Thursday, December 11, 2008

Psalm 82 - Injustice

A couple nights ago we listened to a podcast about issues of violent injustice. Modern-day slavery, corrupt governments. The speaker asked the can people suffering under this type of oppression believe that there is a God and that he is good? He went on to suggest that God has a plan to show them his goodness. Ummm...ya...His plan is You and Me. Seriously. That's the plan. WE go and do and show God's love, his goodness expressed through our actions. I just want to shake my head. God, what are you thinking? I hope you have a backup plan. Because I don't think we've been doing our part. At least I know I haven't been doing mine.
Isn't it amazing how a book written hundreds of years ago still speaks to TODAY?
Psalm 82
A Psalm of Asaph. AMP
1God stands in the assembly [of the representatives] of God; in the midst of the magistrates or judges He gives judgment [as] among the gods.

3Do justice to the weak (poor) and fatherless; maintain the rights of the afflicted and needy.

4Deliver the poor and needy; rescue them out of the hand of the wicked.

5[The magistrates and judges] know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in the darkness [of complacent satisfaction]; all the foundations of the earth [the fundamental principles upon which rests the administration of justice] are shaking.

6I said, You are gods [since you judge on My behalf, as My representatives]; indeed, all of you are children of the Most High.

So can you guess where I see myself? I am not fatherless, I have a great dad. I am not poor. I have everything I need and more. I'm not in verse 3 or 4. No...I'm in verse 5. Walking on in the darkness of complacent satisfaction. Doesn't that sound gross? Like, don't you just want to spit that out? The darkness of complacent satisfaction. Yuck! Satisfaction is nice, it's the complacent part that turns my stomach. I need to be uncomfortable with this. God is trusting ME to be his representative on the earth. I'm the plan. Help me Lord! Keep shining your light on this darkness!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Relational Gift Fair 2008 - Web Links Advent Conspiracy…this is where it all started for us
This site is like a centralized charity finder where you can check the efficiency and expenses break down for charities when choosing where to give. Visit World Vision’s online gift catalog for tangible gifts – 2 chickens for $25, a goat for $75 Heifer International online gift catalog Give a heifer for $500 other farm animals available as well
Charity Water – Give a $20 bottle of charity: water to a friend or loved one, and provide clean water to a person you've never met for 20 years. 100%* goes to water and sanitation projects on the ground. Ships within 7 days only to U.S. and Canada +$6 s&h. donations for animal lovers Order Fair trade gifts that help families across the globe - lots of yummy treats and fruit of the month club a great gift for the older generation Who wouldn’t love a fresh new flower bouquet every month for a year? - buy a garden flag stand and seasonal flags for the whole year A great resource to find ideas/share ideas Check out the “alternatives” tab A Do-It-Yourself Christmas: 34 Great Gifts You Can Make Yourself. This article includes 34 great ideas with links for further instruction. amazing resource for goodies you can make and give Check out the Containers Store for great ideas for packaging your handmade gifts - create unique gifts with your own photos - create unique gifts with your own photos – create unique gifts with your own photos For those who sew Full of free patterns for those who crochet
Blog full of ideas and comments on the season Parents magazine clip with adorable child friendly ornaments From her 2008 magazine thrifty ideas From a recent show we are displaying the treasure box of childhood memories Melissa Smith’s website –she donated our Make and Take project for today beading, card making, ornaments, wreaths, gift tags, stockings, just to name a few variety of Christmas crafts kids can make--paper crafts, no sew, felt, etc.. I have used this site for 10 years! This is "The Better Homes and Gardens site. Everything from painted picture frames, low-cost crafts, crafting a mini holiday village, snow globes, garden gifts Crafts Kaboose has every odds and ends crafts you can think of..From very simple, to more advanced. Very fun! This is a great site that gets the kids involved in crafting for gifts. They have it divided up by age groups. - never go without your on-line coupon! - gather newspaper insert coupons, also check out your local store for workshops focus on the family has a great collection of books and media - Books are incredible gifts, buy two and meet again to share your thoughts - great resource for aprons, foam art, etc - look for mail out coupons

Of course - don't forget our own Shoreline bookstore - where proceeds from your purchase fund the Imagine Children's center campaign.

Relational Gift Fair 2008 - Through the Year Coupon Book

As we were collecting ideas for this year's fair our Preschool Director Melissa Rodriguez sent in the following story:

When I was little and my dad was still in college he made a coupon book for me and both of my sisters. This particular year my parents had no extra money to buy Christmas gifts but wanted to give us all something special. So my dad made these coupon books on quarter sheets of paper. The book had a cover page that was personalize with art and different things that were specifically for each one of his daughters. Each coupon was perforated with our sewing machine so they could tear out easy and help make the book look authentic. The coupons contained something special that we would like. Examples: 1. This coupon is good for one pair of pants. Coupon Good January 1st – 31st. 2. This coupon is good for staying up one hour past your bedtime on a school night. Coupon good February 1st - 28th 3. This coupon is good for a one special day out with just you and both your Mom and Dad. This coupon is good March 1st – March 31st.
By doing this my dad was able to buy some things that we needed and some that we wanted and spread it out over the year between all three children. I thought it was so special and remember my dad spending several hours locked in his room making them. I knew how much he loved each one of us and really took the time to think about what was important to his children. I don’t remember if I cashed in on all the coupons but that Christmas, 20 years later, still sticks out in my mind as one of my favorite……and it was only paper…..but it was way more than that.

Relational Gift Fair - Create Your Own Worksheet

Use these questions to create a table/worksheet for your gift giving:

Who will I be giving gifts to/who do I have relationships with? (names)

What is my relationship with them/ role in their lives? (family, co-worker, friend)

Based on that role, what gift can I give that no one else can?

Listening ques (As I listen carefully throughout the year, what core values or desires do I hear?)

What do I see when I look around their world? (colors, taste, collections, d├ęcor)

What could I give that reflects their values, or shows that I've been paying attention?

Relational Gift Fair 2008 - Ideas Children Can Make

Magnets – you can make a magnet out of just about anything!

Re-write your favorite children’s story with your own family as the main characters, have your child illustrate

Create artwork - frame

Cement Garden stones

Decorate the matte for a picture or embellish the frame

Handprint/Footprint kits

Heart-felt thank you letter

Brag book with pictures and notes from the children

Use fabric paint to create onsies or t-shirts

Homemade play-doh for little cousins

Foam art Christmas tree ornaments with their picture

Fleece tie blanket

Decorate a craft/cooking apron

A coupon for washing the family car or cleaning the house

Relational Gift Fair 2008 - Ideas for Children

Use fabric paint to create your own onsies or t-shirts

Paint/decorate letters that spell their name

Dress up box filled with boas and crowns, or bandanas and eye-patches!

Homemade play-doh

Framed acrostic poem with their name and characteristics

Season passes to family theme park

Camping supplies and a state park pass – set dates for outings!

Board games, card games – institute a family game night

DVD, popcorn and a coupon for family movie night

Equipment for a hobby they love and plans go out and do that activity
Example: baseball bat and tickets to the batting cages

Christmas tree ornaments with their picture

Fleece tie blanket

Subscription to a child-friendly magazine – children LOVE to get mail!

Build a tool box (or buy a regular tool box) fill with art/craft supplies or toy tools

Print unique iron-on transfers for t-shirts, personalized place mats

Family Ice Cream party supplies –cups, toppings, sprinkles

Karaoke machine with silly songs

Personalize a craft/cooking apron - add pre-paid art or cooking lessons

Ceramics – visit the Ceramics Lounge in Round Rock

Disposable Camera for capturing family moments

Through the year coupon book – pick up idea sheet from Melissa Rodriguez

Gardening gloves and seeds indicating you’ll plant things together

Relational Gift Fair 2008 - Ideas for Friends

Invitation to a Monday Night Football party make homemade pizzas

Movie passes with a babysitting coupon

Stamp a set of note cards

Homemade foot scrub / pedicure supplies

Homemade goodies

Make your own hot chocolate chai tea latte mix

Just add butter cookie batter mixes

Coffee shop gift card with a proposed date for after post-holiday coffee

Decorate small jars with office supplies

Crochet a scarf

Give a family gift: game night/movie night/ice cream treat collection

Adopt a family in need in your friend’s name

Make a “soundtrack” of music that you think sums up the life of a friend

Plan a monthly dinner with a group of friends

Buy 2 copies of a classic book and read it with a friend – check out half price books!

