Tuesday, March 24, 2009

God inhabits our praise

So, duh, right? (The title) I mean, as Christians we all know this. But I know I forget it so easily, what it really means. For years I've had people tell me I should play praise music constantly in my house because a) the Devil doesn't like it and will stay away, and b) God inhabits praise, ergo His presence will fill the house. But I've always balked at that suggestion because I don't tend to like praise and worship CDs (you know, like Vineyard or Hillsong or whatever). There is absolutely nothing wrong with them, I just don't like the "sound" or whatever. It's a personal preference thing. So I just haven't done it.

But God has been working on me about it lately, mainly because I know that I and my family are under spiritual attack. If it's not my marriage, the kid has a weird phase. If it's not the kid, it's me with depression or illness (or both). If it's not me, it's the hubster with stress or whatever. And 'round and 'round it goes. As Roseanne Rosannadanna on Saturday Night Live used to say, "It's always somethin'!" So God has been pointing out to me that the Newsboys and Phil Joel have praise songs. And there are lots of praise songs on albums I used to listen to a lot, like the City on a Hill albums, and Tree63, and the Passion worship albums. I even have two WOW Worship CDs from several years ago. So last Thursday or Friday I got on our Windows Media Explorer and made up a Praise and Worship playlist from the Christian stuff we have on there. And then yesterday I went through our CDs and added a bunch of other stuff. It's funny that there are songs we have on CDs that I discovered I loved when we had this very hip worship minister in our church for awhile, and I didn't even know we had the songs! (I clearly wasn't listening to those particular CDs.) So now I have a great collection of P&W songs that appeal to me that I can put on and listen to whenever I want to! And my plan is to keep them on in the house all day long, even if I'm distracted and not really listening, because the Enemy knows those songs are my heart, he knows I mean them regardless, so hopefully they will keep him and his minions at bay.

When I first started listening to them on Friday night while cooking supper, I was so uplifted! Some of these songs I hadn't heard in years, and they had been incredibly meaningful to me "back when". Oddly, the last couple of days I've felt a bit depressed, but I'm not terribly surprised. I'm sure the Enemy is NOT happy about this new warfare tactic. At any rate, I'm lovin' the songs and the devotion they inspire and the good stuff they remind me of! I even borrowed an extra MP3 player my husband had and put the playlist on it so I could listen to these songs in the car. (I wanted to keep MY MP3 player "Newsboys/Phil Joel dedicated." lol)

So that's one of the things that has been helping lately. It also helped me a great deal to spend time talking with my mother on Saturday (the day before the anniversary of her mother's -- my Granny's -- death), remembering my Granny, and especially sort-of rehashing all the junk with the hospital and the situation surrounding Granny's illness and death, all the nightmarish stress we were all under, all the disbelief that this woman, this amazing lady who had been such a rock in our family, just forever!, who had always been the strong one, always been the no-nonsense one, always been the one we counted on to live forever (or until Jesus came back), had become so sick, so dependent, and had died in the hospital instead of quietly in her sleep, like she so deserved. After awhile Mom and I got to the point in the discussion where we were just going over all the incredible things God had done for us through those six weeks, how He had sustained us through our own illnesses and weaknesses so we could be there for Granny, how He had provided for so many different needs, how He had made sure all of her grandchildren had had a chance to be there before she passed away so they could say goodbye (she died the very day my middle brother came up to see her -- the only day he had been able to get free to come). And then afterward how He had sustained us through her memorial service, even enabling me to SING for her service, after I had said I would never be able to sing at a loved one's funeral. And I looked at my mother and said, "You know, in those times when I find myself doubting God's existence, or that He cares about me -- all I need to do is think about how He was with us every step of the way through the crisis with Granny and her death." God even allowed me the special privilege of being with her at the time she passed. It was just me and my Dad in the room with her. It was such a peaceful, quiet passing. As Dad said, "she just stopped." I believe I was there as a stand-in for my mother, who would NEVER have been able to handle that. (Mom was her only child, and they were extremely close.) Plus, it was just a very unique, special thing to be there at the moment my precious grandmother passed from this life into Eternal Life. Not pleasant. Not "happy" by any means. But a special honor, in a way.

