Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

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

“churched”

The other day, someone asked me if my kids grew up “churched.”

The pause before my reply was noticeably long.

I was thinking.

What does that mean? I realize my personal background and filters contribute to my way of thinking, but no definition I could come up with made it seem like growing up “churched” would be a good thing. Merriam-Webster defines it as:

adjective: “affiliated with a church.”

Well. That’s vague.

churched.

The word has connotations. Through my personal filters, adding “ed” after the word church makes it reek of religious knowledge and practices, not relationship with Christ.

So, if growing up churched just means my kids grew up knowing the traditions of church – whatever church or religion that might be, then yes, they grew up churched. They know what a call to worship is, they can sing the doxology, they know what to do with an offering plate, they know the different ways to take communion and what an alter call is. They know what the Apostles’ creed is and they know the Lord’s prayer doesn’t end with the words “with liberty and justice for all.” They can follow the verse order of a hymn and even though they both have searchable Bible apps, they can find a scripture in a Bible with paper pages by it’s reference. In more contemporary churches, they know that a worship service usually begins with what we in our family affectionately term a “giddyup Jesus” song, and they know why this video is funny.

So, if all that means my kids grew up churched, then yes. My kids grew up “churched.”

Some might say, “Well, it’s better than nothing.”

Not necessarily.

Here’s the deal. If all that stuff is a precursor to a personal decision for Christ or an expression of a growing relationship with Him, then yes. It is better than nothing.

BUT, if all those things are part of their life instead of or apart from a growing relationship with Christ, I don’t necessarily think growing up churched is better.

It might actually be worse.

I’ve personally met so. many. people. who grew up going to church and as an adult, have not only abandoned church, but faith altogether.

A few months ago, I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His. (CLICK HERE to read that post – and if you ever think about praying that, brace yourself.)

One clear and constant answer has been the fact that so many people have turned away from faith in Christ without ever really knowing what it is.

Who He is.

Growing up churched has kept more than a few people from relationship with Christ because they think that all those things I mentioned about church is evidence of a relationship with Christ.

Not always true.

That’s what I was thinking during the extended silence that followed the “Did your kids grow up churched?” question.

But when I broke that silence, what did I say?

“uhhhhh. Well. We took them to church if that’s what you mean.”

I am so articulate sometimes.

The truth is that despite all their knowledge and understanding of religious practices, my kids never heard the gospel explained in kid language at the church we attended. Hell was too scary for kids and Jesus was a role model, not a Savior. Discussions about asking Jesus to come into your heart? The Holy Spirit as a helper after you ask Jesus to come into your heart? No. (By the grace of God and through an extended, painful revelation process, we now understand that we need to be part of a Christ-centered church.)

We went to church on Sunday mornings, did a few summers of VBS, went to some fall costume parties, some Christmas breakfasts with Santa and some Easter egg hunts. Sunday school was mostly Bible stories and crafts. VBS was a rotation of Bible stories, crafting sessions and outdoor games interspersed with music, snacks and cute videos with moral and ethical messages.

They learned that God loved them. They learned they should help people. They learned God wanted them to be “good” like Jesus. They learned that they should give joyfully.

teach children diligently Deuteronomy 6 6-7But my kids first learned about having a relationship with Christ from my husband and I. Because we knew that our faith couldn’t be theirs by force or wishes, we prayed that the Holy Spirit would draw them to Christ, and we told them about Jesus. Through our lives – our words and our actions – they saw what faith in Christ really is – a relationship. They knew Jesus loved them – no matter what – just like we loved them. We prayed with them, we did family devotions together, we were authentic with them about the lessons God was teaching us, we listened to their problems, their fears and their joys and we continuously helped them to view and navigate all three through faith in God.

By the grace of God, they both accepted Christ at a very early age. By the grace of God and equipped by the Holy Spirit, we did our best to disciple them as they grew in their faith.

We enrolled them in Christian school because we wanted them to learn as much about the Bible as they did about math, science, history, spelling and English. When they moved onto middle school and began building on that Bible knowledge and learning theology, we actively engaged them in discussions that helped them figure out and ground themselves in their own beliefs, some of those beliefs different from what were being taught at school. As my son has grown older and graduated from high school, he’s come to some beliefs that differ from his mom and/or dad. (No surprise, mom and dad don’t always agree either.)

