Sunday, November 30, 2008

Servin' Spaghetti at the Surrendered Scribe

I'm in a spaghetti kind of mood a guest blogger over at The Surrendered Scribe. Thanks for having me, Julie!!!

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Beckie Stewart

I truly believe that a person's testimony, salvation or otherwise, is one of the most powerful expressions of the Christian faith. I thrive on hearing God-stories. When I had my blog giveaway/contest, I asked for testimonies based on songs affecting one's faith. Well, people submitted, and I was moved. That's where "Lifesong In the Limelight" on Saturdays was born.

Beckie's testimony is about healing, and I hope someone who needs to read it does so today. With her vulnerability and humility, I'm excited for her to be featured as this Saturday's...


On the Journey to Healing
By Beckie Stewart

Without all the gory details, I wish to tell you about the journey the Lord has me on from bondage and brokenness to freedom and wholesomeness. I’m not fully healed and complete right now, but I’m definitely on my way.

I’ve been a Christian for thirty years, but I’ve been living in the wilderness. Like the Israelites who were in bondage in Egypt, it took them forty years to let go of what they knew and embrace the freedom the Lord had for them in the Promised Land. The Lord allowed my present day difficulties to reveal to me my slavery mentality. The Promise Land is around the corner for me now. I know it.

After an awful run-in with a friend of mine, I called a counselor. As a wife of a pastor, this was a difficult step for me. The first several months focused on coming to grips with my present day problems. As I finally learned to lay them daily at the feet of Jesus, I found myself ready to deal with who I had become due to my past.

I’m in the midst of working with a Christian counselor leading me through a therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). It basically helps you understand your belief system caused by trauma in your life. You are guided through beliefs and incidents to a true understanding of who you really are in Christ.

My drive to my counseling session is forty-five minutes each way, and so on the way, I always listen to our local Christian station. They’re pretty repetitive in their song selection, and so after a while you realize you are listening to a lot of the same music. Do you ever really hear any of it?

However, this last week as I left my intense session and turned on the radio a song came on that said, “Listen closely. This is for you. It’s to give you a hope for your future.”

As I listened to my journey of healing being sung, I realized that the week before, the Lord played this song for me as well. I just didn’t hear it like I did that day.

I know the group Sanctus Real didn’t write this song for me. In fact until I got home to search for the words and author, I never heard of Sanctus Real. However, I know that the Lord had them write this song for me for this time in my life.

The song speaks the rest of my story. Healing is indeed coming.

Whatever You’re Doing
By Sanctus Real

It's time for healing, time to move on.
It's time to fix whats been broken too long.
Time to make right, what has been wrong.
It's time to find my way to where I belong.

There's a wave that's crashing over me,
and all I can do is surrender.

Whatever you're doing inside of me,
it feels like chaos but somehow theres peace.
And it's hard to surrender to what I can't see,
but I'm giving into something heavenly.

time for a milestone, time to begin again,
re-evaluate who I really am.
Am I doing everything to follow your will?
I'm just climbing aimlessly over these hills.

So show me what it is you want from me,
I'd give everything, I surrender to...

Whatever you're doing inside of me.
It feels like chaos but somehow theres peace.
And though it's hard to surrender to what I can't see,
I'm giving into something heavenly.
Something heavenly...

Time to face up, clean this old house.
Time to breathe in, and let everything out,
that I've wanted to say, for so many years.
Time to release some of held back tears.

Whatever you're doing inside of me,
it feels like chaos but I believe...

You're up to something bigger than me,
larger than life, something heavenly.

Whatever you're doing inside of me,
it feels like chaos but now I can see...
This is something bigger than me,
larger than life, something heavenly.
Something heavenly...

It's time to face up, clean this old house.
Time to breathe in, and let everything out.

Here is the song for you to listen to:

Beckie Stewart is a mom of 5 who loves Jesus with all her heart, soul, and mind. She would tell you her greatest joy is loving and serving Him and then my family and friends.

She enjoys writing devotions, articles on adoption, and articles to encourage daily Godly living. Visit her devotional website, God's Gracious Gems, for practical spiritual lessons that glorify Jesus Christ.

In the Key of HE,

Friday, November 28, 2008

All The Right Stuff

Today's Fiction FRiday meme is being hosted by Hoomi at Pod Tales and Ponderings. Please head on over there for a bunch of great fiction today!

All The Right Stuff

While unpacking the groceries on the counter, I checked the ingredients against the recipe from my new cookbook. Yup, I had all the right stuff. Daydreaming, I couldn’t help but picture the look of pure elation on Keith’s face when he would taste his favorite Christmas Eve dessert—only this time baked by me instead of his grandmother. I’d invited her to come over as well, so I would surprise ‘em both.

I can’t believe Vivian put this recipe in her cookbook. After keeping it a secret for years, she’d finally decided to pass it on to her grandchildren before she got too old or too sick to do so. What a blessing, I thought.

I preheated the oven to 350, just as the recipe said. I already had the mixing bowls and loaf pans ready to go. Even though I’d never baked anything that wasn’t from a box before, I felt prepared, thanks to Vivan’s specific and thorough instructions.

“Okay. ‘Cream the butter and sugar.’ I think I know what that means…” I put the two sticks of butter and the two cups of sugar together, mixing them until they looked creamy.

“That’ll do. Now, ‘Add eggs—one at a time.’” I continued to follow the recipe, line by line. After sifting the flour, I folded in the remaining ingredients. I spread a layer of the nut mixture on the bottom of the pan, added the dough, then the nut mixture again. It was ready to go.

My husband walked in just as I was putting the two loaf pans in the oven. “Whatcha doin’, Punkin?”

“Making you a Christmas present you’ll never forget,” I flirted, winking to add to the mystery.

Keith looked around the kitchen for clues, and I slammed the cookbook shut just in the nick of time.

“Oooooo, something from Grandmother’s cookbook, eh?” he teased back.

“Yes, Dear, now scoot before you spoil your surprise.” I chased him out of the kitchen with a wooden spoon in hand. “Shoo!”

An hour later, Keith entered the kitchen to find me sitting in the middle of the floor in tears. As he ran to comfort me, I saw him do a horrified double take at the mystery creation on the counter. “Oh sweetie, it’s okay.”

“I—was—trying—to—make—your—grandmother’s—sour—cream—coffee—cake—for—you—for—Christmas. But it’s a big meeeeeeeessss!” A basketcase, I sobbed a puddle onto Keith’s shoulders.

