Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Three Songs About Christmas

Lately, I've been enjoying many lesser-known, wonderful songs about Christmas, so I thought I'd share some of them!



It's True by Sara Groves


In your heart you
know it's true

though you hold no expectation
in the deepest part of you
there's an open hesitation


but it's true
kingdoms and crowns
a God who came down to find you

it's true
Angels on high
sing through the night alleluia

heard it told you
think it's odd
the whole thing fraught with complication

the play begins with
baby God
and all His blessed implications

but it's true
kingdoms and crowns
a God who came down to find you

it's true
Angels on high
sing through the night alleluia

alleluia, alleluia

Oh it's true
kingdoms and crowns

a God who came down to find you
it's true
Angels on high
sing through the night alleluia






I Will Find a Way by Jason Gray

At the end of this run down tenement hall

Is the room of a girl I know
She cowers behind all the dead bolt locks
Afraid of the outside world 

So how should I come to the one I love?

I will find a way

Many thieves and collectors have used that door 

But they only brought her shame
So she won't even open it anymore
Still I will find a way


I could call out her name with love through the walls

But condemnation is all she hears
And I could bust down the door and take her into my arms
But she might die from the fear


So how should I come to the one I love?
I will find a way, I will find a way

How should I come to the one I love?
I will find a way

No hiding place ever kept her safe
So she hides inside herself
Now to reach her heart the only way

Is to hide in there as well
I will hide in there as well

She gave up on love waiting for a change
But a change is coming soon
'Cause how could she not love the helpless babe

Who is waking in her womb?

I found way, I found a way

She'll know I am coming before I am here
When she hangs her head she'll see me there

And then when I come she won't run away

All the beauty and joy will return to her face
And what of the loneliness? Now it is gone
Lost in the bond of a mother and son


Every sin that she suffered at the hands of men
Every single disgrace will be washed clean again

I will love her completely and when I am grown

I will carry her out of that tenement room


I am doing a new thing and soon you will see
I am coming among you and my name shall be


Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Emmanuel




Here With Us by Joy Williams


It's still a mystery to me,
That the hands of God could be so small,
How tiny fingers reaching in the night,
Were the very hands that measured the sky,

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King, Here with us,
You're here with us,

Still a mystery to me,
How His infant eyes have seen the dawn of time,
How His ears have heard an angels' symphony,
But still Mary had to rock her Savior to sleep,

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King, Here with us,
You're here with us,

Jesus the Christ born in Bethlehem,
A baby born to save, to save the souls of man,

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Heaven's offering sent down to save the world,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King, Here with us,

Oh, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Heaven's offering sent down to save the world
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King, Here with us
You're here with us, You're here with us
You're here with us!



Sunday, December 2, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness

I thought I'd put my 30 Days of Thankfulness all in one place so I can go back and look at how good my God is whenever I want!

1: Grateful for such clear provision this year, in every little thing. Yahweh Yireh.


2: Grateful for God's Word, that reminds me what's True... and for my husband, who reminds me what God's Word says when I forget.


3: Grateful for wonderful friends like Kim, Heather, Jackie, Lauren, and Jess. I love the times we get to spend together!


4: Grateful to worship the Creator of the universe with brothers and sisters without fear.

5: Grateful that "Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:25-27)


6: Grateful for that conversation about God's character at the polls with my new friends. Praying for Him to make Himself known to them.


7: Grateful for a dinner with new friends yesterday and a dinner with old friends today.


8: Grateful for my husband. He is patient and servanthearted. He loves me unconditionally. He is a good listener and loves sacrificially. He reminds me what's true and helps me think wisely. He wants to grow and he leads us well. I'm so glad God gave me him.




9: Thankful for my friend Jeanne and her adorable baby girl. And for our apartment that's feeling more and more like home.


10: Grateful for progress on cleaning, shopping and organizing

11: Grateful that "You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." -Psalm 16:11


12: Grateful for Daniel LaBelle and his awesome photography skills. Grateful for the beautiful wedding day God gave us, and the beautiful photos we have of that day, so we can look back and remember what a sweet gift marriage is, and the Covenant it symbolizes.


