Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

speak life.

When PinkGirl and I go to Disney, we often pray and look for opportunities to “speak life” to the people God places in our path.

I wish I could say “always” instead of “often” but I can’t.

Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we are obliviously self-involved.

But not today.

1 thessalonians 5 11I posted this on facebook last night:

“I was reminded again tonight.

Everybody is ‪#‎justadifferentkindofbroken‬

Sometimes, it’s all I can do NOT to abandon “appropriate” surface conversation and take someone by the hand, lead them to a quite corner, look them in the eye, and ask, “How are you, REALLY?” and really SEE them and LISTEN to them.

PinkGirl and I are going to Magic Kingdom tomorrow. Already praying we recognize God’s prompting when he nudges us to encourage the person or people He places in our path. yeah. we know we’re weird. but we’ve almost come to terms with that. ‪
#‎seepeople‬ ‪#‎edify‬ ‪#‎loveGodloveothers‬

A friend commented: “Sometimes takes multiple conversations and kind gestures before someone will share. Trust is a big thing when you share your stuff. And you have to make sure that someone will walk through it with love and kindness.”

I responded this morning:

“I’m willing to put in the time. Since I asked God to break my heart for what breaks his, I have been amazed – and blessed – at how many times He’s equipped me to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to people – to see them and listen to them – in love, with no judgement.

In the beginning, I was blown over when someone – friend or stranger – shared something deeply personal, but now, it’s happened so many times that when I pray for God to show me who He wants me to reach out to, I already know He will.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

I pray most of all for the Holy Spirit to nudge me, not only for the who, but the when. I also pray that He won’t let me miss the opportunity out of fear or oblivion.

Strangely, He nudges me OFTEN in a Disney waiting line. Strangers to friends in the time it takes to meet a princess.

Today, I find myself thinking I need to offer to pray for someone. Not sure if He’ll prompt me to do it, but if He does, I pray He’ll bless me with the courage and motivation to be immediately obedient.”

You are Now Entering the Mission Field

PinkGirl and I see Disney as one of our many mission fields.

Our mission is not to “save” people, but to serve people.

Our prayer is that, through whatever interaction we’ve had with them, someone might be drawn closer to Christ.

It’s not our job, it’s our prayer.

I know we risk ridicule and rejection, be we don’t hide our faith in these interactions. If the natural flow of conversation leads us to share something about our lives with someone, it’s not uncommon that we acknowledge our dependance on God and His influence on our lives.

So, if someone who wasn’t thinking about God and spiritual things before spending time with us, begins or continues to think about God and spiritual things after spending time with us, then our prayer was answered with a big YES.

Even if we never know it.

This is our Disney theme song:

(I love that the person speaking life in this video is a little blonde girl.)

October 25, 2014 Posted by | christian living, intentional living, music, peace love mickey, pinterest, pragmatic communion, prayer, status updates, youtube | , , , , , | Leave a comment

lament.

Thinking about praise and worship music this morning.

In my personal experience and observation, more people seek God when they are hurting than when they are happy.

We should sing praise

and we should sing worship,

but we can’t forget lament.

It draws people to Christ.

Lament is not depressing, it reminds us we are not alone.

May 22, 2014 Posted by | music, pragmatic communion, praise team music, status updates | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

whatever may pass and whatever lies before me.

Sunday evening. Easter Sunday. I was sitting at the kitchen table, focused on my laptop. PinkGirl came over and turned my chair sideways so she could curl up on my lap and lay her head on my shoulder.

“Mom? How can I find joy in God?”

wow.

13 years old.

Immediately, I prayed.

“Lord, is this moment one of the reasons for everything that’s happened over the last year? Have you been preparing me for this question? Please help. Please speak through me.”

Me: “Well…for me…the way I find joy in God is to grow closer to Him. There are a few things you can do to grow closer to Him. You already know what’s first though, right?”

PinkGirl: “Pray?”

Joshua 1 9 prayerMe: “Yep. There’s lots of different ways to pray, but I think the way that brings me closest to God is practicing His presence. You remember what I told you about practicing the presence of God? How I first started doing it?”

PinkGirl: “No.”

Me: “I imagined Jesus physically with me everywhere I went – in the passenger seat of my van…”

PinkGirl: “oh yeah.”

Me: “Jesus is right here with us now.”

I pointed to the chair next to us.