“Oh, Punkin, that is so sweet. That is the most loving thing you've ever done. Please don’t cry.”

When the doorbell rang, Keith helped me off of the floor as I quickly regained my composure.

“Merry Christmas!” Vivian said. “I brought my sweeties a surprise.”

My tears began again as I glared at the perfectly baked loaf of sour cream coffee cake in Vivian’s grasp. She handed it to Keith and immediately came to comfort me.

“What’s wrong, Darling? It smells wonderful in here, and your tree is so beautiful. And most of all, you look beautiful.”

I led her to the kitchen and pointed to the loaves of burned pecans on top of baked brown goo. “I wanted to surprise you both and make your recipe from the Christmas cookbook you gave me, and I messed it all up. I’m the worst cook ever!”

Vivan looked down at the open book and over at Keith, then sighed. “Sweet Leah—no, Sweetheart—your cooking is just fine, Dear.”

“No, it’s not, look at it!”

Grabbing Keith’s arm in one hand and the cookbook in the other, Vivian scolded, “Keith, Dear. Do you remember my asking you to relay a particular message to your wife about this recipe?”

“Huh?” Keith mumbled, looking dumbfounded. “A message?”

“You don’t remember the error you made when you typed this recipe for me?”

Keith’s face flushed through the shades of the candy cane—red, white, then red again. He put his hand over his face. “Oh no.”

I crossed my arms. “’Oh no’ what, Keith?”

“He forgot to tell you that he accidentally omitted the baking powder from the recipe, so where it says to mix the remaining ingredients, you didn’t know you were supposed to add it,” Vivian said, laying the open cookbook in front of her grandson.

We looked over at the perfect loaf of sour cream coffee cake in Keith’s hands. He tiptoed to me as if on eggshells, then extended the gift to me. “Um,” he gulped, “Merry Christmas…?”

The smell of Vivian’s coffee cake and echoes of laughter surrounded the room, filling this Christmas Eve with all the right stuff.

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy…”
Psalm 126:2a

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Blessings

Today, I am so thankful for many, many blessings.

I'm thankful for A Sovereign God, A Saving God, A Sacrificing God. You are so worthy to be praised, Lord.

I'm thankful for my husband, a man who leads our family in the Lord each and every day, and who loves me more than I ever thought possible. I love you, Brian.

I'm thankful for my Austin, my firstborn new turned man. You may be thirteen, you may have a shady upper lip, your deep voice may make me quiver, and your towering height may be a bit on the intimidating side, but you will ALWAYS be my one and only son. And you will NEVER outgrow my love. That's all I'm sayin!

I'm thankful for my AnaLee, my spirited firstborn daughter. Ten, going on sixteen, you are so full of life and talent. You blow me away with the way you think and the passionate heart you have for Jesus and others. You will NEVER outperform His love for you. And I love you way down deep.

I'm thankful for my AllyPup, my baby, my dog-lovin diva. You shower me with hugs and kisses every day, and your desire to have peace with others truly ministers to me. God's blessed you with a gift to write and to imagine, and I love that about you. Your life story is still being written, and I'm thankful to be a part of it.

For my big sister and my best friend. You bless me and understand me like no other person on earth. And for John, Haley Grace, Sabrina and! My life is wayyyyyyyyy blessed.

For Brian's family (mine too), Mama Linda/Gramma (we miss you!), and for Tracy, Ken, Preston & was one year ago, we were sitting together and enjoying our Turkey and our blessings. We'll miss you this year! Will it snow today, or was that just a performance for us in New Mexico last year?

For Carolyn, who we'll get to spend Thanksgiving with this bless us in so many ways!

For Christa, my best friend (so far away now). How FAR did you have to GO? And for the close friendship our entire family shares...

For close friends (the TMI crew), for jewelly friends (they know who they are), for faithwriting friends, for blogging friends, for ministry friends...

For my kids' worship extended family...

For a great church that puts Christ first...

For every need met...every provision (and they are numerous)...

For all the Lord has brought our family through...

For a faith that trumps dysfunction.

For grace. Without it, I would be in total despair.

I could go on for hours, but we gotta get ready to eat!

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

They Will Have No Doubt...

It's Word-Filled Wednesday!

I couldn't think of a better time than around the holidays to consider how our love toward one another affects others. At the table, over the game, in the stores, on the road, during the parties, they will know we are Christians by our love...

Dear Lord, You are perfect love, and You are my example for living love. During these next weeks, I know You will give me one opportunity after another to be love to someone who needs it. I pray for surrender to Your fruit of the Holy Spirit to do this through me. I know I will struggle sometimes. It's so much easier for me to love the lovely, the pleasant and the familiar over the unlovable, the unlovely and the unfamiliar. With Your help, I know I can. Thank You, Lord, for giving me everything I need for life, for love and for Godliness. In Your name I pray, Amen.

>For more beauty mixed with Truth or to join in on this WFW meme, go here:

In the Key of HE,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Allison Faith's Special Ministry

I slept in the other morning, which I hardly ever do, and I came down the stairs to find my daughter in my chair having MY quiet time. Well, it was her quiet time, but it blessed me to see her catching this vision of her mama.

I'm posting this merely to capture it as a photo in my mind forever. I hope it encourages you who are reading in some way.

She and I sat down last evening to put the frame around it and share her favorite memorized verse. It convicted me and reminded me how important this verse is in the Christian life. He has saved me, and I have HIS Spirit living through me each and every day. Will I be faithful to this gift today? Tomorrow? Each moment?

Sleepin' in shouldn't even be in my VOCAB! :D Thank you, Allison Faith, for reminding me why I get up before you each morning! You ministered to me!

On a side note: Allison picked the colors, the fonts, the design, the frame, everything. That makes it that much more special to her mama! :D

In the Key of HE,

Thankful Heart Discussion At The Well

Laurie at Women Taking A Stand is hosting at the well this week, and her topic is "Having A Thankful Heart." With this INCRedible topic, I'd suggest going by to read what Laurie has to say on it. She has the spiritual gift of teaching, and I go regularly to her blog to be fed spiritually and to learn the deep stuff of God's Word.

I would've love to put together something well-packaged for this great topic, but since I'm low on time, I'm just going to answer her discussion questions as if she and I were having a conversation. Would you like to do the same? If so go by Laurie's blog to sign up.

It is easy to give thanks when everything is going well. But how easy is it to give thanks when we are low in the valley?

