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.

Rest Without Reservations

16 Apr Rest

My daughter Sunny loves to be held. She’s the third child of the family so that doesn’t happen as often as she would prefer. But she seems to understand and just takes whatever she can get. If you want to make her night, just pick her up and carry her around with you for a little bit. Let her lay her sweet little head, full of wispy blonde hair, on your shoulder, and she will snuggle until she’s satisfied, or until you have to pull dinner out of the oven.

My son Gus is almost 7 and he’s figured out that he can pick Sunny up. Sunny has figured out that she doesn’t like it when he picks her up. He lifts her under her arms and she’s pinned to his body, facing outward, her arms flailing. He’s laughing and she’s yelling. I’m sure it’s pretty frightening for her. She gets that he’s just a 6-year-old boy and he really can’t be trusted to carry her around. He’s not strong enough, high enough, or calm enough for her to be able to rest easy on his shoulder. When 5:00pm rolls around and Sunny is looking for someone to hold her, she’s not looking for her big brother, she’s looking for mom or dad.

When Sunny lays her head down on my shoulder, it’s a picture of trust. She trusts me completely. She’s not looking down to make sure I’ve got a good grip on her or asking me if I’ve read any books on how to hold a toddler. She doesn’t have a single doubt in her mind about my ability to hold her. She puts her full weight into me without any reservations.

Many of us say that we trust God, because we are Christians, and that’s what Christians are supposed to say, right? But are we resting in Him, fully leaning into Him without any reservations?

If you could see your spirit man right now, what would you see? A spirit that is at rest on the shoulder of a loving, trustworthy Father? Or a spirit that is totally uncomfortable, arms flailing, and yelling?

I think sometimes when the going gets tough, we start to lose sight of God’s love for us, and we end up seeking comfort in something that isn’t strong enough, high enough, or calm enough to provide the rest we need. In turn we end up stressed out and overcome with fear and worry.

I John 4:16 (VOICE) We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us.

We have experienced the love of God in us. If you are a Christian and you have made Jesus the Lord of your life, you have experienced His love. The experience part is pretty simple, God is love and you can’t have a relationship with Him without experiencing His love. It’s the entrusting our lives part that gets people.

Today, when you are tempted to stress over your ridiculously long to-do list, entrust it to Jesus. When you are worried about your health, entrust it to Jesus. When your 4-year-old is being extra challenging, entrust it to Jesus. Whatever is causing your spirit to feel like you are being carried around by a 6-year-old who isn’t quite sure what he is doing, take that and run to Jesus with it.

Let Him pick you up and hold you. Entrust every part of your day to the love He has for you. Lean into Him without any reservations. He’s strong enough, high enough, and calm enough to give you the rest you need.

Move!

6 Apr d7c83bfcf735e18e9_c41bf7_591-post

This morning my daughter was sitting on the couch, watching her favorite show, while I was picking up the toys that had been strung all over the living room.  I kneeled down in front of Beau, to pick up the stethoscope that goes with her Doc McStuffins doctor kit, and I heard her little sweet voice say, “Move, mom!”

Apparently, I was blocking her view of the television.  Don’t worry, I told her that, “Excuse me, mom,” was a more polite way of letting me know I was disrupting Team Umizoomi.  As I finished picking up, I began to think about how even a toddler knows that if something is in her way, she should tell it to MOVE.

In Matthew, chapter 17, a man brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus and tells Him that the disciples tried to cure him, but it didn’t work.  I’m sure the disciples were embarrassed.  It’s never fun when a customer lets your boss know that you aren’t doing your job correctly, but rather than fire them and find replacements, Jesus used this opportunity to teach His disciples.  When the disciples asked Him why they were unable to heal the man’s son, Jesus replied with this:

Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

Jesus let them know that when they come up against mountains—like a demon-possessed boy, for instance—if they have faith, just the size of a mustard seed, and they tell the mountain to move, it will.

