Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not Lost in the Shuffle

Growing up as the fourth daughter in a family of five girls had its ups and downs. For the first 4 years, it was great! I was the baby and my older sisters were already off at school when I arrived.

I remember taking walks with my dad. Holding his hand always made me feel completely safe and content (though if you ask him, he was probably having to bribe me with Welch's Grape soda featuring the "Happy Days" characters for a moment of silence...I was quite chatty).

Mom helped her dad with the race horses and I got to tag along. We had a pony named Angel - who must have been named on opposite day. I probably could have become a trick rider just learning how to stay on her back as she purposefully scraped against the stall walls in attempts to brush me off. I enjoyed those time with Mom. She was so beautiful and strong. Effortlessly she cared for the horses - from feeding to training to mucking stalls - instilling in me a life-long love and respect for animals - all while her long, thick, dark auburn hair stayed in a loose bun atop her head. Amazing!

Something happened when I was four. Mom got pregnant. I was so excited! I prayed and prayed for twin baby brothers. My excitement began to wane as more and more attention was focused on the "new" baby and its/their arrival. By the time Mom went to the hospital, I was less than thrilled. Once I learned that my prayers had not been answered and I just got another sister, I was over it. Not only was my role as baby of the family being stolen, she wasn't even a boy. I wonder if, in my subconscious, I knew there really wouldn't be any comparison or competition between me and twin boys. I'd still be the baby girl. This new addition made me question for the first time who I was.

For years after, I struggled with my role and place in the family. It's not something I talked about - I doubt I could have verbalized it at the time. The roles of singer, athlete and brain were taken by my three older sisters, respectively. My role as the baby was taken by my younger sister. The only title I had was "the left-handed one", but at least I liked the distinction that I alone carried and shared with my mother.

The past few years have been quite tumultuous - which Webster defines as "marked by violent or overwhelming turbulence or upheaval" - for me. No part of my life - from personal to professional - has been left unscathed. I've lost friends, finances, furniture, and even my sense of self. I've questioned everything - from where I should to live and work to if my presence in those places even matters - feeling shipwrecked in a sea of overwhelming circumstance and lost in the shuffle of everyday existence.

But reading today in I Timothy 4:14, encouraged me to reflect and remember. In the Amplified it reads, "Do not neglect the gift which is in you [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit]..."

I asked the Lord to remind me of the gift He placed within me - that special inward endowment directly imparted to me by the Holy Spirit - and He's showing me.

I want to encourage you to do the same. We are each uniquely gifted, distinctively designed and incomparably crafted. I'm learning that only when I'm utilizing that gift within me am I truly able to find peace in the midst of the storms and not be lost in the shuffle.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

GOD is my helper?!

I read Psalm 121 yesterday morning & again this morning - marveling at the magnitude of its truths and remembering the reason for its memorization nearly a quarter century ago.

At the time, I was a freshman in high-school and I was cast as "The Mother Abbess" in our school production of "The Sound of Music". My assumption is that most people reading this are familiar with the musical - but if not - near the end, the von Trapp family executes their plan to escape the Nazi reign in Austria by trekking through the mountains. They perform at a festival and as they leave the stage, they meet The Mother Abbess who sends them off with the wisdom and comfort of Psalm 121:1,"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help" & then breaks forth into the beloved "Climb Ev'ry Mountain". It's quite an inspirational tearjerker.

"The Sound of Music" is one of my all-time favorite musicals. It is a classic and the storyline is as compelling today as it was in 1959. Belting out that finale song at the top of my lungs, with the orchestra swelling and as the choir of voices crescendo to the climactic "TILL YOU FIND YOUR DREAM!" is - honestly - utterly exhilarating! But I wonder whether Rodgers & Hammerstein ever read the remaining seven short verses of Psalm 121.

Take a look:My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield]. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Amplified)

Wow! Climbing every mountain till I find my dream looses its climactic impact a little when compared to God - Creator of the universe - being my helper, not allowing my feet to slip, never sleeping so He's always protecting me, guarding every area of my life that's not shielded, not allowing the sun or moon to hinder me, keeping me from all evil, making sure I stay alive and watching over me at all times - from now to forever!

I'll always love "The Sound of Music" and would love to reprise the role of "The Mother Abbess" but now I'm wondering how amazing a Rock Opera telling the story of David might be...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let's LIVE

Psalm 75:1
“We give thanks to You, O God, we praise and give thanks; that Your name is near Your wondrous works declare, and they who invoke your name rehearse Your wonders.” Amplified

As I was reading in Psalm this morning, I realized I had never paid much attention to this verse before. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t reading it from the Amplified. I love the Amplified. All the words really help me have a better understanding – they really…amplify it! Anyway, I was so taken by the last part of this verse I decided to go to and look at various other translations of the same verse from Psalm 75. The word “wonder” always catches my eye – along with its other forms and variations. This particular verse contains not just one, but two – “wondrous” and “wonders”…piquing my interest even further.

What I’m realizing from this particular verse is that God is near & His wondrous works confirm and declare that He is near. He is here. He IS. Those who give thanks and praise Him because of Who He is, tell about Him and His wonderful deeds. As we do so, we are invoking His name and – guess what – as we invoke, use His name (we’ve been given power and authority to do so through Jesus) we not only recount His miracles, we do them too!

I am determined to live the life God intended me to live – a supernatural life filled with His presence. Because it’s filled with His presence, signs, wonders and miracles will follow me. Not to bring attention or acclaim to myself – but to bring honor, glory and fame to Him and to draw those who are lost to Him.

Oh how He loves us! How He longs to see us living lives He purchased with His life to the utmost! There is always more with God. Always!

Acts 2:28 goes along with this. I pray it and am expectant for it to be a constant reality in my life. “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will enrapture me – diffusing my soul with joy – with and in Your presence.”

Here’s are some lyrics that came to me from a quite time of reflection about His presence:

I don’t ever want to leave Your presence
Where You are is where I always want to be
All my days I will sing of Your greatness
While I have breath I will not cease to give You praise

In Your presence there is joy beyond measure
In Your dwelling place is life forevermore
Oh the vastness of Your love for me is far beyond compare
Being anywhere without You there is more than I can bear
So I don’t ever want to leave Your presence

Here are some of the other translations of Psalm 75:1 I found particularly interesting:

“We thank You, God, we thank You – Your name is our favorite word; Your mighty works are all we talk about.” The Message

“God, we thank You; we thank You because You are near. We tell about the miracles You do.” New Century Version

“We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks. You are present, and Your miracles confirm that.” God’s Word Translation

“To You, O God, we give praise, to You we give praise: and those who give honor to Your name make clear Your works of power.” The Bible in Basic English

Come on, people, let's LIVE - SUPERNATURALLY so His Kingdom is advanced & lives are transformed!