So TRUE! Honestly, I find it easier to give thanks than to live thanks, you know? I say it and sing it with my mouth, but my moods and actions often communicate a whole different message. The desire of my heart is to be able to say it and mean it at the same time, whether in the high, low or in-between.

How do you give thanks during difficult times?

When I’m going through a difficult time, I HAVE to be honest with the Lord and myself. I admit that I’m feeling yucky, down, depressed, attacked, whatever the emotion, and I ask Him to help me with it, taking the opportunity to thank Him in advance for how He will act and what He will do in the situation. I also ask Him to give me a new attitude and a new perspective—those that are His instead of mine which is limited and human. One other thing I do is to thank Him for His divine character and the sacrifices He made for me. Somehow when I focus on God’s mercies, my heart becomes God-focused instead of me-focused. All of a sudden, I’ll remember all of the other ways He has brought me (and others) through the muddy waters. My heartfelt cries are then exchanged for honest gratitude.

Share with your readers a testimony of how God brought you thru a difficult time.

Oh, wow, there are too many to count. Honestly. One in particular I feel led to share is how the Lord brought me/our family through a self-sacrificing time. Talk about sanctification. When Brian’s father got terminal brain cancer, we were devastated. At the same time, we began to take care of his granddad in our home, all while continuing to homeschool the kids three days a week, Brian helping his step mother care for his dad, while continuing to run his company. My mother in IL got very ill during this same time frame, and I was trying to work in trips to see her. Then she passed away. Granddad’s health with Parkinson’s, and I dare say grief over his only son dying a horrible death, began to deteriorate. He passed away after 20 months of living with us, then Brian’s dad just months after that.

Lemme just tell you, we are STILL recuperating. But there is no WAY we could’ve made it through that time without our faith. In many ways our marriage strengthened. We were forced to work through issues in our marriage that had lurked for many years underneath the surface. Our entire family comforted one another, while at the same time remembering all the ways God had provided for us through it all…big things, small things, mysterious things. Too many blessings to count.

I remember one day in particular. The kids were fighting, Granddad was sitting in the living room with the TV blaring, we had a TON of homework to do, my housework was piled up to the max, and I really thought I might come undone for good. I fell to my knees weeping, locked behind my bedroom door. I ignored the dog barking and the knocks of concern and just sobbed as quietly as I could. And prayed. Begged. With those tears, God poured out His peace. Out came the stress, and in came His supernatural, overwhelming flood of comfort from the Holy Spirit. No major revelation came, no verse came to mind, no song came to my lips. Just silent comfort.

And I’m still thanking Him for that.

Psalm 77:11-12 (NIV)
" I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.
I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds."

Dear Lord Jesus, You are amazing. Magnificent. All-powerful. While the enemy tries to steal, kill and destroy, You constantly remind me that You have come to give eternal life, and to the full. Thank You. I don't deserve anything good, but yet, that is what You give, over and over again. Keep me ever mindful and solely focused on You, replacing my emotional perspective with Your perfect vision. This Thanksgiving, cause my thankfulness to pour out to others, in word and in deed, and especially in attitude. In Your name I pray, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Josh Janoski

I truly believe that a person's testimony, salvation or otherwise, is one of the most powerful expressions of the Christian faith. I thrive on hearing God-stories. When I had my blog giveaway/contest, I asked for testimonies based on songs affecting one's faith. Well, people submitted, and I was moved. That's where "Lifesong In the Limelight" on Saturdays was born.

Josh from Just Joshing blew me away with this testimony, and it is such an encouraging one that will hopefully help someone who needs to hear it today. If you want to know someone who loves to encourage, desires to passionately pursue Christ and who has a great sense of humor, then you need to know Josh. He's a phenomenal writer and a faithful Christian friend to me and so many others in the online Christian community. For all of these reasons and more, I'm so privileged to feature him as this Saturday's

God Speaking Through Song - Who Am I?

The first time I heard this song, I wasn’t all that inspired, because to be honest, I wasn’t really listening to the words closely and absorbing the song’s message. However, during June 2007, I found myself fighting a deep depression that caused me to not want to leave my apartment. My mother had given me a Casting Crowns CD, and I decided to play it. The song "Who Am I?" was one of the songs to come on, and I immediately recognized the tune, but this time I decided to listen to the words closely.

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Lord of all the Earth. That’s a big position. And yet He takes time to know my name? To feel what I am feeling? He understands this depression I am experiencing?

Bright and morning star. Wow! He could choose to horde His light from me but instead He lights my path and steers my heart in the direction that it needs to go. Why am I depressed if God has my path laid out perfectly?

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are
I’m so worthless. Why leave this apartment and go outside to a world that doesn’t care…but wait a minute. HE CARES! Why? After all I’ve done to hurt Him and other people, how can He love me? I guess it’s not because of who I am, but because of who He is. It’s His loving nature shining through. It’s not anything that I’ve done to deserve this, it’s what He did. He made the sacrifice. He bore the sin and shame.
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
Vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

My life here is temporary. I am getting older every day. Each breath takes me closer to my last breath. I am but a tiny grain of sand on a large stretch of beach, but He hears me when I cry out to Him! He understands this pain I am experiencing right now. He is listening to me. He wants me to seek His help and counsel.

Lord, help this flower that withers away! Lord, help me to take this time I have and not use it to be depressed or downtrodden! Let me use it to serve you! Catch me Lord as I take a dive backwards into this pit of despair! Catch me and pull me out!

What is that Lord? What did you say? I am…yours? You mean you take possession of me? Even though I feel like I have no one to turn to, you still claim me as your own? I’m yours? Really? I ask this and yet somehow in my heart I know it to be true. I am yours. I am a child of the Almighty God.

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

I am dirty. The weight of my sin bears down on me, leaving me weak and weathered. My hands are covered in the grime of this world that I have wallowed in for so long. I thought what I was doing would make me a better person, but instead my actions seek to haunt me and destroy me. Your eyes see my wrongdoings. You know all and see all, and yet, you don’t kick me when I’m already down. You watch me get back up using the strength of the hand that you have stretched out towards me.

I feel this storm inside me calming. I see you standing there and commanding this storm in my life to cease. I see now that no matter what I do, how I feel, or where I’m at, that I can trust in you. You care about this tiny grain of sand mixed in among millions of other grains.

