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Archive for January, 2012

Looney for Looms?

This past weekend – I would say that I have been ‘looney for looms”.  Here’s why—I have always wanted to learn how to knit.  Years ago, my grandma, took a few minutes at Christmas to show Rachel and I how to knit. I failed miserably!  I could not get the yarn go where it needed to make the ball of yarn into a beautiful scarf.  So, I gave up and crocheted the scarf instead since I had learned to crochet when I was a tween.  My daughter picked it up much easier.  Fast forward 5-6 years to now…my daughter recently decided to re-teach herself and has been knitting these beautiful winter head bands and slippers. She made it look so easy.  I had picked out some yarn and asked her to make me a headband and then I said I would crochet a scarf to match.  I started in on the scarf and it was a disaster….my rows had extra stitches and my hands hurt with every row that I crocheted.  I was about to give up once again until I remembered that I had seen a loom at the craft store a couple weeks back.  Maybe I could actually learn to knit afterall?  I didn’t know if ‘loom knitting’ was considered cheating but I was willing to try it if I could accomplish making the scarf AND have no pain as I knitted it.  Success!  I completed the scarf this last week!  It looks so nice with the headband and matches my coat perfectly as planned!

Then the looneyness started.  I was obsessed with finding my next project but I couldn’t find the exact pattern online.  I had seen this one book in the craft store but thought I didn’t need it and then ran into it online.  So the hunt for the book began….I looked at two stores on Friday on my day off as I was out shopping.  Saturday we had plasn so I had to wait until this afternoon to hunt for this book.  I went to two more craft stores and then a book store…and NO success.  The weird thing is….almost all the looms are gone in the craft stores too.  Have I hit upon a crafting craze that I didn’t know about?  I really wasn’t intending to jump on the band wagon….I was just trying to knit a scarf that matched my headband AND have the distinction of having actually knitted something.

Why is this so important to me?  It really comes down to what the writer of Ecclesiastes called, ‘chasing after the wind’.   “And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecc. 4:4

I was so obessesed with being like my daughter and others who knit like there is no tomorrow that I had to chase down this book in four different suburbs of the Twin Cities looking for it!  The other insane part about this looneyness is that I have other irons in the fire that I really don’t have time to ‘tend to my knittin’.

So will I give up this ‘looneyness for looms’ and keep on track with my other tasks?  For now.  This looneyness did make me think about how insane I was being while chasing this wind/loom all over town.  When will I learn that the most important thing in life is to deny myself and follow Christ?  I accepted Christ many years ago when I was 11 but this daily dying to my needs has got to make sense one of these days!  (See last weeks post about “Take up Your Cross“).

However, there is calm in the storm.  The part that I enjoyed about the knitting was that I had a short term goal and I finished it.  It seems that I have so many other projects, books, etc that are still ‘in process’.  And this one craft project was calming while doing it and I was able to do it and spend time with Dave at the same time.  So I see that loom knitting can be productive, calming and I can multi-task, which I love to do!   Dave suggested that I just buy the book online….maybe I will do that.

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Hide away in the love of Jesus– we sang this in church this past week.  It is such a moving song.  Whether you are weary, a wandering soul, a hopeless heart or weighed down with the guilt of your sin –this song is for you.  The lyrics speak of the strength, the peace, and the overflowing love that is yours when you hide in Jesus’ love.  Here are the lyrics, enjoy!

Hide away in the Love of Jesus

Come weary saints, though tired and weak
Hide away in the love of Jesus
Your strength will return by His quiet streams
Hide away in the love of Jesus

Come wand’ring souls, and find your home
Hide away in the love of Jesus
He offers the rest that you yearn to know
Hide away in the love of Jesus

Hear Him calling your name
See the depths of His love
in the wounds of His grace
Hide away

Come guilty ones, weighed down with sin
Hide away in the love of Jesus
The freedom you long for is found in Him
Hide away in the love of Jesus

Hear Him calling your name
See the depths of His love
in the wounds of His grace
Hide away

Come hopeless hearts, do not despair
Hide away in the love of Jesus
For ten thousand joys await you there
Hide away in the love of Jesus

