Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dear Christians, So, There Was This Election....

My dear Christian friends who voted for Romney, 

Our nation is watching you. Your family is watching you. Will you pout in a corner? Spew out ugly remarks on FB, Twitter and elsewhere? Jump up and down in a hissy-fit? 
Or will you look to the Lord and say, "I will honor You by honoring the governing authority, as You have asked (Rom 13). I will respect and pray for my country's leaders(1 Tim 2). I will continue to trust YOU as the ultimate Ruler and only Savior of all(Acts 4)."

God is sovereign. He knows the future. We do not. There's no telling what would happen if Romney had won. We've still yet to find out what will happen after President Obama has won. But God is not surprised.

I understand President Obama has chosen to stand for things that are clearly opposed to God's Word (and our country will, without a doubt reap the consequences promised), but please don't forget these things: 

1.Submitting to the authority does not equal agreeing with it. Paul is a prime example of submitting to an authority he did not agree with. You may disagree. It's okay. As an American, you were even able to make your convictions known when you voted, you still have the right to make your convictions known! (respectfully, of course)

2. God didn't write an escape clause when we were given the command to be subject to the governing authorities (Rom 13). We have no excuse to bash, harass, or anything other than pray for President Obama and his administration and to speak up in LOVE, with wisdom when we have the opportunity(Col 4).

3.This election has not so much as nudged God even a smidgen off of His seat on His Holy throne, so nothing has changed for us. We still belong to a kingdom not of this world. This world still belongs to the darkness.

I ask and encourage you to make your focus the furthering of that heavenly kingdom, not the lamenting of this one.

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up! (Gal 6:9)

In Christ and for Christ,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Can You Fathom This?

Today is a lovely day. For the first time in weeks, I have nowhere to go. I have things to do, but they are not tedious nor are they boring.
I am preparing several themed testimonies, Bible lessons and Bible studies. It’s marvelous and maybe a little nerve-wracking. And as I was reading Scripture, I realized that it has been quite some time since I have been able to justify typing out a blog post here on ako strom.

But today is the day that I will once again return to the keyboard in hopes of encouraging and inspiring a deeper love and desire for God in YOU.

Today’s word comes from Isaiah 44. 
I want to focus on something in verses 21-28, but we need to back up a few verses before because Isaiah says, “Remember these things, O Jacob.” at the beginning of verse 21.

So back up and hear first in verses 6-8 that God is the ONLY God, and then in verses 9-21 how God looks on the foolishness of idols. Check it: He goes through the painstaking process that craftsmen at the time would use to create an object of worship. First, he must choose a tree, tend it, and watch it grow strong, then he cuts it and begins to use it. Part of it he’ll use to make a fire for his every-day needs like baking or warmth. Then he’ll take the rest and carve it into an idol and fall down before it saying, “Deliver me! For you are my god.”
Now, we look at that and go, Wow. Stupid. Who would do that?
But read on and God says that those who worship in such a way have been blinded, so they can’t see the stupidness of what they do. And their hearts lack the discernment to say, “this makes no sense” because they too are darkened.
Verse 20 says, “he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand.”

I know that in American culture, it is not so common to walk into a home and see a hand-carved idol on an altar to be worshipped as it is in other cultures, but we have still made things our idols. An idol is merely something we look to for assurance, rescue, security instead of God.
For some it’s a roof over our heads and a good job. Maybe it’s being accepted in an elite group of people. Maybe it’s having a boyfriend/girlfriend  or husband/wife. Maybe it's pleasure. Anything we put as more important than God is an idol.

The thing that sticks out to me personally, is that these people who were worshipping idols were darkened in their eyes and understanding. I, on the other hand am not. I am free to walk in the light because Jesus has paid the price for my life to be free from darkness and I have accepted that as His gift to me, however undeserving I may be.
Paul insists in Ephesians 4 that we are not to live as the unbelievers do, darkened in their understanding, separated from the life of God. We have put off the old and put on the new, which is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 
So, for children of God, any idol worship is true foolishness, because we DO have eyes to see.

Okay, that was a longer back-track than I anticipated, but hopefully it will put more weight into what comes next:
Remember these things, O Jacob,
    and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
    O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.

I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
    and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
    shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
    O forest, and every tree in it!

For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    and will be glorified in Israel.