“If you imagine Him sitting right here with us – not just sitting here, eavesdropping on our conversation, but actually participating in it, it changes everything. And sometimes not in a way you might expect. It won’t be all rainbows. You won’t be thanking Him and praising Him all the time. If you really do imagine Jesus with you wherever you go, you may find yourself crying and yelling at Him sometimes. Telling Him all the things you don’t think are fair, begging him to help you and heal you and protect you and getting frustrated or mad or even heartbroken when He doesn’t do what you want or expect or if He’s slower than you think He should be. But you have to be honest with God.”

PinkGirl: “He already knows anyway.”

Me: “Yeah, He does.”

We sat there for a while, talking about all the different ways to pray. We talked about honest, wide open prayer, without holding anything back. We talked about how authentic prayer helps us to grow closer to God and how growing closer to God helps us find joy in Him, no matter whether we’re happy or sad about what’s happening in our life. We talked about how happiness is temporal and based on our circumstances, but joy in God is eternal and based on who He is and our relationship with Jesus.

Me: “Prayer is when we tell God everything. But we also need to listen to Him. What’s the best way to hear from God?”

PinkGirl: “Be alone with Him?”

Me: “That’s one way. I call that abiding in Him. But that’s next. Something else comes first. The best way to hear God speak to us is to read His Word.”

PinkGirl: “I try, but I don’t understand a lot of it.”

Me: I get that. There’s a lot I don’t understand either. But here’s the thing. There’s a lot you do understand – way before you even get to the stuff you don’t understand. You understand what you learn in Bible [class], right?

PinkGirl: “yeah.”

Me: “So, see? You understand more than you think. Outside of Bible [class], what’s the last thing you read on your own?”

PinkGirl: “I don’t remember.”

Me: “You understand the scriptures in your devotion book, right?”

PinkGirl: “yeah.”

Me: “What was your last devotion about?”

(thinking)

PinkGirl: “I don’t remember.”

Me: “When do you do your devotion, in the morning or at bedtime?”

PinkGirl: “In the morning.”

Me: “After your devotion time is over, how often do you think about the scripture you read later in your day?”

PinkGirl: “none.”

Meditate on Gods Word Read BibleMe: “Just reading the Bible isn’t enough. You won’t grow in your relationship with Christ if you don’t remember what you read. You have to engage in God’s Word. That takes effort. How can you remember the scripture from your morning devotion throughout your day ? And for days after that?”

We talked about how on our own, reading the Bible isn’t something we want to do all the time and that God knows that. We talked about forgetting to read the Bible or not making time for it. We talked about how we make time for the other things we love. We talked about the first and constant thing we should do: pray and ask God to give us a desire to read His Word. We talked about the fact that we can’t just “do better” on our own. We talked about asking God to give us – to bless us – with a hunger for His Word – with a hunger for Him. We talked about setting reminders on her iPod, bands on her wrist, special jewelry, even writing notes to herself on her hand.

Me: “After reading the Bible, another good way to hear from God is to abide in Him. You called it being alone with Him. When are you ever truly alone. Quiet and still?”

PinkGirl: “When I’m in my room.”

Be still and know that I am God Psalms 46 10 Pause the noiseMe: “I mean really alone and quiet. No itouch, no iPad, no tv, no internet, no youtube, no text, no instagram, no facetime…”

PinkGirl: “oh.”

Me: “Sleeping doesn’t count.”

Me: “If you want to be closer to God, if you want to find joy in Him, you have to spend time with Him. Think of it this way. When you and PeterPanFan (her BFF) hang out together, you grow closer, don’t you think? You talk to each other, you have inside jokes, you start to think alike, finish each other’s sandwiches…even when you two are at your own houses, when you interact over the internet through text or instagram, you’re still spending time with each other even though you are miles apart. But if you were at your house and she was at her house and you weren’t interacting over the internet, you wouldn’t be able to hear her. What would happen to your friendship if you didn’t spend time together?”

(thinking)

Me: How connected can you be to God if you don’t spend time alone with Him?

(quiet. thinking)

Me: So. Prayer. Reading God’s Word and Abiding in Him. There’s something else you can do to find joy in God.”

PinkGirl: “what?”

Me: “Gratitude.”

PinkGirl: “Thanking Him?”

Me: “Actually there’s two kinds. Giving thanks for His blessings and praising Him for who He is. When you thank Him for blessings, you begin to recognize those blessings in your life more and more. And when you praise Him for who He is, no matter what your circumstances are, it helps you remember that God is sovereign and nothing happens to you that He doesn’t will or allow.”