I am a flower quickly fading
I am a wave tossed in the ocean
I am a vapor in the wind

But most of all…

I am Yours.
That right there is the message that carried me out of that depression and brought me back to the truth of God’s love for me. I hope that if you haven’t listened to this song that you do so, because I believe it will bless you just as it did me. it's strange, because I heard it on the radio yesterday after church, and I had just got done thinking about writing this post. I sang the song as I headed home, and I took the time to remember who I am in Jesus Christ.

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
Vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
Vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
Vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I'm calling
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling
And You've told me who I am
I am Yours

I am Yours
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
'Cause I am Yours
I am Yours

Josh is a 26 year old Network Administrator living in the beautiful mountain state of Colorado. When he's not tinkering with technology, Josh likes to read, exercise, play games, surf the Internet, and of course - write. He sees his writing as a ministry, given to him by God to help encourage people and lead them to the hope that is Jesus Christ. Whether it be through humor, fictional Biblical re-tellings, or non-fiction confessionals, Josh's goal is to put a smile on people's face and remind them of the love that God has for them. Please take time to visit his ministry website: Uplifting Words or his personal blog at Just Joshing.

In the Key of HE,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Taboo Blessings

It's Fiction Fridays, 
and Patty from Patterings is hosting. 
To learn more about her meme, click here:

Do you like short story fiction? Then go on over to Patterings and check out the links to more fiction posts.

Taboo Blessings

We were stuffed as a tick on a coon dog’s belly. The lethargy had kicked in—probably from the chemicals released in the turkey. It couldn’t be that we gorged enough carbs and sweets to send our bodies into a diabolic crash, no!

As for me personally, all I really wanted to do was slide into a pair of stretchy pants and lie in a reclined position until I fell into a dreamy sleep, but family traditions would rule otherwise.

It was time for the “Blessing Circle” to form near the fireplace in the living room. The football games: paused. The cleaning of the kitchen: halted. All the kids were to come in from playing wiffle ball on the front lawn.

It’s funny, because no one in our family even remembered when this custom was brought about or why, but my aunt Millie said she was going to make sure it didn’t die out on her watch. Every Thanksgiving since she could remember, the
Blessing Circle had formed, and this year would be no different. So we gathered, resistant and a tad resentful, into our round, robotic ritual of raving over our good fortunes from the previous year.

Aunt Millie introduced our tradition as if we had never heard it explained before. She said it was a time to “count our blessings one by one,” and if we “don’t take the time to do so, then, we just don’t deserve them.”

While Uncle Paul began to belt out the
Count Your Blessings hymn in the background, Aunt Millie rattled off her thank-yous with very little expression until she ran out of breath.

Mama eagerly chimed in. She was grateful for her good health and for her beautiful grandchildren.

“…Count them one….by……one….” Uncle Paul nodded off, though still barely rocking in his wooden chair. His head was cricked over, and the metal snap on his overalls made an imprint on his face.

Then there was a long pause, and Mama elbowed Daddy in the rib cage, which spoke him right up. “I’m very blessed to have a woman who keeps me in line,” Daddy poked at his other half. We all chuckled.

All of us awake now, we began to spew out our blessings, mixed with a little satire. Laughter filled the room, and even Aunt Millie’s upside-down smile wrinkles were turned a little sideways.

Second to last, we got to Tammy, my niece’s roommate and friend. She asked to pass in a quiet, croaky voice. She was not smiling or laughing like the rest of us.

What’s her deal? I wondered. Surely she had some blessing to boast about. Why, her very roommate was a jewel of a gal, that’s for sure. My niece Vickie was as Christian as they come.

Vickie recovered for her friend by sharing her thankfulness for a roommate who didn’t snore like her last one. Everyone got a chuckle out of that—except for Tammy.

Dusk snuck up, and all the family began to file out one by one, each with styrofoam plates filled with leftovers piled high. Someone decided that Tammy had been silent long enough. Out on the dusty gravel driveway, Aunt Millie took hold of Tammy’s arm as she passed by. “It must be a pretty miserable existence not to have any praises on your tongue.”

Tammy looked up. “Excuse me?” A mix of confidence and bitterness shot from her eyes.

“Everybody’s got somethin’ to be thankful for, darlin’,” Aunt Millie retorted.

Putting her hand gently upon Aunt Millie’s shoulder, Tammy looked her straight in the eye with the most fortitude I had ever seen anyone dare. “Millie, is it?” Tammy asked.

“Aunt Millie,” she corrected.

“That’s right.” Tammy slumped down and paused. Then all of a sudden she blurted out, “Taboo!”

Mama and Daddy grabbed Aunt Millie’s arm to hold her stance steady.

“My blessings are taboo. They’re not the kind of thing you talk about around such light-hearted folks,” Tammy explained.

Uncle Paul had slid into the driver’s side of the car and began to pretend drive.

Aunt Millie was stunned, “Why, I do declare!”

Tammy snickered, “See, I knew I was wise to keep quiet.”

“Go ahead, Tammy,” Vickie prompted.

She took a deep breath. “OK, here goes. One year ago today I lay in a hospital room with bruises and cuts all over my body. I was lucky to survive, they said. This year has been one of major tragedy bringing out memories of younger tragedies, all of which I’ve had to come to grips with. And up until your niece took the time to care, I didn’t have a single person to turn to or even a place to sleep.

All of us stood speechless.

Except Aunt Millie.

“Oh, child,” she had streams of tears streaking down her pruned face. “If I’d only known.”

Tammy sobbed alongside. “People don’t wanna hear about these kinds of blessings.”

I'm sure were all wondering what “blessings” she was referring to.

She continued with emotion. “That night, when I lay in that cold, empty hospital room with nothing but my pain to keep me company, God gave me a gift.”

Uncle Paul was trying to get the radio to work.

Vickie wrapped her arms around Tammy who had lost her voice and finished the story for her. “She’s talking about the moment she received Christ as her Savior. I was her nurse on call that night. When I came into her room during my rounds, she told me she wanted to die. I didn’t know what to do other than to ask her if she knew who Jesus was…”

“When she told me…” Tammy regained her composure, “When she told me about this Jesus that SHE knew, He was so much different than the one I had heard about growing up.”

Tammy went on to describe the “hell, fire and brimstone” she was taught from her abusive father and the pulpit of her small hometown church. Never had she ever heard of the grace and the love that Vickie was sharing.

“I was totally amazed when she told me that Jesus wanted to be my friend,” Tammy concluded. “My FRIEND.”

It was as if the radio turned on inside the speakers of my Uncle Paul’s mind just then. “What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and griefs to bear,” he belted out.