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
    who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
    who alone stretched out the heavens,
    who spread out the earth by myself,

who frustrates the signs of liars
    and makes fools of diviners,
who turns wise men back
    and makes their knowledge foolish,

who confirms the word of his servant
    and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,‘
    and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built,
    and I will raise up their ruins’;

who says to the deep, ‘Be dry;
    I will dry up your rivers’;
who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
    and he shall fulfill all my purpose’;
saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,‘
    and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”

God says,
“Look at who I am.
Look at my power.
Look at how I move in the earth, to make things happen.
Look at how human wisdom fails  in comparison to mine.
Look at how my promises come true.
Look at me as the one who made YOU.”

He also says,
“I want YOU to remember this foolishness I have just revealed to you about your worship of other things. Remember also who I am, how great I am.”

But he doesn’t stop with saying how stupid we have been and how awesome He is.
No. He says,
I see where you've forgotten me, but

This elicits a shout of joy, a song of praise from all creation (including trees!!) to the God who has redeemed us.

One of my favorite parts, in fact, the initial reason I decided to post this passage is the second half of that rejoicing verse, where Isaiah writes, 

“For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.”

Another way it is written says,

“For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will display His beauty in Israel.”

I got butterflies in my tummy when I read that. When God redeems us, it displays His beauty in us. His redemption makes us beautiful creatures. HIS REDEMPTION makes YOU a BEAUTIFUL CREATURE. Do you understand?! Can you fathom it?!

The fact that in my own strength I have nothing to offer but broken idol worship, and a heart bent on chasing after the world, and then he sees me and doesn’t leave me, No, He redeems me. He blots those things away and asks me to return to Him. Through redemption, He makes me a beautiful display of His glory.

Oh, such knowledge is too wonderful for me! How gracious and patient, loving and unfailing is my God.

Believers, children of God, I urge you to examine your hearts  along with me and find if you have placed something before God. Return to Him as your first love. Burn up those remaining idols with the rest of this world that you have already cast aside. Take Jesus. He is all you need. He displays His beauty, His glory in your life, and that brings all eyes that look at you to HIM. 

God wants to bring Himself glory through our redemption in a way that will bring unsure and seeking friends to the same true and only source of life. 

The question is, will we let Him?
Oh, I hope so.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Overwhelmed In A Good Way

First from God through the Sons of Korah:
Psalm 84 (ESV)

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise!

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!

For a day in your courts is better 
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and a shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Second from me:

The Lord has been moving in my heart and I'm beginning to grasp this truth: 
"No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly". 

He has been turning my heart to make my prayer,
"I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness."

Honestly, I'm positively tickled by the fact that my favorite bird, the sparrow shows up in this chapter! 

Our God is so worthy of our trust and of our praise. He is a sun, bringing light to the world. He is a shield, bringing protection from the enemy. He sees me whole, holy and made perfect through the blood of Christ Jesus, his anointed. And because of Christ, I am brought near to the sinless, Almighty God. I am allowed into the courts of the living God. 

Whenever I meditate on these things, David's exclamation from Psalm 139 bursts from my heart, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!"

Knowing I can believe these truths found in the infallible Word of God makes any day a good day. 

Overwhelmed, but in a good way,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

With a Backward Glance...

Last week I found this written in a journal from November 2008.
“I just now realized my prayer of June 23rd has been coming true. God answered my “growing up” request by letting things NOT go the way I want and making me take [life] by the horns and deal with it. Wow. God answered that prayer, and I’ve been complaining. How stupid of me. I guess this is all just part of the growing process.”

I remember that day, reading backwards through my journals and seeing all the difficulties I recorded going through, and then I found my prayer to be grown written at the very beginning of all of those trials. I remember being hit with the realization that God was answering my prayer and I hadn’t even recognized it.

Thinking about that again today, I am in awe of the fact that God would hang on to me, and continue to work on me, even when I was essentially accusing him for putting me through the growth I asked for. He is so patient and loving, I can hardly believe it!

I love to journal, and while it’s so very important to not “live in the past” (because I’ll miss out on today), some great things that can come from re-visiting where we’ve been are:

  1. We will be reminded of things God has already taught us -- that we may or may not still be applying to life.
  2. We can see where God has taken us from and be encouraged to see where He’s brought us to.
  3. We can use our experiences from times gone by to bless, encourage or challenge others.

