Coming Back to Surrender, part 2

God Works it in you…

“God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you.”

Philippians 2:13 says ‘For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.’

“God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All those searchings and hungering and longings that are in your heart, I tell you they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived a life of absolute surrender, He has possession of you; He is living in your heart by His holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him terribly, but He desires to help you get hold of Him entirely.”

“And if you come and say: ‘Lord, I yield myself in absolute surrender to my God,’ even though it will be with a trembling heart and with the consciousness: ‘I do not feel the power, I do not feel the determination, I do not feel the assurance,’ it will succeed. Be not afraid, but come just as you are, and even in the midst of your trembling the power of the Holy Ghost will work.”

“I ask, what has God promised you, and what can God do to fill a vessel absolutely surrendered to Him? Oh, God wants to bless you in a way beyond what you expect. From the beginning ear hath not heard, neither hath the eye seen, what God hath prepared for them that wait for Him [1 Corinthians 2:9-12]God has prepared unheard of things you can never think of [Ephesians 3:20-21]blessings much more wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive. They are divine blessings. Oh, say now: ‘I give myself absolutely to God, to His will, to do only what God wants.’ It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender.’

 

all quotes from the book Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray…150px-Andrew_Murray.JPG

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.

Army Wives, 173rd version

You probably heard about the show Army Wives that aired from 2007-2013. As an army wife, there were things about that show that made me laugh, that I agreed with, that made me cry. And then, of course, there were plenty of things that made me shake my head at how Hollywood can really take something too far – but I bet you’ve never heard of The Battle Hard wives of the 173rd.

Maybe one day, you will. Maybe one day, we’ll share our stories for the world to see. I know that long ago, in my introduction and reasons for blogging, I said I wouldn’t be naming my military appreciation by name, but this time I have permission. I won’t share all their names – the first wives I encountered in Italy many years ago. But at least one hero among them: her name is Colleen Wood.

In the lives of many army wives, this woman’s name will always be held in a place of honor. If there was a purple heart for keeping spouses sane, caring for single soldiers, running amazing FRGs, holding the hands of newly arrived ladies in the face of uncertain and difficult deployments, making difficult phone calls to the states, and later continuing to carry the banner of support years after her duties are fulfilled, I have to be completely biased and say there is only one FRG leader that would take all. And how does she do it? And still be mom to 3 boys, love and support her husband, be a teacher and friend, and balance life’s ups and downs? I don’t know, maybe she’ll write a book one day and tell us 🙂 One token that she has contributed recently was by starting a journal for The Battle Hard Wives for us to remember that very uncertain deployment to Iraq, now over 10 years ago.DSC02658.jpgI’m the latest Battle Sister to have this priceless journal in my living room. I’ll be adding stories of my own to our thoughts, reflections, tears, encouragement, rants, and whatever else comes out of our hearts and fills the pages, after some of those feelings have lain dormant for a while. When Colleen first took the time to reach out to us all, get the wives connected again, and set out on her mission of a joint journal, I did not really understand how important and impactful this will be. We went through a life changing event together: sending our husbands and loved ones on a deployment that began with the first jump into combat for the 173rd since Vietnam, with so many unknowns in being part of the initial invasion that our need for each other was stronger than our military connection had already begun by already being stationed overseas. We relied on each other so much in those 13 months. And now, we are remembering.12295478_10208420553731345_6430159626114761740_n.jpgColleen Wood, I hope you know how much of a hero you are in our hearts: and I hope we can let you know how much we appreciate all you’ve done and continue doing by sharing our stories and reaching out to others with the same care.

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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Necessary Tension

Source: Necessary Tension

Thanks, Kevin, this describes my walk right now, and what I’m striving for. Just had a talk with my daughter about contentment in who God made us and what He gave us, and I personally feel the tension of life: and it’s good, and it keeps me growing. Like you said, we’ll rest in heaven, amen!

Christmas is over. Now what?

