Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Heart Full of Praise

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Psalm 103: 1-5

I love this psalm! It brings me joy to read and remember all that God does and has done for me.  He forgives ALL my sin, everything I have done that I shouldn't have and everything I haven't done that I should have done, EVERY SINGLE SIN is forgiven.  It is so freeing to know that when I sin, and I do as we all do, He grants forgiveness.

He crowns me with steadfast love and mercy.  According to The New Oxford American Dictionary mercy is:  compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. God could have wiped me out, but instead He chose to love and forgive me.  His love is always with me, and I am secure in that.

The whole psalm is very encouraging to me, but as I was reading it recently verse five which reads, "who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's," really stood out to me in a way I had not thought of before, and I realized that God had done just that for me.  Let me explain.

This past year has been one of many changes for me, some I never would have dreamed would come about.  Just a little over a year ago we received a dozen chickens from our daughter. These were the beginning of our homesteading venture.  In March of this year we brought home our two Nubian dairy goats, who have provided us with delicious milk.   At the same time we acquired a livestock guardian dog as their companion and protector. Later we bought more chickens.  With each addition we have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do and believe me we are still learning.  God has used them all to stretch me and pull me somewhat out of my comfort zone.

As if all that wasn't enough God pushed me further out of my comfort zone by giving me the urge to start writing more. I have been keeping journals ever since we began homeschooling over twenty years ago but had not really shared much if any of it.  This past October I felt like I just had to start a blog that would, I hope, encourage others, especially my daughters.  So one Friday with a daughter's help I began the blog, wrote an introductory post and also a post for Five Minute Friday.  I still wonder sometimes if I'll have enough to write about to keep it up. I try to be open to whatever God might put on my heart and write when the inspirations come.  To help in my writing endeavors I have joined a local Christian writer's group, and in January will begin Story 101, a ten week online writing class that is also a growing community of women writers.

Recently I left my position as church pianist so that our family could go to All Saint's Anglican Church, where my sons would find some friends and fellowship with others closer to their ages.  Little did I know what a wonderful thing this change was going to be not just for our sons but for my husband and myself as well.  I did not realize how much we really missed the Anglican liturgy which includes communion every Sunday.  We all look forward to going every Sunday that we can.

The church is small and only has a choir certain times of the year of which the Christmas season is one.  My husband, sons and I are all participating in the choir.  To understand how really big this is for us you have to realize that up until recently my sons didn't sing much.  For them to be so eager and practice so faithfully at home and at church is really like a miracle to me.  They will also be playing their instruments in the Christmas Eve service.   It is such a blessing to see how we all can be a part of this wonderful church fellowship.

So to get back to Psalm 103:5......  Because of all these things I can see that God has done so much good for me, and I am satisfied.  That doesn't mean I don't have struggles or am never disappointed or never lose my temper, but I am learning to trust God more and more and to be thankful.    My heart is full of praise for Him and I do feel that my "youth is renewed".  There is a renewed energy and desire to dive into all that He has given me to do and to really enjoy life!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It Should Not Have Been.....

It should not have been….
This losing of our youth…
This vast exiting from church….

Church should not be a place of perfection, of hiding behind smiles, greeting one another superficially, pretending all is okay when we might be harboring fears, doubts, pain, griefs ……

It should be a safe place where questions can be asked, even if answers are unknown.  Instead we sometimes say not to ask questions, but to just believe.  Maybe we are afraid to be honest, to admit we also struggle and have doubts or maybe think it would make us look weak….

We should not just tell them to be good or else they will make Jesus sad, because no matter how hard they try they can’t be good all the time. We do tell them that Jesus loves them, but do our actions really show them that truth?  Do we tell them that only God can enable them to do the right thing and encourage them to go to Him, or do we just give rules and come down hard when they mess up?  Do we share our struggles and show where we mess up? Do we show them what a merciful God we have, full of love and compassion, Who always forgives? I hope we do, at least most of the time.

It should be a place to be loved no matter what, a place for confession and healing, a place for uniting and building up! It should not be a place where fear reigns but a place where we can find rest knowing that we have a common bond, a place to pray and love and cry and hug, to be a family with God as our Father.  It’s not too late!  Our young people are crying out.  They want to be heard and accepted for who they are, not what we want them to be.  And yes, sometimes they will shock us, sometimes they will thrill us, sometimes they just want to know that we understand.  They will also make mistakes just like we all do. If we will just listen to each other we just might be able to humble ourselves together before God and His Word and really learn the TRUTH…...because in the Bible is where we all find forgiveness, instruction, and the knowledge and wisdom we need to live as children of God.  And when we all bond together in Christ, the world can’t help but sit up and take notice.

