Saturday, June 19, 2010

but without Love, I am but a clanging symbol.

Last night Pete & I had to pleasure of going to a fantastic show put on by Calvary Chapel St. Pete.  The musicians were Phil Wickham & Leeland!  UNBELIEVABLE!!!! The concert was so anointed.  Not only because Phil Wickham is so completely and geniusly gifted, but because the Holy Spirt was there dwelling with us!  It was a couple of the kids' first concert, so we were pretty amped for what they were about to experience!  
Little did I know how much I was about to be blessed.  Come to find that these musicians, these guys, are just people, so warm, so genuine, and just shine with Jesus' love.  Phil's set was unbelievable filled with heavenly ballads sung directly to the skies!  What I didn't expect was Leeland's performance.  From their CD, I expected it to be just a really fun time, but I was so blessed by what he had to say.  His heart was overflowing with the love of Christ - something he said really resounded with my heart - 
"I grew up in church.  Both of my parents were worship pastors so I was the kid hanging out in all the choir practices and in all the Christmas plays.  It wasn't until the age of 11 that I felt and understood God's sacrificial love for me.  Now I'm going to be honest - being in such a great Christian culture and being in church my whole life is sometimes really hard; it's really easy to complicate our faith.  But listen, it's really simple.  True love is giving your life for someone else.  And that's what Jesus did for us on the cross, and that's what we need to do.  Give our lives for the Father.  If you're here tonight and you have yet to do that, I am going to invite you to do so in a minute, but maybe that's not you.  Maybe you have already given your life to the Lord.  Maybe you are here holding onto things in your life.  Maybe you are in church everyday of the week and are only giving him certain parts of your life, just the spiritual parts.  Christian - the only way to receive God's love and to show it is to give it ALL.  You can't go halfway.  It has to be everything."
I realized that was me.  Even though Pete & I are pretty active in our church, and there is nothing I love more than to serve my Heavenly Father, I haven't given it all.  I must confess, it's not always with a heavenly attitude that I sing or sweep or serve, and it's something I have been trying to work on, but my flesh is weak.  I prayed a prayer last night that Jesus would take my WHOLE LIFE.  That He would be in control of ALL things for His glory.  I pray that this fresh overflow will continue in my heart, as it is so honest and so neat to not have a care in the world except for my love for Jesus.  It may sound irresponsible, but it is the exact opposite.  Who better to take care of me than my heavenly father?  He knows what's best and I can entrust only Him with everything.
Like it says in I Corinthians 13:1, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."  Leeland also said this, 
"Worship is not about singing.  Don't you think if that were the case, everyone would have been gifted with a voice or the ability to play an instrument?  But one thing everyone in the world has is the ability to love.  Worship is a lifestyle.  It's what our hearts do.  It's about what happens outside of these doors.  If we can't worship God with our lives outside, then he doesn't want to hear what is happening in this room.  Like it says in Amos 5:21-32, 
“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments."
A strong word coming from God, but true.  He knows us so well and knows our pain, our sorrow, our affliction.  He endured them so that we wouldn't have to.  He wants all of us all the time.  And that's what I have decided to do!  Just give it ALL to Jesus!  I am so excited, encouraged, and refreshed.  I share this with you to encourage you as well.  It seems to hard to just let go and Let God (as cliche as that sounds) but there isn't a better decision you could EVER make. 

With Utmost Sincerity,

Friday, June 11, 2010

A God of Details

So I have to inform you all of the happens of my week, because yes, they are that exciting.  Sunday evening is when things started rolling.  It seems as though whenever we have plans to have a house guest the AC inevitably goes out.  Now let me back this with some facts:  We LOVE our home, LOVE our landlords, and are so so grateful for where we live.  All this to say, this was the second time our gracious landlords had to deal with such a wonderful problem in the heat of summer.  Monday night we headed to the in-laws to sleep in cool relief and came home to a fixed air conditioner the next morning - SO THANKFUL!  

