Piano Tears

Piano Tears

By Stacyjo Hamlin

My first memories of The Piano were of me (not even knowing how to play) sitting next to my sister playing what I called the “thunder part” ; doing my best to make the piece she was playing a duet. I don’t ever remember her getting frustrated with me, I only remember her letting me chime in with my bit of creativity from time to time. Oh, the memories are so precious, they bring tears to my eyes.

I do remember when It was my turn to start taking piano lessons and how my mom would take me to Mrs. Rothman’s house once a week. I even remember how pleasant her home smelled and I remember her cute little husband poking around here and there. Mrs. Rothman meant business and was a stern teacher, but she was also the sweetest lady ever! She never minded when I would make up songs and write them down and play them for her- she let me take up her time and listened intently. I don’t remember exactly how one of the songs went that I had wrote, but I know it was about a giraffe, and she corrected my spelling and musical errors and didn’t make me feel like I was stupid for my mistakes. She hosted recitals in her back room, and it was so hot and crowded, but filled with excitement at the same time.  I knew I wasn’t the best, though (shockingly) that didn’t bother me, because I enjoyed the other players that were not as novice as I. My parents always came to those recitals, and though I’m quite sure they dreaded it, they never let on. At one of the recitals, a young boy played “The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. He was much older than me, and far more talented but I WANTED TO PLAY THAT SONG! At my next lesson I told Mrs. Rothman, that I wanted to play that song, and I wanted to play it at the next recital and memorize it like that boy did. At this point I had been playing the piano for a few years, but was in no shape, no way talented or experienced enough to play that song. Mrs. Rothman said, “of course you can do it”.  I was young, I don’t remember how young, but I was in grade school, so I was young. The very next recital (guessing, six months later) I… little ‘ol me, played “the Flight of the Bumblebee” by memory, without one mistake! I DID IT!!! It was that moment that inspired me, that very moment that gave me confidence, that very moment that made me think I could do anything. I had often wondered if Mrs. Rothman knew how she truly impacted my life. When my oldest was only eight, she wanted to take piano lessons. We didn’t have a piano, but the one I grew up playing was at my moms and not far from our house. My mom agreed to let her come practice and play there. I contacted Mrs. Rothman (wondering if she still taught piano since in my head, she was old when I started to play) she said “Yes”, and she only charged me half price! I was so grateful, and one day after my daughter’s lesson, I told her the impact she had on my life. She said she knew, she said she had seen the change in my eyes. I wanted her to touch my daughter’s life as she had touched mine; I hope she did.  Oh, the memories, so precious they bring tears to my eyes.

As a teenager, I would play that piano, sometimes, my daddy would sit next to me and play his sax or we would sing together as I played. Often, I would play and my other sister and my daddy would sing. My mom would just sit (never being a piano player or a singer) she glowed as she listened. When my daddy sang, it would bring chills that would run deep, and every eye in the room would fill with tears at the mere sound of his heart.  I have yet to ever hear a voice as stout and triumphant as my daddy’s brilliant baritone inflections. Growing up, I would play that piano over and over until my fingertips hurt. I would write music, some had lyrics of the teenage woes, that won’t be shared here. If I was having a bad day, the thunder would roll, on good days the bumblebees would fly and the dolls would dream. “Doll’s Dream” by Theodore Oesten, was my mom’s favorite piece that I played, she would say “go faster, go faster” it felt good to know she was pleased when I played that song.  Oh, the memories, so precious they still bring tears to my eyes.

When I became an adult and moved out of my parent’s house, leaving that piano was an emotional struggle for me that I shared with no one. It was my peace, it was my comforter, it was my joy. Almost every time I would visit my parents, I would sit down and play…even if for only a moment, before one of my own kids came and sat next to me to play their “thunder”. It was my turn to be patient with the little pounding fingers of a child; a child who just wanted to express themselves. For the record, my sister did a much better job at being patient. Playing the piano was my time, and now it was shared, though the sharing brought me joy, it just wasn’t the same. As my kids grew up, they understood my attachment to The Piano, and though we would “play” together they respected my time alone as well. I’d like to think they enjoyed the music that came from The Piano as much as I did. During family gatherings, when most everyone was outside, I would sneak in to The Piano and play. My mom would come in, and ask to hear the “Doll’s Dream”. As I honored her request, she would just stand at the banister by the kitchen door and smile, sometimes she’d sit in the rocking chair, and every once in awhile she would stand next to me, her hand on my shoulder, no barriers, no fighting the feelings to struggle for perfection, just her warmth, her love, and a joy we both shared. Oh, the memories, so precious they still bring tears to my eyes.

