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.
You know the Word tells us to "Pray without ceasing". I want to shout it from the rooftop tonight that PRAYER WORKS. Oh, I have a story for you. Our God has once again shown Himself to my family in a mighty way. He is better than life. I sure hope I can put into words just how incredible this is.
Most of you know that my Dad is a pastor. He is bi-vocational and while the church he pastors is small, they are growing spiritually. They are a group that is learning that Christianity is so much more than Sunday and Wednesday night. There is a core group of saints there who are praying for revival and God is sending it.
God put on my Dad's heart that this group of people needed to be taught just how to share their faith. They were quick to admit that they had no idea how to talk to someone about the Lord, much less tell them how to become a Christian. Earlier this month, they started digging in and researching this. They are a little scared, but ready to go!
For years my Dad has shared the Lord with his mother. She has always made comments such as "I'm as a good as the next person", or "If God is love, then He will not send me to hell..." I'm sure you've heard all of these statements, maybe even said them yourself. It has burdened our hearts for years. God says "pray without ceasing" and we have done just that. Praying that God would spare her life until she realized her need for Jesus.
She is 90 years old. Life, for her is coming to an end. Honestly, I've dreaded her death for years because I could not tell you where she would spend eternity. It terrifies me to think of her spending eternity in hell.
"Pray without ceasing".
Late this afternoon, my Daddy. My precious Daddy led my 90 year old grandmother to the Lord. She prayed to receive Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior!
Somebody say Hallelujah one time. Say it again, I am!!
I talked to her tonight and told her that we were all doing the praise Jesus dance, and she nervously laughed. Then, I asked her if she knew just how long we had been praying that she would receive this great gift. She broke down into tears, and said "You really prayed for me?" I told her Oh yes I did and that this was the best thing ever!
Oh friends, our God is better than life! For those of you who have been praying for that precious loved one for years, don't stop! Pray without ceasing. Don't you dare give up, don't you stop! Look what God did here! You come back here and read this over and over and then you pray harder and longer and believe. Our God can do anything. ANYTHING!!!
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/31/2008 07:20:00 PM
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
My friend Amy has tagged me. I'm supposed to share 6 quirky things about myself.
When I read this challenge out loud, Chad's comment was...just 6? I'll deal with that later.
Okay so here we go.
1. I burn popcorn on purpose. I LOVE it.
2. I drink flat coke. It probably doesn't bother me to drink a flat soft drink because my Grandmother and Mother would water down our soft drinks when we were kids.
3. I'm completely obsessed with being on time. Well, truth be told, I HAVE to be 5 minutes early.
4. I have this "thing" about the silverware in the dishwasher. It must be sorted. What others in this household don't understand is that when you keep things sorted, it helps speed up the process of putting things away once they are clean! (I have reason to believe the only human male in this house has, on occasion, mixed the salad forks with the spoons. Clearly we have conflict in this area.)
5. This is one NO ONE knows. Well, the sound guys at our Chattanooga church probably do, but I can't say for sure. When I play the piano, I talk to myself. Most of the time speaking scripture, or praying. BUT, I have been known to give myself a little pep talk in the middle of a song. I really try to keep this in my mind, but occasionally my lips move....Yes, I know there are places designed to help people like me. And just for the record, I don't answer my own questions.
6. Two words.....Jim.Brickman. nothing else needs to be said.
I'm tagging: Lindsay @ TWINSx2, Angela @ Refresh my Soul and Jodi @Fruit Inspection
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/30/2008 09:38:00 PM
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
My heart is so full right now. Full of awe and wonder at our God. He has just knocked my socks off this weekend and the first part of this week! I love Him so.
This comes during a time where I feel that I'm in a minute by minute battle for my mind. The enemy has been throwing some stuff my way and while I would love to be able to tell you that I've taken each thought captive, I haven't.
"Be anxious for nothing", Jesus says to me. For today, the anxiousness was settled in the uncertainty of a particular situation. Questions flooded my human brain. I wanted to address the issue, find a resolution and move on with life! For whatever reason, that neat little timetable wasn't God's.
"Be anxious for nothing."
So I agreed. I gave up. Surrendered. I quit obsessing about this situation. I will continue to pray for resolution, and believe that God will bring this about. Until then, I will not be anxious.
God showed Himself in a totally different area of my life this afternoon. He offered such encouragement and in one phone call, BLEW MY SOCKS OFF. It was as if He wanted to say, "Let me give you some joy, something to smile about, something to look forward to.." THAT was grace! He didn't HAVE to give me a surprise today, but He did! Even when I had been stressing out AFTER HE told me to be anxious for nothing. Just like Him isn't it.
Sunday morning, we sang a song called "When all is said and done". The first night we listened to this in choir, I wept. This is MY story. My heart's deepest cry. So to be playing on the Sunday we sing this was nothing short of a kiss from my King.
The hook of the song says, "When all is said and done, Lord you're all I want..."
Lord, forgive me for being so distracted by "stuff". You really are all I want, all I need.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/29/2008 03:29:00 PM
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Our dear Siesta Angela at Refresh My Soul sent this my way today. What a sweetie!
