Simple worship

O praise the One who paid my debt and raised His life up from the dead.

Simple love songs always seem to say more easily what the more complex ones attempt to.

Here is a daddy daughter moment that I was glad to have experienced and more glad Ken caught it!

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Jesus like a raindrop

The knowledge of God like a raindrop in a downpour; each is distinct and fully developed on it’s own. Collectively these drops make puddles, streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans and when joined are no longer discernibly distinct. No person would attempt to numerate, study, or catalog any number of drops in a rain storm. Rather we measure their collective impact or volume.

I suspect it is designed that we would be overwhelmed in this age by the collective knowledge of God with only the broad strokes and general revelations being unveiled. In the ages to come we will inspect every facet of every drop in each puddle, stream, lake, river and ocean and beyond. We will join in the expression of the chorus of heaven “holy holy holy”! Not meaning “purity purity purity” rather “set apart, wholly other than, higher than everything”!

Father, give us grace to search You out now and forever. Amen.

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The progression of mature love.

Notes from the message I delivered at church meeting tonight…

The progression of mature love.

We should not be unified in fear but in faith, hope, love, and peace. I want to call us to be a body in love with itself.

Ephesians 5:29
29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

We initially are ushered into the family of God in the context of love based out of thanksgiving. Our initial expression of love is in response to God’s condescending act of mercy. We are given this awesome gift of faith and love, but it is only embryonic in it’s maturity.

There is a fantasy that the ultimate expression of mature love will be at the end of our life in a dramatic scene of persecution in some underground chamber in the face of a torturous mob that will demand us to deny Christ.

But the reality is: We were created for fully developed love expressed through years of serving our brothers and sisters in Christ that are a part of our daily lives.

1 John 2:9-11

9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

1 John 3:16-18

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

We begin with love being given to us, and will progress to love being expressed through us. 2 Peter 2-8

Song of Songs 7:10-13

10 I am my beloved’s, And his desire is toward me. 11 Come, my beloved, Let us go forth to the field; Let us lodge in the villages. 12 Let us get up early to the vineyards; Let us see if the vine has budded, Whether the grape blossoms are open, And the pomegranates are in bloom.

There I will give you my love.

13 The mandrakes give off a fragrance, And at our gates are pleasant fruits, All manner, new and old, Which I have laid up for you, my beloved.

This is a description of the daily interaction of the Christian who had a revelation of her role to help Jesus prepare His bride by serving and modeling selfless love. She is joyful in seeing their progression and understands that this is the means to the end of Christ receiving the reward of His suffering. She knows this is the answer to the question she asked in chapter one: where will I encounter you and be changed by You?

Apostles: Paul, Peter, James, and John echo the chief apostle Jesus in their ultimate call forth in love by laying down our lives for one another. 1 cor 13, James 2, 2 Peter 1, 1 John 3.

In each of their examples it is never a romanticized gunpoint deny Christ or die scenario. That may happen to some in this room and the Lord would be honored in that case, but that is NOT God’s primary depiction of love. It is the perfect Son of God washing dirty feet, and cooking His friends some breakfast. It is doing life together, serving each other with a thankful heart, building each other up with our words/ actions, praying for one another, and paying for one another.

The seal of love in Song of Songs 8:6-8 is the power of the Holy spirit to sustain our hearts in intimacy and to love our brothers/ sisters.

6 Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire,
A most vehement flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised.

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it’s almost time

As the days pass by, I cannot think of what October 3rd will be like. I try my very best to cherish these moments the Lord has so blessed me with my lil Ava. Three months. How it seems so short yet long. I could complain, and sometimes I do in my mind, about how I wish I could stay home or delay going back to work a bit longer. I’m constantly to and fro thinking of the good, the bad, and the what ifs.

The good: I got someONE real cute to come home to and be excited about. I mean, I was always excited to come home but it has escalated since the addition. I didn’t think I would be all sappy and emotional about a baby – but I am! Shocking. How does one life change you so much? I keep thinking I’ll get to have holidays off and winter breaks off – not a lot of other mommies get that opportunity. It will be okay. I will do my best at work and come home to enjoy the family. The Lord is faithful and He will provide. This is a short season of battling things that were unseen and He’s merciful to see me through it.

