All posts by admindeb

Worship Wednesday – I Am Yours, and You Are Mine – Oceans

2013 Aug. 14 Kari Jobe Concert 005

Thus says the Lord:  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God…” Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters. — Isaiah 43:1-2, 16

Last summer I was persuaded to attend a Kari Jobe concert. Live concerts don’t do for me these days what they did once upon a time (so much celebrity focus & the crowd issues). Also Kari Jobe was unknown to me (loved Revelation Song but through other artists).  The concert was billed as a “Night of Worship” which intrigued me. Also, going with a group of young women who all love Jesus sealed the deal.

The venue was a huge church with a cavernous worship space. When Kari and her band took the stage, the room went dark.  The stage was lit with strings of twinkle lights, bare bulb floor lights out front, and backed by a curtain-to-curtain panel on which video was projected.  Lyrics of each song were shown for us to truly be part of the worship. It was, in spite of all the gorgeousness of the artists, truly a night of worshipping God. Kari Jobe and band prayed, sang, and danced through each song, and we with them.

One song, in particular, touched my heart and still ministers to my spirit every time I hear or sing it. It is “Oceans” written by Matt Crocker, Joel Houston, and Salomon Ligthelm. In the night of worship with Kari Jobe, during this song, the stage backdrop was covered by a video of enormous, rolling and tumbling waves. As we sang the lyrics, the waves mesmerized us all. I felt my smallness before a GOD who created oceans. If it weren’t for the desire to praise Him through those lyrics, that visual of those powerful crashing waves would have silenced me in awe of the One so much bigger than His creation.

This praise song, Oceans, brings Isaiah 43 to mind – a faithful God calling out to an unfaithful people.

Lord, give us ears to hear You even amidst rolling waves and raging seas. Fill us with Your faithfulness.

“Oceans”

You call me out upon the waters the great unknown where feet may fail and there I find You in the mystery in oceans deep My faith will stand.

(Chorus) And I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves when oceans rise; my soul will rest in Your embrace for I am Yours and You are mine.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters; Your sovereign hand will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.

(Chorus) Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders; let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

Oceans Lyrics

Homemade video (start at 47 secs in) of Night of Worship at another venue (with ocean wave backdrop)

Hillsong Oceans video with Lyrics

Old Friends…Books of Mine

2014 May Blog 018

We’re packing to move house.  Now, I know wisdom is to purge as much as possible.  These books, that I can hold in my hand, and recognize both intellectually and emotionally, are like old friends.  Just looking at them on the shelf reminds me of the lessons God has taught me through them.  It’s like the joke about the jokes that old men tell over and over around the wood stove in a country store.  After years of telling the same jokes, (the joke goes), they just numbered them and call out the number of whatever joke they want to re-tell that day, and everyone chuckles, satisfied with the pleasure of remembering.  That’s how these books are to me…just seeing them on the bookcase by my bed each evening reminds me of the great truths their authors have taught me over the years.  Books are more and more electronically enjoyed these days, but I love to hold them in my hands, turn the pages, smell the paper…the older the better.  Years of wisdom. Real life. Truth.

Biographies & Autobiographies – the story of a life is so fascinating.  What were the influences? The relationships? The hopes and fears? The conflicts and challenges?  What did they learn that they could teach us – decades or centuries later? McCasland’s Oswald Chambers – Abandoned to God tells the story of the short, full life of the man who gave us My Utmost for His Highest. Most who know Chambers’ books know that he only wrote one, and his wife Biddy, a highly competent stenographer, compiled the 29 other books by Oswald Chambers. He spoke; she wrote. And we all have the rich fruit of both their labors.  A favorite autobiography of mine is C. S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy – The Shape of My Early Life. To hear Lewis’ voice in this volume brings to life all over again his wit (Screwtape Letters) and wisdom as he marks how God drew him to Himself. You’ll see other biographical books in the picture, but I’ll close this section with Noel Piper’s Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God. In her book, she gives the reader biographical sketches of 5 “ordinary” women who lived in different periods of the last 250 years. Ordinary women completely devoted to an extraordinary God. Their legacy includes us who are inspired to live like them…for Him.