Thanks Angela! And I give it right back to you. :)
I was sitting here thinking about who to pass it on to and one name popped into my mind. Fran. She has been away this weekend pouring her heart into a group of women. I've had the honor of praying for her, and as much as I've tried to encourage her, she has been such an encouragement to me! So Fran, I think you have a very loveable blog! You never cease to challenge me. You make me want to love Jesus a little more. I'm so glad God saw fit to introduce us here in blogland and look forward to meeting in San Antonio!!!!
On a different note...I'm very happy to report that we have made it 24 hours with no fires. I tell you the truth, I just new that this morning my hair dryer was going to blow. But, I'm happy to report that God heard my prayers for my hair follicles and granted me a no frizz day. (Only a group of siestas would understand the importance of this. Thanks for letting me testify to this miracle!)
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/27/2008 09:36:00 PM
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Or maybe not.
I have managed to blow up my second "appliance" of the weekend. This time, I just about set my soul afire. LITERALLY.
This new hairdo require the use of my flat iron. Earlier in the week, I noticed that if the chord wasn't just right, it wouldn't stay on. WELL....
This morning, I was holding the thing in place talking to Chad when I felt my fingers getting hot. Then I heard a pop pop pop, looked down and saw blue and red sparks. Did I mention that I was holding this level with my stomach? And since I was talking, I had gradually brought it closer and closer until it was touching my shirt. (Even with my belly button)
Needless to say, I have a little burn mark on my belly and now I'm down TWO MUCH NEEDED appliances.
Target is going to love me come Monday..
Oh and to top it off, our church pianist called me this afternoon. She's very sick and asked me to cover for her tomorrow. You know what that means?
I get to play with curly, frizzy hair.
I wonder if I can pay the camera guy to keep that thing pointed the other direction? Hmmmmm, I've got extra chocolate chip cookies, maybe a bag of those will do the trick...
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/26/2008 03:33:00 PM
Friday, January 25, 2008
I'm being all domestic this afternoon baking homemade chocolate chip cookies to enjoy later tonight. We're having a family slumber party and watching the Disney movie "Minutemen". It premiers at 8/7 central as my girls have been saying all week. Watching any sort of Disney original movie with them is like watching a pop up edition. The information they know is mind boggling.
Anyway... I'm using my hand held mixer (my heavy duty one died over the Christmas holidays) when I noticed a strange smell. I turned it off, took a closer look and turned it back on.
The smell returned followed by billowing clouds of
That blasted thing crashed and burned when I needed it most.
I looked at my girls all decked out in their aprons and chef hats. Their little eyes as big as saucers. I think they were scared to say anything.
We finally started laughing as I scraped cookie dough off the beaters.
I looked at them and said, "this is why God gave me two daughters. Start mixing."
They loved that.
I'm happy to report that the cookies are wonderful and we, the female members of this household, will enjoy them tonight. Daddy has cut out sweets and says that he will enjoy watching us eat them.
And I will believe that when I see it.
I guess I need to hit Target. Please pray that mixers are on sale!!! I need one in a bad way!
Hmmmm, if NOT having one greatly hinders my ability to prepare meals, does that mean we get to eat out more? Maybe I don't need a mixer as bad as I think I do. :)......
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/25/2008 03:36:00 PM
Emma has finally realized that she doesn't have to have me sitting right next to her to read. THANK YOU JESUS! She is reading everything she can get her hands on, and if it's a little tough, she usually just grabs a pencil and codes what she can, or asks for help. It's really quite cool!
This afternoon, her "Your Big Backyard" magazine came in the mail. Chloe had her "Ranger Rick" and I had the Lifeway Flyer. We were all cuddled up in the loft reading.
I heard Emma sounding out a word, but rather than just jump in, I let her figure it out on her own. She worked and worked until she realized it was the word "issues". The following was our conversation.
Emma: Well....sweet mercy.
Me: Something wrong who? (Who is our nickname for her)
Emma: Yes! They want me to fill this out, send them money and they will send me 4 free issues.
Me: Oh, it must be time to renew your subscription.
Emma: Well.. I don't need them. I have enough issues.
I feel for the man this one marries! She's six and already knows her issues.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/25/2008 02:19:00 PM
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Do you ever have moments when God reveals something to you and you feel like your going to explode? I call them rib busters.
Can I just tell you about the one I had today? You may want to grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit back, I have no idea how long this is going to take.
Okay. Yesterday, Wednesday, I watched Beth Moore on Life Today. She was continuing the series on the power of words. Very awesome, go on line and watch it if you missed it. Okay, she said at one point that sometimes we need to say out loud, "Lord, I know that you love me". The more I thought about that, the more it settled deep in my bones. I started saying it out loud.
Later that afternoon the opportunity for some uninterrupted prayer time came up. I started off my prayer time with that statement and then went on to talk to the Lord about an area where we need a miracle. I was pretty much questioning why it felt like He wasn't doing anything...you know, pouting with a spiritual twist. I ended my prayer time without a new revelation on this situation, no lighting bolt moment just a simple impression to say again out loud, "Lord,I know that you love me."
This morning in my David 90 days study,(by the Beth) She writes "Jonathan understood God's response to be based on sovereignty, not weakness." Oh. My. Goodness. I read it again, then again. God hit me between the eyes and knocked me into next week.