As the years passed on, so did my father, then my mother. They left to find their joy in the sky, to dine with Christ, to be forever praising Him, and experience a complete peace as never before. One of my mother’s favorite hymns was “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, and as she was taking some of her last breaths, I tried to sing it to her, and I failed. The grief overcame me, and I cracked, it was far from a perfect tribute to that song but I hope she knew I tried. I hope she heard me; I hope she knew that I cared, and through all of our differences, I pray she knew how I loved her deeply. Since she has passed, I don’t sing much anymore, (except on Sunday’s at church) and have only played The Piano one time. My grief has silenced my joy, Satan’s bondage had buried my spirit, for every single time I hear a piano play, or I sing, it reminds me of my loss, rather than their gain.

Today, The Piano was delivered from California, it made the trip here to Arizona perfectly; so I’ve been told. Today, The Piano became My Piano. I haven’t seen it since it arrived; I ran upstairs to bawl my eyes out instead of facing My Piano. Instead of facing my grief. I could not bare the realization that this beautiful gift was only in my home at the cost of my parents being gone. I would much rather trade that gorgeous wooden box full of memories for my parent’s presence. Even if it meant I could never play it again. As I was sitting, praying for strength and direction, some peace and comfort, and hope from Christ, He told me to write. As I’ve learned that obedience has become a privilege in my life, I chose to obey. Though my eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow (Job 17:7) I know that You God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to You; You are the helper of the fatherless (Psalm 10:14). I shall play My Piano today, I may be rusty, I may be tired, but I am not beaten down by the bondage of Satan in my grief; for My God reigns! I am that little child who could play “The Flight of the Bumblebee” with perfection, and in all confidence, I am HIS. I am HIS child, the one who hurts, but finds comfort in His mighty hand, the one who struggles with sin but is washed clean by His grace. The one who will play My Piano, knowing the peace, hope, and joy it has brought me in the past and will continue to bring me in the future, is from Him. There may be tears on My Piano, more often than not, but I will play.

The memories so precious they are bringing tears to my eyes, tears that keep me vulnerable to Christ and His blessings. Though He takes away, His gifts abound with me.  

When a-z Fails Me Yet the Big G Never Does

 

 

 

 

Hebrews 11:1 Amplified Bible (AMP)
The Triumphs of Faith
11 Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].

 

I want everything planned out! I’m not exactly sure when that part of my brain took over; the once laid back, go with the flow, kinda’ gal that I always thought I was. I’m thinking it was when most of my kids spread their wings and my chaotic life (that left almost no room for anything that was planned to actually be executed to a “t”) became peaceful. I finally had a chance (with just a few kids at home) to be able to not only plan everything out but achieve those plans. My life was finally a bit predictable! Fewf, what a relief. Most of the guess work was eliminated, and I knew what to expect. I could really breathe and that feeling was as comfortable as my super soft bed after a long day working and getting dirty in the yard. Now, I feel resistance and anxiety when things aren’t planned out. When I don’t know the outcome in advance, I almost shutter my mind and want to completely close myself off. Then I allow the guilt to set in and eat away at me. The guilt from not truly living my life in complete faith. I never thought at this point in my life that my faith would waiver; not after all that I have been through, not after all that I’ve seen Christ do in my life. Seeing is believing right?

Maybe for some…but for me, faith is supposed to be the assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things NOT SEEN, faith comprehends as FACT what cannot be experienced by the physical senses. So many of God’s direct promises to me have been fulfilled in such a short time (His time) and once they became reality, they scared the beegeebaz outta’ me. Like, I seriously thought after writing my book What is Your Calling? , that I would be jumping for joy watching everything in His plan unfold. Uh, not so much! I began to panic; in every way I possibly could. Christ told me about the hoops I would have to jump through, He reassured me He was in control…if I let Him. I’ve jumped through some of those hoops already, and He has proven to me, time and time again, that He’s got this. Rather than spending my time beating myself up for what I call “my lack of faith” I need to realize that He is a patient Father, one who loves me unconditionally, one who knows I am human, and far from perfect. He forgives me when I try to have everything planned out from a-z without Him , and He loves me enough to show me over and over again that the Big G’s plan is always the best. With every trial, I grow stronger in my relationship with Him, with every pebble I trip over, He reminds me that if I use Him as my corner stone I will not stay down when I trip and fall; He will pick me up. I am learning to not be terrified (perfect word for me some days) knowing He is with me always. I’m an unfinished piece of work and that is the truth, but that doesn’t mean I am not worthy of His plan in my life.

