I Keep Coming Back to SURRENDER

I don’t know if I will ever stop coming back to Surrender. And I promise, I’ll be getting some blogging on our Israel trip back in February done, I’ll keep up the music news, and whatever other things are on my mind. But I think this will become a serious theme of this blog. And I want it to be a re-occuring theme in my life. As I’m reading that book ‘Surrender’ I talked about a couple of posts ago (go HERE for that) I picked up another book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while: ‘Absolute Surrender’ by Andrew Murray I have an older copy of it, given to me by dear friends in North Carolina long ago, and the front cover is falling off. But even though he wrote the book in 1897, over a hundred years ago, the words still ring so very true now. Here’s what happened in my journal as I read, and the quotes that jumped out of the pages right to my heart this morning:

April 2, 2016

(more words on surrender – these from Andrew Murray’s book “Absolute Surrender”)

“…your God in Heaven answers prayers which you have offered for blessing on yourselves and for blessings on those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? What is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have failed miserable, who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life.”

Oh, Lord, when will I ever not be in the last category, and be able to say with confidence that I’m part of that first group?? I ask You to please open my eyes. I’m reading Your Word (not as much as I could be, but I am reading it), I’m reading these books by godly people who are expanding on these truths I want to see alive in my life – Surrender, Absolute Surrender, Let God Guide You Daily

– and I am afraid I’m not changing or going to change. I’ve got all this head knowledge I’m gaining, but I want to read for HEART change! My soul screams it! I can’t even write fast enough to tell You how I feel about these frustrations. Jesus, I want to be completely surrendered! I want to stop failing all the time! Oh wretched person I am, who will save me from this body of death!!

Almost comical, I pick up the book to keep reading, I glance at the back cover, and this is what it says:

“Every ardent Christian aspires in his innermost being to enter into a successful, intimate relationship with his Lord. Yet, it seems impossible at times. The surge of emotional fervor that often buoys up a believer as he leaves a Spirit-filled service just as often leaves him frustrated and defeated a few days later.

Well, that can’t get any closer to how I feel.

“I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds partly, I cannot write properly.”

Lord, I want to be Your pen. I don’t want to share the power to command my life. I want You in full control – why don’t I then Let Go??

…..if these words strike a chord in you, reader, then come back next time for the rest of the words I want to share from Andrew Murray’s book, mixed with my own thoughts and prayers. It’s not a light subject: this thing of surrender. But I believe it’s the key, it’s the vital piece so many of us are missing. And if you’ve never considered surrendering to God, I hope it pricks your mind to consider such a bold step.

Surrender

Well, hi! It’s been a while! I’ve been busy with family, travel, and trying to get back into the swing of ‘normal’ life.

So to get back to blogging, I think I’ll start with this, a seemingly random post, but a story I’m walking lately, and have been for a while. Then I’ll bring you all up to speed on my travels and happenings, music news upcoming and what-not, as I get back to writing, with the intermittent good read for reflecting 🙂

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The book I’m reading right now, Surrender by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, says where my thoughts are and where I want to be the best. So the rest of the words of this are hers, not mine:

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2100 Day Shoes

It’s not a brand name. It’s the approximate number of days I wore my favorite pair of shoes from the last 6 years. And now, they are about to retire. Of course, after 6 years of almost daily wear, the time is past due to stop sliding my feet into my favorite sneakers. But this retirement is a lot harder than I thought it would be! One of the reasons it’s been so hard to let go of these shoes is that the company went out of business (I have a theory – they made their shoes too well and so didn’t sell them often enough. And a friend of mine concurs, as she had a pair of Simple shoes too). But the reasons they need to go are not helping me replace my most loved and useful daily footwear.

I’m so glad this wearing out and going away doesn’t apply to people. But wait….

Even though we don’t ‘throw out’ people we love (or we shouldn’t, at least), every person also has an expiration date. Each individual will see their body wear out, and get ready to ‘retire’ – the difference is our sole…I mean, soul, :)… does not. And even though this body design will now be ‘out of business’ the Bible says we have a heavenly body waiting for us, a much better design and make than the one here. It’s designer is not a shoe company, it’s the Creator. 

But there are two choices where you will ‘purchase’ this new fit. If you try to buy it yourself, you won’t end up in a good place. Actually, Jesus says it’s eternal torment. But if you let the Savior buy it for you, then the guarantee is better than lifetime, it’s forever. Not 2100 days. But on and on.

Remembering all this helps me not stress too much about my next pair of shoes. I’ll find another set, and I’ll be okay with the fact they probably won’t last as long. But this ‘shoe’ my soul is walking in currently won’t last forever either. I’ve got a much better deal waiting for me – I just need a temporary fit for now. The best one is coming soon.

Celebrating Yum Kippur (please forgive my unethical approach)

My son is taking a Jewish Holidays class as part of our extra curricular school stuff. And as a family, we’ve done a type of celebration of our own for one Jewish holiday, Passover. As a person who believes in Jesus, the Messiah, these types of feasts found in the Bible are really neat to celebrate and recognize together. Now, we don’t do everything right. But we are learning – and learning with food, song, and candlelight.

