Friday, August 27, 2010

Can't Believe It.

I've had a couple of "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS" moments lately. So, I thought I would jot them down.

I CAN'T BELIEVE that I have a seventh grader. So far, middle school has been a fun and sweet adventure. Watching her enter into some new and uncharted territory is a little frightening, but she is a good kid and makes parenting easy.

CAN'T BELIEVE my baby will be in my fourth grade choir in two weeks! Seems like yesterday she was in the kindergarten choir! It's going to be a fun year. I'm so excited to have Emma and her sweet friends. I have missed my choir kids this summer.

And speaking of Emma. I CAN'T BELIEVE she was stung by a wasp at school today! To make it worse, it was on her face. RIGHT under her eye. It was the first time she had every been stung. Of all places to be stung.

But the biggest I can't believe it moment is personal. I can't believe that I'm running.

Me. Stephanie! RUNNING. And even more surprising,

I enjoy it. Like REALLY enjoy it.

What is wrong with me?!?!

This week I passed my 35 mile mark. Tomorrow morning I will do my first four mile run.

I'm finding myself to be way to concerned with the numbers of my run. I watch my Nike trainer a little too much. Chad says, "SLOW DOWN, We aren't concerned about time right now, we just want to finish today's run." But in my mind...

I'm thinking that I want to beat his 1/2 marathon time from 2008. :) I have this crazy competitive side coming out and I'm not sure I've seen her before.

One of the reasons I'm enjoying the run so much is because every time I'm out there, huffing and puffing and yes sweating, God speaks.

He shows off in some way and I love it. Yesterday morning we were running early. (Like 5:30 am) and it was a course with several hills. These hills are hills that I drive I "know" they are there.

My perspective of thess demons...ummmm I mean hills.. :) was so different in my car. On foot these babies are evil!

The first one was pretty early in the three mile run. I made it all the way to the top and thought, "Well. At least I got the hill done early." Wrong.

At mile two, I started a LONG hill that took me right up to my three mile mark. I really wanted to stop. I was tired, my throat was dry and I was sweating way too much. (Have I mentioned how I feel about sweat?) To this point, it was the closest I've come to being done.

My Nike Trainer was talking in my ear, "1 mile to go" and then the next song started. It was "Jesus Saves" off of Travis Cottrell's "Jesus Saves Live" project.

We were about halfway up that horrible hill when Chad pointed up and said, "This is the best part of running in the morning. Look, it's daybreak." These were the next words I heard in the song:

"Freedom's calling, chains are falling, hope is dawning bright and true.
Day is breaking, night is quaking, God is making all things new.
Jesus saves."

I finished my run on the verge of tears. Daybreak was beautiful. The music I ran to was motivating, BUT it turned my run into a praise and worship time. So sweet.

Day is breaking and all things are new. I so needed the reminder Thursday morning that each day is an opportunity for a new start. A fresh dose of God's mercy. My God knew that I needed a holy reminder and He orchestrated one that I will not forget.

Can't believe that He loves the way He does. What a God we have.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Intense Mirror Time

Over the last few months God has impressed something on my heart. I would talk to Chad about the situation and all that was on my heart and he listened. Occasionally, he would suggest that I needed to do a particular thing but I was scared. My human nature strongly disliked the potential consequences. And trust me, I had about 100 different scenarios on how things could go.

My former buddy fear started hanging around. I would be praying about this thing and hear "What if.....?" It was crazy. I KNOW to grab the thoughts, line them up under God's word and trash what doesn't agree with it. But in this particular thing, it was a struggle.

Struggle really isn't a strong enough word. This was a battle. A battle for freedom and honestly, the enemy didn't want to see that happen. Believe me when I say he kicked into high gear to prevent it. He failed by the way.

This is vague I know, but what God showed me after the particular thing was over, has overwhelmed my heart.

He reminded me how important mirror time is. Time to stop and take a good long look at where He and I are. He's given me some questions to ask myself and I'm to journal those answers so that I don't forget.

Questions like,

Am I spending focused time with the Lord each day? If not, why?

Have I asked the Lord to speak to me this week and I have I sat quietly and listened?

Am I placing my acts of service for the Lord (choir, ministry, teaching Bible Study...) ahead of God? Have they become an idol?

What things in me need to be stripped away so that God can complete what He's started in me?

Who am I sharing my Jesus story with?

Oh, I didn't even get to the hard stuff. Some of those I can hardly even speak aloud, much less include here.

This post was started in June. At the time, I didn't feel like I could post it. Today, on a lazy Saturday after some mirror time, He reminded me of the questions. It was time to sit with them again.

I can tell that Mirror Time is going to continue to be part of my life. As hard as it can be, it is so worth it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Asked - Part 2

I was just a little surprised to have such an intense moment with the Lord at the Justin Bieber concert. It really was not on the radar for the night I'm ashamed to say.

As we went on with our week, I thought about the concert "experience" but did not talk about it. The one thing that I could not get out of my mind was how the different color lasers reminded me of the Revelation passage describing the throne of God. ( I talked about it in part 1)

Thursday evening came and I needed to do my 2 mile run. I decided that I would run the perimeter of our church campus while all my people were in karate. Yes, I am crazy. It was early evening,103 degrees and I was running. BUT God had a plan.

About a mile into it, I came around a building and there was one dark cloud in the sky. ONE. It was right over the building the karate school meets in. What stuck out to me was that the sun was behind this one cloud. Out of the entire blue sky that cloud just happened to be in front of the sun. Sun rays beamed all around that dark cloud and it was magnificent.

