Friday, November 7, 2014

"I Will Not Forget" - Story Behind the Song

I had my facts a little wrong when I made the video for this song, but they weren't so terribly off to justify a redo (and honestly, I didn't want to redo the whole thing). The truth is, we hadn't yet opened our restaurant. We were just a couple of months away from opening actually. But those months before the opening were very busy and stressful. I guess it felt like we were open already! Anyway, sorry about that! =/

I looked back in the journal from when I wrote this and there was a combination of health issues and life itself (opening a restaurant, along with all the other stuff) that was weighing on me. The journal entry below contains my prayer to the Lord for that day and what He spoke to my heart:

1-8-07 "...You have made me glad in spite of how the natural things are. I'm going to rejoice in You today for all You are in my life and all You've done. Nothing compares to You, Lord. Your goodness is better than anything in my life being good. I will continue to praise You and thank You for the difficulties. You have upheld me with Your strength and taught me how to rely on You. As You continue teaching me more, help me to be grateful for Your hand in my life. Give me a grateful heart.

'...You can enjoy this time and not just bear it with clenched teeth. Continue rejoicing in Me and giving Me glory. Find the blessings that I have given you and be thankful for them. Don't concentrate on what is not right as you think. Exercise to see the blessings. There are more than you can imagine. A heart of thanks will be filled with joy. A heart filled with joy will find strength beyond the natural. Continue praising Me and resting in Me. There are green pastures here, but you have to look carefully for them. There is refreshment and enjoyment for you here...Be diligent to have a grateful heart full of praise and thanksgiving.'"

No matter how old the message is, it still applies to me today. Focusing on what is good, how good God is, all that He has done - this is as much of an exercise today as it was then. Regardless of what I'm facing and how hard it may be, I must not forget the Lord's abundant mercies toward me. With that in view, I have joy and strength to keep going.

One of my favorite lines in this song is in the bridge: "When You allow the battles to show me I am safe."

Here's the vid!

Have a blessed day, remembering all the tender mercies and faithfulness of the Lord today! =)

All glory to Jesus,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Songwriting is Painful

Real, raw honesty coming your way in 3-2-1. If you're not ready for it, now is the time to stop reading and leave...right's coming.

Is it safe now? Okay, here we go.

I want to talk about the painful side of songwriting today. The songwriting that makes me cringe and I draw away from the idea of it a little. The reaction inside of me is something like, "No...not a song about that...please!?" And yet, I'm somehow compelled to write about it regardless of my feelings.

Songwriting can be really, really painful. It can be one of the most gut-wrenching experiences. Sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes. There are some songwriting seasons that are more painful than others when the painful songs seem to come one right after the other. Other times, there are seasons of songwriting bliss. We're not talking about the songwriting bliss today...sorry. ;)

Songwriting is a collision of truth, thoughts, emotions, and music. It makes me face myself, face situations, face God, face people, face fears, and face memories in a way that completely disarms me. I don't know if that is because of the music or the fact that I can freely write everything on my heart in a way that feels safe.

God uses songwriting in my life as a way to mold my heart and purify me. He uses it to help me sort things out and get my mind thinking straight again, to believe what's true when I'm in the middle of doubt, to make me stronger in my faith in the face of adversity. I honestly don't know what I'd do without songwriting. I would feel really lost without it.

Last week, I was in the process of writing a song that was very difficult to write. It was one of those terribly painful songs. It made me put into words a memory that I had practically blocked from my mind. God used something last week which caused me to remember it and when I did, it was like a dam breaking. I broke down in sobs and there was a flood of tears.

And I knew there was a song there. No matter how much it hurt to write it, as a songwriter, I knew I had to write this song. Once I know a song must be written, there's no turning back. It's gotta come out!!

And when I started writing the song, I found something sweet that I hadn't expected to find in the middle of the nightmare. God wanted me to discover that sweet part. And I found some healing too that meant so much. As much as the song itself puts a lump in my throat and brings me to the verge of tears, it was worth writing and it was a blessing to my heart.

And isn't that just like God to do that? God always knows what He's doing. =)

Grateful for God's ways which are so different than my own,

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Treasure" - Story Behind the Song

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-21

Photo credit: "Treasure Chest" by Flickr user Tom Praison
CC license:

What do laundry, a new baby, and this passage of scripture have in common? Anyone? =)

If you're scratching your head and wondering what you missed, don't worry. You didn't miss anything! =)

The answer is this song, "Treasure". The manner in how this song was written is a bit unusual, but I think the Lord works in mysterious, and might I say, unconventional ways.

Our third child was just a few days old (I say a few weeks in the video...I should have checked my notes on the song), I was in the middle of doing laundry, and there was a cry in my heart in the middle of the newborn madness for the Lord. A new baby changes life drastically, and being only a few days into the adjustment, using every waking moment to get something done, my heart was missing the quieter moments with the Lord.

And He knew that. With a touch of sweetness and humor, there I was doing laundry and out of my mouth came the first verse for "Treasure". In my laundry room! haha! I don't know how the Lord was able to speak that song to my heart, but He must have had to shout it, because I'm pretty sure I was too frazzled to hear a whisper.

But in a sense it was a whisper. It was a whisper of, "I love you and I care about you. In this crazy season of life, keep me at the center of your focus. I'm everything you need and more. I'm your Treasure," that made everything at that moment fade away while I worshiped the Lord right there in my laundry room. It was a special, sweet moment that I won't ever forget.

