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My Christmas List of Favorite Christmas Songs

I personally don’t start listening to Christmas music until the holiday is right upon us.  There are a few songs that are my favorite, so I thought I’d list my top five, hope you enjoy them as well.

#5  Little Drummer Boy – Bob Segar

I love the soul that Bob Segar adds to this song and have always liked this song.  When I hear this song, I am reminded of the excitement I’d feel watching the Claymation Christmas special of The Little Drummer Boy, along with all the other cheesy Claymation specials.

#4 Do They Know It’s Christmas – Band Aid

I love this song because it reminds me that they world outside of my own are in need of way more than I am.

“There’s a world outside your window And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears”

#3 Away in a Manger

This was one of my favorite songs to sing as a kid because I actually knew all the lyrics, I had to memorize them for a Christmas special one year in church.

“Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay, close by forever and love thee I pray.”

#2 Silver Bells – Andy Williams

Every time I hear this song, it reminds me of shopping downtown with my Mom and grandmother.  The city was busy with bundled up people going in and out of buildings, the stores were decorated with all the holiday flare, and the Christmas lights downtown shined upon the streets. I remember it being a time of excitement and people seemed genuinely cheerful and excited themselves.  This was a time when the holiday didn’t seem as commercialized as it is now.

#1 The First Noel – Bing Crosby

I loved hearing this song on the radio, Bing is the best one to sing it ever.  This has always been my favorite.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2014 in Lists

 

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I Don’t Know Any Better

notresspassing

Today, I’ve been reflecting on pride and how each of us can easily get entangled in it.  I dove into Proverbs 16 and first went to verse 18-19, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”  After I read those verses, I decided to read the whole chapter.  It’s full of wisdom, of course, but how often do I actually follow instruction and allow for God to lead?  The chapter reminds me that my plans aren’t Gods plans.  I think I know best and actually end up ruining things or missing the mark.  I know that God knows best, but that doesn’t mean that I always trust Him.  I am a scheduler, I have my day planned out in my head, what I’m going to do first and the order I’m going to do things in.  I don’t know why I won’t stop being that way because my plans get wrecked most of the time.  I kick, scream, cuss, and resist when things don’t go my way.  God probably looks at me and just shakes His head and laughs.  God’s plans are greater than mine, instead of throwing a fit; I need to follow the current of change.  There’s a reason He’s switched my itinerary around.   He may be protecting me against something; he may be leading me in the path of someone I wouldn’t have met if I kept my schedule, or he may be trying to teach me something.

Any way you look at it, simply put, I don’t know any better than God.  In Proverbs 16, I’m reminded that God does have a plan for me and he wants me to seek him for instruction and guidance.  He wants me to trust and follow him, even when it goes against the grain of what I want.  If I think I know better than God, that’s pride.  That’s saying, “God, you don’t know what you’re talking about, let me handle this.” When I follow my own path, I get in trouble and I really screw things up.  If I’m off the path, I’m walking into unprotected areas; it’s like climbing the fence when the warning sign is visible.  It clearly says to keep out, but if I decide to not listen, I have to be prepared to face the consequences.

When I was a kid, if I saw a “No Trespassing” sign, I completely ignored it.  It tempted me to go over the boundaries.   I wanted to push my limits and see what I was supposed to stay away from.   I climbed fences with barbed wire.  I propped up electric fence lines to slide myself under the lowest line, just to brag that I crossed over.  I jumped over the cow fence to get the bulls to chase me.  I loved danger, but it almost got me in big trouble a lot of times.  One time, I remember an older man came out with a shotgun and started shooting in mine and my cousin’s direction.  We took off running and hid in some high grass until he left.  A lot of the times I stepped in cow manure running from the bulls, I’d have to try and clean it off my shoes before I got home because mom got rather upset when I messed up my clothes.  I did some pretty stupid things just to get a thrill.  That’s how sin is; it entices you to just try something you are clearly told not to do.  The first sin recorded was when Eve didn’t listen to God’s instruction and ate from the tree of knowledge anyway.  She wanted to know what it was like and then we all know what happened from there.  She decided to detour from God’s path and ended up regretting her decision.  I’ve had too many moments like that in my life, if we are all honest, everyone has.  Satan’s greatest weapon is pride which leads to temptation, that savory perfume that pulls us toward failure.  How do we correct that?  We admit that we were wrong and we go back in the right direction and follow God’s path.  It hurts to admit failure, but it hurts worse to continue in it, hide it and get trapped by our stupid pride.  When we admit our mistakes, we are humbling ourselves and recognizing that we don’t know better than God.  Humility is the sweet fragrance from our Heavenly Father, that enables us to do an about face and rebuild our relationship with Him.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Life, Spiritual Reflections

