You Are Holy

I heard this song by Michael W. Smith on my way to work today and it spoke to me. The main vocal on this song is Michael W. Smith, but while he's singing there is also a choir in the background (and sometimes in the foreground).

The point is that while he is singing the chorus of this song....
I will sing to
And worship
The King who is worthy
I will love and adore Him
And I will bow down before Him
And I will sing to and worship the King who is worthy
And I will love and adore him
And I will bow down before Him
You're my prince of peace
And I will live my life for You
There is a choir behind him singing different names of God.

You are Lord of Lords
You are King of Kings
You are mighty God
Lord of everything

You are Emmanuel
Lord of great I am
Noble Prince of peace
Who is the Lamb

You're the saving God
You're my saving grace
You will reign forever
You are ancient of days

You're alpha, omega, beginning and end
You're my savior, messiah, redeemer, and friend
Just seeing them all written out like that makes it even more powerful. Our God is so great and powerful and wonderful that one name doesn't quite cut it. Throughout the Bible, God is known by many different names, depending on how the person referring to Him sees Him at that very moment in time.

God is different things to different people. And He is so great and mighty that He can do that! It's amazing!

I don't have time....

How many times in any given day do you think you utter those words? I know that I use the "I don't have time" excuse far too often considering the amount of time I spend playing video games, surfing the internet and otherwise wasting time.

A few of the things I've put off lately because "I don't have time" include:

  • Exercise
  • Writing blog posts that have deadlines approaching
  • Spending more time with my kids
  • Reading the Bible
  • Basically everything I don't "feel" like doing
It's really a vicious trap and a trick that I play on myself. My "busyness" is self-imposed and false. I have plenty of time, it's just a question of how I choose to spend that time.

In my effort to be more intentional in my faith, I have been forcing myself to make time. I have made sure to read the Bible or another faith-centered book every day. I have tried to keep myself away from "entertainment" that goes against the Word of God (this is hard given the choices on television today. I am working on making exercise a priority again (my body is a temple and really only on loan to belongs to God and not taking care of it is not acceptable).

So, the next time you say, "I don't have time..." make sure you are aware of where you are spending your time that doesn't allow you any for God or your family. Are your priorities in order? I know mine aren't.

My Prayer Journal

Our church is currently doing a sermon series called "The Journey - Becoming the People of God." The sermons have focused heavily on Moses and his life and journey leading the people of Israel out of Egypt.

Last week's sermon was about prayer, which really spoke to me since I have been struggling a lot to bring my prayer life up to the forefront of my priorities ever since I returned from Ecuador. My pastor said something that really stuck with me:

"Prayer is simply an act of faith in God's ability over mine."
I have struggled with prayer because I always felt like God didn't really care about my problems, I felt silly "talking to myself" and I didn't know how to pray. But, my pastor made a suggestion that really stuck with me. He suggested a prayer journal so I can write down my prayers and go back later to see how God has worked in my life to answer those prayers.

So, I've started a prayer journal, folks. I've started a prayer journal a few times and never kept up with it like I should, but I'm determined to be extremely intentional in my relationship with God, so I think that will help me keep it moving.

I have also started the 40 Days in Exodus Devotional which was written by a few people in my church and has proven to be pretty good so far. I'm excited to see what I can take away from it over the next few weeks. Between work, church, children duties, working out, blogging and keeping up with these studies, I should be quite busy!

I'm praying for you...or am I?

I've caught myself doing this recently and it hit me hard. I often see friends asking for prayers on Facebook or elsewhere and my automatic response is "I'll be praying for you!"

But, then life gets busy (as life often does) and I don't ever actually say a prayer. Is the intent to pray the same thing?

I think not, even though the Bible says this in Matthew 6:8....
Don't be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
Yes, God knows what you need. He knows all things. But, He also wants (and commands) us to pray. He wants us to rely fully on Him and go to Him in full trust that He will answer our prayers. If we just assume that He is going to take care of everything without us asking (praying), we are not being faithful servants.

So, the next time I see someone asking for prayer and I automatically reply "I'll be praying for you" I will stop right then and pray for that person. I will continue to be intentional about my prayer time and thanking God for all that He has done in my life and asking that I will do His will and not my own.

