longer a terrified little girl. A lifetime away we left the home, the neighborhood, in the rear-view mirror. Driving away I wondered if perhaps God wanted to give me a new memory. Could that be why He allowed this to come up for me?

As the sun rose on the next few days spent with my husband on the sandy beaches I grew up on, God surprised us both.

In my whole life of growing up at the beach and returning yearly as an adult I always searched out beautiful shells. This time, though, as I began to walk along the beach in my restlessness my eyes were drawn not to shells, but to stones. As the water rushed over them and then back out to sea, they shimmered in the sunlight begging me to reach for them. For the next two days my husband and I walked along the sandy beach answering the nudge for each shimmering stone to be received into our collection.

A close friend shared once with me a story about sea glass. I remembered her story as we walked with heads down not wanting to miss one shimmering gift. Sea glass such as she has found is formed from discarded pieces of glass that are tossed to and fro in the salt water and ocean floor. Over time the rough and jagged edges are softened and somewhat dissolved until it develops a satin-like patina. Eventually finding its way from the water to the edge of the ocean.

As my husband and I walked along the beach our conversation turned to the transformation we have each experienced in our lives as a result of knowing God and being changed by Him over time. We talked about how, as we seek to know God, we are transformed into His image. These stones, whether some are simply stones and others are sea glass, for us became a symbol of the transformation we have experienced as our rough edges have been worked away and softened over time and with all we have experienced.

God did – in fact, desire to give me a new memory on this trip. He chose to reveal to me how he has made things new in my life, in me. In the midst of the emotions that had unexpectedly welled up within me, God knew what I needed and met me in a very personal way on that North Carolina stretch of sand. I am grateful beyond words.

He makes all things new.

How has He made things new in you? Please share.

Enjoy this beautiful worship from Elevation Church Worship Team

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here. NIV

Colossians 3:10 – …and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Your Story – Much Needed

You have a story others need to hear. I feel certain.

I have spent the last several months posting stories from women whose lives have been influenced by someone who took the time to notice them. These stories have been called Mentors Matter Monday. Each story is unique to the women involved.

Why is it that to many women, even the word “mentor” is intimidating.

It’s really about a willingness to share a friendship.

These chairs sit in my yard,  an invitation to connect, converse, or be still.

image

Would you risk inviting a younger woman to join you in a space like this?

Face to face.

Have you already?

Please share your story with Me. I would love to post it in the Mentors Matter Monday section of the blog.

Book Give-away – Enter to Win

I am a bit off my schedule (almost wrote…my rocker) the last week or so. It happens. I would love to be able to say I am a perfectly balanced woman. NOT. A battle I am well acquainted with. But one I no longer allow to beat me down. It’s a day by day journey I am on. Each one a gift.

Speaking of gifts, I am looking forward to possibly giving one to YOU.

I am anxious to give away a couple of copies of The Joshua Code!

The drawing will be held on Monday, April 29th.

Get your name in the hat NOW!

Leave a comment below.

 The Joshua Code

JoshuaCode_3

By O.S. Hawkins

Discover the secret Joshua gave the Israelites for prosperity and success. 

The Israelites finally had land and the opportunity to start anew. Their leader, Joshua, spoke wisely about how to follow God’s law and how to be successful. Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” The Joshua CodeTM is a challenge to keep the Word in our mouths through memorization and in our hearts through meditation “day and night.”

The fifty-two chapters in this volume are designed to lead you on a yearlong journey by spending each week memorizing and meditating on one Scripture verse so that it becomes a living part of your very being. Topics include grace, temptation, the three levels of prayer, fruit of the spirit, and more. The outlines in each chapter can also be used by the busy pastor or Bible teacher for guiding their members. God’s Word is powerful and profitable when studied and applied by anyone, the young and the seasoned believer alike.

Coast to Coast for 40 Years – Mentors Matter Monday

I am pleased to introduce the woman whose sofa I sat on as I first acknowledged my need for a Savior so many years ago. Lean in as Linda shares about the woman who has influenced her life for forty years.  The same woman who would, through Linda, impact my life as well. Even now.

pitchers1.jpg

As I try to introduce myself to you, it is hard to imagine who I would be without the woman that faithfully mentored me from age 13 until she lost her battle to breast cancer 3 years ago.

