My Favorite Things: Paper Route

No, not having a paper route…the band, Paper Route.

They could have named themselves Awesomeness, but that would have been a bit egotistical I suppose.

I discovered Paper Route when I was counting down the days to a Paramore concert.  I knew that Paper Route would be performing, had never heard of them, and felt that it was my duty to buy their latest CD and become acquainted with their sound before I let them sing to me in person.  I’ve been hooked ever since.

These guys are so distinctive.  What they create never disappoints my ears.  Just when you think you may have their “sound” figured out they go and do something you weren’t ready for.  I love that.

I realize their music may not be everyone’s cup o’ joe, but that’s why it’s my favorite things.  🙂  I share this info with you just in case you have never heard of them, you give a listen, and decide that they’re the coolest thing since moon pies…or fried chicken…or Pringles (I might be hungry as I type this).

These guys are working on a new album which makes me exuberant! Here’s a bit of a listen from their album, Absence.  These happen to be three of my favorite songs, but it’s so hard to choose favorites with these fellas.  If you like any of what you hear below you’ll enjoy the whole album, I guarantee it.

Happy listening 🙂

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Dust Yourself Off

Do you ever feel guilty for setting a goal for yourself and you end up totally abandoning it?

Yeah, me too!

The thing is I set goals regarding GOOD things: reading through the Bible in a year, chronicling my year in pictures/verses/quotes in my lovely project:life book, eating healthier, getting exercise, finally getting around to reading Lysa TerKeurst’s “Made to Crave” (because I’ve been secretly fearing she was gonna get in my business).

You can have too much of a good thing.

Sometimes you have to let some good things go and focus on smaller goals.

So I’m trying again…starting tomorrow. 🙂

I go back on Weight Watchers’ online program tomorrow.  Figures that it is going to storm like crazy as I begin again.  But I was on WW from September – December of 2010 and lost 20+ pounds.  FO’ REALS!

Starting Friday, after the big daddy of all storms rolls through, I’m going to get out and move…just a little.  A 20 minute walk in the sun, talking to God.

I’m going to read past the introduction of “Made to Crave” and post about each chapter weekly…right here! Every Friday (starting next week…gotta give a girl some time to read, dwell, and respond).

I’m going to work on my project:life album a bit each week.  Perhaps even share photos here from time to time to keep me accountable.  This particular project is very important to me, so I want to follow through.  Time to organize my photos and go for it.

Thanks to Gina Cooper I have a new read thru the Bible in one year Bible – Message Remix – gives me an OT and NT passage to read each day and questions to meditate on.  LOVE it!  Such a help!  What a dear sister in this walk!

You might be thinking…She didn’t take one thing off of that good stuff list of hers.

I would if I knew that I needed to.  I haven’t stayed fully committed to these goals because…I have issues with commitment – in areas of my life with things and people that I love.  It’s crazy.  It’s a stronghold.  And God is working on me and in me.  (Keep me in your prayers, y’all!)  🙂  I also have a strong tendency to procrastinate.  I usually follow that with – “I do some of my best stuff at the last minute”.  That is true, but I need to stop using that crutch and walk on the solid ground of my Rock.

So I’m dusting myself off and trying again.  God is patient and forgiving and kind to me and with his strength I can accomplish anything!

{What are some of your goals – short or long term?  What did you want to work on or learn to do this year but haven’t gotten around to yet? Let’s share and encourage one another.}

P. to tha’ S. Don’t forget to check back on Saturday for my next favorite thing. 🙂

My Favorite Things: Bible Cover by Will This Fly

I have to admit that I have had difficulty finding a cover for my Bible that I really liked.  They were always too blah or just looked down-right tacky (in my opinion).  Then I came across a fab store that made custom Bible covers. I sent the ladies some of my favorite colors, styles, etc. and they went to work. I wondered with anticipation if I would like it. When I received it I was not disappointed. It is fun and eclectic and funky. It is just the happiest looking book EVER.
The front has a blue jeans pocket that is sewn to separate three writing utensils. And I really like buckling up my Bible. It helps to keep any loose papers tucked away inside and from it flopping around. I just think it’s darlin’!

The backside has a big pocket that is great for papers and a small notebook, if you like to take notes. My favorite thing about this favorite thing may be the birdie on the back. I love birds!