 

Joshua 1:9 Amplified Bible (AMP)
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

When it Rains He Pours

Isaiah 58:8-11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

“Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your healing (restoration, new life) will quickly spring forth;
Your righteousness will go before you [leading you to peace and prosperity],
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry for help,  and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away from your midst the yoke [of oppression], The finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and [every form of] wicked (sinful, unjust) speech,
10 And if you offer yourself to [assist] the hungry
And satisfy the [a]need of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
11 “And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

 

Have you ever felt like you just can’t catch a break? A break from what seems like disasters in your life. Possibly, your washing machine broke, the next day your pool pump broke, and that evening your new refrigerator stopped working. That was a true story for me awhile back, and thankfully it’s all been taken care of. Maybe, you’re sick, or you recently got into a car accident while rushing to the hospital so you could say goodbye to a loved one. I could sit here and scenario you to pieces, but I’ll stop there hoping you get my drift. Whichever the case may be, life has been known to throw lemons at us all, and sometimes it feels as though when it rains, it really pours! For some, it feels like you are living a life playing constant dodgeball with a lemon tree, and yet you can’t point out one single thing that is causing you the emotional pain and bruises; but it’s still real to you and it hurts just as much or even more.  I have been hit before by rain storms and lemons, though I haven’t struggled with long term depression, and other than seeing loved ones endure that kind of oppression I have no right to even act like I know how it feels. Honestly, I have no idea how to console those who deal with depression; other than to pray for them, be there for them, and love them through it. I do know that a broken-down refrigerator was my reality, just as much as the reality of depression is for someone who has no answers as to why they feel the way they do or how they could be “fixed” (as if that’s a thing).

When I first chose the Scriptures to write about today, I chose them because they have applied to me numerous times in my life; and though ashamed, they have applied to my life from both sides of the coin. For myself, I have felt broken and weak from things of the world, (like being overwhelmed with everything physically falling apart around me, ie. my body or the pool pump and such) and these verses restore my hope. I have also pointed my finger with a huge lack of compassion and understanding towards others because their trials seemed so menial to me. I am grateful for the forgiveness that has been extended to me. Yet the bottom line is, we all feel the rain pouring down on us. For some it’s a light sprinkle, for others it’s a hail storm, but it’s all rain just the same.

This is how these verses help me: When I am in the darkness, I will follow Christ, and He will lead me to the dawn. He’s got my back (that’s not just a cool saying, it’s in the Bible folks). I’ve called on Him and immediately heard Him say “I am here”, so yeah, I know it works! When I became a servant rather than a self-server, my gloom became like the midday sun. Now that’s bright here in Arizona! When I allow Christ to guide me He will satisfy me and give me strength, and I will never thirst. Theses verses don’t tell me that I can only point my finger and say mean stuff to unbelievers, or only feed the hungry Christian. They tell me not to say those things to any human being and to feed whoever is hungry. These verses certainly don’t say that I get to choose whose oppression is valid, and judge those whom I lack understanding for. They just tell me not to.  So, if you are a Christian, I challenge you to take yourself out of the equation, love people through their pain (regardless to what is causing it), show mercy and grace for those who sin against you, use forgiveness always, and stop pushing your beliefs on non-believers as if you are perfect now that you are saved. If you are not a Christian, and by chance you are still reading this blog, I challenge you to take yourself out of the equation, love people through their pain (regardless to what is causing it), show mercy and grace for those who hurt you in any way, use forgiveness always, and don’t ever believe that you are undeserving of being loved and treated with respect by someone who puts their hope in Christ even if you do not.

I will put my hope in Christ and have faith that He will continue to give me strength as His Holy Spirit pours out of me when I’m being rained on. My prayer for you is that you find hope and a super strong umbrella in your rainstorm so you can have a refuge and some peace until the sun begins to shine on your days. I’d be lying if I wrote that the umbrella I’m talking about was just an umbrella and not a super awesome metaphor I’m using for Christ, but I could not call myself a Christian if I didn’t pray to the God I believe in for healing, peace and sunshine for us all!

CHANGE OR CHAINS?