It’s always amazing and humbling and encouraging and convicting to read through my own life. There’s times when I thought I had it all together, and I laugh because I SO didn’t. There’s times I was completely broken and depleted and turned to all the wrong sources before turning to God, the true source of healing and fulfillment. It’s hard to read over some of that, but it’s always a helpful reminder to not go that path again. Then, there are all the WOW stories. The times I had faith and God moved. The blessings and even miracles I’ve experienced. The little things God did for me that I don’t always remember off the top of my head. Like a great conversation with a friend, or an answer to a deep question or desire coming at just the right time. Reading all of this brings the desire to get deeper into my relationship with God... and to see what He will do next.

I encourage you to reflect on the work God has done in your life, and thank Him for it! Then press on, refreshed in Him!
 If you can’t see any works, I would encourage you to turn to God with a willing heart and ask Him to work in you. Then, watch as He moves.
If you don’t have a personal relationship with God, none of this will be possible. I ache for you, because without God, life is so empty and futile... no matter how “fine” it may seem right now. I beg you to seek Him. He is so good, so loving, so caring and so much more than I can even describe. And He longs to show himself to you, He desires a personal relationship with you. He loves you.

Mmmhmmm. Mmmmmmmhmmmm.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

God's Undeniablilty

While teaching Bible stories for three weeks over the summer, God’s “undeniability” overwhelmed me. When God shows up, there is no denying it. 

Here’s one case. 
It’s paraphrased from Scripture, almost how I would have taught it, but without my own thoughts and applications inserted (I'm too jetlagged and lack motivation to type and organize the plethora of comments I have on the story...)

I’ll try to post other stories we used that showcase God’s undeniable power soon, but in the meantime, I highly recommend digging in to the book of Daniel yourself and really contemplating the awesome ways that God shows up. 

It blew me away.

From Daniel 3

King Nebuchadnezzar made a giant statue and set it up in Babylon. He called all his rulers and important officials to come to its dedication. His herald told them, “As soon as you hear the sound of all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship this image. If you do not, you will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace!”
When the music played, all the people fell down and worshiped. But, some men came to the king and said, “Oh king, live forever! You said that everyone who hears the music must fall down and worship the golden statue, or else be thrown into the fiery furnace. But there are some Jews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who have ignored you! They don’t serve your gods OR worship the statue you made. ”
Nebuchadnezzar was furious! He called for the men, and they were brought before him. the king said to them, “Is it true that you that you don’t serve my gods or worship the statue that I set up?” Then he gave them one more chance, “When you hear the music,” the king explained, “if you fall down and worship the golden statue, then good. But if you don’t worship it, you WILL be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?!
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have nothing to say, because even if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God that we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if He does not rescue us, know this: We will NOT serve your gods or worship the golden statue you have set up.
Nebuchadnezzar was FURIOUS ad he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. His strongest soldiers tied up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and threw them into the blazing furnace. The fire was so hot, that the flames killed the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in. 
Now, the king, who was watching, leaped up and asked in astonishment, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them in the fire?” His men replied, “of course, O king.” Then the king said, “Look! I see not three but four men walking around in the fire, they're not hurt and the fourth looks like a son of the gods!” So Nebuchadnezzar called out to them, “Shadrach! Meshach! Abednego! Servants of the Most High God, COME OUT and come here!” And out they came! The officials crowded around them and saw that the fire had not harmed them, not even a hair from their heads had burnt off. Only the ropes with which they were bound. They didn’t even smell like smoke!

Then, Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who sent his angel and rescued his servants, who trusted in Him, defied the king’s command and were willing to lose their lives rather than worship another god than their own God. Therefore, I make a a decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, be torn limb from limb and their houses destroyed. For there is no other God who is able to rescue in this way.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

When CPR is a Bad Thing.

So It’s been a while. To say I’ve been busy is not adequate anymore. It’s just my lifestyle, it’s not gonna change anytime soon. I guess i will say I haven’t been able to take time out of life to write like I used to do. But here I am again, because I have some ideas clawing at my mind, begging to be released into words.

The idea I’ve been toying with lately is in regard to the human struggle against the flesh.  And how it can interfere with our productivity and ministry.
Yesterday I was visiting Bay Area First Baptist, where I was involved with Vacation Bible School this past week. The speaker was talking mostly about/to fathers in honor of Father’s Day, but I got so much out of it for ME as a believer. And it solidified some of my thoughts.