Give a coupon for helping a friend build that tool shed

Two coffee mugs and plans to share a special time together throughout the year

Coupon for a Meals-on-Wheels you will prepare and deliver

Yard work coupon for an elderly friend

Oil change for your friend who is a single parent

Bead your own jewelry with their favorite color combinations

Relational Gift Fair 2008 - Ideas for Older Children

Type up a collection of family favorite recipes – add a mixing bowl, mixer, spoons

Build/fill a hope chest for your daughter

Pass on a family heirloom; take the time to write up the history and meaning

Share a favorite book; include a special dedication message inside

Gather their sports team, dance recital or school pictures in one “through the years” album

Take a trip together instead of exchanging gifts; wrap up maps of the states you’ll visit

Buy a mini-Christmas tree and ornament organizer for all those ornaments they made in school over the years – you get the bonus of moving them out of your attic to your child’s apartment!

DVD/home video montage

A compilation CD of the your all-time favorite songs, or put them on a USB

Treasure box with childhood memories, school papers

Pass on a DVD of your favorite movie; add a popcorn popper, bowl, seasoning

Make a quilt out of their college t-shirt collection

Side by Side generational book, you as a child, me as a child through the years

Donation to a charity that is meaningful to both

Just add butter cookie batter mixes

A cooler filled with snacks and drinks

Jumper cables and a travel-sized first aid kit


Puzzle – there is nothing like a good old fashioned puzzle for bringing families together

Make your own hot chocolate or chai tea latte mix

Relational Gift Fair 2008 - Ideas for Parents/Grandparents

Re-write your favorite children’s story with your own family as the main characters

Frame a child’s artwork

Cement Garden stones

Frame a picture of a child or grandchild and let them decorate a matte for the picture or embellish the frame

Handprint/Footprint kits

Check out all the wonderful kits available at hobby stores

Photo Collage – Shutterfly

Scrapbook/Photo Calendar

Heart-felt thank you letter

Brag book with pictures and notes from the children

Give presence – plan a visit to grandparents/relatives, look over family photos, ask questions

Create a DVD of your home video and pictures

Sams, Walmart, Walgreens, Shutterfly…all have great things to create with your own pictures

Digital picture frame loaded with family pictures

Fruit of the month club – they’ll remember your gift throughout the year!

Flower of the month club

Gift in their name to their alma mater

Appointment for a mammogram and a manicure

Memory Box – filled with pictures and notes

Charitable gift – sleeping bag, water, goat, chickens check out our web-links resource page

Ceramics - Visit the Ceramics Lounge in Round Rock

Art canvas covered with photo collage

Record and interview with Grandparents and share with the whole family

Relational Gift Fair 2008 - Ideas for Couples

Steamy love poems – print and make a special book

Your own personal paraphrase of Song of Solomon – what is it you adore about your loved one?

Gift box alluding to a future themed date night
-mittens & scarf – for a downtown carriage ride
-new outfit – for a night on the town
-vintage travel bag – with plans for an overnight stay

Tickets to an event they would enjoy

Couples devotional book to read together

Frame a special certificate or diploma

The chick-flick DVD she would love with a promise to watch the whole movie

Sofa-snuggle coupon for the big game. No multi-tasking!

A years worth of love notes: one for each month or one for each week
could be placed in a deco-page box or covered tin

Date night compilation CD of your favorite music – Print your own CD label

Restore or enlarge an important picture

Two Journals: you each write in one for two months various things you see in each other, steps of growth they are taking, outstanding qualities, blind spots, things you adore….at the end of two months switch

Picnic basket– plan a picnic together even if it’s inside – check out World Market to fill your basket with unique treats

Locally made BBQ sauce, grilling tools, plans to invite new friends over for dinner

Pancake mix with real maple syrup and a breakfast in bed coupon

Basket of kitchen gadgets: decide you’ll spend more time cooking and creating together

Colorful post-it notes in each stocking; leave love notes in unexpected places

An invitation for a hike in a near-by state park

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Describing God Assignment

I have to give a shout out to a beautiful friend who sent me these readings. I'm so enjoying them Myles!

So today from Psalm 48
12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them to the next generation.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.

I love this invitation...Walk about...I've written about that before.

Walk about, go around, count, consider well, view...God is calling us to be intimately aquainted with his dwelling. To know him and his presence so that we can tell his story in detail. It is in knowing the details that we move from "this God" to "our God".

My oldest son has really grown as a writer this year. He has a wonderful teacher, Ms Demgen, who is challenging and encouraging him. There is one thing in particular he is learning to add to his assignments that was missing last year....adjectives. I simply adore adjectives...really I just like words in general. Just in case you're not sure what I'm talking about here is a definition: An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or quantifying words. I have to ask myself...what are my own personal adjectives for my can I describe, identify or even attempt to quantify his presence in my life? Can I tell the story with lots of detail? Or do I have only a casual, broad perspective? Ms Demgen loves detail! It is spelled out on her grading rubrics. For general get 1 point. For detail, get 5! Where am I on this Describing God Asssignment? Because....I want all 5 points! I need to spend more time just walking about...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cause You Came Near

We sang this song For All You've Done at Shoreline East on Saturday. While we were singing it, I realized that although it may sound like a song for the Easter season "you rose again on high" it's actually a great Christmas song :)

With these two lines in particular:
Cause You came near, from the everlasting
To the world we live, the Father's only Son

Jesus came NEAR. He left behind his deity, his everlasting, and came near. He became one of us and came to the world we live in. God with us. Emmanuel. No other god has done that.

We've been thinking a lot about all that Jesus gave when he came as a baby to the earth. Advent Conspiracy is changing how we view this holiday season. Thinking of the way that Jesus gave and wondering how we can follow his example in our giving. Jesus gave himself. He gave relationally. So, how can I give relationally? How can I give a gift that says...I know you? We share a connection. We share a passion for justice, making things right in this world. Or what can I give that will last more than just one season? What can I create with my own hands? I'm not sure how I'll do this year. But I hope that as time goes by I'll get better at this kind of giving. On Saturday I'll be hosting a relational giving idea fair at my local church. We are hoping to spark creativity and provide hands-on demonstrations for gifts that connect people. Maybe I'll learn something :)

Worship fully, Spend less, Give more and Love all.

Hide and Seek

We like to play hide and seek at our house. One of my boys is so filled with the anticipation of being found that he giggles a little too much. It’s pretty easy, but still great fun finding him because it usually involves lots of snuggling! My other child is scary. He finds a hiding place, doesn’t make a move, utters not a sound…I’m not sure he even breathes. It’s nuts. We’ve lived in the same house for 9 years now and really there are only so many available hiding places. But I have searched for this child until I get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach thinking…Oh my goodness...surely he did not go outside. At that point the gig is up! “Honey you are such a good hider, but mommy can’t find you, I give up”.…silence….”I’m sorry but the game is over please come out right now”….more silence. “If you don’t come out this instant you are going to have discipline!” UGH!

In our house the advantage goes to the kids – they can squeeze into places I wouldn’t even consider, but I think that truthfully, we grown ups are pretty good at hiding. Really, we come from a long line of hiders. Look back in Genesis. Adam and Eve said “we saw our nakedness and we hid ourselves”. There you go, it all started way back in the garden. We feel exposed, we see our vulnerability, we fear consequences, we think “I’ve never felt like this before” and so we hide. I have to tell you, I am quite an expert at this. When it comes to conflict – my preferred response is stuff and hide. So with that whole fight or flight mechanism…uh…I’m gonna go with FLIGHT.

