I grew up in a church where lifting your hands in worship was a very progressive movement. My childhood church was not particularly strict, but it was a Southern Baptist church that preferred songs from the hymnal over a repeating chorus on a screen.
Even at camps and outside youth groups as a teenager, I don’t recall raising my hands during praise and worship. I do remember weeping on occasion and did not understand why until much later in my life, but I didn’t see the need in lifting my hands. I tried it once or twice and felt like a fake.
Fast forward ten years. My husband and I moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, and started looking for a church. It was the first time I would refer to “church” and not be talking about my childhood church. God was good and we found an amazing, multi-racial, multi-cultural church with a mission statement we could embrace. And the praise and worship was amazing.
Slowly I started lifting my hands in worship. Just one hand. I mean, let’s not get crazy. And initially I still felt that same sting of inauthenticity. But I was in a church full of people lifting up their hands, so there must be something to this. And after pushing through that feeling of falseness, something just clicked and it felt right. I felt like I was worshiping God more fully – with my entire being. Not just my spirit and heart and voice, but my full physical body was reaching out to him with praise.
But what does it really mean to lift your hands in worship? Continue reading “Lifting Holy Hands”
I had an incident recently at church where I really didn’t want to serve God. It didn’t have anything to do with God. I just found myself serving in a capacity where I felt ill-equipped. I found myself working with a demographic I don’t generally enjoy. And I found myself having a bad day in this act of service. So, I came home and told my husband, like any good child of God who is trying to get out of something, “I just don’t think I’m called to this ministry.”
The irony of this statement is that a few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to share a message from the pulpit on serving God. And in that message, I stressed that the act of service is in seeing a need and meeting it. But there I am, sitting in the passenger seat of our SUV while my kids watch VeggieTales, telling my husband that perhaps I’m not the right person to meet this particular need. Because I had a bad day.
My husband, who does a remarkable job of responding to my moods, just simply told me I couldn’t quit this ministry today. Not today. Today was a bad day, but that’s not a good reason to stop serving God. There will always be bad days.
And though I sometimes don’t love to admit this, he was right. Continue reading “Sometimes Serving Sucks”
Two thousand years ago, a baby came screaming and kicking into a stable in a tiny town on the other side of the world. This baby, just like every other baby born before or after, was born with an “expiration” date. Those young parents had no idea what was to come. They had knowledge of the prophecies, and they had the words the Angels had spoken to each of them directly; but just like every other Jew awaiting the Messiah, their greatest imaginations for their Son of the Most High wouldn’t even touch the reality of what was to come.
As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament in my chronological reading through the Bible, I’ve spent a lot of time in the period of Israel’s history riddled with idolatry, immorality, and just so much big, dirty sin. God’s wrath takes up pages and pages of the prophets’ books, spelling out disaster that would touch every inch of their lives. Their homes, their jobs, their food, their money, their legal matters, their children, their weather, their cities and rulers, even their very lives. God is so holy and righteous; to be with Him requires complete perfection. Perfection He knew we can’t attain on our own. Then He used centuries of an entire nation’s history to show us we couldn’t do it. Not that we needed that, right? Or am I the only one who’s already messed up today? Continue reading “Expiration Dates”
Tis the season of giving, thankfulness, and compassion. Spending money and eating lots of food seems to make people more likely to volunteer, donate, and say thank you. Schools have food drives, people don’t snarl at the Salvation Army person outside the grocery store, and most will even donate that dollar or five at the checkout counter – sometimes without even knowing the name of the charity. Generally speaking, this is a very positive thing. Giving to others not only helps others, but it also releases endorphins in the giver that makes them happier. There is literally a chemical response to giving. So, for those of you who find ways to go above and beyond in your giving or service to others this time of year, be blessed to be a blessing.
But, here’s a crazy idea, what if you extend your blessing – to the guy holding a sign on the side of the road or the woman asking for spare change in the parking lot? It’s good to give and serve intentionally and as a Christian you should desire to do this, but what about the unintentional times? What about the times when we aren’t thinking about it or we’re preoccupied or we’re judgmental toward the asker? What about those times?
Continue reading “Come, Pass, Shun”
As I sit and prepare for the upcoming holidays, family gatherings, and the approaching birth of my own first-born son, I can’t help but be amazed at the simplicity and humbleness of Jesus’ family and his birth story. Extravagance and fanfare no doubt existed during that time period, as it does today, yet they lived by the voice of God and not what was in fashion.
In these final two months of pregnancy, baby bottles, soft blankets, furniture, the cutest trending baby clothing and play accessories line my home in preparation for our son’s arrival. Though we humbly make do without creating a decorated nursery, my husband and I still have the luxury of buying and being gifted with the finest baby accouterments. Our son will be welcomed home to a warm, safe, and outfitted home even while we await the building of our forever home. Continue reading “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
Have you ever wanted something to happen RIGHT NOW but it seems to be blocked at every turn? Well, you’re not alone in that experience. The Bible tells us that God will give us the desires of our heart but it doesn’t say when. That’s where the frustration comes in. We whine, throw tantrums and question God by saying things like “WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG!?” The frustration can be so overwhelming that we feel like simply giving up on the promise being fulfilled.