 

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Choose your own Adventure

chooseadventureI used to read the “Choose your own Adventure” stories from the library when I was a kid. I liked the fact that I could read along the same storyline and see how one decision could tailspin the story into another path or series of adventures. Sometimes, I would get aggravated if I chose something that would end drastically or abruptly. But, I was satisfied that I could return to the page before the decision and change the outcome with the other choice. There are times in my own life that I wish that I could’ve done the same with my personal story. Are there particular chapters in your journey that you would’ve chosen to erase if you could?

I imagine the author of the adventure series has the perfect plot laid out first before he adds the side stories. He probably ultimately hopes the reader will pick the right storyline that makes the greatest adventure. But instead, he gives the reader the free will to decide which path to take.

When I used to read the series, I often picked what I knew would bring a bad outcome. I did it because I wanted to push the limits of the story. Sometimes, I was just ready for the story to end because of boredom. I’ve done the same thing in my own life. I’ve come upon decisions and picked the wrong one, fully knowing it would be a bad choice. I did it out of curiosity, rebellion, or selfishness. I did it to see if I somehow could change the outcome, even though the Author already knew where the outcome would lead.

Thinking through all of this, I’m reminded of this passage, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

There are other times in my life that I let fear of the unknown stall me on a page in life. I’d lay the book down and sit down on the journey. I wanted to choose the safe path when Jesus wanted me to pursue His adventure. He reminds me that He is the author of my faith to step into those unknown pages. I need to hang onto the next word as he writes it and trust him to make it all end with an outcome that I could never do on my own. Why? Because he is also the finisher of that faith. He already knows where the path leads and he’s excited for me to follow that path instead of me choosing my own. He knows the beauty at the end of the story. And those chapters I messed up, no longer matter because of his grace and love. He uses them to remind me of where I came from and to be cautious with veering from his lead. Ultimately, if I want the best story, then I need to I look to Him to lead me through it.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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“Eat Your Veggies”

veggies

I’ve always loved eating but there are certain things that my body starts to crave if I deprive it of good food.  Often times I’ll just grab a quick fix through the drive thru of a fast food restaurant or I’ll fill up on junk food.  It fills me up with empty calories and I’m not satisfied.  I’m not satisfied with my meal until I include veggies in my diet.

Now, when I was a kid there were certain vegetables that I detested.  Asparagus and brussel sprouts were on my least wanted list.  When my mom put those veggies on my plate, I had to scheme of ways to remove them from my plate other than putting them in my mouth.  My mom expected a clean plate at the end of a meal.  She would look at me and say, “Now eat your veggies, they are good for you.”  I disagreed, so when she turned her back I conveniently unfolded my napkin and quickly slid the veggies onto the thin paper.  Then I’d grab another to wipe my mouth and cover the veggies with that napkin, ball it up and throw it into the trash in one quick sweep.  She’d turn around and smile and tell me that I did good, until she caught me.  Then I had to figure out other methods of not eating my veggies.

I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that I do that a lot with things that are really good for me.  Instead of embracing things that are healthy for my body, I’ll look for a quick fix instead or a way to just push it away for awhile.  That happens with my spiritual life too.  I’ll get busy and don’t take time to pray or read the bible.  I run out of time or don’t make time to do what my body needs me to do.  I’ll read a quick devotion and expect that to fill me, but then I walk around feeling empty.  Then I’ll finally slow down, sit down and savor the word.  When I do that I get satisfied, not just filled up.  God does that a lot with me on all aspects of my life.  I’ll sit at His table and He’ll put a plate before me.  I’ll look down at the plate and see some things that I question Him on.  “I don’t know, that doesn’t look very good to me,” I’ll think.   God looks at me and says, “It’s good for you, eat it.”  I’ll slowly put it in my mouth and chew.  Sometimes it may not taste the best going down, but in the end it helps my body function better.  Other times I taste it and immediately my opinion is changed.  I see that you can’t judge a veggie by what it looks like on your plate.

