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Posts Tagged ‘(in)courage.me’

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The French say it so much better.

raison d’etre

meaning reason for being/existing.

It just sounds so much more delightful than saying

my purpose in life.

Whether or not we admit it, we all have times in our lives when we are searching for our reason for existing, our

raison d’etre.

It can, at times seem a very subjective search.

As I read a blog post, called Sometimes our Biggest Question has an Easy Answer by Tsh Oxenreider, (at http://www.incourage.me) I was struck with how easy and answer she presented to that oft asked question,

what is your,

what is my

raison d’etre?

(reason for being?)

Here is what Tsh has to say :

You could say I’ve been neck-deep in Christianese for most of my life. I grew up in the church, and eventually became a professional Christian a la full-time ministry. I know my way backwards and forwards around Sunday morning flannel boards.

So I know one of the most common questions asked by well-intended followers of Jesus, and it’s one many people spend their entire lives wrestling with. I wrestled with it for a long time, too.

I don’t wrestle with it anymore, because I discovered the answer quite simply on an uneventful afternoon, when I was reading and journaling and asking God for the millionth time.

The question, of course, is, “What is God’s will for my life?”

I think it’s such a popular wrestled-with question because we sometimes have this idea that God has placed us in a hedged labyrinth, wondering if we’ll find the prize—His right answer. Or maybe we’re blatantly aware of our humanity next to God’s omniscience, and we just don’t want to screw things up with our earth-borne flesh and blood.

Either way, I’ve come to believe that the answer is far easier than we think—because God is good, after all. He wants us to know His will for our life. He delights in us knowing, in fact. He celebrates when we discover the treasure of knowing His will.

20140303_tshoxenreider_passion

I’m fairly certain it’s this: God’s will for our life is wherever our skills meet our passions and burdens. It’s the intersection overlapping how He’s uniquely gifted us, dancing in tandem with the things we’re passionate about.

That’s it.

It’s similar to Emily’s recent revelation about the importance of discovering what’s bothering you. Those burdens, those things that rile you up and either get you excited or get you frustrated—those aren’t accidents. And where those things meet your God-given skills? Well, ma’am… you’re on to something there.

So I encourage you—look for that spot. Explore what’s stirring inside. What gets your heart beating? And then scratch out a list of ways you’re made. Spend time discovering what makes you you.

How the two might work together? That might very well be His will for your life.

Sometimes, the answer to God’s will for your life is just right under your nose.

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LeafFall1

This is it,

the last hurrah

the windup

the last supper

the culmination

the end of summer, as we have known it.

And, for many, Tuesday marks the beginning of another school year (of course there are those who have already been at it for weeks).

I never feel fully ready to leave home for school (as an Educational Assistant) until I can leave the house in order (and crock pot plugged in), with a plan for survival of the upcoming school year.

Today, in the guest post by Ann Voskamp (through (in)courage.me), I get to share a plan that might just help me, and us, not just survive the school year, but thrive!

If we can remember even one of these truths I think we might just be conquerors of the chaotic!

But, as for me, I’m printing this out and posting on my fridge, maybe even my bathroom mirror, and in my bag that goes to work with me.

Enjoy Ann’s suggestions for 10 Ways To Be A Happier Mom:

“1. Life is not an emergency. 

Life’s a gift.
Just. Slow. Down.

 

2. Now is not a forever grace but amazing grace. 

Do whatever it takes to wake to wonder right here.

 

3. Sometimes the slowest way is the fastest way to joy. 

Make time today, even a moment, to read Scripture and memorize it.

Without the lens of His Word, the world warps.

{Slowest=fastest to joy}

 

4. Laughter is the cheapest, holiest medicine. 

Preschoolers laugh 300 times a day. Aim for double that. Tickle someone, (yourself!), if necessary. This is good!

 

5. Motherhood is a hallowed place because children aren’t commonplace. 

Co-laboring over the sculpting of souls is a sacred vocation, a humbling privilege.

Never forget.

 

6. Homemaking is about making a home, not about making perfection

A perfect home is an authentic, creative, animated space where Peace and Christ and Beauty are embraced.

{Perfect does not equate to immaculate.}

 

7. A pail with a pinhole loses as much as the pail pushed right over. 

A minute dawdled here, a minute scrolling here — they can add up to your life.  Write down your intentions for the day and prayerfully live the intentions and spend your life well by paying attention to the moments — which pays thanks to God.