As I ran toward that building, I kept taking my glasses on and off looking at the difference in the rays. With them off they were just bright. With my glasses on, they appeared to be different colors, very faint hues of pinks, greens, blues and yellow. It was beautiful.

My run wasn't over so I continued on. My ipod may have been playing crazy Christmas music, (don't ask...I hit the wrong playlist and couldn't change it w/out messing up my Nike trainer thing.) BUT my mind was thinking that God was teaching me a lesson.

I began to think about how surprised I was at what had taken place in that concert earlier in the week. Here's what nearly made me get on my face in the church parking lot. (And for the record I was around the cemetery when this happened.)

God reminded me that He is ALWAYS moving. He is ALWAYS active. There is ALWAYS something going on in the spiritual realm that we are unaware of. (We talked a little about this last night in Bible study and I about lost it.) We, well at least I, have become almost numb to it because I don't live expecting God to do anything in my life. Oh I want Him to, but I do not LOOK FOR IT. In essence, I take the spiritual sunglasses off and walk around as if that world doesn't exist.

Last week God used several moments like the concert and the cloud/sun during my run to remind me that there is more to this life than I can see. Did I know this, yes! Did I live acknowledging it? No. This is not all there is.

Life is hard and it's ups and downs easily distract. I had become so focused on the many tasks at hand that I was missing the one thing that would transform those ups and downs. I was so focused on what I could see, that I was missing the blessing of the unseen. And that unseen? It has eternal consequences.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

(I took a picture after my run. I wish the cloud had stayed "together"!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I asked - part 1

I shared on Wednesday that after our pastor's sermon last week, I felt a nudge to share a previous post from my worship journal. So I did. What I didn't tell you was that last Sunday, (August 8) our pastor challenged us to worship/praise God everyday and to look for a WOW moment with God.

I asked God for a wow moment last week and He gave me a couple. Well..they are all connected. This is the first part.

On Monday, August 9 we celebrated our oldest daughter's 12 birthday. THAT was a wow moment. What a blessing that 6lb baby girl has been. I was thrilled to take Chloe and her BFF to see one of their favorite singers in concert on Monday night.

This pretty much sums up what the night was like. :) And I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!

Chloe's face looks a little less intense, but what you can't see is that there were a few tears. :)

As the Bieber took the stage the screaming, tears and excitement was LOUD. All I could think was, WOW. These girls (all 7,000) of them are passionate about this young man. Then it happened.


Yellow. Green. Purple.

Bright beams of light put on a show that was nothing less than stunning.

Around me people were screaming, singing along and enthralled in the music of a 16 year old boy and all I could think about was Revelation 4. Specifically, verse 2-3 (NLT)

"And I saw a throne in Heaven and someone sitting on it! The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones - jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow."

What happened next I can't explain. It sounds weird, strange and some may say I was just a little buzzed from the beer fumes coming from the people in front of me, BUT. I had this...

Dream, vision, I don't even know what to call it. Time sort of stopped for me. I had this VERY strong impression and urgent sense to pray. I "saw" all these young girls for lack of better words "worshipping" this young man. (Please understand, I thought it was a fun show, nothing crazy, nothing that I felt was inappropriate..I enjoyed it! So I'm not a Bieber hater okay?

People around me were focused on the stage and that boy, nothing could take their eyes off of that young man. God showed me the urgency to pray for these girls. They were ALL longing for the attention and dare I say affection of him. At times you could not hear the words he was singing because of their screams. That young man held the hearts of those girls in his hand.

Pray. That was the word I kept hearing.

I prayed for these girls to have hearts that longed for God. Hearts that would hear His call. Hearts that would be confident and secure in the holy affection God has for them. Hearts that would seek that affection before the affection of any man. (OR boy!)

For a few minutes, the impression to pray was urgent. Then it passed. I have never experienced anything like this before.

We walked out of that concert and I had two verses on my mind.

First, Philippians 2:10-11
"So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, on heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God of the Father." NLT

The second is well known. God reminded me that I asked for a WOW moment and that when we are looking for Him, we find Him.

Jeremiah 29:12-13

"In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me." NLT

****** Thanks so much to my friend Tammy for the laser picture! If you live around Dacula, she takes the BEST family pictures. Check out her site here.*******

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Worship Journal -2

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)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My 2010 Summer Lesson

This summer has been one emotional roller coaster after another.

In the big picture, nothing bad or traumatic has happened. We have had an incredible, fun and busy summer! But like a lot of you, there have been a few life events that have seemed to cause a wave of emotion in me. One week I'm celebrating, the next week I'm exhausted and at the point of tears. But my God...

He never ceases to amaze me. He uses anything and everything to teach a lesson. Including my emotional and dare I say "mood" swings.

Here is the one thing that He has taught me to pray this summer. The one thing that I will take from Summer 2010.

Psalm 119:71-72 "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces."

Over the last three months God has sealed these two verses in my heart.
I asked Him to give me the desire to pray these words, and He did. There were two situations this summer where God made it pretty clear He was giving me the opportunity to pray Psalm 119:71-72. I did. And you know what happened?

The drama that could have unfolded didn't. My typical, knee jerk reaction to this sort of thing did not happen either. (and I'll just go ahead and tell you THAT alone is a miracle.)

In the midst of the "affliction" He reminded me of a verse in my memory verse spiral from 2009. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

So we do not lose heart, Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

A year ago, I could understand the concept behind these verses. Today, I feel like God has pulled the curtain back from my eyes and taught me to live these verses. They have gone deep into my being and taken root. It is good for me to be afflicted because that is when I learn something new about my God. THAT has eternal value.