I came from a family tree that was loaded with alcoholism, with a dad who worked 3 jobs and was gone all of the time, and a mother who worked because she did not want to be poor and she did not enjoy parenting.

My Uncle who was only 7 years older than me, decided to become a Christian at a young age and shared his experience with me as a young teen.  When he married,

I am guessing he told his young bride that I could really use her help and guidance.  Fortunately, she agreed to be a mentor and share her life journey with me.

Because they were missionaries to the rural areas of the northern part of this country, I never lived near them.  And in those early days, there were very few phone calls because of the expense making it necessary to use the old fashioned kind of communication through hand written, sometimes type written, letters.

My first visit when I was 15  took me to Maine and my last visit 6 weeks before she died took me to Wyoming.  I traveled from coast to coast  for 40 years seeking her attention and soaking in every word that she so generously shared with me.

I think her job was pretty challenging.

I did not come from a Christian home and yet I wanted to live a Christ-like life.  I would say that she influenced all of my decisions and encouraged me  from high school to college, in marriage, in having children, through divorce and  returning to college to get  degrees in special education and family counseling, to experiencing my children getting married and having their own children. She did all of this while raising her own 3 children, struggling with her own challenges as a wife and a missionary.  I know I was hard.  I was sad, lonely, lacking in a strong sense of self, yet wanting so desperately to do what Jesus would do.  I had millions of questions and I wanted her to have millions of answers.  And she did with huge amounts of grace and patience and I am guessing with great sacrifice.

So, today, I am a gramma, still struggling with many of the same issues I had when I was 13 and certainly missing my mentor each and every day.  But, I am so blessed that I can hide in my heart and recall , her words of wisdom.

At the same time, I can cherish this image that she gave me; I can see what  happens to a woman who takes what she has, the weak and the strong of it, and shares it out of obedience to her Heavenly Father with a younger struggling and often broken heart to see what God can do.

The gift is life-changing for the one that is mentored.

It seems that being obedient to God’s assignments and experiencing what He does when we “share” holds blessings that cannot be measured in any earthly way.  I am eternally grateful that she was willing to share and I was willing to receive.

 

photoLinda Pulver is a Health Coach. She has received a Master’s in Agency Counseling. She has 20 years experience in educational consulting, teaching, tutoring and helping families heal. In addition to her business as a personal and family counselor, she currently volunteers at Walnut Grove Christian School with the responsibilities of assisting in initial student evaluation, classroom character building lessons, teacher support and classroom discipline issues.

Dear Heart to Heart Reader,

Have you had someone who has given you this life-changing gift?

Book Give Away – Fabulous Friday Find

The Joshua Code

By O.S. Hawkins1400320704

Discover the secret Joshua gave the Israelites for prosperity and success.

The Israelites finally had land and the opportunity to start anew. Their leader, Joshua, spoke wisely about how to follow God’s law and how to be successful. Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” The Joshua CodeTM is a challenge to keep the Word in our mouths through memorization and in our hearts through meditation “day and night.”

The fifty-two chapters in this volume are designed to lead you on a yearlong journey by spending each week memorizing and meditating on one Scripture verse so that it becomes a living part of your very being. Topics include grace, temptation, the three levels of prayer, fruit of the spirit, and more. The outlines in each chapter can also be used by the busy pastor or Bible teacher for guiding their members. God’s Word is powerful and profitable when studied and applied by anyone, the young and the seasoned believer alike.

 

OSHawkinsFor more than 20 years, O. S. Hawkins served pastorates at the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and in Dallas, Texas. He is president of GuideStone Financial Resources, which serves 200,000 pastors, church staff, missionaries, doctors, and other workers of various Christian organizations with their retirement needs. He is the author of more than 25 books and preaches regularly at Bible conferences, evangelism conferences, and churches across the nation.

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT ON THIS BLOG POST TO BE ENTERED TO WIN YOUR COPY! 

Oaks of Righteousness – Mentors Matter Monday

Each Monday women share their hearts with me concerning the mentor/discipleship relationship. Today Tracy shares a letter written to the “older woman”. You will NOT want to miss drinking in each word as she speaks.