Photo credit: "A little treasure..." by Flickr user Simon Ska
CC license:
Songwriting and being in the word of God go hand in hand. God uses the scripture that is tucked away in my heart or the verses that I've been meditating on to draw out a song. The lyrics for "Treasure" focus on some aspects of what and who God is to me. The song is certainly not exhaustive (that would be impossible), but they cover somewhat of a broad range of all that God is.

My hope is that this song encourages you in your walk with Christ and that you would be able to see all that Jesus is to you and more. Many blessings to you through Christ our Savior!

All glory to Jesus!

Friday, September 19, 2014

In the "Studio"

I've been asked if I go to a studio to record and/or what the set up looks like for my "home studio", so I thought I'd show you guys some pics I've taken over the past few months of recording.

   First of all, no, I do not go to a recording studio to record. I've never set foot in one. I have no idea what that experience would be like, but I can only imagine how nerve-wracking that would be.

   I record at home. And from these pictures, you'll be able to see that it's really a simple and humble set up. Bonus days, my brother acts as my "sound engineer" and takes care of the software while I lay down vocal tracks. But a good amount of the time, it's just me in our front room with couch cushions and pillows thrown around (as my bass Hey, it works! That tip was given to me by another singer/songwriter. =)

   When I make the YouTube videos, I use my phone to record the video on a tripod that I have sticking out of the banisters on the stairs. I am all about super high tech, guys! lol! For awhile, the phone videos were working out okay and picking up most of what I was singing. But after a recent piano tuning, the piano got louder and I couldn't sing above it anymore in the videos. The piano developed some kind of ego after the tuning or something...I don't know. (Is that a fluke thing, or has that happened to anyone else after a piano tuning?)

Thankfully, I learned a tip from a fellow singer/songwriter, who does videos also, on using a mic during recording and putting the video and the audio together in a separate program after recording. I've been playing around with that, hoping to pick up my vocals more, which it has, but now the piano is a bit muffled. I guess the piano's ego is a bit hurt by me using the mic and is now not trying very hard. haha! =)

   In the closet under the stairs, I keep my keyboard there and put all my recording equipment away in there when I'm done with it. If/when I do any arrangements, I do that in the closet too.

   So that is my "studio" in a nutshell. I'm not going to go into detail about my software or all the little steps that go into recording a song, because it would be extremely boring to write as well as for your to read. But it is quite a process to get a song done from start to finish.

Yeah...we're weird. =P

Thanks for visiting!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Miracle of Healing, Pt. 4

   Today, I'm wrapping up my series on The Miracle of Healing. I'm relieved to be at the end of this series and I'm excited to move on to sharing more of my journey with you. You can find the previous parts of this series by following these links: Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3.

   Here I am, writing about healing, but before I saw any improvement physically, I got worse. Yes, worse! What in the world does getting worse have to do with healing, you might ask. As I've mentioned before, I truly believe God is more concerned with our spiritual health than our physical health.

   As my health continued to decline despite countless prayers, medical intervention sought and lifestyle changes I made, thinking they would somehow better my situation, I realized I was losing control rapidly. The situation was just running away from me. I thought I could somehow control what was happening. Who was I kidding?! I was never in control to begin with!

   I could hardly do anything! The harder I pushed to get better, the worse I got. The more I tried controlling my situation, the weaker I became and soon, my health was so deteriorated, I could barely walk.

   Oh, how my flesh fought, resisted, and resented this humble position of needing others to do things for me that had been so easy before. Needing medication to sleep, needing my husband to wheel me into doctor appointments because I was too weak to walk, needing my mom's help in numerous ways, needing to depend on my older kids for things I could have easily done before. Needing, needing, needing!

   I love to do! I thrive on doing things for others, for God. But God took my ability to do away and as I spent so many long days with Him, over and over He would say, "I love you, not because of what you can do. I just love you." I couldn't understand that. It didn't make sense to this self-sufficient, self-reliant, proud, able-bodied, independent, performance-driven, stubborn-bent person - Me. God just loved me, even though I couldn't do anything for Him? I couldn't be the wife, mom, friend, or Christian that I thought would make God happy. I no longer possessed the ability to be the ideal of all of those roles, or at least the ideal I had in my mind.  All I could do was just sit or lie there and cry at times, and He actually loved me when that was all I could do? That completely blew my view of God out of the water and changed the way I had been looking at Him and at myself. My errored view of myself and God had to be fixed and God used my sickness to remedy those areas.

   The time I spent with the Lord when He was all I had to hold on to in my darkest hours, they are the sweetest that I have ever known. In those moments on death's doorstep, I was so close to God. As I look back at that time now, while I was getting what I thought was a taste of hell, I also can't deny the incomparable intimacy I experienced with the Lord that was as if I were in heaven. I find myself at a loss for words to describe those months. I suppose my best description would be surreal. In the middle of the agony and severe distress, there was God. His presence was so close, so near, and His love covered me and melted my heart which was hurt from lies I'd believed about God and myself.

   While I still pray for physical healing, this isn't my main objective in prayer. I am learning to look past what I want physically and submit to what God is desiring in my life spiritually. I am not to be ordering God around and demanding things from Him, but rather, my life and heart should be centered and ordered around God's will and desires. My desires and requests should be in line with His desires. Jesus is my example as I continue on my journey. He suffered more than I ever will, yet He was God.

   Instead of asking myself, "Why am I suffering?", I think it is important to ask, "Why did God suffer?" When this question is asked, it puts everything in a different perspective and helps me get my eyes off of myself and onto the Lord. Keeping my gaze heavenward and setting my mind to think eternally changes the way everything looks.

