Jul 20 2015

Making a Joyful Noise

My big boy got to participate in the wonderful blessing of music camp this summer for the first time. I loved being a choir mom! I hope it’s just the first taste of many more similar things yet to come. :)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!
Psalm 95:1-2

P1220403

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
Psalm 98:4-6

P1220401

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
Psalm 100:1-2

One response so far

Jul 10 2015

Meditating on Psalm 57

This morning I read a nice chunk out of Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, A Steadfast Heart. It gave me multiple opportunities to think of my grandparents especially, as I know both of them are going through storms in their life as they adjust to new and difficult life situations.

Grace withereth without adversity.
The devil is but God’s master fencer,
to teach us to handle our weapons.
~Samuel Rutherford~

This book uses Psalm 57 as its inspiration, and builds upon the images and principles that David gave us there.
PSALM 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,

    for in You my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
    to God who fulfills His purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
    He will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions;
    I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let Your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps;
    my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
    but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God,
    my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
    Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
    I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
    I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
    Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let Your glory be over all the earth!

Lay all your loads and your weights by faith upon Christ.
Ease yourself, and let Him bear all.
He can, He does, He will bear you.
~Samuel Rutherford~

It is beautiful to remember what the Lord asks of us in Psalm 57:

to trust in Him
to make our refuge in the shadow of His wings
to cry out to God Most High
to be steadfast of heart
to sing
to give praise
to glorify Him
to make music to Him
to greet the dawn
to praise Him among the peoples
to sing to Him among the nations

Your rock doth not ebb and flow,
but your sea.
~Samuel Rutherford~

And it is comforting to notice what the Lord says He will do in this psalm:

He will be merciful
He performs all things for us
He shall send from heaven to save us
He will reproach the one who would swallow us up
He will send forth His  mercy
He will send forth His truth
He will be exalted
He will be glorified

The floods may swell and roar,
but our ark shall swim above the waters;
it cannot sink, because a Saviour is in it.
~Samuel Rutherford~

Whatever the storms are that you face today, this week, this month, this year… remember that when you belong to the Lord, there is nothing that can separate you from His love. He is the captain of your ship, regardless of the strength of the storm. Even the winds and the waves obey His command! Be steadfast of heart as you cling to Him even in terrible fear, in seasickness, in doubt. He will not leave you, He will not forsake you. He will carry you through the storms.

One response so far

Jul 06 2015

It’s a Boy!

The Lord has heard our cries, and granted us a healthy little son. A third brave knight to protect our princess. :)
The mercy of our God just humbles & astounds me.

P1220347

P1220329

from Deuteronomy 26:7-11
Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us out… and He brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. …and we shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord our God has given to us and to our house…

8 responses so far

Jul 06 2015

Litany for Christian Marriage

Last week after church, we were given a couple of articles to read as we in the Church face new-but-not-so-new battles against the institution of marriage. One of them included this article, where part of it is a litany for marriage which I have prayed a couple times in the last week. For my own marriage. For the marriages of people I love. For those in my church. For the marriages in the Church at large. Our marriages speak of the mystery of Christ and His Church ~ oh, what are we preaching these days?! May the Lord have mercy upon us.May He be glorified by our returning to Him as the Church, His bride, and may we seek to honor Him, one another, and our marriage vows because we belong to Him ~ and so does the institution of marriage.

A Litany for Marriage

We thank you, heavenly Father, for graciously creating us in your image, male and female, and for ordaining that a man and woman shall be joined as one flesh in the covenant of marriage.
We thank you, O Father.

We thank you for the gift and heritage of children and for placing them in homes which may be havens of blessing and peace.
We thank you, O Father.

We thank you for the love between fathers and mothers and sons and daughters that binds together the generations and undergirds our country’s social fabric.
We thank you, O Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, divine Bridegroom, we repent for all the situations in which we have dishonored the covenant of marriage through selfishness or unfaithfulness.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

We repent as a Church where we have failed to prepare our children for holy matrimony, or to care for those who are widowed, divorced or single.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

We repent where as citizens we have become complacent and neglected the defense of marriage in the public square.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

We pray you, Holy Spirit, to restore marriage to its due honor in our country and to revive our marriages and families as emblems of your love.
Deliver us by your grace and power.

We pray you to strengthen our bishops and other leaders as they join with faithful churches to make a strong God-honoring defense of your design for marriage.
Deliver us by your grace and power.

We pray you to have mercy on those who have promoted false teaching about marriage and on those who have been led astray and harmed by it.
Deliver us by your grace and power.

Grant us courage, O Triune God, to hold fast to the truth of your Word, and give grace to those who are counted worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).

