Everything that Has Breath

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A Psalm of Praise. That is the title given to this short Psalm. And that is just what it is. “Praise the Lord!” (vs 1). But what does it mean to praise the LORD? How can I praise Him?

According to Google, the word praise means, “express warm approval or admiration of.” David writes of doing this through song and in various places, but how do we praise Him without continually breaking out in song and dance? How do we praise Him when our voice is weak? Even a weak voice has breath, and the challenge here is that everything with breath should praise the Lord.

So today, that is my challenge. I am going to look for ways to praise God through the fog of exhaustion. I will find ways to tell my children of His wonderful goodness. I will seek to see the awesomeness of simply who He is, beyond what He does for me. And you know, even just as I sit here and think about the many ways to Praise the Lord, (especially the opportunity to point my children to Him through the joy of a new fruit on our plum tree or thanking Him for granting courage to face a scary dark room) my joy grows.  What a wonderful blessing.

Sometimes praising God is easy, but in the dark it can be hard. Yet, He is still worthy of our praise. And in through praising Him we can find light.

How will you praise the LORD today? I would love to hear the wonderful things He is doing for you and in your life today!

And, just for fun, here is a song to help you keep the voice of praise in your mind today:

Reading Through the Psalms . . . Backward

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I know I’ve been MIA on here for a while. It’s interesting how life has it’s ups and downs. It’s busy times and slow times. It’s happy times and sad times.  Reminds me of this passage actually:

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NASB)

In our family, it is a time of struggle, and a time of great joy. A time of reflection, and a time for preparation. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of baby number three to our household. This brings us much joy and excitement as we can’t wait to bring a new little life into this world. It is also a great time of struggle as pregnancy is difficult for me. I have suffered through Hyperemesis Gravidarum through both of my previous pregnancies, and while this pregnancy has been gentler to me, I have spent many, many days on the couch just trying to survive and not throw up more. It’s hard on my kids. It’s hard on my husband. It’s hard on me.

All of this turmoil, mixed with excited anticipation has led to a time of great reflection. During these times I’m brought back to the feet of Jesus, recognizing my great need for Him. While emotions run the gamut of sheer joy and excitement to despair and survival, I struggle with consistency. I long to dive deep into the word of God and fill his comfort, yet, I feel a need to focus on the milk of the word (1 Peter 2:2) when my brain is so fogged.

After taking some time to pray this morning, I have decided to simply focus on the Psalms. These are the prayers of David in good times and bad. These are the heart cries of a human being longing to know His savior more, longing to trust Him during rough times and praise Him even when his world seems to crumble. Yes. The Psalms are where I need to go to connect with my God.

I am going about this a bit oddly though. Psalms is a big book. I often start at the beginning, but fail to make it all the way through, so this time, I’m starting at the end and working my way forward to discover all those gems I often miss.

I hope you join me as I study through Psalms. I know some days I will be filled with energy and excited to spend my time with God, and other days it will be all I can do to cry out to Him in prayer. As such, I plan to share a Psalm with you every other day. Please be patient with me if there are gaps. Thank you for learning and growing with me. I pray it will be a blessing to you as I know it will be to me.

P.S. If you’d like to receive my morning meditations on Psalms as they are posted, feel free to sign up for e-mail notifications. 🙂

What You Have is Enough | A Widow’s Mite and Mustard Seed Faith

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Today I’m straying from our study in Genesis. Something else has been on my heart.

The past couple of days have been a struggle for me. Sometimes there is a real need, a need that must be met. A need that I long to meet. Yet, I am unable. Whatever the reason, I truly don’t have enough ability or resources. I am not equipped to meet the need.

Usually when I hit this point, it’s actually easier for me to move forward, trusting that God will work a miracle, trusting that He will provide that need. Yet, sometimes He says, “No, not this time. That’s not what I’m calling you to.”

I’m struggling with “no.” My head gets it, it truly does. But my heart doesn’t understand. Why is God asking me to support from the sidelines, when I long to do more. Suddenly, I feel like what I have to give isn’t enough. I feel like what I have to offer won’t truly make a difference. I feel like what I have doesn’t matter.

But wait . . . that’s not what God says. Remember the widow who had two mites? Jesus saw her gift and was filled with joy by her offering. When God speaks about faith, He doesn’t ask us to have loads and heaps, only faith the size of a mustard seed. There are so many more stories like this in the Bible.

God does not want us to become discouraged by focusing on what we can’t do. He wants us to faithfully and with a joyful heart give what we can and trust that HE will do the work to grow our gifts to whatever they need to be. Wow. For some reason, that seems to take so much more faith than getting in there and doing it myself. Yet, I know, that by giving God the canvas AND the paint brush, the masterpiece will be so much more beautiful.

It’s easy to look at our meager offerings – be it two mites, a simple prayer, five minutes, a smile, a small gift of cheer – and feel like it’s only a tiny band-aid for a gaping wound, but we must not become discouraged. Especially during this season of giving, it’s so easy to feel like we have so little to give. (I’m reminded of the Drummer Boy song here.) We must not let that discouragement let us stop giving.