   In spite of the conflict that occurs between my flesh and spirit, there really is a peace that surpasses understanding when I am fully submitted to God's will for my life. Sometimes there are just hours in a day when I am experiencing that perfect peace and the other hours are spent battling my will to submit to God's. Some days are easier than others to be content and thankful. Other days it is a fight with my flesh to just say, "thank You, God...Your will be done."

   I am in no way saying this is easy, friends. This trial is the hardest thing I've ever faced. It has tried me beyond what I thought myself capable of enduring and I know that is only because God has been carrying me through this, covering me, sheltering me, protecting me and strengthening me. To think that God loves me so much that He would walk through this AGAIN with me. Yes, AGAIN. I say that because He already endured all this. But He is by my side, journeying with me on this path of suffering that He Himself took alone. I'm not alone. And even more than that, when I think about how much I'm hurting at times, I just remember that my Heavenly Father has me covered and He is the One receiving the heaviest of the blows. The little stones that pass through to me and hurt are nothing compared to what God is enduring for me while we walk through this together. God has my best in mind and I resolutely hold to that as I continue walking this path of suffering. Along the way, there is healing. It just doesn't always look the way we pictured it. But deep down in my heart, I know the healing God has done and continues to do in my life is better than any healing I had imagined or hoped for. Not my will, but God's be done.

   I used pictures from a visit to a butterfly exhibit throughout this post, because I feel at times that I'm stuck in a dark place that I'd like to get out of and I don't see the point of being here at times. But just like a butterfly in a cocoon, there is a transforming work being done in my heart in this dark place that takes time and I believe it is beautiful. One day, I know I will see the beauty that will be revealed that I believe in faith is being developed.

Finding healing in more ways than one,

Friday, June 27, 2014

Story Behind the Song: "Why Are We Silent?"

(Music video is at the bottom if you're in a hurry!) 

  A couple posts ago, I talked about the three big prayers that God has answered for me through my health crisis. One of them was restoring my passion for the lost.

   "Why Are We Silent?" is a song that was written the evening I came home from going out and sharing the gospel. I was so filled and excited! It was such an incredible experience! I remember just sitting down at my keyboard and this song pouring out. It was one of those quickies.

   But I wasn't always pro-evangelism, at least not when it came to me evangelizing. I was all for those called and gifted in evangelism. I even thought I was going to be a missionary when I was a little kid. But being a missionary to me meant going to another country on a missions trip, not talking to people in my own country about the gospel.

   And that was the other thing. I really didn't have a good, accurate understanding of what the gospel of salvation really was until after I was married.

   God used my husband, who is a naturally gifted evangelist, and Way of the Master ministry (which, I'm sure, many of you are familiar with), to not only teach me the true gospel, but to also challenge my resistance to sharing it. At first, I found Way of the Master's approach appalling and offensive. I could not imagine talking to a perfect stranger about sin instead of God's love and forgiveness. But as time went on, I began to understand that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the work of salvation wouldn't make sense to a person who wasn't convicted of their sin.

   So I began to share my faith discreetly. Being a reserved, shy person, I wasn't comfortable jumping right into witnessing one-on-one. I'm not saying my approach is the best or ideal, but this is what worked for me. Think getting in a pool gradually, instead of just jumping in...that was me. I began by just leaving tracts here and there while I was out. After washing my hands in a public restroom, I would look around and make sure no one was around and then I would quickly deposit a tract on the sink counter and flee depart from the restroom. Or leave a tract on a table right before running out of leaving a restaurant. I mean, I was sure to NEVER see that server again, right?!

   Right, so I had some serious fear and confidence issues. Not to worry! I then started being able to actually hand a tract to people in person. I know! Wow! =P The girl in the parking lot, the cashier at the store after I had get the picture. And I slowly began to say intelligible words along with the tract giving instead of just stammering and mumbling something dumb and acting very unnatural. At first it was, "Here you go", or "This is for you". I got bolder and would say, "It's a good person test, to see if you're really a good person", or "Here's a gospel tract. This message is really important". Wow! I was starting to act normal about it! haha! =)

Image used under Creative Commons license,
photo by Chris Yarzab on Flickr
   Then I finally got all the way in! I went out with some other ladies and I think we just ended up at a park talking to some people there, but it got my feet wet and was an awesome experience. After that, a sweet sister and I paired up and went out together a couple other times, while her husband went with mine. We had some really sweet conversations with people, some awkward moments with one or two others, but overall, our times were so fulfilling, so incredible. Seriously, if you've never witnessed to someone, you don't know what you're missing out on! It's a thrill and is exhilarating! =)

Image used under Creative Commons license,
photo by Chris Yarzab on Flickr
   We went out a few more times with other people and there was one time with my mom that puts a lump in my throat when I remember it. There was a group of teenagers at an outside shopping mall and we started talking to them and there was a teenage boy and girl in particular that were really listening. Their friends kind of hung back and weren't interested. But these two young people listened intently. The girl had been in some trouble and her friend had recently died. She was crying as we shared the gospel with them. The young man had never heard anything about God, Jesus, or the Bible. In fact, I don't think he had even seen a Bible before. My mom gave him the one she was carrying. I remember we walked by them again a little while later after we had went on our way that evening and the guy was holding the Bible in a sort of awe and showing his friends. I wonder to this day whatever came of those two young people. Did either of them receive Christ? I guess I'll never know...unless in heaven, I recognize their faces. I truly hope that I do. =)

   One thing I would like to point out is that Way of the Master is a great starting point and they give you great tools to get you started in sharing your faith and encouraging you to continue. But this can quickly and easily become a method that you use mechanically instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to guide you in life-giving conversations with people. Just my two cents.