Okay, so the whole point is -- God has been there for me so many times in my life I can't even count them. And I am SO quick to forget that! I'm so quick to let the dark clouds -- the fog, if you will -- of my depression obscure the undeniable proofs that HE IS THERE, that HE LOVES ME, and that HE WILL NEVER LEAVE ME NOR FORSAKE ME! The song "Great is Thy Faithfulness" just sums it all up so beautifully. If you don't know it, here are the words:

Great is Thy faithfulness, o God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin, and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.


Isn't that the most beautiful song? I know the words are a bit archaic, but it is just such a testimony to the truth of His trustworthiness and, well, faithfulness! My mother has long said this is our "family song," because He has proven Himself faithful so many times in my family of origin. And I'm seeing Him prove Himself faithful in my marriage-family, too. Especially when I pull my head out of my own despair and look at the facts!

Well, the kitties are clamoring for their bedtime feeding ... and my stomach's kinda growling, too, actually! So it's off for a bedtime snack and then, hopefully, a good night's sleep.

Blessings to all ...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Just a quick post tonight ...

There is SO much I want to write about, but it's really late and I don't have time to do everything I want to say justice, so I'll save that for later. It's been a really, really tough week, but God has been working, and I'll just say one thing -- all those people who used to tell me I should have praise and worship music playing in the house were so RIGHT! I tried that on Saturday and it was so cool the difference it made, both in the general atmosphere of the house and in my heart and spirit!

So tonight I'm just going to post my scrapbook layout for the Faithbooking project I'm leading on the Paper Craft Planet site (the group I head is called SHINE Christian Crafters' Challenge). It's a digital layout, which I guess is kinda "cheating" or something at a site called PAPER Craft Planet, but I had to use digital to get the effects I wanted, so, hey, ya do whatcha gotta do, right?

So here it is. The pages are supposed to go side-by-side, but you can't really see them well (too small) if I post them that way here, so the left one will be on top, and the right one on the bottom. The topic is "Struggles and Scars":

That's me about 20 years ago on the merry-go-round at the elementary school where I went growing up. It's a self-portrait, taken during the aftermath/fallout of a 3-1/2 year long relationship with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. Yeah, I have scars from that that are still there today. Probably always will be. Dude was surgically precise with his abuse and knew how to cut very deeply.

Anyway ... that was then. This is now! (Praise God!)

One more quick thing. See this beautiful lady?

This is my Granny. She passed away exactly a year ago today (March 22), at age 95. Such an amazing woman. We all miss her so much! But we know she is totally enjoying being in Heaven with my Granddaddy and, better yet, with her wonderful Savior whom she loved (loves) with all her heart.

Okay, it's late, Aidan's calling for me to come say goodnight, so I've gotta run. More later!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Abraham's faith

Well, it's been a few days since I wrote anything in here! Sorry about that -- it's been a tough week. Becky, I appreciate your comment on my last post. It's all so true! I just tend to lose sight of it sometimes in the fog! (BTW, I always appreciate y'all's comments. Forgive me if I don't get them moderated right away -- I forget I'm moderating and I have to approve them, but I think it's kinda important to moderate this blog ...)

ANYway. So I found a good journal entry from Jan. 24, 2007 when I was doing the deliberatePeople "through the Bible" reading schedule and actually journaling (I'm doing the schedule again this year, just haven't really journaled anything -- sorry Phil!) It kinda speaks to some of what I go through a lot, so I thought I'd post it here:

Romans 4:18-25
Standout verse - v. 18 (in The Message version): "When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he couldn't do, but on what God said he would do." Wow! That's pretty profound -- Abraham's eyes weren't on himself here, but on God. No matter what Abraham saw, no matter what the facts seemed to be according to the "natural" eye, Abraham saw with eyes of faith that God would do as He had promised, no matter how "impossible" it might seem, no matter the limitations Abraham might have in his flesh.

