Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Story Time!

To say someone is dependable is one thing. To say that they are predictable is another.

Apparently, I am the latter.
On our ride home from North Georgia yesterday afternoon, my boyfriend JD looked over at me and said "Are you going to blog about how you hiked ten miles and almost died and how that relates to Jesus?"
Then he died laughing hysterically because we both knew that he was right. So to save you from the monotony that my blog has apparently developed, I think I should just tell you my story about hiking. You can draw your own conclusions.

Mostly this story is just a story though. And when I tell stories, I like to exaggerate how I felt about a situation. It makes it more dramatic! So here is the story of  how I trained for the Hunger Games. 

A few months ago, my family, JD and I all went to the beach for vacation. So coming up on Memorial Day I thought it'd be a good idea to take JD on vacation to do something he loves. He happens to really love the mountains and hiking.
I happen to hate it.
Maybe not hate.
I MUCH prefer the beach. Or anywhere else on the planet. 

My rule for hiking and camping says "There must be restrooms." (can I get an "Amen!", ladies?) I found the Len Foote Hike Inn in Amicalola Falls State Park north of Atlanta. It looked like an interesting place to go. The idea is that you hike 5 miles and you stay in a environmentally friendly hotel with food, bunk beds, hot showers and no cell phones.  That sounded like a blast to me! So after church on Sunday, we went up to Amicalola with his brother and spent the night at the lodge. 

The next afternoon, we left for the 5 mile trip at 1:13pm, precisely. I was warned to wear bug spray so I smelled like a walking bottle of DEET. I was warned to pack lightly because whatever you bring with you has to go back with you (including trash. no trash cans!) 
What they didn't tell me until I checked in with the rangers to leave for the hike, is that the first 2 miles of hiking is up. 
Straight up.
I think I was crying by 1.5 miles in. I told JD that I was quitting and we'd have to find somewhere else to go. Thank God he's a patient man! He convinced me that it would get better so we kept hiking.

At around 2.2 miles, there was a set of benches that I gladly became good friends with. As we sat and I drank water, we heard a scream that sounded like "MOMMA!" About 2 minutes later, we saw a little kid walking the trail. We decided to wait and see where his parents were and when they didn't follow him around the curve, we got worried. Just then the kid came back and asked if he could borrow our cell phones. He was lost 2.2 miles up the wrong trail.  
Thank God that we had both broken the "no cell phones" rule and both had reception at these benches!! An hour and a half later, a ranger showed up and took the 10 year old boy back to his anxious parents. By that time however, we were supposed to have arrived at the Hike Inn. It was 4:30! Knowing that dinner started at 6 pm and that I was probably the slowest hiker that has ever lived, we both got worried quickly.
Thanks be to God for getting me that last 2.8 miles! We didn't even stop and sit once and we got there right before dinner. If we had kept the same pace as the first two miles, it would have been night time before we got there!
But as we were hiking as fast as I could possibly go (up and down hill after hill) I realized that for every small break we had taken, I never saw JD pull out his water bottle and he wasn't drinking mine. He always said, "No, I'm good!" In the last mile, I looked at him and told him to drink some water and again he refused. 
It was then that I realized it. JD had been saving his entire water bottle over this 5 hour hiking trip in case I ran out of water and got thirsty. He must have been dehydrated because it was close to 90 degrees outside and we were both sweating like crazy. But instead of worrying about his own thirst, he was more concerned with mine. 
Now I'm not the most in shape person, but he didn't need to worry about that. 
However, he did. 

**Here's where you make connections about the Lord and His love for us.**

Anyways. That night we sat and met some nice people, ate a lot of food, drank a lot of hot chocolate, looked at some amazing views and played a lot of cards. The next morning we got up early, ate breakfast and hiked out. Amazingly, we hiked the 5 miles in just 2 hours and 20 minutes. Downhill was much easier than uphill for those last two miles! 
After we got done, I had horrible blisters and my legs, hips and back hurt so badly that I could barely walk. I shuffled like a granny. 
And today I'm still shuffling like a granny. I'm definitely walking peg-legged and not taking the stairs.
But I learned a few things.

