10,000 reasons for my heart to find

6 Aug

On July 7, 2012 I was about to face the toughest thing I’ve ever had to face.  I was lying in a hospital bed in a dark labor and delivery room.  Around 4 am I woke up.  Contractions had officially started and they were not fun, especially since I knew that I was contracting so I could deliver a lifeless child.

On July 3rd our family went in to get our routine 20 week ultrasound and instead of finding out if we were going to have a son or daughter we found out our baby’s spirit had left.  No heart beat.  The delivery was scheduled for four days later.

So there we were.  God had already began the healing process during those days waiting to deliver, but waking up that morning knowing what was about to happen was hard.  But I decided instead of lying there mad at the devil that I would turn on my iPhone and sing and worship my Savior.  So that’s what we did.  My husband Josh was right there with me.  The song that I will never forget singing that night is what inspired this blog.

Bless the lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship his holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship your holy name

The sun comes up
Its a new day dawning
Its time to sing your song again
What ever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

You’re rich in love and you’re slow to anger
Your name is great and your heart is kind
For all your goodness I will keep on singing
10,000 reasons for my heart to find

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Soon my soul will sing your praise un-ending
10,000 years and there forever more

We raised our hands and sang this out through tears that morning and a few hours later the delivery was over and we were home.  I remember saying to Josh later that night, we have so much to be thankful for… I bet if we sat down there would be 10,000 things our hearts could find to be thankful for.

So what is this blog about?  The other day I was making dinner and the thought came to me.  I wonder how many things you would have to be thankful for every day for a year to get to 10,000.  So I asked Siri to do the math and I was surprised.  27!  That’s it.  (Technically, 28 for 145 days and 27 for the rest)  So I decided that night as I was chopping up an onion that every night before I fell asleep I would take time to write down 27 things that I am thankful for and at the end of the year my heart will have found 10,000 reasons.

I don’t read blogs.  I’ve never written a blog.  I don’t even know if blogs are cool anymore, but after I came up with the idea I just felt like I should make it a blog.  Hopefully it inspires people to be more thankful.  Psalm 103:2 Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

So here it goes..  my first list!  A lot of these are the broad strokes.  The things that will shape most of my lists to come over the next year.

  1. Jesus – how can He not top the first of my first list.
  2. Josh – my husband of 9 years and my best friend for the last 12.
  3. Gus – my first born!  the coolest 4 year old on the planet.
  4. Beau – my beautiful 16 month old daughter.
  5. Felix – my precious son who I will meet in heaven.  only in our lives for 20 weeks and made such a huge impact.
  6. My mom – Loves God and loves people.  One of the most generous people I know.
  7. My dad – One of my favorite people to talk to because he’s a good listener.
  8. My brothers and sisters – I have 6! And I love each one of them and loved growing up with them.
  9. My mother in law – I am one of the few people that doesn’t just love their mother in law, but likes her too.
  10. My father in law – I am so blessed to be his son’s wife.  Josh is such a wonderful husband and father and so much of it is because of his dad.
  11. My sister in law and her family -They love God, love each other and love us.
  12. My church – Gateway Frisco!
  13. My job – So thankful I get to work from home for an awesome ministry: Ken Blount Ministries
  14. My husbands job – Getting paid to teach children God’s word every week..  how awesome is that!?
  15. My Bible – It’s like opening a present from God every morning.
  16. That Gus puts on cologne after his bath.  Love tucking in that sweet smelling boy.
  17. For the 30 minutes, literally 30 minutes that Gus talked passionately about God’s word with me today on the way home from the mall.
  18. For the cloud Gus saw today that he said looked like the Death Star from Star Wars and was convinced God made it that way just for him
  19. That Josh will be home from his staff retreat tomorrow!!  I miss him!
  20. For my blue letter bible app.  Revolutionized my bible study time.
  21. Air conditioning
  22. That my washer and dryer are not the in the garage
  23. For the much needed rain shower today
  24. For the indoor play place the kids had so much fun playing at
  25. For the song “I’m Not Afraid Anymore” by Leeland
  26. That Josh gives the kids their baths every night.
  27. For this promise- Jeremiah 50:9 Our arrows (our kids) shall be like those an expert warrior; none shall return in vain.