We talked about disappointments, God’s providence and the peace that comes from trusting that all circumstances – which lead to both happiness and sadness – are God’s providence. We talked about tapestries. And praising Him, no matter what.

We talked about a lot of things. The things I’ve shared here are the things she gave me permission to share.

Afterwards, I realized.

Prayer. Reading God’s Word. Abiding in Him. Gratitude. P.R.A.G. The first four chapters of the book I was writing about how to experience a more intimate relationship with Christ. Seems so easy, just looking at them here. Not so easy. To do or to write about. If they were easy to do, every Christian would do them. If they were easy to write about…I haven’t been able to write for months. But in these precious moments with my daughter, I was able to articulate a summary in kid language.

He has been preparing me. Not only for that question at that moment.

God is Good. All the time.

(CLICK HERE for the story behind the song.)

April 22, 2014 Posted by | christian living, learning curve, music, pinterest, pragmatic communion, pragmatic parenting, praise team music, prayer, thankfulness, the search for Joy, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

facebook fragments: 01/18/14 – 01/24/14

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I have a harmony stuck in my head.

_______________

PinkGirl. Please STOP doing the Chocolate Dance and get ready for bed.
#ilovemydaughter

______________

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
PinkGirl. Please STOP doing the Chocolate Dance and get ready for school.
#ilovemydaughter

_______________

A huge THANK YOU to Kristen from BodyInUnity Inc.! After more than 6 months off, I went to my 3rd Christian yoga class yesterday at a new location for me – Willow Creek PCA in Winter Springs (FL). Locals, if you’re looking for a Christian yoga class, I can personally recommend Kristen! Check out her class locations and times through the Body In Unity website, HERE. (scroll down to see the schedule) NO FEES! Donations only!

_______________

It would appear that Bob the Cat and I are playing the “Cat Wants In-Cat Wants Out” game today.
I’m reminded of the Sad Cat Diary:
“I put in a simple request regarding the door to the garden. But seemingly out of sheer spite, the authorities refuse to hold the door open long enough for me to decide whether to go outside. or inside. or outside. or inside.”

_______________

Logged into my bank yesterday. My credit card had a zero balance. And I had a brand new credit card. with a brand new number. A card we didn’t apply for. showing that missing balance.
Thank you Target.
and NO thank you. I do NOT want a Red Card.
I don’t need a new bank account number too.

_______________

The 2014 Living Room Makeover is stalled. Technically it’s because I haven’t ordered the rest of the flooring yet. Or painted the room. Or picked a paint color. Until today. Paralyzed by tones of wheat, I finally settled on one. Not because I loved the color, but because the name of it is “Pecan Sandie.”

Yes. My decorating choices are guided by cookies. That being said, when asked about the decorating delay, I shall steadfastly deny procrastination, indecision and cookies and blame it all on the busyness surrounding the production of PinkGirl’s latest play. She’s Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. Last weekend and this weekend.
Do they make a paint additive that smells like cookies?
(click below to see the before photos and the progress so far)

new flooring sample

________________

Thursday, January 23, 2014
The garbage cans I ordered came yesterday. Opened the 1st box, not the 2nd.
PinkGirl: “Mom, what was that crashing noise this morning, right before Bob started crying?”
It really does look like the top of the 1st box could support the weight of a cat, doesn’t it?

boo and bob on cardboard boxes

_______________

My dentist is going to tell me I need a crown for a cracked tooth.
She’s also going to tell me I need a night guard because I clench my teeth while sleeping, which resulted in a cracked tooth.
Which has been cracked for years.
Which is why I’ve said no to the crown for years.
Today I find out if the crack has grown. I really do NOT want a crown. I already have one and it was a significantly less than optimal experience. (By the time I needed my next cleaning, I had a new dentist.)
I’d rather paint the living room than go to the dentist.
okay. I’m done whining.
for a while.

________________

If I actually intended to use this flap on our new garbage can, this crooked sticker with bubbles in it would make me grumble every time I threw something away.
#ocd

crooked recycle sticker

_______________

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

________________

Friday, January 24, 2014
Spent a couple of hours at BrightLight Books yesterday.
And a couple of hours reading.
#incurablebibliophile

book binge

_______________

Need. Bookcases.
#incurablebibliophile

_______________

The clothing and makeup is dated, but the message is timeless.
Jump to the 16 minute mark to get to the guts of this:
(or check out the book version “Dinner with a Perfect Stranger” It’s short. 178 pages.)

