Thursday, July 19, 2012

Really, Lord??

Life can be interesting can't it?  It often takes unexpected twists and turns and leaves us feeling a bit overwhelmed at times.  We can become a bit undone when things don't unravel quite the way we think they should.  In fact, the unexpectedness of living in this fallen world has been my companion over the past year.  I've often asked God in my prayer times, "Really, Lord?" For sure, things in my life have made absolutely no since over the course of the past year.  Many times I have been angry, frustrated, disappointed and confused.  Most times I was able to pour my heart out to the Lord and keep moving forward. However, there have been the occasional bad days that I had no words.  The pain was so exhausting and acute that I couldn't even utter any words to describe it.  All I could do was just exist and trust God with my life.  Oftentimes I felt so helpless and limited.  I couldn't do anything about my situation, I was completely powerless to change anything.  It was almost as if I had become completely handicapped and could do very little for myself.  I won't relay the exact circumstances, but suffice it to say my husband and I were hit in almost every area imaginable.

Some scholars refer to these kinds of situations as "The Dark Night of the Soul" and indeed it has been that to us.  It's in these extreme circumstances that you find what you are really made of, so to speak.  I suspect most of the Biblical heroes to which we esteem so much honor and respect dealt with these same character building times in their life.   Just to name a few:

  *Abraham and Sarah had to wait 25 years to see a completely impossible (physically speaking) word           come to pass over their lives. In fact, Romans 4:19 says, "Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead--since he was about a hundred years old--and that Sarah's womb was also dead."

  *Joseph was sold by his own brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned and seemingly forgotten about.  I'm sure it seemed as if someone locked him up in prison and threw away the key.

  *Naomi and Ruth were left destitute and penniless, in the middle of a famine with nowhere to go and no way out.  Both Naomi's husband and two sons died leaving them completely abandoned and without the means to provide for themselves.

There are so many other examples of what a dark night can look like.  Some may only last a short time and others may last decades.  However, one thing will always ring true in these trying times; 1) God is still good and  2)He is with you.  If at any time you waiver or forget those truths, the pain can overtake you.

God is still good.............
The fact that we can't always see His goodness doesn't diminish the fact that He is good.  Truth is truth, no matter what we are going through.  David said this:

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.  (NASB)

Another translation says it this way:

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living. (Word English Bible)

As difficult as it is, we must remain confident of God's goodness when we go through these seasons, if nothing else but for our own sanity and peace of mind.  Confidence in God is our weapon against the enemy's schemes to distract us and ultimately pull us from a position of trusting in God.  I would highly recommend, finding, memorizing and speaking a few key scriptures daily and especially when you feel tempted to think and speak negatively.  Remember, God's word is our weapon and it's a sure-fire way to shut the enemy up.

He is with You........

I love what Paul said in his second letter to Timothy, after many had deserted him.  Some had even betrayed him.  But Paul, with this incredible revelation said:

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth.

Oh man did you catch that?  He said the Lord stood with him and strengthened him!! Who cares who else was or wasn't there if Jesus was there!  Sometimes we just need to open our eyes to God's spirit in our lives, especially in incredibly dreadful, depressing circumstances because the unseen truth is that He is there, waiting to strengthen us.  In fact, I believe He is longing to strengthen us.  He is not overwhelmed or intimidated by our problems and difficult situations.  He able to do more than we can ever ask, or think or imagine!

Here are a few tips to help if you are struggling in this area right now:

1) Remember what God has already done
Write them down as they come to mind in a journal and rehearse them over and over in your mind           until your faith is built up.

2) Remain thankful
Verbally thank God daily.  It is imperative to keep yourself in a worshipful and thankful posture.

3)Use the word as your weapon
Become skilled at wielding the word!!  Make your driving ambition to read and commit scripture to memory and then use it!

4) Rest in God 
Don't obsess about the future.  Enjoy your life right where you are, even though it may be tough.  Think of new ways to enjoy your life, whether that be hobbies or recreation.