The bad/what ifs: School demands are so stressful. The meetings: parent meetings, team grade meetings, RTI meetings, staff meetings…and let’s not leave off training days. Geez! Then the slew of questions: what if I run out of milk, forget a pump part, cannot pump, will not be able to get all my work done before I head home? Why can’t I have a less strenuous job? What if I could get a part time job somewhere less stressful, where I would be able to clock in and out with not a worry about parents, kids, lesson plans, paperwork, etc.? Will I be too tired to enjoy time with the family? Will I get enough sleep? Will I be able to do all of what I’m suppose to as wife, mom, and teacher?

Sigh. Tis the life in my head these days. As my wise husband would tell me, “A thankful heart keeps offense at bay.” So, these days that I get with the lil one – I thank every moment of it. When she cries, when she laughs – especially when she laughs, and try not to think of October 3rd. Try not to think of what life could be like if we were somewhere else or had some other job. Lord, give me grace as I know I’ll need Your strength to get through this season. Be with me as I know You are my rock. Let me not fear man but fear You. Your ways are not our ways. You are with me, always. I put my trust and faith in You. Pray for me, I’m a wreck and some days it’s a fender bender, other days it’s a total blindsided hit.

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Grass -part one

Today I cut the grass at my home. I was planning on a quick mow and go, but not this time. I was not expecting the conversation I had with the Lord.

As I began to mow for the first time in two and a half months (my grass didn’t grow much during our drought). I noticed the only thing I was really mowing were the weeds that were thriving while all else was dying.

The Holy Spirit spoke, “Weeds are strong plants that thrive on very little water. Weeds can grow in a shallow cracks between the concrete. Most people kill weeds with weed killer, but the best way to get rid of weeds is to have healthy grass”.

He was not teaching me about my landscaping, rather about my heart and spiritual life with Him and those I interact with. The grass is the proof or the fruit of the condition of my heart. The weeds are the proof of the lack of fruit in my life.

As I continued mowing I saw a four inch wide rock that had stuck it’s head up through the soil as the ground had dried up from the lack of water. I stopped to pull it out of the ground and discovered it was only a piece of a much bigger rock that had been there the whole time I had lived at this house. “it’s been here the whole time, but it took these rough conditions to see it.” the Lord spoke. The Lord was revealing the reality of compromise in my life that I had not dealt with…

Part two to come soon.

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Big picture

A teacher’s lounge can often contain several conversations with different topics while at the same time all have one thing in common: complaining. The more I learn about being a teacher becomes a new reason to complain. I usually keep clear of this type of jibber jabber by maintaining a thankful heart, but today I noticed myself slipping. I began to join in on the barrage of complaints those poor lounge walls have to bear.

Praise the Lord that conviction caught me before I had said one more word. I stopped and told the teacher I was talking to, you know what? I got this job for a reason! There are kids the Lord sent me to impact and teachers and administrators to impact. I’m here for them and all that other stuff is not my business. I’m going to take it as it comes and roll with the punches. ” she just looked at me and said ” I’m like you, I’m going to roll with the punches”.

Works for me! I know the answer to a complaint is always thanksgiving, so I challenge all the complainers out there to rejoice again I say rejoice.

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My girls

Birthday dinner for dad. He is 58. Mom turns 60 in two weeks. Love them both dearly.

Here are my girls!

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Here’s one of my little one and me.
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She is such a cutie and the pink dress was oh so perfect. She also coos at us more and more these days. I love it!

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Beautiful life

This morning the sun has not yet risen, and I have already been successful. How? I define success as love from and to Jesus.

This morning I embraced the love that Jesus has for me. And I have confessed my love for Him. In my book, that is a remarkable success.

When I begin the day successful as opposed to striving for success I find that I can love people better, quicker, longer. When I am not comparing “my day’s performance”, I am free from the pain of shame and stresses of pride.

Love Him oh you His saints.

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my turn!

Being that this is andyvina blog, I thought I would finally blog something. [vina here]. It’s been a month and two weeks and three four days since the arrival of our lil Ava and MAN has it been a ride! Let’s just say that I’ve been on a roller coaster with loops, turns, setbacks, and jerks. I.hate.roller.coasters. To all the new mommies and veteran mommies out there: I have new eyes for you all and am amazed at how you are able to still function and dress yourselves each day. It’s shocking how you think you know something until you are actually on that side and realize, um, I had NO clue!

