manifest

manifest= clear or obvious to the mind

My hubby and I began watching a series on Netflix recently called Manifest. We were hooked from the beginning, as the storyline is very intriguing and the series offers lots of twists and turns.

One of the main themes of the series is Romans 8:28- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This is a verse I quote often, because it’s an encouragement that we are called to follow and seek Him in all things, and a reminder that we can trust He has a greater purpose at work than what we are able to see with our own eyes. We can completely trust that even when we are in a BAD situation, that somehow He is going to use it for His good.

In the show, the survivors of the 5 year plane disappearance hear voices, later referred to “callings”. These callings will at times bring survivors together to solve a puzzle… always leading them to help someone in need and miraculously these callings connect to each other in deeply personal ways with the characters. This is one of the best ways I have seen my walk with Jesus displayed on a screen… and probably one of the easiest ways to describe what it feels like for me to hear that “small whisper” of the Holy Spirit, and to walk with Jesus each day.

Just the other day, I went to a local senior living community to do a worship service in the middle of the week. Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of the week for me. I play and sing a few hymns with the residents, we pray, and I share a short devotional and then close with another song and prayer. It fills my heart with great joy to see the residents clapping, singing, and experiencing the blessing that is corporate worship. When I leave, I always feel like I have made a difference in their lives for Jesus.

And this past week- it was the walk to my car where I heard the “small whisper”.

There are outdoor patio areas for the residents to sit outside of their rooms on the ground floor. It happened to be raining that day as I was heading out to my car. I spotted a lady who was all done up- she looked like Elizabeth Taylor and was strikingly beautiful. She held a book in her hand and was gazing out over the parking lot watching the rain fall.

As clear as day, I felt the Lord telling me to go and speak to her.

I said hi as I approached her and she greeted me.

“Isn’t it just heavenly listening to the rain?” she said to me.

Listening to the rain is one of my favorite things to do. We chatted for just a moment, and then I invited her to join me next week for our time of worship.

“Oh, I’m a life-long atheist,” she replied.

And what struck me was her tone- she was not timid or shy about what she believed, but was confident and proud of her declaration.

I smiled and told her I loved her and would welcome her to join us.

I thought about her statement that the sound of the rain was heavenly.

I think about heaven a lot.

Even our greatest, most pleasurable moments here on earth will pale in comparison to the place He has prepared for us, and I want this special lady to see that place one day.

Romans 8:28… ALL THINGS work together for good. Who knows- maybe I will never see her again. Maybe the Lord simply used me to plant a tiny mustard seed in her heart.

But just maybe I will see her next week for worship!

Romans 8:28

Take Me As I Am

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Your love makes me want to be

the version of me that You see

filtered through the blood of Christ

and sanctified by sacrifice

So take me as I am 

make me something new

take my sins away

make me more like You

may Your will be done

let Your kingdom come

Help me find a better way

Cause I don’t want to throw away

the gift You gave me on the tree

by living my life just for me

You said that we could live like You

but all that I can seem to do

is fail just like I did before

Jesus, I want so much more

I don’t want to wait for heaven

I want fellowship right now

To claim the gift that I’ve been given

Jesus, help me, show me how

take me as I am 

make me something new

take my sins away

make me more like You

may Your will be done

let Your kingdom come

My husband wrote these lyrics and I wrote the music to this song. These words beautifully sum up our response to God’s amazing love. His loves compels us to want to live a life that glorifies Him and honors Him through our every thought, action, and deed- only made possible by seeking Him and living in fellowship with Him.  He takes us just as we are- but, praise God, He doesn’t leave us that way!  He continues to shape and mold us into His likeness-moment by moment.

Who moved my tree?

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How do you react to change?  Let me just say that the word in itself makes me cringe!  I do not like change, Sam I am.  I do not like it in my house, I do not like it in my spouse.  I do not like it here or there. I do not like it anywhere.  Not one little bit.  Unless it is initiated by moi.  Then it is refreshing, exciting… perhaps the best idea in the world! I love knowing what to expect.  But if I am honest with myself, I think I just like being in control.

All to Jesus, I surrender…

My husband came to me yesterday and suggested a new spot for our Christmas tree this year.  As soon as he said it, I could feel my inner lioness come out. NO!  I want it where it always is!  It looks fabulous right beside our fireplace- where we have put it for the past few years.  How dare he suggest something different!

And as soon my inner roar came out, I remembered that where he suggested to put it was actually where I had wanted it all along- nine years ago!  But nevertheless, I had to put my foot down and say NO!