And, when you have done all that you can do........stand.......and stand some more.......and yet stand some more until you see the salvation of God come through in your life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breaking the Mold

Something about cookie cutter molds turns me against their usefulness.  I understand the concept.....I understand the need.....I even understand how economical they can prove to be when used for mass production purposes.  Cookie cutter molds work great when used in the context of a factory, but not so great in the life of a Christian.  Therein lies my dis-satisfaction with the whole concept.  They can be so misleading when used to determine ones identity.  I've seen it time and time actually I've been a victim to it's demanding clutches on numerous occasions.

O the pain we endure when we try to be anything other than what we were created to be.  The truth is none of us can help HOW we were wired. We cannot spend our lives wishing we were a BMW if we were created a Chevy Tahoe (both are really great cars that I've owned by the way and pardon my expression of equating cars to human beings).  All my life I have pursued music, feeling the need to express myself through music alone. Desperately striving to fit into the mold of a Christian music artist.  To be successful meant millions of best selling albums and constant #1 hits.  So much pressure....... I thought music to be completely my sole calling and any other pursuit would be in vain.  That is until the Lord stripped all of that away from me to show me who I really was.  Even as I'm writing this I am intrigued by this revelation.  That I would ever settle for so much less than what He made me to be is intolerable.

Great treasures are always hidden and must be sought after and mined. Only God knows what that treasure is and how to discover it. That is why scripture says our lives our hidden in Christ.  Oftentimes the mold must be broken to accomplish this task. He knows exactly how to lead you to that treasure that is deep inside of you, placed there by Christ.  He desires us all to have the enjoyment of purpose and discovering that treasure inside of you is discovering your purpose.  We all have it but to find it will necessitate the work of patience on our life.  The following lines were taken from a song I penned a couple of years ago and I think it adequately expresses this feeling:

Let patience have her perfect work
Don't you rush the hand of the Lord
Strengthen those tired and weary knees
He will come to you with peace 

Sometimes it's thru the lens of darkness that light is best displayed. We cannot always see the truth until we are in the darkness.  That is a truth that I believe to be universally acknowledged yet so often misunderstood.  Our God is a God that is not afraid of darkness and is not diminished by its power.  He is able to keep you in perfect peace even though sometimes it is necessary to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Even death has no hold physically or spiritually in the life of a believer.  He can take what has been dark in your your life to propel you into His purpose for you.

Take heart dear brother, dear sister! Your God has not forgotten His purposes for you. He has not forgotten the destiny with which He has assigned you before the foundations of the world.  All hope is not lost.......despair is not to be your companion.  You were created as an expression of His handiwork and His expertise.

I love the book of Zechariah.  The name alone "Zechariah" means "the Lord remembers." Indeed He remembered His promise to the exiles of Israel and was faithful to bring them home and rebuild the temple and wall even though decades had passed.  I believe the Lord to be doing something great like this for all of us..........maybe some molds just need to broken first.  Some wrong identities need to be forgotten, some bad habits replaced,  and new character established.

Above all, our God is faithful and He always remembers!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dreamer pt 2-The Development Years

I left off in my last blog sharing some things about how incredibly long this journey has been.  It has been a serious endeavor of mine for 12 years.  And let me stress, 12 REALLY long years!  If you know anything about the music industry, you can appreciate that struggle.  In the music industry, an artist is considered 'over the hill' in terms of getting their big break about the age of 25!  That age might actually be a little too high because in all honesty it's probably closer to the 22 age mark now.  So, if you are over 30, it literally takes a miracle to get you through the door.  But, as many of you know, God is not so much concerned about age as he is spiritual maturity.  And let me just put it this way, I had a lot of growing up to do before God would allow me to step into this calling.

Today I just want to give you some tips about how to walk through those long, sometimes lonely, development years.  First of all, Jesus said in  Luke 14:28  that we should count the costs before we decide to build something.  I meet and teach a lot of teens that know they want to do music for the rest of their lives and they have huge dreams just like I did.  I don't want to discourage them the way that I was but I do want them to have a healthy view of what their dream is and what it isn't.  They should know up front that it is going to be a long, difficult road to travel but not impossible.  It will take hard work and consistency and repeatedly getting out of your comfort zones.  The fulfillment of the dream may look different that what was first envisioned.  It probably won't be red carpet and limo's awaiting you at your gigs.  Sometimes you will have to stand on your own two feet without others helping you.  It's not easy, but if the dream is truly God-inspired, it is possible through God's power.  So remember to count the costs before you dive in head first to your dream.  It will cost you something, actually it will probably cost you everything.  I put all of my resources into my dream to get me where I am today.  It didn't just cost money, it cost time and lots of energy.