You see, I have not seen a miracle or deliverance in that particular area. While I would never dare speak these words out loud before, (I can hardly believe I'm going to admit it here. I sure hope you come back and visit after you read this!) in the back of mind I felt like God wasn't big enough to handle it. My heart, and my stomach ached. How in the world could I have believed that lie?
I know that He is working out details that I may not fully understand until Heaven and then I'm not going to care!! Anyway, this girl had to ask for some forgiveness on that one.
We had a moment this morning like you wouldn't believe. This evening there has been no resolve to this particular situation, BUT.......
I know that God is sovereign. He tells me over and over in His word that His plans are good and I know from my past that I can trust Him. So today, I've walked around saying, "Lord, I know that you love me. I know that you are going to work this situation out. I will give you glory in the hard times and in the good times."
I was saying this over and over as I was cooking lunch, when the words to an old chorus popped into my head. You know it, "Oh how He loves you and me". I don't remember the last time I sang or heard it. Those lyrics just touched a chord in me and have had me floating all afternoon.
THEN..... and this is the part that just gave me a holy fit and triggered the "RIB BUSTER". My friend Debbie organizes the music and plays for our mid week worship service (I have the honor of singing with an incredible team of people at this each week.) Okay, so she e-mails us the words for next week late this afternoon. I open it up and guess what song is on the menu?!!! Yep, "Oh How He Loves You and Me". Right before "The Potter's Hand", another one my theme songs right now!
Oh yes it is.
I mean to tell you, I just about shouted.
Now, is that just like Him or what?
While I am still praying for God to move in this particular situation, I can tell you with my whole heart that I believe He's working it out even know, even though I don't see it. I trust His sovereignty.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/24/2008 05:33:00 PM
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Fran for being such an encouragement to me today! She brought tears to my eyes when she sent this my way. By the way, please pray for her as she prepares to speak at her women's retreat! If you read her blog, you know those ladies are in for a special blessing.
I would like to pass this award on to..... Leah at The Point. She is such a neat siesta and I've so enjoyed getting to know her and her heart for our Savior.
Isn't it cool how God is using this Internet thing to draw us closer to each other and more importantly, Himself?!! I love it!
And totally off subject, did anyone see that guy with the fan and finger nails on American Idol tonight!!! All I can say is Oh.My.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/22/2008 09:02:00 PM
Monday, January 21, 2008
We actually had snow twice in one week! Can you believe it? We are still thanking God for it. Saturday brought a beautiful day of snowflakes, homemade cocoa and all the little girls in the neighborhood. It seems like every time I turned around there was a little girl saying "Mrs. P. will you dry this for me? I'm so cold!" I guess it's good I'm short, they could all wear my sweat pants!
They went back and forth between playing outside and playing Chloe's High School Musical DVD game. I loved every minute of it.
I have to say, I was very proud of my daughters. They went out of their way to make sure everyone was included and had a good time. No little girl tiffs here on Saturday. And if you have little girls, you KNOW what I'm talking about here.
For the grandparents, here are a few pictures from Saturday.
And before anyone asks. YES, my children were warm enough. They had on several layers of clothes! We did about 10 loads of laundry Sunday most of which was worn on Saturday. :)
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/21/2008 04:09:00 PM
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Just so you know, the final post of my worship journal(part 5) is here, just scroll on down. After the nudge of a couple of friends, I've submitted part 2 into the Proverbs 31 article contest. I can not believe I just typed that.
Have a blessed weekend, "see" you Monday!
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/17/2008 06:36:00 PM
After our Pastor's sermon last Sunday I have been thinking about worship. I found myself going back to my worship journal from a couple of summer's ago. This is a re-post of the second journal entry. With so many church activities gearing back up for fall, I feel like it's time to post this again. It was a big old reminder to myself to remain focused on what worship really is.
When we take our place as a worship leader, it’s more than just standing in that loft or sitting on that platform. Satan would like nothing more than to use lead worshippers as a distraction. Do you realize that we are in a battle? And as musicians guess what…… we’re the first line of defense.
In the Old Testament, the musicians would lead the children of Israel into Battle. Think about the march around the wall of Jericho. (Josh. 6) Just how did that wall come tumbling down? God had them march around for 6 mornings playing their instruments with all their might. Don’t you know that got a little annoying to the people inside that wall. Talk about psychological warfare! Then day 7 rolls around and I’m sure by that time people were coming out early for the good seats. Pushing and shoving trying to get the best seat on the wall! Little did they realize that this morning would be different. The “show” would end differently today. Yes, they marched and played those trumpets. Then they gave a shout. (I wonder what they shouted.) Wouldn’t you know it, that massive, stone, man-made wall collapsed! Fell right down. God moved in a very visible way.
When the Priests were marching around the wall of Jericho, I’m sure they were being made fun of, yelled at, maybe even had things thrown at them. But they didn’t give up. Their minds were focused on what Almighty God had told them to do. March and play. March and Play. March and Play. Then shout. They did just what God told them to do and look at what happened.
Let’s apply this concept to us. We spend significant amounts of times “marching” (rehearsing) preparing for the “shout” (our corporate time of worship). We are obedient to rehearse, we pound out rhythms and notes. We sing or play the same line over and over until it becomes second nature to us. Then Sunday comes. We move into battle ready to deliver the shout.