The passage that stuck out to me was Galatians 5:16-25 
 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit
So here’s my mental picture.

When we, as believers who have died with Christ and been raised to walk in newness of life, give in to the works of the flesh (as recorded in verses 19, 20 and 21), it is as though we are digging out the decomposing, sinfully rotten self we crucified at the time of our salvation and attempting to perform CPR. That’s disgusting!

Inside of every believer is a Helper, the Holy Spirit of God. As I like to tell my students, it’s the very same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead -LIVING INSIDE. The Helper does just as his name suggests- helps! Helps us to say “no” to temptation and “yes” to God. (nod to the best GNC Bible teacher, Mrs. Frankovich, on that one!)
Those works of the flesh are no longer our obligation if we are living by the Spirit of God. Instead, we have the power to produce fruit, not death. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Here’s what I told myself in regards to all this:

If I am so busy dragging around (and attempting to resuscitate) a dead thing, how in the WORLD do I think I’m going to be effective for the kingdom of Christ? If I’m focused on trying to put some life back into what I’ve killed, how can I be offering an example of living by the Spirit?

I can’t. At least not very well. And not without confusing people, and exhausting myself along the way. Trust me, I speak from experience.

So, while it’s (unfortunately) hard indeed to leave that rotting hunk of sinful-self alone, imagining dragging it around all day in attempt to revive it certainly gives a mental picture that disturbs the soul just enough to remember to knock it off when I’m dabbling with the works of the flesh.

I keep thinking what it would be like to make this into an object lesson for my 1st through 6th graders. I can just see me now, walking onto the stage with a halloween dummy strapped to my back.... yeah, maybe not such a good idea. But honestly, with something as hard to shake as the grip of the sinful nature, you have to get radical or get lost.

Instead of spending my time giving CPR, I want to be using my every breath to bless others, to honor God, to bring the good news of Salvation to those who haven’t heard.

I’ve got only one go at life here on earth, and I want to truly live.

Well, that’s all for now, folks. Gotta dive into a harrowing blitz week with the Slovakia team now. Focus, focus, focus. I’ll be back at the end of summer with something for sure, and maybe I’ll make a quick stop in mid-summer. We’ll see.

Until then, I remain...


Monday, March 26, 2012


oh, Conviction, you are a dagger that produces a healing wound.

All I need to do is what God has asked of me and let HIM worry about the rest.

Like my momma told me, 
"Worrying doesn't take away tomorrow's troubles,
 it takes away today's peace."

 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard.  He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
    “About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.  He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’  So they went.
   “He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6 About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
    “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
   “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
    “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
    “The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
    “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
   “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fighting Something Ugly

Depression is an ugly thing to fight. It surrounds you-- and like a dense fog, when you try to bat at it, even with all your strength, your hands just pass straight through. Depression creeps into every crack and gap, nook and cranny of your heart and mind left open to its harsh touch. It sneaks in through the tiniest of holes and fills any empty caverns it can find. It smudges the soul and crowds out the sunshine. Depression is a monster. It gnaws at the mind and sends its venom coursing through the veins.
Depression is my demon. Somehow, he knows me better than I know myself. He gets me where I didn’t even know it would hurt. He tells me I’m not important enough, I’m not perfect enough, I’m not useful enough. He tells me I'm too weak. He tells me if I fail, I won’t be trusted, supported, appreciated or loved anymore. He tells me I’m insignificant, replaceable, unwanted. He pokes and prods until I accept that there’s someone who could do “me” better than me. He reminds me of my past and paints chains on my future. Often I’m able to ward him off through the Truth found in God’s Word, but he always seems to find another way back in. He seeps in silently on the back of insecurity, jealousy, hurt, disappointment, frustration, stress, confusion and pain.
Sometimes, if I run fast enough, do enough, busy myself enough, I can get ahead of him, but inevitably he catches up and invites himself back in.