____________________

That yoga class I took last night?
Feeling it right now. I am seriously out of shape.
Even the bottom of my feet hurt.

____________________

Little known facts about 19th-century protestant non-state missionaries: “Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.” Read the full article HERE.

____________________

To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE.

February 3, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, exercise, family, fight the frump, fragments, freakishly organized, goodsteward/body, health, home sweet home, intentional living, laugh!, microactions, motivation, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic commotion, pragmatic parenting, praise team music, status updates, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

facebook fragments: 01/10/14 – 01/17/14 (listened to a lot of music this week)

For those of you who don’t follow me on facebook…

Friday, 01/10/14
“that’s precious.” #stuffIdontsay

_______________

Sunday, 01/12/14
My son just used the word “solace” in everyday conversation.
And he didn’t remember using it when I asked if I could post this.
I’m so proud.

_______________

The 2014 Living Room makeover: before and during
(click to photo below to see all the “before” shots)

new flooring sample
_______________

Monday, 01/13/14
Parking FavoriteSon’s new car second in the driveway without overlaping the sidewalk.
I’m getting good at this.

driveway parking

_______________

Tuesday, 01/14/14

God Catchers When you are hungry for Him God doesnt say calm down

_______________

This song was posted by a family who just lost their 3 month old son.
A testimony of faith in devastating heartbreak.

_______________

PinkGirl is FREAKING out over this. We have tix to see – and MEET – them in March. #ilovemydaughter

_______________

Wednesday, 01/15/14
Louder.

_______________

Book Sniffing. How Nerds Get High. #bibliophile

book sniffing

_______________

Thursday, 01/16/14
that time when you see someone do something nice to help someone else. after making it very clear just how put out they are in the doing of it. #itaintgracewhenyougiveitthatway

_______________

“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.”

_______________

Praying for saturating comfort and intense peace for some friends who are hurting today.
(click the photo to view the source post)

http://pragmaticcompendium.com/?s=princess+tapestry

disney princess tapestry back

_______________

These photos are another reminder for me. Sometimes you can’t see someone’s pain. Doesn’t mean it’s not there. #reachout #seepeople (click the photo below to see the rest of the photos and the story behind the last one)

JohnSchneider

_______________

A huge THANK YOU to Kristen with BodyInUnity Inc.! Tonight was my 2nd yoga class after more than 6 months away. And THANK YOU to OASIS Spa & Wellness for hosting the Thursday 6pm session! Such a peaceful and edifying environment! If you’re local and interested in Christian yoga classes, check out the Body in Unity facebook page for more info. And be sure to check out the services at Oasis! Beautiful, professional, peaceful and a great value! #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

_______________

Friday, January 17, 2014
Putting a credit card to good use on a Florida winter morning.

frost on the windshield

________________

Thinking about songs that have been challenging for me to learn. If we only sang “singable” songs during worship, I never would have gotten to lead this one.

_______________

mmmm, drums for the King. “We lift our banner high, we lift the name of Jesus” New Elevation Worship song.

________________

If you see me singing in my van over the next few days, this is what I’m listening to:

_______________

FavoritetHusband put up 5 birdhouses on Sunday. Took these two 5 days to find theirs.

birdhouses

_______________

Finally found FavoiteSon a PS4 (delayed Xmas present) but had to buy it in a bundle. Listed the headset & 1 of the unwanted games on Ebay last night. One sold before I went to bed, the other before I woke up. LOVE it when my auctions turn over like that!

_______________

Anyone want to weigh in on the current inhouse mother/daughter disagreement?
peanut butter. creamy or crunchy?

crunch or creamy peanut butter

________________

I’ve let Bob the cat in. and out. and in. and out. no less than 10 times so far today.
His sister, Boo? zero. The girl knows how to make a decision.