One of two things can happen at this point. One, we come in with clean hands, a pure heart and "prayed up". We enter this time eager and anticipate the presence of God and what He is going to do during our worship time. When this happens, WOW!!! God is truly pleased with our worship. Our obedience and passion for the words we sing move from our mouth and memory to the deepest part of our being and God oozes out of us. Often times tears flow or hands go up. Sometimes we just have to get on our knees. Other times, things become quiet as the Spirit works in hearts and lives. Our man-made walls fall down. The Holy Spirit is free to move and work in lives. That’s what I long for every Sunday, how about you?
Most often the second thing happens. We rush out of Sunday school to warm-up. Grab our favorite spot. You know, the one you’ve sat in for so long that the seat has conformed to your image. We half-heartily run through the worship package and choir special. We file into the loft or take our seat on the platform, survey the congregation and go into auto drive. As quickly as we entered, we leave, no different than when we walked in.
Which service to do you want to be apart of? More importantly, which choir do you want to be apart of?
Oh, the first one. Me too. So what does "prayed up" look like you ask?
Well, it's spending time in the Word with the Father long before the pre-service prayer. It's asking God to tell you if there is any unconfessed sin that would hinder your praise and prayers from reaching Him, then confessing those things. It's being willing to follow His lead, even if it means the order of service is totally different than what is printed in the worship guide. Worship is our response to God Almighty. It's an act of adoration to the One who died to rescue us.
It's saying, "It's not about me or my tastes. This is all for You oh Lord."
Psalm 115 "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory." (NIV)
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/17/2008 06:35:00 PM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
This is the last entry in my worship journal. Thanks for taking this journey with me. I still don't know why God had me post these. I feel really exposed here, but that's alright. I'm learning to just do what He tells me to, the first time. :)
Properly positioned. Two words that keep coming back to me. Just what does a properly positioned Christian worshipper look like?
Meet Cindy. Cindy is fairly new to her choir family. She loves to sing and has quickly made friends. She often talks about her passion for singing. She will gladly tell you where and how often she's given the opportunity to sing outside of the church. There is an enthusiasm about Cindy that is exciting. She would really like to sing solos and be on the praise team each week. She was the first one to sign up for those auditions, and was quick to let anyone who would listen know all about it. The more you get to know her, the more you hear her words and actions say "I want to be out front singing! I don't want to just sing in the choir".
Meet Mindy. Mindy is also fairly new to this choir. She too loves to sing and has made deep friendships within her choir family. As much as she enjoys singing, she loves Jesus more and is quick to tell you that. She shares whenever possible how God used music during the hardest time in her life to minister to her. Her deepest desire is to be used by God within the worship ministry of her church. She would like to sing solos and serve on the praise team and like Cindy, auditioned when the opportunity came up. The more you get to know her, the more you hear her words and actions say, "I just want to do what God wants me to do. I just want my life to glorify Him."
Cindy and Mindy are real. They are in every worship ministry. You may even know them! One makes worship a lifestyle, one doesn't. One wants to be seen, one wants to see God. One sings out of an overflow of what God is doing in her life, one sings because she can. One is properly positioned, one isn't.
I don't think I have to ask you which person you want to worship next to. But I will ask this. Which one are you? If you're honest, you probably see a little of each in yourself. The only way to change that it, is to take it to the Lord.
Properly positioned. How I've felt the Lord nudge me with those two little words. I was so improperly positioned, that I forgot what it was like to enter worship with the right heart.
Even now, two years later, if I sit down to play, or stand to sing and I'm not properly positioned, God lets me know. And you know what? I'm glad! I don't ever want to stand in that loft, or sit on the piano bench without Him! I don't want my worship to hit the ceiling, I want it to go all the way to the throne! I want to feel the weight of His glory fall on each and every service, every rehearsal, shoot, I want it every minute of every day!
Properly positioned worship leaders..... sounds like a pretty dangerous thing.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/15/2008 09:57:00 AM
Psalm 24 asks, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in the holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol.”
I didn’t have clean hands or a pure heart. And my soul? It was worshipping an idol. The idol of my ability and position.
It took my physical fall to bring to light my spiritual fall. It took my right hand being wrapped in a cast for me to admit that I was living every aspect of my life in my strength. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
You see I love to play the piano, to make music, always have. That will never change. For a long time I did so in a godly manner. I was prayed up and completely understood that I could not do it without God. There was no way I could do the things asked of me without holy help!
But when I slacked off in my prayer life, the enemy began to give me false confidence in my ability. Over time, I believed that my ability was enough. This created a weak place in my spiritual armor, an open invitation for the enemy to have a field day with my mind and my heart.
During the healing time, I was forced to sit and watch someone else at the piano. This was absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was so restless, full of questions, and a bit angry. I felt like I was at the bottom of a pit. Deep in my heart I knew the only way out was to reach that wounded, weak arm up and let God pull me out.
He pulled out a dirty, tired and broken girl. Despite my request to, He never took away the desire and passion for worship. If anything, He made that passion burn a little stronger. Finally, I began to engage in worship and allowed God to show me the areas we needed to work on.