Tammy began to laugh through her flooded eyes. “Now that’s the blessing I wish to speak of. The day that Jesus became my friend.”

We all gathered around her as if she were a part of our family now. Well, I reckon she was, and we were so blessed to have her. She reminded us where true blessing is found.

In unison, all of us joined the choir in Uncle Paul’s head: “Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry….everything to God in prayer.”

We were so blessed.

Count Your Blessings—text by Johnson Oatman, Jr.
What A Friend We Have in Jesus—text by Joseph M. Scriven

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In View of God's Mercies...

Happy Word-Filled Wednesday!!!!!

Lord, when I stop and reflect on the mercies You have given me...

I remember love, the kind that will never separate from me.
I remember grace, undeserved.
I remember the Holy Spirit, given to dwell inside of me, lead me, guide me.
I remember peace, supernatural.
I remember saving faith.
I remember patience, kindness, hope and comfort--imagine living life without these?
Glory and honor.
Forgiveness and reconciliation, thank You, God!
Righteousness and justification.
FREEDOM! (Can I hear an "Amen"?)
Eternal life and resurrection.
Sonship & Security.

I remember these mercies (and so many more), and I am overwhelmed. Do I even deserve one of them?

So what is my response, Lord?

Father God, thank You. Your mercies overwhelm me. I give myself to You this day--my soul, my mind, my body, my heart. I'm Yours, Lord. Take me and use me, or let me be still and hear Your voice. In You, I'll live and move and have my being. In You, I'll find my rest. It's in Your merciful name I pray, Amen.

For more beauty mixed with Truth or to join in on this WFW meme, go here:

In the Key of HE,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

God's Poster Child

I'm over at the Internet Cafe today.

Go check out what's hanging on the wall there:

In the Key of HE,

Monday, November 17, 2008

Romans 12:1/A POV Shift

Monday Manna is being hosted by Joanne at An Open Book today. I couldn't resist jumping in on the Scripture because I JUST FINISHED WRITING A DEVO ON ROMANS 12:1 for a completely unrelated writing project at my church (literally, the deadline was today). Joanne encouraged me to post some of it. I'm sure the timing is not a coincidence. Joanne posted an INCREDIBLE perspective on it, as far as all the others I've read so far, so go by and read and join in if you can...

Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

My entire adult life has revolved around serving God, especially in worship and drama. For many years, this is how I understood Romans 12:1:

“…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…this is your spiritual act of worship.”

And I lived it out, offering myself to the Lord’s service, wherever He called me. I served Him with my talents, but also with my gifts of shepherding and encouragement. My prayer was for all of it to be holy and pleasing to the Lord, and to live out my call to worship.

An internal struggle came, however, when I noticed some strongholds in my life. Why am I struggling? I thought. I’m supposed to be holy! As I cried out desperately for help, the Lord lovingly showed me what I was missing in this “living sacrifice” kind of faith. He opened my eyes to the whole verse:

“THEREFORE, I urge you…IN VIEW OF GOD’S MERCY, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices…” (emphasis mine)

Once I understood the entire verse (and its context with the preceding chapters), I realized that the emphasis is not on ME living a life of worship. Rather, it is on living with God’s mercies in full view. It’s saying, “Therefore—after eleven chapters of theology showing what you’ve died to, what you’re alive to, and what the Lord has done for you—THEREFORE—In view of those mercies, see worship for what it really is—not a gift you give to God—rather an offering of grateful sacrifice you live for God, knowing you don’t deserve a lick of those mercies.”

But there’s that one last word: sacrifice. I say I’ll give it all, yet I feel an agitated resistance to any discomfort that accompanies it. The only way for me to say “not my will, but Yours, Lord” is to continually focus on God’s character. It takes a mind that is preoccupied with the truth of God—as verse two says—a renewed mind.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

With His renewal (and constant help), I’m able to live out God’s “pleasing and perfect will,” and finally experience true worship—the kind that flows from a grateful heart.

Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed when I stop to think of all the mercies You have given me. Eternal love and grace and joy, saving faith, strength, the Holy Spirit as a helper, righteousness, eternal life and security and everlasting peace. All of these and so much more compel me to live for you, yet I'm so bad at it sometimes. Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me when I forget to look from this point of view, and strengthen me according to Your Word. Thank You for giving me everything I need for this life and for Godliness. I long to sacrifice my all for you today. In Jesus' name, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

At The Well/Marriage

Chelsey at Joyfully Living for His Glory is hosting this week, and she's asking us to discuss what it means to "stand for your marriage." PLEASE if you have the time, go over to her place to see what she has to say, as well as others. I guarantee you will receive a more extensive study on the subject, especially with the tough questions, than what I have to offer today.

I'm fully occupied with family priorities right now that I don't have time to blog an original on this subject. I was just going to bow out, and I shared my disappointment with the Lord. Then, just an hour or so later, as I was reading some emails from a Yahoo group of my friends, one of them typed that she had never fallen asleep in church before. THAT reminded me of a devo on marriage that I sent out to my edevo subscribers awhile back. I don't believe in coincidence, so I'm going to post that devo. While these words are not written from my "pen" this very day, they are still the cry of my heart's desire and conviction, so they may as well be. I hope the Lord of yesterday, today and forever uses these words to minister to someone who is led to read them.

All Settled?

Try to remember a time when you were so comfortable that you drifted off into a half-sleep. This happened to me often in church as a kid. It was the one place where I felt so at ease and warm inside that sometimes I would almost fall asleep. If it hadn’t been for the fear that people would judge me for dozing off all the way, I most certainly would have! It was a horrible feeling being in the middle of awake and asleep, though,… especially when the pipe organ chimed at the end of the service, and I would get a jolted tingle from head to toe as I tried to look awake to all those around me.

God has been so good to sound the pipe organ as I’ve needed it throughout my life—not just the ones in church, but also those in my spiritual life. Recently, the Lord chimed into my head the desire to ponder my role as a wife. I have a good marriage, but is it all it could be? I wonder if I’ve become content with patterns or attitudes that I shouldn’t be? In many ways, I contribute a great deal. In other ways, I’ve become too comfortable and nodded off. Have you who are married reflected upon this lately?