________________

2nd yoga class last night after more than 6 months off. I think I feel every. single. muscle. in my body right now. #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

________________

To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE

January 28, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, clean house, crazymakers, exercise, fight the frump, fragments, goodsteward/body, home sweet home, laugh!, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, praise team music, status updates, suffering, vehicles, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

four minutes with God: in the dark, surrounded by trees.

peace is not the absence of darknessa Quote:
“A friend of mine is a singer. From time to time she goes to record vocal tracks at a studio here in town. One evening she went and she was in a different room than she had ever been in before. In a studio, there is always some form of sound absorbing material, so that the recording is clean and clear, but in this case the sound materials were unique. The guys in the studio called them “trees” because instead of being attached to the walls, the whole room was full of these sound absorbing columns. My friend would stand on her mark, and they would move the columns around her, surrounding her with the trees. Well at one point, the lights went out and if she hadn’t already been on her mark, she would not have known where she was, and would have been bumping into the “trees,” and unable to find her mark. Because her feet were planted before it got dark, she felt secure and confident, she just had to wait until the lights came back on. Do you see where I’m going with this? There will be struggles in this life. You will have suffering, and loss, and confusion. But the question is not “where are the trees,” but “where are your feet?” If you understand that Christ has made a way for you to be in the presence of God both now (through the Holy Spirit), and in the end (in the New Heavens and New Earth); if you cultivate a relationship with his Holy Spirit–becoming ever-more aware of his daily, constant presence with you; if you worship in light of these truths–knowing that God is here in Christ’s name, and if all of this seeps down into your heart, then when the lights go out you’ll be on your mark, you’ll be secure and confident, and you just have to wait until the lights come back on–in this life, or in glory.”
by Curtis Froisland
[to read my version of this story, CLICK HERE]

the Word:
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

my Prayer:
Father, thank you for turning the lights out. again. Thank you for stripping away all the tangible, visible things that had become a stumbling block in my pursuit of an intimate relationship with You. Only You know the extent to which the extraction of those things rocked my faith and shattered my confidence. Even though these last 5 months have been the darkest of my life and I may never fully understand them, I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned. Thank you for striking me full in the face with the reminder that if I sincerely want the intimacy with You that I say I do, I have to be willing to be vulnerable. Transparent. I need to wholly surrender to Your sovereign plan. Thank you for helping me to find peace in the process and result of letting go of my own dreams and plans. Please help me find sustaining and true joy in trusting You and following You NO MATTER WHAT. Please, please help me find that fine line between dying to self and being a good steward of the gifts You bless me with. Please help me to relentlessly pursue my passions without allowing them to become idols. Please help me to overcome my fear and determination to NEVER put my love for them above my love for You ever again and to boldly “go and make disciples” in every single area of my life. Help me to step forward even though I know one of those steps could result in disobedience and discipline. again. Please help me to remember that pruning is necessary in order that I “bear much fruit. Thank you for helping me to understand Your silence doesn’t mean You’ve left me alone in in the dark.”

the lyric.
“You move in the unseen. You set the captives free. As I stand and sing, you’re breaking the chains off me. Breathe in me Your life, I can feel You are close now. I can never hide You are here and You know me. All I need is You
And I love You…Breathe in me Your life ’til Your love overtakes me. Open up my eyes, let me see You more clearly.”
by Bones (Live) by Hillsong

October 24, 2013 Posted by | christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, music, pragmatic communion, prayer, suffering, thankfulness, the search for Joy, what I've learned, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

idences.

specifically, providence and coincidence.

Tozer quote you can see God from anywhereprovidence: capitalized : God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny

coincidence: the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection

I can’t ever remember believing in coincidences. My husband on the other hand, is a big believer in them. He believes some things – LOTS of things – just…happen. I believe some things happen randomly too. But I also believe that God takes each and every one of those random events and circumstances and, in His sovereign will, wrapped in undeserved and unearned grace and mercy, purposefully works them for His good.

Every. single. one of them. Because He is that good. He’s all powerful, all knowing and ever present.

When we find ourselves smack in the middle a seemingly random happening, both my husband and I agree that God has given us the freedom to choose. We are to be guided by wisdom (Bible, learned knowledge, prayer, experience, wise counsel, reason, etc.), but we get to choose how we respond. We both find loads of scriptural support for this belief.

The big difference between Hubs and I on this is that I tend to assume God’s hand in nearly everything – big or teeny, obvious or not, whether I ever get to know how or not. I’m not saying I believe God MAKES everything happen in this fallen world, although I believe He could. Again – He is that good. I’m saying I don’t find scriptural support for the extreme, exclusive idea that He makes EVERYthing happen. Sure, some things He makes happen. But some things He allows to happen. His sovereign will is unknown to us. In all cases, I believe the promise of Romans 8:28.

