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Two Important Lessons I Learned at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Two Important Lessons I Learned at the Country Music Hall of Fame

I’m not a country music fan but I have season tickets to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I’ve been wooed across the state line twice in 5 months to wander the halls with fans from around the globe. In case you’re wondering what would […]

Just the Good Stuff #1 (July Highlights)

Just the Good Stuff #1 (July Highlights)

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22 NASB The past month was filled to overflowing. I’ve been neck deep in July and end of summer break stuff so it’s taken […]

5 Ways to Find Joy in Corporate Worship

5 Ways to Find Joy in Corporate Worship

I’m troubled by the trend among Christians of critiquing the church service—the form of corporate worship— as if we’re all judges on America’s Got Talent. But here’s the thing: Corporate worship isn’t a spectator sport and we’re not there to be entertained. I’m not saying the form of worship is irrelevant or should never be evaluated and examined, but I fear that we’ve become so focused on the form that we’re missing an opportunity to experience the living Christ when we gather as His bride in corporate worship.

Perhaps changes need to be made at your church, but before you decide to look for a new one or give up on corporate worship altogether would you consider reading this short post about 5 Ways to Find Joy in Corporate Worship?

Worshipping at church is an important part of the Christian life and should be a joyful experience. Let us as the Church be able to say with the Psalmist:  “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord!'” (Psalm 122:1)

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5 Ways to Find Joy in Corporate Worship

1. Pray

  • Intercede for your worship leader during the week.
  • Intercede for others who will be attending the service.

I find it very difficult to maintain a critical spirit when I’m praying. Prayer reminds me that God always knows what’s going on, that He cares more than I ever could, and that He alone is all powerful. In other words, I can let it go.

“Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other. Intercession means that we rouse ourselves up to get the mind of Christ about the one for whom we pray.” Oswald Chambers

2. Practice

  • Worship God privately every day.
  • Learn to practice the presence of God daily.
  • Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  • Play music that exalts Jesus and sing along when you can.
  • Meditate on Scripture, speaking it aloud or just whispering it to yourself throughout the day.

Richard Foster says, “All this will heighten your expectancy in public worship because the gathered experience of worship just becomes a continuation and an intensification of what you have been trying to do all week long.”

3. Prepare

  • Go to bed early on Saturday night.
  • Choose/prepare what you will wear.
  • Gather your Bible and notebook and any other items you might need.
  • Get up early on Sunday and make time to read scripture and set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2).
  • Be on time for the service or better yet arrive a few minutes early to find a seat and sit quietly and expectantly.

“We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” Andy Stanley

4. Purpose

  • Keep your focus on Jesus during the worship service.
  • Apply 2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
  • Accept distractions with gratitude.

“The secret of joy in corporate worship is not only preoccupation with Jesus and his glory — but also the happy awareness that we are not alone in having our souls satisfied in him.” David Mathis

5. Participate

  • Show up even if you don’t “feel” like it.
  • Sing to Lord no matter how you think you sound.
  • Sing along until you know the new songs and the old by heart.
  • Engage your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection on Christ.

“Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which ‘comes upon you,’ but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.” Graham Kendrick

May we always be ready to speak these words to our Friend and Savior, Jesus:

 

What helps you find joy and gladness in corporate worship?

Do you dread church on Sunday? Are you bored and distracted during the service? Has it become easy to find fault with the music, the environment, the leadership? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, will take a few minutes and read this post?

Sisters, 80’s Hair, and the Desires of Your Heart

Sisters, 80’s Hair, and the Desires of Your Heart

Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 I’ve had some trouble with that verse over the years. It’s a love-hate relationship with 15 words, really. So I want to tell you a story with a few pictures […]

Vintage Pickin’ Spring Barn Sale: What You Need to Know

Vintage Pickin’ Spring Barn Sale: What You Need to Know

Eric and I went to the Vintage Pickin Barn Sale last September and had a blast! The spring sale is coming up this weekend, May 4-5 so I wanted to do a recap of our experience in case you’re thinking about going. I took lots […]

When It Feels Like Everything Is Falling Apart

When It Feels Like Everything Is Falling Apart

My daughter, Maddie, is a student at Leavell College, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Recently, she called to share what she had written in her journal after a particularly difficult few days and weeks. I was greatly encouraged by her words and asked if I might share them here with you along with her photos of the campus. If you’ve ever felt like everything is falling apart (I know I have), then I pray this post encourages you as much as it did me. 

Falling Apart

As most of us have figured out, life doesn’t always go as we’ve planned. Relationships are strained, classes are hard, and work is stressful. Going into every situation I want to know the outcome and I work as hard as I can to make the outcome go according to my plan. I want all my relationships to be easy, I want to get A’s in all my classes, and I hope for a stress-free workday. I place my identity in these areas and when I drop one of the balls I’m juggling I immediately feel like everything is falling apart. When things aren’t going my way I feel discontented. I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Here’s my story: 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve reached a milestone every six months. In 2016, I graduated high school, got a new job, and attended a seminary campus preview in New Orleans. In 2017, I quit my job and moved to New Orleans for school. I found a church, made new friends and settled into my new home.

