Wednesday, November 11, 2009

picture of feet, cc via flickr, laughingmonk

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What Now, God?

My family is dealing with a ton of spiritual warfare. Not much more that I can say about that. I'm feeling weary, and not up to posting a ton.
But I ran across this quote earlier, and wanted to share it. It was a total God-thing, and exactly what I needed.

And earlier, a few songs were in my head, helping to drown out the lies.

Before the Throne of God Above:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

By Your Side:

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching?
As if I'm not enough?
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run?
To where will you run?

I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands at my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

And I, I love you
And I want you to know
That I, I'll love you
I'll never let you go

In Christ Alone:

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

It'll get better, but for now, it's hard. We have a promise, though. Many promises, actually. But the one that comes to mind is Hebrews 13:5.

picture of girl, cc Nathan Csonka, via flickr

Hebrews 13:5 picture, T.C, used with permission

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Of Spiders and Failure

I have a confession to make: I'm afraid of spiders. To me, a spider's appearance is threatening, and seeing them makes me anxious. They have a habit of falling on me in the middle of the night, when it's dark, and I can't see what's coming next.

Lately, God has shown me that failure is a lot like those spiders. Its appearance is threatening, and seeing it makes me anxious, it's something that I want to avoid at all costs. It also has a habit of dropping on me, when I can't see what's coming next.

But there's another similarity. I may be so afraid of what might happen that I become paralyzed with the fear. Instead of getting up and removing the spider, I stay in bed, staring at the ceiling, and instead of going out of my comfort zone, I freeze, afraid that I will fail. That's something that the enemy loves. When I'm so scared that I don't do anything, I'm not living for God. He says to be strong and courageous, and he says it multiple times. He says to not worry, and not to be anxious about anything. He says that he'll be with me, always.

There's something else that I've learned too. When that spider finally does fall, it's scary and uncomfortable for a little, but then I brush it off and go on with my life. It's the same with failure. In the end, it doesn't matter that I've failed, it's more important that I did. That I wasn't paralyzed with the fear, that I attempted to do something, and risked failure. I love the way Theodore Roosevelt said it:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

At the end of my life, I'd much rather say "God, I've risked failure so many times, and failed many, but I've lived every day for you" than "I never failed, God" And, spiders have helped me to realize this.

Original picture of spiderweb, cc, via flickr BodHack, modified via picnik

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Conversations Through Music: Part One

I've always heard God through music. Usually, it's contemporary Christian (Tenth Avenue North, Casting Crowns, Building 429, etc.) Lately though, God has been speaking to me through hymns. They may seem out-of-date, or archaic, but they have great truth. They were written by fallible people, who had daily struggles, and had questions. Somewhat like the Psalms. (which deserve an entire post to themselves, maybe more).
Over the next few days, I will share my favorites, and the way that I interpret them.

You Raise Me Up (this is technically not a hymn, but still has that feel, to me)

When I am down, and oh, my soul so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come, and sit awhile with me

Weary. What a perfect word to describe the way I've been feeling. Not depressed, or even stressed, but weary. The word burden also describes the feeling, and brings to mind what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
I love the imagery of literally sitting with God, too.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up, to more than I can be

Mountains doesn't just mean physical mountains. To me, it means anything big that tries to separate you from God.(notice, I say tries to, 'cause God says that nothing can separate him from us) . In Matthew 17:20, Jesus says "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." What if he wasn't talking about a real, tangible mountain, but a metaphorical one (e.g the mountain of anxiety or fear, or a lack of self-confidence).

With the idea of walking on water, it reminds me of the Casting Crowns song Voice of Truth
"Oh, what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes to climb out of this boat I'm in, onto the crashing waves. To step out of my comfort zone, into the realm of the unknown, where Jesus is, and he's holding out his hands. But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me. Reminding me of all the time I've tried before and failed." It's scary, to get out of a safe, comfortable boat, and try to walk on turbulent, rough water, but it's worth it.

I love the imagery of "standing on shoulders". For me, this is something that a Daddy does, to help his daughter (or son) to see, 'cause there are obstacles in the way. It was also comforting, at the end of a long day, to have my Daddy carry me. I may be a little big for my earthly Daddy to carry me, but my heavenly Daddy will always be able to, if I let him.
The "more than I can be" means that with God, I can accomplish so much more than I could without him, like what Paul says in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength".

sheet music, cc, via flickr caljuggler, modified via picnik

Friday, June 19, 2009


Lately I've been having trouble sleeping, so I pull out a notebook and write. A couple of nights ago, I wrote this (it's a song, but you don't have the tune, so just read it.)


Why? Why do I think that I can do this alone? You'd think by now I'd realize I can't. Stubbornly I cling to my independence and pride, refusing to try to let go.

But still you try to get through to me. The still small voice that echoes inside. And even though I cover my ears,I can hear you. It's hard to let go of this pride.

Why? Why do I only see flaws when I see me? Why can't I see you shining inside? Instead I hear the lies of the enemy. I can't get them out of my mind.

You're still trying to get through to me. The still small voice that echoes inside. As much as I want to see what you see, it's hard to stop hearing these lies.

Why? Why is life so hard for me? Even when you're right by my side. I'm stumbling constantly, even when you're with me. And I can't stop falling in this mud

I think you finally got through to me. The still small voice that echoes inside. And even though I'm lying facedown on uneven land, you're always there to grab my hand.

And you're the still small voice that echoes inside. And you're the hand that pulls me back on my feet. And you have gone before me, you have a plan for me. And you're always there to carry me.
Yeah, you're the still small voice that echoes inside. And you're the hand that pulls me back on my feet. And you have gone before me, you have a plan for me. And you're always there to carry me.

I feel like God was taking me on a journey through this song (as corny as it sounds).
It's amazing that God can talk to us and produce beautiful results from stressful days and sleepless nights.

sheet music, cc, via flickr caljuggler, modified via picnik

Welcome to the Branch and the Clay. You have stumbled across the musings, ponderings, ideas, thoughts, feelings, desires, heartaches, and dreams (or lack thereof) of me, the branch and clay, as I walk alongside my Creator, Savior, Father, Vine, Potter, and Friend.

These verses explain the origin of the name.

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing...But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.
John 5:4, 5, 7, Message Bible

Still, God, you are our Father. We're the clay and you're our potter: All of us are what you made us.
Isaiah 64:8, Message Bible