I’ve been thinking a lot of how to deal with depression. Because it hurts to be depressed and I'm weary from fighting it. I want instead, to have an irrepressible, pure joy for others and for myself.
So many times I’ve heard “you have to stop thinking about yourself and focus on others if you want to be rid of depression”. I believe there’s great truth to this, don’t get me wrong, but I just end up burning myself out trying to serve, and then the moment I stop, depression’s right back upon me. Maybe (for me, anyway) there's more to this. But what? I can seal up all those cracks and holes in my life that depression sneaks in through, but if I cover them up, then the depression that’s within will be permanently trapped inside. 
So what about this: maybe the cleansing of depression has to come from within. A medicine, so to say, from God that begins on the inside and works its way out, banishing depression as it goes and filling up the empty places so that nothing else can fill them again.

maybe that medicine has a name.


just maybe
it’s trust?

Trust that in Him I am enough. In Him I am loved unconditionally. Trust that He has a perfect plan for me. He’s got the right place (or places), the right man, the right job, the right friends, the right ministry, the right encouragement, the right acceptance. Trust that he’s got everything under control. Trust that I don’t need to have everything under control, I only have to give everything over to Him.
15 Bible Verses You Should Read Now

That’s absolute truth that the Bible is full of. But honestly, you and I both know it’s way easier read and said than done. What does it take to really, really hand it all over and mean “Lord, have your way with me!”?
I’m still figuring that out.
On the brink of giving up, which I do all to often, I’m going to rally myself once again and pray, pray, pray, pray. 
Obviously, wanting this isn’t enough, because I’ve wanted relief from depression for a long time. I actually sometimes get depressed over the fact that I'm depressed (confusing, i know.) So wanting's not enough, but quite possibly begging will do it. Not letting God hear the end of it until I am whole.

My heart’s cries in the past weeks have been channeled through two songs: 

From the Inside Out by Hillsong

Remind me Who I Am by Jason Gray

I don’t want my faith to be marred by any of the aforementioned lies from the master of darkness. I want to be free from the measurements and comparisons for self-worth this world is bent on forcing into our minds.
Don’t you?
Let’s ask for it.

Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

*UPDATE, FALL, 2012*
I have seen such a change in my heart attitude and mind set over the past several months as I have bit by bit continued to give every desire, fear, question, joy, whatever, over to God. He has filled me and fulfilled me. I have His peace. I know that He does lead and He will lead, and in those rare moments that depression seeks to rain on His parade, I turn that over to Him as well. I'm learning and He's faithful. Praise the Lord.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It is Well- a very few thoughts and memories of my beloved Grandfather

It’s crazy to think that just a week ago last night I was on the phone with my grandfather.  And a week ago today I skyped with him. He kept joking with me, “you are so beautiful! You must have a big date tonight.”  A week ago tomorrow he told me “love you, love you, love you”. And a week ago Wednesday morning when he could no longer respond to me, I carefully spoke the words “You’re the best grandfather I could ask for. I love you.” over the speaker-phone. That was all I could say before tears completely overtook me. And then on Wednesday evening, in one second, one breath, he moved from present tense into past and future at the very same time. He is no longer here on earth, but this wasn’t his home anyway. His citizenship was in heaven. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Phil 3:20-21. So now he’s where he belongs. Where all who have been washed white in the blood of Christ belong. 
As happy as I am for him to be out of the pain and suffering and temptations of this world, I miss him dreadfully. And I think I always will. 
My grandfather has always been a wonderful part of my life. He accepted Christ as his Savior just months before I was born, so I’ve always known him as a God-fearing, faithful man. He loved family. Twice we spent a week at Disney with him and grandma and the number of times he visited our house I can’t even count. He was with me the day I graduated. I remember seeing his proud face beaming at me as us new graduates walked out of the ceremony. I’ve already cried that he won’t be at my someday (hopefully) wedding. I wanted him there more than almost anyone else. Because at your wedding, you dance with grandpa. That's what you do. Only, I won’t get to. But when that day comes, I’ll probably cry a little and then treasure all my wonderful memories of grandpa and keep those with me the whole day long.
Happy and sad and bittersweet tears keep rolling down my face, so I guess I’ll be done with memory lane for a while...