A Prayer for Marriage Almighty God our heavenly Father, you have created us male and female in your image and have ordained that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. Look down in mercy, we pray, on our families, our church and our nation. Knit together in constant affection those who, in Holy Matrimony, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, the hearts of the children to the parents, and the hearts of all to those who are single or alone. Finally, grant that your Church may steadfastly defend the unchangeable bond of marriage which embodies the mystery of Christ’s love for us; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and forever.

Suggested Hymns: “O God of Earth and Altar”; “God of Grace and God of Glory”

One response so far

Jul 04 2015

July 4th Meditation

Courtesy of our pastor-friend Toby Sumpter, be exhorted and encouraged on this July 4th.

…Here’s the deal: the peace of God was announced by an army of angels that came down and woke up a field full of shepherds at night. The peace of God filled an old man in a temple with a song and a prophecy about a sword that would divide and pierce. The peace of God calmed a fierce storm on the Sea of Galilee and then drove several thousand pigs into the same sea to drown and rot, while a man with self-inflicted cuts all over his body sat for the first time, clothed and in his right mind. The peace of God comes like this. The joy of God comes like this. Jesus’ own family thought He was out of His mind, thought He was insane. He was accused of drunkenness, being demon possessed, and He made rulers nervous and mad. But everywhere He went, He brought peace and healing and joy.

So this is my Fourth of July charge to you. Embrace this tension. Embrace this cross. Let your arms be stretched out like this, like the arms of your Savior. Sing a psalm louder than ever before. Laugh longer, have one more helping of potato salad, and give one more toast. Tickle your children, kiss your wife, invite another neighbor to the party, say an extra blessing of gratitude over it all, and send fifteen more fireworks into the sky tonight. Do it all with a profound and certain and unshakeable joy in your heart. Our Jesus reigns and all will be well.

Click here for his full meditation.

No responses yet

Jun 27 2015

Prayers of Psalmody in Depression

With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before Him;
I tell my trouble before Him.
When my spirit faints within me,
You know my way!
Psalm 142:1-3 (ESV)

Depression. Sometimes we can be so overwhelmed with the discouragements of life that we use this word to describe our outlook. Sometimes we are so sad and grieved by circumstances that we apply this label to ourselves and our feelings and our emotions. And sometimes there are those of us who suffer clinical depression, where it is an uncontrolled chemical imbalance in our brains and bodies that weighs us down regardless of circumstances or happy blessings. Sometimes these “types” or “definitions” of depression even overlap and collide and combine with one another. I have personally experienced each of these three broad categories of depression that I have just briefly described for you—each one is extremely painful, and can be absolutely suffocating. I have been so depressed at times that I could not get out of bed, could not stop crying, could not face seeing any people, could not cope, could not recognize joys, could not even pray outside of basic juvenile attempts to simply cry help, God!

So today I am kneeling in the quiet of my own room, asking for my Father to hear the cries—no matter how muffled, how simple, how tear-choked, how even unspoken—of my sisters who are struggling with depression, anywhere along the spectrum of this particular suffering. Especially because in the Christian realm, there is a stigma about depression that makes it almost impossible to talk about with any sort of honesty or vulnerable integrity. My heart aches for you, and my hands are lifted up to our Father, and you are represented on my palms before His throne. Come with me now, and let us pray together.

 

O Father, You are in heaven, high and lifted up. You are holy and all-powerful, yet I confidently come to You with these open hands, lifting broken and downtrodden hearts to you. You know the needs before I utter them, You discern the pains of these suffering saints far more intimately than I can begin to understand. So through Your Holy Spirit and by the intercession of Christ my High Priest, would You please accept these prayers and bend low to lift up these faces, lighten these paths, and restore the souls here who are in desperate need of Your encouragement? Lord, hear my prayers.

You go before us and You are with us; please help us to know that You will not leave or forsake us, regardless of the inner turmoil we may fight. Please grant us Your grace so that we do not fear, and keep us from dismay. (Deuteronomy 31:8) The anxiety in our hearts weigh us down and build heavy walls of depression within us, but good words gladden us (Proverbs 12:25), so please Father, surround us with words to restore joy to our hearts, and specifically use Your Word and words from Your people to encourage us with wisdom and truth.

