Worship Wednesday – It’s Time to Own Your Belovedness – Sarah Kroger

Photo Credit: Henri Nouwen, Quotefancy

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:1-2

As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”Romans 9:25

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:37-39

From where do we derive our identity? The parts of us that we consider strengths or even weaknesses? The opinions of others? Our accomplishments or place in society? Our performance at work or play or church? The number of likes we have on a social media platform or reads of our blog?

What if we moved through every one of our days remembering how the Lord of the universe views us?

We are His beloved. Not out of our own worthiness from a human standpoint, but because of who He is. He loved us while we were still deep in sin (Romans 5:8). When we confronted our sin and asked His forgiveness, God not only forgave us but also made us heirs with Christ, adopted into His family forever (Romans 8:17).

What Is the Meaning of Beloved in the Bible? – Got Questions

Beloved – Biblical Definition – Dwight M. Pratt

Having that immeasurable love from God, how do we get tripped up by comparisons – fretting over how others see us (or even how we see ourselves in comparison to others)?

Pride. Be it self-congratulatory or self-deprecating. It’s still pride. Given how God has said Himself how He loves us, freely and unconditionally, we put such a burden on ourselves with this sin. How do we rid of it (sometimes daily, sometimes moment-by-moment)? By faith. Faith kills pride.

“All self-exaltation [or self-demeaning, I might add] is a re-crucifixion of Christ because he died to kill pride. Every boast, therefore, mocks the suffering of Jesus. And I end on this: every humble attitude, every humble act of faith, glorifies the grace of God in Christ.”John Piper

Out of our faith in the work of Jesus on the cross for me, we can die to pride. The fruit of that is humility – that work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that allows us to receive and rest in the transcendent love of God.

Writer/theologian Tim Keller, in his small book The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness talks about gospel-humility. Tremendously helpful and freeing:

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity makes a brilliant observation about gospel-humility at the very end of his chapter on pride. If we were to meet a truly humble person, Lewis says, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble...The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less. Gospel-humility is not needing to think about myself. Not needing to connect things with myself. It is an end to thoughts such as, ‘I’m in this room with these people, does that make me look good? Do I want to be here?’ True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.”Tim Keller

Photo Credit: QuoteFancy, C. S. Lewis

This has been on my heart daily this week in wrestling down thoughts of inadequacy and insignificance. Then God gave me a song on the radio: Belovedness by singer/songwriter Sarah Kroger. Slayed by His love. All over again.

Kroger beautifully writes about this song here. She says:

“Five years ago, I was introduced to a book called Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen that changed my life. The book revolves around the idea that every day we’re surrounded by voices. The voices of society, negativity, lies we’ve believed, our peers, etc. What would it look like if we could silence the noise and listen to the voice, that at the center of our being, calls us “beloved”? While reading the book, I realized that instead of owning and living out of my belovedness, I was only owning my mistakes. My journey is far from over, but I work every day to own the truth of who I am.

Our identity isn’t based on our accomplishments or failings, what people think about us, or how we view ourselves in the mirror. Our identity is that we are the beloved children of a relentless Father who loves us unconditionally. 

I’m reminded of a stained-glass window in a chapel in which I used to spend a lot of time. The image was of Jesus holding a sheep close to his chest. This is the goal of a Christian. To be so close to the heart of the Shepherd that you hear His heartbeat and can conform your life to that rhythm. When you do this, you’ll go into each day knowing you are loved, not looking for ways to earn it. This is freedom.”Sarah Kroger

[A stained glass window in Movement Church, Richmond, Virginia]

God’s love for us is utterly without any merit of our own. We receive His love by remembering. Who He is and who we are in Him and alongside our brothers and sisters. Putting self in its proper place. Crucified.