So we were behind on celebrating the Feast of Trumpets – but today, my son and I set the table at 11am with a table cloth, pretty dishes, apples and honey. And we read from Genesis 12 and 1 Samuel 1-2 and talked about the meaning of the apples and honey and the Feast of Trumpets (go here for a good website to tell you how to celebrate this feast). For our ‘casting off’ I had us each go around the table and ‘clear the air’ for any unforgiven squabbles between family members. We finished up with a song. And then I realized that today is Yum Kippur, the Day of Atonement (see a site on celebrating as a christian here)! So we decided to have a shortened fast and think about things we needed to ask God to forgive us for until we would break the fast this evening (I know, not technically correct, remember I said please forgive me for my unethical approach 🙂 ).

It was a good experience…and it meant more to my children than I thought it would. When we got together that evening to pray and break our fast with communion, the kids both shared from their heart what it felt like to fast and think about things they needed to say sorry for; we prayed, had communion, and sang a song. And next year, I plan on doing a better job at preparing to do these traditions the right way. But even today, it was special to us. And we learned something, and we’ve started a tradition that isn’t just for tradition’s sake, but because it helps us understand God’s story better.

Silence

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 Ludwisburg palace garden, fall 2013

 

 

Silence. Not to be confused with Emptiness. Although when you search the world wide web, the differences in opinion on this subject are so varied; and unfortunately, so much of what I read when I did such a search mixed these two ideas in a mentality that seemed to say: The most benefit you get from silence is when you allow your mind and soul to be empty, without thought, and just let the silence wash over you. Well, I have to tell you, the more I thought about it and read and contemplated these two, I actually find them to not mix so well. And I’ll tell you why.

Lately, I’ve been really seeking out some silence and solitude. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. A lot is going on, and I find myself just searching for places to be quiet and alone, no background noise, no people talking, not even music to add to the stillness I am looking for. And I am very much about the meaning of words – so when I found myself needing silence, I wanted to know what it means.

Silence is: the absence of sound. Stillness (which is free from sound, free from disturbance, or free from commotion). A period of time without speech or noise.

So as a wife, mom of 2, homeschool mother/teacher, volunteer, and all the other smaller hats I tend to wear, I understood now why my mind and soul were needing this time of still, undisturbed down-time. You can probably relate – and possibly are more busy and it need of it than I am! The old adage, “Silence is golden” can really ring true for many people. And this ‘gold’ can be hard to come by 🙂 As I’m typing this, I happen to be at the Romantischer Winkel Hotel with a beautiful relaxing time of stillness as I look out on the lake below and my children are off playing at their amazing kids play room. But I have found that there are people who avoid silence without even realizing it sometimes. The tv is always on in the background, or music is constantly playing from the computer or radio, or their smart phone never leaves their side with it’s constant interruptions of emails, facebook notices, and twitter nudges (kind of like a kid who pulls at your sleeve every 2 minutes to tell you something). Why do people do this? Maybe because the silence brings to their attention a different kind of quiet, which is more like emptiness.

Emptiness is: a void, nothing, vacant. Lacking purpose or substance. Meaningless.

I don’t know about you, but I see a large opposition here between these often associated words. Silence instead can have a purpose. Now, silence can be good or bad. If we turn to silence when we are supposed to speak out – either on behalf of ourselves or injustice done to others. But equally wrong are times we speak when we should keep silent. But when we find and use silence properly, we gain rest and sometimes direction. A biblical example of this is when Elijah was running for his life, and God shows him the power of silence. Read for yourself the entire story in 1 Kings 19. When I read about God revealing Himself through a still small voice, it makes me realize the value of silence in my life. How can I hear Divine direction if I am always busy with noise and activity? It’s hard to hear when there is so much commotion going on around me. I need silence for this.

I mentioned that often silence is connected with emptiness. I must say, most of what I read connected these two in an eastern religion type of way – and recommend to people to ’empty your mind’ in the silence. But I have a different suggestion. What if we were to ‘fill the silence’ with quiet waiting and meditation? Purpose and reason, and not mindless emptying that is so hard to achieve?

Here are some practical things you can do to get comfortable with silence, seek it out, and make it meaningful:

1) turn off the…everything. Go to a park. the woods. somewhere alone.

2) don’t talk; reflect and wait. What can you reflect on?

God – Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Reflect on what He has said: Psalm 119:15-16 says “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”

Also, repose when you are angry and upset (Psalm 4:4): “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”

Lastly, in silence, fill it with these thoughts (Philippians 4:8): “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy – meditate on these things.”

