Posted in Music

Anthem Song

“This is how I fight my battles.”

You want to know how I fight battles? Prayer is my weapon, the Bible is my sword, and my faith is my shield.

My battles are mainly mental battles of worry, insecurity, and frustration, but my God is bigger than all of that. He gives me peace and quells the lies of the devil.

“It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.”

Even though the battle rages all around me and threatens to overcome me, God has me wrapped up in him, so I can’t be defeated. He fights for me. He’s the best warrior of them all because he’s already defeated death. Astounding. I’m humbled that he’s on my side. The God who created everything and knows everything takes time to listen to my insignificant babble. He doesn’t need my praise, but he deserves it all the more.

The word says
For the spirit of heaviness
Put on the garment of praise’
That’s how we fight our battles

Song lyrics are from Michael W. Smith’s song Surrounded (Fight My Battles).

Posted in Devotion, Holidays

Spiritual Hangover Remedy

I’ve never had a hangover, so this analogy will be based upon movies and hearsay. This week has been particularly busy for me with organized “church” events. I attended a church service Sunday that spoke to me, and then at school this week, we have special evening services for Spiritual Emphasis week. I’ve been preparing for a Bible study that I’ll attend this Thursday. Much like many others, I’ll attend Good Friday and Easter services and maybe some other services. I’m feeling very spiritually full; it’s as if I’ve sat down to a Thanksgiving feast this week when, if I’m honest, I’ve been metaphorically eating on the Atkins diet for the past few weeks.

Now I don’t know a whole lot about alcohol, but the general idea seems to be that when people imbibe a lot in a short period of time, there tends to be consequences the next day. Right now if I was comparing my intake of God’s Word with alcoholic intake, I would say that I’m imbibing the amount that could lead to a spiritual hangover.

All too often it seems that churches and Christians have these great revival times or mission moments where people feel full of God and excited, but the next day when they return to “normal life” the high starts to wear off. The excitement lessons, and then they start to feel guilty for losing the high. That’s a spiritual hangover, and I foresee the potential for such an event in my life simply because it’s happened before.

So what happens Monday when all of the Easter holiday is finished? I don’t want a spiritual hangover. I want my relationship and communication with God to remain just as alive and vibrant as it is now. So what do I do now to prevent such a fall?

What did Jesus do? I look to his last few days for answers. He had this awesome sweet time with his disciples at the Last Supper, telling them of things to come and encouraging them. After that, he went to the Garden and prayed. Even until the moments before his death, he was in communication with God the Father. Bam. There’s the answer. If I want to avoid the spiritual hangover, I keep imbibing the spiritual drink. Unlike alcohol, continuing to take in God-time and his Word won’t produce negative effects in my life. It’s okay to keep drinking in his Word, so after this weekend I’ll do my very best to fight against the temptation to slip back into the ordinary. I feel most alive when I’m in communication with God, so I’ll just stay in communication with him.

Happy Easter weekend, folks. Be sure to keep your eyes focused on the true reason for celebration and to keep drinking in the Word of God even after the celebrations die down.

Posted in poetry

Poetry Slam Ahead

As I prepare for my class’s poetry slam tomorrow, I thought I’d share with a broader audience a few of my options for what I might share with the class. Any favorite poems?


Don’t Look At Me Now

Don’t look at me now-

There’s pain beneath this smile,

And for so many reasons

I don’t want you to know

 

How the painted smile is flaking,

The tears that threaten to fall,

Each breath, so carefully planned

And the mask to hide it all.

 

Your eyes know too much.

If you glance my direction,

Or if I meet your gaze,

The carefully constructed façade

will break.

 

So don’t look at me now—

Actually, could you

 

Please look at me now?

There’s pain beneath this smile,

And for so many reasons

I just want you to know.

 


 

Heartbreak

What do you do when your heart is broken?

You pick up the pieces and glue them back together.

Give wings to your heart and teach it how to fly again.

Play some music and let it sing and dance with freedom.