I imagine it was pretty frightening for the disciples, attempting to cast out demons without Jesus around.  Maybe they weren’t bold enough to say, “Hey demon, MOVE!”  Maybe instead they were saying, “Excuse me, demon, you are kind of messing this kid’s life up, could you please go somewhere else?”  Whatever the case was, they weren’t operating with mountain-moving faith.

I was raised to be polite and I’m trying to raise my kids to be polite, as I’m sure you all are, but when the enemy has placed a mountain in your way, you don’t have to be polite.  You don’t have to say excuse me or please and thank you.  You don’t have to walk the long way around so you won’t disturb the mountain.  Jesus has given you permission to be bossy.  He has given you authority to say to the mountain, “MOVE!”

So don’t be polite when you address that mountain of fear the enemy placed in your path this morning, just tell it to move.  Don’t step up to the mountain of stress that’s standing between you and a good day, with your head down, and quietly ask it to go away. Get authoritative and tell it to move.

Jesus made it easy enough for a 2-year-old to understand, so don’t over complicate it.  When something gets in your way, tell it to move, and believe that it has to and it will.  Learn how to say, “MOVE,” and mean it, and nothing will be impossible for you.

What Happens When You Pray

23 Mar prayer

In Exodus 17 Amalekite warriors attack the Israelites. At this point their leader Moses was getting too old to physically battle, but he had a huge part to play in the victory of God’s people.

He sent Joshua and some other men to fight and he went to the top of a hill and prayed his heart out.  When he prayed, Israel prevailed; when he stopped praying, Amalek prevailed.  He could see the battle from the hill.  He could see his prayers were working and the effect they had on the battle.  So he kept praying.  He prayed so intensely that he began to grow weak.  He had to have Aaron and Hur pull up a seat for him and help him keep his hands raised in prayer.  Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our prayer life were like that?  If we could get up every morning, sit at the top of our stairs, enter into prayer and behold with our physical eyes the effectiveness of what we were doing?  It would make it a lot easier to spend time in prayer if we could see the fruit of it right then and there. Like Moses, I’m sure we would be more motivated to pray until we were exhausted. To pray until we could no longer hold our own arms up.  But most of the time, at least for me, that’s not the case.

When I pray, I can’t see all that’s happening with my two eyes, or four if I haven’t put my contacts in yet.  I pray, I look around the house and everything seems the same, in the natural.  I can’t see the angels that I sent out to protect my family.  I can’t see the favor surrounding me like a shield.  I can’t see the spirit of fear running out of the house. I can’t see the peace of God that guards my heart.  I can’t see the fresh supply of strength God is giving me.  I can’t see the shield of faith I’m carrying. But it’s all there. It’s all happening in the spiritual realm.

Moses’ prayers were the difference between life and death for Joshua and the Israelites. He could see that.  It was obvious.  The time we spend in prayer could be the difference between life and death for ourselves and the ones we pray for. Your prayers have an effect on your life, maybe not one you can see right away, but the things that are happening in the spirit when you pray are just as real as what Moses could see happening when he was praying up on that hill.

James 5:16 (amp) The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

Let’s Be Honest

19 Feb fake_a_smile_by_evilqueen950-d3euvq0

My husband and I are celebrating 12 years of marriage this June!  I married Josh just a few months after I turned 18 and even though I felt like I was so much more mature than all the other 18-year-olds I knew at the time, I still had a lot of growing up to do.  My M.O. the first few years of marriage was being a poor communicator.  Josh would notice that something was bothering me and ask me what was wrong. I would always answer with a short, “Nothing.  I’m fine,” even though something was bothering me and I wasn’t fine.  I would go about the rest of the day with my bad or sad or whatever kind of attitude I had that Josh was sensing, and continue to say that I was okay every time he asked if I was, until finally, hours later, usually after an argument, I would say what was really going on.