Secondly, take as much time as necessary to develop your gifts, talents and abilities.  Don't mistakenly assume that you already know everything about what you are good at.  I'm telling you, for every 'great' singer out there singing, there are probably thousands of 'good' ones.  So what does that mean exactly? It means that our aim is to be great at something, not just good.  People respect greatness and appreciate the time it took you to get there, and they are willing to pay you for your services.  It's not a competition, but you owe it to yourself, the Lord and the audiences that you will be performing for to give them your absolute best.  I invested thousands of dollars in vocal lessons, some guitar lessons, songwriting conferences and countless hours writing and rehearsing those songs.

Lastly, don't get in a hurry!  That's hard not to do in our fast food, microwave society.  We get mad if we have to wait at a red light more than 2 minutes or if the waiter isn't at our table within a few minutes of being seated, right?  But the truth is, God has a season for everything and waiting serves its purpose in developing our character.  Not only do our physical abilities and talents have to be developed but our spiritual walk must be as well.  We have to be ready and able to handle the life that comes along with the dream God has given us.  The character must be strong enough to withstand the constant pressure.  Enjoy your life, right where you are.  God will provide the opportunities that you are ready for and as you grow, the opportunities will as well.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dreamer Pt 1

All of my life I have been dreamer.  At the age of 3 I had already determined that I wanted to be a singer.  I drove my parents crazy with my constant singing all of the time.  I was a microphone hog for sure. The love for music and singing was there before I even knew Jesus.  I dreamed of singing as "what I wanted to do when I grew up" often.  When adults would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would often tell them, "I want to be a singer." To which they would reply, "O that's nice but what do you REALLY want to be?" as if my choice wasn't a legitimate choice.  Of course these adults knew something I didn't, it takes a lot of time, patience and consistency to walk out a dream like that AND to get paid to do it is a whole other story.  That desire never left me, even as I grew older. I was very involved at my church singing as much as possible and at school events. As I got older I played trumpet and eventually become Drum Major at my school. I couldn't seem to separate myself from music.  I remember sharing with a teacher of mine during my Junior year in High School that I wanted to be a singer and he laughed.  In very straight forward terms he told me that is was pretty much impossible because singing wasn't a real career.  I heard this from other very well-intentioned adults so I came to the conclusion that maybe I should come back to reality and find a more practical career that paid better.

And settle I did.  I decided my senior year in high school to go to school for business.  I thought it was a safe career to land on and could pretty much be used for anything really.  It paid pretty well I suppose.  As life would have it, because I got married so young, I wasn't able to finish college at that time in my life.  My husband and I needed the income so I went to work at a bank.  At the same time I continued to take a few night classes toward my business degree.  I did well in those classes and seemed to fit in well in the banking industry.  However, after about 2 years of being there, I began to get really anxious.  The Lord began to wake me up in the middle of the night with songs.  I would hear melodies and lyrics in my head so I would go to a piano and work the songs out.  As I keep working this passion for music and songwriting kept getting stronger and stronger as it kept coming to the surface more frequently.

Soon after, I picked up a guitar and learned how to play and my songwriting abilities kept growing.  I began performing in my community and at my church.  The desire to play music and write songs had gotten so strong that I began to despise my day job.  I had to force myself to work.  While at work I would find myself writing songs on scratch pads at my desk and day dreaming about my next 'gig'.  Things kept escalating and I formed my first band.  Our platform began to grow and it seemed like I was on my way to doing this full-time.   I began to really develop myself as a singer and songwriter.  I didn't realize that this would take some 10 years to accomplish!

