Worship

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.

The Storm Within

Nay, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Romans 8:37 – From My Utmost For His Highest

The Storm Within
The Storm Within

It came out of nowhere. I felt it coming. Even shared with a friend in hopes it would diminish. In hopes I could conquer the emotion washing over me as I readied myself to walk into a group of women I did not know.  I’m a grown woman who God has re-purposed. What is my problem? Why can’t I get it together? If I know it’s coming, creeping up into the quiet places of my heart and mind to stir up a storm within – surely I should be able to stop it…right?

In the cold of the gray day I somehow remembered what it took to fight the battle within.

If this is your battle too I want to ask you to take this cold gray walk with me.

Leaving the weight of my shoulder bag in the hand of my friend, I made a decision to put one foot in front of the other as I sought to do business with God. One foot in front of the other as I remembered that I had the ability to conquer. Not in my own strength, but in the strength of God my Father. Though it was a brisk day I knew I had to have time alone to talk out loud to God. Not so much so that He would hear me, but more so because I needed to cry out to Him with my whole heart.

Oswald Chambers says “The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it. Apply that to our own circumstances, these very things–tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight. We are more than conquerors through Him in all these things, not in spite of them, but in the midst of them.”

Through Him – Therein lies my hope. Not in the success of never having to return to the same dreaded battle again. My mind tells me I should be able to master this. So that I will not find myself back in this position again. The last thought I have in the midst of the battle is this is going to produce super-joy in me.

Oh Lord, help me to trust that the storm – the surf – will lead me to you – the One who has conquered death. The One who reminds me that I too am a conqueror, in ALL things.

Do you need to strep out into the brisk cold and put one foot in front of the other as you cry out to God? I’ll join you. Or if you like, I’ll hold your shoulder bag.

We can both learn to trust the surf.

HIS,

karen

 

Fabulous Friday Find – Pink Jesus Calling

1400320119We have been encouraged by the words on these pages. We have inhaled Sarah’s prayers from her devotional and allowed them to carry us before our One True Hope.

Enter now TO WIN your free PINK copy of Jesus Calling to be given away on VALENTINES DAY. LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW and you will be entered.

Sarah Young is quietly leading millions of men and women worldwide on a journey of intimacy with Christ. Her devotional books include the #1 bestseller Jesus Calling and the top sellers Jesus Calling for Kids, Dear Jesus, and Jesus Lives. Sarah and her husband have traveled extensively around the world planting churches and counseling.  They are currently ministering to Japanese people and helping establish an international church in Australia.YoungSarah

Cre. a. tiv. ity.

Today’s Guest Post is written by Holly Hummel. She enjoys remembering the little things and hoping to use them for a greater creative purpose. She loves the God who gave her all His gorgeous material to work with and loves helping to restore it for His glory. The best lesson she has learned in life, she says, is whatever others have to teach her.

We are all creative beings.

Our Father is the ultimate Creator.

He gave us the gift.

He has given us the raw material with which to work.

When we use our inspired talents and quirks,

this can be turned into a

beautiful form of worship.

 

We are all creative beings. What forms of creativity might you get lost in and spend hours just finding yourself?

Or what sort of fears or reservations might you have in your fresh ideas?

With that question is where I’ll start our conversation.

I have considered myself a creative, innovative and even inventive woman for a while now. I’d come up with wonderful ideas and store them all in my brain and pride myself on these quirky notions.

But I never did much with them. I was too afraid of what my peers might think of the work I’d done. My stuff is certainly not as good as theirs. How can I ever be as talented as her? Why didn’t I come up with that? I can do that too! These were and are still thoughts in my head as I continue on in my creative pursuit.

But I always took these feelings as negative. I have never used them to motivate me.

I have seen numerous friends of mine wake themselves up by using paints, fabrics, colors and textures. I am a lover of these materials. I enjoyed seeing new creations with my own eyes and touching them with my own hands.

However, I still felt so much anxiety in my concepts. It was like my heart was always stuck on the one idea that mine will never be as good as theirs

Since my maturity into a (somewhat) adult life, I felt what I thought were eyes on me. Eyes that were waiting for me to come up with something awesome that I just couldn’t produce. This pressure I concocted in my head had been way too much. I was too busy putting my faith and confidence in something that could not yield fruit: MY creativity. I thought it was in MY control. That was responsible for the outcome MY work produced.

These thoughts are so very destructive and they are all lies. The truth of the matter is this:

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is the be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4

God has said it Himself! He creates everything good. He gives us ready hands to refurbish what is broken. For His glory we do this. Through this gift we worship.

We cannot put our confidence in anything but the One who has already finished the work! Through this we must also humble ourselves to those around us who might be a few steps ahead of the game.