If you’re looking for a sassy Bible cover, please check out the gals at Will This Fly over at etsy. Here’s the link to their store: WillThisFly at etsy

Gideon and Me

I attended the Going Beyond event in Lynchburg, Virginia this past weekend.  This was my first time hearing Priscilla Shirer teach and I was excited about what word God may have for me.

I walked into Thomas Road Baptist Church on Friday night feeling energized.  I just knew that God had something He wanted me to hear and I was on pins and needles to hear from him in that place.

We had a special time of worshipping God unrestrained.  Then Priscilla led us into a time of prayer, encouraging us to pray specifically for our reason for being there and anything else the Holy Spirit may reveal to us that we needed to talk to God about.  We were given some really great booklets with areas for notes and some devotions written by Priscilla.  I found the page titled “Prayer Experience” and began to write out what I needed to talk to God about that evening.  I prayed for a release from a stronghold of fear, for God’s continued provision as I am in seminary, and for God’s specific leading – where he wants me and what he wants me to do.  I know he has called me to ministry, but my impatient side has struggled with not seeing a clear path yet.  We prayed, the Spirit fell, and Priscilla began.

She guided us to Judges 6:1-14 and talked about Gideon.

(I need to interject here that I am in the midst of a Biblical Models of Leadership course.  Several weeks ago we were asked to talk about which Biblical leader we identified with most and why.  I chose Gideon.  Isn’t God amazing? I love how he weaves things together in our lives!)

Before I knew it I had taken three pages of notes in my journal.  I cannot remember the last time I soaked up a message like a sponge as I did that Friday night.  It’s like God was saying, “I hear and I’m here.  This is what you need to know.”

Every time the Israelites would get on their feet again the Midianites would show up and oppress them. (Do you ever feel like things are finally starting to look up when suddenly the enemy knocks your legs out from under you?)

But Priscilla emphasized that although God does not cause all things to happen in our lives that everything must filter through his hands before it gets to us.  We must trust that he sees the big picture as well as us.  And know that despite our circumstances God can work a miracle within us.  We may be waiting to see the miracle occur in our circumstances when the miracle God wants to do is in our hearts and minds.  Priscilla continued by talking about Gideon’s insecurity and fear – but that God found him there…God went looking for Gideon in the midst of his circumstances.  (Isn’t it a good and encouraging word to know that God knows what we’re going through and that he comes to us and is with us in the midst of those times?!)

The part of Priscilla’s message that seemed to be just for me was when she began to talk about being faithful during a difficult season.  Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress – not the way wheat should be threshed!  The Israelites were so fearful that the Midianites would come and take or destroy their harvest that they had begun to thresh their wheat in a hidden place – in winepresses – instead of in the open air as was the proper way.  Yet Gideon was continuing to gather the harvest even in the midst of impending oppression.  He was faithful to what needed to be done.  Priscilla gave a great description by using the movie “The Karate Kid”.  Daniel went to Mr. Miyagi to learn karate so that he could defend himself.  He would visit  Mr. Miyagi expecting a karate lesson and Mr. Miyagi would have Daniel sand the floor or paint the fence.  And when Daniel would get sloppy with his work Mr. Miyagi would should him how to do it properly.  Finally, Daniel gets fed up with doing Mr. Miyagi’s housework.  It is then that Mr. Miyagi begins to throw some moves Daniel’s way and Daniel has to defend himself against the blows.  Mr. Miyagi shouts out “sand the floor” and Daniel uses those same moves to block blows from Mr. Miyagi.  This lesson continues with Mr. Miyagi going through all of the different chores Daniel had been doing around  Mr. Miyagi’s house and yard.  It is then that Daniel realizes that Mr. Miyagi was teaching him all along – by Daniel being faithful in the seemingly small, unimportant details.  This drove right to my heart because I get frustrated in the little because I desire to do so much.  Yet I fail to see how God uses the little, the faithfulness in the little, to work in my life and the lives of those around me.  Oh that I will be faithful to continue to “sand the floor” and “paint the fence” – embracing what God has for my life now.

