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.

Significance of the Swaddle

10 Dec b72f61341dacbe3ba3e79b42f1c83bf5

Both of my children were big fans of being swaddled. They each had their own swaddle preference. Gus wanted to be completely wrapped. Beau fancied one arm out, one arm in swaddle, and we dared not confine her feet. Their swaddle addictions all began in the hospital. I was shocked at how tightly the nurses wrapped up my firstborn. I wondered if he would be able to breathe properly in his little blue and pink-striped straight jacket. My husband quickly became an expert swaddler after just a few days of practice. He could swaddle tighter than anyone, just like Gus liked it. He knew which blankets were the right length and had the right kind of stretch to create the perfect little cocoon for Gus to sleep in.

Rewind about 2,000 years and we find our Savior, Jesus, being swaddled and laid in a manger. It seems like a random detail. You would think how much He weighed and the exact date and time of His birth would have been more important than mentioning that He was swaddled, but it was a very important detail to God. He mentions it again through the angel who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night.

Luke 2:12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

The angel didn’t tell the shepherds where to go to find Jesus, he didn’t even suggest they go look for Him, he just somehow knew that once they heard the Savior of the world had arrived in their little town of Bethlehem they would want to go see Him. So he gave them a clue: you’ll find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.

They knew right where to go. They had probably been there several times. Harold Smith writes, “The hills around Bethlehem were home to the thousands of lambs used in ritual worship in the Temple. Everyone in Israel recognized Bethlehem as being synonymous with sacrificial lambs.” The shepherds that night were probably even keeping watch over sacrificial lambs. The words swaddling cloths and manger were very significant to them, words they used on the job quite often.

When lambs were intended for sacrificing, they were cared for differently than other lambs. They were laid in a manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths to make sure that they did not injure themselves by falling, or thrashing around, because a sacrificial lamb had to be perfect, without spot or blemish. The shepherds knew where to find swaddling cloth and a manger, and when they arrived they found Jesus just as the angel had described. He was our sacrificial lamb wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger, prepared for death even at His birth.

Let the same signs that the angels shared with the shepherds in Bethlehem remind us that Jesus came to the earth prepared to sacrifice His perfect, spotless life for us.

More Than Fluff

2 Dec Titanic Jack and Rose Atlantic Ocean

I was pretty much into the movie Titanic when I was in seventh grade.  I saw it not once, not twice, but six times in the theater.  No, wait, I just realized my husband took me to see it on my birthday a few years ago, so I’ve seen it seven times in the theater. That’s almost a whole day of Titanic.

Today I read this verse and I had a Jack and Rose flashback.

Hebrews 13:5b (AMP) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not,  [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

At the end of the movie, when Jack and Rose are freezing in the water and things are looking pretty hopeless, Rose starts to say her goodbyes, but Jack stops her and makes her promise that she will survive.  “No matter what happens, no matter how hopeless, promise me now, and never let go of that promise.”  Rose promises, “I will never let go, Jack.  I’ll never let go.”

Of course Jack dies (I cried six out of the seven times) and Rose survives, keeping her promise to Mr. Dawson.

Rose told Jack she would never let go of the promise she made him, but she had no idea if she would really be able to keep that promise.  It was pretty much just fluff.  God’s promises are not fluff.  He cannot break a promise He makes. Remember, when you’re reading your Bible that it is not just some movie script meant to tug at your heart a little, it’s real.

This is real: He will never relax His hold on us.  He will never leave us helpless.  He will never abandon us.  He will never leave us without support.  He will never fail us.  He will never give up on us.  He will never let us down.  Those are some amazing promises, and they are coming from the only One who can keep every single promise He makes. When He says He will never leave you nor forsake you, He means it.

So Far From Want

27 Nov 800px-Thanksgiving-Brownscombe[4]

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  When I was younger I loved waking up on Thanksgiving morning to the smell of roasted turkey and pies baking in the oven, and watching the parades on television.  Now I love doing some cooking of my own and being able to celebrate with my family for lunch and Josh’s family for dinner.  This year more than ever the holiday means more to me than turkey, more than football, more than parades and pumpkin pie, more than the kick off to the Christmas season, it’s about what God has used to heal my heart: thankfulness.

The story of the Mayflower voyagers is fascinating to me.  I try to put myself in the shoes of some of the passengers and imagine what it must have been like to board a ship—a cargo ship, not a nice passenger ship—and leave behind family and friends in search of a new land, a new life, a new everything.  I’m sure there were some realists on board who realized how difficult the journey would be, but I know not all of the passengers realized how many hardships they were going to face or else they wouldn’t have set foot on that ship.

Sixty-six days at sea.  No bathrooms.  No proper living spaces.  Sleeping next to strangers on beds made of hay.  Eating the same food all the time.  Giving birth (yes, one lady did have a baby aboard the Mayflower!).  Sickness, all kinds of awful sickness.  Ship troubles.  Whiny kids.  Thoughts of fear.  Boredom.  That had to be a really rough 66 days, but they made it!  The hard part was over, right? Wrong!

“And in three months past, die half our Company. The greatest part in the depth of winter, wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases which their long voyage and unaccommodate condition bring upon them. So as there die sometimes two or three a day. Of one hundred persons, scarce 50 remain. The living scarce able to bury the dead; the well not sufficient to tend the sick: there being in their time of greatest distress but six or seven who spare no pains to help them.” —William Bradford

These people left England so they could worship God freely and now they could, but would they?  Would they be able to praise God after going through so many hardships and such great loss?

They were alive.  They made it through the winter.  Squanto taught them how to grow food and how to survive.  Some of the food they planted had returned a harvest.  So yes, even though they had plenty to complain about, they gathered together and gave thanks to God!

I like what Edward Winslow, one of the Mayflower passengers wrote when he was talking about the first thanksgiving: yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want.

We all, because of the goodness of God, are so far from want.  All our needs are met according to His riches and glory, and even if you’ve had a rough week or a rough year, or a rough couple of years, if your heart is beating you have reason to give thanks.

Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures FOREVER.

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.

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