1. Don't set out for a ten mile hike when you've never hiked before. Duh.
2. Stop and help little kids that are lost.
3. Having no cell reception is the only way to have vacation.
4. The Lord is near to those who call upon His name. And I called upon His name more times than I can count across those ten miles. 
5. A full water bottle is a true sign of love. And maybe I need to take a lesson from that. 
"Love your neighbor as you love yourself." I loved myself enough to drink water. JD loved me enough not to. And what Jesus did for us was much more than thirst.

Here are the songs that we did over the past two weeks!
May 20th:

The First and the Last by Hillsong
Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin off of Passion:White Flag
Jesus, Son of God by Chris Tomlin and
*I Believe in You by Bethany Dillon

May 27th:
Cannons by Phil Wickham
Our God by Chris Tomlin
God is Able by Hillsong
Nothing But the Blood of Jesus and
*The Well by Casting Crowns
  The two *s are the offering songs. Both of them are songs that I absolutely LOVE! The entire album entitled "Come to the Well" from Casting Crowns is incredible. Truly.
Well I can't wait for worship this week and I look forward to seeing you all again in a few days!

Monday, May 14, 2012

All Tucked In.

Alright. I'm about to tell you something embarrassing.
It's something that you're going to laugh at and make fun of me for, but in your heart of hearts, you'll agree with me and you'll know that it's true for you too.

I love being tucked in.

Now I don't get tucked in anymore, because I'm old.
However, it's one of the best feelings in the world... that moment when you're all warm and cuddled and covered in soft cotton blankets. (And you know what makes that feeling better? Blankets that just came out of the dryer!)
 It's even better when someone else tucks you in so that your arms can't move and you can only talk to them and thank them for tucking you in so nicely.
Man. I need to tell my parents thanks for that later.

Anyways, I feel like that's my life right now with the Lord. I'm asking Him to tuck me in. Tuck me in and surround me with His music, His Word, prayer, conversations about Him, and all of the wonderful things concerning Him that He can think of. And He has been faithful to do so. Those wonderful passages of the Bible that have spoken life into my heart over the past few days have felt like a straight-out-of-the-dryer blanket that is holding me close and making me smile.
And as only the best moms know, you've got to tuck a baby's arms into the blanket so that the baby doesn't throw off the blanket while it sleeps. And I feel like the Lord has done that to me. He has wrapped my arms, my tendency for distraction, up in His blanket and He's not going to let me out until I'm rested and ready.

I love that about God. I love how He will accomplish His will in my life even when I try to get out. And most often, I'm trying to get out to serve Him and accomplish what I think He wants. So it's just amazing to sit down and feel like the Lord has tucked me in and that He just wants me to be wrapped up in Him for a while.
I encourage you to let Him wrap you up sometime in His love.
We all know that we can cover ourselves with a blanket and be happy, but there's just something about being tucked in by someone who loves you.

Here are the songs that we sang yesterday in NewSong
Lift the Name by New Life Worship
Father, Spirit, Jesus by Casting Crowns
Alive in Us by Hillsong
A Mighty Fortress by Christy Nockels (one of my personal FAVORITES! although I love them all!)
Savior's Here by Kari Jobe

 So I hope that this week you can be wrapped up in a holy, great and loving God. Spend some time with Him!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Big Flowers vs. V-Neck Tees

Mother's Day is coming up this Sunday.

Okay. Half of you just left to buy cards/presents/order flowers offline. Drive safely!

For the half that are still here with me, Mother's Day is a cool day. For a couple of reasons:

First off, it's second to only Easter and Christmas for attendance at church. You can't tell your Momma no when she asks you to go to church. And by golly, you WILL look nice and wear the dress that she picked out for you. That you hate. But you'll do it anyways. Because it's her day! So I like that day. I get to see a lot of people!

Second, because at my church, there is still a large number of Mommas who show up wearing flowers. This was always a big deal in my house. Now that  my family attends NewSong and not big church, we haven't gotten my mom flowers in the last few years. NewSong is so much more hipster.. Maybe we should get her a v-neck tee and scarf to wear for that day. (FYI.. NewSong isn't hipster, but compared to big church, we might as well be)

Third, because it really is awesome to take a day and celebrate your Mom.