For most people a new year is filled with joyful anticipation of a new beginning. Those people get busy making resolutions and plans. That used to be me too. I, however, started 2018 feeling “less-than” and had no motivation to start or accomplish anything. The words “I just want to run away” left my mouth many times. I would describe how I was feeling as just “floating around in life”.  In my mind, nothing I did mattered. I’d convinced myself that nothing would change if I weren’t here. I had no intention of harming myself, but I was sure if I disappeared no one would care or notice.

To add to the list, I’d fallen into the trap of looking to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Google, Netflix, and TV to answer life’s questions and solve its problems. These platforms tell us how we should look, what jobs we should have, how much money we should be making, how our relationships should be, and, of course, what we need to be doing to be considered successful—which is really just code for “you need to do more.”

Before I knew it, I couldn’t even discern truth anymore. Even though I was in the Word daily, I’d allowed the voice of the world to be louder than the voice of the Creator.

The thought of abandoning my calling because I won’t make money or feeling like I should sign up for everything so that I feel useful was constantly invading my mind.

I’d lose sleep worrying about something I heard in a movie or something I watched on YouTube. I replayed something I read on Facebook with a title like “6 Ways to Look More Attractive in Pictures” or “15 Things Only the Most Amazing Girlfriends Do”.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve read these articles but that’s how damaged my thought life had become. I’d convinced myself that the people who wrote these articles must know everything and therefore it was absolutely necessary for me to read it so that I could stay in the know. These articles and others like them caused a lot of havoc in my life in more ways than one. Anxiety and mild depression began to consume me. I’d never dealt with anything like this but I couldn’t figure out what was causing it.

I’ve spent the past two months waking up every hour wondering how I could fit all these rules and suggestions into my life so that it could be better. I’d repeat the same “truths” to myself each time I woke up:

  1. I need to lose weight
  2. I should probably dye my hair so that I can fit in
  3. I need to make more money
  4. I’m not a good friend.
  5. I’m not a good girlfriend (based on the article I read)
  6. I need to start dressing like ____ so that I won’t look so ____.
  7. I need to start going out more so I’ll have friends.

And the list goes on and on.

Looking Up

Over the past several weeks the weather has been no less than perfect. The average high has been around 80 degrees with lots of sunshine and a cool, gulf breeze. One Tuesday after chapel I was on my way to the cafeteria when I looked up.

What I saw took my breath away. The Lord spoke a sweet message into my heart. I realized that my problems and worries are not as big of a deal as I’m making them out to be. I desire to control every aspect of my life but creation reminds me that God is in control.

The gulf breeze doesn’t blow because of my design and trees do not sway at my command. Birds don’t sing because I gave them a voice nor do the flowers bloom because I say so.

My struggle came down to one thing: I was not content. I was constantly trying to micromanage every aspect of the rest of my life. I could spend hours trying to fix a situation that hadn’t even happened yet. I’m learning to be satisfied with my current circumstances instead of trying to control what will happen ten years from now or even tomorrow. I am practicing gratefulness. I am doing this by naming three things that I am grateful for in place of every single thing I’m tempted to worry about. Doing this has completely changed my outlook.

So, instead of worrying about what we don’t have or what could happen, let’s choose to focus on the things we do have and what God is doing in each moment of our lives and the lives of others.

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us because it was something we couldn’t do on our own. When I’m tempted to carry everything on my own I’m reminded that not only am I unable, but I don’t have to. My significance, as well as yours, is found in Jesus Christ, not abilities or titles. When we look for our identity in our circumstances or accomplishments we will always be disappointed. But when we look for our identity in Christ our hope is unshakeable.

The truth of God’s Word is there, but whether or not it impacts our hearts and lives is completely up to us.

Make the Ordinary Come Alive

Make the Ordinary Come Alive

I love the sentiment expressed by William Martin in “The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents”. As I read it I couldn’t help think of the best advice I’ve ever received. Ancient Advice for Modern Parents “Do not ask your children to […]

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR PERSPECTIVE?

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR PERSPECTIVE?

This morning as I was reading Numbers 16 about Korah’s rebellion, I couldn’t help but realize how easy it is for us to lose our perspective when life feels hard and our circumstances aren’t quite what we’d hoped. The temptation to complain and grumble and […]

The Simple Acts of Serving and Celebrating

The Simple Acts of Serving and Celebrating

It’s Monday morning and there are many things on my list today. We were out of town all weekend so there’s laundry to catch up, dishes to wash, and desk work piled up, too. But as I reflected on our family time together the last few days I wanted to take a few minutes and share my thoughts about the simple acts of serving and celebrating.