We all choose to hide at times, is it really that bad? If I am really honest with myself then what kind of shelter, refuge, strong tower, am I? If I must hide then I need a better hiding place. I love Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” In that verse I see not only the shelter I need, but I also find hope in those songs of deliverance. I don’t think God intends for us to live our lives in hiding and ultimately there is freedom. I think that's found in verse 10, in trusting. God is trustworthy. He has proven this in His extravagant love! I know it sounds simple – Just trust God, Baby. Yeah right. Believe me, its hard work. Prov 3 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." Notice the author does not appeal to our logical rational choice – no, he appeals to the heart. It is only with our heart that we are able to trust. Our brains just don’t go there! We have a battle on our hands.

So now I’m wondering if maybe this flight mechanism is really OK, if instead of running away from whatever I fear - I run toward my God. No longer hiding from....but hiding in! In that hiding place we know God’s protection , and his great love for us. It’s there we find the faith to trust him AND the courage to venture out.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Reflections

For the past several years I've handed out a small slip of paper to each member of our Thanksgiving gathering and asked them to write a brief note of what they are thankful for. A few years ago I put all the pages together. I love this album. I thought I'd go back and reflect today on my thoughts over the years:

1999 I'm thankful to have a house-full of family and I'm so grateful to be expecting a new member of ours. (We revealed to our family at Thanksgiving that we were pregnant again)

2000 I'm thankful for my precious boys and that they are strong and healthy. I'm thankful for the nights that they allow me to sleep! I'm so thankful for my husband and that he loves his job AND that he is so crazy about me.

2001 I'm thankful for my precious family - we are so blesssed. I'm thankful for President Bush and for freedom and for this awesome country. I'm thankful for good friends, for Shoreline and for being able to sing again! (Patriotism was a theme for many of this year on the heels of 9-11)

2002 I am thankful for my precious family we are so blessed, I am overwhelmed. I am thankful to be a part of Shoreline praise and worship it gives life to me to lead people into Jesus' presence.

2003 I am so thankful for my cool hip husband and for my amazing boys who keep life exciting! I am thankful for creativity and my fun hobbies! I am also blessed to have the opportunity to sing and lead worship at Shoreline.

2004 I'm thankful for angels - Whew! for Baby Kashmark for just the right job with great people! For God's love, for my amazing helpful husband and for two boys who sing along! (This year the boys knocked down the living room ceiling fan with a football...there was glass EVERYWHERE but neither of them had even the tiniest scratch..I know there was divine intervention involved! My sister had just found out that she was pregnant, sadly Baby Aidan was stillborn several months later, it was a tremendous loss.)

2005 I'm thankful for new friends Rick and Leslie. For life, breath and new dreams. For my precious family and that we all love to worship. I'm thankful for the Lord's tenderness and comfort. (This was a hard year, but God brought some incredible people into our lives to help us on the journey)

2006 I'm thankful for music - for the way a song can lift my spirits or carry me through a tough day! I'm thankful for my marriage, for our great conversations , for my two awesome boys who bring so much joy to my life. I'm thankful for Kaitlyn and the joy she brings. (Of course, I am thankful for all my neices and nephews...but just a few days before Thanksgiving, God blessed my sister and her husband with this bundle of out of the ashes of loss.)

2007 I am thankful for the Shine conference and how God has used it in my life. Having the opportunity to share this year felt like coming full circle. I am in awe of the moon - the earth needs it - tides and all - but we didn't need it to be so beautiful. I'm so blessed by my 3 great guys!

2008 I am thankful for the love and grace of God, for the completed work of the Cross. I treasure all the wonderful memories I have of little boys growing up in this house. I'm so glad they still want us to snuggle every night! I'm grateful for a husband who never stops learning, for the books and podcasts he brings into our home. I'm learning to appreciate his love for change. I'm thankful to have passion for a cause, and that this holiday season we will Worship fully, Spend less, Give more, and Love all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What About the Homeless?

I just finished reading "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It is the beautiful story of two men, a modern-day slave and an international art dealer and how their world's collided. My dear Aunt Maria sent it to me because she knows we serve at a homeless outreach. Thanks Aunt Maria - I love any book that makes me cry! The wonderful thing is how the book has helped me be honest about my own journey.

We have the opportunity to interact with folks that find themselves on the streets several times a year at Shoreline East. I have to admit, to my own shame that the very first time I went, I was a mess. I wore a baseball cap and tied up all my hair so I wouldn't get head lice. I made everyone in the family shower immediately after getting home. But, I am slowly changing. The more I hear their stories and the more I reach out to touch them the less I judge and the more I love.

I would have never rolled down my window to give something to a guy on the street corner holding a sign. I was cynical and thought they just want money to buy alcohol. Maybe they do. But, then, I started to wonder, what if they recognize me from Shoreline East....the same girl who sang with them and prayed for them on Saturday can just turn her head and pretend she doesn't see them on Wednesday? What kind of God was she singing about anyway? Jesus help me! Now it's gradually getting harder to drive by without giving, I try to keep the van stocked with water bottles or granola bars.

My boys are in on this too - they keep their eyes out for folks to give to. They remember the granola bars when I don't. My husband blogged about this recently. They really are amazing. I still hover and watch them with my Momma eyes. I still don't feel safe. I have to watch the youngest most of all. He'll talk to anyone! One day he was off around the side of the building cracking jokes with a group of guys. As I stood there keeping watch, I had to wonder when was the last time they laughed with a child? I know he ministers to them more than I do.

I really don't want to be a person that can just turn away and walk right past a need. I want to be moved. I want to extend a hand and show a little kindness. Jesus said "This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice." The giving is not just about meeting the need. It's about me, about the softness of my heart. About being Christ-like, because Jesus extended his hands for me.

We go again November 29th and I'm so looking forward to it. I'm starting to see familiar faces. I hope they found a place to sleep tonight...its cold out. That makes me so sad. I think maybe we'll pick up a few blankets on our way downtown.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Be All Boy - A poem I wrote for my little risk-taker

My wish for you is a life of adventure
Passionate longing
Great achievement
So how can I keep holding on?
In my arms you are safe but today I’m letting go

Live, breathe deeply
Love, enjoy
Jump, climb, swing
Do what you do so well, be all boy!

I see a young man standing tall above the crowd
Wise with knowledge and experience
And yes, bearing a few scars
I might have saved you but I let you fly

Live breathe deeply
Love, learn
Jump, climb, swing
I give you wings

There is pain in letting go
But joy in knowing you’ll grow
To be the man God calls you to be
And one day, perhaps you’ll fly back to me and say

Live, breathe deeply
Love, soar
Thank you mom for these
I love my wings

Thursday, November 20, 2008

So Great

Just wanted to share a song that is stirring my heart:
So Great by Michael W Smith

Wow...does he have some longevity, or what? He looks younger now than he did back in the 80's!

I love the invitation in that first verse: "....everyone come and rest, you are safe in the arms of Jesus" beautiful. Jesus has a really big welcome mat!

I also love "rugged cross, sovereign grace, oh the blood of Jesus" I am thankful now more than ever before in my life for the completed work of the cross...for "It is finished."

And then the anthem of all ages: "You are good, you are faithful and your love endures forever"
That's our God!

I would have despaired, unless I believed to see his goodness in my life (Ps 27:13)
I can rest in his faithfulness
I am so humbled by his enduring love. I hope it washes over you as you listen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Like a Lamb

This morning while my youngest son and I were driving to school, I asked him to teach me one of his favorite songs from the up-coming Children's Christmas Drama. He sang it so tenderly it brought tears to my eyes:

You are the Shepherd, I am the sheep
So I will follow, wherever you lead
Jesus I come to you just as I am
Bowing before you just like a lamb

It is a sweet song of surrender. Of acceptance....just as I am. This boy loves the story of Jesus leaving the 99 to seek out that one little lost lamb. Something in him connects with the idea in a tangible way. Maybe because he's the youngest, he probably feels little...or even lost at times in his big brother's world. I can see that. How precious that he knows Jesus sees the value in "little" and "lost". He is a Good Shepherd!

