Every Moment I Surrender

Every Moment I Surrender

I’m doing all the things that I know to do

I’m praying every day-

I need You

to be more than just the written Word

Let it live inside my heart- make me Yours.

Awaken my passion- light this spark.

Show me I’m not alone

Won’t You melt this heart of stone?

Fill my life again and make me Yours.

Strengthen me for each new day

Lord, show me Your perfect way

Fill my life again and make me yours.

Draw me closer to You

through the storms of life.

I lay them at Your feet

I’ll sacrifice-

Everything I have I give to You

Use this, Lord,

Make me new.

Just when I think I’ve given all

You show me just how short I fall

Every moment I surrender 

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Letting SELF get in the way of JOY

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Too many times I have let my SELF get in the way of experiencing His abundant JOY.

How many times have you declined an invitation to spend time with someone because you didn’t like the restaurant they chose, or didn’t have the right clothes to wear?  Petty things, aren’t they?

Just the other day, my husband called me while I was working and asked me if the girls and I wanted to meet him for lunch.  The girls were out of school due to a snow day and were spending the day with me.  Immediately I said no.  Not because I didn’t want to see him, not because I really had something else special planned for lunch-  I said no because of my own hang ups with food.  I said no because I know the restaurant my girls and hubby choose always results in a battle of self control on my part, and many times I leave the restaurant feeling defeated.  So I end the conversation by telling him I’ll think about it.

As I continue to work, I began to think about how blessed I am that I CAN meet my husband for lunch and also that he WANTS to spend his lunch hour with us.  I was convicted, and knew what I had to do.

So I called him and said yes to our lunch date… and yes to the battle of the buffet…

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My youngest slid into the booth beside me, and across from me sat my oldest daughter and my husband.  The blue of his sweater made his eyes sparkle in the sunlight coming through the window. I watched as he teased, sang, and played with the girls.  I fought back tears thinking of my selfishness and how I almost missed this moment in time. I pulled out my phone to take pictures of the three of them.  I made light of it, but I really wanted to remember the overwhelming gratitude I had in my heart as I watched the joy on my husband’s face.  We are never guaranteed another day.  And to think I could have missed that precious moment!

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  

Matthew 6:31-33

Lord, help me to focus less on the material things in life and focus more on You.  Help me surrender every little hang-up, every single moment to You.  Thank You for all You have blessed me with.  Rid me of my SELF  and fill me with You.  May  I not miss another moment of JOY!

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!

You Take My Breath Away

“You Take My Breath Away”

Help me to see Your goodness in the land of the living

I see the beauty around me and I can’t stop praising

Praising You for who You are, for what You do, for what You’ve done

who am I that I would be saved by Your Son

You take my breath away

Amazed by how You show me that You love me

without Your grace in my life where would I be?

You are my strength, You are my rock

You are my calm in the storm

You steady me and ready me

and You keep me safe from harm.

You take my breath away

And even the rocks cry out

when I have no voice to praise You

when You take my breath away

I wrote this song about a month ago.  I had been dealing with minor health issues- allergies, a cough that wouldn’t quit, inability to sing, and just feeling down-right tired and miserable.  I was so tired of feeling sick.  Singing- the very thing that brings me the most joy was something I was not able to do.   I still spent time with God… but I had to be a little more creative with it.  I prayed, read the Bible more, and I wrote poetry.  Then one day I told God how frustrated I was for not being able to sing- or talk-  for so long.

And that morning, a verse popped out at me-

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  Psalm 27:13

I began praying to God- that He would help me focus on Him and not my circumstance.  That He would show me His goodness and get my eyes of myself and help me to stop having a pity party.  And day by day, I began to feel better.  I was more aware of His presence and less of my own ailments.  It was as if He painted each sunset and colored each mountain top just for me- I would tear up at every little beautiful thing… He literally took my breath away with His creation! He was so clearly working on me to worship Him in other ways.  There is so much more to worship than singing!   He used that time to open my eyes to His beauty around me and to hear His voice.  Time to remember all that He has done for me.  Time to be thankful for all He has blessed me with, and a little more time to be quiet and let Him do the talking!

Be still, and know that I am God-   Psalm 46:10

Thank You, Lord, for never ceasing to amaze me with your unfailing love.  Thanks for opening my eyes a little more, and for helping me to be quiet and listen to You.  Thank You for showing me Your goodness in the most awesome ways! 

A Slice of Heaven

 

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A slice of Heaven-  I take in the beauty of His creation and I am compelled to worship Him.  What a Wonderful Maker!

Yours, O LORD,

is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty,

indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth;

Yours is the dominion, O LORD,

and You exalt Yourself as head over all.  

1 Chronicles 29:11

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Son Rise Haiku

 

sun rise

Sky ablaze with pink

A marvelous creation

Praises overflow!

I have always loved haikus-  so simple, yet poignant! To convey a thought in such few words leaves much to the imagination, which is one reason I love them.  As the girls and I waited for the school bus this morning, I found myself looking up at the clouds in wonder.  How awesome He is that He would hand-paint our sky each day!  God is good!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

Thank you, Lord, for another day to serve You, to worship You, and to see Your goodness!  May You use me today for Your purpose and for Your glory!

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!

In the “Waiting Room”

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One Christmas, a wise cousin of mine shared something with my oldest daughter.  Katie was going to be turning the magical age of 8 in a few short months- the long awaited age we told her she could possibly get her first American Girl doll.  On that Christmas Day, she confessed that she couldn’t bear to wait 3 more months for this beloved doll!   My cousin told her that she was in the “waiting room” and that this was a very special time- a time of anticipation!  This was a time to dream and imagine what it will actually feel like to hold that long awaited American Girl doll!