And work we did. It was very hard work. Weeks of sitting, watching and listening. I already told you that it was hard to watch from the side, but watching showed me how much I missed it. How much I longed to do that the rest of my life. How I longed to see others experience the forgiveness and joy that God had so lavishly poured out for me. He longs to do that for each one of us, not just a chosen few! I had to do whatever God asked of me, I just had to. Even if He never allowed me to play in church again.
Looking back, I believe God not only used the weeks of watching to address an area of sin in my life, but He also showed me that I could be happy worshipping in a different way. He showed me that I could be fulfilled worshipping away from the piano. I know that may sound strange, but for so long that was where I served. It's what I knew!
Worship is a minute by minute choice to do ALL (laundry, cleaning bathrooms, grading papers, dealing with employees, budgeting,...) for the Glory of God. It isn't just music on Sunday morning. It's a lifestyle. God shook up my view of worship and taught me that I had to take this attitude of worship beyond the four walls of my church into my everyday life.
Can you remember a time when God used extreme measures to get your attention? Did you recognize His attempt to correct an area of sin in your life? Did this time of correction draw you closer to Him, or did you push Him away? Correction isn’t always an easy pill to swallow, but the blessing of His fellowship is so worth it. Allow Him to and ask Him to show you areas that are sin in your life.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/15/2008 09:15:00 AM
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Thanks so much for your encouraging comments and responses on these journal entries. If I could look you in the eye and hug your neck I would. :) Here is the 3rd part. Some of my testimony is in the next two posts. I've shared here before but since I journaled it during this time I feel like I need to leave it in. So if you've heard it before, you may want to scroll on through that part!!! Have a wonderful week!
When I think of worship leaders I don’t just think of music ministers, musicians, or choir members. I think of ordinary people who have most often been through or are going through hard stuff, and yet choose to worship. Those people are truly bringing a sacrifice of praise to the Lord. True worship leading comes from a heart that has been transformed. A heart that longs for people to experience that transformation in their life. It’s praying God move in us. Ooze out of every pore of our being and be all over us. Not just on Sunday but at work, at home, and yes even in rehearsal.
Isaiah 29:13 spoke to my heart during one of the darkest times of my life.
“The Lord says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.’” My New Living translation says, “Their worship is made up only of rules learned by rote.” This pierced my heart. How often do we spend weeks learning a song, hours listening to the CD, but the words never move from our mouth to our heart?
It’s Monday, December 5, 2005. 5:30 am. This day starts production week in our worship arts ministry. A busy week it will be, between church and our daughters school events, I will be on the go every day until Sunday night when the program is over. I live for weeks like this. I love the excitement, the extra rehearsals and the sense of unity a week like this brings. So, I began my day early in the laundry room getting a head start on the daily chores.
Then I fell. I tripped and literally fell down each one of our basement steps. I caught myself with my hand, my right hand. (Remember, I was the pianist at this church) We immediately grabbed an ice bag and I began to take Aleve. By the time Wednesday night rehearsal got there, I was in some pretty serious pain. I played through the pain and tears and Thursday morning, my husband took me to the ER for an X-ray.
I walked out of the emergency room with a cast up to my elbow and an attitude of fury with God. Why would He allow this to happen the week of Christmas production, didn’t He know how that would affect me, not to mention our choir and orchestra!!
Over the next few weeks, God showed me the area of my life that had become a stronghold. He showed me my sin and I was confronted with the fact that I had fallen spiritually. The sad thing is that in the eyes of the world, and even some Christians, my stronghold would be considered innocent and not a “sin”. It wasn’t really one of the BIG 10.
God took me on a journey and during this journey He posed a question to me. It was during a quiet time, I was full of questions, but felt the Lord say to me “Stephanie, if you never sing another song, write another lyric, or play another note, could you, would you worship me? Am I enough for you?” This question had been asked 4 years earlier in a women’s Bible study I attended and I remember thinking if God ever asked me that I would say yes without question. But when it came right down to it, it wasn’t that easy for me to say yes, I really struggled with it. I was experiencing life without playing the piano and I did not like any part of it. Could I go the rest of my earthly life without touching a piano key? What was I worshipping, God or my ability. I had carved an idol out of my ability and put it on a pedestal and God knocked that pedestal down.
Looking back, I can see how subtle the fall was, and how I knew I was slipping but just didn’t want to admit it. I got lazy in my prayer life and my guard was down I had allowed my love for music, for the piano to become an idol. I had stopped asking God to play through me. I didn’t invite Him to sit on that bench with me anymore. It was “worship” by rote. My heart was far away from His heart.
I wouldn’t trade that Monday morning for anything in the world. Those 6 weeks of healing were hard, and it hurt physically and spiritually. The funny thing was, the type of break I had was small and most of the time didn’t show up in x-rays until it had begun to heal. When the orthopedic doctor took my cast off and x-rayed my hand a few weeks later, there was no sign of a break. God totally healed my wrist and hand, the result of my physical fall. What is still amazing to me is that He did this while He was healing the break in my heart and soul, the result of my spiritual fall. I believe with all my heart that if I had not faced the sin and confessed my failure, God would not have allowed me to play again.