We all know the cliché about “settling down and getting married.” Well, what happens if you settle down to get married and then somewhere down the road, you just settle?!? Let me explain. I’ve recorded some of the things I’ve either said to myself or have heard others in marriage say over the past year or so (bear in mind these are usually from people who have been married for 10 or more years):

“I want us to be closer, but it’s just so much work!”
“We don’t have anything in common anymore.”
“He says I’ve ‘let myself go.’”
“We stopped trying to pray or read the Bible together, because we end up arguing.”
“I pray for him, but nothing ever changes.”
“I’m so tired of hearing him complain about his work. Can’t he just be happy?”
“I can’t ever do anything right in his eyes, so I’ve just quit trying.”
“He has his TV in the den and I have mine in the bedroom….that way, we both watch what we want to watch.”
“He wants more of me than I have to give. I’m tired after being with the kids all day.”
“I like working because I get praise there. That’s more than I can say for home.”
“He can just forget about having sex more than once a week. That’s enough as it is.”

Ok, I’m stopping, just in case you’re getting uncomfortable. I could probably fill up an entire page with comments just like these. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking about major problems in marriage, just the normal everyday stuff. Unfortunately, if you settle in the small areas every single day, the potential is greater for large issues later.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b, NIV)

My paraphrase for this subject:
“He gave us marriage that we could have one life together, and have it to the full.”

I want to experience His fullness and abundance in my marriage, as much as it is up to me, don’t you? That means we need to pray and then respond as He leads us…He will do the rest. For me, that may mean watching a motorcycle race on TV instead of
Law and Order (or working on my blog--ouch). It may mean caring enough about my husband to truly listen to him, even if I’m I’ve used up all my energy for the day. It may mean getting out of my stretchy shorts before he comes home so that I can look beautiful for him. For you, it might mean returning gentle words instead of harsh ones…or maybe trading Nagatha’s hat in for Carissa’s! ☺ Have you thought about the things that matter to your spouse lately? Do you pray for him daily? No matter the issues, we all could use this piece of advice from Philippians 2:1-5 to help us stay awake in our relationships:
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, 
if any comfort from His love,
if any fellowship with the Spirit,
if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded,
having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:”

Somehow these verses are easier live out with our friends or co-workers or people at church, but God desires our marriages to honor Him, “shining like stars in the universe as we hold out the Word of life.” (Philippians 2:15, 16a)

So, dear married friends, as much as it is up to us, let’s pray together that the Lord would settle us on the firm foundation of His plan for our part in a God-honoring union—not for the norm in this “crooked and depraved generation.” Stay in the Word and pray Pray PRAY, and it will guide you how to live and love less selfishly, more deeply, less casually and more fully…may we never settle for less!

In the Key of HE,

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lifesong In The Limelight/Kim, aka Homesteader In Training

I truly believe that a person's testimony, salvation or otherwise, is one of the most powerful expressions of the Christian faith. I thrive on hearing God-stories. When I had my blog giveaway/contest, I asked for testimonies based on songs affecting one's faith.
Well, people submitted, and I was moved.
That's where "Lifesong In the Limelight" on Saturdays was born:

Wellza, lemme just tell you, if you don't know Kim from Homesteader's Heart, then you're missing out! Big TIME! She prides herself on her sense of humor, and that she has in full measure. But truth be told, she has even more to offer her readers than that. I've learned a LOT about home organization, cooking, homeschooling, and (YES, Kim,) THE LORD, through reading her blog each day. All of these reasons and more are why I am so excited to feature her as today's:


Amazing Sunday (I gave it a title, Kim.) :)

My song is Amazing Grace. I was raised in a Christian home and we went to church every Sunday. I remember singing this song plenty of times as a child, never really thinking about what it was saying or better yet what I was saying. It was after I rededicated my life to the Lord and was in church one day with my husband that this song came to life. The church we had been attending for about 5 years had grown quite a bit. They played mostly Contemporary Christian music each Sunday, but this particular Sunday they whipped out the classic. 

I don't think I made it through the second line, when I started crying. It hit me like a ton of bricks what my Lord and Savior had done in my life. Near the end of the song they stopped all the instruments and just let everyone sing. The church sounded like a group of Angels that morning, and I got a glimpse of what Heaven is going to be like some day. 

I can't sing that song without thinking of what the Lord is to me and how His grace covers me. The lyrics are below, and I want you to take the time to just read them, well, sing them to yourself and really think about what it's saying to you.
Blessings my friends.


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 -
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far -
and Grace will lead us 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.

When we've been here ten thousand years -
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise -
then when we've first begun.

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.

Kim, aka Homesteader in Training, is the wife to one wonderful man and the mother to three beautiful children, ages 15, 6 and 3. A stay-at-home-mom since her marriage in 1996, she calls herself a “domestic engineer and a homeschool mom who wouldn’t want it any other way.”  If you were to ask Kim to tell you a little bit about herself, as well as her blog, A Homesteader’s Heart, she would say, “I've met some great gals in this blog world and am slowly finding my niche. I am kind of a jack of all trades, master of none. I have my hand in a lot of different things and end up blogging about most of them. I love to laugh and that probably shows in most of my posts. Hence the birth of my Meme, Friday Funnies. (Boy, that was a sad plug wasn't it?)”  

Isn't she fun? For more on Kim, check out her blog, A Homesteader’s Heart..

In the Key of HE,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Double The Irony

It's Fiction Fridays, and Patty from Patterings is graciously allowing me to be hostess. I'm so excited! To learn more about her meme, click here.

To post your own fiction or to read others today, just go to cute lil old Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post:

Double The Irony

How ironic, I dare say. My cross necklace, which represented my newly found freedom in Christ, was tangled up in knots. I slammed the heirloom piece down on the bathroom counter and looked up at my blurry face in the mirror. Just like your life, Sandy. It’s your senior year. You’re supposed to be having the time of your life, but instead, your life’s a mess.

That was the day I decided I wouldn’t hide the truth any longer. The difficult part, though, would be convincing my friend Tamara to do the same. We'd both shared the same secret for two years, and that meant we’d shared each other’s pain as well. So it was double the knots. But I’d heard on the Christian radio that morning, “And the Truth shall set you free...” I was desperate to be free.

“No way, Sandy. I won’t tell anyone about it. And if you do, our friendship is done, ya hear?”

After an hour of heartfelt pleading, she refused to budge. I sighed with frustration. “How can you say that? After all we’ve been through? Tamara, you're my best friend. I love you. I just can’t live this way anymore.” My lips and hands were numb from trembling.

Tamara had a comeback for everything. “Well, you think you’re bad-off now, just wait until you tell. You’re going to make everything worse.”