Who am I to determine what is meaningful or insignificant? The Bible tells me nothing is insignificant to God. The Bible tells me the hairs on my head are actually numbered.

Even being “in the dark,” as it were, I intuitively look for deeper meaning. What is God doing? Why did He allow something to happen? I immediately start thinking and praying about how to respond, whether it be taking action or figuring out what God wants me to learn or take away from the situation.

Last week, I had a friend remark to me “You see God in EVERYTHING.”

quote-lo-the-poor-indian-whose-untutored-mind-sees-god-in-clouds-or-hears-him-in-the-wind-alexander-pope-Not sure I ever consciously thought about it before, but she’s right. I do. I can’t imagine living any other way. To me, it’s completely normal. The fact that I see God in everything is probably one of the reasons I don’t believe in coincidences.

This might be a chicken or the egg kind of thing.

Either way, over the last few months, I’ve seen more of my own fingerprints than God’s. My life was one of the smudgiest sliding glass doors you’ve ever seen. And all the fingerprints were down low. Where I could reach.

To drastically summarize 16 “hard look in the mirror” blog posts: God has been silent in my life for a few months. I don’t like it. At. All. I feel like God the Father has taken His hand off the bicycle seat of my life to teach me…what? To be confident He is there even when I don’t feel the security of His hand? I researched the theology of “the dark night” and came out of all the reading grounded in one of the metaphors. I was going to stop swimming and float. Not drift – with no intention. FLOAT – in the current of God’s will. I wasn’t going to fight the current. I was going to stop swimming in the direction I thought God wanted me to go. I was going to FLOAT.

In the silence.

Seemed like a reasonable plan.

Until the silence became unbearable. I wrote last week, that I came to a breaking point. If you didn’t read that, “CLICK HERE” to check it out.

ya back?

okay. so that Monday night, I went to sleep having intentionally chosen this season of silence and whatever God is teaching me over tried and true past remedies for finding Joy in God. I called it my darkest night.

Tuesday morning, I woke up to an email in my inbox. The local school where I’ve recorded for more than 3 years had two cancellations for that upcoming weekend. Could I cover two vocal labs (recording sessions)? (If you didn’t do it a minute ago, you’re gonna have to read “two steps forward. one step back.” to get the full impact of that “coincidence.”)

and remember. I see God’s hand in EVERYthing.

So, in the spirit of floating, I said yes.

I spent the entire morning looking for two songs to sing. Given that I had less than four days to prepare a lead and at least two harmonies for each song, I focused specifically on songs I already knew. Song after song – one obstacle after another. No track. Background vocals already on the track. Wrong key. just…wrong after wrong after wrong.

I left the house for the afternoon and when I came back, someone had posted on my facebook wall:

“Hey, so you know the song ‘He is with You” by Mandisa? I think you should sing it at church. Take a look….'”

I immediately thought: “Mandisa? I can’t sing Mandisa.” But again, in the spirit of floating, I responded:

“I’m gonna call that a God thing. LocalRecordingSchool called me today asking me to fill in two cancellations this weekend. I struggled to select tracks all day. One down. one to go. Thanks, friend. If the rough cut is any good, I’ll give you a copy.”

And then another facebook friend commented:

“‘There is a God’ by Lee Ann Womack?”

That’s two.

Monday night I had broken down, wimped out and asked God to let me/help me sing again, then almost immediately took back my request, choosing the lesson of the dark night over the temporal blessing that would have come with the singing.

Then all that happened on Tuesday. The fingerprints on my sliding glass door were MUCH bigger than my own.

and they weren’t anywhere near my reach.

August 20, 2013 Posted by | christian living, intentional living, learning curve, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, suffering, thankfulness, the search for Joy | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

two steps forward. one step back.

If you read my last post, “growing pains” you know I’ve been having trouble seeing God’s hand in my life over the last few months.

God has been silent.

sound of silenceWhen I first became aware of the silence, I immediately assumed sin was separating me from God. I confessed all the sin I could identify. I raked through my life and identified the sin I had been rationalizing or been numb and oblivious to. I asked God to reveal to me anything I hadn’t found.

Be careful what you pray for.

I let go of some things in my life. Good things. One thing in particular that was responsible for actually helping me to discover how to worship God – to praise Him – for who He was instead just thank Him for what He did for me; for the blessings He afforded. This was something I had never understood or been able to do before. That’s what made leading worship a good thing. a very good thing.

