Monday, June 28, 2010

A Wedding Prayer

Lately, there's been alot going on in my life. Some of it has been amazing while some of it has been absolutely heartbreaking. One of the amazing things is that I'm digging deeper into music and into the gifts the Lord has given me. In light of that, I've been revisiting songs I've written and updating my artist profiles. There's still much work to be done, but it's an exciting thing to get started on the journey.

Today, as I was uploading songs, I came across one that I wrote for my friend, Joanna Winter before she became Joanna Grimes. As a vocalist, I've worked with a number of brides. Each wedding has had it's own personality and each bride has provided a different experience. Joanna was one of my favorites.

Joanna and I have been dear friends since high school. I've watched and walked with her as she has chased after the Lord and learned to honor Him with her life. As it came time for Joanna to marry Justin, she and I began to talk about wedding music. Joanna shared with me that she had 2 goals for that day: 1. That God be glorified 2. That we would celebrate what He had done.

As I thought about her day, the Lord gave me a vision of how it would look through her eyes. It was one of the most emotional song writing experiences I've ever had. I had to pull over and write it down before it was lost.

When I shared the song with Joanna, I expected that it would be a private gift from me to her. But, she surprised me by loving it and asking me to sing it in the ceremony. What an honor it was to share that day with my friend and to be able to portray her heart for her wedding day.

You can listen to the song, "In Us Be Pleased" at When I recorded it, I had the opportunity to make it a duet with my long time friend, Dan Steere. Below are the lyrics. Enjoy.

In Us Be Pleased

Jesus, You have loved me since before I knew my name
You created me with purpose and a plan
On this day as I take these vows and forever things are changed
I feel the comfort of Your hand

She's Your precious daughter and I, Your blessed son
And today as we come into this place
We will join our spirits, our hearts and lives as one
And together, we'll forever seek Your face

As my daddy walks me down the aisle
I see my mama's lovin' smile
And the man You created for me
I pray that we will honor You
And every little thing we do will bring glory to Your name
You created me for him and him for me
Oh, Jesus, in us be pleased

Here before our families, surrounded by our friends
In Your name we take these sacred vows
And join our lives together, two becoming one
In a bond that cannot be undone
We choose today to honor You
And proclaim for all to see
That by Your grace and mercy You have made us complete

As my daddy walks me down the aisle
I see my mama's lovin' smile
And the man You created for me
I pray that we will honor You
And every little thing we do will bring glory to Your name
You created me for him and him for me
Oh, Jesus, in us be pleased
'Cause You created me for him and him for me
Oh, Jesus, in us be pleased

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Beauty of Friendship

Friendship has been on my mind quite a bit lately. It's difficult for me when a friendship goes south, and it's usually quite a long process. I don't give up on people. I'm a hard friend to lose. But, as that has been a journey I've had to travel lately, it's made me think about the friends who remain in my life.

And, I am overwhelmed.

My friends are amazing. In the last 10 years, I've shifted in my ideas of friendship. Once upon a time, it was important to me that everyone like me and that I have a ton of friends. I wore myself out trying to keep up with it all and with trying to make sure I only showed the "pretty" parts of myself. It was exhausting. I had to make a change. I knew alot of people, but few people really knew me.

It's been a crazy journey. The Lord had to break through some really tough walls in my heart and show me that it's ok to be imperfect and for others to see that. As I stop and take stock of where I am on this journey, I am so grateful that the Lord disciplines those He loves and shaved those rough edges off of my heart.

Yesterday, I was shown love in action in a way that I never expected. I'd had a really stressful and emotional week. I have a tendency to push those things aside and focus on whatever task is at hand. But, by Saturday morning, it had all caught up with me. I was on the verge of a breakdown. All it took was one final blow and I was in need of escape. I called one of my closest friends just to vent so I wouldn't explode on the people around me. She patiently listened to my rant and never judged me for the emotional outburst. After talking to her, I went back to work with a little more room for patience.

The next thing I know, she shows up, Starbucks in hand, ready to work. She had rounded up the help I needed and went to humorous lengths to do so. She came just to be there with me and help in whatever way she could. She had more than enough on her own plate that needed tending, but she set that aside to come to my rescue. I was overwhelmed. I'm so blessed to have someone who would step outside of herself, in ways I can't express here, to step up for me. It actually brought me to tears.

I have amazing friends. This is just one story of how they have shown the love of Jesus to me through their actions.

I have treasured mentors who love me like a daughter.

I have people who go before the Lord on my behalf and fight for His will in my life, His protection, His wisdom.

I have family who would fight to the death for me, even in a moment when things aren't harmonious between us.

I have friends who have known me since I was a child, who I may talk to rarely, but who love me and can reconnect at a moment's notice.

I have people who aren't afraid to speak the Truth in love, correct me when necessary, and help me dig into the Word of God.

I have seen the love of Jesus walked out in the lives of my friends. It's amazing. I don't know if I'll ever be able to deserve or repay it. Right now, I'm just overwhelmed by it. Thank you to you all. You are loved and appreciated beyond words.

Word of Life

Philippians 2:14-16a - Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of life

Word of Life Free Methodist Church had it's first official service in our new building with our new name today. It's exciting to mark this new chapter in the life of what once was "The Church at Whitewater" and "Fayette Community Church". I've spent nearly the last nine years calling this body of believers my church family. It's been an amazing, and sometimes interesting, ride. I've learned so much about myself, who I am in Christ, what it means to be part of a church family, and what it means to be in ministry. At times, it's been a hard fought battle to choose obedience, but I would not trade any of it when I look back over the road I've traveled.

I'm excited about what the future holds for our church body. In the last several months, I have seen the conversation shift from where we "do church" to what it means to actually be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. We're at the beginning of this new chapter, but I'm thrilled at the prospects that lie before us. I've seen the Lord working in the hearts of His people and very much in my own heart. I thought I was going to miss the theater, but it's not too bad. I love the new building and the hearts of the people who gather there.

I LOVE the image of the verse in which our new name is highlighted: "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of life"

We talked last week about being strangers and aliens in this world. And, this morning, as I was wrestling with my own perfectionist tendencies and frustrations before the service, tired from an emotional week, and feeling disrespected, this passage came to mind:

Philippians 2:1-11

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,but made himself nothing,taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

What a way the Lord has of putting us back into the right frame of mind and gently nudging us back into His path. I'm blessed to have a pastor who hears my emotional outbursts and gently reminds me Who deserves my focus. He was able to share from his heart and help me realign my focus. It was in God's perfect timing that the prayer team walked in as I was reaching my breaking point and I was able to share with them my need for heavenly intervention in order to fulfill my morning responsibilities. They prayed, sweetly, over the situation and reminded me again of the purpose of our gathering. Then, the Lord brought the above verses to mind and completed the process of humbling my spirit.

What a journey this is, following the Lord and learning to walk in His ways. I have SO far to go, but I treasure each step. I pray that I will shine like the stars in the universe and really hold out The Word of Life to everyone I encounter. Pray that I will continue chasing after obedience. It's all I faithfully serve the One who has called me according to His purpose.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Love is...

These verses have been running through my head this morning. They need no commentary. This is what Love is:

 1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

 11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

 12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Corinthians 13, The Message)