Romans 12:1-2 (AMP)

Dedicated Service

12 Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be ]transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

 

A farmer was on his way to a well to water his livestock and he came upon a man sitting on the side of the road. The man had on a hooded robe that was worn and dirty from his obvious travels, and as the farmer got closer he noticed the man’s shoe straps were broken.   The man said to the him, “I have broken the straps on my shoes and cannot walk on this hot dirt road without them.” The farmer, took the leather strap from his only watering bucket, cut it in two pieces, and tied the leather straps onto the man’s shoes. The man was so thankful that he paid the farmer with a gold coin. The farmer immediately headed to the marketplace with the gold coin; he needed to buy some bread, some wine, and some leather straps to fix his watering bucket. All of the items he needed were at different venders. First, he stopped at the bakery to buy his bread, yet the owner could not sell him any bread because he didn’t have any change for his gold coin. The baker told him to try someone else.  Not thinking much of it, he walked over to the wine vender. He figured he would most likely be able to break his coin and give him change. Yet, the wine vender did not have any change either. Still not too discouraged, he walked to the tanner shop to purchase his materials to fix the leather straps on his watering bucket. This time, he didn’t waste his time gathering his supplies before asking if this vendor had change for his gold coin. The vender replied, “silly man, I’ve watched you walk around to all of us venders in this market place, trying to get change. Do you not know the only man with enough money to give you change for a gold coin is the KING?” With his head hung low, the farmer slowly turned around and walked home. The farmer thought, ‘How could I go to the King and ask for change? He will certainly think I stole this gold coin and have me killed’. He racked his brain for a solution, he worried with every breath he took, and he knew that if his livestock died he’d never have any money for food for himself, he would starve and die as well. He was bound by his chains of worry and grief.

The farmer became very hungry, thirsty, and his livestock became deathly ill because of lack of water. He was desperate for his circumstances to change and knew he only had one chance to survive. He must go to the King and ask for change; that gold coin had become worthless to the farmer.  When he approached the King, he kneeled and told him of his circumstances. The farmer explained that he was in these circumstances because of his act of kindness to a man who seemed destitute on the side of a road. The farmer hoped that the King would show him understanding, cast no judgement of wrong doing, and give him the change for the gold coin that he needed. The change that would save his life. The King looked down upon the humble farmer, and said… “I have the change you need, and I will give it to you, no questions asked, for you are a good and faithful servant. It was I on the side of the dirt road that day. I knew that was your only watering bucket, and I knew you would thirst without having access to the water in the well. I’ve been waiting for you to come to me so I could offer you the change you’ve been looking for.”

 

Often, I feel like God calls out to me to come to Him when I’m getting wrapped up in the circumstances of life. I’ve tried to find comfort and relief by going to others to vent, or to get advice about my issues at hand. Before I know it, I’ve gotten carried away in the worries of the world, that end up binding me like chains to my own worry and grief. God has had and will continue to have all the answers that I need. He will provide all the change in my life to sustain my heart and soul, and He will break the chains that bind me through His love, and my faith in Him.  I am set free!!!

Change can be difficult, and certainly uncomfortable at times; though it’s necessary for growth and maturity in our relationship with Christ.  Chains are always cumbersome, they hurt, they are constantly uncomfortable, and they bind us from experiencing the life that God wants us to have.

My prayer for you, is that you CHOOSE CHANGE, and not chains!

Psalm 107:13-16 (AMP)

13 
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them from their distresses.
14 
He brought them out of darkness and the deep (deathly) darkness
And broke their bonds apart.
15 
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness,
And for His wonderful acts to the children of men!
16 
For He has shattered the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron apart.

Finding joy when he sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear.

James 1:2-4 (AMP)

Consider it nothing but joy, my [a]brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.