Where Happiness Lives

27 Oct tumblr_mv9mg3h9yT1s8jk9eo1_500

Remember when “not” was a really popular expression?  Maybe if I use it in a sentence it will refresh your memory.

Hey, you look really cool in that hyper-color t-shirt—NOT!

I’m glad hyper-color shirts, along with obnoxious people saying “not” have gone out of style. Although I’m not sure that everyone’s happiness meter got the memo. It still seems to use the expression, or one like it, all of the time.

I finally got my dream job, now I’ll be happy—NOT!

I lost 30 pounds, now I’ll be happy—JK!

We are moving into a nicer house, now I’ll be happy—SIKE!

When our happiness is based on our circumstances it will always deceive us.  We have to learn to be happy before we get our dream job, drop 30 pounds, or move into a nicer house.  We have to be happy NOW, when circumstances aren’t perfect.

How do you get to that place of perpetual happiness?  I think this verse sums it up beautifully.

Psalm 89:15   Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD. 

Happy (blessed, fortunate, to be envied) are those who hear the call to worship!  The call to worship was a trumpet used on the morning of the Jubilee (Leviticus 25:9), a celebration of liberty and a restoration of inheritances.  If you were alive and you heard that trumpet you had reasons to be joyful.  If you are alive and reading this right now, you, too, have reasons to be joyful.  Jesus came to set you free from the power of sin and won back your inheritance—every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm—and He accomplished what He came to do!  We have liberty and our inheritance has been restored through Him!

If you want to experience year-round happiness you need to start tooting your own horn, you need to blow your trumpet every day by spending time worshipping Jesus.  Remind yourself that you are abundantly free and everything you could ever need has been provided.  True happiness can only be attained when it’s based on what Jesus has already done for you, not on your present circumstances.

When you daily hear the call to worship you will walk in the light of God’s presence, which means you will live in His favor and enjoy His smiles.  It’s impossible to be unhappy when the Creator of the universe is smiling on you!  Circumstances are like hyper-color shirts: they change, but what Jesus accomplished for you never does.

Never Lose Hope Again

13 Oct hope

Hebrews 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.

The world we live in is a discouraging one, a hopeless one.  People put their hope in everything but God—the president, politicians, the government, doctors, medicine, the economy, the stock market, family, or friends.  When those things let them down, they lose hope.  And hope is not something you want to lose. Hope deferred makes the heart sick.  (Proverbs 13:12)

I recently read a comment by a very heartsick woman who had given birth to a stillborn baby.  She started it by saying, “My baby died, and took my hope with him.”   She was angry with God and angry that she would now be entering back into the workforce instead of becoming a stay-at-home mom.  I feel for her.  I’m saddened that she lost her son, but what’s most heartbreaking is the fact that her hope was in her unborn child.

I’m so thankful that no matter what’s going on in my life I never have to feel hopeless because my hope is in the only thing that will never let me down.  The hope I have in Jesus is an anchor for my soul.

An anchor on a ship prevents it from drifting away.  The winds may blow and the waves might beat against the ship, but if the ship’s anchor holds, the ship will be safe.

Socrates once said “A ship ought not to trust to one anchor, nor life to one hope.”

Socrates was wrong.  Maybe not about the ship part, but he totally missed it on the life part.  All we need is one anchor if our anchor is Jesus.  If our hope is in Him we’ll never be let down.  When I had to deliver my son stillborn it was hard, but not hopeless.  I was full of hope—hope that I would see him again someday, hope that he was in the arms of my Savior, hope that I would never have to go through the loss of a child again.

My favorite part of Hebrews 6:19 is that it tells us where hope leads us. Hope brings us to the place within the veil, the most holy place in the temple, which now represents heaven.  When we have hope in Jesus it’s like we are casting an anchor up into heaven and the flukes grab onto the very throne of God—and that thing ain’t movin’.  So fling your anchor upwards to the place behind the veil and your soul will remain steadfast and steady, regardless of your circumstances. Hope will see you into the very presence of God.