If you feel God tugging at your heartstrings, don’t listen to the voice that says what you have is not enough. Listen to God’s voice saying, “Give what you have cheerfully, my child, and I will bring forth the harvest. You plant only a small seed, but I produce a mighty tree.”

A Needle in a Haystack | Genesis 24:27

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A needle in a haystack. I’m sure that’s what Abraham’s servant felt like he was searching for when embarking on his quest to find a wife for Issac. There were some seemingly impossible criteria to be met. Yet the task was not impossible.

I don’t know why God was so gracious to make the work so easy for Abraham’s explorer, but the very first encounter was a great success.

Sometimes God asks for the impossible. It is so easy to get discouraged and become overwhelmed, but I’m seeing a strong pattern throughout the life of Abraham; God will never ask us to do something without giving us everything we need to follow His plan. The biggest struggle seems to be lack of faith, but Jesus told us that all we need is faith the size of a teeny tiny seed (Matthew 17:20). 

What is God asking you to do today? What impossibilities lay before you? Take heart and trust that God is enough. He will supply all you need.

A Heart Transformed | Genesis

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God is patient and His love can change hearts. That’s the ringing message I heard today as I was reading about Abraham.

Throughout his life we have seen a struggle in his heart. He has had moments of great strength and trust in God’s words, but he has also been filled with much doubt.

The time has come for his son to marry. Based on Abraham’s past choices, I would expect him to find some way to secure any relationship for his son. But that’s not what we see here. He understands the importance of Issac remaining true to God, the importance of not being overcome by cultures and practices that will pull Him away from that vital connection. And this time, He trusts. He trusts that God will do what He says. 

A transformative work has happened in the man who lied about his relationship to his wife twice, who failed to trust God would provide him an heir, therefore having a son with another woman. I believe something big happened in Abraham’s heart through the obedience of sacrifice. A sacrifice that God provides the ram for. Wow.

If God can change Abraham’s heart, if He can have patience with Him and not give up, surely He is long suffering, surely He is loving, surely He can work miracles. I choose to take hold of God’s promise. If He can work change in the heart of Abraham, I trust that He can transform me too.

The Butterfly’s Struggle | Genesis 22:16-17a

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I have read the story of Isaac and Abraham time and again. Just as in Sabbath School, when I was a little girl, my focus has always been on Abraham and his faithfulness to God. Yet looking at this story with a new lens, there are questions.

What does this story tell us about God? What can we learn about His character? How could a loving God even begin to ask someone to murder his own son? This story has always been touted as a test of faith, yet, I cannot help but believe God already knew the result or He Himself would not risk the demise of this promised heir. So why would He ask Abraham to do this.

Now these are all guesses, the Bible does not answer these questions, but I can’t help but wonder if God did this for Abraham’s own growth and reflection. Honestly, if we look at Abraham’s life, he has a track record of weak faith and taking matters into his own hands. It seems that in the years after Isaac’s birth, things were changing in Abraham’s heart. I can’t help but wonder if it was Abraham that needed confirmation of his faith. I can’t help but wonder if Abraham somehow needed to go through the process of evaluating what was truly important to him, if he needed to wrestle with His own priorities and insecurities and, literally in this case, lay it all on the alter.

Through this story I see Abraham as a butterfly. He had been merely a caterpillar, longing to be fed, but through this great struggle from chrysalis to butterfly, he received his wings. Oh how hard it must have been for God to watch, yet he knew the strength that would come from the struggle. It must have been hard not to end the struggle, yet He knew how important it really was.

Are you in a struggle today? Is it hard to understand where God is in your story? Know that He is right there, loving you, eager to see you emerge from your struggle and mount up on wings. All the while, He is only one heart cry away.

This Time . . . He’s With Us Every Time | Genesis 21:18

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My heart goes out to Hagar. She had been in this position before. This time Sarah had borne a son and the jealousy among the two regarding which son would be Abraham’s heir was great. This time Abraham sent away not only Hagar, but Ishmael, his first born son.

Hagar was alone in the wilderness again. This time the child she carried in this predicament before was with her in the flesh. He was hungry and scared and crying. From one mother’s heart to another, I can only imagine the thoughts that must have been running through her mind at this time. As someone who has been in a deep valley and by God’s grace, conquered only to fall in the same pit again, I can only imagine the questioning and confusion that must have been pulsing in her mind.

And Hagar did the one thing she knew to do, the one thing that brought her salvation before. She raised her eyes to God. She lifted her voice in pleas for mercy. God heard the cries of Ishmael. He heard the voice of Hagar. He was there with them and He never left their side. No matter how dark or lonely the road ahead, He was with them, and He would not forget them.

God never leave us. He never forgets us. No matter how invisible you feel, no matter how many times you have fallen in the same pit, no matter how neglected you feel, no matter how powerless, hopeless, discouraged or overcome with grief and confusion you are, God is there. He has never left your side. Lift your head to Him, and like Hagar, He will give you the strength to rise up and go on.