It was a lovely moment. Exhale....

Then...he said, "Mom, sometimes I sing a different version, would you like to hear it?"


Hmmm... the 80's rock 'n' roll screamer re-mix is certainly interesting, but not quite as moving!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fall Just Blew In...

Really, it did. Wednesday morning we were in the park enjoying the warm sun. Wednesday evening as we left for church it was a completely different day. Cool. Brisk. Breezy!

The effect on my children is fascinating. It's like they have been awakened out of the oppressive heat of a summer dream. They are sprightly! Of course, this doesn't seem to lend itself to first time obedience. It is almost like they don't even hear me - they are so lively! Making up new words to songs they know. Playing silly games with each other. They are cracking me up!

This morning on our way to school. I said out loud "Is this my exit?" My oldest answered "Yes, unless you want to take us to Florida!" And off they went on a virtual trip. Visiting old friends, seeing the sights. When I suggested we couldn't just take off to Florida without Daddy, they rationalized that he could fly there and we'd meet him at the airport. Whoa...if one parent is driving and one parent is about we let MOMMY take the flight!

I was trying to initiate a conversation about what we'd like to DO for the holiday season. (Re-directing the "what we WANT" question) I had lots of great ideas: Burnet Bethlehem village, Zilker park, horse-drawn carriage rides.... They didn't bite. You won't believe what they came up with. I'm still shaking my head. They want some foster children. Foster children for Christmas. Where on earth did that come from?

I'm all about connecting relationally at the holidays BUT sadly, I'm not sure my heart is big enough to connect in this way. The cooler weather seems to have enlarged their hearts to a life wide open. I feel like the Grinch.

Can I even pose the question...."God, could you be asking this of us, is this You speaking through my children?" I just don't know.....but Lord, do blow that cool awakening breeze over me! Wisk away the fear that keeps the limits on my life. Rouse me to possiblity.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


We had a big ol' Texas thunderstorm last night. I would have slept right through it, but a precious little boy came to my bedside and woke me up. "I'm scared Momma, will you come snuggle with me?" Of course, I could never say no to an invitation like that. I climbed out of my bed and into his and just held him. I'm still a little bigger than him, so I wrapped him up in my arms and snuggled in close. The storm raged on. We watched the lightning flash outside his window together. I'm not sure I said anything, I was just near. That seemed to be enough. I stayed there with him for a while until his brother came and found us and asked for his own snuggle time. It feels good to be needed.

I remembered our sweet interaction this morning when we were singing Still. I feel so small today, and I embrace the idea of knowing there is a God who is bigger than me, than what I know or what I see. I need to feel his strong arms wrapped around me. The winds of change are blowing, and I'm not at all fond of change. Storms are raging - economic storms, political storms, relational storms. I need rest. I need to be still and know that He is God. Thankfully, I don't have to shake and wake Him to get his attention in the middle of my nights. He never sleeps. I can't stop the storms that roll through our neighborhood. For some reason, although I believe He COULD, God doesn't always stop the storms that roll through my life. Maybe he likes to hear my voice call out to him. Maybe he wants me to know that I need him, that I don't have to rely on myself alone. Whatever the case, he did promise to be with me. To be close. Finding rest in the middle of the storm. It seems unthinkable but that's exactly what I find when He is near.

Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Love is Blind

This summer I attended the 30th anniversary all-school reunion of the little Christian school I graduated from in Bismarck, North Dakota way back in 1987. It was fun to see familiar faces, especially those of a few precious teachers.

My history teacher Grael Gannon is actually a student now himself. He is attending grad school with plans for a doctorate. How inspiring is that?

My English teacher Donna Kennedy, who along with Mr Gannon was one of the founding members of the school, handed out copies of the reading list they argued over in the years that this vision was birthed. I will treasure that list! I really had no idea that just one year before the school opened its doors another start up school had been shut down and people arrested. I was a part of something ground-breaking and never knew it!

It was such an honor to visit with Mrs Kennedy again. I told her how I never forgot the book she assigned to me one year and that David bought me a vintage copy off ebay. The book is called The Little Minister and it is long out of print. It was written by J.M Barrie, known more for his other little story, Peter Pan. I quoted from the book to Mrs Kennedy one of my most treasured thoughts:

Love, it is said, is blind, but love is not blind. It is an extra eye, which shows us what is most worthy of regard. To see the best is to see most clearly, and it is the lover's privilege.

Those teachers at Shiloh Christian School saw the best in me, they loved me well. Oh, that reminds me of Mr Chapman, my precious science teacher, he warmed up my cold fingers out in the portables with his hands and his heart. His passing left a tangible gap at the reunion. I am grateful for those years. For the sheltering, for the sacrifice of my parents who paid taxes for public education AND added to that my private tuition. Thank you all!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fallen from Grace

Recently, there was another Christian failure in the headlines. It always grieves my heart so when this happens. This one was particularly hard because it involved a beautiful song, that chances are, is much less likely to be sung in light of this unfolding story. You see, the song-writer sold the song along with a story that was a lie. The song itself is wonderful, full of truth and hope and faith! I love it and I always felt like God was moving when we sang it! I'm not sure what our worship team has in mind but it will be very sad to see it fall from rotation.

My husband's recent post What about Grace? speaks to this situation in a profound way.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Top 10 Reasons

...why I'm GLAD that school is back in session:
10. I enjoy having a routine.
9. My children are learning...that thrills my heart.
8. It is so much easier to manage my part-time job.
7. We limit technology time during the school year so there is less television and less gaming.
6. I am better at planning and cooking meals for my family.
5. I feel more productive when we all get up and start our day early.
4. We are better about enforcing bedtime.
3. I am more likely to have coffee with a girlfriend.
2. My youngest son has to read aloud to us every day for homework, and he is very entertaining.

And the the number one reason why I'm glad school is back in session:
1. I get to spend Monday mornings alone with my husband - Hooray!

....why I'm SAD and/or MAD that school is back in session:
10. I have to get up early every day and I am not a morning person.
9. We drive 20 minutes in rush hour traffic to get to school.
8. The school parking lot is a nightmare.
7. I don't enjoy being the homework enforcer.
6. It's amazing how the boys appetite increases and they are constantly foraging!
5. No fun vacations during the school year.
4. The school parking lot is even worse at pick up time.
3. The boys don't know what to do with themselves without television and gaming and they usually don't appreciate the other options I suggest.
2. Did I mention how absolutely horrible the parking lot is?

And the number 1 reason why I'm sad school is back in session:
1. I just miss my boys!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

He's Still My Baby

I went to a baby shower this weekend and it was so lovely. The mother-to-be was radiant. It was hard not to stare at her sweet belly, full of life. For a moment, it all seemed so surreal. I feel like it was yesterday that I was the guest of honor at a baby shower and yet now, my boys are huge. And it's been a long time since I was gushing over a onesie.

Our home doesn't look like a day care any more, but I remember when it did. I also remember those silly older women who said things like "Don't close your eyes, before you know it they are heading off to kindergarten." I would smile at them and think, all I want right now is to close my eyes for one full night of sleep! Ha! Sadly I've realized, I AM one of those silly older women. I can't believe it. When did this happen to me? It's hard to explain, but I have this compelling urge to tell every new mother I see: "Hold that baby close to your chest....let them fall asleep in your arms....and don't close your eyes, because before you know'll be on the sidelines watching football practice! AHHHHH!"