   And I would say if you are a woman, don't bring up the commandment about adultery and what Jesus says about lusting in your heart (unless the Lord prompts you to). As a woman, you are already vulnerable, but especially when you are speaking to men, this question can be easily turned into something inappropriate. I've experienced this firsthand and it was very unpleasant. There are enough other commandments to help people see the condition of their heart and where they're at with God.

   Anyway, this song is a challenge to us as believers. Why are we silent when lost souls are crying out? I don't know if you ever take time to observe people, but I do sometimes, many times inadvertently. I might be waiting in line at a store and I notice someone and you can read some of their story on their face and you can literally hear their soul crying out. Why are we silent when we've been called to GO and share the gospel to all men? This question: Why are we silent? This is the question I want to encourage all of us to not just think about, but to ask ourselves and do something about. Stop being silent! You have a message to share!

   (By the way, THIS TRACT is my personal favorite because it has the full gospel in it and that is really important to me, because if I'm not able to have that one-on-one conversation with someone, I want them to at least have something they can read that will walk them through the main points in a clear and concise manner.)

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Matthew 28:19-20

“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

- Charles Spurgeon

   Here's today's video! I always love to hear what you think about this stuff, so fire away. I know I've shared some heavier stuff lately. It's just what's been on my heart. God bless each of you as your pursue God and His purpose for your lives.

All glory to Jesus,


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Praise God, We are Debt Free!!

You may remember this post about our sudden move and such. Well friends, with a very grateful heart, I am happy to say that the sale on our house closed and as of today, we are debt free!! The bank has been paid their money and we are finally free from debt! We are very thankful for God's mercy and grace! 

Goodbye old house! We loved you and all the years we got to spend in you. =)

Praising God,

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Miracle of Healing Pt. 3

   This is part three of this series. If you missed The Miracle of Healing Pt. 1 and The Miracle of Healing Pt. 2, I would encourage you to read them if you have the time. They serve as a backdrop to this post.

   It's amazing to look at my situation now and see all the prayers God has answered through this hardship. Prayers that I prayed months, even years before, God answered. I've been reading through old journals recently and seeing prayers written in there that I have seen God answer and can see Him answering right at this moment.

   There were three prayers in particular that I'd like to share with you.

   1. Assurance of salvation: I have struggled with my eternal security for a number of years. The method by which I was saved was not "ideal", but I can't deny that I was saved in spite of the method. I was very young when I received Christ and at the time, I can't say I had a knowledge of sin to the degree that I became aware of as I matured. I just wanted Jesus. I just wanted to be His. As I got older, I ran into areas in my life where I fell into sin that I knew were wrong. As a young married woman, the guilt from my sin made me question my salvation. Even after confession, I struggled with guilt. God was always there to reassure me, to show me how the Holy Spirit was convicting my heart, which showed I was His, I was safe and secure and that I just needed to receive His forgiveness and place my trust in His work done on the cross for me. And I would stop doubting...for awhile. But then I would do a Bible study or hear a message that talked about how a believer could never practice sin and it would remind me of my former years of sinfulness and the doubts would come back. I remember asking God why He let me sin like that and His answer, I will never forget: "To humble you."

   It was true. Growing up in a Christian home, I avoided making a lot of the outwardly common mistakes many unbelievers make. I thought I was a pretty good person. Outwardly, I appeared to be an exceptional young person, but I had hidden sin that no one knew about. However, since it wasn't seen by others, I had a very self-righteous attitude toward others whose sin was more outward. And if it hadn't been for that area of weakness in me where I seemed to continuously fail and I couldn't gain control over it no matter how hard I tried, I don't think I would've ever had a real awareness of what being set free from sin was like or what the sacrifice of Christ meant for me (unless God had somehow revealed that to me in some other manner or form). God set me free from my sin when I came to Him in humility, wanting to be free and acknowledging I couldn't be free without Him.

   God had been my Friend for so long and I had been so fond of Him as a girl, so simple with Him. After repenting of my sin and being delivered, I started to really see God as the holy God that He was and is. But I somehow lost my closeness with Him in the middle of that. I was afraid of Him. I was afraid of failing Him. And I wasn't trusting in Him anymore, I was trusting in myself. It wasn't simple, now it was complicated. There was still that self-righteousness in me and any time I failed in any way, I thought for sure that I must not be a Christian, that I must not love the Lord; otherwise, I wouldn't have done this or that. And so my life became one of performance again. Before, I had been performing for my family and friends, putting on a good facade to cover up my sin. Now I was performing for a God I desperately wanted to please and be right with. I can't tell you how many times as I go back through my journals through the years, the same prayer is there. "God, I want to be secure in my salvation! I don't want to spend the rest of my life doubting my salvation!"

   Well, friends, God hears our prayers. And He ended up answering mine in a way I couldn't have imagined. He took my health away. Just utterly flattened me, physically. I remember one morning upon waking up shortly after this trial had begun, God spoke scripture to my heart that made me understand the purpose for this trial. The scripture was from Luke 22:31-32 and the Lord simply spoke to my heart, "Satan has asked to sift you like wheat, but I am praying that your faith will not fail." The moment I heard that, I knew. I knew that this was about the assurance of my salvation. I knew that this was about my faith being tried. I could not have imagined, however, how hard and long I would have to fight or how severe the battle would become.