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Francis of Assisi

Dave and I are so privileged right now to be in a season of community with a group of young people (20s-30s). I can’t even put into words what it’s like being in the same room with them. They are welcoming to one another as it must have been with Jesus when He sat at tables with publicans and sinners (of whom we once were). Not that these precious ones are perfect, but that isn’t the point, is it? You are just wrapped in the delight of Jesus in this place…in this space of the week with them. There is a winsomeness, a joy in discovering, a deep affection, a celebration of each one who enters the room. God has given us other communities where we’ve had this experience, and I’m grateful for each one. I hope you have such community. If not, seek it out. God doesn’t mean for us to be isolated, left to our own tough thoughts. He means to pour His love on us and He chooses to do some of that through the church.

Worship with me…and believe true what He says about Himself and what He says about you.

You’ve owned your fear and all your self-loathing
You’ve owned the voices inside of your head
You’ve owned the shame and reproach of your failure
It’s time to own your belovedness

You’ve owned your past and how it’s defined you
You’ve owned everything everybody else says
It’s time to hear what your Father has spoken
It’s time to own your belovedness

He says you’re mine, I smiled when I made you
I find you beautiful in every way
My love for you is fierce and unending
I’ll come to find you, whatever it takes
My beloved

You’ve owned the mess you see in the mirror
You’ve owned the lies that you’re just not enough
You’ve been so blinded by all you’re comparing
It’s time to own your belovedness

He says you’re mine, I smiled when I made you
I find you beautiful in every way
My love for you is fierce and unending
I’ll come to find you, whatever it takes
My beloved

You are completely loved and fully known
Beloved, believe He died to make your heart His home

And He says you’re mine, I smiled when I made you
I find you beautiful in every way
My love for you is fierce and unending
I’ll come to find you, whatever it takes
He says you’re mine, I smiled when I made you
I find you beautiful in every way
My love for you is fierce and unending
I’ll come to find you, whatever it takes
My beloved
It’s time to own your belovedness*

Lyrics to Your Belovedness – Songwriters: Michael Farren, Tony Wood, Sarah Kroger, & Ben Shive

YouTube Video – Light: Behind the Songs – Belovedness with Sarah Kroger

Beloved Meaning in the Bible

You Are God’s Beloved – Bishop Darlingston Johnson

10 Beautiful Truths God Says About You – Jeannie Myers

Photo Credit: Brennan Manning, Mercy Ministries
Photo Credit: Brennan Manning, Cheryl Cope

Worship Wednesday – Scars in Heaven – Casting Crowns

Photo Credit: Providence Ministries

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came [after He had risen from the dead]. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”John 20:24-29

When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his horrific death on a Roman cross, he was alive again. Not a ghost but in a glorified body. Jesus resurrected. Never to die again. As he confirmed his identify to Thomas, the struggling to believe disciple, he, knowing all things, offered the proof asked for.

Wound marks. From the nails hammered into his hands and the spear thrust in his side on the day he died for us. God the Father must have known these marks would form into necessary scars…for at least one to believe. The scars of a savior…the Savior.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That’s us.

Yet we benefit from that brother Thomas who, in his grief, still needed a sign that Jesus was alive again.

We all bear scars of some sort or another. Scars of abuse or loss. Disappointment or betrayal. Scars from hating and being hated. Unforgiveness or caring too little. Even scars of victory, as were the scars of Jesus. Wounds we received, even standing, as the Lord fought our battles for us…and won. Jesus has such scars of victory.

What Does It Mean that God Fights our Battles? – Catiana NK

No Scars in Heaven? – Joni & Friends

“By His stripes, we are healed.”1 Peter 2:24

A friend of mine died this week. Becky Cole. We have known each other for over 35 years. We met in church in East Tennessee. I was pregnant with my first born, married to a good and Godly man, financially stable…in a really good place. She was pregnant with her first and would be only child. A son. She was a single mom who took herself out of an abusive home and away from a man who she feared would abuse her child as well. She had a heart full of love for that little boy now grown up into a gentle and accomplished man who made her proud.

She also loved Jesus which was clearly the biggest steadying force in her turbulent life.

We moved away from Tennessee in 1994 – almost 30 years ago, but we never lost touch. The phone would ring, and we would start up right where we left off. Did we always agree on things? Absolutely not. Still, I admired her tenacity so much. If something needed to be made right, she would not give up on it. She was a fighter. An activist. An advocate.