Regardless of the tangential beliefs we each have, we share faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. All four of us depend on the Holy Spirit to equip us for the life we live, striving to follow the Father’s will.

My husband and I are confident that each of our children have their own faith in and relationship with Christ. We pray for those relationships regularly.

But “Did your kids grow up churched?” is a yes or no question. There wasn’t time to think through all that, much less say it.

Hence the blog post.

April 21, 2014 Posted by | christian living, pinterest, pragmatic communion, pragmatic parenting, praise team music, prayer, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

toxic concoction.

Doubt and Faith Toxic Concoction Mark Buchanan Your God is Too SafeI got cocky.

I thought I could logically justify my faith in God.

You’ll find some Christians who’ll tell you they can do it.

not me.

not anymore.

When someone told me my faith was illogical, irrational and unreasonable, I bristled. Or should I say, my ego bristled? I challenged them to prove it.

They couldn’t. (Their emotionally charged reasoning was circular and redundant and they completely ignored me when I poked questions into the holes in their arguments.)

But in the aftermath of those discussions, I discovered I couldn’t disprove it either.

Science and logic have limits. There are some things that can’t be understood or explained (and a definition isn’t an explanation).

Like what causes gravity.
Like human consciousness.
Like quantum entanglement (what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”).

Like God.

Doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just means we don’t understand why. Or how.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot that God cannot be completely understood. I forgot that a God I can understand is a God I create. Confine. Any God I can completely understand is limited by time and space and the extent to which I can understand.

Any God who is limited by my understanding is not transcendent.

I was reminded – the hard way – that I don’t want a God I can understand.

It was a season of extreme paradox in my life.

My faith had never been stronger and I had never been more aware of my weakness apart from Christ.

My faith had never been stronger and I had never been more intimately and desperately dependent on the Holy Spirit.

I prayed daily for wisdom and discernment and empathy and compassion. I prayed daily for Him to continuously make me aware of opportunities to be the hands and feet and voice and ears of Christ. Watching and listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit had never been more in the forefront of my awareness. I prayed not only for the Holy Spirit to prompt me when to speak and act, but when to be silent and still.

I prayed for Him to equip me in what I honestly knew to be beyond my capabilities.

and then.

The person who told me my faith was illogical, irrational and unreasonable asked me a simple question:

If God is sovereign, why pray?

You’d think I would have considered that question before, me being all spiritually “mature” and everything.

Turns out, I had never really thunk it through. I had dismissed it, thoughtlessly citing Biblical platitudes like “I pray because Jesus prayed.” and “I pray because the Bible tells us to pray.”

When I finally looked at the question straight on, my entire relationship with God came to a screeching halt.

I couldn’t pray.

I wanted to turn back the clock. To unthink what I was thinking. I wanted the faith of a child.

I wanted stronger faith.

Suddenly and overwhelmingly, I identified with Philip Yancey when he wrote:

“I envy, truly I envy, those people who pray in simple faith without fretting about how prayer works and how God governs this planet. For some reason I cannot avoid pondering these imponderables.”

What was so different about this question this time? It came at a critical juncture in my life. After arguing with God for months, I had finally taken the terrifying step of obedience by sharing something I believe God was revealing to me. Something I tried to ignore. Something I didn’t want to see: That I was part of a church which marginalized grace, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, prayer and relationship with Christ. That we forgot 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 and were ignoring Matthew 28:19.

I was genuinely repentant and prayed desperately for God to bring revival. Heartbroken, I asked for people to pray with me. I was blindsided by how angry people were, how fast and how much they misunderstood what I said and how vehemently they rejected not only what I was saying, but me.

I had argued with God, finally doing what I believed He was prompting me to do and I was faced with closed hearts, closed minds and slammed doors.

So I did what anyone “mature” in their faith would do. I ran into a cave and hid.

A dark cave.

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:4-9

Go ahead, sing-song it with me.

“Julie and Elijah, sitting under a tree, w. h. i. n. ing.”

I prayed.

and then I couldn’t.

Because God is sovereign and God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do.

And then I prayed because I couldn’t help it.

Because a life void of intimacy with Christ and utter dependance on the Holy Spirit was vastly empty. and hopelessly dark.

Desolate.

