Category Archives: Joy

praying for blessings

blessings as tears .001

Seems life has been like riding a rollercoaster the last few months.
Up . . . Down . . . Twists . . . Turns . . . Upside-down . . . then, right side-up.
Catch my breath . . . then hold on for the ride.
I pray.  I continue to pray for
peace . . . comfort . . . healing . . . clarity . . . relationships . . . restoration . . . fear to leave . . . understanding . . . patience
  . . . protection . . . suffering to cease . . . 
I know God hears each word I’ve spoken . . . But today, my heart asks . . .But what tone does God hear in your voice?

Does He hear the same tones that I hear in the voices of others?
The tone in my own voice as I speak?
You know the ones that fuel all the negative emotions.
Of course, He does.
He hears the discontent . . . grumbling . . . complaining . . . whining . . . disappointment . . . self-righteousness . . . 
anger . . . muttering . . . indignation . . . displeasure . . . doubt . . . betrayal
I know He hears each word  and that He knows my every need . . .
and today, He reminded me that often times I let my fear take the joy away.
So today, I’m not white-knuckled or feeling my stomach in my throat, or letting out a blood curdling scream as I ride the rollercoaster.  This time, I am facing those fears that want to steal the joy away from me and seeing the trials as Mercy in disguise.
Blessings
by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise


I need You

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Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
John 16:24

There is something about a sleeping baby that fills my heart with such joy.  As I watch our little one sleeping so peacefully, I am reminded the joy, the happiness, the delight in my heart isn’t just a happy emotion.  That kind of joy, that happiness is fleeting. It lasts only for that speck of time.  Rocking her to sleep, relishing that moment of joy, I find myself humming “Lord, I Need You” to the sleepy little one snuggled in my arms.  Every single need of this precious little one is dependent on someone else to supply.  Her honest needings remind me of how much I need to lean into Him, how much I need to depend on my Father  . . . not just when I “need” Him, but every moment of every hour of every day.

I need Him in my joys and in my time of need.  I need Him when I’m strong and when I feel weak.  I need Him moment by moment. He is my one defense, He is my righteousness. 

Your awareness of your constant need for Me is your greatest strength. Your neediness, properly handled, is a link to My Presence. However, there are pitfalls that you must be on guard against: self-pity, self-preoccupation, giving up. Your inadequacy presents you with a continual choice—deep dependence on Me, or despair. The emptiness you feel within will be filled either with problems or with My Presence. Make Me central in your consciousness by praying continually: simple, short prayers flowing out of the present moment. Use My Name liberally, to remind you of My Presence. Keep on asking and you will receive, so that your gladness may be full and complete. (from Jesus Calling)


(click to play “Lord, I need You” – Matt Maher)

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
 
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
 
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
 
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
 
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay
 
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
 
You’re my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

2015

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Another year has come to a close.  In closing this chapter, the reflections of this past year are full of many blessings.  Blessings from wonderous new beginnings, new joys in the journey, steps toward dreams coming to fruition . . .  all of which draw us closer to God.  And this year has also been marked with disappointments, hurts, confusions, rejections . . .  these too have been blessings which draw us closer to God.  I put these high moments and these low moments in the vault of past Grace.  Knowing that each of these events are part of His plan to grow me, to teach me, to use me.

So as this new year begins today, as this next chapter opens up clean before me, I want to come with a teachable spirit.  I look forward to the future with faith and confidence that future Grace goes before me.  

My prayer for this new year is to not walk clinging to old ways, but to walk each day seeking His face with an open mind and an open heart.

Lord, I need You!! Renew my mind, continue to change my life. By testing, give me discernment what is good and acceptable and perfect…Give me Your will. 

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2


every time I remember you

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I thank my God every time I remember you. ~ Philippians 1:3

Memories. As I looked at the date on the calendar today, a smile burned deep in my heart. Today would have been my grandmother’s 98th birthday.  To all of her kids she was known as Memi and she was adored by all.  And so today as I look all around me and our home, there are all kinds of physical reminders – from pieces of furniture to collections of antique glassware to handwritten recipes – of this precious lady who loved Jesus with all her heart and made sure her four girls, and their children, and their children knew it.  Life was not always an easy road for her, but she was confident that no matter what her circumstances it was not a road she walked alone. I can still hear her say, “Oh honey, God’s got this one!

So today I whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for my grandmother who helped shape my life . . .  through her encouragement, her advice, her sense of humor, her genuine love were such blessings in my life, and her memory continues to bring gratefulness. Gratefulness for the threads her life wove into the tapestry of my life, each one helping to make me who I am today.

Gratefulness for the peace from these sweet memories.