I let it go because it had morphed into a crutch I had become dependent on to facilitate that worship.

I let go of other “good” things too. They had become obstacles in my relationship with Him.

But if you are one of the handful of people who actually read this blog regularly, you know all that.

Since then, God has been silent.

I’ve been seeking God every day. Relentlessly.

that’s an understatement.

Still. God has been silent.

crickets.

After more than 6 years of sensing God’s presence and movement in my daily life, it took less than two months for me to become resigned to the silence.

Not seeing or sensing God’s hand in my life, I stopped looking for it.

I expected the silence. It became my new normal.

dark night of the sensesI began reading everything I could about finding delight and joy in God. About spiritual dryness, spiritual darkness, the absence of God and the silence of God. C.S. Lewis, R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Philip Yancey and authors new to me, like Thomas Green, John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila. People who experienced and wrote about the “dark night.” Some of them talked about the dark night lasting the rest of their life.

I stopped writing in my prayer journal.

I had nothing to say.

I began abiding.

I threw myself into the mindless work of purging my environment and my life of superfluous things.

I began learning how to “pray without words” as C.S. Lewis would say. I stopped filling up the space between me and God with my voice. my incessant talking. I shut up. and I listened.

And God was silent.

In the beginning, I hated it. It was unsettling.

I was brokenhearted. I don’t say that kind stuff about myself. But there’s really no better way to describe it.

C.S. Lewis described it this way:

“We can bear to be refused but not to be ignored. In other words, our faith can survive many refusals if they really are refusals and not mere disregards. The apparent stone will be bread to us if we believe that a Father’s hand put it into ours, in mercy or in justice or even in rebuke.”
from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

After a few weeks, there was peace in the quiet. Like sitting with a close friend. The kind of friend you can ride in a car with, not talking, and feel no need to fill the void with spoken words. completely grounded. no need for a stealth “#awkward” tweet from the passenger seat.

so, there was peace.

but not joy.

In my last post, I said that I hadn’t been able to pray any specific petitionary prayers because I didn’t trust my motives. I said that last Monday I had hit bottom. The silence had become unbearable.

I broke.

I asked God to let me sing again. In my weakness, I instinctively reached out for the one thing that had allowed me to experience true JOY in God – regardless of my circumstances.

Singing to Him. I hadn’t been able to bring myself to do it since June 30th.

I went to bed that Monday night, the silence ringing in my mind. Disappointed in myself for caving. For chickening out and turning my back on whatever God is trying to teach me in this time of silence. Instead of trusting in the process of this journey, I reached out for old, tried and true, comfortable habits.

I wimped out.

I was convinced God was teaching me something. Something important. Although I had no idea what and I had no idea how long the lesson would last. It seemed that, at what appeared to be the hardest part of the lesson, I was asking God to give back what I had given up. I was going backward. I was turning my back on what He has for me now.

As I fell asleep, I took back my request. I told God that I didn’t want to settle for temporal blessings of comfort and happiness in exchange for this new relationship. Even if the new relationship meant years of silence.

Last Monday night was my darkest night.

[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”]

August 13, 2013 Posted by | music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, prayer, suffering, thankfulness, the search for Joy, Uncategorized, what I've learned | 2 Comments

four minutes with God: 2 Chronicles 5:13-14

a Quote:
“…what I testify to is the power of visual art, and especially music…They have the potential to awaken the mind and heart to aspects of God’s glory that were not perceived before. Paintings or photographs of mountains and streams can call forth a sense of wonder and peace. If we are willing to “look along” (not just “at”) these pictures, as Lewis taught us, our eyes will run up the beams to the Original Glory, and the wonder and peace will rest finally in the wonderful and peaceful mountains and streams of God’s power and mercy.

…We must make it our aim that the joy awakened by music be joy in God…Then the effort to delight in God through music will involve a prior shaping of the mind by the Word…Then the effort to delight in God through music will also involve a thoughtful testing after the music has already awakened joy. Is this joy…stirring my desires to know Christ better and love him more and show him to others at the cost of my own comfort? So before and after music has its immediate effect, we pursue the goal that music make us more glad in the glory of God.”
When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy
by John Piper

my Prayer:
Come Thou Fount Here I raise mine EbenezerLord, thank you for using praise music and my worship through that music to awaken my mind and heart to aspects of Your Glory I had never perceived before. Thank You for the joy it brought and the delight I found in You because of WHO YOU ARE. Thank You for the overwhelming and undeniable awareness of Your presence in those moments. Thank You for helping me to completely forget myself and for moving me into deeper praise, no longer centered in gratitude for Your temporal blessings, but grounded and focused on eternal things: Your Sovereignty, Your Holiness, Your stubborn love for me and my desperate and relentless need for You.