13: Grateful for more than my daily bread at the soup/stew/chili potluck at Equity Creative today. My God is so creative and so good to us to have made so many different foods for us to eat.






14: Grateful for weekly date nights with my husband. Tonight's date: warm beverages and/or a game of Mancala and/or watching Lord of the Rings. Yay!


15: Grateful for my only-7-minute commute, and the ability to go home for lunch.

16: Grateful that God gives us wisdom and discernment through His Word. Grateful that He shows us what is True. Praying that we would more and more seek Him and not trust false gods. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." Proverbs 9:10


17: Grateful for my adorable nephew (#2), who was born a year ago today. He's such a sweet gift to us and we love him bunches! Happy birthday, sweet Reesey-pie!


18: Grateful for Grandma and Grandpa Beem, 60 years of God's faithfulness in their marriage, the example that they've been to my husband of a faithful marriage, and the time we were able to spend with the family last night :)


19: Grateful for my slow cooker and the commencement of Christmas music.





20: Grateful that "the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new mevery morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lam. 3:22-23)

21: Grateful for much-needed long weekends!


22: Grateful to my God for so, so much, especially for forgiving me and rescuing me from sin and eternal separation from Him. And, not only that, He's adopted me and made me His own!


23: Grateful for a day to get some of the things on the massive to-do list checked off—and to do it in a restful, liesurely fashion.


24: Grateful for another Thanksgiving day today, complete with my adorable nephews and my family's Bohemian stuffing. Grateful that I now have two wonderful families to celebrate with.


25: Grateful that God doesn't condemn me and is pleased by my efforts to please him, however feeble.


26: Grateful for naps.



27: Grateful for my sweet husband's undeserved forgiveness.

28: Even more grateful for my awesome God's undeserved forgiveness.


29: Grateful that this is true for all who trust in Jesus Christ: "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:3-4)


30: Grateful that the God of the universe loves us, and we can actually know Him! This just totally blows my mind.



What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Snare of Compare & The Things We Don't Want


Today I listened to a sermon by Carolyn Mahaney called "The Snare of Compare: What to Do with Those Things I Can't Do Anything About" (or something like that).

It was excellent, and I needed to hear it!

She read through and discussed John 21:15-22.

In this passage, Jesus says to Peter when Peter compares himself with John, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (v.22). Wow! What a rebuke! Jesus had just told Peter he was going to die by crucifixion. Instead of sympathy when Peter wonders whether John will experience such a violent fate, Jesus gives Peter a rebuke!

This quote by C.S. Lewis from The Horse and His Boy says it well:
“Child,' said the Lion, 'I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

These are good words for us! There are those times we find ourselves asking God things like this:

"Why is her hair always perfect-looking and mine is always so hard to deal with?"

"Why was she able to get pregnant without even trying when I've struggled with infertility for 10 years?"

"Why would you give me a husband who doesn't seem to take initiative in leading his family? Her husband seems like such a good leader..."

"Why are her kids such well-behaved young men who love the Lord? I'm trying my best to raise my sons in the Lord, and they still just don't want to follow Him!"

"Why should I still be single at 37 when she just married at age 21?"

In times like these, Carolyn reminds us that:
"The Lord would rebuke us in the same way He did Peter. He would say to us, 'What is that to you? What I have assigned to her is not your concern.' This is the most loving thing He could say to us. Truly! The Lord will not allow us to live with hearts that are enslaved to comparison, because He loves us! He doesn't want our hearts trapped by the snare of comparison. He wants to set our hearts free! That's why He seeks to free you and me from our fixation with others."

And Jesus gives us a better way—"You follow me," He says.

Instead of looking at others, let's follow the One who is sovereign and will provide all that we need for what He calls us to!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sharing Slow Cooker Recipes!


Last night we enjoyed some wonderful beef stroganoff that had been cooking in the slow cooker all day. This was my first slow cooker cooking experience! It turned out GREAT!

Here's the recipe:



Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

  • 1 lb cubed beef stew meat
  • 1 10.75-oz can condensed golden mushroom soup
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c water
  • 4 oz cream cheese

Directions



  1. In a slow cooker, combine the meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water.
  2. Cook on Low setting for 8 hours, or on High setting for about 5 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving.