I don’t think I read any blogs over the Christmas season. But with good reason. I had my parents here with us for 2 weeks, and we had a wonderful time with them. Lots of laughs, food, fun, Christmas markets, etc. But Christmas is over. I sat for the first time in weeks to read a few blogs. Two of the blogs I follow that I read this morning I think are wonderful for a ‘re-set’ or ‘re-focus’ after the time off for Christmas. So I recommend you check out:

http://devotedlife.net/2015/12/28/trusting-an-engineer-dec-28/ as he reminds us of the place that God should take in our intellect and faith.

and http://gracemusing.com/2015/12/27/17-lessons-i-learned-from-christian-books-in-2015/  to apply what that means to our lives, and practically live more mature, God-led lives.

And from me? I’m just thanking God for His un-ending goodness, as Psalm 143 spoke to me about on December 19th (here’s my thoughts from that day):

Psalm 143: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, Give ear to my supplication! In Your faithfulness, answer me, And in Your righteousness. Do not enter into judgement with Your servant, For in Your sight, no one living is righteous. For the enemy has persecuted my soul. He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness Like those who have long been dead. Therefore, my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed.”

Lord, before my parents got here, I had been feeling a bit of distress – a bit of darkness. I know You speak to me, but sometimes I feel nothing from You – and I know it’s the enemy blinding me. Please keep me close to You in a way I feel You – so I don’t become overwhelmed, no matter what is going on.

(v5) I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the works of Your hands.”

The days of old – I have my notebook here where I’ve been writing my married life story. It has it’s points in it, coming up, and not yet written, that are saddening to think on. But there are so many other moments, days, journal entries, miraculous events, that remind me of how God is in my life: my Lord, Creator, and Savior loves me and cares for me.

Then I look up and out the window at God’s majestic works of His hands. The silhouetted trees with the carefully detailed grey hills behind – as it slowly climbs out of shadow to a purple/grey hue, fog beginning to lift, and the outline of trees layered behind trees beginning to be visible. And as the sun is slowly climbing, the place where the blackened tree line on top of the hill is now accented by the warmest golden lines that blend into an ever-changing band above of pink, beige, faded purple, and then the light cloud-line that leads to a crisp morning blue. Some of the colors I can’t even describe – or they last just a few moments before the Great Painter has set in motion the next part of the scene of a single day’s sunrise. And this is just one minute masterpiece in an abundance of beauty that the Master is orchestrating in a single moment.

Yes, I meditate on all Your works. I muse on the work of Your hands.

I don’t know what kind of year you had. I don’t know what is in your future, or mine. But I know Who holds the future, and I know He wants to be a part of your life. If after reading the blogs I read, and my own thoughts, you feel drawn to know Him, start your new year with new life: talk to Jesus – it’s simple. Ask Him to come and be the Leader of your life and make you new.

 

Christmas Concerts

This year, we are looking forward to seeing the Sound of Music, go to a Christmas Circus, and attend the Nutcracker – but another big highlight for me is getting to be on the other side of the scene – it’s been a very special and honored privilege to take part in putting on a couple of Christmas Concerts. And not just that, these are concerts with a purpose.

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The purpose has been two-fold: to support a group called Kainos, and to provide those who would attend in support of that Human Trafficking Awareness organization with lovely, relaxing, and meaningful Christmas music.

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The Christmas Tree and Memories

The Christmas Tree.DSC01646

I really don’t know why it’s such a special part of our Christmas celebrating. Maybe because it’s the largest visible item to mark the season? I’m not sure if that’s the reason, but I can say a part of the significance of it comes from all the good memories that surround the Christmas Tree. They come back to me as I sit and look at the lovely decorations collected over the years, my now-5 year old popcorn string (yes, it does keep! I don’t have to string it every year, and my son even stopped snacking on it at least 3 years ago, haha!) So here is my walk down memory lane, if you care to snoop, after we decorated the tree last night:

December 4, around midnight….I’m sitting here watching my sleeping children whom I allowed to drift off as they looked at our job well done on the Christmas tree this year. I’ll carry them to bed later. But now, I’m thinking about our Christmases past, at least the memories that the Tree reminds me of. I laugh about the one year we went and cut trees together with my husband’s family – my mom in law ended up picking the most sparce Charlie Brown Tree you’d ever seen. It was funny. But looked comically great once sprinkled with tinsel and covered in her various decorations. I also remember before that the year my husband was in Afghanistan for Christmas: the kids and I went with his family to cut a tree – with our boxer, Betsy, too. I fell asleep on the way home on my brother-in-law’s shoulder – a bit embarrassed about that when we got home and I’d left a little drool on his shirt.