I am as stubborn as a mule.  I have yet to meet one, but I imagine they must be pretty stubborn, because I sure am!  I prayed and asked God to help me with my stubbornness last night.  Surely He can help me navigate the minor change of putting our tree in a new spot.  More of Him and less of me…

I am letting go of old habits.  Change is hard, but change is good.  When I am faced with change, I don’t like what I see in myself.  It makes me thankful for a Savior who understands me and my weaknesses… and who forgives me for my not so good reactions.    It makes me thankful that I have a loving husband who knows me all too well after more than 19 years together, and that he can show me grace… and I can do the same for him.  Change allows me to take a good look at myself.  When I look in the mirror, I want to look more like Jesus every day- not my old stubborn self!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

Before my husband left for work this morning, I told him I thought his ideas were great ones and that I was excited to do something different. Baby steps.  As I pray daily- He continually shows me that He ain’t done with me yet!  He is making me new every day- changing and growing me… shaping and molding me into His clay pot.

And then we discussed not only moving the tree, but switching the entire contents of one room with another. Gasp!  And my inner lioness didn’t even make a peep!  A mere day before, this would have sent me into a melt-down.

And since we’re going to change the house around, I might as well keep on changing… who knows?  Maybe I’ll color my hair blonde!  Maybe I’ll even change the side of the bed I sleep on!  Ok, maybe that’s a little too much change for one day…

“God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.  

He wants you to be just like Jesus.” – Max Lucado

Thank you for loving me just as I am and for loving me enough to change me into Your likeness.  I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the One who gave it all.  I’ll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered.  All I am is Yours!

In one ac”cord”

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Not quickly broken, 

a cord of three…

eldest, youngest daughter

and me.

My oldest daughter received the nickname “Sweet Treat” from a special lady several years ago.  I must say that she lives up to this lovely nickname in many ways.  Earlier this week, as I tucked her into bed, she said, “Momma, I have something for you!”  With her crystal blue eyes shining bright, she flashed me a smile as she hid her hands behind her back.  

“What is it?” I curiously asked her.  

“I made you something special!”  She then held out a colorful, tightly braided bracelet.  

“This is for you, Momma.  Don’t EVER take it off!”  

“Ok, I won’t!” I tied it to my wrist as securely as I could. All week I have pondered this verse from Ecclesiastes-

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 Ecclesiastes 4:12

Each time I look down at my wrist and see the braid, I am struck that these strands alone are simply just pieces of string… and even two of them would unravel if I tried to twist them into a bracelet.  But three…. they weave over and under into the perfect chevron pattern- not quickly broken!  Much like the relationship between my daughters and I.  Not quickly broken.  Because we love each other.  Because iron sharpens iron.  As I do my best to follow Proverbs 22 and train my girls in the way they should go, God also uses them in the most miraculous ways to teach me. I hold them accountable- and they also keep me accountable.  You know kids- they are the first to point out something you should (or should not!) be doing!  

Image 3And as I sit at the piano, with my cord of three strands around my wrist, I play a simple chord… three notes in perfect harmony.  One note alone is hollow sounding, simple, lonely.  Two are better than one, but still sounds empty… but the third note makes the chord!  Turning something simple into something magnificent!  Major to minor, adding color and emotion with a simple note.  All equal parts.  On their own they are ordinary- but together, they are extraordinary!

The keys of the chord are the keys to our cord-  we need harmony in our relationships!  What beautiful things we make when we weave our love for one another together!  When we encourage one another, and allow our best qualities to ring loud and clear.  My girls are as different as night and day,  but together- our family creates  beautiful harmony. When we work together to accomplish a goal, we are unstoppable!   Relationships are hard work, but when we are like-minded,  it is truly magnificent! And when the love of Christ flows freely through us, our cord is not quickly broken.  We are stronger together than we could ever be apart.  

Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.  Philippians 2:2

 Lord, thank you for using my daughter’s simple gift to remind me of the special bond we have!  May you weave us together in perfect harmony!  Help me embrace our differences so that we might create a symphony for You!

 

 

Somebody’s watching me

A woman’s eye. Esperanto: Virina okulo. França...

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of  Christ.  He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.  Ephesians 5

Everywhere we go, people are watching us.  On this particularly beautiful fall day, I ventured out to another doctor’s office- one I had never been to before.  I checked in and sat down in a chair close to the children’s play area. There was an elderly lady on one side of me, and a young man, who looked to be about 20, dressed nicely sitting directly across from me.  I smiled at them both and enjoyed the quiet music playing over the loudspeaker, and the warm sunshine breaking through the mini-blinds.

It was no sooner that I smiled at each of them that the young man slid down onto the floor, transfixed by a child’s toy- a bead maze- one much like my girls loved to play with as toddlers!   I watched him as he slowly moved each bead over to one side and then back again.  He then stood up and gently placed the toy back where it belonged and grabbed a book.  “The Wiggles” were on the front, as well as a clock that had moveable hands.  Once again, he was fascinated by each page,and changed the hands on the clock at every page turn.  I was overwhelmed watching him… I fought back tears as I thought about him and his family- and how precious life is and just how much I take for granted.

