You Call Me Out Upon the Waters

Psalm 27:13
“What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!”

Tonight I am holding onto the promise that You, Lord God, have such great things in store for me, much better than I truly believe for myself. And You are so very faithful, especially as You call me to step out in faith, trusting that You won’t ever leave me on my own.

A dear friend came to me after the service and shared that God had given her a message for me. She shared that “God is calling me to something greater and I need not worry because He is next to me. I need to step into this new season with confidence. He is doing great things through me and has not forgotten me.” She kept repeating “You are not alone.” and “He has not forgotten you.”

There are promises I’ve heard the Lord speak to my heart that carry a great deal of hope, particularly about the places that He is guiding and leading me to during this season of my life. I have beenI struggling to trust Him yet I want more faith to believe that He will open the doors, that He will make a way for me to step into them.

The picture I have is a closet, full of new clothes, things I’ve been waiting to wear for a long time. And what’s even more humorous is that I have exactly that in front of me. It’s time. It’s His timing being fulfilled. Right now.

And the question that’s being asked is “Will you receive the gifts I want to give you? Will you extend your arms so that I can lavish you with My deep, nurturing love?”

2 Corinthians 1:20
“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us.”

So, I run to You Daddy God and say “Yes! I will trust You even when it doesn’t make sense. I will cry out to You to heal the broken places in my heart, for restoration where I feel bruised and tattered. I will choose to believe that You have the very best intentions for my life and that I will see Your plans, Your purposes and all of Your wonderful promises fulfilled in my life because that’s what You long to do for me, Your daughter, a child of the Most High King.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me,
and take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
and my faith will be stronger in the presence of my Savior

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

I know that You, my God, are calling me to a deeper place of trust in my relationship with You. Help me to believe for the “and greater” when my eyes can’t see what’s happening in front of me.

Love for God’s Word

Reading my bible today confirmed some affirming truth that God is looking out for His people, His remnant, those whose hearts long to live right before Him and the world. I started with just one verse that led me on an incredible journey of seeing the truth laid out before me. It was as if knowledge was being revealed to me like the rolling back of the curtains of my mind to see yet again the faithful love of my God, whose hand is at work not only in my life, speaking to situations where I’m desperate for Him to act, but I see as well how His words are relevant to the events happening in the world around me, both near and far.

This was my journey today…

…I first read an admonishing word about Martha, how she was easily bothered and distracted by details-I am often caught up in these, yet they all seem trivial and unimportant to me in light of how God’s love reached my heart as I quieted myself before Him and His word.

I set aside my phone, ringer turned off. Check.

I left it in another room. Check.

Face down, so that if I happened to walk by I wouldn’t be able to see the screen light up. Check, check.

“Where do You want me to start, Lord?”

Psalms. Read Psalm 23.

I read it out and by verse four I’m tearing up. So I start again, this time personalizing it like this:

“You Lord are my Shepherd, to feed, guide and shield me. I shall not lack.”

“You make me lie down in fresh, tender green pastures; You lead me beside the still and restful waters.”

Here’s where the reference of Revelation 7:17 caught my eye. I think to myself curiously “What does this verse have to do with restful waters?”

For the Lamb Who is in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to the springs of the waters of life; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

The entire chapter here details how God gathered His people, those who declared Him their Savior, and marked then with His seal of protection, redeemed their persecution, set them apart and gave them new clothes. They were sheltered with His presence, completely satisfied and restored. It reminds me of a scene from Lord of the Rings when the Hobbits had traversed much calamity and awoke to a place of welcomed renewal in the kingdom of the Elves (if you’re a die-hard LOTR fan and I didn’t name this accurately, please educate me…gently though).

What a beautiful picture! I can see it playing out. They’re all laughing and celebrating the simple fact that Frodo is alive and they overcame many difficulties in their journey to protect their friend. Such joy in that moment! I long for that to be the constant place within my soul, no matter what is in front of me. Everyday there is more of this peacefulness in my heart. And it’s so wonderful to know that I can have more; it will never cease to be available to me. Thank You Father God!

So this verse in Revelation had several verses referenced. I went to Isaiah 25:8 and this is what stood out to me “the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces (I was crying by this time); and the reproached of His people He will take away from all the earth.”

Such beautiful, tender words. Truth that tends to my brokenness, like a cleansing balm on wounds where pain is felt in deep places, particularly after days of emotions running rampant. It’s in a quiet moment like this, in the stillness of the day that I am reminded of the tenderness of my Rescuer, the One who guards me and keeps me in that place of perfect me when my mind remains fixated only on Him (Isaiah 26:3).