Those veggies may not look appealing but they give you the vitamins your body needs.  So remember, don’t snarl your nose up at what doesn’t look good in your eyes because oftentimes that’s exactly what the body needs to survive and thrive.

“Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.  For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”  Psalm 107:8-9 NLV

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Immanuel, He Never Leaves

My God never leaves me.

He watches me slowly fall to sleep in the stillness of the night.

Sometimes, He will sprinkle thoughts and dreams in my subconscious

To remind me that He is still there.

 

I awaken to the busyness of the day

Yet, on those morning drives, He whispers my name.

He is busy alongside me, doing things that I’m unmindful of.

I smile because His presence gives me peace.

 

How could I ever push away His unconditional love?

He hears my worries, He sees my stubbornness, and He tastes my tears.

He smells my doubts and feels the uncertainty that attacks my mind.

And He still loves me.

 

I pause for a moment

And feel His arms surround me.

His security is ever present.

I embrace Him, returning the love that He freely gives.

 

God is with me,

I’m never alone.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Poetry

 

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A Sappy Story

Since I’m around teens quite a bit with the youth group, love or being in love is a common topic. I remember being their age and falling in love with just about any guy that would give me a second look. I would fantasize about them picking me up on a motorcycle and riding off into the sunset. I was infatuated with the character Bo Brady from “Days of Our Lives,” so that’s where that fantasy came from. The motorcycle dream never came true and all of my teen romances were pretty disastrous. When I was in college I dated off and on and really gave up on finding that perfect love. I truthfully didn’t think I would find someone who would stay by my side and had pretty much sworn off the idea of marriage.

Then I met Dave and all that changed. It wasn’t love at first site, but it was a love that grew quickly. The thing with Dave was, he wasn’t who I pictured I would be with, but his heart was what I was looking for. Our early conversations were over my head, he would talk about space and geeky things. They were things I was never really interested in, but I came to appreciate them and learn about them. He was a dreamer, just like me but in a very different way. His logical mind met my mischievous one and some type of memorable experience always ensued.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that things don’t always happen exactly the way you think they will. Your dreams might come true, but it may be with someone you never really pictured them to be with. Dave really is my soul mate. Our marriage hasn’t been perfect, but he has stuck by me and I’ve stuck by him. Our love has become seasoned through the years and I’m very grateful to have him by my side. He really is a dream come true.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Life

 

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Calling Mercy

Have you ever played the game “Mercy,” on the playground? I’m sure it’s not allowed on school playgrounds anymore, due to the true brutality of the game. It’s a game of enduring pain where both participants grasp hands and try to bend the other one’s back until the weaker one yells Mercy!! I remember playing against the boys on the playground, trying to prove that girls were just as tough as boys. Sometimes I would win, but other times I wouldn’t. I really didn’t like to lose, but sometimes you just had to give in because you didn’t want a broken finger, hand, or wrist.
Thinking back to the game, it made me think about the word mercy and how much mercy God has shown me. I know there have been times in my life when I was close to snapping or breaking and I’d end up calling out for help, for mercy. It was in those times that I would admit that I was not as strong or as independent as I wanted to be. God in his wonderful nature immediately extends mercy to a mere human crying out and giving up. Mercy is defined as compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm. God has the upper hand and He could quickly destroy me or you, but he doesn’t. He has compassion on us, a compassion that we can try to understand but never be able to achieve within the true character of who He is. But, in order to receive the fullness of mercy, I think you have to see the depth of it and accept the need for it with total surrender.

Mercy comes when you come to the end of yourself.

“Give thanks to The Lord, for his mercy endures forever.” Psalm 118:1

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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