Father, depression is a stormy sea—O, Father, You know!—so please send from Your high place, and snatch us out, drawing us out of these waters. Rescue us from the strong enemy of depression, it is too mighty for us on our own. Depression is a continual confrontation for some of us, and Lord, it brings so many calamities. Lord, be our support! Bring us out into a broad place by Your hand of rescue. Show us Your delight in us! You show us Your mercy and fill us with the righteousness of Christ because we are His—so cleanse our hands and grant us rewards from Your grace. Even in depression, Lord, we do not depart from You. We keep Your ways, we fall at Your feet. (2 Samuel 22:17-22) Enable us to serve You in new ways, even while we are in the darkness and ride on the stormy seas. Remind us that You are our Savior. Remind us that You are our support. Remind us that depression itself can never separate us from You. Make us conquerors by Your love, even as You remind us of Your surety and continual companionship—that in addition to what Paul lists for us, no more can anxiety or depression or doubt separate us from Your love when we are in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

When we languish, be gracious—when we are troubled all the way through our bones, heal us—oh! Lord, how long will You allow this great trouble of soul to persist? (Psalm 6:2-3) Lighten this darkness! You are our lamp, O Lord, so disperse the dark veil of depression in front of us! (2 Samuel 22:29) In this oppression, in this trouble—Lord, be Thou our one and only faithful stronghold. (Psalm 9:9)

Even now as we cry aloud to You, we are confident that You hear us. Yet why do our souls refuse to be comforted?! In this trouble, we seek You, Lord, and we stretch our hands to You, remembering You and calling to You and meditating on Your Word. I moan! My spirit faints! The trouble can be so overwhelming—the depression so thick that our words will not come, even speaking feels too hard—You alone can keep our eyelids open when they just want to shut tight and let the darkness of this suffering suffocate and drown us. (Psalm 77:1-4) We know You are near. We know You save. We know You deliver. O Lord, fix these broken hearts, heal these crushed spirits, relieve these afflicted ones who wear Christ’s righteousness. (Psalm 34:18-19) You see this affliction, and You know this distress (Psalm 31:7), so be the shield we need to fight the strong enemy of depression and be our glory as the One who lifts up our heads! (Psalm 3:3) You can make our steps firm and grant us renewed delight in You! We might be stumbling around in this darkness, but O Lord, when You uphold us with Your hand, we can not fall! (Psalm 37:23-24)

So why are we downcast? Why are our souls tumultuous? Where is our hope? Where is our praise? Where is our salvation? God, where are You?! (Psalm 43:5) Even in the midst of depression’s darkness, our only hope is from You—for You, O God, help our souls to wait in silence. (Psalm 62:5) Be gracious to us, O Lord, for we are in distress (Psalm 31:9), and by Your Spirit, please help us in this weakness. Sometimes in our depression, we can hardly lift our hands our coin our words—the darkness and the anxiety and the walking round in circles just causes our bodies and minds to nearly shut down—so when we do not know how or for what we ought to pray, please by Your Spirit intercede for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)

Our spirits faint inside of us as they are pressed on every side by depression; our hearts are appalled at the dark abyss they feel inside. And so we stretch out our hands to You; our souls thirst for You like a parched land. Preserve our lives—body, mind, soul, spirit, strength—for the sake of Your name, O Lord! In Your righteousness bring our souls out of this trouble! (Psalm 143:4, 6, 11) Please, O Lord, do not hide Your face from us—You have told us to seek Your face, so please hear us now as our hearts cry out! Lord, we do seek Your face! (Psalm 27:8-9) And so, Father, here we are—we will look to You, Lord. Pull back the blinders of depression and lift the veil of darkness all around. We will wait for the God of our salvation. You are our God, and You will hear us! Oh, enemy of depression that brings me sinking low, by the power of God, I will not let you rejoice over me. When I fall, I shall rise—yes, Lord! When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me—and amen! (Micah 7:7-8)

We call to You, O God of our righteousness—please answer. Give us relief from our distress, by Your grace, and hear our prayer. Please grant us peace so that we can rest—body and soul—because You are the only One, our Lord, who can fill us with the respite of safe haven. (Psalm 4:1, 8) You are our God, and so we continue to seek You earnestly. We thirst for You! We faint for You! In this dry and weary land of depression where we have no sustenance of food or water but for Your sustaining grace, lift us up and fill us, heal us and give us hope. We will bless You for as long as we live, and in Your name we lift up our hands, carrying our burdens and our depression and our suffering sisters in our prayers before You. (Psalm 4:1, 4)

Thank You for hearing the cries of our souls. Please send Your mercy into this darkness, and be our great Light. Amen.