I'm terribly guilty of skipping prayer time. I can't do that any longer. The only way for me to grow closer in my relationship to God is to spend time with Him. Time in prayer and time in His word.

Ecuador, Compassion y Yo

Seven days.

That's how much time I spent in the beautiful country of Ecuador. Seven days of wonderful children, learning about Compassion and having my life changed.

I actually started this post not long after I got back and just didn't know what to say. I didn't know how to put into words all that the people of Ecuador had taught me. Now that I've had to tell the story of our trip to several people, I have easily identified a common thread.

The people that we met in Los Bajos (which, by the way, translates to "The Lows") had so very little, but they seemed like they had everything. When we arrived, I was nervous. I thought that maybe they would reject us and think of us as intruders.

Instead, we were welcomed with open arms, open homes and open hearts. The people of Los Bajos were so thankful that we had come "to the end of the world" to spend time with them. They were so touched that we thought them important enough to spend our money to come to Los Bajos. They honestly couldn't believe it. Several times, the question was asked, "What could you gain by coming to us? Why here?"

The answer was so simple to everyone in our group: Why anywhere else? Our churches were invested in Monte Horeb. Our churches help fund the Stadia project to plant this church. We have been praying over them and asking God to bless them in ways we couldn't imagine.

And God did amazing things in Los Bajos. God brought the wonderful Mama Rosa and her husband to plant that church and see to its health. Mama Rosa has helped plant sixty other churches throughout the region and God definitely put her in the right place.

So Mama Rosa and Stadia planted Monte Horeb church, knowing that soon Compassion could come in and start working with the children (Compassion partners with churches in regions that need church, no Compassion). When Compassion came in, our churches were on board. Our church members sponsored many kids at the Monte Horeb center.

We are now forever connected to Monte Horeb Family Center and Los Bajos. We love those people and pray for them unceasingly. Our fates are intertwined.

There were many things said and learned during that week that will be with me forever. But, one mother asked something that pulled at my heartstrings. She asked us to please not forget Los Bajos and the children. She asked us to keep praying for them.

How could I forget? They changed my heart. They changed my life.

Now, the only thing I can think to do to prove to them that we are serious is to go back to Ecuador and keep writing our letters to the children.

In the meantime, I have joined the Compassion Advocate Network and will continue to tell my story and the stories of the children I met during my week in Ecuador. I will continue to "sing until the whole world hears."

Sponsor a child today and help release them from poverty in Jesus' name.

It's Almost Time

In only 4 days, I'm leaving for Ecuador. I've got a suitcase already packed - with tons of sporting goods donated by a member of our congregation. It's insane how full this suitcase is!

I hope that the kids can have lots of fun with all of these kick balls, frisbees, soccer balls, footballs, hackey sacks and jump ropes! The art supplies and things on the left there are actually for our sponsored child, Jaleska.

Letters from Ecuador

Speaking of which...I actually received a letter from Jaleska this week. I had been wondering if she even knew I was coming to visit, since our letters have a pretty long delay (the one I received this week was dated July 17th, so a little shy of two months to get here). But, she said she is excited that I'm coming and she can't wait to hug me!

I will be honest - I've been very nervous about meeting her. Since I've only been sponsoring her since November 2011, I was worried that our bond hadn't had enough time to form to give us that "happy tears and hugs" first meeting that I've had in my head. I was worried she would think I'm just a weird lady from the US wanting to hug her. But, it seems those fears are unfounded and we will greatly enjoy the time we get to spend together.

Vacation vs. Mission

Often times, when I tell someone I'm going to be off work for eight days and I'll be going on a mission trip, they seem somewhat taken aback. They mention that it's too bad I won't be able to enjoy my time off and will be going there to "work."

I, however, see this trip very differently. I see it as an amazing opportunity to do God's work and bask in the glory of His creation. I'm looking forward to leaving technology behind (for the most part) and just enjoy the sunset. Our "work" in Ecuador has three main components, as I understand it:
  1. Build a playground at the Compassion Center in Manta
  2. Paint and help decorate some of the classrooms
  3. Host a VBS for 100 kids at the center
I can't think of a better way to spend a vacation! I get to hang out with 100 little kids who are on FIRE for Jesus and who see the Church as a privilege rather than something they "have to" do. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself!