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Caleb Turns 18

Our youngest, Caleb, turns 18 today so the weekend festivities were all about him. By the way, I can’t believe my baby is turning 18!

His birthday request was a trip to Nashville and a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame since we’d never been. We lived in Nashville for years but living and working in a city is different than visiting one as a tourist. What a fun place to visit! I’m not a huge country music fan but I really, really enjoyed our visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame. In another post, I’ll share a few of the pics I took, tell you which part of the tour was my favorite and why, and maybe give a few suggestions if you’re thinking about going. But today, I want to focus on how we celebrated Caleb’s birthday at home last night.

I love Pinterest! It’s one of my favorite places on the web to find inspiration for celebrations, cooking, homemaking, organization—you name it, you can find it on Pinterest. When Maddie graduated from high school she wanted a big party. Pinterest was my go-to source for ideas and inspiration. (You can click here to see the post and pictures of that celebration.)

But not every celebration has to be elaborate or Pinterest perfect.

The point of a celebration is the person being celebrated and what their wishes and preferences are for the event. I have to be careful not to see the celebration as a reflection of my abilities to cook/plan/decorate or my dedication as a mother and homemaker. And in a day when we share everything on social media, it’s easy to feel the pressure and compare ourselves to what others are doing. Everyone’s quick to say they don’t compare, but as humans in a social media focused world, it’s hard not to.

When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Philippains 2:3

The Simple Act of Serving and Celebrating

serve, celebrations, 18th birthday, semi-homemade, simple homemaking, family

When I asked Caleb what he wanted to do about his actual birthday party (celebrate in Nashville or at home) he opted for cake and ice cream at home with just family. He prefers a simple, semi-homemade strawberry cake with vanilla icing (semi-homemade = box mix made at home). On the way home from Nashville, we stopped at Walmart and bought the ingredients and then ordered takeout wings and fries from our favorite local place.

 

We all enjoyed the meal in front of the TV with some Netflix and then a poor rendition of “Happy Birthday” (we even Facetimed Maddie to help us sing!) before cutting the cake. And we totally forgot the ice cream in the freezer. I guess we can have that tonight!

There were no candles, streamers, or decorations. No special plates or extra presents.  The cake was a little lopsided but warm and delicious! This was his birthday, just the way he wanted it.

A Few Do’s and Don’ts of Serving and Celebrating:

  • Do ask the guest of honor what they want and honor it (if possible).
  • Do ask the guest of honor who’d they like to include in the celebration.
  • Don’t “overserve”. Sometimes with good intentions, we can do more than the guest of honor is expecting or comfortable with receiving. (I have a tendency to do this!)
  • Don’t throw a surprise party for a person who hates surprises.
  • Don’t go overboard with food, decorations, gifts, or your budget just to impress others and make yourself feel better.
  • Mothers/wives: don’t post pictures without your child’s/spouse’s permission. (If your child isn’t old enough to say, think about how they’ll feel years from now.) A laugh at a loved one’s or friend’s expense is just too costly.
  • Don’t expect or demand gratitude. Serve from the heart with the right motive and that will be reward enough. Of course, it’s always nice to hear “thank you” but we’ve all forgotten to say it and it doesn’t mean we aren’t grateful.

Christlikeness begins at home where we serve

and celebrate those closest to us. 

P.S. If you need more encouragement and inspiration to see the beauty and blessing of serving and celebrating where you are with what you have, please, please click here and read this post.  Here’s an excerpt:

Maybe it was the sinus meds I’d been taking for a week, but I declare that old grout in the kitchen was talking to me. He said things like, “Your house is old and ugly and not worthy of a celebration. You should be ashamed of your kitchen, your house, and your life.” Sinus meds also make me a tad dramatic or maybe it was the Netflix marathon of The Blacklist while I was in bed for 2 days.

Either way, I was almost convinced that cracked old caulk would be the star of the party and no one would want to touch the food and they’d all leave early and meet up at Dairy Queen where they’d plan an intervention for my DIY failures. And then I remembered:

It’s not the house I love, but the life that’s lived in it.

A pin to share or save for later:
I have to be careful not to see the celebration as a reflection of my abilities to cook/plan/decorate or my dedication as a mother and homemaker. And in a day when we share everything on social media, it’s easy to feel the pressure and compare ourselves to what others are doing.

GUEST ROOM ON A BUDGET

GUEST ROOM ON A BUDGET

Empty bedrooms.  For years there were more kids than bedrooms and then I blinked. I never thought I’d see the day I’d have a dedicated space for guests. But I’m thrilled to finally reveal how I pulled together a guest room on a budget. A […]