   2. Anticipation of heaven: This was something else I prayed about. I did not have an excitement and anticipation of heaven. Whenever I thought about it, there was almost a feeling of dread when I thought of it never ending. That seemed a bit dull. I knew something was wrong and that my heart's response wasn't right. So I asked God to change my heart and my view about heaven. Goodness!! This trial has certainly done that! I yearn for heaven now. I am looking forward to it so very much! I still can't wrap my mind around forever and ever...that just makes me feel so funny! Haha! Something having no end! But something about having a physical problem that could well indeed last the rest of my life and knowing that it's not forever. That this trial is but for a moment and that heaven is forever and all will be right and perfect there and all suffering will be forever gone! I am so excited about heaven now!! =)

   3. Passion for the lost: When Gary and I were a young couple with just two small children, we went out with people from our fellowship and shared the gospel. We would go to shopping centers, parks, and various public places, sharing the gospel with people using tracts and having one-on-one conversations with people. I can't tell you how fulfilling this was. I remember the first night I went out and I came back just so filled, completely amazed at how rewarding it was. I remember writing a song that night about sharing the gospel. That night had a huge impact on me. And we kept doing it here and there through the years.

   Then as life got busier, we didn't go out as much. Our kids were older now and some of the conversations wouldn't have been appropriate for them to have heard, so there was the dilemma of one of us going and one of us staying. Neither of us really like that dilemma. My handing out tracts dwindled. I was busy and just needed to do my errands, not have passing out tracts to worry about, for crying out loud! Wow...writing that is sad. Pretty heartless of me, I know.

   Another baby came along and it was at the hospital that I realized something was wrong with me. I had a hard time giving our labor and delivery nurse a tract...I was almost embarrassed and ashamed to. And I couldn't get the guts up to give people tracts that came into the room to take care of the various things that are taken care of when you're in recovery. I would literally get all nervous and scared and freeze. I ended up just leaving a tract in the room before I left. Someone would find it, right? I started praying about this obvious decrease in passion for the lost. I didn't do much about it, to be honest. With a new baby and life now even busier, it wasn't a top priority. But it was on my heart and God knew that and He used my health crisis to get my attention and impress into me an awareness that I will never, ever forget for the rest of my life.

   When things with my health were at their worst, my body felt like it was literally on fire inside constantly. It was beyond agonizing. I really thought I was going to go crazy, it was that incredibly tormenting. I would just get through the day moment by moment, often praying, "God, You are my Keeper. Keep me right now. Keep my mind." I prayed that all throughout the day.

   There was a day when I said (either silently or out loud) something like, "This is hell...this must be what hell is like!" What followed immediately was God's reply of, "This is NOTHING compared to hell!" It was at that moment that I realized if what I was facing and experiencing was just even a tiny taste of hell, then people headed there have absolutely NO IDEA what they will experience. I mean, I can't even begin to describe the torment I was in, because it is completely beyond words. The only, only reason I am sane is because God kept me. That's the only reason, period. There were moments when I was on the brink of just losing it. This really got my attention and I saw that here was God answering another prayer. So completely unlike how I thought He would, but it was answered just the same. I got a tiny, minuscule taste of hell that made me not want anyone to experience even as much as I had.

   I'm honestly still working on this. I haven't actually gone out yet to talk one on one with people...not strong enough for that yet. But I've had other opportunities to share the gospel with others, like my old neighbor, relatives, here on line. I know it's not much, but it's something. And I've got to build back up to that place of having the confidence to just walk up to anyone and share the gospel. For me, it starts with putting tracts in my purse...I keep forgetting! My personal favorite is this one from Living Waters. It's small, has a thorough and biblical explanation of the gospel in it if all you can do at the moment is leave it by the sink in a restroom, on a table at a restaurant (with your generous tip), or simply put it into the hands of someone as you're leaving a grocery store, at a gas station, taking a walk...wherever!

   My 13-year-old is actually such an inspiration to me in this. She is so bold and passes out tracts a lot. She doesn't ever seem to forget to pack them in her purse! I need to be more like her and I need to get into following her example. It's true...there's a lot of excuses we can find to not do it. For myself, I just hardly go anywhere. But when I do, I can give tracts out...that's what I need to remember. That's a starting point. I've got to get back to sharing one on one. That is a goal of mine and by God's grace, I will get the strength back to hit the shopping centers and public areas and be able to handle the initial stress of that first one on one conversation. Whooo! That first one is the hardest, but it seems to get easier from there. Just talking about this makes me want to go out and do it! haha! =)

   So there you have it! The three very big, specific prayers that God used this health crisis to answer and remedy in my life. There are so many more prayers that have been answered, I could go on and on. But I wanted to concentrate on these three, because they were ones that had been on my heart for awhile and it just shows that God cares and He hears the cry of our hearts. My health trial has been a means of God's healing in spiritual areas that I couldn't remedy myself. It's interesting as you continue walking through a health problem, how many aspects of healing begin to emerge. My healing has been deep down inside of me so far.

   I've only got one more part in this series to share with you to wrap things up and then we're done. Thanks for hanging in there with me. If this has bored you to death, I'm so sorry!! But I needed to lay this foundation, so I could move on to sharing a journey with you that I mentioned in the second installment of this series. We'll be headed out soon! =)

God is always faithful and good,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Miracle of Healing Pt. 2

   If you missed The Miracle of Healing Pt. 1, take a few minutes to read it. It's somewhat of a backdrop to this post and will help you understand some things about me and may help you not jump to conclusions about me based on this post alone.

