growth

Usually I file and clip 

and hear the choppy 

snip snip snip… 

but now they’ve grown 

and I can’t stop staring 

’cause it looks like press-on nails 

I’m wearing 

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I have let my nails grow and they are reaching enormous lengths!  It’s not something I normally do, because when I play piano they break easily…but I have been blessed with a few weeks off from ministry (it’s called a sabbatical) and I am grateful for the time of renewal and rest.  I am also completely amazed at how fast my nails have grown over these 2 weeks!

I’m sure they grow fast all the time- it’s just that I normally don’t notice it because I keep my nails filed down.  I always say it’s a good Sunday when I am leading worship and I break a nail playing piano!   I give my all every Sunday morning for Jesus- and it brings me great joy to lead worship.

But this time away has been good.  I’ve been able to reflect on my spiritual growth, and as trivial as it may sound- I’ve also enjoyed having long nails for a couple of weeks 🙂

I have been the worship pastor at my church for over 10 years now.  Years ago, when I would miss a Sunday-  I couldn’t stop thinking about church and wondering what I had missed!  What if this happened, or this didn’t get done… would people miss me being there?  So many what if’s, it exhausts me just typing them out!  But now, I have learned that He always makes everything come together.

And time away is a very good thing.

When we stop, everything somehow keeps on going 🙂

I can’t wait for that first Sunday back- it’s going to be a “nail breaker” for sure!

 

Two Years of Freedom

I’m finally free- 

free from the bondage of food

now I eat to LIVE 

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Today marks 2 years since I found food freedom!  Two years ago today, I embarked on a new way of eating- a plan called “Trim Healthy Mama”, developed by two fabulous sisters named Pearl and Serene.

Before I tried THM, I was a slave to numbers- counting and imputing the calories of everything I ate in my phone apps.  Counting how many calories I would burn on the treadmill or the elliptical.  Food was a reward and a punishment for me.  And the guilt I experienced when I skipped a day of working out, or when I would eat something indulgent was ridiculous.

And even though I did all the things I thought would help me reach a healthy weight- the weight loss never came.  Just a feeling of discouragement.  I couldn’t lose a pound- no matter how little I restricted my calories and how much I would work out. I was exhausted all the time and miserable.

But two years ago, I traded in all those habits for something NEW!  I got rid of those calorie counting apps, and ditched the scale.  I stopped counting calories and I stopped working out completely for a while.  I cut out sugar and bread.  I ate well balanced meals with lots of protein, veggies, and occasional healthy grains.

I traded in my sugary creamers for stevia and half and half in my coffee- and I actually love it that way now!

I lost about 35 pounds in 8 months, but I gained so much more!  For the last two years, I have learned how to eat to live instead of living to eat.  I feel better than I have in years, and I have stayed at a healthy weight for the last year and a half without much effort.

I am praising the LORD tonight for the freedom I have found from food!

I know not everything works for everyone- but if you have struggled with weight loss or self control when it comes to food, I would highly recommend you look up THM.  The rules are simple- eat protein at every meal, only eat every 3 hours, and have healthy fats OR healthy carbs with your protein at every meal.  Never mix fats and carbs together if you are trying to reach a healthy weight.  That’s the basic idea of the eating plan.  No special ingredients are needed.  It’s that simple!

If I can do it- anyone can do it!  In fact, my whole family has decided to do it with me beginning tomorrow. I can’t wait to see the changes in my family as they begin their journey with me in 2019!

And fyi- the newest book- Trim Healthy Table is available as an ebook at Barnes and Noble for  $1.99!  That’s a steal of a deal!!  Here’s a link-

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trim-healthy-mamas-trim-healthy-table-pearl-barrett/1126396593?ean=9780804189996&st=PLA&sid=BNB_NOOK+EBooks&sourceId=PLAGoNA&dpid=tdtve346c&2sid=Google_c&gclid=Cj0KCQiAmafhBRDUARIsACOKERPxw2Q8i_9YNOFQX8xGGSaUB-fC5pGMLXwl8JFm15onx-nzFrGE2oEaAvZDEALw_wcB#/

I hope all of you have a very blessed New Year!!!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  

2 Corinthians 5:17

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 

Hungry

If we're not hungry for Christ, we're probably too full of ourselves — via @MurrJohnson
You, Lord, are all I want!
    You are my choice,
    and you keep me safe.
 You make my life pleasant,
    and my future is bright.
Psalm 16:5-6 (CEV)

If you’re anything like me, when I start making good “diet” choices, those are the things that I begin to crave.  Like drinking water- that’s not really something I like to drink, but when I am intentional to get in my 6-8 glasses, I notice how much better I feel when I make those good choices.

It’s like that with seeking the Lord, too. When we get sidetracked with life, we can easily forget how desperately we need a steady diet of Him… but when we are intentional to read the Word, to pray, and to seek His presence- He faithfully fills our cup.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:9

trust me

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It was an unusual evening.

I happened to be all alone, and usually I relish those quiet times, but on this particular day, I needed to get out of the house.  I was in a dog fight, wrestling with my own thoughts…

So I decided to make it a “date”- me and God.

I got into my car, and it just happened to be twilight- my favorite time of day!  I drove aimlessly around in search of God’s beauty.  Funny enough, my husband texted me earlier that day with this message- “Wow! Spring has sprung this morning!”, so I made a point to look for the visible changes as I drove around.  I finally settled on a spot and parked the car.