Waiting for something is just no fun!  We want something we can’t afford- no problem!  We can just “charge it”!  We look for something in a store we need and they don’t have it-no problem!   We’ll just hit a few buttons on the computer and have it shipped directly to our front door!    I’m preaching to myself because I am the worst about waiting for something!  I can’t even make an appointment for a haircut because when I finally decide to have it cut, I want it done that day… how sad is that?!  I even found myself thinking my Keurig wasn’t making coffee fast enough this morning!

It’s even harder to wait on the Lord…

I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord;  be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27

Waiting is so difficult.  It feels like.. I.. am… slowlyyyy…. melting… away…

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.  John 3:30

More of Him and less of me.  In times of waiting, I find myself drawing closer to Him.  I a learning to wait- not in frustration, but in complete surrender and anticipation!  As I bring my requests before the Lord, I know His will is to be done in His timing, and I thank Him for whatever that will be…

I took this to heart today as I waited in an actual doctor’s office waiting room-with my girls in tow.  A perfect storm for frustration.  But something different happened today.  I gave them clear expectations before we got there and explained that I was not feeling well.   I would normally play out all the scenarios of disaster in my head before we would even set foot in the doctor’s office… whining, fighting, complaining.which would lead to me feeling frustrated and weary…But not today!   Ain’t no time for that today!  The Lord took those thoughts from me and filled me with sweet anticipation!  We sat in the waiting room for quite some time, and the girls quietly played together.  Not a single fight.  A small miracle, I’d say!

I count my blessings as I worship Him in the many “waiting rooms”.  I thank Him for who He is, for what He does, and for the amazing things He will do!  I thank Him for the small things- like having a peaceful time in the “waiting room” at the doctor’s office with my girls, and for doctors who can help us feel better.  And I do my favorite thing while I’m in the waiting room- sing!

Lord, thank you for being my Father and for knowing me better than I know myself.  Thank you for all the wonderful ways You show that You love me.  Thank you for Your Word and for allowing me to see all of Your goodness in the land of the living!  

Here’s one of many songs I’ve written about being in a “waiting room”…

Father To Us All

Lord, take my hand and lift me up again.

Lord, help me stand on Your solid word again.

I’m listening to You, for I know Your way is true

I’m giving all myself away, in Your holy name I pray…

And I reach for You-

And You take my hand and lead me through.

You calm all my fears

And You dry up all my worried tears.

Just to be still and know that You are always in control

You are Father to us all, and You hear us when we call.

Help me believe and take a step of faith

I need Your grace with each move I make

My hope’s in You alone

For You are my life and song

I’m giving all myself away

In Your holy name I pray…

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….

Willing to be Made Willing

Carter's Mountain- Charlottesville, VA

If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;  Isaiah 1:19

There are times in our lives when we know that He is asking us to do something that is out of the ordinary.  One of these “out of the ordinary” times for my husband and I was when we had to make the decision to leave our hometown and move here  to Charlottesville 9 years ago.    I was not even going to entertain the idea, because I did not ever want to move.  We had everything we needed right there… but there was that little voice telling us to “go”!   You know that saying “never say never”?  Well, I never thought I would have to make that decision.  I was scared.  I was terrified to leave my family and everything I had ever known.  My family….my husband’s family… all of our friends…

It really did not make sense to us at the time, but we heard that voice inside telling us to “go”, and so we did.  I told my husband that if we needed to move somewhere, I guess I could see myself living in Charlottesville.

As a child, we took many trips here to pick apples on Carter’s Mountain and to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is absolutely breathtaking around here in the fall! I can still remember the excitement of driving down interstate 64 and seeing the blazing fall colors of the mountains over the horizon,  and in the car we would “ooh” and “aah”  in a sing-song voice at the spectacular sight!

And that was that… my husband found a wonderful job here, we sold our house in 2 days, and found our new house the first trip up to Charlottesville.  It was really that fast.  And simple.  And not a coincidence- but a “God Incident” that we are here.

I think of that moment I said I was willing to move… I was only partially willing- I wanted to move back after a couple of years.   After living in Charlottesville for a short while, I began to harbor resentment for leaving my home. I bargained with God for ways we could move back.  I searched for houses back home on the internet, jobs for us, anything I could think of to make it happen.  And I made everyone around me miserable.  I was pretty miserable, too.  After moving here and fighting what God was wanting me to do, I reached a point of being willing- willing to be made willing.  Even though I did not want to be here, I prayed for God to change my heart, and help me to be content and to be willing to do whatever it was that He was calling me here for.

After months of prayer, I finally surrendered and told Him I was willing…. willing to do everything He wanted me to do- no matter the cost- no matter if we moved “home” or stayed here. Our “home” here is temporal-  home is where He is- and He is with me always!   And ultimately I was willing- willing to stay or go, and willing to be all His and to serve Him and go into ministry.

for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  Philippians 4:11

Whatever He is asking you to do- you just have to be willing.  He is with you every step of the way.  Moving here was a good thing.  It was definitely a “God” thing.  Seeing how God has worked in our lives since that moment 9 years ago is amazing.  He is simply amazing!

Here is a song that my husband and I wrote about being willing… being willing for God to change us and mold us into what He wants.  Being willing  to yield to His voice and to be obedient to all He asks- no matter the cost, because our life is not our own.. it is for His gain and His glory!

Lord, I am willing…