Week 1-4 = blur. learning curve to the fullest. How to walk. nurse. sleep deprivation. diaper changes. crying. CRYING. both baby and me. pain everywhere. dazed. confused. side blinded. this is where I felt guilt ridden on why I didn’t help out those other newbie moms more. This is where I questioned why no one ever mentioned the craziness of what happens after birth. Perhaps it is the grace of God who hides these truths from us in order for us to go ahead and take the leap. Yeah. That has to be it, it’s only logical. If I had known the full depths of what a baby would bring, I may have rethought about having one. Goes back to that one verse I read, …count the cost. Sounds morbid right?! Truth: I felt like I was in no way capable of handling this life on the outside. What kept going on in my mind, “What am I doing?” “What were we thinking about bringing a baby into this world?” Help. My husband is great! Supportive, helpful, and insightful. Why can I not be more like him? Me? Weeping. Scared constantly. Weeping. What went through my brain? “How am I going back to work?” “What if I can’t supply enough milk while at work, while at home!?” “How am I going to do everything a wife needs to and take care of baby?” “I can’t do this.”

Week 5: transitional stage…a mix of blur, hormonal issues, and adapting…

Currently Week 6: getting “used” to the baby and new life. I still have my emotional roller coasters and break downs. Not so many but when they happen it’s intense. I want to stay at home with her, I want a life that is normal and sane, I want the Lord to break in and help me get control again. Did I mention I want to stay home with her? Can I? I sure hope and pray that I will be able to soon. I’m trying not to think of the separation anxiety on Oct. 3, let alone on Wednesday and Thursday for training and dentist appointment. Her smiles keeps me going. Wouldn’t it help you too? The positive spin I could place on this, I get to return to this lovely girl:

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Love as Strong as Death

I am struck this morning by the “why” behind intimacy with Jesus. Why has He given us access to know His heart in this way, why does He beckon us to know Him in His identity as the Bridegroom and to pursue understanding of His heart in this capacity? Why has He opened up this rich wellspring of His heart? Yes, it is because we were formed and fashioned for it. Yes, it is because He is the Highest Pleasure, and all of our longings are met and fulfilled in Him. Yes, it is because He joys in revealing Himself to weak hearts in the glory of this aspect of His identity. Yet what strikes my heart today is that He gives entrance to the deep places of His heart and reveals His desires and affections to weak ones such as you and I because love is as strong as death, and so that we might not love our lives even unto death (Song. 8:6; Rev. 12:11).
For those who take this love of His, so potent, to their hearts as their utmost treasure, it will be the sustaining solace amidst suffering for His namesake, even unto giving up their lives. There is no richer consolation, no higher contemplation than the burning and sacrificial love of the holy Husband to whom we, the church, are now betrothed and will marry (Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:7). Such forceful fragrance grips the heart incessantly and pervasively and becomes the love-infused atmosphere in which sacrifice knows no effort and loss knows no cost (Song. 1:3,12-13; 8:7; Rom. 8:17, 18; Phil. 3:7,8). Thus, He has opened up the deep and tender affections of His heart to us, He has revealed the beauty of His identity as Bridegroom and drawn us by the cords of His jealous love.  To drink from this well is to fill up the heart with reserves of sweet consolations for the times of testing and suffering that we will surely know if we are in Christ (Matt. 5:11-12, 24:9; Rom. 8:17-18; 2 Tim. 3:12).
As the Father was pleased to crush His Son, that the piercing fragrance of God’s love might be shed abroad and wafted high and low throughout all the regions of heart and history, so too, will the witness to His longsuffering love and His transcendent worth ascend from our lives in the time of testing (Col. 1:24).
He has given us something so holy in intimacy with Himself and this revelation of His heart as Bridegroom. It is to be grasped to the heart as rarest treasure and reverenced for its inestimable worth. Let us be careful with our treatment of it, cautious with our attitude toward it and generous in our pursuit of it. Let it be the seal upon our hearts, this love as strong as death and jealous as the grave. And may this holy and costly love of the Bridegroom – faithful and true –  so consume our hearts that counting all else as rubbish, we will love not our lives even unto death (Song. 8:6; Phil. 3:8; Rev. 12:11).
(a note from 8/16/2010)
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