It seems without any doubt that the more I’m driven to complete a task which God has called me to, the more Satan finds a cozy seat on my right shoulder to just sit and whisper in my ear. For the last week, I’ve confided in my husband about hearing the faint whispers of Satan in my right ear. Though I’m thankful that they were faint, and I had the discernment to recognize that they were not words from God, they still seemed to eat away at me as if almost disguised in a mild, sneaky persistence. My husband and I have prayed nightly for protection, and healing from the oppression of Satan lurking in the darkness~ yet he was still there. There were times that I let my own worry take me away from spending more time with Christ, though I know that is exactly what I needed. The hurdles we had to jump and clear this week, were so numerous, that by tonight, I felt as though my legs would crumble from underneath me if I had to make even one more jump. My husband saw it in my eyes, and wanted to pray with me, even then I could hear Satan in my ear. His lies were like battery acid on my heart. He would say things like, “you are not good enough… don’t you remember that one time when you…________________________” (fill in the blank with a sin of mine he was trying to haunt me with). “You are not strong enough for this, WEAKLING!” He was speaking to me like I owed some sort of retribution for the sin I’ve already been forgiven for. My husband closed in prayer “Amen”, then I looked at him and said, “it is horrible”. Without any other explanation, he stared at me, dead in the eyes and started praying again. He placed his hand on my face (not even realizing he was covering my right ear), and all I heard out of that ear was the ocean; as in a conch shell that blotted out the sound of Satan’s voice. Then I heard Christ speak, “I am here, I am here, I AM HERE, let him be afraid, let you not be afraid, because I AM HERE”. Christ showed me what I thought were spikes that sat on my right shoulder, then my vision zoomed in and they were made from HIS nails, from His cross, that shed His blood, to forgive, heal, and protect me.

There are so many awesome things going on in our lives right now. We are truly feeling the reality of blessings being poured upon us through our obedience to Christ and His calling in our lives. You may think I’m a bit crazy after reading this blog, and that’s okay, I will admit to “a bit”. Any more than that is a mere infraction, and any insults or distress caused to me for the sake of Christ, I will be well pleased with. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Tonight, my hands have been washed clean, and I will continue to grow stronger and stronger. Tomorrow is a new day, and although I am hopeful and have faith in my protection from Christ, I am aware that Satan will stop at almost nothing to destroy God’s plan in my life. Tomorrow, there may just be another hurdle for me to jump and clear, and I will do so with joy. I will jump that hurdle knowing that I am being prepared to let endurance have its perfect result in my completely developed faith. God has something big, huge, SUPER GINORMOUS planned for us, and when all the cards are played we will be spiritually lacking nothing! For that, I will consider it nothing but joy whenever I fall into another trial.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10  (AMP)

but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness. ”Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. 10 So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength].

Job 17:9 (AMP)


“Nevertheless the righteous will hold to his ways,
And he who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger.

Blessed Assurance

(Pic: courtesy of God talking to me last weekend)

 

I have many fond memories of singing hymns in church as a child; they have always had a special place in my heart. I still visit those hymns in my head on a regular basis. One day, as I sat down to write, I started singing the song Blessed Assurance and I decided to look up who wrote this beautiful hymn. This is the story, this is the song…

Francis Jane Crosby was born in New York in 1820. As a baby, she contracted an eye infection that was not treated properly by her doctor. She was left in darkness because of the scaring. Just a few months later, her father became ill and died. Her mother was only 21 at the time and had to work as a maid to support them. Fanny’s maternal grandmother became her caregiver.

Fanny’s grandmother became her eyes as she educated her and vibrantly described the world. Her grandmother took special measures in neutering Fanny’s spirit through the teachings in the Bible; always emphasizing the importance of praise and prayer. Eventually, Fanny became very depressed; she longed to learn as other children did. Her grandmother told her to pray to God for peace and knowledge, and Fanny did.

In 1835, she enrolled in the New York Institute for the Blind and she knew this was God’s answer to her prayers. She went on to become a teacher at that same institute for twenty-three years. In March of 1858, Fanny married a former pupil from the institute that she had taught at. He was a musician who was considered one of the finest organists in the New York area.

One evening, her friend Phoebe was visiting her and played a tune on the piano. She asked Fanny what it sounded like to her. Fanny responded, “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!” The two of them continued to sing the melody and write the lyrics together.

Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

These words were written by a blind woman, whose father died shortly after her own illness took her sight. One can only assume that her struggles in life were actually “real”. Yet through her struggle, she gained strength in Christ. Not only did she become a teacher, she wrote over 8,000 hymns, thousands of poems, a few books, and was a missionary and living disciple for Christ! She didn’t always praise Him, she had to learn to praise His name.

