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 Devotion

Brokenness Restored

Last night at the concert, I kept noticing the family in front of me. The entire time either the mother or father had their arms around the teenage daughter. There was such love in that family. Coming from a broken family, that image always brings up mixed emotions for me. Through the image of this family, the words spoken, and a memory, God did something in my heart.
Earlier this year I graded essays for the academic team. The prompt was to argue whether the media should adjust their image of the modern family due to the large variety of family types. Most students argued that media should represent more broken, single parent, or same sex families, but one student argued that the media should portray a solid family with a mother, father, and kids because we shouldn’t portray something less that what God intended. I recognize that brokenness in families exists because of sin, but I think that student had a point to make in that God intended families to be a certain way.
Towards the end of the concert the band manager came to the stage and spoke of how he felt God leading him to pray for the families in the room who were breaking or hurting for one reason or another. As I prayed for the broken families at the concert, God began to shift my perspective just a bit on the “perfect” family in front of me. The pain and jealousy eased, and I felt hope. Families that represent God’s plan still exist. Brokenness will still happen as long as sin still reigns in hearts, but there’s hope that God can produce and mend whole and perfect families.

Posted in Bible Study, Blogging for Books, Book Review

God Loves

I don’t have much, if any, experience in the romantic love department, so I’ve often just skimmed over Song of Songs as I’ve read the Bible. Dee Brestin’s He Calls You  Beautiful helped bring out the metaphor of the book. It’s not just a physical romance between a man and a woman; it’s the image of us as the dark-skinned scorned woman being wooed and falling in love with our King, God. Here are some truths I derived from reading this book.

  • God desires to have a relationship with each of us in spite of our sin.
  • Our eyes are to be like dove’s eyes: focused forward, avoiding distraction.
  • Just like in a marriage, God asks us to love him in sickness and in health. God never gets sick, but it may feel at times as if he’s not present or a little crazy. We still love him.
  • Just like the groom leaves the bride after she refuses to leave her mother and marry him, sometimes God leaves us to the consequences of our sins. Just like the groom though, God comes back to call us to him again.
  • In the bigger context, the bride in Solomon’s story represents the day when Jesus’ followers will be reunited. In her name you can literally find peace and in many instances she represents the new Jerusalem. You’ll have to read the book to get a better understanding of this metaphor.
  • At times my faith may become lukewarm, but just like the lover in the poem, God will stand at the door of my heart and knock until I open back up to him. Similarly he also leaves us with his word just as the groom left myrrh in the door to remind us of his love and push us to run back to him.

Though my earthly heart longs for marriage so much that it hurts at times, I am thankful that this book reminded me of my position as a bride of Christ. He has wooed me, chosen me, and continues to express his love for me. Someday we’ll be joined together for eternity in heaven, and it will be more sweet than any earthly marriage. For now I’ll keep preparing myself to meet my King, and maybe an earthly husband will be in God’s will as well.

Many waters cannot quench love, nor floods drown it. (Song 8:7)

I received this book from Blogging for Books.

Posted in Book Review, Gratefulness, Life

Spiritual birthday

Eleven years ago I began a relationship with Jesus. Besides relationships with my family it’s far surpassed the time I’ve invested in any other relationship. It’s also been far more rewarding and satisfying than any friendship, kinship, or romance I’ve ever had. I’ve been in a relationship with Jesus for almost half of my life. I’ve learned about love and forgiveness and grace and discipline. He’s taught me (still teaching me) how to speak and interact with people and when to be silent. He reminds me that I’m loved and worthy of love by giving me rainbows and butterflies and sunsets even when it feels like no one in this world notices me. I’m blessed to say I’m a daughter, friend, and follower of God. I’m excited to see where God will lead me and what he’ll teach me in the coming years, and even more I’m excited to see him in heaven.

Read my spiritual story here.

Posted in Book Challenge

Love You Forever

As I predicted, I have gotten behind on the book post challenge, but as I mentioned at the start, please show me some grace. I was out of town this weekend for a conference which didn’t leave me much time to make blog posts. Rather than trying to play catch up, I’m going to make my own rules and simply continue with the next day as if I didn’t miss any days.

Book Challenge

The fifth challenge is to post about a book that makes me happy. This one is stumping me because I’m having trouble coming up with a book. There are plenty of stories that I enjoy, but I don’t think they make me happy because they usually involve some sort of sad point. For that reason, I think I will turn to a children’s book, and I think I will choose one that makes me smile to think about. It’s not necessarily the story itself that makes me happy but the memories associated with the book.

Love You Forever

Robert Munsch (Illustrated by Sheila McGraw)

LoveYouForever

This book follows the life of a mother and her son. It repeats the refrain, “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” It’s not a particularly profound book except that it expresses how a mother will always love her children no matter how old they grow.

It makes me happy because it reminds me of my mother. She read this book to us several times, and I know that she lives this kind of love for me and my brothers.

To my mom (because I know you’ll read this):

I’ll love you forever.

I’ll like you for always.

As long as I love, my mom you’ll be.

Posted in Bible Study, Life

Falling in Love

A friend just posted on Facebook the following status:

“We should love not fall in love because everything that falls gets broken. “- we heart it.

Does this appeal to only my logic???

At first I thought yes, that makes sense, but then I realized that was the past hurt speaking. It’s true that during my life I have been hurt by people who say they love me. That hurt is hard to forget. The emphasis, though, is that people did the hurting. People are fully capable of hurting other people, and the truth is that I am a person who both loves and hurts. Does this mean that we should give up on loving people or falling in love? No.

I think “falling in love” is a beautiful concept because it offers a romance and euphoria. Maybe, though, it’d be better to say choosing to love and be loved. Loving is a choice just as much as it’s a choice to let love in. Let’s not abandon love all together because of a broken or bruised heart; instead let’s love more, always remembering the perfect love of Jesus as our example. Show the world how beautiful love can be when Christ is at the heart. Give love a better name.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

We do not have to fear love because God has a perfect love that will always catch us when human love fails. Trust your heart to Jesus and freely give and receive true love from the people in this world.

Posted in Bible Study

The Other Side of Luke 19

About a month ago, I made a post about Zacchaeus. Here’s the other side of the story.

Jesus had a habit of hanging out with the people others despised. Some, even his own disciples, thougth this behavior strange. Thankfully their criticism didn’t stop Jesus. In Luke 19, Jesus approached a man who had a permanent home on most people’s block list. This “wee little man” was a tax collector, but even worse he stole money from people. Jesus saw something good in him though that others didn’t see.

While it makes a cool story that Jesus called out to a man who had done some very public wrongs, there’s more to the story. Jesus said that he came to “seek and to save those like him who are lost.” (Luke 19:10). No one liked Zacchaeus so it fit Jesus’s character to reach out to him. What makes Jesus even more awesome is that Jesus does that for anyone. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, whether public or in secret. Jesus doesn’t care if you’re short, have purple hair, or dress in jeans and a t-shirt every day. Jesus wants to know you whether you live in the United States, India, or even Antarctica. Jesus desires to show perfect love and kindness to you. Zacchaeus was called and he chose to come down. Will you come down from your tree to meet with Jesus?

Christians, you’re not exempt from this story. We have a lesson to learn as well. Jesus chose to spend time with Zacchaeus. The people around him thought he was crazy to hang out with this notorious sinner, but Jesus ignored their comments. How often do we avoid loving or even talking to certain types of people because of their actions or reputations? That’s not how Jesus would treat them. We, myself included, need to put aside our petty biases and show love to everyone. That’s our lesson to learn from Zac’s encounter with Jesus.