   I have put off writing this post for a number of reasons. Namely that I know writing this will be emotionally difficult, merely because of the transparency with which I am sharing, in addition to how very raw I am. I also think that what I write will be scrutinized and possibly criticized - I'm covering some topics that are a bit touchy. And finally, that it will mark the beginning of sharing a journey with you that I've known I needed to embark on, but have held back, not knowing if I'm strong enough to face it.

   I've only shared bits and pieces of the trial I've faced for almost two years with you. And I'm not even sure that I'm ready to go back and walk through the painful memories that are still so fresh and sometimes haunting, but I know I'm supposed to share my story in regard to the last couple of years. This post is a prelude to the journey I plan on taking in the near future. I hope you will join me.

   In The Miracle of Healing Pt. 1, I told you the story about the miraculous healing of our son. In these next parts, I'd like to talk about a different kind of healing that God has been doing in my life.

   I will be giving a lot more background and details in the proceeding posts, but I want to begin by telling you that I have been unwell for quite awhile, markedly following our second child's birth. For whatever reason, my body doesn't respond well to pregnancies and deliveries and with each one, my health has gotten worse and worse. 
The past two years have been the hardest and worst, following my most recent pregnancy and delivery in March 2012. 

I've prayed for physical healing, I've been anointed with oil twice and prayed over by elders of the church, and I've continued praying and believing that God can heal me. I pray every day for physical healing. I haven't been told by God to stop, so I continue to pray. I am completely confident that God can heal physical infirmities if He so wills. There is not a doubt in my mind about that.

   There are some who think a believer should never be sick, that God's will is for everyone to be physically healed and well, and that whatever you ask from God, you're going to get. I've been challenged to present verses that tell when Jesus did not heal or what diseases He did not conquer on the cross. I honestly am not up to a debate on this topic and to be completely truthful, the challenge from a certain individual left me feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me (because along with their challenge came some very strong words that were painful to hear when you've been sick for so long). If you share these views, I hope and pray that you are never faced with physical suffering that leaves you wondering what you did wrong, how you failed, or in what way your faith was too small. Before you judge someone who is sick, please try to have some compassion and consideration toward the individual who is suffering. You may be wrong.

   And briefly, I will say that while there are many miracles recorded in the Bible, there were also saints who were sick. Timothy was encouraged by Paul to drink a little wine for his frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23) and Paul had to leave behind a brother named Trophimus, who must have been terribly sick if he wasn't able to travel (2 Timothy 4:20). And to answer the question - which diseases are not subject to Christ, I say none. They are all subject to Him, but we live in a fallen world and sickness is part of the deal. One day, we are promised an eternal home where God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). If we weren't going to have any more pain and suffering in this life on earth, why would God promise us this for our life after we go to be with Him? So that's where I'm coming from. I believe God still heals physically and I've seen Him do it (just read part one of this series). But I also believe there are other ways He heals that are not so obvious to us.

   I want to focus on other ways God has been
healing me during these last nearly two years. This healing is not physical, but is, I believe, even more important. God has been healing my heart. He has been healing me spiritually. He has been healing me emotionally. He has been healing me mentally. 

   If God were to have answered my prayer for healing back when my health collapsed, maybe I would be physically healthy, but I would not be as spiritually healthy as I am today. I was so busy with life, I didn't have time to consider what I was thinking about my husband, why I was responding to certain situations in the manner I was, or how I was erroneously viewing God. I remember feeling like a chicken running around with its head cut off, barely keeping my head above water...yeah, the same one that was cut off! haha! No, but really, I was just barely surviving.

   And God cared about that. He cared about me. And God decided to intervene, even though He knew it was going to hurt me terribly and even make me angry at Him for a season. God saw the eternal and spiritual benefits of allowing me to go through a season of physical suffering. God cares much more about our spiritual health than our physical health and I am so thankful that He does.

 "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 4:2-4

   It's interesting to look back at the situation now and see all the prayers God has answered through this hardship. Prayers that I prayed months, even years before, God answered. There were three in particular that I'd like to share with you... (to be continued next time!)

   God is my Song in the night! This song has been an encouragement to me and continues to be. I hope it encourages you as well. =)

The Lord is my Healer,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Passion for Christ

Today, a question at a ballgame and encouragement from Sunday's sermon collide! Are you ready for it?!

A lot of us are familiar with The Passion of the Christ film that came out ten years ago. When I saw the movie, it impacted how I looked at Christ's sacrifice. It made me realize to a greater degree than before, how physically horrendous Christ's torture was. And I know that this torture paled in comparison to the separation He would face on the cross as He bore the sins of the world and the wrath of the Almighty God fell upon Him and His Father forsook Him. It's amazing to think that Christ was forsaken by God so that I never would be. That thought touches me so deeply.

Adriel, Hong, Music, Passion, Christ, Christian, living,
Perhaps this is not the best match for this post as far as pictures go. I took it recently at a ballgame as I thought of the question I ask myself on other occasions to the ballpark, which is something to the sort of, "Look at all these people going crazy and being so excited about this game. What would happen if people got this excited about Jesus?"

Now you may not even be into sports, but the question is really a matter of the heart. Whatever you're fond of or enjoy and get excited about...are you as excited about the Lord as that? It's a fair question, I think. I am finding that even "good" things like marriage, parenting, homeschooling, music, singing, ministering...yeah, I can get more excited about those things than about God.