Did she have scars? Absolutely! She just wasn’t afraid of a fight.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

If there was ever a Mama Bear, it was Becky. Much of her mid-life she was what some might label a welfare mom, but as happens with stereotypes, she was so much larger than one who sought aid from the state. So much more.

She fought for her son to have the best life she could give him. Plagued with health problems, she wasn’t always able to work. That did not stop her from being deeply concerned and involved with her larger community, not just for her sake but for those around her. She tried to make life better; tried to help people with power and authority to do better. I know I was better knowing her…being her friend.

Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies – Hillary Morgan Ferrer

As she grew older, her health issues worsened, as happens in life. Her son became successful with work and married the love of his life. Becky kept fighting to make the world a better place…for her son…and she kept fighting to live…until this week when the fighting came to an end.

I was actually shocked when her son told me she had died. She had been at Duke University under evaluation for one more surgery that would have hopefully given her more time and more quality of life… but she just wasn’t a good candidate, they said. She was too far spent.

We talked before she traveled to Duke. She was hopeful. I committed to pray. We wouldn’t talk again. She texted me that the surgery wasn’t going to happen and she would be placed on hospice care. That was hard to hear about someone as full of life as Becky, although I knew she had been so sick. I called and texted through the last days of her life…she has never not picked up or answered a text…until now.

For Becky, the fighting was over. She would go Home. Once that was settled, I wonder what it must have been like for her to “lay down her weapons” for the last time. Thank You, Jesus.

All the week while she was at Duke, the Casting Crowns song “Scars in Heaven” seems to have been on auto-repeat on my Christian radio station. Listening to the beautiful truth of this song, I thought of Becky…and prayed.

“I know the road you walked was anything but easy
You picked up your share of scars along the way
Oh, but now you’re standing in the sun, you’ve fought your fight and your race is run
The pain is all a million miles away.”

Worship with me.

If I had only known the last time would be the last time
I would’ve put off all the things I had to do
I would’ve stayed a little longer, held on a little tighter
Now what I’d give for one more day with you
‘Cause there’s a wound here in my heart where something’s missing
And they tell me that it’s gonna heal with time
But I know you’re in a place where all your wounds have been erased
And knowing yours are healed is healing mine

The only scars in Heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in Heaven are on the hands that hold you now

I know the road you walked was anything but easy
You picked up your share of scars along the way
Oh, but now you’re standing in the sun, you’ve fought your fight and your race is run
The pain is all a million miles away

The only scars in Heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in Heaven, yeah, are on the hands that hold you now

Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, for the hands that hold you now

There’s not a day goes by that I don’t see you
You live on in all the better parts of me
Until I’m standing with you in the sun, I’ll fight this fight and this race I’ll run
Until I finally see what you can see, oh-oh

The only scars in Heaven, they won’t belong to me and you
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new
And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down
Is that the only scars in Heaven are on the hands that hold you now.

*Lyrics to Only Scars in Heaven – Songwriters: John Mark Hall, Matthew Joseph West

YouTube Video – Casting Crowns – Scars in Heaven (Story Behind the Song)

Significance in Your Scars – Keela Craft Ambrose

Beauty Marks: How God Turns Our Scars Into Something Beautiful – Linda Barrick

The Story Behind Your Scars – God’s Grace Revealed – Dana Rongione

Photo Credit: Pinterest, Henry van Dyke

Monday Morning Moment – What If Every Word We Say Never Ends or Fades Away – Malcolm Guite

Photo Credit: Schools Week

What if?! English poet and Anglican priest Malcolm Guite wrote a grand poem with this question posed (poem posted below). “What if every word we say never ends or fades away?” We have all heard and probably rejected the singsong “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words shall never hurt us.” Forgiving the words (or asking forgiveness for hurtful words spoken) may right some of the wrong, but the forgetting is the challenge.

I started thinking about this topic when scrolling through Instagram and seeing the post below by @MomsofBigs.