Nothing worth mentioning occurred until Wednesday evening when a huge prayer request was answered, we sold my car!  We had been trying to sell it for about a month with no such luck, but were so happy to let it go even if it was for a little less than we expected.  Such a burden lifted!  As we were down to one car, Pete's family graciously (there's a lot of grace in this story....) lent us one of their cars.  Thankful as we were to have another set of wheels for the time being, we mostly used Pete's car for the week as it is the more reliable/much cooler and it's a honda - they run forever right?

Or so I thought.  (Bare with me, the details are worth it in the end).  Thursday I rushed home from a long day at work, drove Pete to work at five pm, drove home to be at school a six.  Busy busy busy is our life.  Everything was peachy keen.  Worshiping Jesus on my ride to school gave me relief and a chance to relax.  Class went well and we got out a little early as Thursday nights at school are shorter, as we go to mall for the rest of class for "Deaf Chats."  

Then, oh then, the magic started again.  The car died on my way to mall.  At first I thought I just stalled out, but boy was I wrong.  Luckily familiar faces stopped to help me (as class had just let out).  About six, yes SIX, caring people stopped to help, push, look-over, listen, and try to figure out what the deal was.  Now HCC isn't in the best of hoods, and although I'm usually an anxious person when it comes to that, I was never once nervous.   The Lord covered this whole situation let me tell you.  Husbandless and all - He got me through.

With all the chaos ensuing around me, one thought came to mind - our faithful mechanic.  Let me tell you a little bit about this guy.  Fixing cars is pretty much his ministry at our church, although he would never admit to his blessings of the body.  He knows everything about cars, it's crazy!  Thank the Lord for him, as we are not mechanically savvy in the least.  Pete and I seem to have numerous car problems (must be long on-going joke the Lord has for us) and as much as we try to send things through his shop as often as possible, that didn't seem to be an option at the time, being my husband was far far away at a distant Starbucks (WITHOUT A CAR!) and unable to save his damsel in distress!  Long run on, but you get the drift of the stress!

I did hesitate to call my mechanic as though it seems we are always asking him questions or favors, but I figured who else is there?  I don't know anyone which a truck to haul this, we don't have triple A, we can't afford to get it towed...  so I called.  And guess what?  He and his family were literally around the corner at a store (normally it would have been about a 20-25 minute trip from their home) and are the sweetest people the planet, i.e. they helped, fixed, and set me at ease.   From the noises Pete's poor accord were exclaiming it sounded like a dead end to me, but what do I know.  Of the six people that did stop were a married couple (it was show and tell for my sign language class - he and his wife are both deaf and his son brought them as his show and tell).  He seemed to know what the issue was, which totally made me stand in awe. Even though he couldn't hear what was happening, he knew exactly what the problem was.  It just struck me as awesome to witness his son interpreting what his Dad  thought the problem was and he hit the nail on the head once we figured out what the issue was later that night.

Getting to the end here, I promise.  So it took a little while, but the good "Doc" soon arrived, got the car started and drove it to the shop.  I following along with his lovely wife and kids to his shop while he drove the "hurby" as I was a little hesitant.  Come to find out it was overheating the whole time he drove it there. NUTS!

Here comes the good part.  Doc's nine year old son is WAY into the guitar.  I had actually talked with Doc earlier that day about trying to get him some lessons.  I "happened" to have my guitar in the back of Pete's car (which I never do) so while "Doc" worked on the car, his son and I got to spend some pretty sweet time together "talking music."  Then I knew what the purpose was for all this.  The whole time on the way to the shop all I could think (unfortunately so) was, "Lord why?  We just sold my car, we are having to borrow another, and now this?  I can't possibly comprehend why you would want us to be car-less.  I don't know why you are doing this but there must be a reason."  After lots of quirky conversations (Doc's son is a really neat, intelligent kid who knows his stuff) about the guitar and playing a few songs I heard the engine cut on.  I was actually kind of sad to hear the roar, as I was enjoying such a sweet time with his son, daughter, and wife just playing worship songs, singing to Jesus, and enjoying fellowship.  Then I knew - Lord we are so dependent on other things in this life.  Cell phones, cars, air conditioning, money, internet, EVERYTHING!  No wonder your people are so lost in themselves, no wonder I am so lost in myself!  WE NEED YOU!  You are all we need to be dependent on.  !!!!!