And I'm not suggesting that this question applies only to a Sunday worship service. Don't get me wrong! I'm all for people making that vertical, intimate connection with God during times of praise and worship where everyone and everything around them fades away and it's just them and God. They don't care who or if anyone is watching them. They enter into that special, secret place where the words connect with their heart and the only response is to just raise their hands to God in surrender and adoration. (That is really just wonderful and I hope everyone knows what that is like.)

But I'm really talking about more than that. I'm talking about beyond the four walls of the church. I'm talking about outside of the church activities. I'm talking about our daily lives. And I'm talking about more than outward demonstrations of adoration and passion for God.

Today, "passion" has a much different meaning than where it originated from. The origins of this word go back to 1125-1175 AD. It stems from the Latin word "passiƍ", which means suffering and submission.

This begs the question, am I passionate for God the way I ought to be? Am I willing to suffer because I love God? Am I willing to submit my will and desires to being crucified daily? Am I willing to look like a fool for my Lord?

Jesus did that for each one of us. He looked like a fool. Our pastor reminded us of that this past Sunday, that as Jesus was dying on the cross, people challenged Him by saying if He was really Who He said He was, then He could just come down from the cross. He chose to look like a fool...for you and for me and He stayed on that cross and appeared to not be Who He had claimed to be. And why? Because if He had not, we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we? But more than that, we would still be dead in our sins, without hope of salvation and eternal life.

So along with that question from Saturday's game, Sunday's message gave even more depth to what I was questioning in myself. The message was really encouraging and lifted my gaze upward. Our pastor talked about Christ's sacrifice and what it entailed. A couple points that really stuck out to me from the message were:

1: In the middle of trials, don't leave the cross. Pick up the cross, don't discard it. The cross was the way to victory for us through Christ's sacrifice and still is. I personally have not been picking up my cross as I should have been lately. I've been using an ongoing trial (and a move) as an excuse to not be "passionate" for God, so as to not suffer more and to make things easier on my flesh. I was convicted to hold that cross close and embrace it again as an old, dear friend.

2: The cross is freedom. That's the opposite of what our minds tell us, isn't it? But it's the truth. The cross is a daily choice, which means freedom is a choice as well. The cross = freedom. You want freedom? Pick up your cross and follow after Jesus!

Here's some questions that Saturday's ballgame and Sunday's message have caused me to ask myself: Am I cheering for God's will in my life, even if it's not what I would choose? Am I standing up for His truth, even if the crowd is abandoning it? Am I applauding what is holy and righteous, even though it makes a conversation uncomfortable? Am I making a fool of myself for God's glory and kingdom, even if it makes me unpopular?

Friends, let's live for the Lord the same way He died for us: passionately!

Rejoicing in Christ,


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"New in You" - Salvation's Work

   This song highlights what I was before God saved me. I wrote this song down a long time ago. I can't even remember when or why! But the point is that I am new in Jesus and for any true believer in Christ, this song is true as well.

   I love the analogies that go with this song. Think about them. Think about what you were before Christ. Think about where you were headed. Think about the reality of you, as an individual, before becoming a believer.

   And then think about what God did in your life. The profound changes that occurred and still affect you today in how you live, how you talk, how you react, etc. It's amazing, isn't it?

   And this song is just a reminder of that glorious work God has done in my life and in yours if you're a believer as well. Blessings to you, my friends! =)

All glory to Jesus,

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Miracle of Healing Pt. 1

(You can skip to the bottom for the song if you're in a hurry.)

I had planned on sharing a different post today, but I have had this one written for some time with the intention to eventually share it. I received an email from a fellow mother with an infant son who had a rough start to begin with and has had a number of procedures already in his little life so far. She shared something that just hit home for me and I really was led to share this post today instead of the other one. Praying for an incredible miracle for my friend's son!

   When our son was about a month old, he became very ill in a matter of just a few hours. By the end of what had started out as a seemingly normal day, he was terribly lethargic, not nursing well and his stool was bloody (among other things that I won't gross you out with). We took him to the ER. They did a few tests, even a spinal tap checking for meningitis, but no answers came. They admitted him and put him on antibiotics. I stayed with him since I was nursing him.

   I don't remember a lot from that time. Just little pieces. It was one of those awful experiences that I guess my brain blocked out a lot of remembrance of. I can't remember if we stayed there for seven days or ten. It was one of the two. I don't remember seeing our oldest daughter at all during that time. From what I hear, she stayed with my parents during the day and my husband would take her home with him after work to sleep at home. I don't remember what I ate or if I ate regularly.

   I do remember the interruptions at night with nurses coming in to check on our son. I remember it was the one year anniversary of 9/11, because they were showing all that stuff on the television. I do remember a visit or two from family and a friend. I remember my husband giving me a break for a few hours so I could go home and get a shower at least once (it had to have been more than that). The most vivid memory, however, was the overwhelming sense of oppression over that situation. It was very dark. It was not just a normal thing.

   After the seven (or ten) days on the antibiotics, Jacob was doing so much better and was declared ready to leave the hospital. His symptoms were gone, so they took him off the antibiotics and sent us home.

   And then a few days later, it all came back again. We caught it this time with enough time to get in to see the pediatrician. This time, they sent us home with a stool sample collection kit. (Sorry for the gross details.) We collected the necessary samples and dropped those off at the lab and waited a couple of days. The results that came back were shocking. Our son had salmonella poisoning, but not just any kind. Reptilian salmonella poisoning. WHAT?! We didn't own any pets, we'd hardly gone anywhere with the kid. We just don't venture out all that much when they're that little. It was a puzzle to us.