(from allrecipes.com)


Your turn! I'm trying to learn more slow cooker recipes. Please share a comment with a link to your favorite recipe!





Monday, November 19, 2012

Behold the Lamb of God

Well, folks, yesterday was the day. The day to commence the listening of Christmas music. 

I always start the Christmas season each year with a listen to Andrew Peterson's album, Behold the Lamb of God. Take a listen here if you haven't heard it!

This album is a powerfully painted musical/lyrical portrait of the whole story of scripture, starting with the Old Testament and continuing on to share the story of how God became man in order to rescue His Beloved. 

I can never get enough. 

It embodies this idea: 
‎"No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne—everything—to rescue the ones he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in the puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture." -Sally Lloyd-Jones (from The Jesus Storybook Bible)



An original piece of art I made for Christmas a few years ago

Friday, November 9, 2012

Look Directly Forward.

Lately I've been reading Proverbs. Which God is good to have given me the idea for, since lately I've also needed wisdom. Today, as I was reading, on verse in particular stuck out to me. I needed to be reminded:

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
Proverbs 4:25

Oh, how I need His strength to do this!

Look directly forward... not at "you're not enough."

Look directly forward... not at "of course you're enough—you don't need God."

Look directly forward... not at the to-do list.

Look directly forward... not at the shifting sand.

Look directly forward... not at the lies.

Look directly forward... at the God who is there.

Look directly forward... at the God who created the universe.

Look directly forward... at Jesus Christ (!), crucified on my behalf (!!), risen (!!!), and seated on His throne (!!!!).

Look directly forward... at "no more condemnation."

Look directly forward... at the God who promises to provide.

Look directly forward... at the God who promises to "never leave you or forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)

Look directly forward... at the God who keeps all of His promises.

Look.

Directly.

Forward.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all!

And so, what have we to fear?

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Man Who Makes Me Fly

I love this sweet little song.



I think it speaks to a longing in every woman's heart.
I'm so glad God gave me a husband who makes me fly.
God's so good to give me such a gift!


FLY by Sara Groves Speak in a summer tone Pause in the afterglow Tenderly whisper my name Tell me once again, why I am your bride So I can fly. So I can fly. Pause in your busy day Look extra long my way Wink at me across the room Kiss me longer Touch my arm when I am by your side So I can fly So I can fly Oh, how the little things stregthen my tiny wings Help me to take on the world When you love me, there's nothing I wouldn't try I might even fly I might even fly I might even fly
The man who makes me fly
Photo by Daniel LaBelle. See some of his most recent work here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Scandalous Reputation of Jesus



"'He breaks all social etiquette in relating to people. He acknowledge no barriers or human divisions. There is no category of sinner he isolates himself from. Simply stated, Jesus is a miserable failure at meeting religious people's expectations of him. He connects with the kinds of people he should disregard. He attends the wrong dinner parties. He is rude to respected religious leaders and polite to whores. He reprimands his own followers and praises outsiders and riffraff.'

... He stirred things up wherever he went, and the Pharisees hated that fact he existed. He associated with adulterous and unclean women, lepers, and tax collectors. Though he was without sin, there were sill those who questioned his reputation. Knowing there were people who disagreed, even hated him, didn't cause him to change one thing he did. He wasn't working to maintain a good reputation. He was walking in dependence on his Father. Jesus didn't value what people thought; he valued people, period."

-Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl
(Part of this quote os quoted by Emily from Breaking the Rules, Fil Anderson)



Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Wedding Prayer




Lord of my life,

Thank you for this undeserved grace. Make our wedding one that points to You. Make our joy be found in You and You alone. Make us aware of Your grace. Help us to remember what marriage means. Oh, how I want us to represent Christ and the Church—on Saturday and for the rest of our lives.

As we set up for the wedding, let us keep Your Kingdom in mind and let the rest be small.

As we get ready Saturday morning, may we remember what it will be like on that day—when Your Bride makes herself ready for You, her Husband.

As we look at one another and I walk toward him, may we have joy in the wonderful way You brought us together. Let us know that the joy we feel is just a tiny picture of the eternal pleasure we will experience in Your presence.