Now here's the really good part.  The issue could have been one of two things:  a blown gasket head (which I'm told is not good and very expensive) or a hole in the cooling hose that would cost about fifty cents.  I think you know which one it was and I squeel at the fact: the hose, i.e. the LORD!

Here's how the evening could have gone, I thought on my way back to pick Pete up from work.  It could have died on the freeway going 80 in the fast lane.  It could have happened to Pete or I alone on the highway, had I not "felt the need" to take him to work, even though I could have used the other car that evening.  It could have happened on the way to class, instead of on the way home in which case no one might have seen me, or maybe someone weird might have stopped to "help."  It could have happened on a Tuesday, not an early release Thursday.  In which case it would have been dark and much scarier, which would have probably meant our mechanic wouldn't have been close by.  Had Pete driven himself to work, it would have happened to him at around midnight on the freeway in which case we would have been in a world of hurt.  And lastly, but certainly not least, we could have blown a gasket head!  But no, it was a fitty-cent piece!  All these things the Lord knew.  It happened in HIS perfect timing and his HIS perfect will.  What a blessing it is the be a child of the living God!

ALL THIS TO SAY - the Lord is so so sweet.  He knows us so well and LOVES the inner workings of our soul.  He knows what we can handle and who/what we need to get through the trials.  That evening I read this passage in my devotional at Starbucks and thought it particularly applicable for the evening's occasions:

"Woe to you who are rich, who are well fed now, who laugh now, when all men speak well of you." Luke 6:24-26  These are indicting words.  We can whole-heartedly agree when Jesus pronounces woe upon the self-righteous Pharisees.  But the rich?  That describes almost all Americans, by worldwide standards.  The well fed? Ditto.  Those who laugh?  Anyone who is mentally sound does that.  Those of whom other speak well?  Most of us have a decent reputation.  What exactly is Jesus trying to say here?  And why do His descriptions sound an awful lot like us?  
We should not dismiss these woes too quickly.  We know from other Bible passages - which Jesus never contradicts - that there is nothing inherently wrong with wealth, food, laughing, and a good reputation.  But these are sobering warnings.  Those who take comfort in their wealth, food, pleasure, and reputation - and who ignore God because of them - will be tragically sorry.  There is something inherently ungodly and dangerous in complacency, and all of these characteristics cultivate complacency.  If you have them, handle them with care; they are gifts from God, blessings given entirely by the grace of His goodness and not on your merit.  They are no cause for pride, only for humble gratitude.  
Regardless of how much money you have, know that you stand before God with absolutely nothing to offer in exchange for His blessing.  You are entirely dependent on grace.  Regardless of how much food you eat, know that you stand before God wholly dependent on the bread of His word; it alone sustains your life.  Regardless of the quality of your positive outlook, let your rejoicing be primarily in the pleasure of His fellowship.  And regardless of your prestige, know that you stand completely dependent on the reputation of God's son for the Father's favor.  Never lose sight of your poverty, and you will never experience these judgements.

So for those of you who made it through this huge ramble, I hope that you are encouraged.  Whatever trial, whatever issue know that the Lord is there.  He's knows his people and He loves US!  Can you believe it?  He is a gracious master giving us not what we deserve.  So like the song says: 
"I'm living for the day, you wipe these tears away, and I am there with you my God.  In your glory, all adoring in all.  I will bow down in your presence my God.  I'm living for the heavenlies!  I'm living for the heavenlies!  Yeah, when all of you is all I see, I'm living for the heavenlies!"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

five years and still head over heels.