 


never alone

Wide as the Sky.001

A few nights ago my sweet man was working on some video stuff and downloading music.  When I heard this new song, Wide as the Sky, by Matt Redman, my memory took me back a number of years ago . . . to a time that I had buried deep in my heart.  

. . . There was something holding me back from opening up myself to worship . . .  I mean . . .  Real Worship.

I’ve always loved singing [in and out of church], but I would watch vicariously as others would open themselves up to unashamed real worship.  And then one day, it happened.  It was a rare occurrence, the three of us – my middle son, my daughter and me – sitting all together at the late worship service.  Admittedly, I was in the throes of walking through a dark season in my life.

Life was falling apart.

As the 11:11 worship band was playing [sadly I can’t remember what the song was], my eyes were fixed straight ahead.  But to each side of me, I saw the hands of a son and daughter raising up. It was in that moment, I no longer felt the constraints holding me back.

Life was falling apart.  And my hands were reaching up, so my heart could begin to open up.

I did not know where this battle in the dark season would take me.  As alone as I may have felt, I knew I was not walking it alone.

Looking back over the last 10 plus years since that day, I know . .  . Never once did I walk alone.

CLICK TO LISTEN:  NEVER ONCE by Matt Redman


peace

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Peace in the midst.  In the midst of all the planning, the shopping, the decorating, the buying, the wrapping, the waiting in the sea of traffic, the waiting to be waited on, the meal planning, the coming and going from one event to another . . .

Struggling in the midst.  So many times I have found myself feeling more like that tangled mess of Christmas lights.  No peace in the midst. Letting myself get lost in the mess.  Lost in the mess, when I lose my focus of the Messiah.

And then I hear the familiar Christmas carols whispering to me, reminding me it’s through filling my heart with joyful praise and adoration of Him that I am in the midst of Peace.

When Jesus is the focus of our holiday, we’re centered on His love, peace, and joy.

Ephesians 2:14 confirms, “For He is our peace…”.

HE is our Peace.

And when our hearts are at peace, our Christmas season can be too.


peace beyond understanding

from ann voskamp ~ a holy experience

photo from Ann Voskamp ~ a holy experience

 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4: 6-7

Shalom – Hebrew for Peace.
A study of Hebrew words reveals meaning beyond their spoken pronunciation. Each Hebrew word conveys feeling, intent and emotion.
Shalom is more than just simply peace.
It is complete Peace – contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being and harmony.

The Shalom that can only come from Him who created and put all things into place.

Experiencing this peace – this Shalom – came this past weekend.  It was more than just the intimate, serene outdoor wedding setting.  Even more than the beautiful sun-filled, blue skies that filled the Austin Hill Country.  Yes, it was even more than friends and family that gathered to share in the Joy of the joining of the oldest son, C and his bride as one in marriage.

This Shalom was the Peace that could only come from fervent prayers asking for the Peace of God that goes beyond my mind and heart’s understanding.  

During the weeks before the wedding, many nights of sleep were interrupted by a bad dream night after night. Only this wasn’t really a dream, it was like a movie replaying in my mind the deep wounds from venomous words and divisive actions at another such wedding scene eight years ago.  There was no Shalom.

Knowing that unlike at the beautiful wedding of daughter K a little more than a year ago, this time the wall of space and people would not be there to protect the Joy my heart desired for this occasion.  With each replaying of this late night “movie,” an overwhelming sense of unrest would stir in my heart because I did not want anything to take the Joy away from this wedding day either.

In the dark of those nights, I would call out in my heart to my Abba Father, Yahweh.  His Peace was always present with me there in the dark, night after night after night.  And peaceful sleep would soon return.

Each morning after, I would wake wondering,
Was this some sort of spiritual attack? 
A portent of possible pending drama? 
Something designed to take the joy from this time?

Sharing these thoughts with my dear friend L, the weeks and days before the wedding found us praying together.  We prayed for Peace that would transcend, that would eclipse, that would go so far beyond what my mind and heart could understand.  We prayed for that Complete Peace, His Shalom.

Last Saturday, the big day had finally arrived!  The venue was absolutely serene.  Despite earlier reports of rain coming in with our first “big” cool front, the weather was beautiful.  Skies were blue and the sun was shining through the shadows of the massive oak trees.  There was even a herd of Longhorns nonchalantly greeting the guests as we drove through the ranch gates.  Was this the peace I had prayed for?  No.

As we were walking up the stone walk towards the early arriving family members and a few other guests, I heard a still, small voice say to me . . .

“The Peace you’ve prayed for is here, He goes before you.”

It was in that moment, I understood.  That movie that had been playing over and over in my head in the nights before had been a reminder to me that in the dark, in those uncertain times of my life, His Shalom, His Complete Peace has never been absent from me. 