So I ask you a tough question. What is your motivation to be a worship leader? Why do you come to rehearsal each week? Do you have an idol? Maybe your ability or position, maybe it’s not even related to the worship ministry. Could it be a relationship? Your spouse or your child? Let me tell you as a broken and restored vessel who learned the hard way, when God says thou shall have no other gods before me, He means it. He is a jealous god and will not tolerate your idol worship very long. Ask Him to show you what your idol is and then confess that you need His help to tear it down. I promise you that He will.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/13/2008 02:53:00 PM
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thank you JennyHope! You encourage me so and I love you sweet one!
Now, I'm supposed to pass the love on to 5 bloggers who encourage me... that is hard to do! You ALL encourage me in your own way.
Carol at Sheep to the Right, Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders, Leah at the Point, Deanna at The Cox Connection, and Amanda at The Stokes Story. Okay girls, each one of you are so precious to me and I love to see what God is doing in your life. Hopefully for a couple of you it will be incentive to POST SOMETHING!!!!! Just kidding, life is crazy and sometimes you just need to slow down. I just want you to know that I love you.
And then there are these two other young ladies that I have to give this to. Darla at Overcomer and my sister-in-law Lindsay at TwinsX2. Love you girls and hope this encourages you the way you encourage me!
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/11/2008 02:02:00 PM
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Okay, here's the very first part of my worship journal from last summer.
It happens each week across our country. Groups of people gather for "choir practice". Some are highly trained and skilled vocalist, while others have no formal training. In those same churches, former band members are dusting off their horns and retraining their chops in orchestra rehearsal. There are no individual stars, no attitude or humility issues, just hundreds of people praising God. All with a common goal of leading their congregation to throne of Almighty God. Right?
In a perfect world yes that is exactly what happens. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Even in an environment of Christians, people who have chosen to follow Jesus there are issues of pride, jealousy, gossip, discontentment, etc., etc.
We walk into rehearsal acting as if we have it all together, but our minds are in a thousand different places. Some worried some hurting and each one busy. Sometimes to busy to really absorb what we are singing or playing. We get right down to business, don’t want to waste a second we’ve got a lot to cover in a short amount of time. This may be accurate, but is it right? I would venture to say it’s wrong and that it grieves God’s heart.
We miss the words, we miss the message but more importantly we miss Jesus. We walk away frustrated and no different than when we walked in and our testimony? Well it’s lacking to say the least. Where’s the passion? What’s the meaning to this? Why do we continue to walk through the motions of worship leading when we have no idea what that means.
Now, I’m all about a productive focused rehearsal. It’s vital that we pound parts, and rehearse rhythms. We serve an excellent God and He demands excellence in our worship. But I have to wonder what would happen if we were real with each other and ourselves. Admitting we don’t have it all together. What would happen if we cried out to God with our whole being in each and every rehearsal? What would God do within our worship ministries if we were to seek Him, beg Him to move in our lives and in our rehearsal time? I don’t ever want to just read words or sing/play the notes. I’ve done that, there's not much to it.
Worship must be important to God, it is what He has planned for us to do for eternity. Here’s some of what Webster has to say about worship:
1. The activity of worshipping.
2. A feeling of profound love and admiration.
1. Love unquestioningly and uncritically.
2. Show religious devotion to
3. Attend religious services; "They worship in the traditional manner".
That’s too much “churcheese” for me. Worship is a bowing down of ones self. It is a sacrifice of praise, regardless of our circumstances. Okay, that’s still a little to Sunday morning Sunday School lesson, so let’s make it even more elementary. Here’s how I describe it to my children. Worship is choosing to tell God how good and awesome He is, even when we don’t feel like it. (Like when someone really hurts your feelings and you don’t understand why.)
I’ll never forget one of the first worship services with my oldest daughter. She was almost 4 and we had just started taking her into worship on Sunday evenings. I was singing on the praise team and could see her with my husband about halfway back of the section in front of me. She was standing on the pew next to my husband. (No, he wasn’t on the pew his feet were firmly planted on the ground. No pew jumpers at this church!) She had her little hands in the air looking at the ceiling singing her heart out. People around her were beginning to look and grin. It was precious, such a pure picture of what a real worshipper looks like. She didn’t care who watched honestly, she wasn’t aware that anyone was watching because she was so focused on God! It was all I could do to sing.
Later that evening I asked her why she had her hands in the air. I fully expected her to say that it was because she saw other people doing it and figured it was what she should do. Nope, not my firstborn. She was raising her hands to God to “show Him that I really needed Him”. We were singing “In the Secret”. Not the usual fast version, we had slowed it way down. It was a very intimate moment and she was sensitive to that. Her little heart was feeling the tug of the Holy Spirit to enter into worship and she did.
My question to you today is simple. Do you sense the Holy Spirit when you come to worship? Do you engage, or do you simply participate in a sing-along? I pray that each person who chooses to be a worship leader, does so out of an overflow of the profound love they feel for our Savior.
For those of you who read this little blog and aren't musical, let me just say that you don't have to stand on a platform or in a choir loft to be a worship leader. If you're a mommy or daddy, you are a worship leader. You are teaching your children how to worship! Also, worship is so much more than music. It's a lifestyle. Worship is acknowledging God in every aspect of your life. We worship God by working for His glory, by being a cheerful giver...... it's so much more than 20 minutes on Sunday morning!!