Today marks a very special day and turning point for Pete & I.  Five years ago today my love & I said "I love you" for the very first time to one another, and the first time in each of our lives.  We are each other's first and last love.  Upon my 'bartering' with the Lord before I met my husband, I had one and only one requirement of my future bride-groom: that he be pure of heart and flesh.  Quite a tall order in this day and age, but boy was my God faithful.   He knew the desires of my heart and the needs of my spirit.

Fast forward to our two month anniversary - June 9 2005.  We had been dating for a mere amount of time in the grand scheme of relationships and were on a date celebrating our two months together down at St. John Pass in St. Petersburg.  I was seventeen, he was nineteen.  I was so nervous the whole evening, knowing what explosion would soon exit my mouth like a fourth of july fireworks display.  Although I knew it to be so true, all I could think was, "What happens if nothing comes of this?  What if my greatest confession is not returned??"  I had wanted to tell my prince earlier that week of how much I adored him and how strongly I had grown, so close and so in love, but choked at the chance.  Little did I know that he also wanted to tell me the same earlier that week.  It isn't often that I reminisce on these past emotions, but today seems quite appropriate.

Since that dusky evening by the sun-drenched sky, boardwalk and water much has ensued to our present life together.  After that wonderful evening when we declared our love for one another we dated for two and half more years and then my knight proposed on a chilly evening in December, a week before Christmas.  We were wed in the following year in the month of October on a crisp afternoon in 2007.  We have been growing deeper in love with one another since that day.  

So, my love.  You are my all, my everything on this earth.  The past five years have been the best of my life and I am so proud to call you my best friend and husband.  I can't wait to see where the Lord leads our lives as one.  He has already begun a work in us that is not yet complete.  I can't wait to rejoice in heaven with our souls side by side - I can't wait to have your children, raise your children and grow old and gray with you.  You are my all, my heart, and my love.

All of me,
Your Wife.

a picture taken while we were dating...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Waiting On The Lord

So far this year has been quite the whirlwind.  My last semester in college was definitely my most difficult as far as content and to boot, I found out I wouldn't be finished in time unless I took 6 classes all at once.  Needless to say, I took the more sane route and am finishing my degree this summer.  

All that to say, so far my life hasn't slowed down much.  Now, please don't think that I am complaining.  I am more than thankful that I can be married, finish my degree, have no debt and be fully supported by husband through all of this, but it is a VERY busy lifestyle.  So where is the light at the end of the tunnel?  Many people have been asking me what my plans are for a job.  Truthfully, I have no aspirations except for a piece of paper to frame and hang in my office.  To find a job would be such a blessing, but I am so burnt out and am just happy to serve the Lord wherever He puts me whether that be applicable to my degree or otherwise.  For my particular major, Communication Sciences & Disorders, you have to continue onto your Masters.  Right now, in my mind, that is not an option - financially or mentally, and really - I just don't have any desire whatsoever to do that right now.  

So what are my plans you ask?  Or rather, the Lords?  Many of you know that last year I began teaching American Sign Language for home-schoolers in the area.  Well last year, this idea or rather vision came to me a little late - mid August which was a bit too late as far as gaining "clientele" for the following school year.  Although it was discouraging at the time, it was perfect because that little extra really helped us out financially and a smaller class size gave me a good feel for how to better things, change things up, etc...  However this year, the Lord has blessed us out of the park, currently I have 16 students enrolled and I have only been "advertising" for two weeks!  All this to say, the Lord is so good to us.  He know what we can handle and when we can handle it - and let me just say I am SO excited for the next school year and can't wait to fine tune my curriculum, add more activities, etc etc.... 

Just wanted to give you all a little update in case you were wondering.  If not, disregard this long schpeel.  Either way, how good is our Savior?  He cares so infinitely for each one of us, knows our passions, our hearts, our desires.  If I could teach ASL for the rest of my life I would be more than thrilled.  Sign language is a passion of mine, and I feel the Lord has gifted me with it for a purpose.  I am so glad that my life has a purpose and that it is divinely inspired.  God is so good!