Sunday, December 27, 2015

Be a Miracle.

"You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail." 
Proverbs 19:21

Ya know- I really shouldn't have opened my mouth.
My last post was an exciting return to the world of blogging because my dad was finally cancer-free.

Little did I know.

Two hours after Dad's last radiation treatment, my mom had a biopsy.
It's breast cancer.

At first, I was just frustrated. Seriously. That was not a fair plan AT ALL.
But now we're just hopeful. Chemo begins for Mom next week and will last an entire year, accompanied with 3 surgeries. And next year at Christmas, we'll be telling a different story.

So I may have to take a hiatus again, but for now, I realized how much I missed blogging and whether or not anyone reads it, I plan to return until family jumps up on my priority list. 

To be honest, JD and I had big plans for life after Dad's chemo. My parents can totally take care of themselves but we really felt called to help them get through that rough patch in their lives. We were planning to start foster care classes, for JD to apply for his PhD program, to take another nice vacation, etc. But that's all changed for now. We still may do some of those things but we're definitely rearranging our lives because we want to be there to help my Mom now. 
We made plans. But the Lord's will is going to prevail. For now, we think it's God's will to honor our parents, to stick where we are and to learn servant-hood. That's what we think. God will reveal His big lessons and plans for us along the way.
So for 2016, I've got a new theme song. It's by Natalie Grant and it's called "Be One". I'm not much of a dancer, but I listened to this song 4 times in a row and danced in my living room when I first heard it.
We don't feel ready, we don't feel steady
Question what we really have to give

Stay where it's safer, claim faith but waiver
Is this how we're really meant to live

We pray but never move
We say but never do
It's time to get our hands dirty
Be love - there's a whole lot of hurting
Calling all hearts, Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
When we can be one?
 So if your life feels like it's gone off the path planned for the next year, I encourage you to take Natalie's advice. 
Don't sit around and wait for a miracle to come.
Be one.

On December 20th, Christmas Sunday, we sang:
"Noel" by Lauren Daigle on Chris Tomlin's album Adore
"Away in a Manger" by Shane and Shane"Go Tell it on the Mountain" by Francesca Battistelli
"Silent Night (Lord of My Life)" by Lady Antebellum
"When Love Crossed Over" by Paul Baloche   
Today, December 27th (my birthday!) we sang:
"Forever Reign" by Kristian Stanfill
"Nothing But the Blood" by Andy Cherry
"Have Your Way" by Eddie Kirkland
"My Anchor" by Christy Nockels  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cancer and Magic Formulas.

Wow. It's been quite a while since I've opened one of these pages to write a word! It is great to be back!

Dad with his "Cancer Survivor" pin and certificate!

In May, my Dad was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As a part of that, my husband and I let go of all non-essential activities. Unfortunately, blogging was one of them. But since Dad completed the last of his month-long radiation yesterday, I thought it was time to login again!

I don't know if you've ever cared for someone in your close family that has cancer, but it's a pretty busy time- even if you're not the main caregiver. To be honest though, it was quite a shock when we found out that Dad had blood cancer. Last year, we spent 6 weeks caring for my grandmother as brain and lung cancer ushered her into the presence of the Lord. I really didn't think lightning struck twice, but we were super blessed because Hodgkin's is the curable cancer!

Dad came through everything like a CHAMP and Mom was the world's best nurse. She can thank me for years of wounds, sickness and being a hypochondriac. I turned her into the world's best nurse. You're welcome, Mom.

One of the biggest changes in our lives was that for a few months, before chemo and during chemo, even though they didn't really need our help, JD and I spent time with my parents at their house almost every day. This really changed up our schedule and our lives as we spent time cooking with them, watching TV or just keeping everyone's mind off of the chemo.
This change in my schedule really messed up some things! Mostly- it messed up our devotional schedule and how many afternoons I spent just studying the Bible in Starbucks. See- I had this magic formula. Afternoons studying + serving on Sundays + devotionals every night + prayer time before I slept = God is happy with me and I'm growing in my faith.
So when my little formula got messed up, I started to panic. But as the weeks went on, I noticed that God was as close, if not closer, to me as He's always been. I learned over the months that my new formula was lots of service, reading my own devotional and praying all the time. After a while, I really let go the guilt I was feeling for not doing the exact dance that had brought Jesus before.

So maybe that's you today. Maybe you're going through a transition with work schedules, kids, a spouse, etc., and you're feeling a little guilty because you're not doing the same dance. Trust me when I say- God can connect and commune with you regardless of your magic formula. He's not disappointed and He's just as close as He was before.

Last Sunday, November 15th, we sang:
"One Thing Remains" by Kristian Stanfill
"Great Are You Lord" by All Sons and Daughters
"Not For a Moment" by Meredith Andrews
and "No Man is an Island" by Tenth Avenue North

This week, rest assured that God will be with you whether or not you do your magical formula.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Get To vs. Get Through

The Kinders, NewSong's drummer, Johnny, My Parents and JD!
Well- it's all done.
I've officially graduated!

JD and I both graduated on the same day!
Over the past 9 months, I went to school full-time and worked full-time. I'm really not sure how my hair is still in my head or how my brain isn't falling out of my ears.
Actually, it may be falling out of my ears, but no one has said anything about it yet.

JD and I were very busy in the last weeks of school preparing for the big weekend where we would both graduate and celebrate Mother's Day. With house guests and finals on top of that, I eventually got overwhelmed and said, "JD. I just want to get through of all of this!"

Then it occurred to me. I didn't want to "get through". I wanted to "get to".
I wanted to enjoy all of the events and struggles set ahead of us. I didn't want to just ignore them and bear them until they were over.