Walking out my dream didn't happen overnight.  But I can say, it is happening for me now.  After 12 years of writing songs, ministering those songs, developing the gifts and letting God change my character I am finally at a point of reaping my harvest.  It's been an incredibly hard journey, full of lots of breaks, bumps and bruises but God has been faithful to pick me up every time,  even the times that I gave up for a season.  I want to encourage you today not to give up on the dream God has put inside of you, no matter how far away it may seem.  Your dream is not just for you, but others as well.  The dream inside of you was put there by God as a solution for someone else's pain.

I will be sharing more on this in the weeks to come.

Be Blessed and keep dreaming!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hi ya'll :-)

I thought I would just write a "what's going on with us" blog this time.  Nothing super-spiritual, just information and for those of you that pray for our ministry I will give you some specific things to pray for.  So, with that said I will dive right in!

After 6 years of owning our own business, my husband and I felt the Lord leading us to close that down to go into full time ministry.  We took that leap of faith on January 1 of this year.  What a wild ride that has been but the Lord continues to provide for us in such unexpected ways.  I wish I could say that I have so many concerts and ministry events to cover the monthly income we need, but that's not the case.  We are staying fairly busy with ministry, but of course not as busy as we'd like to be.  We are learning what it means to truly live by faith.  Without a consistent income you learn how to rely on God for all of your needs.

We have been mainly focused on Texas but we are about to expand our reach to a National level.  We greatly desire your prayers for favor and financial provision as we set out to complete the great task ahead of us.  For those of you that don't know my husband, Cameron, is preacher so we work as a team.  God has recently been opening many doors for us to work together and this has been very rewarding. Our daughter is also a part of our ministry serving beside me many times to sing and pray for those in need.  We are excited to begin really touring this summer, possibly with the Extreme Tour.  I am currently being considered to partner with this tour this summer for nation-wide events.

We are also gearing up for a missions trip this summer to Liberia.  This is a country that was torn by civil war for many years but is currently experiencing peace.  Many young people were damaged by the effects of this war so we are going to encourage them as well as help build a mid-wife clinic, community outreach, ministry and of course music!  We will be donating instruments to leave for the musicians there to play as they currently do not have any.  If you would like to partner with us, we would love that!! We need to raise $18,000 to take our entire team to Liberia this July.  You can donate here on my site with a simple, fast and convenient method.

Please keep us in your prayers!!

God Bless

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dealing with Disappointment

Disappointment- A feeling of dissatisfaction that results when your expectations are not realized.

Unfortunately, many of us will find ourselves in a place of disappointment from time to time.  It's inevitable, but ever so painful.  What do you do when you have misplaced your hopes or have mismatched your hopes? By mismatching I mean putting your hopes in something that cannot within itself produce the desired result.  Yes I admit I am as guilty as the next person about putting my hopes into things, ideas or plans that more than likely will fail.  I don't think we should deny the effects of disappointment or teach people that they should NEVER be disappointed.  I mean disappointment can have a positive effect.  Take for example the fact that Thomas Edison was disappointed 9,999 times before developing the light bulb. But instead of yielding to the discouragement he only let the failures teach him what he was doing wrong.  So, with each failed attempt he was accurately assessing what DID NOT work.

Isn't that how life can be sometimes?  It seems like everyday we get to add another mark on our 'failure' list.  Another failed relationship, financial flop, or ministry catastrophe.  Sometimes it would be so easy to call it quits. That's exactly what our enemy wants us to do.  Give up. Quit. Who cares?  What difference are we making anyway, right? I am sure Joseph felt that way when he had all but taken up residence in prison because he had been falsely accused. Or maybe David felt that way when, for the 100th time, Saul was yet again chasing him, seeking to destroy the very life of his most loyal subject.  What about Paul-I am sure he thoroughly enjoyed being beaten, flogged, stoned etc, and all by the people he was trying to help.  I wonder how many times all of these Biblical figures felt like everything they had done was in vain and they were a complete failure.  They were people just like us.......full of faith AND fear.  Doing their very best with what little information they had been given.