Most people know that I crack every joint in my body- like popcorn!  As I watched this young man become enthralled in the simple pleasures around him, I placed my hands on my head and jaw. POP! CRACK! POP!  And the young man quickly looked up from his book, startled by the loud popping and cracking, and tilts his head to the side, inquisitively.  I watched as he placed one hand on the top of his head and the other hand on his jaw and he began to attempt to crack his neck.  It was quite obvious he had not done this before, but he was imitating what he saw me do.  He awkwardly yanked his head from side to side as he smiled at me.  I had to hold back my giggles- not at the young man, but at how silly I must have looked to him jerking my own head back and forth!

This young man, who, at first glance looked much like a doctor himself, was so childlike and carefree.  When I open my eyes to the world around me, I can easily see how He uses simple interactions to remind me of this truth-  you never know who is watching you- and at what lengths they will go to imitate you.  Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do!

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21
Lord, help me to continue to see Your goodness in everything around me.  Help me to be Christ-like in every thought, every word I say, and in everything that I do.  Lord, help me be more like You!

I Need More Coffee!!! Thoughts and a song on Isaiah 55

 

Deutsch: Dunkin Donuts in Berlin

Is anyone thirsty?

 Come and drink—
  even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
  it’s all free!  

Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?

 Why pay for food that does you no good?

Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
  You will enjoy the finest food.

Isaiah 55

I rue the day that Dunkin Donuts came to my neighborhood!  I literally pass it multiple times a day– every time I enter or exit my neighborhood.  It calls my name- “Julieeeeeeee- you need more coffee!!!!”  And if there is any truth to the saying “You are what you eat” – then I surely expect to turn into a pumpkin from all the pumpkin coffee I drink!!!

It’s not the donuts that I am drawn to- it is the rich, decadent, hot (or sometimes iced) coffee that “calls” me.  It is the irresistibly quick “pick-me-up” that allows me to be a little extra cheery for the girls when they come home from school- that quick burst of energy that enables me to do chores at super-human speed – that’s what I love most!

But then the inevitable happens- I crash… hard! I.can.not.hold.my.eyes.open.  And I’m grumpy.  Real grumpy.

So, one day I was sitting in the line at DD, patiently waiting for my afternoon cup of joe and it was taking a little longer than usual.  No worries.  I actually had my Bible sitting there in the seat beside me.  Not a bad driving companion, eh?  Well, I figured I might as well spend my time wisely.  I opened it up and out jumps Isaiah 55.

Is anyone thirsty, come and drink– well, sure I am…  I’m waiting for my coffee right now!!

Even if you have no money- it’s all free–  well, you got me there.  This is definitely not free and it adds up when I do it several times a week…

Why do you spend your money on the food that does not give you strength?- ok- you got me there too.  I know that I don’t really need this coffee. And yes, the energy is good, but it is only temporary.

Listen to me and you will see what is good–  Alright, Lord.  I hear you loud and clear today. I need to turn to You and Your strength- and indulge a little less.

I got my coffee and prayed about His Living Word that spoke to me in the drive-thru.  I made the long drive home (just kidding… it’s like a 30 second drive) and vowed to drink a little less joe and to feast a little more on His Word.  I sat down at my piano and I put the scripture to song….

Musical musings on neglected weeds

Hard at work
we made it look
as if that’s all 
it really took
One day of labor
one day of sweat
and oh how quickly
we forget
these little things 
that creep and grow
up through our mulch
did we not know
that when we do not 
tend our weeds
and when His word 
we do not heed
how much harder 
must we work
to clear up all these 
weeds that took
and what else might
we see is found 
as we pull roots
below the ground?
 
I put this poem to song.   How fitting it was when I played my piano this  morning –  one of the keys was just a little “off” today… a “buzz” in my Eb key… thanks, God, for reminding me of the beauty in imperfections!  We all feel a little “off” sometimes, don’t we?  I am thankful for His Living Word, His grace, and mercy…. and my beautifully “imperfect” piano!
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:36

What happens when we neglect our weeds…

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Hard at work
we made it look
as if that’s all 
it really took
One day of labor
one day of sweat
and oh how quickly
we forget
these little things 
that creep and grow
up through our mulch 
did we not know-
that when we do not 
tend our weeds
and when His word 
we do not heed
how much harder 
must we work
to clear up all these 
weeds that took
and what else might
we see is found 
as we pull roots
below the ground?
 