Just last week my dear youngest son asked for a special bedtime: a mug of warm milk, a story and a lullaby. I'll admit it's a little strange singing a lullaby to this big ol' boy but as long as he keeps asking, I'm more than happy to keep singing. His 7 lbs 2 oz sure didn't last for long! Now, he weighs 60 lbs. When I hold him, my arms fall asleep before he does; but in my heart, he'll always be my baby.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Football and Fear

Football has completely overtaken our lives. Seriously. We practice for 2 hours three nights a week..with games every Saturday. I had heard this would happen and indeed it has. I say "we" have practice because we all do it. My oldest son is on the field, at least one parent is there watching and typically there is a little brother running around somewhere as well. This has been quite a journey already and we are only in our 4th week.

I'm not embellishing when I say that I clicked the "sign-up now" on-line registration button with tears in my eyes. I wouldn't say I'm an over-protective mother, but there certainly was some fear involved in allowing my first born to take the field in full pads. And like I said before - there really are warning labels on those pads about this "dangerous sport". Even though it was scary and I was emotional, it seemed like the right time. I knew I couldn't let my fear keep my son from this dream of his for another season.

That first week of practice swept him off his feet, literally. I don't think any of us had an idea of what it would require of him. The physical demand is greater than any other season he has played. I can only imagine what is all going on inside his head. I've had to completely abandon my fear and become his biggest cheerleader and motivator. I confess, I suck at this. Yesterday for instance, they were doing bear crawls up and down the field; which, by the way, is infested with fire ants and stickers. Part of this included a somersault with the helmet on. I was watching with great compassion, until Michael sat down on the field. Rrrrr. I wanted to yell at him: GET UP! But when one of the coaches did yell at him - my mommy radar was off the chart. How screwed up is that? Like, I can yell at him but you better not!

Saturday they had a scrimmage game. Michael walked off the field saying "I took a hit and I gave a hit and now I'm not so afraid." He survived. He is bruised (all over) but not hurt. He is afraid of getting hurt. There is a battle with fear. I've seen it on his face, heard it in his voice. And I am well acquainted with this emotion. I hear myself telling him "You gotta face your fear head on. Life takes risk. Your gonna have to fight for this." But I have to I hear myself? How many times has fear fenced me in? How often am I unwilling to do the hard work? When I see him sitting down on the field maybe I am really seeing all the times I've given up. And that's the reason something so strong comes over me. I really do want to scream "You can't quit! Don't give in....keep fighting for what you want. GET UP!" One of these nights I might not be able to hold it in.

This song is challenging me, stirring up desire. At times, I feel surrounded by things to fear, stuff to worry about, but I really don't want to live that way. I do so desperately wanna break free! I want to dream. I want to reap the harvest of work hard. I want to run! I want my boys to live in that same freedom. Maybe I can show them how, or maybe I can just watch and learn.

Life lessons from football. I hope I get it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Great Redeemer

This weekend at Shoreline East, we plan to introduce a new song by Tommy Walker called I Have A Hope. You can catch a clip of it here. It is such a happy song, with a fun kinda country groove. It makes me smile. But more than that, I love the message: "my life's not over, there's still hope for me, I have a future, because the God of heaven loves me."

My prayer is that our guests will catch a glimpse of the hope we've found in Christ and believe, even if it doesn't yet make sense in the middle of their circumstances, that there is hope for them as well! We have a GREAT REDEEMER! And he didn't pay the clearance rack sale price for our redemption. He paid an exorbitant cost and says we are worth it all. Every penny....every stripe upon his back, every labored breath. We are worth it all.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Ruth and Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer. Ruth, as a young woman, became a childless widow. She is a foreigner gathering leftovers to eek out an existence. But when Boaz enters the story, everything changes. Poverty is wiped away. Baskets that were empty are over-flowing. Bitterness is turned to joy. Perhaps because I am a mother, the most beautiful part of her story to me is that Ruth's barren womb is filled with life. LIFE! There was death - but now - there's life! A legacy of redemption we clearly see in Matthew 1. Everything that was lost is restored. Everything that was wrong is made right. That's what a redeemer does. That's what Christ did for me, and I'm believing that seeds of redemption will be planted on Saturday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dessert or Desert

A long time ago, somewhere that I don't even remember, I learned how to spell these two words.

Dessert is extra yummy, doubly delicious so it has 2 s's.
The desert is dry and barren so it only has one s.

Are you enjoying the sweetness of dessert in your life? or are you living in the longing of the desert?

Either way, Desert Song will be a cup of cool water to your faith. Be refreshed.

"All of my life, in every season, you are still God, I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship!"

Follow the link down to the right to watch the song story - a beautiful story of courage.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Back to the Clean Water Cause....

September is a special month for Charity:Water. It is the birthday month of both the organization and it's founder. Last year on their birthday they brought clean water to a hospital in Kenya...this year they have a vision for Ethiopia. Yes, in the whole country!

Is your birthday in September? Can you spare $33? Will you spread the word?

Watch THIS

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Am I Lutheran?

I was born Catholic. Invited Jesus into my heart during the Charismatic Renewal. Grew up in the Word of Faith movement. Went to Christian school in a Baptist church. Graduated from a Spirit-filled univerisity and now I think I might be Lutheran. How is this possible? Ask my Pastor! Last year he taught a series called Sola Gratia. Ever since then there is an undercurrent of this amazing grace in every service.

I knew about Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the doors of the church. I knew about his revolutionary views on justification by faith. But I hadn't yet heard about the 5 solas of the reformation:

Sola scriptura; Sola fide; Sola gratia; Solo Christo; Soli Deo gloria
or for those of us who prefer English:
By scripture alone, by faith alone, by grace alone, Christ alone, glory to God alone.

Did you notice that there is no room for me in the solas? Oooooo Sola Me-o! No - there is no Sola Lynn. Sola my strength. Sola my commitment. Sola my own goodness. Thank goodness! I mean, really? Isn't that really Good News?

The gospel of grace means I don't get what I really deserve AND I do get what I don't at all deserve. Un-deserved favor. Grace settles my striving. It takes me off the treadmill of performance. Ultimately, the good news of grace is the truth that brings freedom and rest to my soul.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Roaring River

The Gallatin River flows through Big Sky, Montana. Usually at about 1500 cfs. But thanks to late June snowfall it was around 4500 cfs during our stay. It was ROARING! For some bizarre reason, my oldest son - the cautious one - got it in his head that he wanted to go white water rafting. This, of course, made no sense to me. I suggested that the guys could do the raft trip while I have a spa day back at the resort. Did I mention that the water temperature was 44 degrees? That is hypothermia waiting to happen! I told my husband "I do NOT want to do this." He responded brilliantly: "Maybe it's our children's turn to challenge us to try something new" Great, thanks for that Babe....

We stopped by the rafting company just to check it out and get more information right when a previous group was returning. I stopped an older woman to ask her how the trip was, hoping it was terrifying and completely inappropriate for children. She said she had never had so much fun or laughed so hard in her whole life....then she added "and I don't even swim". I know that God planted her in my path. If this non-swimmer was willing to ride the rapids, I guess I oughta give it a try. We made a reservation for the late afternoon trip and rented wet suits and booties all around.

The toughest question I had to face was what do I do if one of my boys falls out. Because I know I'm going to want to jump in after them, but then there would be two people to rescue. Ugh! Thankfully I never had to make that decision. We all managed to stay in the boat. HA! That's funny, becuase for me, this was definitely a "stepping-out-of-the-boat" experience. Honestly, we had a BLAST! It was amazing to ride on the water as it carved it's way through the mountains.

Thanks to my dear boy who held on tight to his desire. Thanks to my husband for his insightful challenge. And thanks to a courageous lady in the locker-room who shared her experience with such exuberance! I'm so glad I didn't miss out. I can get a mani-pedi any day.

Psalm 46:1-4 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A New Song

I love to learn new songs for worship. Something fresh. A song that says what I've heard in my heart but never quite found a way to express. We've learned a powerful song recently called Unrestrained by Calvin Nowell. You can visit Calvin's Website and download the song for free! You gotta love that! Believe me, you need to hear this song. You'll love it!