Written By Steve and Vikki Cook

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It it always interesting to me when a Scripture verse keeps crossing my path in the same week.  Is God trying to tell me something?  Yep, I think so.  This past week I have had this verse come my way a couple times:

Matthew 16:24-25

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

So what does it mean?  For our 21st century minds, it is hard for us to comprehend dying on the cross. (Thanks to my Sunday School teacher – Ken for that thot!).  And the setting in which Jesus said this to his disciples, there were crucifixions but Jesus had not died yet so to even think of their Lord being on the cross was just not even possible.  That is what Peter said to Jesus in verse 22…’this shall never happen to you, Lord!” Then Jesus rebuked him as Satan and went on to talk about picking up our crosses and denying ourselves.  So for us today, this scripture can have a different meaning than seeing ourselves hanging on a cross (although we do deserve it!).  I think this verse is more about us denying ourselves and making our lives about Christ.  Each day, we need to give up those things that are taking us away from the righteous kind of life that God desires for us.  Whether it is money, striving for that job at the top of the ladder, wanting your kid to be the BEST on the team/choir/band (you get the point), a size x (you pick the #) dress that you can wear, a hot car, or the coolest house on the block….all these things if they are not put in the proper perspective can take our focus off of Christ.  The part that is the hardest about this…is the daily dying to self.  Sometimes we really LIKE or LOVE some of those things in our lives!  And other things we hold onto — anger, pride, playing the victim, worry, gambling, sex, alcohol, being in control and doing your own will,  etc., would be too hard to let them go and follow the path of giving them up.  The part that we often forget and need to realize is that when we choose to give these things up, we find a freedom and peace that is far worth keeping than any of these other things.  In sports you often hear – no pain, no gain.  It is very similar to this here.  In order to get to that end goal, whether it is exercise, losing weight or giving up an area in our lives, our crosses, it will take some hard work and pain to get there.  But  you will find…that it will be worth it.  You will find your life (vs 25)!

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Most people when you say ‘once a day’, you think of vitamins. I do take my vitamins every day and I even used to take the ‘Once a Day’ brand but they often made me nauseous. Dave would often walk out in the morning and see me sitting on the Deacon’s bench either upright and pale or with my head down between my knees.  He knew that I had taken my ‘once a day’ vitamins. I found out that the calcium in them is what makes one nauseous so I switched brands and am feeling better in my daily regiment. But vitamins is not what Scripture is referring to in Hebrews 3:13 when the writer says, “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”. Encouragement is what we are supposed to do as long as it is Today so every day or days ending in ‘y’.  And why?  So that we will not be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  It only takes once for us to be hooked and if we wait a day…we may be enticed to do it again the next day.  I love how James says it in James 1: 14-15 “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  You see -when we are tempted, it conjurs up ideas in our head.  We may even question whether it is right to do it or not but then we talk ourselves into it.  Eventually- that one temptation can bring death.  It could be physical death if we do something that is dangerous but it could be a character death…like in the form or bitterness and resentment that comes from repressed anger over the years that has not been dealt with by forgiveness and restoration.  If we know a friend is having a hard time with an area of their life…we can be the encouragement that they need to go on and continue fighting the battle that they are in.   I think we should also encourage others who are outside our friends.  We need to encourage others daily as we see them at the bus stop, in the grocery store, at church or at work.  You never know what kind of day that person has had and your encouragement can make a difference.  Your encouragment may help them open up and share what is on their heart and you will have a chance to further encourage them and even share about your relationship with Christ and how you get through the tough times.  Remember – once a day and not just your vitamins, you are to encourage those around you.  Try it this week and see what a difference it makes.

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This has been a ‘mission-filled’ weekend!  I need to share how I got I came to this conclusion: QUIT BEING SO WEIRD!

I knew that I was going to attend our Association Missions Fair on Saturday and that I would hear one our missionaries speak in church on Sunday, but what I didn’t know is how the concert my friend Tammy invited me to on Friday would be the catalyst for the entire weekend.