Thinking of all this reminded me of this beautiful song by Ken Medema that I found on you tube HERE
Please take time to listen to it. I guarantee you'll be moved. I've included the words: 

If This Is Not A Place..... 

If this is not a place where tears are understood.
Then where shall I go to cry?

And if this is not a place where my spirit can take wings,
Then where shall I go to fly?


I don't need another place for trying to impress you
With just how good and virtuous I am.

I don't need another place for always being on top of things;
Everybody knows that it's a sham.

I don't need another place for always wearing smiles,
Even when it's not the way I feel.

I don't need another place to mouth the same old platitudes;
Everybody knows that it's not real.


So if this is not a place where my questions can be asked,
Then where shall I go to seek?

And if this is not a place where my heart cry can be heard,
Where, tell me where, shall I go to speak?

So if this is not a place where tears are understood,
Where shall I go, where shall I go to fly? 

My prayer is that we Christians will return to the Word of God, immerse ourselves in it along with prayer and thanksgiving, and make our churches places where we are not afraid to face our differences but lovingly and prayerfully find peace by being obedient to God, even if some things seem very hard and go contrary to what we desire.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 15, 2013

TREE

It's time for  Five Minute Friday again and the word prompt for today is TREE. If you'd like to join in you can find out all about it HERE.     Every week many people join us to write for five minutes without worrying about editing or getting it perfect.  We just write what comes to mind and stop when the five minutes are up.

GO:

When I think of a tree many words come to mind like strong, stately, reaching to the sky, digging deep and wide with roots.  It seems like trees have always been a part of my life. In most of the places I have lived I have been surrounded by trees.  

 I remember a very large pine tree in our backyard in Florida, where I grew up.  It was at the very back of the yard and we had a swing set under it.  I loved to go out and swing and sometimes would just cover my bare feet with the dirt and I came down each time to slow a little.  One time I think we tried to see how dirty we could get our feet.  I'm sure my mom wasn't too pleased.   

When I married and we moved to NH a year later we had a very small 3/4 acre yard.  Well, it was small compared to all those around us, but I remember counting over 70 white birch trees on our property. I thought they were so cool, because we didn't have them where I grew up.   And in the fall our front yard was covered with the most vivid colors of  red and yellow that I had ever seen.  It was truly beautiful.

STOP

Time is up, but I must make a correction.  When we moved to NH we first rented a duplex for a few months before we moved into the house where I counted the birch trees.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Truth

It's time for Five Minute Friday again!  If you would like to join you can find all the details HERE.
We don't worry about punctuation or grammar, etc., just write whatever comes to mind for five minutes on the topic given.  This week's topic is: Truth.

GO:

Why are we sometimes afraid to tell the truth?  Do we think it might cause controversy?  Will it alienate us from someone we love?  Sometimes it is very hard to tell the truth when we think about what might happen if we admit something we know would hurt someone.    These are hard questions to consider.

Many times we are afraid to disagree with someone because we don't like conflict.  But what if by bringing things to light we are actually able to be drawn closer to those we love even if we disagree as to what truth is.  Maybe by sharing and praying for each other God will lead us to the TRUTH.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me." This is found in the Bible in John 14:6.   Jesus is the TRUTH.   When we read His Word, we will find His truth.

STOP

Friday, November 1, 2013

GRACE

I'm linking up with Lisa Jo Baker's Five Minute Friday again today!  It's when we take five minutes to write about the topic she picks without worrying about getting it just right, a time to simply write whatever comes to mind about the subject.  Feel free to join us!


GO

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of grace is a feeling of thankfulness because of the grace that God extended me when He called me to be His child!   And it doesn't stop there!  The grace just keeps on coming day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute.

Grace is always there, but we don't always see it.  In the middle of whatever we are struggling with or going through whether it's dealing with tiredness, sickness, a needy child, you name it, it's so very hard to stop and realize that there is grace enough to carry us through.  We just need to humble ourselves and stop trying to do it all and just ask God to give us the grace we need.

And another Grace in my life is my youngest daughter! She and all her siblings are blessings to me!

STOP
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.
- See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday/#sthash.8UhcKnxJ.dpuf