This idea became our mantra and we reminded each other of it constantly through the last weeks. I think God reminds me of the same things. Instead of getting through difficult times, I get to wake up every morning, knowing that God is faithful and is blessing me in spite of difficulties or distractions.

So if you have some tough stuff coming up, try to remember that you get to.
You don't have to get through the baby stages. You get to see your child grow and learn each day.
You don't have to get through that difficult project at work. You get to use the skills and gifts God has given you to enrich others' lives.
You don't have to get through hard relationships. You get to experience God's grace and healing power between people who are committed to Him.

Here are the songs we've been singing over the past few weeks:
May 3rd, we sang:
"God is Able" by Hillsong
"It Is Well"
"He Paid it All" by Brandon Heath (side note: his album Blue Mountain is incredible)
"Jesus Paid it All" by UMobile Worship

May 10th, Mother's Day, we sang:
"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" by Crowder
"My Anchor" by Christy Nockels
"This is My Father's World" by Gungor
"When My Heart is Torn Asunder" by Phil Wikcham

and last Sunday, May 17th, Adam led and we sang:
"Lord I Need You" by Chris Tomlin
"Here For You" by Chris Tomlin
"A Mighty Fortress" by Christy Nockels
"Brother" by Needtobreathe

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Old Ladies and Pink.

Last year around the end of February, I was asked to lead worship at the 2014 Women's Conference at Christ United Methodist Church. I gladly accepted and was excited. So I picked out all of these "old" songs that I thought everyone would know.
Honestly, I thought Women's Conference was for the old ladies at Christ UMC. (Please just forgive me now.) I thought the prerequisites included knowledge of how to knit, a minimum age of 48 and a marriage with children. I legitimately thought it was cheesy. I don't love pink and most of my friends growing up were boys. I always told people, "Women's events just aren't for me."

The closer I got to the event, the more excited I got, but I still just wasn't sure about this, "Yay! Let's have pink and flowers and girly stuff."
Then the conference day came. There was pink. There were flowers. There was lots of jewelry and perfect hair.
But there were also ponytails. There were unmarried women. There were women who never wanted to have children and didn't have any. There were women who were stay-at-home moms. There were single moms and older ladies who were widows.
I walked away from that conference so encouraged and loved. Not because of my worship leading. I left loved because I realized that there was a whole half of the congregation that understood my struggle as a woman and had walked my path and were walking it currently. They were walking alongside me and rooting me on from further along. But they weren't all the same. 
They certainly weren't perfect and were honest about that.
So I was really pumped to emcee the 2015 Women's Conference. This year, there were even more women who were walking alongside me and more women who were cheering me on. I can't tell you how great it was to sit in a room full of people who understood the unique part of me that is girl.
 So make your plans to be there next February.

Here are a few of my favorite moments from this year's conference:
"God loves people based on who He is, not who they are."
"[Whether we act] Powerful or pitiful - both are disbelieving God."
"Whether you like it or not, you were designed to do life with people."

On February 10th, we sang,
"One Thing Remains" by Kristian Stanfill
"Not for a Moment" by Meredith Andrews
"Nothing is Holding Me Back" by Bryan and Katie Torwalt
and "No Man is an Island" by Tenth Avenue North 

On February 17th, we sang:
"Great Are You Lord" by All Sons and Daughters
"Nothing But the Blood" by Andy Cherry
"Your Love Never Fails" by Jesus Culture
and "Washed by the Water" by Needtobreathe

and on March 1st, we sang:
"How Great Thou Art" 
"Reign in Us" by Starfield
"Beautiful Things" by Gungor
"Water into Wine" by Chris August
Then, Communion was a medley of 
"Tell Me the Story of Jesus" by Kim Walker-Smith
"Spring Up O Well" by Phil Wickham
and "I Surrender All" by Phil Wickham

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Project Jealousy.

I was riding in the car as JD pulled in to Winn Dixie. It was last Sunday afternoon, while I was supposed to be napping. Trying not to fall asleep in the car, I was perusing Facebook. Then I saw the post:

"Almost done with my weekend project! I'll finish it up this afternoon. #diy"

As  JD was dragging me out of the front seat into the grocery store, I was fuming. It was Sunday afternoon and I had already worked. Right now, I was stuck going to the grocery store to start cooking for our small group. But I would never finish cooking because I had to go back to work. JD would have to finish it for me. Work, work, work, no fun projects.
Why didn't I get to have a weekend to do a project? I wanted to do something artsy and fun with my Sunday too!

Since our only shared day off is Saturday, JD and I usually try to spend the day together as much as possible and not do any projects that aren't absolutely necessary. And Sunday is always out of the question. I work all day.

But as I was fuming because I don't get to do "weekend projects", I heard a still, small voice reminding me of something.
Sundays are dedicated to worshiping God and being with His people. While I don't get Sundays "off", I do spend the entire day worshiping and talking with people. I spend the entire day enjoying the company of my brothers and sisters in Christ who encourage, challenge and inspire me.
JD and I spend the afternoons cooking because our small group is probably the most life-giving thing we do all week. While we don't build tables or paint on the weekends, our souls are filled with the love of God and the fun of His people.

So I'm not mad anymore that I don't have Sundays off. I'm glad that we have devoted an entire day to worship and fellowship.

It's much more important than painting that piece of furniture.

Two weeks ago, we had an acoustic Sunday and sang:
February 1:
"God is Able" by Hillsong
"A Mighty Fortress" by Christy Nockels
"Cornerstone" by Hillsong
and "He Paid it All" by Brandon Heath

Last week, Adam led and we sang:
"Holy Spirit" by Bryan and Katy Torwalt
"10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman
"Here For You" by Chris Tomlin
and our wonderful Dan Roach played an instrumental on his acoustic guitar that HE MADE! No joke! He makes his own guitars and they are beautiful.