Tamara was right. Just five days later, I wanted to kill myself. I chose to tell the truth, and all that came back at me were accusations. Wishing I could curl up as tight as the knot in my stomach, I sobbed on my bed. Alone. My foster parents didn’t believe me, and my best friend had abandoned me. Once again, I was an outcast.
And the jerk gets off the hook. Of course he does, he coaches the winning volleyball team in the state. "So much for the truth setting me free."

Over the next several months, I survived while Tamara thrived. I quit the volleyball team. Tamara became captain. My grades went down. Hers went up. I was the school freak. She was the Homecoming queen candidate. She had dared to keep the secret, while I'd opted to tell the truth, and it was obvious that her dare had trumped the truth.

It was double the pain.

My loneliness led me back to the one place where, years before, I had felt accepted: my youth group. Completely broken, I felt I had nothing to lose. “I have a prayer request,” I squeaked. There I was, asking for something when I had ignored multiple attempts by different members of the group to befriend me in the past.

They, without hesitation, surrounded me. As warm hands touched my shoulders, my arms and my sides, one of my peers prayed, “Lord, give Sandy your strength. Keep her close to You. And Lord, please untangle the mess of this whole situation.” Near strangers shed tears with me, and none of us could have been more shocked with the moments following.

“Hey everyone. Everyone, could I ask you to listen to Jaimee for a minute? She has something to say,” our youth group leader announced.

Waves of “Sure,” “Absolutely,” “Of course,” rippled through the air before thick silence consumed the room.

Jaimee, who I had always considered a self-assured person, looked horribly unsure of her decision to speak. Several brave swallows later, her words tumbled out clumsily. “I—I—Ohh.…” She looked down at her sneakers, stole a deep breath and said, “I need to tell you all that I was also harassed by Coach Daniels. I just never had the courage to tell anyone. Until now…and I know there have been several others—at least.” A bright blue mascara trail streamed down her cheeks.

I couldn’t breathe. Then the thought occurred to me.
That’s why she quit the team last year. It had nothing to do with her grades. Then, several others? Could it be true?

All of us gathered round Jaimee the same way everyone had surrounded me earlier. This time, I prayed. Right in front of her, I grabbed both of her clammy hands and prayed the best I knew how. “Oh God, thank you for Jaimee. Thank you, that even knowing how much it may cost her, she has dared to tell the truth. And Lord, may the truth bring peace—and—freedom. For both of us."
And for Tamara too, Lord, I prayed silently from the depth of love I still had for her in my heart.

As I opened my eyes after the final Amen, I couldn’t help but notice the cross necklace Jaimee wore. It didn’t have a single knot. I dare say,
how ironic.

Reference: John 8:32

In the Key of HE,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Deep Devotion

Okay, well I gotta do it again. My heart is stirred by what I read in my devotions this morning, but it is deeeeeep and uncomfortable. Read at your own risk. ;)

This is from "Meditations on The Heart of God" (pg. 31) by Francois Fenelon, which my good friend Whitney nudged me to pull off my bookshelf and read. To think all this incredible stuff has just been sitting there dusty, waiting to be re-read. I've been missing out. Anyway, here 'tis:

Do this, and you will live. (Jesus Christ, in Luke 10:28b, RSV)

"We often say we would like to know what to do to advance in virtue--but when the Spirit of God shows us what to do, we often lack the courage to carry it out. We have a strong feeling that we are not what we ought to be. We see how our burdens grow day by day. Yet we feel we are doing a lot just by saying we want to be delivered out of ourselves.

"Let us count it as nothing if we say we are willing to follow God, and then do not go as far as sacrificing the things that stop us from walking in God's ways. Let us not hold the truth captive through our unrighteous half-heartedness."

Those last two lines are the kicker, aren't they? Listen, this stuff is not for the legalist. If you struggle with legalism, you may want to consider letting the Lord help you with the issue of freedom in Christ first. But if you have been a Christian awhile, have set aside legalism, and you've been walking free in the Spirit, then this is for you. It's for me too. It's where I am.

I want the deeper life because I love the Lord. I want to be righteous because I love the Lord. I want to live whole-heartedly devoted to Him, because the Spirit of God is pressing the matter within me.

Is He doing the same in you?

Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

Father God, I'm almost speechless. I'm in awe of Your goodness, even at a time in my life when my groanings are louder than ever. I have need for nothing. You have given me every single thing I need, and to be honest, most of what I want as well. But Lord, You have placed this restlessness within me for a deeper fellowship with You--not an anxious restlessness, but a holy one. Lord, help me to mean it when I say I want You to lead and direct my ways. Help me to tell the truth when I offer to be a living sacrifice for You. Replace my timid spirit with Your spirit of power. Substitute my selfish heart with Your heart of sacrificial love. I pray that You would do the same, Lord of all, with my brothers and sisters who answered a "yes" to the question above. May we fully rely on Your Holy Spirit in us to do this work. In Your magnificent name I pray, Amen.

In the Key of HE,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Great Gain

My life sings JOY over Word-Filled Wednesday!!!!

In a world where happiness trumps holiness,
where wrong feels right and right is all about feelings,
where money, money, money 
keeps us singing, spending, striving,
where "enough" is NOT
and "plenty" is relative,

God's Word interrupts...
Father God, You define enough, and it is You. Thank You for giving us everything that we need for life and for Godliness, and for the working of the Holy Spirit to produce contentment with our circumstances. Lead us to confess our sins, to turn from them, and to surrender our very lives to You this day. 
In Your all-sufficient name I pray, Amen.

For more beauty mixed with Truth or to join in on this meme, go here:

In the Key of HE,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Burn It, Baby!

Hey all, some of the readers of my blog may not know that a huge part of my Lifesong--where my love for ministry writing was really born was from a totally separate devotional ministry where I send out devotionals and fiction stories from my ministry website . I thought I would post one from last year, and I hope it ministers to you today.

If you would like to sign up to receive my edevos straight to your inbox, as well as some short fiction devo stories, click here: Edevo subscribe form There is no junk mail or advertising whatsoever sent from my site.

Burn It, Baby!

As a little girl growing up in the Midwest, I have memories of the smell of burning leaves. In the fall, people would rake their massive volume of leaves, sometimes multiple times a week, but instead of bagging them, they would put them into piles for burning. It was a unique odor that I will never forget…not a bad one, just distinct.

