postheadericon The Unexpected

I don't deal the best with change. I never really have. I'm a planner, plain and simple. When things don't go the way I expect them to, I don't always react in a way that I'm proud of. I've had several opportunities lately to practice my reactions.

Yesterday morning, my pastor called to tell me that he was sick. He asked if I could lead worship. It was about an hour and a half before worship was to start and I was still about an hour away from home. But of course! Unexpected, but a blessing.

In that moment, I prayed. It was all I could think to do. Like I said, I am a planner. Normally if I lead worship, I have a minimum of several weeks or months to prepare. I write and tweak and practice everything over and over. But I didn't have that this time around. But sometimes, no planning is necessary. It allows the Holy Spirit to fully work in you.

God taught me a lot yesterday through this unexpected event. When I give up control, He can do some pretty amazing things.

Because of some really awesome teenagers in my life, this is a scripture passage that I've been thinking a lot about recently:

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us
an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
- 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

I don't need to focus and fixate on what I can see, what I can plan, what I can control. God has so much more in store for me. He has SO much more in store for all of us. We can't see or know the things He is planning, the ways He is working, the things He is moving. But those things are eternal. God is working for good in our lives. And even when something unexpected pops up, He will use it for His glory. And for that, I'm incredibly grateful!

postheadericon Amazing Grace

First of all, I really have some AWESOME people in my life. Thank you to all for your kind words of encouragement over the past two days. I felt so loved and supported and it meant a whole lot to me!

I woke up singing Amazing Grace yesterday morning. I'm not sure where it came from, but that's what was in my head very first thing. And I think it's rather fitting for the New Year.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see

T'was grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come
'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

I was also bombarded with some incredibly powerful words yesterday and I want to share some of them here. How awesome that people express love through words. They are the most powerful thing I can think of. Words have the power to make someone's day and for that, I'm very grateful.

"We are blessed with God's grace and's to new beginnings again!"

"In some ways, confronting our shortcomings is a way of realizing that we are meant to seek more, to desire to be better, for the greater glory of God. And that's a good thing! Has Jesus forgiven you? If He has forgiven us, then who are we to hold onto that hurt? And remember, you probably don't even know all the people you've touched or inspired this year. Believe me! Thank you for sharing yourself."

"We are to remain in this healthy perspective. Let His thoughts be our thoughts. Remain. Let His ways be our ways. Remain. Let His truths go to the depths of our hearts and produce good things in our lives. Remain. Approach this world full of fellow incomplete people with the joy of Jesus. Remain. And be led forth in peace because I've kept my happy tied only to Jesus. Remain." (from Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst)

I had countless other encouragements, too. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank those of you who sent them my way!

I cried a lot yesterday, and thought a lot. And maybe I'm measuring the wrong things. It's true that I often have no idea the ways that God is using me for other people. Or the ways that He allows me to touch or inspire others. And that is what matters. Not how much weight I've lost or how many miles I've run. What matters is how many people I can share the love of Christ with.

I have a framed print up in my house that says:

"Above all, have intense and unfailing love for one another."

I'd guess that's based off of John 13:34, which says:

"A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

So as we ring in the New Year tonight, I want to remember that. That is how I want to measure my life this year. That's where I will be most blessed. That's what counts.

Happy New Year, everyone!

postheadericon Ready or Not, Here I Come!

As I'm staring down the start of 2015, I am struggling. It's so much easier to focus on all the ways I fell short in 2014, rather than celebrate my victories. Maybe it's because I'm disappointed with how the year ended, even though I was thrilled with how it began... Really, I was happy with the first 8 months. But the recent set-backs and failures are most recent in my mind. So is that why it's all I can think about?

I have two days left of this year and then it's time to move forward whether I want to or not. Just like last year, I've set pretty lofty goals. I've set these goals in pretty much all aspects of my life. I've done the planning, the prepping, the organizing... But will it work? If I'm being honest, I'm petrified that it won't. I'm scared that I won't be able to accomplish the things that I so desperately want to do. How much of it is in my control anyway?

I was given a tile for Christmas with this quote:

"Surrender to what is.
Let go of what was.
Have faith in what will be."

I suppose it's okay that I'm scared, but I refuse to let that fear paralyze me. The way 2014 ended is done with and over. I can't do a darn thing about it anymore. But I can surrender it and leave it at the feet of Jesus so that I can push through. I can choose to let go of what was so that I can keep my eyes and my face in the sunshine of what is to come. I can stand firm in the faith that God is with me and will be with me in all that is to come.

I've had a lot of negative thoughts lately because I feel I really let myself down, but God spoke to me through a song once again today. Laura Story's song, "Blessings" always touches me. The lyrics are incredibly moving and listening to it today in the car was no different. The chorus says:

'Cause What if Your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

Through all of the ways I feel I failed, God is using me. God is redeeming my failures. Maybe my struggles are what I need to fully rely on God to be my strength.

So here's to 2015! Here's to making it a year where I learn to know the strength and power of God in my life and lay down my own pride. Here's to letting go of fear and allowing God's peace to fill me. Here's to finding joy and blessings amidst my failures and disappointments. Here's to seeing what God can do in my heart...and in my life.

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if the trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
Verse of the Day
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