Continue reading “Though it tarry..”
For most of us, Christmas is easily a season of expectance. Receiving gifts, eating delicious food, spending time with friends and family we may not often see – whatever your favorite part of celebrating, we anticipate it, look forward to it, and try to savor it as long as possible.
When I had children, I decided to revisit how we celebrate this amazing holiday. As a Christian, it is a pivotal moment for my faith. To celebrate Christmas is to celebrate the birth of my Savior, the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise to mankind, the miracle of a baby born to a virgin, a baby who was both God and man. For centuries, thousands of Israelites had been waiting expectantly for the Messiah, the suffering servant, the promised King. How did thousands of dollars spent on decorations, food, and gifts celebrate that? All I felt I was celebrating was consumerism and gluttony. Sure, we read the Christmas story before opening gifts. But which of those things do I remember with more excitement?
Have you ever given that response as a reason for doing something? You either encounter people thinking that you are so in touch with God or thinking you are a little out there. Do you choose who gets that answer and who gets a response like, “It’s what I needed to do” or “It just felt right”? Maybe you’re not sure how the other person is going to respond. You don’t know their faith walk or their spiritual beliefs.
My family recently moved to a new city in a new state simply because God told us to move here. We didn’t hear an audible voice or have a vision, we just knew, deep within our spirits, that this is the place God wanted us to be. But even then, I felt unsure. We knew this city. We had friends here. Maybe we just wanted to move to this city. So I started praying for confirmation. And confirmation came. It came in a prophecy from one friend and a dream from another. It came in the form of answered prayer regarding employment. I mean, supernatural, very specific answered prayer. Even after moving, confirmation has continued to come in so many forms.
We hear countless stories of battles won by God’s hand in the Bible. Samson defeating the army, David defeating the giant, Moses defeating the Egyptians, so on and so forth. But there is one that sticks out to me the most.
In Exodus 17, the battle of the Israelites and the Amalekite army is briefly touched on. The story says that Moses sent Joshua and some other men to fight while he stood on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hands. Moses, his brother Aaron, and friend Hur went up the mountain and if Moses held his hands above his head, the Israelites were winning. If his hands dropped, the Amalekites took the lead. As any person’s body would, Moses’s body began growing tired and his arms would periodically drop. When they noticed him tiring, Aaron and Hur put a rock underneath him to sit on, and they held his arms up for him. Because of their actions, Joshua was able to defeat the Amalekites.
This story never rang truer in my life than it did during my recent battles. In 2015, I found myself amid a battle that would cost me time, money, friends, and ultimately forced me to make a faith decision I didn’t know I was prepared to make.
I walked up to my mom friends as my kids joined theirs for open play at a local gym. We are three stay-at-home moms who all live in the same suburb of a suburb of a major city in Tennessee. “I just felt so judged, you know?” I heard one friend lament as I approached. The night before, she had been at a function for her husband’s company, meeting the wives of some coworkers. She went on to tell me about sharing with them what she “does” and where she lives, and how their faces became less and less interested in her with each answer. Apparently, most of the women she spoke with worked outside of the home and lived in just the first suburb.
I turned 37 years old a few months ago. I am officially in my late 30’s which means I’m almost 40! I know some people might not see that as a positive statement, but I am really looking forward turning 40 years old. As I approach that age, I feel like I’m becoming more and more of who God created me to be. I can only imagine how fabulous, fierce and favored I’ll be at 40!
Every year, my mother asks me how it feels to be ___ years old. Most of the time, my answer is, “The same as yesterday.” As I reflected on that question this year, I definitely felt different as I turned thirty-seven. I feel wise. Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. I am finally able to crystallize (no pun intended) many of the lessons I’ve learned on my journey… so far. I see exactly how to apply them to my life in order to achieve my goals. I’d like to share some of them with you.
Once upon a time…
Don’t we just love that? The feeling of slipping into a rose-colored daydream where the sounds of commercial printers and the smells your coworker’s interesting lunch are replaced with the sweet song of a hummingbird and the gentle breeze of the fall wind? I loved that so much, I committed time to escape to that place daily for several years of my life. Each day, I’d go deeper into this fantasy land in my mind where I scripted fanciful interactions with people who don’t exist. I’d create circumstances that were only minorly an irritant and that could be resolved with a handsome prince falling in love with a beautiful commoner (i.e. me). It was the end of my mini-novel I crafted in my mind. It was the beginning of a series of stories I never knew needed to be explored. Isn’t that the thing though? All our princess stories end in a happily ever after that we have never seen, for the most part. And just like those stories, my daydreams ended the same way. I didn’t know that there could be more.