You’ve been calling me to this secret place
To hide myself in You
To rest my head upon Your chest
To hear You speak the truth.

That You alone can satisfy
The deepest longings of my heart
For I am Your beloved
You say “we’ll never be apart,

Even when you turn your gaze
To things that tarnish and fade
My voice will call you tenderly
Close to you I’ll always remain.”

You’ve been calling me to this secret place
To hide myself in You
To rest my head upon Your chest
To hear You speak the truth.

I ended my time by reading another verse referenced from Ezekiel 34:23 and while this verse spoke to Jesus being the Good Shepherd, those surrounding it reiterated truth that

God is for us
He is on our side
Every promise He has spoken
We cannot be denied

In every situation of my life
Wherever I happen to be
I know I am never alone
He is always there for me.

This rings true for Israel and for Christians throughout the world. Even when we find ourselves in that place of thinking He has forgotten us. He hasn’t.

He is fighting for us
He is on our side
His truth remains steadfast
We can not be denied.

A Great Adventure

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Last weekend I hung out with some friends hiking up Mt. Rainier. I hadn’t been on a hike since last summer and I really wasn’t ready for the adventure that came with this one. It was probably the most difficult hike I’ve ever been on, climbing much higher than a thousand feet, but it was totally worth it. With hiking boots in hand, I joined my friends, catching up on life during our car ride towards the mountain.

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What a treat for me to be encouraged by our conversation, meeting new friends from their church and enjoying the beauty of the day. The mountain flowers were such a beautiful sight to see.

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For me, going up isn’t as difficult as coming down, but I was ready to embrace this adventure.

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The climb eventually had me beat. At one point I sat down because I kept thinking to myself

“How would I make it down over rocks and snow?”

This was definitely not what I had in mind when I had decided to come on the hike. I struggled a lot with whether to keep going and even attempted to try to climb up some rocks on my own, but by myself, I couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me. The belief that I could keep going was fading fast. It wasn’t until someone came back for me and encouraged me to try once more that I decided to keep going.

I was able to continue hiking up the mountain, through snow and over rocks. Someone else in the group offered their poles, a tremendous support going up and then coming down as well. Not only did I have the help of friends, but I was equipped with the right gear.

Life can be the same you know. I often think that my culture has influenced me to live independently for the sole purpose of not becoming a burden to anyone. But part of the adventure is living in dependence, not only on God, a loving Father who cares for us, His kids, who wants to help us journey through all parts of life, but with each other as well. Had I not chosen to trust that my friend’s heart towards me was for my good, I would have missed out on the glory of these beautiful sights:

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Here I am near the highest point we went, maybe a mile and a half from the trail head. I was tired and worn, but able to keep going.

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I can’t tell you how painful it was to hike down. At times it was so steep and I felt like my feet were going to fall off or that my knees would give out from under me. Sometimes life presents itself like this.

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The path is steep and full of turns. We don’t always see what’s coming at us. And then we get distracted following others instead of walking together, doing life in the company of those who see us as we are, treasures.

I keep thinking about these words from an old Steven Curtis Chapman song:

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild, blue yonder
Of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our Leader
Into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other
This is the great adventure

I think there are many souls in our world who are overwhelmed at living in this place, at this time in history. They don’t know how important they are right now, acting out their role in the universe around them. The thought of taking one more step when the pain feels so incredibly unbearable just stops them, dead in their tracks.

Yet when someone comes along to take their hand, hold them up, carry their burden, the ability to keep going grows deeper inside us weary pilgrims.

Sometimes I find myself there, helping encourage the ones who can’t see how they’re gonna make. I don’t know that my words are as helpful as just being present for them. Sometimes I’m the one who wonders how I will take the next step. And I am definitely guilt of giving in and giving up on myself when it seems so difficult to keep going.

But how grateful I am for those who encouraged and won’t let me do life alone.

Proverbs 18:24
...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Who are those people you call friend?
Who are those who need to be reminded that they matter to the world around them?

I may not know all of these people well, but I do know that they cared about me, about my well-being. They took time to learn about me this weekend, offering acceptance towards me. And I, them.

These folks aren’t the only ones who make my heart so thankful that we don’t have to do life alone. There is always someone available to help. Sometimes it comes in unexpected and even in ways that are not easy to receive, but there is ALWAYS someone. My hope for you is the same for myself, that our eyes will be opened to see who those people are and then embrace relationship with them.

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Don’t Worry

I can’t sleep.