Devotional Books – I mentioned Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, which has been a companion to the Bible for countless Christians. A favorite of mine as well.  Here, though, I want to mention four other devotionals.  Two are authored/compiled by women. Mrs. Charles E. (Lettie) Cowman wrote Streams in the Desert (you can find a daily excerpt from this at http://www.backtothebible.org/index.php/devotions/classics/charles_cowman.html). Mary Wilder Tileston gathered the writings of many great spiritual fathers and mothers of our past and presented them to the reader in Joy & Strength (her daily devotionals are also found at http://www.backtothebible.org/index.php/devotions/classics/mary_wilder_tileston.html). One of the Puritan fathers, William Gurnall, wrote the classic The Christian in Complete Armour which focuses on spiritual warfare. All these books have several pages marked with bits of paper for me to return to as needed.

Relationship Books – Anything you ever discover written by Tom Elliff will be rich in humor, wisdom, and love.  We’ve used his books on marriage/marriage preparation many times over, often having to replace them because they don’t always make it back home. Letters to Lovers and Unbreakable are two must-reads. Then there are books that have such a provocative subtitle that your horizon expands before you even make it to the first page.  Such a book is Gary Thomas’ Sacred Marriage – What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? So many great books in this section I’d love to captivate you with but will close with Gene Edwards’ A Tale of Three Kings. This book is “a study in brokenness” (as the subtitle reveals), illustrated dramatically by the intertwined lives of Saul, David, and Absalom.

One book in my collection of favorites you may have as well, but maybe not in Arabic.  It is The Bible. This book is the enduring Word of God. His Story. Over the last twenty years, during our time living in the Arab world, hearing the Word read or quoted in Arabic was a delight to my soul.  My reading it aloud in Arabic sounds like that of a new reader, a child both new to reading and to the language.  It’s all together a different experience to hear the Bible read by someone in his heart language who reads the same words, that opened life to me in English, but in Arabic. When I think of Heaven, it makes my heart glad to think that we might understand God’s Word in all languages. I won’t mind if there are no books there…but for me, here, they are a glimpse of Heaven…these stories of the saints, this great “Cloud of Witnesses”, spurring us on…to know God and to make Him known; to love Him and our neighbors as ourselves.

For now, for our moving day, these books go into a box marked “Open Early”.

What books are your old friends? I’d love to meet them.

Mothering…Through the Seasons…Eyes on God & His on Me

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I married later in life.  Mother’s Day was always about my Mom.  Then we had children – a daughter, a son, and a second son who came home to us from across the globe.  So grateful for a gentle and encouraging mom.  And I can number other mothers in my life who God used to guide me through seasons of growing up which did not come instinctually to me…from the earliest years of our children’s lives right into the present and the strange and wonderful days of “parenting” adults.

Every season…every single one…has its unique joys and struggles.  When our children were in their school years, we were in the Middle East managing a cultural exchange program for American students.  The dilemma for some of those who were married was how to be immersed in the culture as well as properly caring for the needs of their little ones.  Language learning to proficiency became a daily scourge in the lives of these young mothers.  In anticipation that they would return to the Middle East later to some job when their children were older, they were hopeful that they could learn the language then…in that sometime later reality.

Truth be told, I was living that reality with children a bit older.  The challenges were still there, and tackling language every day was still a stretching experience in the midst of family and work life and the responsibilities and distractions.

Mothering is an extraordinary opportunity, and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss it in the throes of work-life or perceived expectations of others.  Wisdom came to me through other mothers – women who somehow were able to mother “in the present” and balance the rest of life within that.  It was hard for me to succeed in this, but it was a daily quest, and sometimes I got it right.

One great piece of advice (there were lots of those; this is one) was to remember my goal wasn’t to be “the best mom I could possibly be” (which was heavy with my own and others’ expectations) but to be “the mom God wanted me to be”.  This latter goal always had me yoked with God Himself and was full of grace.  Amazing.   Wherever you are in this journey of mothering, go with God.  He will help you focus on His purposes – for you, your family, and the world.

If you have no children or your children are far from you, I hope you can find joy in the children near to you.  We can learn a lot from each other.

