Help Us Accept Each Other (a hymn remake)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,  but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails-  1 Corinthians 13

If I have faith, but not love- I am nothing.

If I give to the poor, but do not do it out of love- I gain nothing

God is love.

I am nothing without God.

I am nothing without His love.

If I do anything that is not out of love– it is meaningless.

How many times have you done the right thing because you knew that was what you were supposed to do? I have done it for years!  But if I really love Him, I have to do everything out of love. Without love in our hearts, “doing the right thing” still doesn’t cut it!

For many years, I have “done the right thing” when it comes to certain situations.  But we aren’t supposed to just do the right thing- we are called to LOVE.  When we LOVE, when we love with God’s love– His love compels us to do the right thing- each and every time- without fail!

And without reciprocity.

No strings attached kind of love. Because that’s what His love is like.

We don’t deserve it.

We can’t earn it.

But when we accept His love, He compels us to give it- freely.   And His love changes people.  I know, because it sure has changed me!

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8 

A dear friend showed me this hymn a while back.  These words have resonated with me for quite some time.  I set it to new music and also added a chorus to it.  May He give us a passion to love those who hunger for the kind of love only He can give!

 

“Help Us Accept Each Other”

Help us accept each other

as Christ accepted us

teach us as sister, brother

each person to embrace

be present, Lord, among us

and bring us to believe

that we are ourselves accepted

and meant

to love and live

to love as You have loved

to give as You have given

to die to our own desires

so we may do Your will

and love as You have loved us 

Let Your acceptance change us

 

so that we may be moved 

in living situations 

to do the truth in love 

to practice your acceptance

until we know by heart

the table of forgiveness 

and laughter’s healing heart 

Lord, for today’s encounters

for all who are in need

who hunger for acceptance

for righteousness and bread

we need new eyes for seeing

new hands for holding on

renew us with Your Spirit, Lord,

free us, make us one

*original text by Fred Kaan 

Amazing Grace (House of the Rising Son)

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
When we’ve been there, ten thousand years
bright shining as the son 
we’ve no less days, to sing God’s praise
than when we first begun 
Several years ago, one of my friends from church mentioned that we should try singing the words of Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Son.  I sat down at the piano the other evening and that conversation from years ago came to mind…I finally tried it 🙂
I will sing a new song to You, O God;
Upon a harp of ten strings
I will sing praises to You
–  Psalm 144:9

He holds the sky

fullsizeoutput_28df

He formed the clouds within His hand 

He holds the sky

and sea 

fullsizeoutput_28e1

The very hand that holds the world-

it cradles

you and me 

fullsizeoutput_28e5

And when the distant storm clouds bring 

the threat of thunder

and rain

fullsizeoutput_28e3

In the shelter of His mighty wings

we can find peace 

once again 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty-

Psalm 91:1

IMG_0021

I have always loved a good storm!  I watch the sky in absolute amazement… the clouds swirling, the wind howling…it is truly a marvelous site.  Weather patterns can be so unpredictable, and yet even when a storm comes- our daily routines still goes on.

He reminded me this morning that sometimes life is like that, too.  Many times we experience circumstances and storms that seem completely out of our control.  And yet, He is Lord of ALL creation, and He will be faithful to lead us through.

For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.  Job 12:10 

IMG_0023

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.  Psalm 107:29

IMG_0025

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.        Deuteronomy 31:6

IMG_0026

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7

IMG_0029

 

I almost missed it

fullsizeoutput_2352

lost in wonder

we sat under 

a tree- pensively waiting

fullsizeoutput_2363

thoughtfully gazing 

we were both praising 

the Lord- and anticipating

fullsizeoutput_2358

the silent display 

a heavenly array 

we beheld a glorious sight 

fullsizeoutput_2360

while the world kept on spinning 

the two of us grinning-  

we watched Him turn day into night 

IMG_0081

One evening last week, I got a phone call from my husband.  He had worked late most evenings that week, and he had called to let me know he was on his way home.  About five minutes later, the phone rang again- Babe- grab your shoes and your camera and meet me outside, he says to me.  So I did.  The moment I stepped outside, I saw the cotton candy pink striped clouds through the trees.  Quick! Get in the car!  We drove the short distance to our closest sunset spot, and with each turn we saw the colors fading away.  We parked and the once magnificent display had settled into a dull gray sky.  Oh well. Even though we missed it, it meant the world to me that my husband tried to get me there in time to see the sunset.

Then this past weekend, hubby and I had an evening to ourselves, and to be quite honest- I wanted to sit at home and do absolutely nothing.  But my loving hubby suggested otherwise.  You know how much you love watching the sunset- let’s go find a spot and have dinner.