Priscilla also emphasized verse 12 of Joshua 6.  God called Gideon “mighty warrior”.  At the moment he was far from it.  Yet God saw in Gideon what he could be, what Gideon could not even see within himself, his potential.  Sometimes we feel like we are doing nothing productive for the kingdom and for ministry.  We cannot begin to see the potential within ourselves.  But God sees and knows.  As Priscilla said, “If your feelings don’t line up with God’s word you have to let go of your feelings and trust God”.

I would be starting a book if I told you how many ways God spoke to me on Friday night and how I left so still and full of God’s peace.  I am so ready to be faithful to the tasks he has set before now and trust his call on my life.

When I Create the Stress

God has done a great deal with me since September of 2010.  When I left my 10-6 job I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to work out, but he has provided in abundance for my every need.  I’ve had a wonderful peace about leaving my job back in the fall and relish the opportunity to focus so much of my attention to the work required for my masters degree in theological studies (which I will be done with in August…woot woot!).  Until this week I was one week ahead in my classes…until this week.

I took the last week to rest because I wasn’t feeling that great, but I was well enough to work on school stuff.

But I didn’t.

So I’m sitting at my laptop…Tara Leigh Cobble streaming into my ears (beautiful)…de-stressing.

I have the privilege to attend Going Beyond with Priscilla Shirer this weekend in Lynchburg, VA.  I am so excited to see her and hear her in person.  So thrilled at what God is going to do in that place and in our hearts.

The Norfolk Tides home opener is Saturday night and I have tickets to attend with my nephew (unless we get rained out).  Baseball is my favorite sport.  I honestly could care less about the other sports (gasp).  I get baseball.  I actually enjoy watching it on television and even more in person….even if I did get hit with foul ball several years ago.  I’m over it and Saturday night will be great fun.

My niece celebrates her birthday on Sunday (not to mention that this Sunday is also Palm Sunday).  We will have an afternoon of good food and presents and laughter.

And I have 2 assignments and a quiz due for my classes….and they are not done.

It’s moments like this when I sit back and breathe deep and listen to beautiful melodies that I realize that no one pushes stress onto me.  I create the stress.  Sometimes I think it fuels my work.  Actually being ahead for a week is not the norm for me.  I’m a procrastinator at heart and do some of my best work at the last minute (really).  But as I get older I don’t know that I’m satisfied with that anymore.  I  long to be free of stress, but I am the one who heaps it upon myself.

Today I am going to knock out at least one assignment and the quiz.  At least that.

And I’m going to look forward to what will be a wonderful weekend that God is going to bless me with.

I will not let my self-created stress steal my joy – joy in the happenings of this weekend OR the joy of my studies.  Because these studies are a gift and blessing as well.

P.S. Since I mentioned her I definitely need to suggest you check out Tara Leigh Cobble’s latest album, Morning’s War.  It’s $9.99 on iTunes. Beautiful voice and fab lyrics and melodies.

 

Choosing Rest

I am sitting here on a balmy April night.

Well, it was 80 in this house around 8 p.m. Supposedly the temperature is going down.

Regardless, I just need to sit under this ceiling fan and chill before attempting sleep.

I think God orchestrated this uncomfortable warmness to keep me up tonight.  To chill out.  And to pray.

I definitely have things to pray about for myself.  But there are others…

The 90-year-old in the hospital that has just been through something rough.

The friend who lost her son months ago who is still grieving.

The one who just needs someone to pray for her.

My brothers and sister throughout the world that are being persecuted for their belief in Jesus.

Wars and rumors of wars.

The devastation of natural disasters.

That pop celebrity whose life is falling apart at the seams.

The woman who is scared for the safety of herself and her children.

God keeps me awake and I am on prayer watch.  I mentally prayer walk up next to each one and lift them up to the Father.

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I become cranky and restless when I’m hot.

But I find rest in the lover of my soul and spend time with HIM….and I start to cool and relax.

Thankful for the hot and the uncomfortable moments that push me towards my God, where I remember how sweet communing with him truly is and how much others need me.

I am needed.

You are needed.

Someone needs to be prayed for because prayer makes a difference in other’s lives and in mine.

Prayer changes situations.

Prayer changes lives.

My selfishness thinks I’m crazy for almost longing for more uncomfortable that will drive me to talk to my Abba when I have become lost in the comfort of this life. Yet there is no comfort in the thickness of air and I am restless.

