grace thoughts


To be stuck in the now of your existence is to be rendered powerless.

Michelle McKinney Hammond
The Power of Femininity

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img_4016.jpgReality strikes can be frightening, especially when you’re 200 miles away from home, in a bustling, crowded, unfamiliar city with heavy traffic and most of what you’ve known and all you’ve ever cared for were the country towns that didn’t even have a traffic light.

So there I was, trying to navigate through vehicles, hoping to have a chance to turn on to the correct crowded street as soon as I should happen to locate it when fact intercepted on the recesses of my overloaded cranium. “Britt, you have GOT to be the craziest person in the world!” And in crashed reality. I mean, really, exactly who in their right mind would undertake such a venture with little to no preparation time? With a sick feeling ever growing more acute in the pit of my stomach I calculated the extensiveness of this craziness.

  • My older sister took 3 months to practice one song on the piano. She performed it live (at her wedding no less) and still managed to mess up once (oops, the secret’s out now). I had two days to practice for two CDs, and now here I was on my way to a studio to record piano background for seventeen songs.
  • For six of the songs I had the words and a rough sketch of the chord implantation—penciled in at 11 PM the night before. The other eleven I would have to wing, relying on nothing but my ear.
  • I had the grand total of the hours in a mere afternoon to accomplish the recordings, and in two different studios.
  • I had never recorded before and had no idea what to expect, other than a producer telling me to do it again and again and again and again.
  • Green Bay was a large, unfamiliar town… And rush hour was taking on new, fresh meanings.
  • My one passenger and directional navigator (my younger sister) was having a bad day when it comes to retaining wits around her. How many times can a person look for their sunglasses in a day—especially when they happen to be perched on their own head? Could I really trust her?
  • And just to top it all off, I had but a few hours of restless sleep the night before, dreaming about the CD projects being fouled, getting in an accident, and everything else that was sure to happen.

Let’s just say I was trying not to freak out too bad here. I needed to keep hold of my cool, calm and collected composure because my mom was already worrying herself sick about me. It wasn’t helping that my sister had left part of her brain still sleeping on her pillow back home.

It was a moment of sheer desperation.

God, please don’t ask me what I’m doing, because I sure don’t know. Don’t tell me I’m crazy—I realize that, and can’t do much about it anymore. I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know where this is going, I don’t know how things will end up. All I know is that I’m at the end of my own resources, my rope is fraying and I’m pretty sure I’m going under. I thought You were the One putting me up to this anyway, and I jumped in feet first figuring You were going to catch me. I’m doing this for You. I want You to be glorified even if I manage to fall on my head. Please give me grace to accept and deal with the failure that’s sure to ensue.

Not the most saintly, spiritual, faith-filled prayer ever prayed. But that’s exactly how I felt, and since God knows my heart I figured it wouldn’t work very well to pretend I was full of confidence in this undertaking. I have to admit, it did help me feel a wee little tiny bit better.

Arriving at the first studio, the musicians I was playing for introduced me to the producer as Stephanie. We were off to a good start. For goodness sake, nobody can keep my name straight! “Um actually, I’m Brittney. Nice to meet you.”

A little over an hour later the producer deemed it a done and excellent deal while the musicians were complaining of facial muscle aches from smiling. They declared it was way better than they even expected and were thrilled with the outcome.

What? God, did you hear that? This is really done? This was actually a success? I mean, I believe in miracles and everything, but this was outstanding! Did this really happen?

The next studio was a little more challenging, with equipment that wasn’t as high-tech as the previous one and I’m pretty sure the ill-fitting, un-adjustable headphones put a few extra creases in my ears and a couple dents in my skull. I didn’t so much as have a sheet with chords to follow either and was playing strictly by ear. I had to do more retakes than at the previous studio but thanks to technology and the ability to edit and “punch in” (a producer term) I didn’t need to be there until midnight just for the first song.

It wasn’t long after 4 PM that we were walking out of that studio, with even some mandolin recording (cheers to the girl who can’t keep track of her sunglasses!) for three songs.

I was home before 9; having spent around 450 miles on the road, 4 ½ hours in studios, and dinner out thanks to Bud and Tom. My mind was reeling with the tangible evidence of God’s hand in my entire day—from holding the steering wheel, keeping me awake, to guiding my fingers on the keyboard.

The moral of the story is, never underestimate the outcome of crazy moments with God.

::Photos of the Day::

img_2480.jpgIf God’s goodness is looked for primarily in turns of fortune then the verdict on his heart towards us will always be pending on a new set of facts. We will, then, become either a judge (“How can God be good, if he let my son die?!”) or a bargainer (“God, I’ll know you are good if you bring my husband back to me”). God does not seem to show his goodness to those who peer through the lens of a skeptical examiner or a demanding negotiator. The Evil One uses the pain and confusion of a fallen world to shadow doubt over God’s goodness.

Allender
Bold Love

dsc06580.jpgNoise. It’s a trademark of our culture, a signet of our lives. Whispers can be hard to be heard over the blare of society. There’s a lot of demand out there. Insistent shouts increase to an ear-piercing decibel, and pressures to do this and be that can catch us up in a vortex that is never satisfied.