Think back to when you were merely six weeks old, chances are you don’t remember anything, I know I don’t. Most babies start to crawl around six months or so, because they are trying to get to something or somewhere. Imagine yourself learning to crawl, or even walk, totally unguided by sight, with just sounds to lead your way. You bump into things you would normally go around and avoid, you end up with more bruises, bumps, and scrapes then the average little one. You were born with the natural desire to discover, and you want to play, but you don’t have any clue what to play with. You feel the warmth of the hugs and affection from those who love you, but you never see their faces. You stumble through life, wanting to be like the other kids your age, and you become depressed. You have no choice but to be dependent on and trust those around you. You trust what you can’t see, because there are no other options. You feel God ‘s love for you and you know He wants more for you. He sends you to a school for the blind, where you learn to read and be more independent, all while believing others and believing in Christ. You aren’t allowing any fears to stop you in your tracks. You are in the dark, yet you learn to let the light of Christ guide you. You have never seen the beauty in God’s creations; the blue sky, a lightning storm, the bright shining stars on a clear night, the waves of the ocean, the gorgeous green trees, and the flowers that bloom in the spring. Try to erase those visions from your mind for a moment. Just think of darkness. Now imagine (in that darkness) that you are committed to moving forward in life; you are fearlessly and wonderfully made by God, and you choose to relentlessly follow Him. You do not want to visit the malignancy of your depression any longer and coveting the sight that others have is constricting you from truly feeling joyous. You learn to find joy through Christ, regardless of the unpleasant circumstances in your life. Everything you do glorifies God, despite any of your shortcomings. You have been given little in life, yet you use what you have to prosper as a disciple for Christ, and He continually blesses you with more and more.

I am certainly that person who has let my circumstances, pick-pocket my joy and distract me from my calling. I’m generally a really happy person, but my happiness has clearly proven, time and time again, to be materialistic. The joy of the Lord, is such a precious experience, why I have ever set it aside for my own pity party is beyond me; but I have. Christ has been there for me through everything. All of my sadness, mistakes, and despair; even when I didn’t praise Him in my storms… He was omnipotent, He was there!

February 12, 1915 Fanny Crosby went on her final mission to spend eternity with Christ; but not before she said these words: “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me”. Then before taking her last breath she said, “when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior”.

This is her story, this is her song, she praised her Savior, all the day long.

Psalm 136:26 (AMP)

26 
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
For His lovingkindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) {His agape Love} endures forever.

What amount of darkness will blind you from the Lord, when you allow yourself to be guided by His light?

 

 

 

Walking Along the Path of Least Resistance

Proverbs 3:5-6 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
[a]In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

The more I read about it, the more I find the negative connotation behind the phrase Walking Along the Path of Least Resistance.  What’s so bad about wanting to walk through life with less of a struggle? Apparently, it prohibits challenges, it causes complacency, there’s a lack of growth, and much more.  Yes, making it through the challenges and storms in life can make us strong, but it can make us weary, and tired as well.  If we are using no discernment in life (which causes us to walk along those more difficult paths), then we are simply creating more stress, and hindering ourselves from moving forward efficiently. We are making our own storms!

I became so good at throwing obstacles in my path, that I was doing it without even realizing it. All I gained, were tears, stress, heartache, and pure exhaustion! God wants us to live our lives in abundance, and His desire is not for us to continually struggle as a result of our own sin. I should have spent more time in prayer, more time in His Word, and more time concentrating on what His path was for me in my life, rather than my own. I let my emotions lead my way, instead of a pure heart that was seeking my way through Christ. Sometimes, I would make excuses and believe that it was simply spontaneity and not haste, because then… I wasn’t making bad choices, I was just trying to have fun! Yeah ME!!! My emotions contained an enormous lack of thought. More often than not, I experienced instant gratification, with sure despair following quickly behind it.

God will not cause us to stumble nor will He lead us astray; however, our personal sins will. Taking ownership in our faults can be more than a daunting task indeed. God holds us accountable for our sinful choices, and until we realize that, and ask for forgiveness with true repentance, we will continue to walk up hill, both ways, in the SNOW, dog-tired.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells me that if I trust AND rely CONFIDENTLY on the Lord with All of my heart, and don’t rely on my own understanding, that He will make my paths straight and smooth.  Psalm 119:105 says that the word of the Lord is a lamp to my feet and it lights my path.  Negativity… BOOOOO. Positivity…WHOOOHOOOOOO!!!

In the meantime, (Philippians 1:9-10 paraphrased by yours truly) my love will abound more and more in knowledge and practical insight, and I will continue to learn to not only recognize, but to treasure what is excellent (identifying the best and distinguishing moral differences) and strive to be pure and lead others to Christ; away from sin, until the day He comes back for me.

For the record, (wait…is a blog a record?) I am doing my very best to Walk Along the Path of Least Resistance. Fear not, I will still fight the good fight, keep the faith, and I WILL FINISH THIS RACE.