 

You pick up the pieces and glue them back together,

When the pain gets too hard to bear.

Play some music and let it sing and dance with freedom.

Just let it crumble a bit and start over

 

When the pain gets too hard to bear,

The carefully placed stitches pop loose,

Just let it crumble a bit and start over—

Picking up the pieces, flying, singing, and dancing.

 

The carefully placed stitches pop loose,

But one day you’ll find it doesn’t hurt so badly

Picking up the pieces, flying, singing, and dancing.

All that’s left are beautiful scars

 

But one day you’ll find it doesn’t hurt so badly.

You give wings to your heart and teach it how to fly again.

All that’s left are beautiful scars.

What you do when your heart is broken.

 


 

Trapped

She’s trapped in a perfect world

of plenty of food and a loving mother,

of warm beds and presents on Christmas,

of good grades and friends always near.

She’s trapped in a perfect world

where frowns rarely appear,

where fights don’t occur,

where families love each other.

She’s trapped in a perfect world-

a snowglobe world is where

she is- trapped.

The plastic snowflakes fall

on the plastic people and

she’s beating on the glass-

begging to be set free.

From the prejudices,

the lies, and the fake people.

To be seen for what she is-

imperfect.

 

Posted in Book Review

The Girl You Left Behind

Spring break is great because I have time to read entire books and fully appreciate them, especially when it decides to snow ruining any ideas of being outside. The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes is one such book. Set between World War 1 France and present day England, the story focuses around a painting of a wife that was stolen after the war. Moyes put me directly into the war with the story of a woman whose artist husband is away fighting, leaving her to live with her sister and kids. She has a painting of herself done by her husband that reminds her of happier days. Over time some German soldiers demand her to cook them meals at the family hotel. The Kommandant is intrigued by the painting, and eventually she’s willing to give him anything if he’ll order that her husband be released from the prison camp. The next day she is taken from her home and thrown into a German truck.

Then the storyline shifts to a modern day British widow with the same painting in her bedroom. Boy was I mad when I didn’t have answers to what happened to the French woman, and I didn’t particularly care about this whiny British widow even if she had the painting. Things got interesting though when it was revealed that an investigation was underway to find this painting because it was stolen during the war (think Monuments Men). The book continues to spin the story of the court case, weaving in small details of the French woman, until a slam ending revealing the French woman’s fate and the owner of the painting.

Overall, the literary style was incredible. There were amazing descriptions and fine storytelling. Even though I was mad about the character and time shift, I recognize its cleverness. This book was one I just can’t let go of yet because of its writing style and storytelling.

Posted in Holidays

Women

I keep seeing people post about International Women’s Day, and there are plenty of women I admire in my life about whom I could write. Today though I want to ponder who God made women to be. Several years ago I made a list of the woman I wanted to be.

I put on attributes such as trusts God, loves, hospitable, listens, patient, joyful, and dresses modestly. Making the list was a form of worship for me because it was a recognition of the woman God made me to be. It was also a challenge to live up to that standard.

This International Women’s Day I dug that list back out and hung it on my wall again as a reminder to be a woman who seeks to be a Godly woman. I’m also hanging it there as a reminder to encourage and be thankful for the attributes I see in other women. Without other Godly women in my life, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

Posted in Music

My Own Pocketful Of Sunshine

I don’t think Natasha Bedingfield meant her song “Pocketful of Sunshine” to be a song of praise to God, but I’m going to take it that way anyway.

The song begins by saying “I’ve got a pocket, a pocketful of sunshine”, and the overall message of the song is that one can escape her sorrows and stress by going to a hidden place. Well, I’ve got a pocketful of sunshine in my soul as well because I have a relationship with God. That hiding place she talks about? Well several Psalms talk about God being our hiding place.