I just wanted to share one more happy thing that really stuck out to me about the events of his passing. It really was a celebration because he has been called to worship before the throne of our Great God forever and ever. And I am sure he has been told, “well done, good and faithful servant!” but anyways....
My mom mentioned in her speech at his memorial service yesterday that the last song he sang (whispered) with family was “It is Well with my Soul”. It made me cry, because not only had it been the very song to bring me comfort when I first heard that my grandfather’s last days were upon us, but it brought back one of the best memories of my entire life...
Our WHOLE family was rarely all together at the same time, but I will never forget one night when we were staying at Massanutten resort in Virginia, Spring 2006. The trip was in celebration of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We were all together in one of the living rooms- putting it on the cramped side of full. My cousin Joe had his guitar out and we were singing worship songs. I don’t remember who requested or chose It is Well, but I do remember when we sang it that it was the MOST beautiful rendition of the song I had ever heard. Our family is full of musicians, vocal ranges of every kind; people who know what they’re doing. We had full harmonies, echos, everything. It gives me shivers just remembering it. It was positively magical. I remember thinking, can we do it again? Can we pleeeeeease do it again and again and again?
I think that was the last time that our whole family was together like that because every other “whole family” trip was a wedding and someone or another was off on their honeymoon. (someone correct me if i’m wrong)
It is a beautiful memory of my grandfather, and as many have said this week, his faith is now sight. And one day, our faith shall be sight as well.
I’m sharing these memories with you, because I haven’t been with family at all since his passing, only my very little siblings, who don’t quite grasp what’s happened, so I haven’t gotten to talk very much... And I also want you to know how wonderful my grandfather was!

This version of It Is Well doesn't come close to my family's version, but at least you can hear it.


Friday, January 20, 2012

For Nights With Tears

Sometimes tears come from so deep inside of me that words can't even describe the jumble of feelings, emotion and often, memories they wash out.
Those tears, usually accompanied by uncontrollable sobs, visit me every once in a while.

Tonight, I weep with uncertainty. There is much on my heart. Fear of unknown. Struggle to trust in God's perfection.

It's times like these when I think to myself, "how would I survive if I didn't have such as a close companion and friend as my Savior?"

When there is no one to hold me and tell me it's going to be okay, He is here.
When I know it's not going to "be okay", He is here.

I usually sing my prayers to him in between sobs.
something like
"Hide me now, under your wings. Cover me, within your mighty hands"

I usually sing to myself as well,
something like
"Find rest my soul, in Christ alone. Know His power in quietness and trust."

But there are nights when I cannot even eek out a lyric.
Those nights, all I can do is close my eyes and try to breathe deep while listening to my iTunes playlist "for nights with tears".
It's a calming collection of music by Kari Jobe, Christy Nockles, Plumb, Selah, Janais and Meredith Andrews.

the music calms my soul, soothes and strengthens me with truth.

There's just something about being reminded of the safety, compassion, warmth and peace that can be sought in the arms of Jesus through words accompanied by gentle melodies and orchestration.

If tonight's a night with tears for you as well, I'm writing this as much for you as for me. Listen and reflect on our Great God, who has you in His unchanging hand.

He is here for the broken and life to the one who is undone
He is peace to the wounded and hope for the helpless one
He is here, He is here

Be still my soul, be still
Be still my soul, be still
Wait patiently upon the Lord
Be still my soul, be still

When the waves rise against me and the wind tries to draw me away
I will stand on the mountain, safe in Your arms I will sing I will sing

Be still my soul, be still
Be still my soul, be still
Wait patiently upon the Lord
Be still my soul, be still

Hide me now
Under Your wings
Cover me
Within Your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father you are King over the flood
I will be still and know You are God

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust

a (very) few other songs-
In Your Arms- Meredith Andrews
My Beloved- Kari Jobe
Be Still My Soul/What A Friend We Have In Jesus- Selah
God Will Take Care Of You- Plumb

Hopefully I'm not too melodramatic tonight. Writing calms me. So here we are with a blogpost from a night with tears.

Just remember, 
"weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" Psalm 30:5


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I love that He loves

I love this song. 

Your love is pure, Your love is precious
Your love is all I need
Your love surrounds me, Your love astounds me
Your love is everything

I run to You when my heart is weak
I cling to You, You're all I seek

It's my heart's desire to be close to You
Here in Your arms I'll find my strength

Everything I want, everything I hope in
Everything my heart cries out for
Everything I want, everything I hope in
Everything my heart cries out for

I love these verses.

 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

I love that 

I can run into his arms whenever I need to be surrounded by love and compassion. 

Don't forget, you can too. He cares... about EVERYTHING.