I leave you with @debsfaves – sweet finds online that went up this week for Mother’s Day.  And, I also leave you with two old worship songs of Twila Paris’ – they were already somewhat old when I had little ones, but they nourished my heart, alone in that kitchen, (my newborn finally asleep)…just God & me & Twila.  And my arms go up…in praise…without thinking of anything else…but the Lover of my soul.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa-7jtvi7J4 – Salute to Moms – Mighty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whahbpRd18w – Surprised by Motherhood

http://www.djiboutijones.com/2014/05/the-grossness-of-motherhood/

http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/2014/05/10/about-mothers-day-aka-holidays-out-of-control/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRNFf3ykQvM – The Warrior is a Child with lyrics

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=essnbl7pbAk – lyrics video for Do I Trust You?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pzu-jWpcdw – live performance with Warrior and Do I Trust You?

3 Faces of Temptation – Out of the Desert

2005 March -- Trip to Desert 459Tempted

For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. – 1 John 2:16

Jesus was tempted but he did not yield.  The stakes were huge.  In that 40-day desert experience (Matthew 4:1-11),  he was confronted by the three torments of the human soul – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  In the heat of the desert, Jesus forged his resolve to wholly obey his Father.  It’s in the wilderness that a Savior is revealed.

So when I’m tempted, what does that look like?

The lust of the flesh temptation too often comes to me in the form of food – lots of it and often.  I could list foods like a young single woman could list the things she wants in a husband.  A love affair with food is a pretty shallow experience.  These days you can get away with calling yourself a foodie provided you’re rail-thin.  For me, that has never worked out.  There are other lusts of the flesh I struggle with like wanting time to be my own…wanting to be able to while away the hours on my own interests, or hitting the snooze alarm umpteen times, or just dozing in front of rerun after rerun.  It’s tempting to satisfy my flesh, but there’s no purpose in that…nothing lasting.  I’m thankful that Jesus didn’t turn the rocks into bread, even though he was genuinely, earnestly hungry.  In a manner of moments, once he held off Satan’s tempting, angels ministered to his needs.  God is also right there with me in the tempting…I can choose a  better path.

The lust of the eyes temptation, for me, focuses on what I’d like but don’t have – like money to travel the world over.  It’s wanting what I perceive others have – like closer friendships…or a maintenance-free thinner body…or a family that wants to hang out all the time.  It isn’t really all about me, but the lust of the eyes seems to call to the stuff that I think I deserve…should have…whatever.  Such an insatiable thing, self!  Jesus didn’t believe Satan when he tempted Jesus to just bow down to him and all on earth would be his.  There’s wisdom in that for us.  Having all the things or relationships I want, and the focus be on me, will only cause more hunger….more…more…more…  When we bow down to self, it’s vain worship, and we are never satisfied.

The pride of life temptation is thinking of ourselves as higher than we are.  Eve believed the Serpent (Genesis 3:1-5) when he told her she would not die if she ate the fruit forbidden to her by God.  In fact, Satan told her she would become like God.  Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself down to his death, and watch the angels come to his rescue.  Jesus was quick to tell Satan not to tempt God.  When our ambition or even our desire to want to be useful to God tempts us to despise our current situation, this is pride of life.  God is sovereign and He will work in us in whatever our station is at the time.  In the Kingdom of Heaven there are no second-rate assignments, no step-children.

We are going to be tempted…but we don’t have to yield…unless we yield to God instead, where there is true satisfaction of whatever longing we may have.  He is enough.

What temptations take you into the desert?  How does God bring you out?

My Mom…and the Writing She Inspired

Debbie, Mom, & Dad

My Mom died, and it wasn’t even 5 minutes until we had questions that only she could answer.  It’s over a decade since she died, and I miss her every day.  What I also miss is all the knowing she had…all the history, the memories, the funny and sad stories.  She lived an incredible life, triumphant through extreme poverty, resilient after failure and loss, tenacious in making a home for us all.  She was a lioness with cubs.  Sometimes we come too late to the realization that the generations before had great insight.  I learned so much from my Mom, but could have learned more.  Now, my memories of her, and the stories she told, and the wisdom she imparted are a precious treasure to me.  You will hear her voice in mine.

Mom was born at the time of the Great Depression.  She was excruciatingly poor growing up.  Yet, she pushed through her circumstances.  I want to write about her.  And I want to write about so many things…God, people, culture, beauty, family, lessons learned and lessons still to be learned.

All my adult life, people have told me “You should write a book.”  Maybe because of our travels, or maybe because of something else…I’m not really quite sure.  It’s my Mom who should have written, but she would never.  She wouldn’t think she had anything to say that should be memorialized in print.  I am of a different generation.  I am writing…because of her…and for me…and hopefully for another generation.  We’ll see.