I get excited when I see a song I love on the set list for a service. But, occasionally, we learn a song that ummmm, I just don't connect with. I've been singing in church for just a few years. And sometimes it can feel like we end up doing the same songs over and over and over again. I want something fresh, remember? This whole pattern was shaken in me a few years ago when I read The Fear of the Lord by John Bevere. John shared the verse in Isaiah 6:3 where in a vision Isaiah sees the throne room of heaven and God's angels crying out to each other "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." Listen to what John wrote: "These mighty, awesome angels are not bored or restless: they are not merely singing nice songs. They do not say, "God, I have been singing this song before your throne for millions of years...." They are not wondering, like me, when can we do a new song? John goes on..."These spectacular angels...are responding to what they see. Every moment...they glimpse another facet and a greater dimension of God's glory being revealed. Overwhelmed, they shout, "Holy, holy, holy!" Whoa....

What an inspiring worship the Lord....and continuously experience a new level of glory. Not fresh lyrics, or fresh melodies...but fresh glory. Let it be on earth, here in our worship, as it is in Heaven!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Something More

We shared a special moment as a family on our summer vacation. It was a somber moment but it was good. We visited the grave of my nephew Aidan Kashmark. We never got a chance to know Aidan, he was still born. This loss is probably the nearest to my heart. The most painful loss our extended family has had to face. My beautiful sister is the hero in this chapter of our story. Like the Proverbs 31:15 woman - she rose up in the darkest of darkness. She rose up with courage and stepped right into this chasm of pain. She attends a support group and has walked this road with many other families. All of them shouldering the weight of their mutual losses together. She still laughs, thanks to her wonderful husband who is always looking for new ways to make her laugh! She still cries. The unanswered questions of life have a way of making us hard...but her heart is soft. I'm so inspired by her. It is important to me that I remember Aidan, that we remember him. Death is a part of life. His death is a part of our lives. There is pain in remembering, but strangely there is also hope. This life on earth with all its darkness and suffering is not all there is. There is something more....Aidan lives in MORE.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Big and Small (7/20 Ministry time)

When Jesus walked the earth, thousands of people followed him. One day Jesus’ disciples came to him saying…”listen we are out here in the middle of nowhere ….you should really send these people home.” But Jesus couldn’t do that. He had compassion on the people and said” it’s a long journey, they are hungry, they might faint on the way - You feed them” In Mark 6 the disciples respond “It would take 8 months wages to buy that much food!” You know the story, Jesus miraculously fed all those people with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish
There were even leftovers! Can you imagine? That is a lot of food… a huge miracle!

In contrast, there is another story of mothers bringing their children to Jesus just because they wanted him to touch them. The disciples were like “Go away, Jesus is to busy for this, too important for this.” What was up with the disciples always trying to send the people away? Jesus said “Let the children come to me” and he took them in his arms and blessed them. Something so simple.

I share these two stories together because I want you to know that there is nothing to big for our God but also, there is nothing too small.

Maybe you are facing a really daunting problem, maybe its keeping you up at night, causing you some anxiety. Maybe like the disciples you don’t see a practical way for the situation to be resolved. It’s not too big for our JESUS!

Or maybe you have a much smaller need, not that big a deal. You could feel that there are so many other needs in the world and this little thing of mine would just be a distraction to God. If you believe that, you underestimate His love for you. He wants to take that small thing in his arms, touch it and bless it with his presence.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Sweet Aroma

2 Cor 2:14 "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. "

I'm not sure where that sweet aroma was today....I don't think it was manifest well through me. There was more of a cartoon-like putrid green cloud that followed me around. What happened?

It seems like Paul is sharing this thought on the heels of relationship repair. Forgiveness. Reconciliation of one who had brought pain to the family there in Corinth and to Paul himself. Paul instructs them to stop pouring on guilt and pour on the love!

There is great triumph in forgiveness.

Maybe I have more to forgive. There always seems to be more to let go of. Ah-ha. I let go, that frees me to follow where He leads and when I am no longer holding on to the past I can raise my hands in triumph. Something to ponder....

Paul goes on in verse 16 to ask "Who is adequate for these things?" Not me....I...stink.

But listen to this from chapter 3: "Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God."

We will be worshipping with our Shoreline East family on August 9th and this verse is my prayer for that service. That right there by the railroad tracks we would experience the sweet fragrance of knowing Jesus. I know I can't make that happen. But I believe He can.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Come To Me

This morning Pastor Rob shared this Bible passage from Matthew 11 in his message:

28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

I've been rolling it around in my mind all day. I love what it doesn't say. It doesn't say...Come to me, all you who were weary...or...don't come to me if you are still figure things out and then we can fellowship. NO! What it does say is so inviting. Come to me. I see Jesus waiting on the other end of that invitation. He knows that weariness is a guaranteed part of the human experience. He doesn't minimize the impact of our burdens. He simply says come to me. That is beautiful in itself but he says even more...he promises for your soul. Isn't that where we most need rest...that place where all our emotions, thoughts and concerns reside? Rest for your soul. I need that rest. And it comes from him. I can't get myself to that place without his working in me.

How may Christians have been beaten over the head by Philippians 4:6 Has it ever happened to you? You share a concern with someone and they respond "Oh, be anxious for nothing sister." They forget that is only a fragment of the sentence. There is a crucial conjunction. "But". What a great word. It is almost like "how". As if the writer is saying, I am going to tell you something that seems impossible but then I'm going to tell you how it is possible. In prayer we go to God...we heed Jesus' call to come to me. And there on the other side is peace..the rest for our soul we so desperately need.

It is freeing to know that Jesus understands that weariness, burdens, worry, anxiety....they all happen. Life on the planet is chuck full of things to worry about. I just signed my son up for tackle football. Did you know there were warning labels on football gear? I had no idea. It is causing me a bit of anxiety. Thankfully, I have a place to go with all my burdens, the inviting arms of one who loves and understands. One who calls me in the middle of my fear - Come To Me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jesus Singing

We were challenged this week to think of a Bible text where we see Jesus singing. The first thing I thought was surely there was singing at the Wedding of Cana. I can only guess that there was even more singing after Jesus fueled the party with good wine! But is is not recorded that Jesus was singing that night. Then I remembered a little phrase in the story of the Last Supper "when they had sung a hymn they went out to the mount of olives" Isn't that beautiful? We see Jesus and his disciples at the last meal they would share before his death - singing together.

But Leonard Sweet unveiled another time when Jesus raised his voice in song, a Psalm of David....and incredibly it was on the cross in his suffering. Jesus lifted up only the first line of the song, but those at the foot of the cross would have heard the entire refrain in their hearts and minds. You know how that works, how our minds have the ability to fill in the blanks. There is incredible agony in the first line of his song.....and since I am not a first century Jew familiar with singing the Psalms.....I have never before filled in blank that followed. Please take a minute to read Psalm 22. What do you hear? Unmistakeably, I hear hope! I also hear Jesus echoing the last line of the song in his final words on the cross because "he has done it" sounds a lot like "it is finished" to me. Isn't the Bible amazing?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

< > or =

I've always thought of myself as more of a left-brain sort of girl. After all, I have a degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry. Very left-brainy stuff. But I have this singer side too. Which gets me into so much more trouble. Because for some reason there seems to be an over sized bag of insecurity hanging over that shoulder. Unfortunately, it is not a very fashionable bag.

Musician types are known for being hyper-sensitive, neurotic, prima donna. Of course, I would never put myself in that category. But if I'm honest, what goes on inside my head some days would certainly qualify me. I usually keep a tight lid on all that mess!