As we sing, make us truly aware of who You are. Make us be in awe of You and how You've worked in our lives.

As we say our vows, Lord, help us to trust in You to give us the strength to keep them.

As we greet our friends, let them know how we love them—and even more, how You love them. Draw them to Yourself, and let them have fun.

As we celebrate with them, help us to enjoy, to soak it in. Let our friends have fun and trust in You. Let our celebration be out of gratitude for Your abundant goodness.

As my new husband and I leave together, give us a sense of Your beauty and Your goodness in creating marriage.

As we become one flesh, give us hearts to be givers of ourselves to one another—a picture of the way You intimately know and give Yourself to us.

As we begin this life together, make our marriage one that glorifies You.

Amen.



Monday, September 10, 2012

My Best Friend's Wedding

My best friend got married on Saturday. It was like a real-life fairy tale because of the beautiful place the wedding was at... and because of the beautiful bride and her Cinderella dress! Congrats, Darcy!


dresses lined up and ready to go

here comes the bride!

vows. ok. i approve. he can marry my darcy.


me and my own prince charming


does this remind anyone else of cinderella?


bouquet toss!


bffs


i got to dance with daddy :)

i also got to dance with darcy

so pretty

yep. we're that cool.

God blessed us both with great men in our lives.

sunset on the way home

Friday, August 31, 2012

Grace for the Good Girl

I've been starting to read a great book called Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily P. Freeman.



These words stuck out as I was reading tonight:

"When we believe that God expects us to try hard to become who Jesus wants us to be, we will live in that blurry, frustrating land of Should Be rather than trust in The One Who Is. We will do whatever we believe it takes to please God rather than receive the acceptance that has already been given. We will perform to live up to what we believe his expectation is of us rather than expectantly wait on him.
...
Jesus is calling us to a deeper, truer, freer identity. All he wants is simply you—minus your good works, minus your perfect attendance, minus your politeness. When you really believe that, you may discover that all you want is Jesus, simply Jesus. Not just to get to heaven or to help you be a good person or do the right thing, but to simply love and be loved by him."

Wow.

There's already been so much good that has come out of reading the first two chapters of this book. I'm really excited about reading the rest of it. Praying for lots of fruit as I read! This book is a sweet gift from my God.

I'm so glad Eric heard them talking about this book on Moody radio. I'm glad he decided to tell me about it. I'm glad God helped me to have the humility to take Eric's suggestion to check it out. I'm glad I put it on my registry. I'm glad my friend bought it for me as a wedding gift. God sure is in the details. He knows our needs.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rest for our souls… exactly what we need.


Andrew Peterson's new album just came out. He sure has a knack for sending new music my way just when I need it… or God has a knack for that. Probably the latter.

His new single is called "Rest Easy," and I love it. I love it because its message is exactly what God is trying to tell us… and it's exactly what I find so hard to believe. The song goes like this:




  • You are not alone
  • I will always be with you
  • Even to the end

  • You don’t have to work so hard
  • You can rest easy
  • You don’t have to prove yourself
  • You’re already mine
  • You don’t have to hide your heart
  • I already love you
  • I hold it in mine
  • So you can rest easy

  • Do not be afraid
  • Nothing, nothing in the world
  • Can come between us now

  • You don’t have to work so hard
  • You can rest easy
  • You don’t have to prove yourself
  • You’re already mine
  • You don’t have to hide your heart
  • I already love you
  • I hold it in mine
  • So you can rest easy

  • You work so hard to wear yourself down
  • And you’re running like a rodeo clown
  • You’re smiling like you’re scared to death
  • You’re out of faith and all out of breath
  • You’re so afraid you’ve got nowhere left to go

  • Well, you are not alone
  • I will always be with you

  • You don’t have to work so hard
  • You can rest easy
  • You don’t have to prove yourself
  • You’re already mine
  • You don’t have to hide your heart
  • I already love you
  • I hold it in mine
  • You can rest easy


  • Wow. Really? I don't have to prove myself? I'm already Yours? I can rest easy? This makes no sense! This is a completely counter-cultural message. Everywhere we go, we hear other messages from the world:

    You must perform to get ahead.