Even though the lesson was one of the hardest I’ve ever faced, thank you for teaching me that finding worship through music wasn’t enough, that it only took me part way. It limited true praise to those brief moments. Thank you for showing me that my dependance on music was quenching Your Spirit. It prevented me from finding joy and delight in WHO YOU ARE in the ordinary, everyday moments of my life. Thank You for the understanding that I can’t find that joy and delight on my own, through my own striving, depending on anything in this world to facilitate it.

Holy Spirit, please bless me with joy and delight, so I won’t be tempted to settle for less by depending on anything or anybody but Christ.

the Word:
“The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:

“He is good; his love endures forever.”

Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God”
2 Chronicles 5:13-14 (NIV)

the lyric.
“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet. Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the Mount I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer. Hither by Thy help I come.
Oh, and I hope by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home”
sung by Kings Kaleidoscope


[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”]

July 10, 2013 Posted by | books, christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, music, pinterest, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, thankfulness, the search for Joy, what I've learned, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I want me to want You.

yes. I did just sing that to the tune of a Cheap Trick song.

But I’m talking to God:

Lord, I want to wake up every morning aware of an innate desire for intimacy with YOU.

I want God not my idea of God CS LewisI want to delight in YOU.

but I don’t.

I call myself a Christian.

but I can’t remember ever, in my entire life, delighting in ONLY God.

In my memory and conscious understanding, I have always…

ALWAYS

tied my delight in the giver

to the gifts He gives.

I’ve tied the protection to the protector. The blessings to the one who blesses.

And most recently, not only have I tied the art with the artist, but I’ve placed my desire for that art in front of the artist.

I’m really starting to hate my mirror.

the view ain’t pretty.

Have I always tied my delight in Him with the delight I experience when I serve Him by doing something that satisfies, assuages my insecurity or bolsters my ego?

Have I ever simply delighted in the giver? Without experiencing the delight of a gift?

Have I ever delighted in the artist? Without finding delight in the art?

Have I ever found delight in the one who blesses, even when the blessings are disguised as trials?

maybe.

but if I have, I can’t remember it.

If I have, it was fleeting and subconscious. Never sustained or intentional. Don’t remember ever being aware of it.

And now? Now that I’ve intentionally chosen to stop doing the things that fill me with delight, when I’ve intentionally decided to find delight ONLY in Christ….

decided.

I decided.

Go ahead. ask me how that “decision” is working out.

dismal. failure.

It would seem I am as completely incapable of deciding to delight in God as I am in sticking to any other goal I’ve ever set for myself.

This another one of those times where I’m extremely thankful for my belief that I am not special.

Surely I’m not the only one who has failed at this particular goal.

I headed straight for the book that introduced me to the idea of delighting myself in God in the first place. John Piper, don’t fail me now. You better show some personal ugly in the middle of all that theology and lofty vocabulary. I need to see some Jack in you, JP.

God must have led me to it, because I have no idea how I found it. I immediately loved the title: “When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy

3rd sentence in the Forward:

“When all is said and done, only God can create joy in God.”

Sentences 5, 6 and 7:

“To be satisfied by the beauty of God does not come naturally to sinful people. By nature we get more pleasure from God’s gifts than from himself. Therefore this book calls for deep and radical change-which only God can give.”

My inclination was to head straight for Chapter Twelve “When the Darkness Does Not Lift” but I’m gonna hold off skipping to the end.

Instead, I’m jumping to the chapters on prayer because I’m still wresting with with petitionary prayer in light of my overwhelming awareness of just how selfish I am.

Stay tuned. This could be kinda like watching NASCAR, but for Christians. Either I’m going to crash and burn or there’s an epiphany and a straightaway ahead.

Meanwhile, still listening to this:

[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series “the search for Joy.”]

June 19, 2013 Posted by | books, christian living, intentional living, learning curve, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, prayer, the search for Joy, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 308 other followers