I just realized today, that this whole thing starts in first grade. First Grade! I was sorting through my son's school papers from last year and saw a Comparison Worksheet. There it was in black and white. We learn this skill in first grade and it never stops does it? Less than, greater than or equal to:

< > or =

Why do I want to be greater than? Why do I most often feel less than? What is true about me? In a moment of vulnerability Don Moen, a pioneer of modern worship, expressed his own insecurities as a worship leader. It was surprising, a little sad and yet so beautiful. I heard him make this statement: God will not anoint who you want to be, He anoints who you are. And then he said this: You.....are enough.

Who am I to judge myself as less than? How does that make my creator feel? My self-measurement is not inspiring a grateful heart or delight in His design. Now, I see a new operator on the comparison sheet of my giftedness. No, it's not greater than. It's not equal to. But it's not less than either. Its ENOUGH.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Need a Lift?

Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

Are you singing a song of rejection, pain, or loss? Well, stop listening to country music! Ha!

God can put a new song in your heart and in your mouth.

I think sometimes he uses a song to lift us up out of the pits of life. So many times a song has lifted me. One in particular stands out in my memory today. Still Standing by Israel Houghton and Cindy Cruise Ratcliff (from the Alive in South Africa project)

If you need a lift today Click Here

"You gave me courage to believe, that all your goodness I would see, and if it had not been for you standing on my side, where would I be?

If not for your goodness, if not for your grace, I don't know where I would be today, If not for your kindness, I never could say I'm still standing. If not for your mercy, if not for your love, I most likely would have given up. If not for your favor I never could say I'm still standing. But by the grace of God.

To you I lift my offering, and set my heart on higher things, for it if had not been for you standing on my side, where would I be?"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Here I Am (07/27 ministry time)

When we sing “Here I am” to the Lord, we are not expressing our geographical location…but our heart…our willingness…our faith in him.

There was a young woman in the Bible who expressed this so beautifully.
In Luke 1:38 the angel Gabriel had just delivered an amazing message to Mary…God’s word for her life…..and Mary responds…”I am the Lord’s servant may it be to me as you have said”…she is saying: Here I am Lord…I surrender to your plan…I say yes to you… I believe your word.

The Angel told her “Nothing is impossible with God” some manuscripts say “The Word of God will never fail”. When God speaks things have to happen. What is God’s word in your situation?

-Are you concerned about your finances?
Philippians 4:19 says my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

-Maybe you are struggling with sickness and wondering about this life…how much longer will you be on the planet?
Psalm 91:16 says with long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.

-There is probably someone reading this who feels broken on the inside; you have a mess in your mind and emotions…
Ps 23:3 simply says “He restores my soul”…he fixes me on the inside.

These are just a few examples of what God has spoken to us…what do we do with his words over our life?

I love what Mary does …verse 39 says she hurries…she runs… to Elizabeth. She goes to someone who also believes and is experiencing God’s word come to pass in her life.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Walk with me

Come, walk with me. That is not to say- get up - you need some exercise. No. It is an invitation to intimacy. Hand in hand. Conversation. Connection. I find that its easier to open up your heart when you are walking. There is something about the movement that frees you. Being still can be so stiffling.

In Genesis 3 after the fall, we find Adam and Eve hiding because they heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening. You get the feeling that maybe this was their time to connect. The Message Bible says God was strolling. I love that. Picture someone strolling. Slowly, taking in the night breeze, enjoying the stars and anticipating companionship. Only for these three, those walks came to an end. Adam and Eve lost their home in the garden. I wonder if God continued to stroll there alone after that night.

Generations later, we learn that Enoch walked with God. God enjoyed their companionship so much that He just took him one day. Noah, also walked with God. His fellowship with the Almighty saved him and his whole family!

Walking is slow, and you have to walk for a long time to take much ground. Honestly, we don't walk that much these days. We fly. We drive. We run from place to place. Anyone else longing for a nice stroll in the cool of the evening?

Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Friday, July 18, 2008

charity : water

I've shamelessly added a global cause to my blog today.

Yesterday, my oldest son had a touch of something. A little flu bug, or something. No big deal. I actually said to him "I'm sorry you don't feel well this morning, but you have a strong healthy body and you'll feel better this afternoon." And he did.

While he was at home recovering, I went to the Y with my ipod. I listened to the story of Scott Harrison and how God rescued him from a self-indulgent life and planted in him a heart for the poor. 80% of the diseases facing these people are related to water. Mothers in these countries are not so cavalier about things like vomiting and diarrhea.

Anyway, I can't stop thinking about the fact that one in six people on our planet do not have clean water to drink. That 4,500 children died today due to water related diseases. I ordered a case of water.

I hope you'll check out All you have to do is click on the banner.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Capture My Heart

This weekend at Shoreline South, we have planned to sing Your Love Is Extravagant by Darrell Evans. I just love this song, it's been around for a while but it is such a beautiful, poetic love song to the Lord.

I was thinking about the last line "Capture my heart again" and I thought...gee I should find a scripture to share, surely there is a verse in the Bible that says that....somewhere...

Well, it was interesting. In my search for "capture" everything that came up was in the context of battle. The enemy was captured. The city was captured. The temple treasure was captured. Taken. Seized by force. Apprehended. Arrested.

I did find the phrase "capture my heart" in Song of Solomon 4 in the Message Bible: You've captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love! How beautiful your love, dear, dear friend....

But it is the voice of the Lover to the beloved. The voice of the Father to the child. God says to us "You've captured MY heart. I'm seized, overtaken, arrested by my love for you." Amazing...
Just like the song says, we see this extravagant love spread wide in the arms of Christ.

My heart is often complacent, easily distracted. Could it ever be completely captured?
Oh Jesus! Seize me. Arrest me. Overtake me.......capture this heart Lord!

Here I am, raising my white flag. I surrender.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Will Search For You

We introduced a new song for worship today, somehow Israel Houghton managed to intertwine some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible into one song. Its amazing!

Ps 139
17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand When I awake, I am still with You.

Jer 29
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

2 Cor 3
18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

I live to see Your face and be transformed!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's Hot in Texas!

Hello! It's only June and we are setting records here. 97, 98, 99, 100? When it gets that hot, does it really matter what the exact number is? And can you tell the difference between 98 and 99? Or 99 and 100? Hot is hot! One degree is actually just a slight shift, a small change.

There is a verse in 2 Corinthians 3:18 where Paul says we are being transformed from glory to glory to become more like Christ. Yes! I want to be more like Jesus....from glory to glory. Cool. But how does this transformation happen? How about a magical wave of some God-wand? Poof! You are like Jesus now! I like that idea! The amplified Bible says "from one degree of glory to another" Gee. From 97 to 98. Or from 71 to 72. Not so dramatic these one degree shifts.

I feel like God is telling me to be patient. He is patient. It seems he's after a slow and steady change. From one degree to another. I wonder if I even feel the significance of those changes in my life? Lord, help me to appreciate the slight shifts you are working in me! And remind me to look back over the seasons of my life. Winter to Spring.....Spring to Summer. You are transforming me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Today, Pastor Rob's message was on the importance of living an example for our children. They may hear our instructions but are often more impacted by what they see in our lives. He shared several verses that communicate this idea of hearing AND seeing. Like Acts 4:20 "For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

While I was listening, I thought of a few of the things I see in my husband's life:

Every time David mows our grass, he also mows our elderly neighbor's yard.
He loves to grill, and frequently the fajitas he is cooking up are a meal we deliver to another family in need.
David often adjusts his work schedule to be with the boys at school parties and field trips.
He rarely misses one of their games and is often on the sideline with video camera in hand.
Every night he snuggles with each boy and ends their day in prayer.
We have wild wrestling matches in the living room and when they were cowboys, Daddy was the livestock. He endured lots of carpet burned knees in those years!
David is a committed employee and very timely, he is never late unless he was waiting on us!
He serves the Austin community as we host events at Shoreline.
He takes the time to visit with and value our guests a Shoreline East.
He leads his volunteer staff with excellence and inspires people to embrace the responsibility and joy of serving.
He makes hospital visits and brings comfort and hope.
He is such a help at home, he changed lots of diapers, folds loads of laundry, washes dishes, grocery shops and even vacuums; which is a lot more fun with the new Kenmore that he researched and picked out!
He listens to books and podcasts on his ipod and loves learning.
He leads a small group in our home.
He visits other churches to help them with their technical systems and gives generously of his knowledge.
He cries least once a week when we all watch Extreme Home Makeover.
He knows how to really cut loose and have some fun!
He rose up with courage to slay a giant in his life and find freedom and lives with a passion to share that freedom with others.