I remember another year that my husband was home and we’d (well, I had, I guess) picked a ridiculously huge tree – it took up 1/4 of our living room. And my husband even had to cut the branches down in the back so it would sit near the wall enough. And when it came time to take that one down, he opted to saw it up inside the house to make removal easier. Then I also remember the tiny tree we put up in Florida at the vacation home that special Christmas with my mom and dad – and on Christmas day, we all went over to the assisted living for my last year to celebrate the season with my grandparents. Mom and I made lasagna to bake there at the home for a special dinner with them. Grandma talked about that day even up until she passed away in July this past year. She’d still say the same thing whenever it came to her mind: “you remember, Melissa, when you and your mom cooked that wonderful lasagna dinner for Christmas for us in Florida? Those people would pass through the hallway there and smell that good food and just get so jealous of us.” And then she’d smile and laugh. It’s still not come to my heart the full realization that I won’t see them again on this earth. But these memories certainly help.

I remember another year, I think it was last year or the year before, when we had just finished decorating the tree, and it made me think about Jesus’ proclamation that He is the light of the world. The beauty of the tree all glowing and inviting reminded me that Jesus called people to come to His light. So when the decorating was over, we sat together and read that account from the Bible.

I hope this Christmas tradition will continue to draw my children and myself closer together, and closer to the Lord. As I watch them sleeping (I feel I could watch them all night) I also feel the weight and responsibility to raise children who understand the meaning of Christmas and the love of Jesus. And my prayer is that God can use many of these tangible traditions they love to bring life to God’s truths.

So – if you took the time to read this and it reminded you of great Christmas Tree memories, share them with me please!

My Veteran’s Day Tribute

I wanted to honor our Veterans today. What better way than to share what they had to say? Be their voices, stand with them, and honor them with our words and actions. Thank you to all who have served.

“I realized that if I don’t just respect and remember and honor the boys who were there with me, nobody’s going to.”
Richard R. DeLeon, Tayninh, Vietnam.

RICHARD R. DELEON

As a medic in Vietnam, Richard DeLeon, who had prided himself as a street-tough New Yorker, saw things he would never see in Manhattan. What impressed him most was the camaraderie the men felt for him and one another, the kind of fierce loyalty that drove his best buddy to rescue the lone survivor of a copter crash at the risk of his own life. DeLeon had a difficult time readjusting to civilian life, especially when he saw how cavalier his co-workers on Wall Street were about the casualties of war.

“Every soldier learns in time that war is a lonely business,” wrote Matthew Ridgway, one of America’s great generals, who served in World War II and Korea. In the face of Ridgway’s accurate observation is any soldier’s sense that in battle, the man on your right or the man on your left could be the man who saves your life. Here are the stories of veterans who came to understand that, as lonely a business as war can be, the camaraderie planted in basic training and nurtured through the hardships of the battlefield is a powerful weapon against fear.”

quoted from “Experiencing War” the Library of Congress Veterans History Project site, as are the other quotes below. Go visit the site Forever A Soldier book highlight

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Just Say No….

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So, I have to tell you, no, REI did not pay me to write this blog 🙂 But I was just so happy to see what they decided to do: REI will not be opening their doors the day after Thanksgiving for a mad rush of shoppers. And I like that. I’m going to take their example and be home, or outside with my family. Want to join your voice and say what a great thing this is? You can make your own nifty photo saying too! Go to http://optoutside.rei.com/join-us/select-image where you can upload your own image (like I did) or use one of theirs. Then tell others! I think we might get this old-fashion goodness of a true holiday to catch on! And next, here’s another opportunity to speak out: when you make your picture, tell me! I’d LOVE to have some guest posts for the next few weeks of why it’s important to you to #optoutside for Black Friday.