One day, I was going with my Mom to my aunt’s house in “the country,” and I smelled the most horrible odor. This was AFTER making it past all the OTHER odors that one survives as she drives through the rural areas of southern Illinois (maybe to do with cows). Anyway, it was something burning, but it wasn’t leaves, and it stunk to high heaven! I pinched my nose and asked my mom what that hetrocious smell was as I gagged through the little air I allowed to come in through my mouth. She said, “Someone’s burning trash!” I had no idea that people could burn trash, but she went on to let me know that this was a regular act for country folk.

This memory came to my mind as I was reading this morning, and you know what, the smell even came back with it! YUCK! I’m glad it did, though, because it gave me a tangible grasp on this passage of Scripture from The Message:

Matthew 3:11-12
"I'm (John the Baptist) baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The Main Character in this drama—compared to Him I'm a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He's going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false He'll put out with the trash to be burned."

Imagine that! When we were saved, He lit a fire within our souls …the Holy Spirit. His role was to change us from the inside out…so the flame lit inside of us shines brightly on “Christ in us” while burning the “trash” at the same time. He took up that stink, so that we would be clean before Him…Do we get that? Our souls are spotless before the Lord because He did some sweeping, raking and burning.

Our goal as Christians is to keep living in Him, in a deeper and brighter way each day. The salvation part is covered, but there is still sanctification to be done. The cool thing is that we have the perfect Source of life within us, and we have access to that Source as we keep ourselves plugged into it.

When the Lord is our starting place for energy, for purity, for holiness, for light, for joy, for peace, for fullness, for pleasure—when HE is the supply of all those things—THEN and ONLY then, will we have success at living the Kingdom life here on earth. There is absolutely no way to do it on our own.

John 14:19 says, “Because I live, you will also live.” Because He did not give way to sin or to death, HE LIVES! When we draw on His life, He gives us the ability to say “no” to sin and death for today. As we repent and submit, He takes out the trash in our hearts and minds and burns it, baby! And I’m sure it stinks to high heaven. After those ashes comes His beauty as He reorganizes our priorities with His own.

What a wonderful opportunity for us to recognize His work in us today, friends, and to praise Him…to fall down and worship Him…to submit to Him. I’m ready for the Main Character in my drama (and there’s always lots of it) to do some igniting in me, how about you?

Let’s go to our Starting Place:


In the Key of HE,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Who Am I?

Chelsey at Joyfully Living for His Glory is hosting this week, and she wants us to take the time to tell about ourselves. So it's gonna be LOUD! And I'm so excited to know my sisters better. I wish I had more time to put this post together and organize it well, but I'm extremely limited on time right now, so I'll speak off the cuff. Hey, at least I have the backspace key in this conversation. Too bad we don't have them in real life discussions, right?

Wellza (pun intended), here is my story, at least part of it:

Brian and I have been married for almost 19 years. He's a blessing to me, and I can say honestly that our love has grown deeper and more unselfish over the years. (thank goodness!) Our kids are known as the "A Team," seeing as all their names start with "A"s. Austin is 13, AnaLee is 10, and Allison is 8. And Allison would have a heart attack if I didn't mention that Abby, our 8-year-old Toy Manchester Terrier is also part of those "A"s.

I've entered a new season of parenting--one where the titles of taxi driver, counselor, teacher, friend, intercessor, manager, director and social coordinator all fall under the same hat. Life never gets dull, and my kids make the season fun and laughter-filled. Wouldn't be completely real, though, if I didn't mention that, with the way I'm wired, this is a tough season for me. It's easy on the discipling, shepherding front. Tough on the hectic pace, juggling, and constant "with-it-ness" that it takes to stay on top of all the physical and emotional issues. It keeps me on my knees!

My past:
Would take me a novel, so the nutshell version is, it was tough, but God faithfully provided beauty in midst of the pain. Though dysfunction, abuse and tragedy lined the walls of my childhood home, I refuse to allow those to define me. I am not a victim, I am an overcomer in Christ.

I grew up in an itty bitty town (3200 people) in southern Illinois with only a few stoplights in the town square. Everybody knew everybody else, and it was kind of neat that way. Most of my mom's family lived around us, so my life was full of time with family--grandma and grandpa, aunts and cousins.

My personality as a young girl was always a bit offbeat. I yakked off the ears of strangers and would pretend with Barbies and dolls in my bedroom for hours at a time. As I grew up, I often role-played what I was going to be when I grew up. I started off as a fast food window clerk, got promoted to television anchor woman, then ended up a famous Christian singer. Quite the imagination I had.

The First Baptist Church of my town meant the world to me. I was saved there at 6 years old and married there almost 14 years later. The people in that Body cared for our family through the most difficult of times.

It makes me tired remembering all the activities I dove into as a youth. Almost everything that was offered. In retrospect, I know that was because I needed an escape from my home life, but at the time, I just thought I needed to do it all. My favorite, though, was singing and acting. When I left home after high school, I moved to Texas to go to college on a music scholarship, and I was able to do so because my only sister (and best friend) and her husband took me into their home to live.

I had only been in Texas a few months when I met Brian, and two years later, we were married. Wowzer, did he swoop me off my feet. As a matter of fact, he still is. We've had a rough three years, full of loss and taking care of others, and I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather walk through it with than Brian. We lost his dad to a brain tumor (which was a long suffering death), had his granddad live in our home for a few years and pass away in Brian's arms in our house, and we lost my mom in the midst of taking care of both of them. All of the suffering and pain has brought us to this new normal, this strange new place of figuring out what God wants us to do as a family. It's brought us to a place where we've had to seek Him with open hearts about how He wants us to spend our time, our money, our passions, our ministry. We're still working through it.

While I'm pretty sure everyone in the blogosphere has read it, because it has had the most reads and posts of any I've written, one story in particular that I wrote tells a great deal about who I am and where I've come from. It has some pics as well. If the Lord leads you, give it a read when you have some spare time. It's called Remember Glory.

My life Scripture verse is Psalm 118:14 (NIV):
"The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation."

I picked this verse a few years back, because I realized then that through all of the hardships I face, He has become my strength. With all of the voices from the past that try to throw me into depression and despair, He has become my song. With all of the strongholds I discover that I need freeing from, HE has become my salvation.

The Lord has been, is and will continue to be so very faithful. I'm blessed to have my husband, my kids, my best friend and sister, a brother-in-law that is just like my brother, my precious nieces and nephews, a few very close friends, and a bundle of faithful, fun friends and ministry partners. Above all, I have a faith that will not be shaken because of a God that loved me enough to send His one and only Son to die for me. My future, though unwritten here on earth, is written in permanent ink in Heaven, and that defines my life above all.

In the Key of HE,