A whole life can be lost in minutes wasted, small moments missed.

 

8. Believe it: I have all I need for today.  

The needs of our day are great but our God is greater and we call Him Providence because we believe: He is the One who always provides.

{And when God provides, He should be praised, and if God always provides, shouldn’t praise always be on the lips?}

 

9. Slow. Children at play. 

The hurry hurts the kids.

Time’s this priceless currency and only the slow spend it wise enough to be rich.

If we had to actually buy our time, would we spend it more wisely — spend it more slowly?

{God’s Word never says Hurry Up. God words only whisper: Wake Up.}

 

10. Love is patient. 

Parenting’s this gentle way of bending over in humility to help the scraped child up because we intimately know it takes a lifetime to learn how to walk with Him.

Patience. Love always begins with patience and patience is a willingness to suffer.

 

Bonus: 

The art of really celebrating life isn’t about getting it right — but about receiving Grace

The sinners and the sick, the broken, the discouraged, the wounded and burdened — we are the ones who get to celebrate grace!

Regardless of the mess of your life, if Christ is Lord of your life, than we are the celebrants out dancing in a wild rain of grace — because when it’s all done and finished, all is well and Christ already said it was finished.”

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Since I often write about different hymns and other worship music, this guest post by Tsh Oxenreider, who writes at http://simplemom.net, seemed a natural addition.

I received this, by Tsh, through my subscription to (in)courage.me (http://www.incourage.me/2013/08/11-of-the-greatest-hymns-in-church-history.html), in a post called “11 Greatest Hymns in Church History.”

As I started reading, statements kept coming to mind, such as:

“she better not miss …”

“I bet she forgot …”

“… better be there”

And when I got to the end of her list of the “11 Greatest Hymns in Church History” I was in agreement with her choices. And, other than a few seasonal songs of faith (ie. “Silent Night” or “The Old Rugged Cross”) I think her list was complete …

… of course she did miss “Jesus Loves Me” … and if you have been reading my posts you will know how near and dear that one is to my heart. heck, I would make that one #1!

Nonetheless, she has a great assortment of hymns that have stood the test of time! I wonder what will be sung a hundred years from now …

“Plato once said, “Music is… wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” God has created music similar to certain extravagant parts of creation, like the redwoods and the turquoise Mediterranean waters and the northern lights: it begs us to stop everything and pay attention.

And when truly excellent music angles our attention heavenward? It changes you. And when enough lovers of God collectively listen to the words and the music—it can cause a shift in the Body, the Church. It changes us.

There are many, many hymns in thousands of languages throughout the history of the Church (all of which began first as poetry). But there are a few select hymns that have stood the test of time and are with us today because they have changed us as a Body. Their birth shifted our collective trajectory for the better.

Here are some of the greatest hymns to have changed the Church. I’ve included certain versions I love, plus a final playlist at the end.

(Note: I am a native English speaker, so my list of faves falls in that category—but there are countless hymns full of truth in languages all over the world.)

8th century

1. Be Thou My Vision

This humble prayer began as a medieval Celtic poem in the eighth century, but it wasn’t translated into English and put to music until 1905, by Mary Byrne.

Recording by Abigail Zsiga

1225

2. All Creatures of Our God and King

A bubbling brook in a thick forest

St. Francis of Assisi was known as a lover of nature and animals, and he also loved music. He wrote over 60 hymns, including this one in 1225 reflecting his compassion for creation. It caused the Church to stop and recognize the power and significance of nature, and not just human nature.

Recording by Patty Griffin

1674

3. Doxology

Thomas Ken was born in 1637 and orphaned soon after. Raised by his sister and her husband, he became an Oxford scholar and eventually became chaplain to members of royalty before becoming a bishop in the Anglican church. He wrote a manual of prayers in 1674, including a three-verse one simply named Morning Hymn. The doxology (which is simply a combination of two Greek words to mean ‘word of glory’) as we know today is the final verse of this poem, and it’s often sung without music.

Recording by Gungor

1758

4. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Robert Robinson was a rather difficult, headstrong boy, so when he turned 14 in 1749, his mother sent him to London for an apprenticeship (his dad died several years prior). He got in to even more trouble in London, and when he was 17, went with some of his friends to a meeting to make fun of Christians where George Whitfield would be preaching. It moved him deeply, and began his search for God where he finally became a Christian three years later.

He became a pastor, and at age 23, he wrote this poem to accompany one of his sermons, its words full of admittance to his own fleshly nature compared to God’s divine. It was set to music in 1813.