Too Comfortable

I've gotten far too comfortable in my own little world. In case you haven't noticed (and I realize there is no "you" to have noticed), I haven't been writing on this site much (read: at all).

I've gotten comfortable again.

That's all about to change. In 11 days, I'm leaving for Ecuador to have my comfy little world flipped upside down.

No more phone at my fingertips 24/7.

No more checking my email every 2 seconds.

No more Facebook every 15 minutes.

I'm going off the grid. Sure, I'll still have my computer with me and plan to blog about my experience, but I won't have constant access which will actually be kind of nice. I will, thankfully, have Skype to allow me to communicate with my family while I'm there.

So, while I won't have technological comforts, I will have lots of the right kind of comfort. I will have plenty of time with God's splendor (I hear Ecuador is beautiful) and lots of God's people.

I'm most looking forward to the time spent with the people.

My church people.

The group of people from Chattanooga that is a part of our group.

The Compassion team.

The Compassion kids.

My Compassion kid.

I'm still terribly nervous about meeting Jaleska, but at the same time I am so excited to finally see her and squeeze her and (hopefully) hug her mom. That's going to be a very special day.

And then there's the knowledge that I will be experiencing VBS with the kids at the Compassion center in Manta. I haven't been to VBS since my own childhood, so I can't wait.

This is going to be a trip of a lifetime....hopefully not the only one, but definitely the first!

I'm reading the Bible...again

I can't tell you how many times I have attempted to read the entire Bible cover-to-cover. As a matter of fact, reading the entire Bible is on my bucket list.

As many times as I have tried to read the entire Bible, I have failed. I'm practically an expert on Genesis and Exodus, but I have yet to see Ezekiel or Daniel. Honestly, I should stop starting at the very beginning.

The thing is, I need structure. So, I've tried several different Bible reading plans to help me on the path. I have failed the One Year Bible, the 90 Day Bible and every other type of reading plan I've found.

B90Days - Trying Again

Now, I'm attempting the Bible in 90 Days again. I'm attempting it a different way this time. Instead of sitting down and attempting to read the Bible, I have my Bible on my phone and I'm listening to it! Hopefully, the audio will help me to get through the Bible in a decent amount of time.

I do want to be careful, however, that I don't accidentally tune out the audio and actually hear what I am listening to. The Bible is God's guidebook for our life. If I tune out His word, what's the point?!

A few observations about Genesis

I'm almost done with the book of Genesis at this point and I've got to say...this is one of my favorite books of the Bible. In this one book, we pretty much get the entire story of humanity - God creates man; Man defies God; God punishes Man; God forgives Man; Man continues to defy God and the cycle continues.

When will we just stop and realize that we are the creations of an amazing, Almighty God who loves us and wants nothing but the best for us? When will I stop living for me and start living my life the way God wants me to live it. After all, what is life but a gift from God?

I might not be able to answer these questions today, but I know that the questions exist. That's a step in the right direction, I suppose.

Defeating Complacency

Complacent: Being 'pleased to the point of doing nothing, allowing circumstances to be 'as is' or status quo. Not being accommodating to change.
This is what has become of my faith. I have become complacent to the point of doing nothing and going along with the status quo.

This is not what God has asked of me. Jesus made two simple rules for us to live by:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." ~Matthew 22:37-40
When I become complacent and stop doing, I am not loving the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul or mind. I am not giving Him the credit He is due.

He died so that I might live. He gave His only Son so that I (undeserving as I am) might have a chance at a relationship with Him and eternal life.

I do not deserve any of this and I would do well to remember that and stop sitting idly by living my life as I see fit. I need to push my own selfish desires aside and start preparing for His work. He has a plan laid out for me and I have, so far, been too stubborn to see it.

In September, I will embark on a journey with Compassion International to visit Ecuador and help to spread the love of Jesus to the children living in poverty. Before I can even attempt to fill them with God's love, I need to fill my own cup.

These next few months will be devoted to rediscovering my love for my Savior. I need to get back to the place of continuous worship and not just rely on Sunday mornings.

I need to defeat complacency.