Sometimes the only word we receive from the Lord is, "Go", or "Do" but we don't exactly know how or when.  The only way we can achieve it is by taking small steps day by day in the direction He said to move.  Phillipians 2:13 says, "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

Might I suggest the following steps on dealing with disappointment:

1) Listen for the voice of God.  Jesus said His sheep would hear and know His voice.  If the words you are hearing are not from God, then they are either your flesh talking or the enemy.  If they are your flesh, you may just need some rest or a break.  If it's the voice of the enemy...well you know what to do

2) Ask yourself, "What could I learn or take from this situation that can help me next time around?"  That may not be the approach you want to take, but if you will de-personalize the situation and realize that there could be something the Lord wants you to learn, it can make the experience less painful.

3) Realize YOU can't make it happen!  We are not the miracle workers, Christ is!!  Don't stress out over things you cannot control.  The stress can be blocking the answer.  Pray about it in faith, not fear, and leave it at Christ's feet to deal with.

4) Have faith!  Seriously, it's that simple.  Our fight is the Fight of Faith.  Our job is not to win the battle, Jesus already did that.  We are to stand on His victory and wait for His direction in our lives.

If you are experiencing disappointment, it may be that you have given up to soon to see the dream fulfilled.  There is nothing more tragic than's almost like a still born baby!  All of that time developing, growing, laboring only to quit too soon!  Thomas Edison was asked after 9000 failed attempts with the electric light bulb whether felt like a failure.  However, it was the 10,000th attempt that was a success!! Praise God He didn't give up.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dazed and Confused??

What a pathetic excuse for a blogger I am these days! I think it's been an entire month since I last blogged.  Anyway, it's been a crazy last month or so.  Last weekend we played at 4 events over the course of a day and half.  Needless to say we were all pretty exhausted but thankful for the opportunity!  God has been doing some incredible things in our ministry that we are really excited about.  But don't worry, I'm not posting an entire blog about it, just wanted to throw that out there.

I have been encountering some pretty incredible mental attacks recently and just wanted to encourage anyone else out there that might be going through some things right now that you don't understand.  First of all, Hebrews 11:1 says faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God.  For many people, that is probably the source of their frustrations.  Their lack of hearing God's voice is giving way to feelings of confusion and doubt.  We were made to be in constant fellowship with the Father.  We crave it, long for and will practically do anything to fill that void.  How can you hear God's word?  Of course you can read it for yourself, which most people obviously know.  However, we cannot be detached from the Body of Christ and think that we are ok and don't need that fellowship.  Jesus uses His body, the church, to minister to itself.  Just think about it: If one part of your body is hurting, another part of your body will come to the aid of it.  Every part of the body has a function that benefits the rest of the body.  Don't rob yourself of the blessings that could be yours by choosing not to get involved in a body of believers.  You aren't just robbing yourself but you are robbing others of blessings.

Secondly, Lean on Jesus, don't try to be self-sufficient! I love the scripture I read this morning " Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?" Song of Solomon 8:5.  The Lord reminded me that I can do nothing apart from Him (John 15) but I want to so desperately sometimes.  You know to feel that I can do something on my own would be such an accomplishment right?  That's the wold's strong be independent.  That philosophy is highly overrated and incredibly exhausting!  Who can keep up with that? Even Superman would fall behind at some time or another!  I am tired of trying to be self-sufficient........leaning on Jesus for everything is so much easier.  He carries the burden.  He provides the solutions.  He fixes everything that I can't.  He gives the strength and the resolve.  He gives.......we receive.  It's almost too good to be true!

Finally, enjoy where you are right now!   A dear friend of mine who as gone on to be with the Lord used to always say,"Things are always subject to change."  I would pour my heart out to her about how awful my life was at the moment and she would always remind me that at any moment things could change.  However, change doesn't always bring happiness, I later found out.  Happiness is determined by our perspective.  Honestly, we would be happy no matter what was going on if we trusted the Lord. Faith leads to trusting, trusting leads to complete and total joy because we don't have the responsibility of having all of the answers or fixing the situation.  We just let our daddy do it!  

Seriously, if we knew how much we are loved by God, all of this wouldn't matter.  Nothing can EVER separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus!!  

Be Blessed!