This is their legacy. It's beautiful and growing more beautiful with each year. Our boys are blessed to hear lots of encouraging words. If they ever see something that doesn't line up with what they hear....they hear an apology. I am grateful for what they hear but even more grateful for what I see. I trust our boys see it too!

Happy Father's Day Honey! You are a great Daddy!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Climb the Mountain

Matt 14:22

With the crowd dispersed, he (Jesus) climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray.

How many times have I read this phrase 'Jesus climbed the mountain to pray" and thought, he went off alone to pray. Its a good example for us. But I don't think it was an accident that going off alone to pray involved a CLIMB. Have you been to Mt Bonnell lately? Or Enchanted Rock? Climbing a mountain requires effort, determination and hydration! When temperatures rise and life heats up that climb can be even more challenging.

I remember when I was pregnant with our first child, I thought, it's going to be great as a SAHM. I'll have so much time to read and study. (Echos of uncontrollable laughter from the mommy readers) Then I thought OK, so when both of my kiddos go off to school I will have daily opportunities to sit at my ideal quiet time spread: a journal, a handful of pre-sharpened pencils, a great book complete with study guide, at least two versions of the Bible and of course, a cup of coffee. Yum! Now I wonder if this pursuit will ever be less than the climb it seems to be. Some days I am more determined than others.

Thankfully, I'm learning to let go of the ideal. To reach for the glove box Bible when I'm waiting in the van. To say a simple "God I'm listening" when I take the boys to the pool. My boys are older now, and they both read so I've instituted a summer quiet time after lunch for all three of us. It's wonderful.

After a good climb, most of the time I just feel winded. Whew! But every once in a while there's a glimpse of something up there that takes my breath away, and it all seems completely effortless! So I keep climbing....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Who Prays Like This?

The Benediction of an old Priest, Larry Hines, as quoted by Brennan Manning:

May all your expectations be frustrated;
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered into nothingness
So that you may experience the poverty and powerlessness of a child...
And sing and dance in the great compassionate heart of God.

Can you imagine hearing a prayer like that today in a 21st century American church? No way! Would I dare to pray such a prayer?....probably not. But I do know that nothing throws me into God like brokenness.

What about the poverty and powerlessness of a child. When I first read that line I remembered Jesus' words in Matthew 18:3

...unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

I wondered if he could have been referring to this idea of powerlessness. Right smack dab in the middle of my wondering, my son walked over, put on my beaded flip flips and mocked me. I'm the only girl in family so this is not unusual. But he said in a high-pitch, sing-songy voice "I'm Lynn Cherry and I always say no to my children, well sometimes I say yes." Unbelievealbe! OK, so maybe my very own children do feel this poverty and powerlessness. This is the truth: we are at the pool with his friend. Playing for hours under the hot Texas sun. Obviously, I don't always say no! But I think he really does feel that way. Don't I feel that way about God sometimes? He always says no, well sometimes he says yes. Just like my decisions as a parent seem so unreasonable to my children...sometimes it feels like God is holding out on me.

I do say no. No, you can't have another Root Beer today. No, I'm not buying that sugar-filled, Red 40 dyed junk. No, we can't go to Disneyworld this afternoon. No technology until all your homework is done. I sound completely reasonable, don't I? Not in the ears of my child. I hope they'll remember by yeses. Sure, we can stop at the park on our way home. Yes, let's go to the pool today. You will eat ice cream tonight, we will all eat ice cream and I don't want to hear any fussing about it! :)

I want to sit and soak in all of God's yeses today. The sun on my face. The clouds floating by. The beautiful breeze in the trees. And two dripping wet boys who still want to sit next to me at the pool. I don't understand His nos but His yeses are lovely.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Clean Socks

Pastor Rob shared a beautiful message today on relationship. The main idea being that this Christian life is all about a love relationship with Jesus. We are always trying to dumb it down to a check list or formula. And when our current formula doesn't seem bring the pay off we are hungry for, we look for the next big thing.

One point that stayed with me is the idea that Jesus is not looking for a maid, he is looking for a bride. Truthfully, I feel better about myself as a wife and mother when my house is clean, dinner was made from scratch and everybody has clean socks. And I feel better about myself as a Christian when I'm reading my Bible, hosting a small group and scheduling worship time without an audience. All of that is good, it's GREAT...we all need clean socks! But.....I really don't want to be a maid. What my family wants, what Jesus longs for, and what I need is to live with passion. To engage my heart. Clean socks are nice....but a good toe-tickling is even better!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Why am I Blogging?

Good question. I've been thinking about it for a long time. I have an amazing friend who is an avid blogger. She inspires me. You can visit her here.

Last week, my husband was telling me about a podcast by Greg Boyd about living in the moment. Being more aware of God's presence. That same night when we were at the pool with the boys, David handed me his ipod "You've got to listen to this". I love my man! Something just clicked. God is speaking but I don't always notice or if I do, I forget too soon. The post-it notes become wallpaper. What can I do to entrench these thoughts or ideas or wonderings deeper into my psyche?

I remembered a brief email sent out a few weeks ago by Pastor Mike. He said he was challenged to start blogging again as a spiritual discipline. I had never thought of that before.

But, there you go - things that I take the time to write tend to stick a little longer.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wound Management

I love to read and when I can't get my hands on a book, just about anything will do. So, I read lots of labels, and the other day I read Mederma. Short, but thought provoking. One line stuck out "The LEADER in Scar Management" Scar management. That makes me sad. Not scar healing. Not even scar treatment. I have a whole collection of scars from a recent bicycle wreck. I wasn't planning on managing them.....I was hoping to vanish them! Surely there is another product whose label reads "The leader in the magical disappearance of scars" .....Kinda long.

So here is my Mederma theology as it applies, at least in my mind, to scars of the soul. Management is not the first step. The label clearly reads: Not intended for use on open wounds.

Step one - Wash. Oh the stinging!
Step two -Ward off infection, cover and protect.
Step three - Scab formation, hardening.
Step four - Realize I need help - call the Physician.
Step five - Follow Dr's orders. Care for wounds.
Step six - Management

According to the label, Mederma should be applied 3-4 times a day for 8 weeks on new scars, and 3-4 times a day for 3-6 months on existing scars. Three-four times a day. That is frequent care. There is a pretty short list of things that I choose to do 3-4 times a day. But a wound needs care. Lesson number two - the longer I wait to care for my wounds, the longer they take to heal.

Life leaves scars. Will they ever vanish completely? I doubt it. Jesus still has his.

I'm hoping there is a Step Seven....hmmm....what would that be? Peace? Blending-in? My scars say: I live life, I fall because I ride. I have carpet burns because I wrestle. I tackle....I make contact. But with proper care, hopefully my scars are not the first thing you see on me.

June Communion

It was Wednesday morning and I found myself waiting....just my minivan. So I pulled out my trusty glove box Bible and headed for Paul's epistles. Philippians 3 popped out...well...actually the whole page fell out...I read this amazing verse:

"For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh."

Tonight is our monthly all-worship communion service and with all my heart I want to "Worship by the Spirit!" Those three phrases rolled over and over in my mind: Worship by the Spirit....Glory in Jesus...No confidence in the flesh. Flesh is faulty. Confident? Insecure? I waiver.

So tonight I determine to put NO confidence in the flesh. In my ability OR inability. I will glory in Jesus and hopefully worship by the spirit will just flow....