Friday, October 28, 2011

Ultimate Greatness

I want to encourage you to watch the following video all the way through and then stand amazed by its revelation.

Talk about powerful. I love it when God's Word is punctuated like this. Showing us once again that everything God says in The Bible is true. The Creator of all we see, hear, smell and touch IS worthy to be praised....don't let the stars outpraise you. Let us all join in the Divine Symphony and let our lives sing of His glory and power and grace! HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sharing The Love

This time next week I will be on a cruise ship celebrating 4 years married to my best friend and it has me thinking about just how blessed I blessed I've been. Looking back on our love story I can see the hand of God all over the pages.

8 years ago, in the summer of 2003, I looked into the eyes of my future for the first time. Of course, I had no idea then that this blue-eyed boy from Kentucky would be my husband. But right there on that cruise the middle of the ocean...
our love story began. All love stories are beautiful, but ours is definitely my favourite. :) It's a story I never grow tired of telling. And it's a neverending story that I love more and more as it unfolds.

July 2003, the very first night we met on the cruise :)

God is definitely in the details. Afterall, He is the Creator of love. The Perfector of miracles. The Divine matchmaker. And the King of happy endings. Without Him at the center, our story would read a lot differently. Our relationship is definitely not perfect because there are times when we try to take the pen from God and write the pages ourselves. But there are more moments that I am proud of than not and that is purely by the grace of God! Any good found in us is simply a reflection of God's grace.

11/11/07 our wedding day

Praising the Lord for a lifetime of His grace and 4 wonderful years of marriage with my masterpiece of a husband. We are both blessed to have such amazing friends and family in our lives to share these moments with. We love you all!

most recent photo of us :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Parable Of The Lost Sheep

Jared and I went for a walk this afternoon and came upon a field of sheep. I, of course, stopped to photograph the sheep and tried my best to get one of them to look right at the camera. I whistled, made kissing sounds, clicking sounds and even shouted "Hey sheep!" and not a single one of them looked at me. They just kept eating the grass and not once looked up despite all the noise I was making.

Then a few moments later a man in a simple shirt and blue jeans appeared. He had his hands in his pockets, he didn't make any noises, he just stood there at the gate and all of the sheep instantly looked up at him and began to bleat and baa in his direction as if they were talking to him. They all just stood there staring at him as if they were waiting for him to make a move and talk back. It was then I realized this man was their shepherd. They definitely recognized him and as he walked down the slight hill, they followed him. They knew him. They ignored me because I was a stranger, but they sought after their shepherd...because he was their leader...their protector...their caretaker.

photo I took of the sheep and their shepherd

I thought about this situation and how it relates to my relationship with my Saviour. There have been a lot of negative comparisons to Christians being like "sheep who follow blindly" but those sheep today didn't blindly follow their shepherd. He had gained their trust by proving himself to be a reliable caretaker, a devoted leader, and a true protector. Just as my Saviour has time and time again proven Himself worthy of my praise and pursuit. I do not follow blindly, I follow because I have experienced His goodness and faithfulness enough times to know that He will always lead me in the right direction.

I didn't always follow Jesus though...there was a time in my life where I ignored Him like He was a stranger. Just like those sheep had ignored me. But He never gave up on me, He continued to chase after me. Just like the lost lamb in Luke Chapter 15....

Then Jesus told them this parable:“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

I want you to know today that Jesus is pursuing you right now, today. He wants to bring you home with Him and rejoice over you in Heaven. YOU matter GREATLY to Him. This story from Jesus' own lips reveals that your salvation brings Him divine joy. Having you as part of the heavenly family is something to rejoice about indeed! It's impossible to find our way home without Him. In John 14:6 Jesus tells  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." We are all in need of a Saviour (Isaiah 53:6) and Jesus Christ provided the way to Him. All we have to do is follow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Adventures In Ireland - Part II

Picking up where I left off in our Adventures in Ireland Part I...we drove through the countryside to Avoca Mill Handweavers. A little place that my family and I had been to in my previous visit to Ireland and I wanted to go back for two reason: 1. in hopes to replace a sweater I had gotten there several years ago and 2. to have the BEST roasted red pepper tomato soup ever! I was able to enjoy the soup but they didn't have the sweater I was looking for. It was fun to look around their shop though. We took a tour of the mill and watched the handweavers at work and got an upclose look at the whole process.