The rain is keeping me up when it should be soothing me with the rhythms of its down pour and I’ve already been to that place where I could have fallen asleep, but it came and went all too soon. So now I’m awake. Ugh.

This can’t be good because I have to be up early in the morning to attend Day One of a two day training. I think I’m stressed about heading back to school. What do you think?

Yeah, I think you’re right-I’m not ready to go back. Not yet at least. And honestly the thought of heading back into my classroom is a bit daunting. Not for any reason other than I’m fearful that all the great things that have happened this summer will be a memory rather than fulfillment of the answer to my heart’s cry that shouts “Take me deeper Lord Jesus!”

This summer has been one full of adventure with hopes renewed and my heart stirred for an even greater year ahead. There are changes coming in the next year, new teaching opportunities, a different set of routines and habits to support me as I walk the road to better health, and how easily I forget the things I’ve heard a lot in the past month or so:

The kingdom of God is in you. So whatever you need, it’s already there for you whenever you need it.

The enemy of your soul, your adversary, has already been destroyed.

God is for you so who can be against you.

Yet, I have allowed lies to crowd themselves into my mind:

There’s not enough time to do all of the things that need to get done.

The process to get where you want to be is taking too long. It’s slow and drawn out.

Most people don’t understand what you go through.

Sometimes it’s not lies, but the truth of my reality that I’m slammed with:

You are going to revert back to old habits and poor thinking because you haven’t spent the time necessary to get yourself organized. You will feel so overwhelmed when school starts because you didn’t do much when you had the time.

Ever wish you could find the OFF switch? Yeah, me too.

And this so ridiculous because I have no business thinking like this.

Philippians 4:6-8 says
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
“And God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things fix your minds on them.”

As difficult as it is at times, I know that this is where the battle in my mind is allowed to rage because I don’t do anything. I don’t respond, sometimes because I’m exhausted from lack of sleep-it’s an ugly cycle to get caught up in and I’m here again. “Why?” (she says with a fist in the air) Other times it’s because I’m lazy and don’t want to exert the energy it takes to remain vigilant-vigilant so that not I’m taken out by the enemy of my soul.

But it always comes back to this truth:

I have a choice to act. Whatever I do reveals what’s inside of me, the things I hold near and dear.

Right now this level of stress is telling me that I need more of the truth that God speaks about me in my heart. It’s obviously apparent that the well has run dry. So time for a fill-up.

I must remember and keep this close in my peripheral: the way that God thinks about me is good. It’s pure. It’s beautiful and kind and compassionate. And no matter what my actions are, He won’t ever change His mind about me.

How am I going to remember this and know it deeply inside of me?

By filling up with His truth.

By letting His words wash over me.

The peace that comes from knowing He is for me and on my side.

He is everyday working everything for good in my life.

And I’m not where I’m at by mistake. He’s placed me there for His purpose.

So I choose to stand in faith, believing He is greater in me than the one in the world whose only goal is to take me out. You see, I’m pretty powerful when I know and believe that I belong to the God of the universe. And I lack nothing. Absolutely. Nothing. At. All.

This has been a life verse for me over the past six months:

Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of The Lord forever.

Prayer Changes Things

Prayer changes things.

It changes my heart. It changes the hearts of others involved in my relationships. It’s like plugging in my juicer when I’m getting ready to combine all the really good fruits and vegetables God has blessed me with, to enjoy and take in so that my body can live to the fullest.

It moves God’s heart when we pray. Sometimes we pray for things to change because we’re hurting or disappointed or misunderstand what’s happening in the world around us. But if we are willing to respond to His heart, to act in obedience to what He says to do in the moment, in a split second, He is already answering our prayers. He is demonstrating to us that He hears, He listens, He cares about whatever we’re facing.

And is so, so, so very faithful to act on behalf of us, His kids. We are sons and daughters of a pretty incredible King. So we are princes, not paupers. We are Kings and Queens with a heritage that gives us access to anything we need. Our King has insurmountable riches-everything is His and comes from Him. And He says I’m allowed the access code. I have the complete package, the full meal deal. Am I right?

Thank You Lord for Your Goodness and Mercy that always go with me. Thank You for hearing my heart and responding to my prayer. You are amazing and there is no one, not ever, who comes close to comparison. I’m so grateful for how You lead and guide me, and how You are teaching me to trust You even more today than I did yesterday.

Lord, for anyone who reads this, I pray that as they cry out to You, that You would show them just how much You love them and how intently You are watching over them, hearing their prayers. Open their eyes to see You move and respond as they pray to see Your heart revealed in this life, here on earth.