I was tired.  And I hadn’t seen a good sunset in a while- mostly because I have gotten out of the habit of looking for it.  But how could I resist an evening out with my hubby, with the promise of a sunset view?  So we drove up to one of our favorite spots in town, at the edge of a shopping center.  We parked and sat on the grassy hill, overlooking the valley and it was a magnificent evening.

fullsizeoutput_2358

On that hill, we sat together and took in all the beauty around us. I was so grateful for the quiet time together.  It made me infinitely thankful for my husband- who loves me enough to get me out of the house- and he always knows just what I need.  Cars were passing by, people were going in and out of the stores… the busy world kept on turning- all while He was painting a masterpiece in the sky.

And if the evening had gone as I had initially wanted it to-

I would have missed out, too.

He went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Matthew 14:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eclipse

when clouds roll in

over a sky of blue 

and you can’t see the eclipse- 

what’s a girl to do? 

take a picture 

anyway! 

IMG_5483

I’m not really the best at planning ahead, so naturally I did not have a pair of “eclipse” glasses laying around the house.  But honestly, I wasn’t really interested in watching it… I’m just not that into you.

IMG_5480

Until I noticed the sky got all strange looking…and then I couldn’t look away.

 I admit it-  I was sucked into the eclipse obsession, trying my hardest NOT to look up, but still look around at all the cool clouds and colors.

 

IMG_5482

While the eclipse was a bust here in Charlottesville, I experienced my own personal “eclipse” that day.  It seemed as if a cloud were hanging over me when I woke that morning, and I was desperate to see the light of the Lord.  This was partly my own fault.   I’ve been spending way too much time watching the news and surfing the internet… spending time doing meaningless things that I could be spending with the Lord.  So I did everything I could to get my heart and mind completely focused on Him.

I turned off the tv.  I prayed.  I read scriptures.  I cried as I read through the Psalms…

Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
 I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.  Psalm 63

I prayed that verse over and over. Because His love is better than life. And the more I prayed it, the more my heart felt it.  He is everything.  He gives me life.  And I thought- why would I ever choose to do anything other than praise the Lord when I have any “down time”?  It is through worship that He fills me up!

Then I watched church on youtube. The first service I clicked on happened to be a baptism service.  It was so beautiful- on one side of the stage, there were people leading worship, and on the other, a pastor was baptizing and praying with people.  You could hear the cheers as the people were baptized.  I was so moved- I cried tears of joy for these people I’d never even met!

IMG_5479

I mean- I was all wrapped up in worship.  Hands raised, crying, singing…

And then I moved on over to the piano.  Words and music flowed out of me effortlessly.

It was such an amazing God-filled day.

It made me really think about how I was spending my “down” time on a regular basis-

Are the things I’m doing bringing me closer to the Lord?

Or are they taking precious time away from Him?

His love is better than life.  

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

remember the “green lights”

photo 1

I began dating my husband when I was 17 years old.  We worked together at a movie rental place inside of a grocery store for about a year before he asked me out on our first date.

My parents had recently separated and I was a little bit jaded about the whole idea of  marriage, and what a happy family should looked like.  I met my husband’s parents early on in our relationship and I remember wondering why they were so happy all the time!

I spent lots of time at my husband’s family’s house that first year we dated.  So much time, that it was pretty much assumed that I was going to be there for dinner every night.  My  (future) in-laws frequently brought home a Wendy’s frosty for me- knowing how much I loved ice cream.

One afternoon I was riding with my (future) mother-in-law to get ice cream.  I clearly remember the light turning green and hearing her say Thank you, Lord.

In my mind I remember thinking that was a little bit over-the-top.  Really?!  Who thanks the Lord for the light changing to green?  But in reality, I wasn’t thankful for much of anything  during that time in my life.  I felt sorry for myself for lots of reasons and I was completely oblivious to all of the many blessings I had to be thankful for.

But praise the Lord- years later, somewhere in my misery, God’s grace found me.  He opened my eyes and He came into my heart.  I am so thankful for how my husband’s parents have selflessly loved me with a Christ-like love all these years.  And over the years, I realized the source for their happiness- it’s simply the JOY of the Lord!

I once was lost, but now I’m found

was blind but now I see 

Whenever I feel myself begin to slip into that bottomless pit of self-pity, I think of my mother-in-law and how she praised the Lord for something as simple as the green light that day.

When we begin to thanking Him for the little things- we realize just how much we have to be thankful for! 

And just as my wise father-in-law says- “give God all the glory- even when you think He doesn’t deserve it…  because He does!” 

Be thankful in all circumstances-  1 Thessalonians 5:18

fullsizeoutput_1f39

stayin’ alive

DSC_0174

I basked in their peak today

DSC_0172

rose petals unfurled

all the way

DSC_0173

oh how I wish

I could make them stay

DSC_0175

alive

for even just

one

more

day

DSC_0163

My hubby brought home these lovely peaches roses for me last week to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  They were the same color as the roses I held on our wedding day.  They were so lovely, and I wanted to take a few pics of them before they wilted…

ah, ha, ha, ha stayin’ alive!