Advanced Thankfulness

24 Sep thanks-2

John 11:35 (NKJV) Jesus wept.

This is the shortest, yet one of the most powerful verses in the entire Bible.

Jesus, fully God and fully man, showing more of His human side here, cried tears of sorrow over the death of His best friend Lazarus. He was deeply moved as He showed up to the tomb where His lifeless friend laid.

He asked for the stone to be removed, and even though Lazarus had been lying dead inside for four days, and the smell was probably unbearable, someone went ahead and did what Jesus asked them to do. Then, John 11:41 says, Jesus looked up and said, “I thank you, Father, that you listen to me.” Then Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth.” And Lazarus came forth, wrapped in grave clothes, but alive!

Jesus felt it was necessary to thank God before Lazarus was raised. He was thankful before He received the answer to His problem. Jesus had great faith in His Father. He knew His Father would hear Him and that He would act on what He heard and for that, Jesus was grateful.

This idea of “advanced thankfulness” is one seen many times in God’s Word and it’s a principle we need to put into practice in our own lives.

If your boss called you into his office to let you know he’s seen how diligent you’ve been and that he really appreciates you and is going to increase your salary, I’m sure you would respond by saying thank you. Even though you wouldn’t be holding a check which reflected the raise, in your hands right at that very moment, you trust him, so you thank him, in advance. All you needed was his word.

God’s Word is full of promises which we can pray. If we trust Him and take Him at His Word then we can be thankful before we tangibly see the fulfillment of those promises.

Praise is the voice of faith. If you really believe God has heard your prayers, you will start praising Him for the answer, even before you see it. Start your day thanking God for something you don’t have yet, but will have based on His Word.

Home Sweet Home

10 Sep jmbarclay

Before my husband and I were married we decided we wanted to be home owners.  He went to the bank, got approved for a loan, found a realtor, and started shopping.  I can still remember meeting Josh at his parents’ house and driving to our realtor’s office so she could take us on our first day of house hunting.  We were both pretty excited, but by the time we got to the fifth or sixth house, discouragement began to set in.  Is this really the kind of house we are going to have to live in?  Everything we saw was everything we didn’t like.  Old carpet, popcorn ceilings, low ceilings, lots and lots of 80s architecture, and zero charm.

We went back to Josh’s parent’s house and wondered if we were doing the right thing.  We talked about perhaps just getting an apartment to start off with, but we kept coming back to the feeling that God had a house for us, so Josh talked to our realtor and let her know more about what we were looking for in a home.  The next time she took us out we were on the other side of Tulsa and the houses weren’t perfect, but they had potential.  We saw several homes that we liked and one, which for some reason beyond reason, we fell in love with.  We bought it and spent our first night as a married couple in that little place.  We lived there for five years, fixing it up along the way.  It was the perfect first home for us.

I was reminded of our first house-hunting experience when I read this verse this morning,

1 Corinthians 3:16 (Weymouth) Do you not know that you are God’s Sanctuary, and that the Spirit of God has His home within you?

God went looking for a place His spirit could call home.  He had lots of different options.  Somewhere on the beach, up in the mountains, a place with a big backyard and great big oak trees, a quaint little cabin in the woods, or He could have stayed in the nicest place imaginable—heaven.  Instead, He let His realtor know He was looking for something different, something less perfect.  Something that came in all shapes and sizes.  Something that came in diverse colors.  Something that looked more like Him.  For some reason beyond reason He wanted His Spirit to make its home in His people.  He wanted a “fixer-upper.”  He knew we weren’t perfect, but we had potential.  He was done living in the temple; He wanted to live among His people—ALL of His people.

So that’s what He did.  The Creator of the universe, who could have chosen a home more beautiful than we could ever dream of, chose to live in us instead.  He made us His dwelling place.  We are what His Spirit calls “home sweet home.”