Photo Credit: Instagram, Moms of Bigs/Teens and 20s

What would a hashtag be for things I regularly said (and still say) to my children?

  • #IllLoveYouForever
  • #GodLovesYouMore
  • #AudienceofOne
  • #BeCareful
  • #KeepShortAccounts
  • #TextMeWhenYouGetHome

So regular affirming things are cool to remember, but we also have to contend with those things we have said in anger or disappointment. Worth mulling over in hopes that we can remove some of that injury.

Words form the thread on which we string our experiences – Aldous Huxley

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Fortunately the things we speak to those we love, those we work with, or strangers we meet (or even in processing our experience of these with someone else) – these things we speak aren’t inscribed on our skin. What if the experience of those words though never fade away?

Photo Credit: The Power of Words, Stephen Gallup

Power of Words – Jan Terkelsen

We have an endless supply of words and how we choose to use them. I say we choose wisely the words we use – in our thoughts as well as in our speech – choosing life-affirming words vs. person-diminishing words. Using words we would have no problem having tattooed on our skin forever.

Closing with this gorgeous poem of Guite’s. Read it aloud. Add a beat. Definitely a spoken word piece.

What If– A poem by Malcolm Guite

What if every word we say
Never ends or fades away,
Gathers volume gathers weigh,
Drums and dins us with dismay
Surges on some dreadful day
When we cannot get away
Whelms us till we drown?

What if not a word is lost,
What if every word we cast
Cruel, cunning, cold, accurst,
Every word we cut and paste
Echoes to us from the past
Fares and finds us first and last
Haunts and hunts us down?

What if every murmuration,
Every otiose oration
Every oath and imprecation,
Insidious insinuation,
Every blogger’s aberration,
Every facebook fabrication
Every twittered titivation,
Unexamined asservation
Idiotic iteration,
Every facile explanation,
Drags us to the ground?

What if each polite evasion
Every word of defamation,
Insults made by implication,
Querulous prevarication,
Compromise in convocation,
Propaganda for the nation
False or flattering peruasion,
Blackmail and manipulation
Simulated desparation
Grows to such reverberation
That it shakes our own foundation,
Shakes and brings us down?

Better that some words be lost,
Better that they should not last,
Tongues of fire and violence.
O Word through whom the world is blessed,
Word in whom all words are graced,
Do not bring us to the test,
Give our clamant voices rest,
And the rest is silence. – What If– by Malcolm Guite

We can use our words wisely. Right? What if…we did?

[I have often written about words. Here. They matter and don’t really go away.]

The Eternal Significance of a Single Little Word – Tim Challies

A Family Lexicon – Words that Grow Up with Us – Deb Mills

YouTube Video – 10 Things All Moms Say

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar’s Latest, St. Patrick’s Day, 14-year-olds & Adulting, Soundtracks of Our Lives, and Wonder

1) Beyond the Guitar’s Latest – If you’ve been on here before, you know classical guitarist Nathan Mills (Beyond the Guitar on YouTube). With nothing more needed, here are his latest videos.

YouTube Video – The Last of Us (HBO) Main Theme – Atmospheric Guitar Cover

YouTube Video – OCTOPATH TRAVELER 2 Main Theme – Classical Guitar Cover

2) St. Patrick’s Day – Big day around here although I’m not sure our town is so very Irish. Richmond is big on craft beer so maybe that’s a thing with St. Patty’s Day. I love celebrating because of the patron saint Patrick, all the green decor against the gray of winter, and corned beef and cabbage.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Does being Scottish make a difference in how much I love this holiday?

Worship Wednesday – St. Patrick’s Day – Be Thou My Vision – Deb Mills

3) 14-year-olds & Adulting – When do we begin preparing our children for adulthood? Is it middle school or earlier? Definitely waiting until high school will keep us to often in catch-up mode. Still it is never too late hopefully. My favorite book on this topic is Escaping the Endless Adolescence by Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen.