Recording by Sufjan Stevens

1773

5. Amazing Grace

Considered a folk hymn, it was first published in 1779 but originally written for a New Year’s Day sermon in 1773 by John Newton, an English poet. Its focus is on the redemption found only in Jesus—a simple but profound truth during a lot of Church division.

The song actually wasn’t too popular until the American 2nd Great Awakening in the early 19th century, and it then became widely known as an African American spiritual.

Recording by Jadon Lavik

Waterfall dripping off the side of a mountain

1835

6. Just As I Am

When poet Charlotte Elliott was at a dinner party in the early 19th century, an elderly man asked her if she was a Christian. She considered his question inappropriate, but later asked him what he meant. Charlotte eventually decided to follow Christ after talking with him, and wrote Just As I Am in 1835 soon after, remembering his words that she could come to Jesus “just as she was.”

This later became a popular song during Billy Graham’s crusades in the 20th century.

Recording by Nichole Nordeman

1861

7. Holy, Holy, Holy

Reginald Heber’s widow found the words to his poem written in private (we’re not sure when), but it was years later, in 1861, when a publisher found it and asked John Dykes to compose the music. He wrote it in 30 minutes and first named it Nicea, in honor of the First Council of Nicea in 325, the first effort to attain consensus in the Church.

Recording by Sufjan Stevens

1863

8. Before The Throne

Charitie Lees Smith was the daughter of an Irish pastor and his wife, and in 1863, at age 22, she wrote a poem called The Advocate to accompany one of his sermons. She continued to write other poems and eventually had them published in 1867 in a book titled Within The Veil.

Almost every line of her poem is taken directly from different parts of Scripture, making it rich with theology—useful for sermons. We’re unsure when its name was changed and music was written for accompaniment.

Recording by Shane & Shane

1873

9. It Is Well

Abolitionist activist Horatio Spafford had a nice life in the Chicago suburbs with his wife and five children and always welcomed guests in their home. Then in 1870, his 4-year-old died of scarlet fever, and in 1871 the Great Chicago Fire destroyed most of his investments (which were in Chicago real estate).

In 1873, the family wanted to sail to Europe for much-needed time away from their tragedy and to help in a revival, but on the day of departure, Horatio had a last-minute business emergency. He sent the family on ahead and planned to follow on another ship in a few days. But their ship was struck by another ship and sank in 12 minutes—the remainder of his four children died and only his wife was saved and brought to England. He immediately set sail to be with his wife, and as his ship passed the place where his daughters drowned, he penned It Is Well, and music was composed to accompany it in 1876.

Recording by Sara Groves

Wildflowers in a field of green grass

1885

10. How Great Thou Art

Carl Bobert was a Swede was walking home from church and listening to the church’s bells in 1885. A sudden, awe-inspiring storm gripped his attention, and then just as suddenly as it arrived, it subsided to a calm. After watching this display of nature, he went home and penned this poem. He published it in 1886, then it was matched to a Swedish folk tune in 1888, and then translated in to German in 1907, Russian in 1912, and finally English in 1925.

Recording by Martina McBride

1923

11. Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Thomas Chisolm spent most of his life sick, but in a rare bout of health, he went on a missions trip. While traveling, he corresponded with William Runyan, a good friend of his, and they often exchanged poems they had written. Runyan found this poem of Thomas’ so moving that he composed music to accompany it, publishing it in 1923. It wasn’t noticed until several years later by a Moody Bible Institute professor, who requested it be sung in their chapel services.

Recording by Sarah Macintosh

11 great hymns that changed the Church | incourage.me

There are many, many more hymns (heck, I didn’t even touch any of the 6,000 hymns written by Charles Wesley!). They are poetry of our history, and I think it’s important to keep teaching these words and melodies to the next generation, so that we can keep these doctrinally-rich hymns in the Church.

Here’s the playlist, so that you can pipe each of these hymns throughout your home or in your ears today. They’ll help keep your focus heavenward.

Which hymn is your all-time favorite?

{Photos by Tsh}

 

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Often I have written about my desire to not just survive, but thrive (Survive-or-Thrive) in this life. Most recently I shared of that feeling of being  Worn, not just a physical fatigue, but exhaustion that goes to the bones, to the soul.

Recently, as I was reading a post from another (Holly Gerth) I found myself reminded of what I already knew … that all that keeps us busy, is not all for us to be busy in doing.