I’m so thankful that Jesus came and got me ready to put on the market.  He cleaned me up, got rid of my popcorn ceilings and old carpet and turned me into the kind of place He knew His Father would want to live in.  I’m no longer for sale, but completely sold out to the Spirit of God.

Auto Correct

21 Aug IMG_4711

I’ll just come right out and say it. I’m not a fan of talking on the phone. I used to like it. I liked it so much that when I lived at my parent’s house they got me my own phone line so I wasn’t always tying up theirs or making it impossible for the dial-up modem to connect to the Internet. But that was before I owned a cell phone. More importantly that was before I owned an iPhone. My dislike for talking on the phone came when I got one of those bad boys. It was just so much simpler to text than it was to talk; especially with a 2-year-old running around. Now, I have three children at home and I rarely answer my phone. I’ll answer a text pretty quickly, but if you call me, you’ll have to wait until the baby goes down for a nap and the big kids are being entertained by a monkey and the man with the yellow hat before I call you back.

Since I communicate so much via text messaging I’ve come to appreciate Auto Correct. This is a handy software feature that automatically replaces a word or suggests an alternate word, if the word you type does not appear in the built-in dictionary on your phone.

For instance, if I had too much soy sauce with my sushi, and my extra-puffy fingers accidentally text, “I kovr sushi,” Auto Correct knows that kovr is not a word and what I meant was, “I Iove sushi,” and automatically changes kovr to love—so smart!

Your phone will also train itself to recognize certain words that are not in its dictionary, if you text them often enough. When I first had my daughter, Beau, her name was not in my dictionary, and Auto Correct was always trying to change it to something else. But after I declined the word replacement suggestion enough times it learned that Beau was what I was actually wanting to text. It even learned to automatically capitalize it.

I was texting my husband the other day and watching all the words I mistyped transform into the words I meant to type and I thought to myself, we need Auto Correct on more than just our phones, we need it in our minds.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you started to have a wrong thought, your mind would auto correct and replace that thought with a right one? Imagine what kind of effect that could have on your life. If you are thinking right, you are talking right, making right decisions, producing the right kind of fruit, attracting the right kind of relationships. All would be right in your world if you could only program your mind with an Auto Correct feature.

I’ve got good news. You can. You don’t have to hire a computer programmer or a brain surgeon. You don’t have to pay a fortune. You don’t have to take special vitamins or eat a certain diet or be a part of Mensa. All you need is a Bible.

II Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

The Word of God, when mediated upon, has the power to auto correct your thoughts. When you study and memorize scripture you are downloading information into your mind and spirit that will override and correct any wrong information you’ve been programmed with, so you can be equipped to do all that God put you on this planet to do.

You may have programmed yourself to think that stress is a normal part of life and something that you just have to deal with. You may even start certain days proclaiming, “This is going to be a stressful day!” But if you study the Word you’ll see that that way of thinking is wrong. The Bible says not to worry about anything. The Bible says Jesus came to make our burdens light. The Bible says Jesus is the Prince Of Peace. If you make those truths a part of your life, they will auto correct your thoughts when you begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed. They will change your proclamation from, “This is going to be a stressful day,” into “This is the day the Lord has made. He’s going to carry my burdens! He’s going to command peace over my day. He’s going to lead me beside still waters. He’s going to calm my storms.”

You may have programmed yourself to think that your dream is too big. You find yourself doubting the call God has placed on your life or trying to figure out how you can make it happen in your own strength. But if you study God’s Word, and the lives of men like Noah and David, you’ll reprogram yourself to correct those thoughts with things like, “My God is faithful! He who started a good work will finish it. He makes all things work together for my good. His ways are better than my ways!”

We all live in the same fallen world and we have all been programmed with thoughts that do not line up with the Word of God, but we can train our minds to replace those thoughts—to correct those thoughts—by filling our inner dictionary with promises and principles from God’s Word.

It may not happen overnight. Just like it took several times of me declining whatever word my phone suggested, when I typed Beau’s name. It may take you several times of declining whatever wrong thoughts pop into your mind first, but eventually if you keep putting the Word of God in your spirit, it will stick. God’s Word will be the first suggestion that pops up in every area of your life. Truth will override everything else and all will be right with you.

Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. (II Tim 3:17, MSG)

Privileged Information

6 Aug

Last year I learned Gus was not quite ready to keep a secret.  I purchased a watch as a birthday gift for Josh and when it arrived in the mail, I showed it to Gus.  I said, “This is what we got for dad.  We will give it to him in a few days at his birthday party.  Don’t tell him what we got him, okay?  It’s a secret!”  He agreed.

That night Josh got home from work and Gus says to him at the dinner table, “Dad, we definitely did NOT get you a watch for your birthday.”  Josh smiled at me.  He knew immediately that a watch was exactly what we got him for his birthday.

If you want to keep a secret safe you can only tell it to people who are trustworthy.

Psalm 25:14  The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant.

What a great verse.  God, the Creator of the universe, wants to share His secrets with us.  We trust Him with our lives and He trusts us with His secrets.

Everyone should have a special covenant friend.  Mine happens to be my niece-in-law, Courtney. She knows my secrets.  I tell her things before I tell anyone else, besides Josh, of course.  She gets privileged information based on our relationship.

God says that the people who honor Him are his special covenant friends.  They receive privileged information based on their relationship with Him.

The Hebrew word for secret is cowd.  It literally means a couch or a cushion.  God wants to share his couch with us.  He wants us to come over, make ourselves at home, and have a seat on his couch.  This is the couch where He shares His secrets.  Not everyone is allowed to sit on “the couch,” only those who are true worshippers have a spot with their name on it.

It is also interesting that the primary meaning of the root word for secret is to be or to make tight.  In other words, if you want to be tight with God, you must honor God!

The more time you spend on the couch with Him the more He will show you about your covenant with Him.  You will begin to see His goodness in ways you’ve never seen before.  His love and favor will be clearly revealed to you.  His Word will make more sense to you.  Your understanding about who He is will be enlightened.  These are the kind of secrets you NEED to know!

The Message sums it up perfectly: God-friendship is for God-worshipers; they are the ones he confides in. (Psalm 25:14)

Lessons From Disney World

28 Apr

Every year millions of people from all over the world make their way to Orlando Florida to experience the happiest place on earth, also known as Disney World. Parents save up their hard earned money for months, they work overtime, have garage sales, and do whatever it takes to take their family on a fun and memorable but very expensive vacation. If you are going to invest in a vacation like that you want your children to enjoy themselves, right? Well let me tell you about a scenario I’ve seen played out at Disney on multiple occasions.

It’s nearing the end of the afternoon and young children all over the park are getting worn out, but mom and dad want to keep going so they feel as if they are getting their moneys worth. They park the stroller, have the kids get in line for the Peter Pan ride, which always has a long line, and after about 5 minutes of waiting their children start to complain. “I don’t want to wait in this line. My legs are tired. I want another churro. I want to go back to the hotel and watch TV. I’m hot. I’m thirsty. I need to go potty.” The parents tolerate the complaining for a while and then when they can’t take it any longer they bend down and get right in their children’s faces and say to them, “We have come too far and paid way too great a price for you not to be enjoying yourselves! So you better stop complaining and start having fun!”

I think I’ve had that conversation with my little ones a time or two while waiting to board Peter Pan.

The Lord had that conversation with me today as I was studying Romans 6.

Romans 6:10-11 (Amp) For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

Jesus came too far. He left His home in heaven and traveled all the way to the earth to make His home among us. Jesus paid too great a price. He gave his life, the most valuable thing He had so that we might live. So it’s time we stop complaining and start having fun.

Maybe you aren’t having the greatest day; can I just remind you of something? We are dead to sin! We are alive to God and can walk in unbroken fellowship with Him. That right there is enough to turn any day into a good one.

Jesus came too far and paid too great a price for His people to live defeated! Don’t be like a whiny, ungrateful kid at Disney World today. Jesus has a lot invested in you. Make an effort to an enjoy it!

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