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I prayed a lot.  I asked Him lots of questions… why questions, what if questions… and I very much felt like a little girl asking my parents lots of worrisome things that don’t  need answering.

I remember how I used to try to get out of practicing piano as a kid.  I hated playing those boring songs over and over and over.  Why do I have to keep doing this? It seemed so pointless.  And yet, every time I wanted to quit- my parents said no.  Honestly, I didn’t want to quit- I just wanted to pass over all the practice to get to the good part… I wanted to play something real, something that moved me!

Oh, if I had known then what He would be using all those hours of practice for- well it might have scared me out of playing at all!   The fact that He chooses to use me to lead worship every week is very humbling.  It’s nothing short of a miracle, actually.  I am forgetful, clumsy, not a technically great piano player…. but I am willing… and I praise the Lord EVERY DAY for all He has done in my life!

Sometimes waiting is hard.  Waiting for an answer, for a door to open, for a door to close… to win the lottery (just kidding!!!!)… but in the waiting is where He is fine-tuning our skills, and that’s where our faith in Him grows stronger. 

As I sat in the van that night, an overwhelming peace came over me. I pictured myself sitting in His giant lap with His arms wrapped around me tight.

And suddenly all those thoughts I had wrestled with instantly melted into His one big, beautiful answer-

just trust me! 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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Built for a King

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He is working-

moving and shaping

changing and growing

cultivating, crafting

He’s transforming

You 

into something magnificent

a beautiful building-

something He sees

worthy

of Living

in…

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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Being remade…and a song I wrote about it

 “Remade”

I used to live my life so unaware

I didn’t know You or that You’d care

About my thoughtless sin and casual lies

until the day You opened up my eyes

and the moment I knew what I’d done

the price had already been paid by Your Son

May I never forget what You’ve done

May I never forget who I was

before You changed me and made me new

You were there all along when I couldn’t see

By Your grace, You’ve remade me

Now that I know what You want from me

Help me, make me who I need to be

You know I can’t do this on my own

So I lay my burdens down before Your throne.

I give You everything that I am

I surrender to Your every plan.

And You’ve given me a reason to sing

Lord, I give You my everything.

A while back, I had lunch with a good friend who has known me for quite some time. Our lunch is what inspired me to write this song.  As we talked about our walks with Christ, she smiled at me and told me that she remembers a time when I said I rarely (if ever) opened my Bible.  My first thought was- me?! I immediately felt grieved in my spirit- that I could have ever been so flippant about my faith, about the One I am so passionate about now.  And then I thought about how important it is for me to remember…to remember what it was like to be the “old me”…

Because that is what helps me relate to people who are too busy to attend church- because I used to be, too. I remember thinking about praying far more often than I actually prayed.  And worship- well, I used to think that was just another word for church.

And I thought of how He took ahold of my life and everything that I had known- and changed me.  It wasn’t an overnight transformation by any means… but all of a sudden, I didn’t want to do the things I did before.  I stopped cursing.  I started listening to the Christian Radio.  When my heart was awakened to His Spirit, and His love- I couldn’t get enough of Him.

I had been a Christian all of my life, but I didn’t know what it meant to be a “Christ-follower” until I was an adult.  I thought that simply believing in God and being a good person was all there was to it.  I went to church occasionally but it was not much more than an event to wear my new dress and to sing happy songs.  I was missing a key component- relationship.  Then one day, He came into my life in a way that I will never forget.  He changed me, my desires- and all those things I once held dear paled in comparison to knowing Him.  He was no longer this far-off God of judgement and condemnation… He was my loving Father, speaking to me through His Spirit, through His Word and quietly telling me to let go of my life- and to give it to Him. I wanted  whatever His will was for me.  And slowly, little by little, the more I grew to love Him, the more I wanted to honor Him in everything I did.

May I never forget what You’ve done

May I never forget who I was

before You changed me and made me new

You were there all along when I couldn’t see

By Your grace, You’ve remade me

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.  Colossians 3:10

Exposed

IMG_2843When everything is stripped away

exposed for all to see

When all the rustling leaves are gone

it’s simply just a tree

How beautiful His radiance

and endless glories shine

right through these spindly branches

straight into this heart of mine

I admit that I am a fan of pretty things.  I also use these pretty things to hide myself quite often.  As pretty as the fall foliage was, the bare trees are just as beautiful- and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that His light shines through more clearly when the trees are stripped of their beauty.

It is so easy for me to get caught up in my insecurities about my weight, or other silly things- and at times it can become an obsession.  It is a vicious cycle, one I pray about often.

The past few days, I have felt like that spindly tree…exposed before Him.  As His light shines down on me- He is showing me all kinds of things I need to work on.  As I release these “little things” to Him, His light gets brighter.

I recently made a commitment to change my diet… no, I’m not going on a diet, but I am changing what and how I am eating. Far too frequently, I turn to the instant gratification of food to satisfy my desires.  I have managed to stay away from all processed food and have greatly limited the amount of sugar I intake.  I must say that the past few days have been difficult, but this has definitely drawn me closer to Him.  He is always faithful…even when I am not.

 I am desperate to change, and change only comes with being willing to be changed.

The less I focus on me-

the greater my focus is on “He”

When I bare my soul to Him, He bears my burdens all the more.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him- Psalm 37:7