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/10/2008 09:19:00 PM
Recently I was reading through my journal from last year. I found a spot where I said, "I just want it to be this time next year. I want to be able to look back and say, 'so far, the Lord has helped us.' 1 Sam 7:12. I want to point to 2007 and say that was an Ebenezer year for me." What I didn't know when I wrote that was just how fast that year would fly by. I had no idea what God would do and the work that He would begin in my heart.
It really was a year of remembrance. God took me on this journey to remind me of how He had provided and cared for me my entire life. It was sort of like a walk down memory lane as I traced His hands in my life. He reminded me of all the good times and the times where I was disobedient to Him. It's remembering those times that I'm most amazed. He still protected me. Even the discipline that came as a result of the disobedience was done in love and I never felt unprotected. It was a powerful time that took me closer to the Father than I've ever felt.
One of the things that God had me do last year was to journal my thoughts on worship/worship leading and just what that means to me. So last summer I spent several afternoons sitting by the pool with my laptop and Bible, journaling my thoughts. I saved it and walked away from this "project", feeling good about what I wrote, but unsure of why He had me do it.
Then earlier this week, He brought that project back to my mind. I felt like maybe I should post some of those entries here. God confirmed that through a couple of conversations this week. (Conversations with people who have no idea I had done this because, well no one knows I wrote anything about worship.) And then there was a funny little Youtube video that touched on part of what I journaled... you see the theme here? God was saying, "YES I impressed that on your heart..DO IT!"
So over the next couple of days, I'm going to share a little of what I wrote. I ask that if you read it, please leave a comment. Positive, constructive...even if you totally think it stinks! I can take it! :)
This is a big step forward for me, and I can't think of a better group of people to take it with.
See you Friday!
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/10/2008 03:15:00 PM
Monday, January 7, 2008
I have tried so many times over the last couple of days to share here what I sense God is saying to me. It just doesn't seem to be coming out the way I hear it in my heart. I know what I need to say, and it's just not flowing.
Let me share that I'm fighting illness. You know that feeling you start getting when you know you're fixing to be really sick? I'm dealing with that. It is the absolute worst time to be feeling this way. We have family coming this weekend, I'm playing piano for a dear friend on Friday night, Saturday Chad and Chloe test for their orange belts....you get the idea. I just don't have the time to get the flu.
On top of this, my mind and heart are heavy for a situation where God's healing hand is needed. I want to speak only when God would have me to speak, to say only what He would have me to say. I'm believing HIM to restore these relationships. What a day it will be when I can share that with you!
I was reading in my "David, 90 Days With a Heart Like His" this morning about Hannah. (I'm on Day 4) The key verse was 1 Samuel 1:10,18 "Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears.....Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer appeared downcast."
I love this chapter of the Bible. I love that Hannah knew she was safe enough to let it all hang out and cry before God. I love that Eli saw her crying and praying, and then he tells her "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him." Hannah gets up and goes to grab a bite to eat and then her countenance changed. A woman after my own heart. Victory eating. I bet she had a piece of chocolate. :)
I love that Eli was there 3 years later when Hannah brought that little man to the temple. What amazes me next is her prayer. Here she stands with her only child. The child she wept and prayed for, and she says "My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no ROCK LIKE OUR GOD." (you can read the rest in 1 Sam. 2:1-11.)
Hannah took her hurt, her pain, her bitterness straight to God. God heard her and answered her prayer to be a mother. Hannah kept her promise to give that little one right back to God. God took the years of bitterness and hurt and gave Hannah a reason to rejoice.
I don't know about you, but just like Hannah I've got some areas that I need to just lay out before the Lord. Some areas and relationships that need His hand of restoration. Quite simply, I'm taking my hands off and going to allow God to be God. What I say to Him as I weep for this restoration is from Psalm 115 "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory." However He sees fit to move in this particular situation, I will give Him glory. That's all I want, for His glory to be seen in and on our family.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/07/2008 08:31:00 PM
Saturday, January 5, 2008
The scare of your life. Just kidding. Okay so I'm going to post a picture of the new do. Let me just prepare you by saying that
1. I hate to take a picture.
2. This was after I spent 10 minutes holding my flat iron cord in place to get the blasted thing to heat up. Apparently, there is a short in the cord. I guess we all know what's on my list to go buy today....
3. Remember as your retina's begin to ache.. YOU ASKED FOR THIS. :)
4. I love you Siesta's a whole bunch!
Have a great weekend.
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/05/2008 11:08:00 AM
Friday, January 4, 2008
nothing. Well, this is one time I'm stumped for words. Just stumped. I have had several things that I think...Oh that would make a great blog post... but I can't think of one right now to save my life. I guess it's that post holiday ick. Don't you love my terminology?
This week has been a good week, everyone is happy and healthy. I was so glad that our weekly choir practice resumed Wednesday. ( I LOVE choir practice and would go every night if asked to. I know, I'm weird) I was even able to enjoy a little Starbucks visit with a girlfriend afterwards. It was a good night indeed.
I will let you in on a little secret. This morning, I cut my hair. Well, I didn't cut it a highly trained professional did, but you know what I mean. To understand the significance of this you must understand that I have not been happy with my hair since I was about nine years old. That was when my long California blond hair was butchered. My hair hasn't been the same since. Clearly I have issues.