On Friday, Tammy called and reminded me that we were going to this concert and I had totally forgotten.  My other plans could be shifted around so off I went to Northwestern College  to hear some folksy worship band from Ireland that I couldn’t even remember the name of.  As I waited for Tammy and her friend, Kelly, to get there, I people watched.  It was intriguing to see the interactions of the people and the excitement they were sharing about this new group that they couldn’t wait to hear.  I was hoping that the band would be good but I was more interested in spending time with my friend since it had been a while since I had seen her.   As I watched the crowds, there were many college students, which was appropriate since I was on a college campus, but I felt a little out of place– I am a mother of two college kids after all and felt like I was encroaching on ‘their crowd’ (even though both kids go to school much further away) and I felt old.  I was relieved as I continued to look around to see that there were a few people in their middle ages like me so I relaxed.

Then Tammy and Kelly arrived.  Kelly asked who were seeing anyway (glad to hear that I wasn’t the old one who had forgotten)!  Tammy began to explain about the group, “Rend Collective Experiment” from Ireland that traveled around and only brought 5 members of their band with them whenever they toured.  She had heard about them on hearitfirst.com and found out that they were going to be in concert soon at Northwestern so she bought some tickets and by the way, there is a speaker too…Frances Chan.  “Get out of here!” Kelly exclaimed.  We looked at her with a questioning ‘okay?’ on our faces and she continued.  “He is this awesome Pastor from CA.  He wrote this book, Crazy Love.  You should read it.  It will rock your world!”  We had no clue where our night out would take us but we were soon going to find out.

 The band came on and made a quick introduction of the group and started playing.  Their Irish accents were a thick brogue so you had to listen carefully.   I was relieved that the words were on the screens on both sides of the auditorium so we could follow and sing along – otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed them as much.  The music artistically was excellent and the words were pulling at my soul.  Their band members were switching instruments every other song and one young lady even played a metal garbage can and an accordian–in the same song!!  It was so crazy but oh so inspiring!

(In this picture: Rend Collective and Rachel Chan- Side note: She is Frances Chan’s 16 year old daughter- this was her first concert!  She sang a few songs by herself.  She has a beautiful voice & is very talented!  Hard to believe that she is only 16 – definitely a young Christian artist to watch in the years to come).

Next up, Frances Chan got on the stage to speak.  He wasn’t much taller than his 16 year old daughter but a very talented speaker and he packs a great punch!  He talked about how we need to share our faith with those around us.  So many of us are scared to open our mouths and tell others about God and His Son, Jesus – the most important relationship we have and yet we are scared.  He shared how even he was scared to talk to this young lady on the plane a seat away from him when he was on the way to a pastor’s conference to speak about being BOLD.  He felt bad speaking about being ‘Bold’ and here he was unable to share Christ with this young lady.  Then God did an amazing thing and put the same young lady in the seat next to him on the plane ride home!  The young lady thought it was such a coincidence but Frances began to share about how it had to be God and not just a coincidence.

And then he said to us, “We need to QUIT BEING SO WEIRD!”  It sounded kinda odd at first but when you really think about it –why wouldn’t we tell others about Christ?  I mean really- we can talk about the new pair of shoes or a sweater we got, our favorite team who just won the Super Bowl or our kid’s big accomplishment at school but we can’t tell others about the MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP OF ALL????? His text was the popular, GREAT COMMISSION, from Matt. 28:18-20.  The disciples had just seen their LORD die on a cross, rose again and now he was standing before them and telling them to ‘go and MAKE DISCIPLES’.  They needed to teach others to obey all that Christ has commanded.  AND this has a promise included–He would be with them, always – even to the end of the age!  (vs 20)  They needed to QUIT BEING SO WEIRD by being scared because Jesus was with them wherever they go.   They needed to quit standing around and do something!  And I/we need to do likewise!

To wrap up the weekend, our missionary, Teresa Hamlin, spoke and then our Pastor talked about being called to serve.  Jesus is calling you now.  It may not be to another country but you can share Him and serve those around you right where you are.  Are you ready to QUIT BEING SO WEIRD and share with those around you about the most important person in your lives??