I prayed because I couldn’t help it while at the same time believing that praying to a sovereign God who’s working a plan and doesn’t need my help was…pointless.

Not logical. Not pragmatic.

And that’s where faith is required.

And where doubt came in.

I never doubted the existence of God. I never doubted Christ or the Cross or the redeeming power of His blood. I never doubted my salvation.

I doubted the point of me.

If God is sovereign, why pray?

If God doesn’t need me, why would He even bother with me? Why did He even bother with me?

And that’s why I say I can’t logically justify my faith.

In my darkest night, when God was completely silent, when the logical, rational and reasonable foundation for my faith was beyond my sight,

I still had faith.

I still have faith.

April 10, 2014 Posted by | apologetics, books, Christ-Centered Church, christian living, pinterest, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

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

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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“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

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

book binge

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Need. Bookcases.
#incurablebibliophile

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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.)

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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

new flooring sample
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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

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Tuesday, 01/14/14

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

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

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

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Wednesday, 01/15/14
Louder.

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Book Sniffing. How Nerds Get High. #bibliophile

book sniffing

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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

frost on the windshield

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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.

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

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

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

birdhouses

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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!

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

crunch or creamy peanut butter

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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.

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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

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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: 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

four minutes with God: Hebrews 4:15-16

a Quote:
“…how did the early Christians pray for joy? First, we may assume that they prayed the prayers of the only Bible that they had, namely, the Old Testament. Thus they would have prayed:

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Ps. 90:14).
“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice” (Ps. 51:8).
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Ps. 51:12).
“Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us” (Ps. 90:15).
“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Ps. 85:6).

Don’t miss how radical these prayers are. They assume that we are unable to make ourselves satisfied in God. And they assume that God has the right to do it, is able to do it, and does it in answer to prayer.”

When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy
by John Piper

Gods Mercy Never Fails Hebrews 4 16my Prayer:
Lord, I desperately want to delight only in You. Please help me love you. most.

the Word:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

the lyric.
“Breathe in me Your life. ‘Til Your love overtakes me
Open up my eyes. Let me see You more clearly
Falling on my knees, ’til I love like You love
Like You love me”

by Hillsong

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

June 18, 2013 Posted by | books, christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, music, praise team music, prayer, thankfulness, the search for Joy, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

four minutes with God: Luke 1:37

Luke 1 37the Word:
“God can do anything.”
Luke 1:37 (NIV)

my Prayer:
Lord, I pray for revival, filled with doubt that You will stir it. Not because You can’t, but because You won’t. I believe You can do anything. But I also know You don’t force yourself on anyone. And the people I’m praying for are very comfortable right where they are. They see no need to change. They see nothing wrong except for this Jesus Freak who’s rocking the boat.

So I ask you Lord, not for anything specific, because I have no flippin idea what to ask for. You know. You know exactly what is needed and exactly when. Your plan is perfect. Your timing is perfect. I know You don’t need me, but pray that You can and will use me. I’m asking You – I’m begging You – to move. Move in the hearts and minds of individuals. I pray that they will be DISsatisfied with an assumption of Christ. I pray that they will, from their soul, cry out for Jesus. I pray they won’t be able to stomach any substitute.

Almighty God, I’m begging you for a miracle, no matter what it looks like. No matter how much it hurts. Because You are my comfort, my peace, my strength and my hope. I trust You, even when I don’t understand what You are doing.

a Quote:
“He [God] specializes in solutions that have no explanation other than Him.

Don’t get discouraged by the long, unyielding situations in your life. God has solutions for them. He may not have revealed those solutions yet – He let many people in Scripture endure long periods that required faith and patience – but He is never late with His answers. Wait, believe and hope. Nothing is impossible with Him.”
The One Year Experiencing God’s Presence Devotional: 365 Daily Encounters to Bring You Closer to Him
by Chris Tiegreen

the lyric.
“I may be weak, But Your Spirit’s strong in me. My flesh may fail, but My God You never will!”
Give Me Faith, by Elevation Worship (click HERE to listen)