Isaiah 55:2-3 reminds us … reminds me :

“Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me,
and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me; 
listen, that you may live.”

God has created each of us with gifts, with talents, with passions … with appetites. There are many ways to utilize what God has given. There are many ways to fill our time, our schedules, our days using them, but not every use of them satisfies. Like cotton candy, caramel apples and kettle corn that are eaten at the fair and fill us to the brim, there are many things in our lives that we participate in that only fill our days, but do not nourish us for living.

What God has created and ordained us for requires a different diet.

Holly Gerth, writing on the blog, incourage.me, gives us a good bit of wisdom in her post, Find-What-Feeds-Your-Heart

photo by Dinner Series

“I walk through the door bone weary, head throbbing, searching for the nearest flat surface so I can sink into silence. I feel depleted, drained, tired in a way that makes my heart echo with emptiness.
Another day I walk through the door worn out but not worn down, ready for a nap but also ready to get up and go for it again, smiling even through the physical fatigue that tugs at every part of my body. My energy tank is empty but my heart is full.
One task depleted me–like a sugar crash after too much junk food.
The other filled me up–like a satisfying meal that makes you lean back in your chair and sigh with new strength.
Here’s the catch: both looked like great opportunities on the outside.
But one was not for me.
And the next time it came around, I turned down another helping. That’s hard for us as women {at least it is for me}. Saying “no” to what looks enticing and sweet even though we know it will ultimately not nourish us can be difficult to do. And yet discovering what truly feeds our hearts is essential.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work” {John 4:34}.
What God truly has for us to do on this earth will fill us up deep inside. Oh, yes, we will get tired sometimes along the way. We will have struggles and face obstacles. But what He has for us is not meant to leave us continually empty.
Be careful if you’re working hard “for God” and your heart feels hungry all the time.
Stop and ask Him, “Is this really, truly what You have for me? Have I taken in or taken on something You never intended?”
How do we even know what’s God’s will is?”

To continue reading this encouraging post, by Holly Gerth, click on Find-What-Feeds-Your-Heart.

 

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It’s been a week …

Here I was (again) feeling

low. uninspired. discouraged. uninspiring.

That anxious, overwhelming feeling descended upon my heart.

The ‘to do’ list longer than the hours in my day.

The hindrances to accomplishment seemed to come from every angle this week.

If you believe in Satan, as I do, you will understand when I say he utilized every internal and external force to get under my skin, and infect my being with thoughts of doubt, frustration and discouragement.

So, as I sat down to locate the link I wanted to share today, I was in a mood to ‘just get it done’ so that I could move on to more pressing matters (like laundry).

logoI went to the home page of incourage.me. This is a blog I have just started following, since being drawn in by the fact that one of it’s contributors is Canadian author Ann Voskamp (a little Canadian pride surely won’t diminish our ‘nice’ reputation). The home page featured a different, newer post … I rolled my eyes, knowing I would now have to remember what day’s post I had wanted to share (and I cannot usually remember where I put my car keys).

Then I started to read …

I’m trying to type words onto the screen.

But, there is only blank space staring back at me.

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety — the kind that wraps around your heart with the cloak of stress — you’d understand how it can tether you back.

It keeps you silent.

Keeps you in your home.

And on the hours or days you need to be with others, you may end up retreating from being seen. Or heard.

You are working hard.  You are getting things done.

But, you might feel like I do, unsure if things can really be different.

Whether you can really be known.

This is soul wearying.

Because you may have been hurt, like I’ve been — by words that wound you still — that made you regret that you shared.

Words that made you feel even smaller than how you’re already feeling.

Words that make you feel pressured to get over what you can’t get over.

Words that make you feel more alone, standing on the outside of where you want to be: belonging, loved and understood.

It’s then, at that moment, you and I chance upon a glimpse into our soul.

To the little girl inside us who is broken, feeling cast off and lonely …”

Then I started to weep …

And I remembered something, a song, from my teens, that I would sing,

over

and over

and over again

until

I meant every word I had sung.

And so I sang it,

over

and over

and over again

until

I meant every word I had sung.

If you need to remember, like I did, that

our peace,

our futures,

our very souls

do not have to be controlled by the sufferings (whether from our own hands, or from the hands of the Destroyer) of our lives …

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

Click on :

Walking The Little Girl In You Out Into The World

by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life.

“In the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings,
your noblest dreams
are born
and God’s greatest gifts are given
in compensation for what you have been through.”

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