So, we didn’t really keep up the layer of chocolate mulch in our backyard… completely shocking, I know…   We were so proud, thinking we had finally taken responsibility for something long overlooked.  And then it seemed like overnight, the little green patches of pesky weeds started creeping in…
I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 24:30-34
Which leads me to take stock in other “weeds” that have not been tended to… what else is being neglected and allowed to fester in my life?  One day of neglect, then two… it is so easy to get out of a routine of doing our chores, and when I do, it makes me feel out of control.  When my house is a mess, I feel like I am a mess, too… but what about other important things in life- like our relationships with our spouses, our friends… what about making time for prayer, and reading the Word?
Nothing in life is easy… it takes work!  Hard work!  And consistency.  The same is true with our relationship with Christ.  He is the one who shows me what needs tending in my “garden” and gives me instruction on how to prune it.  The more time I spend with Him, the easier it is to notice the weeds that are cropping up.  Jealousy, envy, pride, bitterness… these are just a few things that can grow deep roots quickly.    Lord knows, I sure don’t want my heart to look like our poor back yard!
Speaking of the backyard–  Babe (what I affectionately call my hubby)– we got some work to do!!!
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10
Lord, help me to clear the weeds so that I can clearly see the path.  
Help me to hear Your voice, heed Your Word, and help me to rely on You- my Master Gardener-
every moment of every day. 

Finding joy

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 The grass is always greener on the other side isn’t it?  When I was a little girl I thought my life would just be amazing and perfect only if… I was thinner… or didn’t tower over everyone else with my ginormous daddy long legs!   As I got into junior high and high school I thought life would be just dandy if I could buy clothes like all the “cool girls” from The Limited or any number of other popular clothing stores for teens back in the day. Maybe if I had a better car, or a nicer home…

My husband and I have talked many times about the “things” that we wanted.  A bigger TV.  Maybe if I could finally lose weight!  Well, guess what… I did that, too.  And still, it wasn’t enough. We search and search for happiness.  I have even been guilty of counting on my husband or turning to friends to make me happy…or even food..  But you know what- there is no house big enough, no sack of money large enough, no dessert sweet enough  to  fill up that empty feeling we have.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Philippians 4:4

The first time I felt overwhelming joy and peace was the moment I surrendered my life to Jesus. I finally realized that I couldn’t keep searching for things or looking to other people to make me happy.  Happiness is a fleeting emotion that comes and goes.  Joy is having the love and peace of Christ living within you, filling you up, moment by moment.  Joy is knowing Him and receiving His abounding grace and living in fellowship with HIm each and every day.   Joy is knowing that each day we are here on earth and each breath we take is a precious gift- one that could be taken away at any moment.  Joy is knowing that there is more to life than the “things” of this earth.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

The more I seek Him, the sweeter this verse becomes.  I thank Him for every blessing He has given me- including my husband, who so eloquently expresses through poetry the endless search for peace and joy in the poem below.   He wrote the words, and I put it to song.  May He continually give you peace and joy as you seek Him!

Click here to hear the song-

“Deceived”

The things I think will bring me joy,  

The newest car, the latest toy

Are nothing but the Devil’s ploy

To keep my eyes from you

 

What I think is love is only lust 

Consuming fire that fades to dust

A poisonous distraction just 

To turn my eyes from you

 

I’ve been deceived

The world’s not what I thought it was

Deceived

I can’t get what I want because

The Devil’s covered up my eyes

And whispered in my ears his lies

But truth is such a sweet surprise

 

My faith is shifting like the sand

It’s always making me demand

Proof that you are in command

And that your word is true

 

Peace is missing from my life

Replaced by arguments and strife

And worry stabs me like a knife

But I know this is true:

You give me joy no matter what my circumstance

The love you showed has given me a second chance

You give me faith that’s firm in your unchanging grace

And peace is mine when I make the time

To seek Your face.

Helpless

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Most mornings I sit at the piano and sing whatever He puts on my heart…sometimes I sing my prayers.  One morning I wrote this song as I prayed to God.   So often I feel helpless- not knowing what to do, or what direction to go in.   It’s those moments like these  that I find comfort in knowing He is in control and He is with me.

 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  

Romans 8:26-27

Many times  I don’t even know how to pray or what to say… but this verse brings comfort to me-knowing that Jesus Himself is interceding and knows the deepest worries and desires of my heart.   As overwhelmed as life can get at times, I want to passionately pursue Christ and be obedient to all He asks of me.  He is everything my heart desires.

 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

And I give thanks for these moments of complete helplessness, for He gently reminds me that I can do nothing without Him and that He is all that I need.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Helpless

Here I am in this moment waiting for You

To hear my cry, to hear my heart beating for You

and I have fallen so far

I don’t have the strength so I bow to all You are

I’m helpless without You

and I need You, come and fill my heart

I’m helpless away from You

You are everything that I desire

So I give to You my sacrifice of praise

I sing to You with everything I am

Lord, hear my voice, in this moment calling to You

I need You more than ever before.