I could have enjoyed a lot more days and prevented a lot more arguments if I would have just shared what was on my mind as soon as Josh asked me.  I’m glad I finally figured that one out.

In Nehemiah, chapter 2, Nehemiah is at work one day when his boss notices he’s got a long face.  Nehemiah didn’t have just any job, with just any boss; he was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia.  It had been four months since Nehemiah heard the devastating news about the state of the city of Jerusalem and he still hadn’t recovered.  During that time in history, a cup bearer was not allowed to be sad in the presence of the King.  Most kings put themselves on the level of a god, and if you were in their presence, you should be in awe.  Sadness was not permitted; it was a punishable offense. Nehemiah was fully aware of this.

Nehemiah 2:2-3 So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.” Then I was terrified, but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah was terrified, but instead of answering his boss with, “Oh, I’m fine.  I just had something in my eye,” he tells the truth.  He lets the king know what was going on inside that head of his. Instead of firing Nehemiah or calling the guards in to take him away, the king says, “Well, how can I help you?”

Nehemiah must have been so overjoyed with his decision to be honest!  He let the king know how he could help, and that played a major part in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.  I don’t know if Nehemiah could have done it without him.  It was totally God that he shared what was really going on in his life that day at the office.

Sometimes we revert back to those old rules of not being allowed to be sad in the presence of the King.  We think if we were to let God know what was really on our hearts, that He might get upset and punish us.  He’s not that kind of King.  He’s a King that notices when you have a long face and even though He already knows why, He wants you to talk to Him about it.  He wants you to be honest with Him.

If you wake up and something is weighing heavily on your heart, let your King know.  He wants to help you and is completely equipped to do so, whatever the case may be.  There is nothing you can tell Him about that will stump Him.  He’s got the answers for everything.  Don’t let your M.O. with God be that you are a poor communicator.  Don’t pretend to be fine when there really is something bothering you.  There is no sense in carrying that around with you all day, all week, or for the rest of your life. Get it off your chest and into the hands of the King who has the power to make it better.

Pairing Mode

22 Jan jamberrypairingbutton

As an early Christmas gift a few years ago I received a Jawbone Jambox.  It’s a wireless speaker that you can sync up with your phone, tablet, or computer.  It’s advertised as the “ultra-portable speaker” and it has lived up to its name.  To get the Jambox to work you have to flip a switch and wait for a lady with a nice voice to say, “Jambox is in pairing mode, waiting for device to connect,” and then you get whatever device you want to connect to it, sync the two up using Bluetooth and voila!  You can take your little speaker upstairs, downstairs, outside, in the car or wherever you want to listen to it, and all without wires or having to lug around a big stereo on your shoulder.

The other day, when the lady in the Jambox told me that it was in pairing mode and waiting for a device to connect, I thought about how Jesus is always in pairing mode.  He’s always looking for someone to connect with.

II Chronicles 16:9 (NKJV) For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

God is constantly scanning the earth, looking for those who are fully committed to Him.  When He finds them, He connects with them and gives them strength—His own strength.  My iPhone, on its own, is not the greatest thing to listen to music through, but when I sync it with the Jambox, the sound grows stronger.  When we are not synced with God we aren’t operating in His strength and without His strength, we will not be able to live the victorious life that He has called us to live.  We all love to quote Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” but I think we forget that if we want to receive that strength we have to be synced up with the Lord, and that means that we have to be living our lives fully committed to Him.

I imagine at the start of each new day, Jesus turns on His pairing mode and waits. He waits to see who is ready to sync up with Him, waits to see who He is going to get to show Himself strong to, waits to see who is going to go through their day without a bunch of wires and extra weight holding them back, waits to see whose heart is totally committed to Him, and then He finds them!  A connection is made, and their day is amplified with His goodness!

I think what He’s trying to tell us in II Chronicles 16:9 is, “Jesus is in pairing mode, waiting for you to connect.”

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.

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