Instead of asking: “What will keep our teens out of trouble?” “What will make them happy?” or “What will get them into college?”, we need to switch our focus to a different set of queries: “How can we introduce realistic elements of adulthood into their worlds?” What activities best provide real feedback about their effort and skill?” and “Which other adults can we recruit to help pass our values on to them?” In short, we need to switch our focus from activities that reflect living happily as a teenager to activities that let our young people actually use their energy, connect with adults, and make choices that matter in order to begin moving successfully into adulthood.Allen & Allen

In their helps for parents of teens (and younger children), the Allen’s coach how to guide kids to become contributing members of the family, how to give genuine, real-world feedback toward maturity, how to connect their kids with role model adults (including the parents themselves), and how to positively stretch their kids toward skill- and confidence-building.

Monday Morning Moment – Raising Adults – Part 1 – Responsibility Is Two Words – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Raising Adults – Part 2 – Creating a Culture of Serving – Deb Mills

This topic has really pressed in on me working with refugee families in the US. These children are in a world of change, trying to pick up language, school content, and American culture. No wonder they try to escape into their after-school screen lives. Chores exist but not much opportunity to engage with a larger community…especially where it really counts for them to show up and help.

Photo Credit: Caring For Our Generations

What do kids need to be successful heading into high school, besides the grades and understanding of school culture? Are there responsibilities (“response abilities”) which all young people need as part of their skill set?

Ellen Sturm Niz’s 12 Basic Life Skills Every Kid Should Know by High School warns against doing too much for our children, preventing them from learning how to do for themselves (AND others). She shares a list of basic life skills from How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims. Any you would add?

  • Make a meal.
  • Wake themselves up on time.
  • Do laundry.
  • Pump gas.
  • Pitch in.
  • Advocate for themselves.
  • Pack their own bag.
  • Order at restaurants.
  • Talk to strangers.
  • Go grocery shopping.
  • Plan an outing.
  • Take public transportation.

14-Year-Old Child Development Milestones – Sherrie Gordon

Your Son at 14: Milestones

Stuck in Endless Adolescence – CBS Video – Interview with authors Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen, discussing a Pew Research Center study that 70 percent of people under 30 live with their parents.

4) Soundtracks of Our Lives – Our kids recently gave me the Jon Acuff book Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking. Such a surprising and encouraging read. One cool thing about Acuff’s writing is how he gives practical counsel from the first chapter. He doesn’t make you wait. Acuff defines soundtracks as “repetitive thoughts” – those memories and reactions that keep playing on repeat in our minds that cause us to choose a direction in life, often to avoid rather than embrace life and relationship. Overthinking too often communicates our fears back to ourselves, as if they are true and justified. Instead of ruminating on those moments of perceived rejection, felt failure, or self-doubt, we change up the soundtracks playing in the background of our lives. In moving away from broken soundtracks to new healing and helpful soundtracks, Acuff tells us to consider, “What do I want to be true?”

Photo Credit: Jon Acuff, Amazon

One of my broken soundtracks has been “I don’t finish well.” Too fuzzy-boundaried, distractible, interruptible. What if I flipped those parts of my personality? What if they became super-powers? What we tell ourselves about ourselves (and others, also) powerfully impacts the decisions we make and the directions we take. What if “finishing well” in my mind included compassion for others, curiosity, and wonder? Instead of beating myself up over what are perceived weaknesses, what if I disciplined them to be strengths?

For you, a broken soundtrack could be a hurtful memory that feels so real and ugly that you can’t imagine it could ever be healed. So you build walls around your heart to keep from thinking about it or the person who perpetrated that harm? Is it possible that your memory of that event has been made uglier by years of mulling it over and over in your mind? [Please do NOT hear me discount trauma. I do not.] What you can consider, as Acuff writes, is that memory can be re-visited such that it doesn’t determine your direction today. New possibilities are available to you, even in re-thinking the memory. Healing is possible.

4 Soundtracks to Survive the Holidays – Jon Acuff Podcast – great advice for any time of the year; any family gathering or work retreat, for instance.

5) Wonder – Wonder is my word for this year. It is defined as “a splendid or conspicuous work, a miracle, a marvel”. We are surrounded by wonderful, beautiful, tangible objects, processes, and people. And wonders beyond our reach that cause us to pause and…wonder.