I always thought I had to be as good as or better than everyone around me to succeed. It is of utmost importance to learn from each of your influences. There are copious amounts of knowledge pouring out of those other talented hands. Keep your heart open to what another may say.

Positive input and constructive criticism are such blessings, so keep a humble heart and beautiful fruit will grow.

For far too long I had been putting my hope in ideas I had been to afraid to carry out! How silly! I couldn’t even get a project started without getting lost in the sin of “not doing anything and not trying to do the right thing. 

I still struggle with fears of judgement and criticism.

But how healthy and how rich it is to know that Our Father has carried it out. Our job now is to find ourselves in constant worship of Him in each and every intricate stitch we sew.

So what fears might you have in your own creativity?

Let go of them. There is freedom in Christ. There is confidence in Christ. There is faith in Christ. There is comfort in knowing you aren’t alone in this. Surround yourself with positive influences and get to work crafting that pallet board shelf you saw on Pinterest months ago.

The bold statement I can do that too is true. Remind yourself that you are capable and talented. Your ideas matter and can be turned into works of wonder.

We can do all things through Him.         

 

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‘I don’t have what it takes…’

My hearts desire is to see women risk investing in other women who hunger and thirst for growth in Christ. There is something that happens when we come together with a willingness to share struggles and seek together to understand how to apply the gospel to our lives in the midst of it all.

When the topic of pouring into anther comes up I often hear women say “I don’t have what it takes…I wouldn’t know where to start…” I understand this comment. I once felt this way. I looked at other women as having much more than me to offer.

The disciples came back to Jesus after He had sent them out 2×2 (Mark 6:7).

He charged them to take nothing. So they went out and proclaimed repentance among the people. They cast out demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. King Herod heard of it and decided, based on the prompting of Herodias’s daughter, to have John the Baptist beheaded – WOW! Pretty hard reality.

Mark then tells us – They return to Jesus and report all they had taught and done.

What is His response? He knew what they had faced.

 

He called them to stillness – to come away and rest a while (Mark 6:31).

 

Jesus knew where they had been. He also knew what was ahead of them. The feeding of the five thousand, the crowds, their needs and their hunger.

And so he called them away to stillness.

As they went away in the boat to a desolate place, the people (many) saw them going to the desolate place and followed from all directions.

Women today battle epidemic spiritual hunger and loneliness for healthy relationships.

The relationship that meets their need and ours is the relationship with God. A very personal relationship.

What can we offer?

 The Place to Start:

  1 – We have to get to the desolate place to be filled up.

It’s only when we have been filled to overflowing that we have anything of value to offer. It’s when we allow God to work in the circumstances of our lives that we are ready to be available to others. His work in us naturally becomes an outpouring. As we share with one another over coffee, conversation, bible study or prayer, God offers moments of connecting. Moments for God to impact the mundane.

2 – When we’ve been there – to that desolate place – others will want to follow us.

I think of the women I have been drawn to over the years. Women who love God. Women who want to understand prayer. Women who admit their weaknesses. I see them as women who want to know God. It’s these women I feel the freedom to ask hard questions about relationship with God and others. It’s these women I learn from and trust. I believe they’ve been to the desolate place – regularly. I’m drawn to follow, to spend time with them because I learn while I am with them.

 

Have you been to the desolate place lately? What do you have to offer? 

 

 

 

 

Peeling Back the Layers

I remember my first layer being torn back.

Peeling indicates work – right? A potato. An onion. It takes some effort. And a bit of time too.

Years of wounds, pain and devastation heaped layer upon toxic layer until they could be held in no longer. Marriage and child-bearing began scratching the surface of the first layer. Friendships, though I never would have shown it, scored a sharp straight edge leaving defined marks as I scrambled to put the layers back in their proper place. Covering all that was hidden.

Let’s face it girls – real relationship is hard stuff.

Once I came to know Christ as my Savior, old things no longer fit. I wanted to put new clothes on top of old ones. Who knew what was in me needed to find its way out?

I wanted to hide under the layers of clothing hoping others would not see the real me.

Rejection.

fear.

Insufficiency.

worthlessness.

If I could just make certain to meet needs of others … it would validate my worth.

Do you have layers hidden under the crisp white button up blouse with the sassy collar?

When Paul spoke to the Ephesians he spoke of the new life. He admonished them to grow up in every way into the head, who is Christ. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. (Ephesians 4:15, The Message).

Paul writes:

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. (Colossians 3:1-3, The Message)

Layer by layer, God has been good to slowly remove each covering which hid the old. Carefully tearing away what I once wore to survive. Making certain to finish the work of fitting me with my new wardrobe.