Lean in…

IMG_0800“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

~Isaiah 61:3b, NIV

Dear Older woman:

I remember when you came and stood next to me during the Sunday worship service, leaving the pew you had occupied for years…

Perhaps you were scared to venture across the sanctuary, but the Holy Spirit prompted you, and you obeyed. You knew I was single,and could tell that it hurt to attend another church service all by myself.

You are an oak.

I noticed your tears as you prayed for me. Yes, I know my head was supposed to be bowed like yours, but I wanted to see the expression on your face as you poured out your heart and petitions before the Lord on my behalf…

As you know, some of our requests were answered with a “Yes”, and some with a “No.” If you were disappointed in God’s “No” to me, you didn’t show it. You praised Him regardless and kept on praying.

You are an oak.

I will never understand the courage it took to admit your mistakes to me. I am sure you wrestled with the desire to be perfect in my eyes, but know that the examples of God’s forgiveness in your life will stick with me forever…

Thank you for trying NOT to be all things to me. I have everything I need in Jesus. (You were faithful to remind me of this.) You patiently invested in me, because you rightly understood that our relationship was never about you, but about you showing me Jesus.

You are an oak.

I remember when we discussed God’s calling on my life. You affirmed my spiritual gifts. You helped me to write my first Bible Study, and purchased one of the first copies. You pushed me out of my comfort zone, because you knew it would be for my good, and ultimately for God’s glory…

I know that you probably thought I was crazy for leaving the corporate world for youth ministry, since women did not attend seminary when you were my age. Yet, you realize things are different. You trust that God will open the right doors in my life to accomplish His perfect will for me.

You are an oak.

I remember how excited you were about my first date with an Air Force pilot. Over the years, you lovingly listened to my anxieties about spending the rest of my life alone. You held me as I cried through countless failed relationships. You held me accountable for my purity, and for the way I conducted myself around my Christian brothers.

Thankfully, you counseled me not to break up with the Air Force pilot when I started to doubt, because you just had this feeling. And, you were one of the first people I called after my Air Force pilot got down on one knee and proposed.

You then hand tied hundreds of white bows around chairs for my wedding reception, and you watched me say my wedding vows before a God who gives good things in His perfect timing.

You kept on believing that my Chad would come. I know you were sad when I moved away to be with him. But when you still call now,4 ½ years later, I still hear your love for me through the phone.

You are an oak.

As you may have heard, my mother recently entered Heaven. Can you believe it has been 11 years since her breast cancer first reared its ugly head? What the field of medicine said was impossible, God easily made possible. You and I celebrated when she was at my wedding, and because she was there holding my hand as I gave birth to Jackson and Katie. How good and merciful God has been!

So thank you for walking through her final weeks with me. I want you to know that my mother was grateful for you. She knows that God placed you in my life to help me go forward without her now…

I appreciate you letting me process and grieve with you as I have watched my mother suffer. We both know you will never replace her, but I hope you know how thankful I am that God placed you in my life so I will never feel alone now, as a wife and a mother.

You are an oak.

Older woman, I am writing this letter to you because young women need an oak. My prayer is that you will heed what is written in Psalm 78:1-8 and Titus 2:3-5. Do not allow fear, busyness, or inferiority to stop you from letting me, a younger woman, learn from you. Nourish us simply with your presence and prayers.

You are not here to warm a pew, precious oak, but to warm our hearts towards Jesus. The future of the church needs you.

All my love,

Tracy

This post was previously posted by Tracy. I am grateful she would share with us today.

Tracy Bio PictureTracy is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the United States Air Force.  Whenever they are not being relocated, she loves to drink green tea and watch re-runs of LOST. She also enjoys chasing their two children, Jackson (4) and Katherine (2), throughout their toy-infested home.  Tracy graduated from Phoenix Seminary in 2005, and served as the Director of Student Women at Scottsdale Bible Church from 2005-2007. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a newly released Bible Study, for young women who struggle with self-image issues and eating disorders. You can find out more information about the study and follow her blog at http://www.onedegreeministries.com.