Well, Abba, You and I both know I really struggle with this very thing. I mean, not that You've promised to make me into a great nation or anything, but I'm always so afraid of my own failings, of my own weaknesses, that I don't even hear what You're calling me to do! And that's so silly, because if You call me to something, You're not going to just dump me and walk off. No, when You call Your children, You equip them! You give us what we need in order to fulfill the calling -- we only need look with eyes of faith.

So help me to do that, please, Abba! Help me to raise my eyes above my own limitations -- perceived or real -- and put them on You, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Strengthen my faith, please, Abba. I don't want to miss out on anything just because I'm looking in the wrong place!

I love You!

Well, all I can say to that is -- Amen!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A bit of sunshine

Well, you'll be happy to know that God and I are on good terms again. ;-)

Honestly, I've been struggling a lot these last few days, but I woke up ... not sure which morning, might have been Friday ... just ready to give it back over to Him, tired of being so negative and ungrateful feeling. I wish I could tell you I bounced right back to SuperChristian Stacy (like I've ever been that), but even though my attitude was better, it still took a couple of days. I had a mini faith-crisis last night, but it was actually kind-of a good thing because it ended up resolving when God reminded me of several very special times in the past when He has shown me CLEARLY that He IS, that He loves me, and that the whole Christianity thing is THE REAL DEAL. I always feel so wretched for even having one micron (or whatever is really small) of doubt, but this world these days! It just shouts "there is no God!" at us and hammers us sometimes until, if we take our eyes of Jesus for a half a second, we start going, "Wow, this stuff really is kinda incredible." So last night I was doing the "God, I believe; help Thou my unbelief!" prayer and He sure did! I can't refute the things He has shown me in the past. I just wish I would get another one soon, but I'm grateful for those! Very, very grateful.

I wish I could explain them to you, but they're not easy to put into words. Glimpses of heaven (a feeling really, of the most intense love I've ever felt, just for a second -- I think because He knew more than that would have utterly overwhelmed me in my tiny humanness ... and besides, I was driving); images of His love pouring over my head like rose petals; very, very brief glimpses of His amazing glory. And other things I just can't put words to at all. But they touched those places in my heart and soul that connect with God, the very, very most intimate places of the soul where God lets His children know He is there and He loves us. Sounds really weird and mystical (maybe it is, if looking at it from a human standpoint), but all I know is, it's real. And I'm NOT one of "those" kinds of people.

So, tonight I go to bed secure in the knowledge that God exists, that there is a Heaven and a Hell, that Jesus Christ is the only road to salvation, and that because He died for me and I have accepted His sacrifice and the Truth of Who He is into my heart and soul, I will one day join Him in Heaven. Rock solid, no doubts. The way my heart and soul really know it is if I'll just stop listening to the Enemy and get my eyes back on my Savior.

BTW, I know that I and my family are definitely targets of spiritual warfare -- I guess all Christians are. But it seems like the last few years have been just crazy with it. So if you're inclined to pray for us against the Enemy and his armies, I wouldn't turn you down!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks

I'm going to post this "old" writing of mine from 2006, not so much because I'm feeling better about life, but because I need to be reminded that He does listen, I do hear, and I'm not always wandering in the desert refusing to be comforted!

This was from January 17, 2006 in my deliberatePeople Bible-reading journal:
Standout verse:Genesis 35:3b
This verse really stands out to me in my readings today, Abba. "...God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone." Yes this is You, my God! You are so good and faithful to always be with me and to always answer me when I cry out in distress -- even if the distress is self-inflicted. You come to me, wrap Your strong, beautiful arms around me and remind me of Your love for me, and then, if I need it (and I often do), You gently, lovingly show me what I need to do to get back on track. How I love You for that! How I love and appreciate You for always being with me!