3 responses so far

Jun 27 2015

Pull on the rope

P1060325

God’s kindness is the dock,
your troubles are in the boat,
and prayer is the rope.
But don’t think you pull the dock to the boat.
Other way.
~Douglas Wilson~

P1060405

No responses yet

Jun 25 2015

Be Still

Published by under Faith,Quotes

One response so far

Jun 24 2015

Firsts & Lasts

Right now, I have a thousand miles between myself and a painful ripping in my family.
Today, my grandpa is moving away from his wife and his home ~ his beautiful wife of 63 years who he no longer knows, although subconsciously sometimes seems to remember ~ his home since I was a toddler, where I envision him pruning roses, growing lemons & tomatoes, tenderly bringing in paradise flowers to fix with toothpicks in Grandma’s little crystal dishes to decorate their oval kitchen table with a whole collage of crystal & blooms.
Last night was the last time my grandma would get her husband dressed in his pajamas, and walk down the hallway with her hand in his toward their bedroom, to climb into bed together. He did not know it, he probably did not even know her, but she did. And thinking about that just absolutely breaks my heart.
Today was the last time my grandma would wake up in her bed with her husband warming the other side of it. This morning was the last time she would fill two bowls with cereal, and pile another bowl’s worth of fruit (bananas, peaches, blueberries) on top of each. Yesterday was the first time she had to buy half as many groceries when she made her weekly trip to Trader Joe’s.
Today will be the last time they walk out of their house together, knowing that they will come home together… today will be the first time Grandma leaves her husband in a different home and comes back to her house without him.

Sometimes death comes so suddenly that it leaves us reeling in shock and surprise.
Sometimes death comes so slowly that it just peels away at our very souls, one tiny shred at a time.

I am not there, so I get to be numbed to most of the reality of what is happening. I did not go help buy Grandpa’s new room decorations or the twin-sized blanket for his new bed. I did not cook his last dinner at home or eat his last breakfast beside him at his own kitchen table. I am not the one who has to drive him down the cul de sac and away from his home. I am not the one who has to walk back out to the car and blow him a kiss goodbye after taking him to his new home.

But as I sit here thinking about my mama and my grandma, who are the ones doing all those things, I just can’t stop crying.
I am crying for their pain.
I am crying because lasts & firsts can both be so hard.
I am crying because mortality is a harsh reality when you face it head-on.

I went to bed last night, and watched my husband fall asleep on the pillow beside me. And reality is, I do not know when I will do that for the last time. Sometimes it is easier not to know. I can’t imagine having been my grandma last night, knowing that it was her last time.

I naively think that I am closer to the first time I went to bed with my husband than the last time. I remember sleeping in my bed in my old room the night before my wedding, thinking how that was the last time I ever had to sleep alone (business trips and such don’t count!), and how glorious it would be to have someone to fall asleep with and wake up next to for the rest of my life. (And it is glorious!) I bet my grandma had those same thoughts the night before her own wedding, just over 63 years ago.

So right now, I don’t cry for Grandpa, because my mother just sent me a picture of him sitting at his kitchen table, so handsome in a blue-collared shirt with a big smile on his face, his silver hair topping him like a halo. He is happy, he is handsome, he is oblivious.
But I cry for what was & no longer is.
I cry for my mama, watching her daddy disappear into the shell of what he was, slowly & painfully saying goodbye piece by piece.
And mostly I cry for my grandma, who has not only had to suffer through losing her darling husband little by little over the last couple of years to the horrible ugly monster of Alzheimer’s, but who has had to be the one to physically care for him every day no matter how hard the battles have been ~ and now she has to be the one to sign the papers, to drop him off, to kiss him goodbye, to go home to her new reality which includes her empty bed. And the empty bed simply symbolizes so much… and it breaks my heart.

I remember saying goodbye to my grandpa last fall, the last time I saw him in person. I remember telling him that if he gets to heaven first, to tell my babies hello for me. I remember him staring deeply into my eyes and smiling and saying “I will do that.”
I remember him throughout my childhood in various ways.
One of the most prominent places he holds in my memory is at his own kitchen table (perhaps because we ate a lot of meals there together).

So I am glad for this picture of his last morning at home at his table. With his wife and his daughter.

And while I don’t know when his physical body will die and his soul will fly to heaven, today my family endures a ripping that is a kind of death. It is a step closer to Death. And it is hard, even from a thousand miles away.

 P1190784

It takes a different kind of courage
to face death when you cannot run,
when you cannot fight,
when you are pinned beneath heavy decades,
beneath the weight of life—
when  your faith really must be in Another.
~N. D Wilson, Death by Living, p45~

9 responses so far

Jun 22 2015

In Faith

Posting this kind of thing takes a lot of faith from me. So! In faith, I am sharing a recent belly bump picture, as well as a painting I did for Steven for Father’s Day which represents all 13 of our babies. The Lord is gracious, and that is enough.

P1220262

P1220257

…You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

10 responses so far

Next »