God, You are so very good to us!
We love You!!!

The Legacy I Leave

“When you learn, teach. At our best we are all teachers.”—Maya Angelou

I saw these words on someone’s Facebook timeline Wednesday morning after hearing that Maya Angelou had passed on and it was quite timely considering the conversation I had with my 3rd graders the day before. You see, there were some gifts delivered to the staff and teachers at my school by a group of “Secret Students.” They had made door hangers with inspiring notes of gratitude for the work we do. It was a beautiful token and while I appreciate the gesture, I struggled with what was written on mine:

“I hope you can be a real teacher someday.”

My first thought was that I must not be considered a “real teacher.” (Can you tell that I am much more concerned with how others see me than how I see myself, how God sees me? Help me Jesus!)

I am a music teacher in public education and see my students twice a week for a total less than 90 minutes a week. While I may have the same students year after year from Kindergarten through 6th grade I won’t spend even half of a year like a classroom teacher does. Maybe that’s what a “real teacher” does.

I won’t deny that these words really bothered me mostly because I’ve work harder this year than ever before. I’ve found myself scaling fences that had been obstacles and hindrances in the past. It’s been an incredible process to walk through and I am pleased with the growth I’ve made this year. But the reality is that I am the only one who can truly acknowledge within myself that I am a “real teacher.”

Every day I come to school to learn and help others learn, just like I ask of my students.

Everyday I show up because its what I’m called, created and anointed to do for this season of my life.

Everyday, every year I make sacrifices for the sake of my students so that they can know how to listen and work well with others.

These are the things that happen when you’re part of music instruction.

So what did I tell my students that day? I told them

“At some point in your life you are a teacher. Not just once, but many times over. Everyday there may be someone looking at how you’re handling life.

Someone is paying attention to the way that you listen, how you respond, your actions, the choices you make. It’s called leaving a legacy, a vision for those who come after you.

I want to leave a legacy that inspires others to go outside of their comfort zone and try on new things, to be willing and courageous in not growing stagnant. I want my legacy to be full of passion, hope and determination that you can move forward even when it’s difficult.

We all leave some type of legacy.

What will yours be? How will you making yours count for something incredible?”

This Pain Inside

Tears roll down my face
From the deep pain I try to hide
All day I’ve held them back
Keeping this raging storm inside

I’ve tried to avoid this moment
In me it strikes a nerve
Its touch is way too painful
Not one that any deserve

To lose someone close to your heart
Changes everything you know
You’re never prepared for it
The difficult part is letting go

I took for granted the time we’d have,
And assumed way too much
I never realized until now
You were a buffer of such
Such things you knew
That would open the door
to bitterness and offense
Trying to shelter me from the storm

You knew, you could see
The way it would impact me
You knew, you could see
How life would affect me

We weren’t always close
Yet I find myself in your shoes
The way you responded is reflected in the things that I choose

I desperately want comfort
To come like a healing balm
Poured over the wounds in my heart
Like a sweet and peaceful psalm

I long for strong arms of love
To wrap around my soul
Holding me while I cry
“My God please mend, my God make me whole!”

This pain goes deep
It’s nothing I understand
It’s so far beyond my ability
I cannot comprehend
How You will take
The broken pieces of my heart
And put them back together
Giving me a brand new start

Forgive me when I struggle
To let go of my pride
To humble myself
Rather than stay away and hide
When opportunity arises
To shine Your light bright
Help me to let You in
To open my heart up wide

Nothing I do on my own
Will ever heal this hurt
It’s only when I call upon Your name
You pick me up out of the dirt
You dust me off
You hold my hand
You walk with me through this valley
Into my promised land

This place I cannot mend
Nothing I do on my own
Only You can give me hope
Only You restore my soul

The healing process
Is beyond my reach
It only comes from You alone
How to walk through it, that You will teach
Showing me how
To extend love and grace
To forgive those who fail me
I set my heart in this place

So that when expectations go unmet
By those I think should know better
I am reminded of their brokenness
That I too am a debtor

Teach me what to do
When I’m hurting this bad
Show me how to run to You
Whenever I feel sad

Make me willing to become
All You want me to be
The apple of Your eye
Whatever You want for me

This is my prayer
As the rains wash over my soul
Renew me, restore me
Again make me whole

And show me Your ways
That are much different from mine
You are the Branch
And I am the vine

From You I receive life
And all that I need
Because of Your love
Your heart for me did bleed
Your heart for me did bleed