Our short-sightedness at such things can be an effect of where we settle our gaze, or hearing, or thoughts. Screens can either point us to wondrous things beyond our experience or shrink our worlds to the size of a phone, tablet, or computer/TV.

Look up. Get close. Be quiet a moment and listen.

Let’s never lose the wonder of the beauty that surrounds us. The beauty we experience…even in hard places. Even in suffering.

Kara Tippetts and family. In the moment. Before she went to her heavenly Home.
My beautiful amazing Mom – Now 20 years in Heaven.
My dad’s hands. Sleeping. Peaceful. Hospice at home with family.


That’s it for this week. So many faves to choose from. Any you want to share? Comment below. Until next time. Thanks for stopping by.


Photo Credit: Twitter, Dr. Amy Cooper Hakim

Money Hours – Steve Keating

Photo Credit: Quote Fancy, Jon Acuff Quotes
Photo Credit: Quote Fancy, Jon Acuff Quotes

Top 70 Jon Acuff Quotes

Worship Wednesday – My One Comfort – Dustin Kensrue

Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Heidelberg Catechism

My One Comfort. What would you say is yours?

We look to loved ones and friends for comfort. Sometimes we even lean on rickety counterfeit comforts (food, drugs/alcohol, entertainment) to help us get through…or escape from…the challenges of our lives.

This song “My One Comfort” is new to me, although it’s been out for several years now. The lyrics deeply resonated with my heart and mind. The Lord is truly our one solid and forever comfort. He is the rock of our lives, no matter the storm. Because of Him, we can stand against whatever comes.

Through this song, I discovered the Heidelberg Catechism. It has not been part of my church or worship tradition. Studying it this week has been a blessing.

The first Question and Answer of the Catechism reads:

What is Thy only comfort in life and death?

The answer is:

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1

Scripture Annotations for the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1 – Jan van Bruggen

Heidelberg Catechism (pdf)

Singer, songwriter Dustin Kensrue‘s treatment of the first Question & Answer above brings it to us beautifully.

Worship with me.

My one comfort both in life and death
Is that I am not my own
I was bought with blood and I confess
I belong to You alone

By the Father’s good decree
Jesus, You’ve delivered me
By Your Spirit set me free
To follow You

My one comfort both in life and death
Is that I am not my own
I was bought with blood and I confess
I belong to You alone

By the Father’s good decree
Jesus, You’ve delivered me
By Your Spirit set me free
To follow You

Jesus, You have taken hold of me
And in Your grip of grace, I’m finally free
By the Father’s good decree
Jesus, You’ve delivered me
By Your Spirit set me free
To follow You*

*Lyrics to My One Comfort – Dustin Kensrue, The Modern Post – inspired by the Heidelberg Catachism

P.S. This morning as I was sitting down to write, a friend’s post on my social media reminded me of the greatness of God and His presence in our lives. She’s a young mom training up warriors and worshipers. The post was about fairy tales and dragons, but it struck me as very real and instructional (as only G. K. Chesterton can be). What a glory and mystery the God of the universe accompanies and empowers us in this life!!! Dragons, whatever they are, can be killed. He knows, He is near, and He is able.

Photo Credit: PicturesQuotes, G. K. Chesterton

Thank You, Lord!

Photo Credit: Charles Kingsley, Heartlight

Monday Morning Moment – From Unmoved to Reengaged – Perspective

Sit with me (or walk with me, as you like). Just for a few minutes. Hoping this 2-week old chick has drawn you in. She must be taking in so much new in her few days of life, with 5 other little ones (belonging to my daughter who raises chickens now, as well as children).

This is a brief lament about a squandered day. Mondays are usually full days and happy, hopeful days, filled with all the possibilities of a new week. This Monday…today, I allowed to lay dormant. Unmoved by the chores at home, the beloved people in my life, or those in the world who could use a friend.

Unmoved. Do you ever have days like that?