If you’d like to join me along this path and are not exactly sure how; you can pray the prayer of Salvation. Start on your personal, brand new, freshly paved, Path of Least Resistance today!

Psalm 119:105 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

2 Timothy 4:7 New International Version (NIV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Philippians 1:9-10 Amplified Bible (AMP)

And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight, 10 so that you may learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent [identifying the best, and distinguishing moral differences], and that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ [actually living lives that lead others away from sin];

John 14:6 (AMP)

Jesus said to him, “[a]I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

 

 

I Shall be Fearless Through Christ!

 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Here I sit at 2:17 AM, writing this blog, because the one I had planned on sharing last night, has been put on the back burner (by God) until further notice. After praying with my husband, God spoke to me to write something different. Although I have said, “learning to be obedient was a struggle, obeying Christ is now a privilege”, the fear of human judgment still haunts me on occasion and causes me to resist obedience at times. I know better, I should never fear the judgment of people when following direct orders from Christ. Yet alas, it is one of my shortcomings for sure.  So, I laid there in bed a bit, with tears streaming down my face, and my body starting to tremble, and I cried out to God to fan my flame. I felt weakened by the words of the great deceiver.  It took everything in me to get out of my comfortable bed and begin to write a new blog for this week. I strapped on my armor and gained strength and protection from God and pushed those lies (that Satan wanted me to believe) behind me where they belong. The lies that the judgment from those I associate with; friends, family, and even (more often than not) those that share my faith, are not what is important. That same judgment had almost crippled me in the past, so the lies that any new judgment will cripple me again, are very easy for me to believe.  I can’t avoid, nor coerce, or attempt to correct those that feel the need to pass judgment on me, I simply need to understand that I will always be judged; but only One judge should really matter to me. I cannot and will not hide my Lord and His light under a bush anymore. Not for anyone, and certainly not for myself. The fact remains that my blogs or my books, have to be read, before any sound judgement can even be made. What is important is my obedience to Christ, what is not important are my fears. I know I have been called to be a disciple for Christ, and when I take my personal feelings out of the equations that involve my fears, I call on the Holy Spirit, and I am obedient, fearless with Him, my heart is at peace, and I am blessing others through Christ. Moving forward, I will continue to cling to this…

Philippians 4:13 Amplified Bible (AMP)

13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]

The 3 B’s

Romans 12:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

 

When my father was fighting in WWII, he would faithfully write home to his mother. In one of his letters home, he wrote that God had told him about the 3 B’s, and he was supposed to share it and explain it in a letter to his mother. After that initial letter, he would write in every letter he sent home (in the place of the P.S) Remember the 3 B’s: Be Cheerful, Be Thoughtful, Be Prayerful.  Growing up, I could sit for hours and listen to my dad tell his stories from that time in his life; few were funny, some were scary, and most of them were horrifying. I truly believe that God sent those words to my pa, so he could write them down for his mama and they both would find comfort in them.

Shortly after my father said his final farewell and went to hang out with Jesus forever, my world crashed down around me. My marriage had failed, my family was being torn apart, I did not know how to grieve (only replace) and my pa was gone. I felt alone in all of my despair. Unfortunately, that is what it took for me to realize that I was never alone to begin with.  Christ was and is enough for me. I remember crying out to the Lord to heal and forgive me, to fill me with His joy regardless of the circumstances in my life.  As long as I can remember, Romans 12:12 has been my favorite verse in the Bible. After that night, I clung to Christ and that verse. Anytime, I would get caught up and hurt by my own sin, or by the sins and actions of others, I would say that verse. I must have said that verse 8,452 times… at least! I found comfort through my relationship with Christ, and that verse was a constant reminder of that comfort.

One night as I was writing What is Your Calling? , and reliving my awaking with Christ, I said that verse aloud. Then I immediately felt a rush of unexplainable warmth and joy fill my heart. Romans 12:12, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. I realized that is what God told my pa, all those years ago…Be Cheerful, Be Thoughtful, Be Prayerful.

This October will be the five-year anniversary of my father’s new life with Christ. I miss my pa. I miss him every single day. I miss making him cookies and tuna melts. I miss singing with him and hearing his stories. I miss his hugs, the sound of his laughter, and I even miss his smell. I often say, that I wish he could have met my new husband; he would have been so happy for me. I’m sad that he missed seeing my joy in Christ. A joy I should have had, through all of my circumstances.