Avoca Mill & Cafe

sitting area at Avoca Mill & Cafe

best roasted red pepper soup EVER!

yummy salmon and goat cheese bagel

After our lunch there we headed back to Dublin to stay the remaining days of our a CASTLE! :) We stayed two nights at the Clontarf Castle and the first night we arrived there was a fancy party going on (my guess was a wedding reception) So Jared and I looked out over the balcony and watched all of the ladies in their formal dresses and guys in their tuxes. We also enjoyed dinner at the castle which was delicious. The interior and exterior of the castle was so beautiful. Very memorable.

Clontarf Castle

castle sitting room

Clontarf Castle

Our final day in Ireland we went to the Guinness Brewery where we enjoyed a complimentary pint of Guinness and a panoramic view of Dublin City. Then we drove to Howth Harbor to take some pictures.

Howth lighthouse

Howth Harbor

We ended the night with the Brooke Fraser concert which I already blogged about in a previous post. But in case you didn't read it....the show was awesome! Great end to a great week! All of the photos I shared from our trip were taken with my iPhone camera so I hope you enjoyed traveling around in my pocket with me! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adventures In Ireland - Part I

Being back in Ireland was a dream come true. It is definitely one of my favourite places on earth and we are both so thankful for the opportunity to make some new memories there together. We had an absolutely wonderful time!

We arrived in the evening on Wednesday and after we settled into our hotel we walked to The Brazen Head Pub which is the oldest pub in Ireland and enjoyed a pint of Harp Irish beer, traditional Bangers & Mash and live Irish music. Not a bad start. ;)

Live Irish music at The Brazen Head Pub

Our first full day in Ireland Jared had to give his talk at the conference (the REAL reason we were there) so I was on my own for the day. It rained off and on all day but I did manage to get some pictures and also did some shopping. :) 

Dublin Castle

St. Patrick's Cathedral

pretty scarf I bought at the local street market

The story goes that all of the doors in Ireland are different colors so that when the men come home from the pub they will know which door is theirs by the color. HA!

our first leprechaun sighting

The next day Jared and I headed away from the city and towards the Cliffs of Moher. We booked a night in a little Bed & Breakfast not far from the Cliffs. It was really charming. Her husband is a fisherman so she had everything decorated with a nautical theme. It was quiet and cozy. The perfect retreat. And we had traditional Irish Breakfast in the morning...WOW...was it yummy!

B&B where we stayed the night

Traditional Irish Breakfast at the B&B

We got to see the Cliffs of Moher at sunset and that experience was one that could never be accurately captured on camera but I did take some photos. It was definitely the most memorable part of our trip.

Cliffs of Moher at sunset

Cliffs of Moher at sunset

Jared & I in front of the Cliffs of Moher

I was so at peace here. Looking out at this vast and boundless beauty really put my perspective on God. This verse came to mind: "He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing. He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it. The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke. By his power he churned up the sea.... By his breath the skies become fair.... And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! How then can we understand the thunder of his power?" (Job 26:7-9, 11-14)

The drive through the countryside was beautiful as well. I took a few, what I like to call, "drive by's" from the car window. We had a sunny drive there and then in the morning it was really foggy.

Irish countryside

more Irish countryside

Irish pasture

foggy morning in Ireland

notice we had to drive on the left side of the road....Jared drove like a pro though! :)

Check back for PART II of our adventures in Ireland.....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Only Him

Isn't that the truth?! We can certainly make a mess of things, but only God can turn our mess into a message of hope. Life can really test us can test our patience, our endurance, our character and only God can use those life lessons as a testimony for others. We can be given a trial that seems impossible to win and only God can help us triumph in the face of hopelessness. We may find ourselves victims of evil and left with completely broken spirits but only God can lift us up, mend our hearts and help us claim our crown of victory.