   So back on the antibiotics he went, this time for the full round. Little did we know that the time he had been on the antibiotics in the hospital had been just long enough to get rid of the symptoms, but not long enough to eliminate the bacteria from his system. Instead, the shorter amount of time on the antibiotics had led to the bacteria building up an immunity to the treatment.

   He got better for a little while, but the symptoms continued to return with full vengeance. The poor little guy was getting weaker and weaker. He was in a lot of discomfort. I remember my husband holding him on the couch just so our son could sleep. Somehow, having that presence of his daddy and the comfort it brought helped give our little baby boy the rest he needed.

   Back and forth we went. Antibiotics. Symptoms returning. Stool sample. Wait for positive result from lab. Get another prescription for antibiotics. Administer for two weeks. And the cycle continued. I forget how many times we went through this.

   I had a person from the city call me asking me questions regarding bottles and water. That's how odd (and serious) this case was. The city was wondering if it was their problem. If perhaps the water supply was contaminated. Yeah.

   It came to light that the pediatrician's office had seen two other reptilian salmonella cases right around the same time we had taken Jacob in for his checkup previous to him getting sick. These kids actually did have pets carrying this bacteria in their homes. And when I thought about it, I never remember the nurses washing their hands before they handled my baby. So I'm pretty sure that is how all that began. Bad hygiene.

   But back to our little baby. He'd been through round after round of antibiotics that were clearly not eliminating the bacteria entirely. He was slowly declining. I remember my husband telling me one day as we were dealing with this that while he had been holding Jacob, God had asked him, "If I take your son, will you still love Me?" That hit my heart so hard, like a punch in the stomach. But the answer for both of us was, "Yes".

   The situation became critical to the point that the pediatrician called us after months of this ongoing cycle. He ordered us to get Jacob admitted into the hospital immediately for (I think) two weeks of IV antibiotics. But it just didn't sit right with us and when my husband said, "I'm not sure if we're going to do that", the pediatrician minced no words in saying, "Then whatever happens to your son is not my responsibility." It was at this point that it really was obvious that even the doctor recognized how critical it was, enough to indirectly say that if Jacob died, it was not his responsibility.

   What do you do? We had a tough decision to make. The IV antibiotics weren't guaranteed to work and there was the possibility of more harm from them to Jacob's body in addition to what had already occurred. And in our gut, deep down, although logically it seemed like the most reasonable thing to do was take him to the hospital, it didn't sit right. 

   My husband called one of the elders of the church we attended at the time and explained the situation to him. The day he called happened to be Wednesday, which was when they had evening prayer. The elder suggested we bring Jacob to the prayer meeting so that he could be lifted up in prayer.

   We went. We thought we should at least give God the opportunity before rushing to the hospital. It wasn't that we hadn't been praying for him on our own. But the suggestion of corporate prayer drew us.

   I don't remember very much from that prayer meeting either. I don't remember if they anointed Jacob with oil or who prayed what, but I remember my brother, who was around 11 at the time, coming up to me afterward and saying to me, "I believe Jacob is healed!" I think I answered with a non-committed "maybe". I remember scoffing in my mind, being skeptical and I remember God being very firm with me about my attitude later that evening and rebuking me in a sense for not having faith like a child and for having the gall to snuff out my brother's childlike faith with a skeptical response. I decided to dare to believe that my son had been healed.

   The next day, there were still some very slight symptoms and I found my heart doubting. But I pushed the doubt away and resolutely believed my son was healed. The rest of that day and afterward, Jacob was fine. God completely healed him, not only eliminating the bacteria and the symptoms entirely, but also healing the damage internally to his system. He was absolutely fine!! Even the stool samples I had taken when he was obviously symptomatic a day or so before prayer ended up coming back negative for salmonella! God even took care of that little detail in the lab. It was a miracle and when God does a miracle, He doesn't leave any loose ends!

   To be frank and honest, I do not believe in naming and claiming it and it will be so. I am in no place to be ordering God around. "I claim by faith that God is going to give me a new car" or whatever our brains think up. That's not what this was. When God moves your heart to ask for something and dares you to stand and believe that it will be so, that is a matter of true faith.

   The thing is, I can't say my faith was really all that great or much at the time. It really was pretty puny. Pathetic, even. But for whatever reason, God wanted to heal our son miraculously, and He did, not because we were people of great faith, but because He is a great God and wanted to show His power to us in that way. I can't tell you how much this encouraged people who had been praying for our son. And in addition, this was something we were able to share with Jacob as he got older, especially when he went through a time of wrestling with surrendering his life to Christ.

   This song I'm sharing today, God gave to me during that time of our son being sick. I wondered if he'd make it. And in light of the question God had asked my husband regarding taking our son, I knew I had to hold on to God. I didn't know how our story with Jacob would end when I wrote this. It was right in the middle of that whole ordeal. When I go through hard things, I find writing therapeutic. I write what's on my heart and mind. I write the things that I can't seem to express out loud. Like I've said before, hard times make for busy writing seasons! =)

   It is extra special to me to be sharing this song with you, not only because my son is alive and well, but also because my husband sang this song with me. It's special to sing a song about this situation with him. It's an old recording and it's not the best quality, but I hope that it encourages you to hold on in the middle of whatever you are facing at this moment in your life. There is hope and it's not in your circumstance changing, it is in Jesus Christ! God bless you!

All glory to Jesus,