    You must be striving, striving for more—more beauty, money, youthfulness, intelligence, fame, approval.

    You must seek security in the things of this world—the things that don't ultimately satisfy—the things that moth and rust destroy.

    You must be the best.

    And make everyone happy.

    You must.

    You.

    Must.

    In the midst of all these forceful voices from the world, the voice of our God rings all the more sweetly: "You don't have to work so hard; you can rest easy. You don't have to prove yourself; you're already mine! You don't have to hide your heart; I already love you. I hold it in mine. So, you can rest easy."

    The beauty of the Gospel.

    Thank you, Lord, for making a way for us to rest easy. Help us to remember who we are in You. Remind us of the one true Message that really matters. Protect us from the lying voices. Help us to rest easy—for our good, and for Your glory.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Fear and Provision

    I'm a scaredy-cat. There. I said it.

    And who wouldn't be? With so much unknown... so many what-ifs.

    What if my wedding falls apart? What if we get to our honeymoon destination and there's a fiasco and we have nowhere to stay that night? What if David's Bridal doesn't have my dress ready in time? Will God provide for our finances? What if I lose my job? What if we get pregnant right away? What if we never can get pregnant? What if Eric dies and I'm left with little ones to care for?

    Some of these things might happen. There's no way I can know. But what I do know... is the character of my God.

    "Lord, I believe; only help my unbelief!"

    So I think about His provision.

    David was afraid. But he still faced the giant.

    Mary and Joseph were scared. But they were obedient in the face of opposition.

    Abraham was scared. But he took Sarah and journeyed to the unknown.

    Esther could have been killed for approaching the king. But she took a step of faith.

    Ruth was afraid to approach Boaz. But she was brave, did it anyway, and God provided.

    Those Israelites were distrusting and whiny. But God still gave them the manna they needed.

    I was wondering how God might provide. But I survived those 7 months of joblessness with a little extra money still in the bank.

    I doubted that He'd ever bring me a husband. But He gave me Eric at just the right time to do His work in us.

    And I have 7 months' worth of proof of provision recorded right here.

    7 months of daily graces, recorded.


    Silly me.

    "When What Ifs come into our lives, we must ask ourselves if we're going to judge God by the circumstances we don't understand or judge the circumstances in light of the character of God."
    -Linda Dillow, from her wonderful book Calm My Anxious Heart

    The character of God. The same God who said:

    "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" Matthew 6:26-27

    "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." Matthew 6:31-32

    “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Mark 6:50

    "Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous" Joshua 10:25

    A favorite song of mine is called The Lord Will Provide. Would that God grant us to really believe these words.



    Though troubles assail and dangers affright, 



    Though friends should all fail and foes all unite; 
    Yet one thing secures us, whatever betide, 
    The scripture assures us, the Lord will provide! 

    The birds without barn or storehouse are fed, 
    From them let us learn to trust for our bread: 
    His saints, what is fitting, shall ne'er be denied, 
    So long as it's written, the Lord will provide! 

    We may, like the ships, by tempest be tossed 
    On perilous deeps, but cannot be lost. 
    Though Satan enrages the wind and the tide, 
    The promise engages, the Lord will provide!

    His call we obey, like Abram of old, 
    Not knowing our way, but faith makes us bold; 
    For though we are strangers, we have a good Guide, 
    And trust in all dangers, the Lord will provide! 

    When Satan appears to stop up our path, 
    And fill us with fears, we triumph by faith; 
    He cannot take from us, though oft he has tried, 
    This heart-cheering promise, the Lord will provide! 

    He tells us we're weak, our hope is in vain, 
    The good that we seek we ne'er shall obtain, 
    But when such suggestions our graces have plied, 
    This answers all questions, the Lord will provide! 

    No strength of our own, or goodness we claim, 
    Yet since we have known the Savior's great name; 
    In this our strong tower for safety we hide, 
    The Lord is our power, the Lord will provide! 

    When life sinks apace and death is in view, 
    This word of his grace shall comfort us through: 
    No fearing or doubting with Christ on our side, 
    We hope to die shouting the Lord will provide!




    And so it stands. Rest, anxious heart.


    When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3-4