Anyway... I have been letting it grow since we moved, just having it trimmed on occasion. But like so many people, it's a new year and I got the bug for a new look.
I went in this morning and said "Okay, what do you think?"
She said "Posh Spice".
I said "So tell me what you want. What you really really want..."
She said, "I told you that last time I cut your hair that THIS is the cut you will love."
I said, "Just don't shave my head."
I sat there with my back to the mirror for 45 minutes. And then.....
I cried. I LOVE THIS HAIRCUT. She wasn't real sure what to say when I said, "R, You are awesome." She kind of smiled, and asked if I really liked it.
I had such a good relationship with my hairdresser in Chattanooga. She is a Christian, in fact she and her husband were our Sunday School teachers for a while. When I would get my hair cut, we would talk about what God was doing in our lives and how we could pray for each other.
When I started going to R here in the metropolis of Dacula, I realized how much I missed Laura. I'm so thankful God brought women into my life like Laura and Bekita. They challenged me to go a little deeper. It was easy to "hang" with them because they ignited my faith! Their zeal and love for the Lord was and is contagious.
God convicted my heart this morning as I drove to my appointment that I needed to make more of an effort to share Him with R today. I asked Him to take over and move my mouth for me.
R opened up a little with me, she is very guarded. As I left her this morning, I said, "I'll be praying and thinking about your mom." (she's in the hospital right now.) She looked at me with the strangest expression on her face and just said thank you.
I'm not sure if she will ever let her guard down with me. I'm just praying that God will continue to give me opportunities to show Him to her. And with the way my hair grows, I'll see her every 5 weeks for a trim. :)
I'm glad God impressed her on my heart before I got there. It focused our conversation and I feel like I joined His plan for me today. Does that make sense? It would have been really easy to just veg out and read a magazine while she did my hair, but that wasn't what HE wanted me to do. I walked out feeling great about my new do, but I felt even better about participating in God's plan for me today.
How many times do we miss a blessing because we don't slow down enough to ask God "what do you want me to do today?" I know for me, I've missed more than I want to admit. My goal for the next little while is to ask HIM every morning, "What do you want me to do today?", and then do it.
Maybe then I'll have some cool posts to share with you!
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/04/2008 07:48:00 PM
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
This was what our loft looked like toward the end of our first day back to school.
Chloe was finishing up her last subject and Emma was reading.
I think we were all thankful to be back into our school routine. The girls and I moved all the school stuff upstairs during December and created a true school space in our loft. We plan on purchasing a couple of file cabinets to set our table top on at some point, but until then our bookcases will have to do!
We talked about new beginnings this morning. I'm so glad God gives a chance to start over every morning. (Not that we have to wait until the next day for a "do over", we can start over anytime! Check out Beth Moore's blog today for more on that subject.)
I have a small flip calendar full of quotes and scripture sitting next to our computer. Today's inspirational quote was from Gloria Gaither. She says "Always new. Always exciting. Always full of promise. The mornings of our lives, each a personal daily miracle!"
The last 5 words really struck me. "each a personal daily miracle!" I never thought about my morning being a miracle, but it is. We thanked God today for waking us up and giving us a miracle. I'm asking Him to open our eyes and hearts and make us more aware of the miralces all around us. I don't want to miss anything!
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/02/2008 02:29:00 PM
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Happy New Year! I can honestly say that this is one New Year I couldn't wait to see! Well, sort of.
2007 was the hardest of my 33 years. The first week of 2007 Chad lost his job, and I was in bed with the flu. Needless to say, our year had a rough start and it felt like our life was turned upside down. I questioned God, yelled at God, questioned some more, and then I finally shut up and listened. It's amazing what happens when I do that. :)
God had to take me to the lowest of lows to burn into my heart that HE is all I need. I believed Him and His word. I trusted that He would supply all my needs and would never leave me. But For whatever reason, He had to show me just how literal He was about that!
This year we have literally prayed, "Give us this day our daily bread" and He has. We've never had an empty pantry or fridge. God reminded us that He really is the only one we can rely on. When everyone else was gone, He was there. When we felt like strangers in this town, He was there. He took us to places we have never been and showed us things we could only imagine.
Our hearts have forever been changed and we look at others through different eyes. I think I can speak for Chad when I say that we feel deeper and more passionately about helping others in similar situations.
If God gave me the ability to erase 2007 and start over without the job loss, I wouldn't change a thing. If I changed 2007, I would miss a year of learning more about my God. If I changed things, I wouldn't be able to say I know when my God says I will provide, He really will.
It's all part of His plan for our lives. He has thought out every detail of our lives. Every day, every minute, every second! That totally blows my mind. The God of the Universe has thought out my life. Oh how can we not love Him more everyday?
So in this new year, I want to share as often as possible just how faithful HE is. I want to be found worthy to do whatever it is HE purposed for me to do. I want HIS name to be lifted up and HIS glory seen in me. It's all about Him, and I want to be properly positioned so that only He is seen. This year I'm asking Him to move all of "me" out of the way so only He is seen. Whatever it takes....
I pray that your 2008 is blessed beyond your wildest dreams!
One more thing.....VOLS ARE UP 21 to 7!!!! Glory be!
Posted by ocean mommy at 1/01/2008 11:57:00 AM