I bet you’re singing that song now 😉

Which reminded me of something my youngest daughter showed me recently…

She came running in the room, snickering, to show me what she had pinned on Pinterest-

“Mom- this is TOTALLY you!”

Now, I could have been TOTALLY offended, but instead I laughed.  Both of my girls crack me up.  They are becoming more teenager-ish by the hour.

I actually did LOL at that one…because I do LOVE taking pictures!  Of practically everything!  

So, maybe I’m not a “professional” photographer- but while I may not make a single cent,  I am paid in full in the joy it brings me to capture beautiful things and moments on camera!  Just the other day I was looking at pictures on my phone and happened to scroll through over a year’s worth of pictures, and I was so grateful for every single moment I was reminded of.  Even my youngest daughter’s numerous crazy selfies brought a smile to my face!

DSC_0167

And you know what is so special about looking back at all the pictures we take?  It’s not about how we looked in them, or where they were… it’s about who we were with and how we felt during those moments.

And these flowers, well they are going in the trash soon…but when I see these rose pics I will remember the love I felt for my hubby as he ran up the stairs to surprise me that morning last week.  Priceless! 

So whatever hobbies bring you joy- even if you aren’t the greatest at it- keep on doing what you love!

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

DSC_0178

 

 

You’ve captured my heart

 

dsc_0006

It’s a wonderful delight

in the absence of sunlight 

dsc_0020

to sit and gaze upon 

a yellow bloom 

dsc_0018

A flower big and bright

I smile at the sight

dsc_0010

a little bit of happy

fills the room

dsc_0012

 

 

 

 

We sang one of my favorite worship songs this past Sunday- Beautiful One.   I love how you can sing a song a hundred times, but God still makes it new in your heart!  I heard this line-

You’ve opened my eyes to Your wonders anew, You’ve captured my heart with this Love...

As we sang this song, I began to think of all the ways He has “captured” my heart over the past week… little things– like a random phone call, or a simple text message from a friend.  A compliment from a stranger, the perfect song on the radio at just the right time…

And yesterday He captured my heart again!

Last week, I had planned on going to pick sunflowers, but I ended up unable to go.  There’s just something special about sunflowers- I can’t stop smiling when I see them!  I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to go, but didn’t think much about it afterwards.

Well, just yesterday someone out of the blue brought me a bouquet of the longest, most beautiful sunflowers!  She knew how badly I wanted to go pick them last week, and wanted to brighten my day.  Such a simple gesture- but He captured my heart once again!

“You’ve opened my eyes to Your wonders anew, 

You’ve captured my heart with this Love, 

’cause nothing on earth is as beautiful 

as You”

…that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.  Psalm 30:12

 

 

 

 

what’s consuming you?

2016-09-02-19-56-13-hdr

For our God is a consuming fire.  

Hebrews 12:29

2016-09-02-19-56-30

I can become consumed with so many things…

What am I gonna make for dinner?! 

Do my girls have clean clothes?  

Did I remember to get those snacks from the store for their lunch? 

What am I gonna wear today?  What doesn’t make me look like a frumpy grandma? 

2016-09-02-19-35-27-hdr

But something happens when I see a blazing sky….

2016-09-02-19-56-36-hdrI stop obsessing about tomorrow.

And I stop thinking about what I failed to do yesterday-

I am consumed by the present

and His presence.

 

He has made me glad

IMG_2481

I had someone recently tell me they were looking for a sign from God.  I told them that He is always faithful and will give them exactly what they need -in His perfect timing!

I know this because He has been so faithful to me.

With no stream in sight, lately I’ve felt like I am walking through a desert.  As someone who wears her heart on her sleeve at all times, I’ve cried more in the last week than I have in ages.  I HATE to cry.  Especially in front of people.  It is humiliating, embarrassing, and makes me feel weak. But sometimes I just can’t stop the tears from flowing, and I have stopped fighting it.

I arrived at church Sunday morning, and was sitting at the piano- praying and getting ready to begin our worship practice.  As I sat there, I got a text from a friend saying they were praying for me.  I responded, letting them know how much their prayers meant to me and to share with them that I had been feeling very “down” this past week.

As soon as did I hit “send” on my response, I saw someone enter the sanctuary- all smiles, and holding a flower.  I got up from the piano as she came to the stage.

“God told me to give this to you today!”  She had cut the bloom from her yard that morning.

IMG_2475

I cried- yes, again, lol–  but this time they were tears of joy!  It was a gladiola bloom.

“He has made me GLAD,” I said as I hugged her, and in that instant the joy of the Lord flooded my heart.

He is with us, and He shows up in the most wonderful ways!

And always right on time.

For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.  Psalm 92:4 

IMG_2477

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7