As I laid in my comfy, warm, big queen bed last night, I snuggled in deep under the covers. I thanked God for everything that my parents have done to let me live in a house where I have those things. After that, I started thinking about all of the hard work that my parents did to create me into who I am today. They taught me how to dress, how to speak properly, how to tie my shoes and they set high levels of expectation on me for my life. And not only did they do all of that, they were gracious and helpful when I failed.
My mom on Easter at 4 yrs old!
I remember when I was finishing up high school. I had early acceptance into wonderful medical programs and I had the opportunity to study anything that I wanted to study. The doors to Honors Programs and engineering classes were wide open. When I told my parents that I thought God was calling me into music ministry full time, while my dad loved me, he wanted me to make money. Like every good and sensible father! My mom was the one who told me to forget about the money and do what God wanted me to do. (and she may have included the words "marry" and "rich" somewhere in that speech) But my dad wanted me to do what was good for me, which included making money. My mom understood that but she also understood the importance of doing what I loved. My dad wasn't ever against me going into music, but my mom was the one who talked to him about why this was such a good idea and why she knew it would work out alright.
Moms are awesome. They connect with those sorts of things in our lives in a way that will never be replaced. Without her support, I'm not sure that I'd be where I am today. My mom is incredibly important. And for that matter, my grandmothers were incredibly important in defining who I am.

So I'm going to have a great Mother's Day this weekend thanking my mom for everything that she's done for me. And I think I'll thank my dad too. He supports her so that she can support me. And he taught me all of the fun stuff. Like how make paper footballs and play at the table when Mom isn't looking.

How is your Mother's Day going to be?

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Who" and "When"

So. Big and bold.
Yeah right.

Last week, I blogged about being big and bold. Telling the truth when it isn't convenient.
Well let me tell YOU! He put me to the test on that one. That'll teach me about blogging something.
A few weeks ago, Jim talked about the difference between being bold and weird. For someone who hands out a business card with the word "Minister" at the end of her title, I'm expected to be weird. But I really try to not Bible beat people. But I'm also expected to be big and bold about my faith.

However, a few days ago, someone close to me said, "Someone asked me if God has a plan for my life. What does that mean!? No He doesn't have a plan for my life!!" Now this person obviously said it to me and the other people around because they expected me to come back with a Biblical answer and fight them, but I froze and almost started crying when I heard it.
My heart broke.
Into pieces. Lots of them.

Knowing a little about this person's life, I wanted to shake them and scream, "If you'd just turn around, you'd see that He does have a plan for your life and it involves a lot of forgiveness and healing. Because I can see that your heart is broken and nothing is going to fix it. Not a soul mate, not a drink, not perfect grades, not a good job, not moving, not a cat, not a dog. Nothing will fix it unless you let God step in. And His plan is probably harder, but it sure is better and much more beautiful. He can bring your dead heart to life."

But instead, I sat there stunned. I sat there broken hearted and holding back tears. Because that wasn't the right time to say it. That wasn't the right time to have that argument, and I knew it would be an argument. And instead of picking up the conversation later at a more appropriate time, I acted as if it had never happened. Two days later I was just as sad as when I heard those words uttered. "No, He doesn't have a plan for my life!"

Two things came of that moment. First, I had a real life lesson in being bold vs. weird. I learned just how much we need to let our love for people precede our big and bold conversations. It wouldn't have been bold for the gospel for me to say something at that moment. It would have created division and cold hearts. Second, I started praying.

And I haven't quit.
I started praying that I'd have the appropriate time in the future to tell this person how valued they are to God. I started praying that their heart would be softened. I started praying for a miracle, a radical transformation, and a chance to be there to witness it one day.

God does want us to be big and bold. I think that statement lets us know that the "who" we need to be big and bold with is everyone who doesn't know Him. But He also said there is a time for everything. Now we've just got to listen for the "when" from Him.  And we've got to pray hard that we'll hear it when He says it.

I sincerely look forward to the next time God challenges me with the "who" and "when" for big and bold conversations. I don't just want to be big and bold. I really want people to understand the difference that Jesus can make in their lives and their hearts. And a few days ago, I was reminded of what a large difference that is. It's literally to come alive from the dead. 

This past Sunday, we did something different in worship. We smashed together some songs to have a little bit of fun. Here are the combos:
You'll Come/Like a Lion by Hillsong/David Crowder
Beautiful Things/Jesus, Son of God by Gungor/Chris Tomlin
Cry in My Heart/Cannons by Starfield/Phil Wickham
and for the offering song
Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman (found on Passion:White Flag)

I hope that everyone has a great week and we will see you this weekend for Mother's Day and Miracle Sunday! It's going to be great :). I can't wait to be a part of it!