Tonight, I shared a live video post on social media, of a mother and father who had just lost their son. They were struggling to hold back tears, as they asked the public for help in locating the person who ran the red light; which ultimately ended their son’s life. What they didn’t struggle with, was JOY! Through their pain, through their sorrow, and heartache, Christ’s joy was written all over their faces. They were praising Christ in their darkest storm. They were thankful their son was with Christ, and it showed as His light was shining bright in them.

I encourage you to find your joy. Let go of unforgiveness, bitterness, pain, grief, and sorrow~ allow the Love of Christ to bring you joy! Don’t be like me and end up wishing that the people, who may be gone tomorrow, could have seen that JOY in you.

An Epic Battle and An Epic Verse

Jeremiah 29:11 (AMP)

11 For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

     My husband wants me to write a blog, he says this is a good start, but I think I’m falling a bit short. He hasn’t given me my cup of coffee yet; I’m not sure how he expects me to focus AND be productive without it… Probably prayer! So here it goes… [insert a moment of silent prayer, because yeah, I need help].

     So, there’s this epic verse in the Bible, and it speaks to me constantly. It’s an amazing promise (of course, not greater than the promise of Jesus and His salvation), but it’s definitely a runner up. In Jeremiah 29:11, it states that the Lord knows the plans He has for you (but I’m going to put my name in here, because it makes it personal to me), Stacyjo. See what I did there? Plans for peace and well-being and NOT for disaster; to give me a future and a hope. What speaks to me more than the words “peace” and “well-being”, are the words “NOT FOR DISASTER!” Most of my life I felt like I was a walking disaster. There were times that I had heaped so much onto my own plate, that I had to grab another plate, and another, and pretty soon I was grabbing so many heaping plates of stuff in my life, that I eventually crashed into a wall. I dropped the heaping plates all over the place and had a disaster to clean up.

     This is going somewhere I promise…I knew I was not supposed to be complacent but, finding a balance had always been problematic for me. I’m a goer, and I usually don’t stop until I’m totally burned out and crash. I struggled horribly when I first quit my job (to come home and write), and I’m finally finding that even keel in my life.  I can tell you that I tried and tried and faced one huge disaster after another, until I decided to start my day by spending time with Christ. [insert sip of fresh brewed coffee here].It brings me comfort to know that He has a purpose for me and my life. That purpose is NOT to be disastrous, and I can find hope and a future in Christ.

     First, I had to realize that I have to follow Christ and glorify Him in everything I do. Living a life of sin (especially without regrets and unforgiveness) was creating my own disasters. Second, I needed to find joy in all of my circumstances (which has been a true battle for me) and know that He is enough for me regardless. I had to stop filling my plate with all the stuff and fill it with Christ instead. Third, I had to understand that 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, wasn’t just how I was supposed to love others, but how I needed love myself as well. I needed to truly LOVE MYSELF!

     I was not patient or kind to myself, nor was I very thoughtful of my own needs (time with Christ included). I was jealous of others who seemed to have it all, not truly seeing that the ALL they had was Christ. I was certainly rude to myself (never thinking I was good enough), no matter how hard I tried; even through any success, I still wasn’t good enough. Sometimes, in my own grief and self-pity, my miniature violin played so loud in my head, that I couldn’t even hear the loving words of Christ. I kept so many books of my personal sin in my heart, that there was no room for my own forgiveness; even though Christ had already forgiven me.  I allowed my sin to shelter me and blind my eyes from truths that were revealed to me along the way. My love for myself was weak, I had no hope, I believed in little, especially during the difficult times; which were many.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (AMP)

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong enduredIt does not rejoice at injustice but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

    I was confident in myself, but not in Christ. My self-worth was at an all-time low, and I was filling the void and empty space in my life by staying busy. I was filling that void with STUFF!

        I still stay very busy, but rather than an organized chaotic life, I have a purpose. I’m not wasting my time with stuff, or the distractions and obstacles of life. My focus is Christ. I arm myself daily, by spending time with Christ, alone in prayer, and in His Word. Then, believe this if you will… I am still. That’s a new concept for me, considering the only time I used to be still was when I was sleeping.  Satan still tries to come at me with his vocabulary of hatred and lies, and his manipulating tactics to distract me. I just know my worth now and have Christ to deflect and protect me from the devils garbage. I am still human. I still stumble, but when I’m in those valleys of life, I look up and see the hand of God reaching down to pick me up.