I finally got out of my own way to go thrifting midday with a writer friend of mine. She was also struggling with getting words on a page, so to speak. Nothing to say that hasn’t already been said, right? Writer’s block is hard for a writer. We are energized by that type of creativity. My energy was low. It was good to see her anyway; we found some bargains, and we would pray for each other in this doldrum.

Then late afternoon came and I sat at my computer hoping for inspiration. That was when I rediscovered the poem below…and a switch flipped the light on.

Aweless by Albert D. Spalding, Jr.

The king passes in front of the soldiers.

They stand strong and silent.

The people strain to see.

Power excites and enthralls and enchants.

I walked on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral.

I looked up at the giant ornate doors.

I stepped backwards and tried to see the full length of the tallest decorative spire.

I noticed the cell phone antennae.

What motivates the design and building of a cathedral?

What sort of awe quickens the heart and brightens the imagination?

Am I going through life without the Big Deal?

Have I missed my chance to be truly inspired, truly overcome by awe?

Where are my fellow worshipers, who can join me in designing our cathedral?

When do we come together to fall on our knees and chant, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

Yahweh passes in front of us.

We avoid stepping on the old chewing gum on the sidewalk.

We check our cell phone.

Here’s what came out of this cautionary tale for me. We can move from the dullest of mundane days into something quite momentous, as we shake off what seems to be and reengage in the what is.

I was reminded of a recent trip to an urgent care center with an Afghan mom, her little son, and another Afghan friend who translates for me. The little son probably had an ear infection that had kept him awake and crying during the night before. He needed antibiotics. As we were providing information to the admissions clerk (concentrating on unfamiliar spelling of names common in another world), my friends had plenty of time to look around the waiting area. My translator buddy (all of 13y/o who has been in the US over a year now) asked me, “Debbie, why are there these little green trees on all the walls?”

It’s a small thing, but St. Patrick’s Day was completely out of her cultural experience. Why it is such a big deal in the US is actually hard to explain as well. A cause for celebration, I’m thinking.

Every single day of our lives is a cause for celebration.

With that reminder (and the Spalding poem), thanks to answered prayer, I’m sure, my day was delivered from being completely barren. Perspective was restored along with the drive that comes with it. I spent the rest of the day left to me in life-giving activity.

Reading a chapter of Tyler Staton’s Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools (highly recommended). Making supper for my husband (who has a very long week ahead), and celebrating his light, joking mood (glad I didn’t miss that under my earlier black cloud). Two deep phone conversations with friends who share common goals in life. Praying myself to sleep.

Perspective – what a gift! I had beaten myself up fairly completely over a wasted day, and before it was too late to redeem, God helped me clear the mechanism. Joy.

So thanks for staying with me. Your company inspires me, and I know it costs you time and thought. Praying for you right now…God knows who you are…praying for you to be moved to engage in this amazing life we have in this messy world. Praying life-giving perspective. Look up.

Worship Wednesday – Anxiety, Holding On, & Reclaiming Perspective – Deb Mills

And if you love baseball (or not so much), this scene from For the Love of the Game will thrill your hearts with its fight and determination on the last pitch:

Worship Wednesday – The Goodness – TobyMac & Blessing Offor

Photo Credit: Instagram, TobyMac

“I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:13-14

Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!
You who are his holy ones, fear the Lord, for those who fear him lack nothing. Young lions lack food and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing.
Psalm 34:8-10

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”Psalm 46:10

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving devotion. The LORD is good to all; His compassion rests on all He has made. All You have made will give You thanks, O LORD, and Your saints will bless You.” Psalm 145:8-10

Today has been the quietest of days. This may be unrelatable to most and the envy of some. I love a full day myself usually…but today was a gift. A gift of quiet.

Within that quiet I was reminded of the many Psalms that speak to the goodness of God. How He loves and moves with both mercy and justice in this world. When we are bombarded by news, much of it bad, and the challenges and distractions of life, the temptation is to take matters into our own hands. To make ourselves the actors in this narrative. What a blessing to have a block of time to quiet the mind and remember the reality of a sovereign God. It takes stillness to listen to the Spirit of God and our own hearts as we gather our thoughts around the beauty of His character. I had that kind of day.