In a world of so much noise, the voice of God is just a whisper. You know, it’s amazing how much His whisper can stand out. It’s like a violet blooming between the cracks in a sidewalk. The hard and ugly surface is broken by a simple little beauty and splash of sunlight.

His whispers are precious. When we’re caught up in the throws of life, we forget to listen for Him. Sometimes our over-stressed minds make God out to be a demanding taskmaster. If you’re laboring to fulfill the pressures and demands the world is placing on you, you just may be tuning in to the wrong station.

  • A shout demands; His whisper offers.
  • A shout invokes stress; His whisper brings peace.
  • A shout insists on its own way; His whisper invites a way in.
  • A shout provokes one to labor and toil; His whisper grants a place of rest and sweet repose.
  • A shout carries in its sound waves a threat of rejection; His whisper carries a secret of acceptance.
  • A shout suggests anger, animosity, hate; His whisper expresses His love.

Go to Him, all of you who labor to fulfill the demands others place on you, and He will give you rest. Listen for that still, small voice.

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Okay, so I had to admit I was having a really bad day. One of those days that really…… well, I won’t even bother to use the word that comes to mind; let’s keep this G-rated!

It all started when the rudely cheerful sun started peeking through my east-facing window after a night of restless slumbers. Sleepy and hating that ugly beady-eyed thing looking at me in the mirror I hopped in a hot shower, knowing how fresh and clean I would be in a matter of minutes. Just as I was reaching for the soap bar the water pressure completely died. So there I was, cold, wet, shivering, and unclean. Grumpy? Totally. This stupid water issue had been an ongoing thing the whole stupid week, and I can’t even take a whole stupid shower this stupid morning.

And then the coffee tasted burnt, and I couldn’t concentrate when I tried to read my Bible, and the house was a mess and there was a pile of laundry to do.

So there we were, off to a bad start. All of us—me, myself and I. And thence commenced a day filled with cancelled plans, changed plans, last-minute plans, stupid plans.

And what was my problem? As Nicole Whitacre so aptly put it in her article, GirlTalk: Handling Our Feelings,

I follow[ed] my feelings around in circles, forgetting that I am the owner and the leash should be on my feelings instead.

Ah! So what’s in control? The unsteady circumstances of life? Get real, Britt, whatever happened to perspective? The bright side? The optimism? The joy that is set before us?

I really ought to know better, especially after reading the book of Proverbs recently and reading all those verses about the contentious woman, the brawling woman, the angry woman…. I would die before I would admit I am one of those. Yet, when I let my feelings have control and let the problems of my life run me ragged, I think I know just where I’ll wind up. I really would hate to have my loved ones think sentimental thoughts about a corner of the rooftop when I’m around.

So come on, chill out. Go get a nice warm cup of coffee, (who cares if it sat on the burner too long and you have to exercise the gag reflex?), catch your breath and look at the bright side of your situation. Might want to name a few blessings while you’re at it. Don’t forget that nobody likes to hang out with the long-faced sour pussycats. And when you’re a child of God, you know better, and you have the power to change.

And really, each of us has a choice when it comes to facing life. Either I get a grip and grin, or life will get a grip on my grin. What will it be?

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Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak, but He is strong.

A child’s song. Simple melody, simple lyrics, yet the most profound message.

It may not have complicated chord patterns or Latin phraseology. Orchestral accompaniment is not necessary for it to reach its full potential. One doesn’t need to be exceptionally talented or musically refined in order to sing the melody. The beauty of this song is most emphasized when lisped from the lips of a 3 year-old.

It is a timeless song of profound truth and clarity. Jesus Loves Me. Take a moment to think of those three simple words. Jesus loves me.

It’s about that moment in time when He breathed into your nostrils the breath of life. Why did He do that? Because He created you. When He looked upon you, He said, “It is good.” When you’re created in the Image of the Creator, you know you are of much worth to Him. He doesn’t make junk. He loves you.

Jesus Loves Me.

It’s about that dark hour in history. In the midst of excruciating pain and misery, screaming mobs, bleeding hands and feet when the thought of you loomed above the hate and noise. The immense love for you made the cost of redemption worth every drop of blood.

Jesus Loves Me.

There is no heart so big, no romance more thrilling, no love so great, no love song more sweet than the immense truth behind the one song, Jesus loves me. Don’t ever forget that. When tempted to despair, declare with all the faith in your heart, “Yes! Jesus loves ME!” See how long you can wallow in the pit of depression when you hum this song under your breath.

I don’t care who you are, there’s not a one of you beyond the reach of the greatest Valentine of them all. Get it in your head that He loves you.

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Choosing love will open spaces of immense beauty and joy for you, but you will be hurt. You already know this. You have retreated from love countless times in your life because of it. We all have. We have been and will be hurt by the loss of loved ones, by what they have done to us and we to them. Even in the bliss of love there is a certain exquisite pain: the pain of too much beauty, of overwhelming magnificence. Further, no matter how perfect a love may be, it is never really satisfied…In both joy and pain, love is boundless.

–May
The Awakened Heart

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