Thursday, August 10, 2017

No matter what, safe inside His hands...


Today I snapped this amazing picture of sweet Grace with Lucas Bear.  (This special bear was created in honor of Grace's big brother Lucas - you can read about Lucas here).  Grace is six months old! The time has gone by so fast and it is amazing to see her grow and change.  Lately it seems like she has some new accomplishment every day.  As I took this picture all I could think about was this song...Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells.  Being with Grace is certainly a reminder of those "Mountain Top" times.  And the lose of Lucas was a valley time for our entire family.   Please stop and listen to this incredible song.   It grabs you from the opening line.....

I've walked among the shadows, you wiped my tears away.  I've felt the pain of heartbreak, and I've seen the brighter days.  I prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place, and I've held your blessings....

The point of the song is captured in the title "Hills and Valleys"....  You're the God of the hills and the valleys and I am not alone!   Wow!  Is there any message that is more needed right now?  Yes, God is the God of the good times and the bad times.  He is the joy bringer and the pain taker.  He does give and take away.  He gives blessings and takes away our pain and sorrow.   I love the line that says...
No matter what, I am safe inside His hands!

Once again, a song that just resonates with me.  And when I look at this picture, it is like seeing the words of that song.  We have certainly had our hills and valleys since 2014.  But I can say, with full assurance, that I know that Jesus was with me through it all.  He was there in the valley and it was His grace that has taken my pain.  When my dreams were broken, it was Jesus that gave me hope.  
Such truth in a song.  When we are in those mountain top places,when things are going so well,  when everything seems wonderful.... we need to remember that it was God who brought us there.  He is the God of the hills.   When we are in those really tough places, WE ARE NOT ALONE!  Jesus is right there with us, walking through those valleys.  No matter where we are on life's path, no matter what is going on, our companion is Jesus.

The chorus of this wonderful song says....
On the mountains I will bow my life to the one who set me there.
In the valley I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there.
When I'm standing on the mountain I know I didn't get there on my own.
When I'm walking through the valley, I know I'm not alone.  

Yes, this picture of Grace and Lucas Bear is a picture of the hills and valleys.  It is also a picture of love and hope and so much joy and blessing! 

Jesus, thank you for another amazing song and for Tauren Wells.  Thank you for the reminder that you are always with us - in good times and in hard times.  Holy Spirit, encourage us to lift our eyes to Jesus when it seems dark and hard and remind us who brought us into those mountain top places. Thank you Jesus for Grace and Lucas.  Amen

Sunday, August 6, 2017

When there is another generational "shift".....

 This photo is one of my all time favorites.  My mom, my daughter, my granddaughter and me.  I am so thankful that we got that picture when Lia was just a few months old.  So tonight, sitting here at my computer, (thanks to the marvels of modern technology), I experienced another "Generational Shift".  I just watched as Lia was leading worship for a youth praise service at her church.  As I was watching her, I was flashing back to sitting in a pew with my mom, watching Gwen lead worship when she was just a bit older than Lia is now.  And I was remembering my mom watching with tears in her eyes.

I took a couple of screen shots of the video, just to capture this moment.  Besides singing, Lia also played keyboard on a couple of songs. That last picture is Gwen and Lia at the keyboard.  Suddenly, I am the grandma with tears in her eyes.  It is one thing to know that your children and grandchildren love the Lord, it is quite another thing to see them publicly express that love.  I am so grateful that Lia has a place to grow as a worship leader. Right now, she looks like a baby compared to the other youth leading worship.  But in several years, she will be the leader welcoming new youth to the stage.  I love this "mentoring" model that keeps building for the future by bringing the youngest youth into the group.  I can imagine many years watching Lia at the microphone, or the keyboard, or dancing....well you get the idea.  She is a performer for sure. And I love that she is able to grow in her gifting.

On Friday I had the opportunity to watch both Lia and Ellie perform in an musical after a week at "Spotlight" Camp.
Both Lia and Ellie had some speaking parts and both sang at the microphone by themselves.  They sang and danced in many songs.  It was really amazing what they can accomplish in 5 short days with these kids from 6-12 years old.  While Lia looks like she is loving every minute that she is on stage, it was not so much for Ellie.  She has a big smile here, AFTER the performance.  She did so well with all of her songs, dances and speaking part and solos, but she was just not loving it.  Ellie will be a wonderful behind the scenes person.  She will be the one designing the costumes, arranging the hair and makeup, finding just the perfect accessory for the performers to wear.  And mostly, she will be holding a hand of someone dealing with stage fright, she will be hugging someone else who isn't feeling well.  She will be everyone's friend and will make sure that everyone has something to eat and drink.  Because, well, that is just who Ellie is.  Seeing just how different these two girls are, is a great reminder that there is a plan, a purpose and destiny for each of us.  

Just imagine how many more worship leaders, teachers, pastors and evangelists, how many more "good samaritans", helpers, intercessors, greeters, ushers, servers we would have if we started to encourage these obvious gifts of the children around us.   So often adults decide that children need to wait to "grow up" before they can use their gifts.  But I think this is a mistake. Watching Lia on the stage tonight confirmed that for me.  

Yes, it was a night when I felt that shift of the generations.  Looking back, but also looking ahead.  I love that I can get a glimpse of the  amazing working of the Lord as I see the potential in each of my grandchildren.  I challenge you to look around you at the children, youth and young adults you encounter. Look at the adults around you also!   Look beyond their clothes or their hair style, ignore their tattoos or piercings, and see the marvelous gifts and talents that they have.  Encourage them, mentor them.  Give them a place and means to use those talents.  You will be blessing them....but you will be blessed also!

Jesus, thank you for Fellowship of Faith and Boulder Ministry.  Holy Spirit, give us all reminders to look for ways to mentor and  encourage those around us.  Help us to see the unique gifts and talents that you have given to each person.  Keep us from trying to put others into places that just don't fit them.  Jesus, help us all to know that you have a plan, a purpose and a destiny for each of us!  Amen