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The Proverbial Cat

I came home yesterday and kicked the cat.  Cat Kick Graphic

A situation cropped up during the day that didn’t make me real happy. I had tried to let it go but  didn’t talk to God about it during the day and just let it stew. Later when Dave came home, he said something that I didn’t listen to clearly enough and I blew up at him. I definitely did not heed the advice of James when he says ‘everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19.  So after blowing up, I couldn’t fall asleep so I washed the dishes.  When I wash dishes, I am able to think and process through things.  I may take my anger out on the dirty dishes and it is very rare that a plate or two gets broken but at least I accomplish something productive.  I apologized to Dave and the anger is gone.  I learned (AGAIN!) that I need to pray about everything (Phil 4:6,7) and to listen before I speak.

And don’t worry  – no animals were injured in this story – we don’t own a cat.

Meow.

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Darkness….Fear Not

I usually don’t promote products, etc. but if you have not heard the new Jason Gray CD, A Way to see in the Darkness, you NEED to listen to this CD!

Jason Gray

His site is here: http://jasongraymusic.com/

I received this CD from my daughter and son-in-law as a Christmas gift and it has been such a blessing.  In this past few months, I was going through a stressful time in making a decision that would be a big change to my life and affect many around me.  As I was in the midst of making this decision, I received this CD and the music was very healing.  Jason weaves God’s truth through out the entire compilation.  God will help us find a way in the darkness of fear, shame or shadows of doubt.  The one word that I keep hearing as a common theme is fear and it reminded of how this theme is weaved throughout the Old and New Testaments.  One of my favorite passages in the OT is Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” In the NT, Mary was visited by an angel  and here is what he said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30.  We may not be going on a journey to a promised land or being asked to carry the Lord & Savior of the world, but God doesn’t want us to be afraid in whatever we do, where ever we go or have fear of the darkness, the fear of the future, or fear of failure.  We have a future and a hope in our life in Christ.  This CD focuses in on that hope that we have in our Lord!  By the way, even though my son-in-law is a personal friend of Jason’s, I have not met him nor am I being paid to promote this.  I am a sinner, saved by grace, for whom the music is speaking to my soul and I want you to have the same experience.  Even though this CD was bought as a gift, I am thinking I will buy another copy to give away.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Below are some of my favs and the key words that Jason uses to speak God’s truth to my heart– many of these words weaved in with mine are are Jason’s own words from his songs so all the credit for the words go to him & I am thinking he will give the credit of the source of thes words to our Maker!

Track # 1. “Remind me who I am” –  When we are down, running away, or have a rebellious stone cold heart, we need God to remind us who we are in His sight.  He loves us so much!  What I also like about this song is what it doesn’t say—there are so many Scriptures that tell us our place in God’s eyes.  A holy priesthood, a precious treasure…on and on.

Track #2, “The End of Me” – When we have a broken heart, we can have peace that is so calming and a love that overflows.  Every wound that we have can become a place of healing and a way to start healing our broken heart.

Track #4, “Good to be alive”  – I love the words from this song: “I wanna live like there’s no tomorrow, love like I am on borrowed time. It’s good to be alive, I won’t take it for granted.  I won’t waste another second.  All I want is to give you , a life well lived to, ‘thank you’.”  As a teaser- listen to the rest of the song to hear how he gets to this premise.

Track #5, “The sound of our breathing”  – I think why this song means more to me is the description that my daughter said he gave at his concert about how God’s name Yahweh, YHWH, when the consonents are said sound like breathing.  So every breath we take, in or out, we are saying God’s name.  What an awesome concept!  Here is a link to Jason’s story: http://www.churchleaders.com/worship/worship-articles/155136-is-the-name-of-god-the-sound-of-our-breathing.html

Track #6, “Without running away” –  There are wounds that hurt us to the point that we really would rather stay wounded and feel that there is no hope.  But we have hope—we can risk by loving without running away because we have the hand of our God leading us and asking us to trust Him.

Track #7, “Nothing is wasted” – Everything that we go through, nothing is wasted in God’s eyes and He can turn it around for His Glory.  He can make beauty from the ashes or as Jason says,”It’s from the deepest wounds that beauty finds a place to bloom”.

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