You are my hiding place; you preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

She says “I’ve got a love and I know that it’s all mine”. Oh yes! I do have a love from God and I know that nothing can take that love away from me. It’s a love that I still haven’t fully comprehended, but just to give you glimpse, it involved a completely innocent man dying because God knew I wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with him otherwise. This love surpasses anything I can do wrong or right, and it is completely free to me. It causes me to sing, dance, and smile. It urges me to love others just a bit more because I am so so thankful for the love God has given me.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 35-39)

Bedingfield’s claim is that “you’re never gonna break me, sticks and stones are never gonna shake me”. As a Christian, I know that to be true because God has armed with a full armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6). With that kind of armor, mere sticks and stones don’t stand a chance. With God, I am stronger than any army.

I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

To her enemies, she proclaims “wish that you could but you ain’t gonna own me, do anything you can to control me”. That’s what I yell at the Devil. When the devil tempts me and tries to control my mind or actions, I can rebuke him with scripture just like Jesus did in the garden. Because of God’s reign in my life, the Devil has no place in my life. God is bigger than the Devil.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

The bridge to the song says “There’s a place that I go that nobody knows, Where the rivers flow and I call it home, and there’s no more lies and the darkness is light and nobody cries; There’s only butterflies”. My place that I go? Into the arms of God. I can hide in his words and his comfort. In that place there are rivers of life (John 7:38), no lies (Numbers 23:19), and the darkness is made into light (John 8:12). There may not be butterflies, but the fact that Jesus is there is greater than anything. The presence of God is truly somewhere I can call home.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

As I walked home this afternoon listening to this song, the line “the sun is on my side, I smile up to the sky, I know I’ll be alright” caught my ear (and led to this post). I’ll take a little liberty here and replace the word “sun” with “Son” referring to Jesus. That Son is on my side, so on rough days or good days I can look up toward heaven and know it will be alright because God has a great plan that ultimately ends in my eternity with him in heaven. Praise God!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

So if you see me walking with my earbuds in bobbing along with a smile on my face, I just might be thinking about how I have a pocketful of sunshine. For me, this will be a song of worship.

Posted in Life

Church

In the past month, I’ve been in four different churches because of various circumstances such as flooding and travelling. All of them are teaching the Bible, and there are people in each one who are genuinely seeking God. None of them, though, leave me feeling completely content with how I imagine the perfect church to be. The music is too slow or too loud; the lights are too bright or the building too cold; the people are too old or the crowd is too large; the drive is too far or I don’t want to go alone. These are just a few of the complaints that run through my head as I leave a service.

I know being plugged in to one church is what I desire, but the grass looks greener on the other side. Lately it seems as if there’s always something better somewhere else. That’s not normal for me, so I started praying. After some heart-searching, these are the answers that God gave to me. Maybe these thoughts will help someone else in a similar circumstance.

What I need to remember is two-fold. First church is not about all of the frills, which I’m honest is where most of my complaints lie. The most important part of church is God. God can speak with old hymns, new rock, bright lights, a yelling preacher, a long sermon, or a quick devotion. God is not bound by any circumstances. The only thing that binds me from hearing his words is myself.

Secondly, all of these churches are run by people. Granted, I think all of the churches I’ve been at lately are led by people seeking God. Still though, I find myself wanting certain circumstances to worship. Rather than looking for perfection in the man-made aspects of church, I should look for perfection in the God-driven aspects of church. My focus should be on praising God and leaning toward him rather than examining the layout of service.

Lastly, even with all of the imperfections I can find in churches, I still find church to be very important to my faith in God. Yes, all of the answers I need for my relationship with God are found in the Bible and through time with Him, but God made us for fellowship. When Jesus left the Earth, he left a group of believers and told them to stick together. God didn’t design me to navigate this world alone. He intends for me, and others, to meet together regularly to worship Him and study his Word. While I can, and should, worship and study all week long, there’s just something special about gathering with other believers no matter which building I do it in. I have no answers about what the perfect church service or atmosphere looks like, probably because it doesn’t exist, but I do know that no matter where I end up on Sunday, my one focus should be to worship God and learn more about Him.