November 30, 2012 Posted by | books, christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, suffering, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

four minutes with God: Luke 24:27, 30-32

the Word:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself…When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?””
Luke 24:27, 30-32 (NIV)

my Prayer:
Lord, please open my eyes. Please open the Scriptures to me. Please teach me how to encounter Christ in every corner of the Bible. I can’t do it on my own. I desperately need your Holy Spirit to help me decipher what I read, but I also need teachers and books and other resources to point me to Christ in every measure of your Word. PLEASE Lord, don’t ever let me passively use or numbly accept others use of Your Word only as supporting material for moral living or motivation for charitable service – without an unmistakable declaration that apart from Jesus Christ, moral living and charitable service are empty, temporal pursuits. Please Lord, never let me settle for an assumption of Jesus. My desperate prayer is that I would never forget that JESUS is the single common thread that runs through every book of the Bible. Lord, never let me forget that without JESUS, the Bible is just a historical document. I want to see Jesus in Scripture where I’ve never recognized Him before. Jesus, please show me YOU. Please help me point others to You.

a Quote:
“ABOVE ALL, PREACH CHRIST…I got lost in the details of the text and didn’t have time for the most important part. In the mail came a letter from this lady saying, ‘I could have heard that message in a mosque.’ Ouch. Sometimes the best input doesn’t come in the easiest packages, but she was right. Nobody needs preaching that gives the testimony of God but doesn’t scope down to the Son of God and the gospel. That’s gotta be in our messages somewhere every week, that God loves fallen people, that they can be saved from their sins and find the hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. If I never get tired of preaching it, God’s people will not wear of rejoicing in it.”
Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs for. What Every Church Can Be.
by James MacDonald

the lyric.
“Chains be broken. Lives be healed. Eyes be opened. Christ is revealed.”
You’ll Come by Hillsong United

October 25, 2012 Posted by | apologetics, books, christian living, devotions, four minutes with God, intentional living, learning curve, music, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

an ego smackdown. straight from God.

In Kari Jobe’s album version of Revelation Song, the fourth verse builds and the word “mystery” is held for about 18 seconds. (It starts at the 4 minute mark)

I couldn’t do it.

And I really, really wanted to do it. For over a year, the worship leader didn’t even go near it. Then, one night at rehearsal, when I didn’t know it was coming, we held it out the extra beats.

Twice.

I was hooked.

I rehearsed the rest of the week, and that Sunday, just before we were supposed to lead Revelation Song, the pastor lost track of the fact that we had one more song to do and began speaking.

It was scheduled again on a week with a guest worship leader. It took me THREE breaths to get through it. THREE.

I had taken it to my vocal coach and worked on it for weeks. No matter how hard I worked, no matter how many times I vocalized and repeated those particular voice lessons along with a CD, I couldn’t master those stupid 18 seconds. I achieved a whopping 50% success rate. On a good day.

Time and time again, I ran out of air after 15 seconds. If not sooner.

I took Revelation Song to the recording studio and was relentless. In the end, I was able to hold it every time, but only by holding my hands straight up in the air as far as I could reach. Whether it was physical or psychological, I seemed to make room for more air that way. But I held it. Made me lightheaded every time. And it had no building power. It actually got softer.

A thought occurred to me and I pushed it aside. For two weeks, I ignored what I believe now was God trying to tell me something.

Finally, two days ago, I told God that if I was trying to hold “mystery” out of pride, I wanted to fail.

Haven’t held it since.

Not once.

Of course it’s possible that I’m freaking myself out. But more likely this is an ego smackdown straight from God. This is one of those failures I can’t overcome by working harder. Have to let it go. Counter-intuitive.

I told two other people on the worship team this ugly little truth and one of them immediately came back with this verse:

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
Colossians 3:5 (NIV)

ouch. That’s kinda harsh, dontcha think?

I like this one better:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Colossians 3:23

Isn’t that prettier? I told my husband that it kinda felt like putting lipstick on a pig. His response?

“It’s a cop out if you ask me.”

Ugly but true.

Colossians 3:23 is a goal. Something to strive for. Colossians 3:5 is about acknowledging sin. Big, fat, ugly, lipstick covered sin. And who wants to see that? I certainly didn’t.

Don’t.

So ugly I didn’t even want to put that pig picture on this post.

But there it is.

I’m leading Revelation Song on Sunday. And I’m planning on taking a breath in the middle of those 18 seconds. If God doesn’t think I’ve been humbled enough, I asking him to make me need TWO.

August 17, 2012 Posted by | christian living, intentional living, learning curve, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communion, praise team music, what I've learned, youtube | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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