I pray that in whatever you are facing that you remember these words....Only God. He IS the answer. No other answer is necessary and no other answer will suffice. He is the only One who offers a real, lasting solution. And that solution is His grace and love. With it we are free, we are restored, we are loved.

Through Him we have access by faith into this grace in which we firmly and safely stand. Let us rejoice in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. 
Romans 5: 2

Friday, October 14, 2011

Brooke Fraser Live in Dublin

I had the privilege of seeing Brooke Fraser live in Dublin over the weekend and WOW was it an amazing concert. She played so many of her greats and she told stories in between songs so I got to hear her lovely New Zealand accent along with a bit of her humorous side. She's quite funny. But it was her musical performance that left me most impressed. Of course I have to give credit to her band too because they were all talented musicians as well. Even Cary Brothers, who opened up for her at the show, was great. He played a cover of Peter Gabriel's song 'Don't Give Up' that I actually liked better than the original. He was also quite witty in between songs. I enjoy it when artists don't take themselves too seriously.

The energy at her show was fantastic. During her more upbeat songs everyone was dancing, including Brooke herself. She also played a great cover of Coldplay's Violet Hill during her set which was unexpected yet welcomed. One of my favourites she played was actually the title off her latest album called "Flags". The lyrics are so honest, insightful, compassionate and full of hope. It's clear she writes from her heart. Definitely recommend you check her out.

'Flags' song lyrics

Come, tell me your trouble
I'm not your answer
But I'm a listening ear

Reality has left you reeling
All facts and no feeling
No faith and all fear

I don't know why a good man will fall
While a wicked one stands
And our lives blow about
Like flags on the land

Who's at fault is not important
Good intentions lie dormant
And we're all to blame

While apathy acts like an ally
My enemy and I are one and the same

I don't know why the innocents fall
While the monsters still stand
And our lives blow about
Like flags on the land

I don't know why our words are so proud
Yet their promise so thin
And our lives blow about
Like flags in the wind

Oh oh oh oh

You who mourn will be comforted
You who hunger will hunger no more
All the last shall be first
Of this I am sure

You who weep now will laugh again
All you lonely be lonely no more
Yes, the last will be first
Of this I'm sure

I don't know why the innocents fall
While the monsters stand
I don't know why the little ones thirst
But I know the last shall be first
I know the last shall be first
I know the last shall be first

Monday, October 3, 2011

Think Before You Speak

If we all used this mnemonic device as our filter there would be significantly less word wounds and animosity in the world. If we ask ourselves these very simple questions before we speak, we could radically decrease the amount of "suck" in the world....

God knew how difficult it would be for us to watch what we say based on the amount of times this subject is addressed in The Bible. But it's also clear that how we speak to one another is very important because it is mentioned so much throughout God's Word. Here are just a few of the verses that mentions speech...

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. -Ephesians 4:29

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. -Proverbs 21:23

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. -Proverbs 12:18

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. -Proverbs 15:1

Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness. -Psalm 52:2-3

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit -Proverbs 15:4

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. -Proverbs 10:19

Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. -Matthew 15:11

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house. -1 Peter 2:1-5

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. -Matthew 12:35-36

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip strife ceases. -Proverbs 26:20

Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. -Psalms 141:3

We should strive to not just be heard, but to be heralds of truth, love and kindness. It doesn't take much thought or talent to harm and destroy with our words. It does however, take wisdom and strength to be effective and instrumental when it comes to speaking. Controlling our tongue is a daily challenge we all face...myself included. But to quote The Beatles..."in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." I believe this to be true. In my experience, the more you give, the more you get. 

The times where I've lost my cool and said damaging things I lost more than just my cool...I forfeited relationships and respect. But in the times where I've spoken the truth in love - not always instantly, but eventually - I gained respect and harmony. I think if we're honest with ourselves we all want harmony. And peace begins with the individual. We have the choice to seek harmony or to harbor hostility. Each conversation, each interaction challenges us to make our choice. Choose wisely. Speak cautiously.

It's also vital to be reminded that we WILL inevitably slip up...none of us are perfect...therefor seeking forgiveness and extending forgiveness are integral parts of life. Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts the Lord has given us. With it comes understanding. It's a virtue of the brave.