It doesn’t take a day though, right? A moment will do. Even in the midst of busy little ones or weary old ones, as well as demanding work or co-workers, we can turn our hearts in wonder at the goodness of God.

Christian artists TobyMac and Blessing Offor sing together about The Goodness of God. Both of these men have known terrible loss, and yet they will tell you that God’s goodness meets them at every turn.

Quiet days leave me quiet, but I want to share this song and my own gratefulness to God for His great goodness.

Worship with me.

You made the rain
So when it falls on me
Should I complain?
Or feel You callin’ me?
It’s all on me to stay
And really catch what You’re showin’
It’s my roots that You’re growin’
‘Cause life is more than this moment

You are the Light
So when the darkness falls
The greatest heights
They never seem so tall
No, not at all
You’re right
It’s my roots that You’re growin’
Don’t want to miss what You’re showin’

Ain’t no doubt about You
Everywhere that I go
You keep showin’ up
Lord, You make me wanna shout it, oh
You’re the goodness in my life
And I’ma tell you my truth
They may come, they may go
You keep showin’ up, sure do
Ain’t no doubt about it
You are, You are the goodness in my life

You are the joy (Joy)
You’re the smile on the face of Your boy (Boy)
You’re the flowers at that park in Detroit
Still the words on the back of our coins
Let’s make some noise

You cover me
My Defender when You’re rollin’ up Your sleeves

You’re the truth that’s gonna set the captive free
The only King that’s ever chose to bleed (Chose to bleed)
Is what I believe (What I believe)

But they keep tryin’ to make Your glory fade (Fade)
But I ain’t really sweatin’ what they say (Say)

Ain’t no doubt about You
Everywhere that I go
You keep showin’ up
Lord, You make me wanna shout it, oh
You’re the goodness in my life
And I’ma tell you my truth
They may come, they may go
You keep showin’ up, sure do
Ain’t no doubt about it
You are, You are the goodness in my life

Through the good and the bad and the ugly
I can still see the sunshine above me
Lord, I love all the ways that You love me
You’re the good, You’re the good
You’re the goodness
Through the good and the bad and the ugly (Woo)
I can still feel see the sunshine above me (Tell ’em, Blessing)
Lord, I love all the ways that You love me (Yeah)
You’re the good, You’re the good
You’re the goodness

You’re the good (You are)
You’re the good (You are)
You’re the good, You’re the good
You’re the goodness (You’re the goodness)
You’re the good (You are)
You’re the good (You are)
You’re the good, You’re the good
You’re the goodness

Ain’t no doubt about You (Ain’t no doubt about You)
Everywhere that I go
You keep showin’ up (You keep showin’ up)
Lord, You make me wanna shout it, oh (Ah)
You’re the goodness in my life
And I’ma tell you my truth (Yeah)
They may come, they may go (They may come, they may go)
You keep showin’ up, sure do
Ain’t no doubt about it (Ain’t no doubt about it, woo)
You are, You are the goodness in my life (The goodness in my life)

You’re the good (You are good)
You’re the good (You are good)
You’re the good, You’re the good
You’re the goodness in my life (You’re the goodness in my life)
You’re the good (You are good)
You’re the good (You are good) (In my life)
You’re the good, You’re the good (Yes, You are)
You’re the goodness in my life (Yeah, ooh)
You’re the good (You are good) (Thank You)
You’re the good (You are good) (Yes, You are)
You’re the good, You’re the good
You’re the goodness in my life

You are, You are still the goodness in my life.*

*Lyrics to The Goodness – Songwriters: TobyMac, Kyle Williams, Gabe Real, & Bryan Fowler

Worship Wednesday – Habakkuk’s Response to the Incomprehensible Goodness of God – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Greg Sloop

Worship Wednesday – Goodness of God – CeCe Winans – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: YouTube

YouTube Video – Goodness of God – CeCe Winans (Live)

YouTube Video – Goodness of God – Bethel Music – Brian & Jenn Johnson