Matthew 12:20 -- I have always loved this verse about You, Jesus, and it goes along perfectly with what I just wrote: "A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out." I am so thankful for Your tender mercies, for the way that You are so gentle with us when we're suffering, when we're struggling! You don't take us when we're down and crack us over Your knee. You tenderly bind us up and strengthen us. And when "this little light of mine" is just barely there, merely a hint of blue on the wick, You don't get frustrated with us and blow us out completely, but rather You cup Your hands around us and blow Your breath gently on us until the flame is fanned up and burning brightly again. How precious and loving You are! Oh, breathe on me, breathe O breath of God! Breathe on me 'til my heart is new! Take my heart and cleanse every part of it, Holy Spirit! Fill me up again and purify me!

I am a very bruised reed right now, Abba. A very, very dimly burning flame. Please help me stop seeing you so darkly. Please help me see you as I did then, as loving and gentle. Oh, Abba, bind me up, blow the breath of your loving Spirit over me until I can stand again. And, oh, forgive my hurting, accusing heart!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Not a "good little trooper"

This has been a tough few days. I suppose that's to be expected after posting about refining. I got to go to church on Sunday and ACTUALLY SING on the praise team for the first time in, like, three months (I took a mini leave-of-absence because of my sinus issues). It was so awesome! I loved every minute of it, I felt close to God, I sat there and praised Him and told Him I really wanted to make a fresh start and get totally back on track with Him, etc. I meant it. With every fiber of my being. It was such a great day.

And then Monday morning I woke up sick again. Mild fever, achy, totally, completely exhausted, and, of course, sinusy. And I just went spiralling back down into the blackest of pits. And it seemed like everything in my life was just WRONG, not just the chronic sinus thing.

So this week has been a huge struggle. God and I have had some pretty heavy talks (okay, I did most of the talking). I told Him I'm TIRED of being refined. I'm not doing a very good job of being refined, anyway. I'm not sure there really is much silver in there. (Apparently He has a different opinion.) I'm tired of being sick. Not like that's a huge revelation. I'm tired of being a crummy wife because I can't take care of anything when I feel like this ... wait, have I posted this exact same thing before, just a couple of weeks ago? Um, yes, I did.

So this has got to be spiritual warfare. I know it is, even if some of you may say it's just whiney old me! lol

Anyway, I confess to very, very dark thoughts about this world's need of having me in it. I do that from time to time. I would never act on those thoughts, but it takes me quite some time to work through them. This is usually when I do my "yelling" at God. Not actually vocally, but definitely internally. I'm glad that I'm confident He can take it. He got an earful last night. I mean, honestly, sometimes I don't understand why He doesn't just STEP IN and DO SOMETHING. Immediate. Miraculous. Not just about the stupid sinuses, but about life.

And then the morning comes and I feel better. (I'm very grateful for mornings.) Not entirely "all better," but acceptably okay. I still don't understand why God won't just FIX the things that get all knotted up in my head and my heart and make me so depressed. I know there are other people involved ... is it okay for me to want them to change? Do I have to be the only one who does any changing? 'Cause clearly, I'm not doing a very good job of it, here, and I could use some major help.

Whoops ... backtracked. Anyway, as I was saying, I know God knows best. I trust Him to know what He's doing. He's God, after all. He's got the Big Picture, the Ultimate Agenda. He, according to the Bible, loves me. And I've had lots of proof of that in my life. I still have trouble believing it sometimes, but it's true. That doesn't always make me feel all perky and Pollyanna, though. Sometimes His will is tough. Lots of times I just flat don't understand it. ("Just flat ..." Can you tell I'm a Native Texan?) Many, many times I buck against it, chafe about it, whine A LOT, and just really wish God would privilege me with more details than He's given. But in the end, I have to say along with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." (Job 1:4-5)

(I'm not saying that like I'm standing up on a big rock proclaiming it to the world. I'm saying it like I'm sitting on the rock with my head in my hands, HAVING to say it because I know there is no other way for my heart to respond.)

I love God. He is MY God, my rock, my salvation, my fortress, my deliverer and my sustainer. (Despite what I feel sometimes, though, I really do hope He doesn't slay me!)