And no matter what kind of time you are having, whether it’s with others and loud and fun, or getting alone and soaking in the silence, make Psalm 19:14 your prayer:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

More Spurgeon Inspiration

As I continue to read Charles Spurgeon‘s sermons on “The Life and Works of our Lord Jesus Christ” God continues to give me poems, like the first one I shared (“God gave God“) based on the powerful ways he states biblical truths. Here is the paragraph from the book that inspired this poem:

“Blessed be God, we can be thus saved. Our entrance to heaven can be as justly secured as our banishment to hell was rightly deserved. How justice and peace have kissed each other is now made known. That secret is told us in the Word of God. Is it not written on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?”

“I know that I speak to many who long to be saved; but will you give up your sin? For Christ has come to save Him people from their sins. If you do not wish to be saved from sinning [turn], then you will never be saved from damning [burn].”

And so, with that quote, here is Turn or Burn, a poem I wrote on June 5th 2014:

Turn or Burn

Life’s Bumps and Turns

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The Wrong Place

At the Right Time….And the ways God uses the mishaps, speed bumps, and what not

Okay, so the pictures have nothing to do with the experiences I’m about to tell you. But I think it is an appropriate (and humorous) reminder that not everywhere you go and everyone you meet are just happenstance. Look around for the ways that God intends for you to be an example of His presence and love. He has so many people He’s speaking to every day. And if we take a minute to look up or give someone a chance, we will be part of that communication. And just being a part is so rewarding, as was my experience here:

There are two things that have happened in the past couple weeks that I want to tell you. Both were related in that the misdirection and difficulties were leading to telling two strangers the same message: Jesus cares about you so much, He brought me here at this time just to tell you, He loves you.

The first happened on a normal day: our little family went out to purchase a grill for the summer and a German picnic table. I couldn’t find a large cart to save my life to carry the picnic table to the register. In fact, I was beginning to get frustrated with this – and for the second time that I went outside, I found one!.. just to  see that I didn’t have the right change to get the cart. But God placed this delay there on purpose; because, on my way back to the Jeep, I asked a family for change for my 2 euro coin. We talked a little as they spoke English and the wife is Filippino. Then I went back in with the cart, loaded up with my husband and kids, and headed to the cash register. Well, when we went back to the car, I felt a tugging to write the family a note and give them a cd of my piano music – which I had just ‘happened’ to put in my purse before we left the house earlier. And you know what? God ordains every detail just perfectly – I couldn’t find a pen, wrote the note on the back of an envelope with a crayon, and then (AFTER I was finished) my husband realized I needed a better writing utensil. So he uncovered a pen and real paper 🙂 and I wrote it again. God had this other little speed bump for a reason: as soon as I finished writing the note to tell this family about the Lord, they came to their car. So I spoke with them in person. I asked the man if he has a relationship with Jesus. He said no. Then I told him that the Lord cares for him so much, that God ordered my steps just so in order for me to tell him that – that Jesus loves him and has a plan for him.

The second similar circumstance happened just the other day. We were spending our last day with some dear friends from Italy who had come for a visit. Our last day was spent in Frankfurt, and we were all tired and heading back to the hotel on the tram. As this was our first time in this big city, I wasn’t totally sure of what tram to take, and I’ll admit – I am horrible with directions. As we were discussing and making sure we had taken the right train, a lady overheard us and informed us that we were going in the opposite direction than we wanted. So we file out of the train…just to find out it was the right train after all, and the lady had misunderstood where we were going. Continue reading

Old-Fashion Letter Writing

DSCN0260  Countryside in Dormremy, France

 

Imagine getting to sit on this bench and read a hand-written, good old-fashion letter, listening to good old-fashion tunes, like my version of ‘Nearness of You’

Ah…well I wish I could write this blog as a hand-written note to you that you’d be sitting outside somewhere like that, listening to some relaxing music like this. You know why? It’s soothing, food for our souls. When I sit at the computer, I walk away most of the time feeling drained. When I open a letter from my sister-in-law and read it sitting in the sunshine while my kids run around in the grass, I’m revived. Why has this beautiful art disappeared? I’m not going to blame it on computers. I blame it on you and I. But this is supposed to be uplifting, so listen:

When was the last time you put pen to paper for someone? ‘Oh, I don’t have time.’ I understand. Me neither. But when I find the time, it is so rewarding. I just finished a special letter to my dad for his 60th birthday, I’m sending it this afternoon. And as I’m reviving this beautiful habit for myself and encouraging my kids to write to their grandparents and cousins, I am realizing that I love it! And I’m beginning to write more often. and guess what? There’s time to do that!

Now I know, being moved across the ocean is pretty good motivation for renewing a love for letters. You might not have that push. So let this be your inspiration, and motivate you to write. You know, half the New Testament is letters. I think that’s significant. Words written down to tell someone hello, you are thinking about them, encourage them, recount a funny event are more than just a piece of paper stamped and sent. It carries with it an unwritten message: I think about you and love you enough to invest my time and money (even though only 49 cents or so) to let you know that. I went out of my way to make sure you felt it, and had something tangible in your hands to prove it.

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