Augustine said that the heart knows no rest until it finds rest in you, God.

The uncomfortable amidst the comfort offers me two options: find rest in God or remain restless.

I choose rest. Because God loves me. And he loves those he has placed on my heart to pray for this night.  My heart will be restless with their presence until I hand them over to the great I AM. For he can do so much more than I can physically do.

He can physically heal.

He can carry the burden of the one who grieves.

He shatters fears.

He gives hope.

He erases doubts.

He brings joy.

He speaks to me and I seem to come alive.

And there is rest for tonight.

Why I Memorize Scripture

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Bible is no ordinary book to me.

God reveals himself through Scripture – we learn of his love, his promises, what displeases him, what he wants for us.  It is the most valuable possession to any believer.  It is not just something to read.  Just as it states in Hebrews God’s Word is ALIVE and ACTIVE.  It is set into motion in us and through us to an evil and hurting world.

I began memorizing God’s Word as a small child.  I was fortunate enough to attend a Christian school from the age of 5 through my senior year of high school.  It was a monthly requirement that students memorize portions of Scripture – something I begrudged having to do at the time, but a practice that has stayed with me beyond graduation.

In my college years I had Scripture verses written out on index cards in colorful ink posted all over the walls in my dorm room.  I loved being surrounded by God’s word.  It brought comfort and I could go to any wall when I was facing fear, disappointment, or stress and there was always a word for me from my Lord.

I no longer begrudgingly commit the word of God to memory.  It is a privilege and nourishment to my mind and soul.

Now I carry a spiral of index cards with me and memorize a new verse (or verses) every two weeks (thank you, Beth Moore!).

I have never thought that committing God’s Word to memory and quoting Scripture made me a better person or believer.  In fact, I believe God’s Word becomes that much more personal when I have committed it to memory and it is written on my heart.  In this way God’s Word is always with me.  I don’t have to carry a book around because portions of that great word are fresh in my mind, ready to aid in my witness or come to my rescue in personal adversity.  God’s Word is not just alive and active on the pages of the Bible.  When I commit Scripture to memory God’s Word is alive and active IN ME.

God’s Word is my sword.  It is part of my armor that Paul calls on me to put on every day to protect me from the weapons of the enemy of my soul.  It is intimidating and frustrating to the evil one when we become so acquainted and firm in God’s Word because Scripture reminds satan of who he is, what Jesus has done on mankind’s behalf, and that believers are more than conquerors over him.

Those are just a few of the reason why I memorize Scripture.

I urge you to consider committing God’s Word to memory as a weekly practice in your walk with God.  When you allow the seed of God’s Word to be planted in your heart and mind it will blossom into fruition in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

Hiding Behind “Nobody’s Perfect”

It is true that no one is perfect. As humans we cannot attain perfection until we place our faith in Jesus Christ and he begins to work in us to perfect completion when we go to spend eternity with him.
But I think we use our lack of perfection, our humanness, as a crutch. We choose to use it as an excuse when we mess up, when we purposely choose to live according to the flesh.
I think it’s time we wake up to the lie the enemy of our souls has been feeding us for far too long.
See, we bust out the statements like “nobody’s perfect”, “I only have one life to live”, and “I’m human-I make mistakes” and we use them in a selfish attempt at defining “grace” in a way that fits the way we choose to live our lives. Boy, has the evil one got us fooled. Deceit is, after all, his specialty.
What we should do (what I should do) is humbly confess our sinfulness instead of making excuses. We know what we are doing when we sin. We take a thought captive, realizing the meanness involved. We choose whether or not to use that word that we know is unwholesome speech. We are given the choice between picking up another drink or walking through that door. We know. WE KNOW what we are doing. And we need to stop hiding behind the excuses & take responsibility for our words & actions.
We often have no idea of the great impact we have on those around us and honestly, making excuses for our sinful behavior isn’t going to cut it when it comes to a dying, lost world. They are looking for something DIFFERENT from the world around them. We are called as a peculiar people, living in the world but not of the world.
What I’m asking is that we stop making excuses to sin & start taking up our crosses as the people of God.
We can’t hide from God with a “nobody’s perfect” or “I just need to make some mistakes”. Those don’t cut it. We have to stop distorting & abusing grace.

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