Now instead of those anxious thoughts, an overwhelming sense of Peace washed over me – the assurance His Presence walks every step of the way with me.  I have that Peace that surpassed all my understanding.  The Prince of Peace is guarding my mind and my heart!


not an orphan anymore

Big Top at OBT

Big Top at OBT

[Click to hear “Orphan” – Ronnie Freeman Band]

You think so much of me
You take delight in me
You paid the price for me
Then you adopted me

I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours
I stand before you now adored, I’m yours
Your cross has set me free
New life belongs to me
I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours

You took my guilt and shame
Gave me a brand new name
You call me your beloved
I call you Abba Father.

I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours
I stand before you now adored, I’m yours
Your cross has set me free
New life belongs to me
I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours


Now I feast at the table of the King

And His love is the banner over me
His Love the banner over me!

I’m not an orphan anymore, I’m yours
I lost the fight, but won the war, I’m yours.
Your cross has set me free
Victory has set me free


I’m not an orphan anymore,

I’m Yours.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The first time I heard Ronnie Freeman and his band play this song, we were sitting in a big tent, “The Big Top” at Outback Texas during a time called “Abiding, Gratitude, Sharing.”   It was an absolutely beautiful November weekend just outside Brenham, Texas.  Ministering to, praying for couples ~husbands and wives, parents and teens ~  as each began peeling back the layers, earnestly spending time restoring, building, strengthening their relationships with one another, experiencing the Glory of their Abba Father.  Then hearing this song . . . the words so simply stated. . .  tears began streaming down my cheeks.

Let’s go back to the beginning.  Being blessed to be born into a loving, Christian family who lived out Christ daily, I knew I was loved not just by my earthly daddy, but most importantly by my Father.  As a young girl I began my personal heart and life journey of grace, mercy, forgiveness, perseverance, patience, and courage with my Abba Father.  

Most times, the journey was easy, especially in those early years living at home.  Once out on my own, the journey began to take some difficult paths that I wasn’t familiar with.  I’d find myself diverted off His path, I’d come back, only later to walk a little bit off the path again. These side-trips were never of huge proportion.  Oh,but looking back each one deprived me of precious time, of precious Joy, of untold blessings.  As difficult, and as dark as some of those times would prove to be over the years – even a season of feeling totally abandoned here on earth –  I know .  .  . I know I was never abandoned by my Abba Father.

Those paths were of my own choosing, no doubt.

So what was it that made those tears stream down my face?  A multitude of things.

Gratitude.  Gratitude for having had the foundation of my life in Him laid down at such an early age. That even in my disobedience, He continued to pursue me, calling me back.  Gratitude for as broken as my life had been, it was no longer that way because of His Grace and His Mercy. 

Brokenness and Forgiveness.  I am finally able to begin to truly and honestly lay aside those things which have caused hurt and pain.  I am able to begin to forgive.  Most of all – forgive myself.  I know in Him there is no condemnation. 

A sense of sadness. Sadness because I was reminded of how I had spent so much time sitting underneath His table, eating just the crumbs that happen to fall, when I could have been enjoying His Feast.  Sadness for the fellowship, the close communion I had allowed myself to miss over the years. Sadness also because the words of the song reminded me of my Prodigal and how his choices are depriving him of the close relationship with the one he would call Abba Father as he would pray.

Peace. Peace because the victory is His.

Joy.  Joy because He gives me Hope.  Joy because I’m not an orphan anymore. I am His.


start to a new week

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Yesterday the calendar said “first day of autumn.” Typically, here in Houston that doesn’t mean too terribly much.  But this past weekend brought us some nice changes.  Let’s see, we had a couple of days of really good, soaking rain that we really have needed in this time of drought.  And that was followed by the ushering of some cool, fresh air.  The change was definitely welcomed!  ‘Now if only the start of my work week would bring some change’ was my prayer as I went to sleep last night.

So today was the start to another week of teaching middle-schoolers with this year’s crop, so far seeming be a ‘bit of a challenge‘.  This morning when the alarm went off, my hand hit the snooze button, trying to put off the inevitable.  But when I realized this wasn’t a morning I could sleep in a little, I had to put myself into high gear when I remembered I had an early meeting before school started this morning.

Sadly, I short-changed myself spending some quality time with my Creator before starting my day. But just when I was bustling around,  getting off on the ‘short’ foot, my sweet husband opened the balcony door and called me to just take a moment to look at the sunrise.  What a gift He gave to me this morning.

A beautiful reminder – that no matter what the day before me may have in store, no matter what the challenges may be, He always goes before me.

The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.
Nahum 1:7


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