Some days I end up in the wrong closet. But I remember how carefully and patiently He has removed each toxic, layer. With everything in me I want to live my life and my relationships to the glory of God. To understand what it looks like to grow up into the Head, who is Christ. I want to take my lead from Him.

Tall order – right?

Conflict. Tension. Perceptions.

Choices with each.

I choose daily. Don’t you?

Help us Lord to choose your wardrobe…not our own. You Oh Lord have clothed us in beauty. We are full of gratitude.

Is He peeling back your layers? Do you need to know there are others who understand how terrifying it can be?

 

 

Be Attentive

I’ve been a bit off schedule this week as I’ve enjoyed a beach vacation with my family. It’s been a peaceful week as the waves have rolled back and forth in rhythm with their Creator. I’m reminded of my need to do the same.

As I open the Word to turn to the book of Mark today, it flips open to a white page with black lettering underlined in blue. These words must have spoken to me in the past. Yet, they whisper gently again today…reminding me. I need to hear.

Be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23

Vigilance – state or quality of being vigilant; watchfulness.

Attentiveness – giving attention to; observing

I return time and again to the truth of the Word. It draws me to give attention to the state of my heart. To incline my ear to the very words that breathe life. Many details all around me, good things needing my attention, but they don’t give life. It still amazes me today. As I turn the pages, I gain what I need for the day and life begins to pulse through my veins.

If I’m not watchful and attentive, I miss it. So easy to do.

The rhythm of the waves continues regardless of whether or not I’m attentive to them. Just as I must incline my eyes to the sight of the waves, my ears to the sound of the waves, I must also incline my ear to the Words of the Lord.

And I am sustained.

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Are You Talking to Me?

I sat quietly in church, tired after not sleeping well. I wanted to get lost in the worship and be filled to overflowing where I lacked. Keenly aware of my deficit, the tears began to roll down my cheeks and drip onto my nicely pressed white cotton blouse.

My pastor continues to teach from the book of Mark. God is unearthing all that lay hidden beneath the surface. Sometimes I walk into church feeling as though I’m going through the motions. When this happens God is quick to prompt me to consider what part I play in walking numbly.

Yesterday was one of those days.

The page was turned to Mark chapter 7. The Pharisees were questioning Jesus about the disrespect of Jewish tradition. How dare the disciples not hold to the tradition of the elders? Why do they eat with dirty hands?

Jesus carefully articulates:
“Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him…For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts…”

Communion Sunday’s are significant for me. I listened to the message and I began to jot down notes in my journal much like any other Sunday, taking tidbits from the teaching and recording them to reflect back on. I began to think back on all that I’ve done that has been paid for at the cross. My heart was yet still overwhelmed at where my mind was taking me. I did not deserve forgiveness. But it was graciously given to me.

Just when I thought I could not hold up under the emotion of the morning one minute longer, it happened. As the service ended we stood to exit, but it would not let go of me.

Are you talking to me?

I long for it. I pray for it. I’m not always ready when it comes. I ask the Lord to speak clearly to me. I ask him to show me my sin. My error. To lead and guide me in all things. The prompting was directing me to go to one I had sinned against and ask forgiveness. They wouldn’t even know I had sinned against them until I told them. The message had spoken clearly to me…it’s what comes out of me that defiles me. It comes out of my heart. Yes, murky filth still lingers under the surface.

By addressing the core of my heart concerning this issue, it was brought out into the light, cleansing my heart before man and before God. I received the beautiful gift of forgiveness from another who may have never know had I hid it. And that might have been comfortable for me. Except I can’t shake the thought that God knows my heart at the very core. He requires me to lay it bare before him in order that he might cleanse it.

Keenly aware of my deficit, I’m grateful he cared to talk to me.

What about your heart?

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Apple of HIS Eye JOY

Good Morning Karen…

He said to me as I opened the garage door!  I have something for you.

He drew me to peek at the one feather lying just outside the garage door as if it had been dropped precisely just beyond the opening of the door for me to glimpse as it rolled open slowly.

Little did I know that as I opened my bible study for the day, He would confirm it was indeed a gift from above. He keeps me as the ‘apple of His eye’ it says, He hides me in the shadow of His wings… Psalm 17:8.

On this 114th day of JOY I dance with excitement to be loved so personally by God!

Sadness and JOY

My husband and I attended a celebration of life for a friend’s mother today. Death is a hard thing for those of us left here on earth. Such waves of emotion from the reality of the earthly loss. The words spoken of her reflected the beauty of who she was and what she endured. And for those of us with listening ear and tender heart, were blessed.
As we left, the family asked that we take home in remembrance if her – a seeding of a tree she loved – that her memory might live on.
We are grateful to have been a part of the celebration of her life.

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