Monday, October 18, 2010

broken into beautiful

As I sit here, looking at the blank page before me, I realize that I have no idea how to write about this topic in a way that will do it justice.  So often when this realization comes to me, I give up, but not today.  I may not be able to write eloquently, but today, I am going to share what is on my heart anyway.

I read a question the other day, on one of my favorite blogs, about how God speaks to us as individuals.  The author of this blog asked her readers to think about the ways that God has spoken to us and the first answer that came to my mind was music.  I have always loved to sing, and even though my best efforts are simply a "joyful noise,"  I still find myself, almost unconsciously, singing the words to a hymn when I am feeling empty and I realize that it is no coincidence that a song just popped into my mind.  It is a gift from my Father, who wants me to focus on Him rather than on my circumstances.  This shouldn't surprise me, the Bible tells me that God hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:3)

Knowing that music is powerful in the lives of many Christians is part of why I enjoy singing in the choir.  Having the opportunity to praise God through song is only part of why I sing.  One of my favorite parts of singing in the choir is getting to see the faces of the congregation while we sing.  Sometimes, you can look at them and know that they aren't just listening to us, they are worshiping the Father with us as we sing.  It has nothing to do with how well we present the song, it is simply that the words resonate with them and point them to the Savior.  We experienced this true worship yesterday morning with a song from our Easter musical, Broken Into Beautiful.  The song was sung by my friend, Amy, with a little ~very little~ help from the choir and it felt as if the congregation was collectively holding their breath while she sang the words that seemed to touch every heart in the sanctuary.

She's smiling on the outside, but she's hurting on the inside,
it's hard just living anymore, and the shadows she has clung to,
painful things that she has been through have left her feeling worthless, Lord.

I have loved this song from the first time I heard it.  We read this woman's story in Luke 7:36-50.  She is the one who anointed Jesus' feet with ointment and wiped them with her hair, but this story is so much more than just a story

It is the reality that has been experienced by every person who has come to the feet of the Savior asking forgiveness and accepting the love He offers. 

The first few times I listened to the song I couldn't help but think of the line the shadows she has clung to, painful things she has been through have left her feeling worthless, Lord ... this is personal, the shadows that I have clung to ... have left me feeling worthless and alone at times and, like the woman in the song, I know how to put on the smile for everyone to see.  Of course, I am not unique and thankfully the story doesn't end with the fake smiles and feelings of failure.

But You change worthless into precious, guilty to forgiven,
hungry into satisfied, empty into full and all the lies are shattered
and we believe we matter when You change broken into beautiful.

Again, I am not unique in my personal connection with this song.  As I looked out over the congregation as Amy sang, I could see that same connection on many of the faces.  I know the story behind some of those faces ... each story is different and yet they are all the same when they are poured out at the feet of Jesus.

We live with accusations, sometimes heavy expectations
that tell us that we can never measure up. 
 And yet You repeat with mercy and in Your eyes we are
worthy, until at last we see how much we're loved.

But You change worthless into precious, guilty to forgiven,
hungry into satisfied, empty into full, and all the lies are shattered
and we believe we matter, when You change broken into beautiful.


I found this video on YouTube if you would like to listen to the song ...
don't forget to pause the blog music!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

our day at the fair

Today was our day to work at the MS State Fair in the Operation Christmas Child booth.  I have done this for several years and always enjoy talking to the people as they come through.  The traffic seemed to be a little less this year, possibly because the weather was really pretty (even if it was way too hot to be called "fair weather").  This year was also different because we took the kids with us and four hours is too long to expect them not to get bored.  Still, it wasn't too bad, Ronnie and I just took turns taking the kids around the Trade Mart to look at the various booths and exhibits.

Following our shift in the booth, we took the kids walking around the fair.  I must admit to not being a fan of the fair ... I don't like crowds, I don't like to ride the rides, and I don't like paying hugely inflated prices for greasy food cooked in places of questionable sanitation.  Okay, I know, I'm a party pooper!  The kids wanted to play games or ride something, but we didn't do any of that.  We did watch a circus act perform ... we all enjoyed the family of trapeze artists and the guys on motorcycles inside the great big metal ball were pretty cool in a "man I hope they don't kill themselves" way.

The highlight of the day, at least for LB and me, was getting to see our arts and crafts displayed.  LB couldn't wait to see if she had gotten any blue or red ribbons and was thrilled with the results.  She entered four items in the arts and crafts youth division and received 3 blue ribbons and 1 red ribbon.  I think she was most proud of the blue ribbon on her crocheted scarf.  I only entered two arts and crafts items, a scarf and a decoupaged clipboard.  We both entered jars of tomatoes, pickles, and green beans.  Our tomatoes received blue ribbons, while the others got red ribbons.

hers is the purple scarf hanging behind her

I have to confess that I underestimated how much fun it would be to see all the items displayed with ribbons hanging from them.  I had been satisfied with how much fun LB and I have had making these items, working together with our Keepers at Home group.  But, seeing the results of our hard work and picking out the things we knew had been made by other members of our group, was a perfect way to cap off the fun of making the items.  I am feeling pretty inspired right now to work harder next year to have more items to enter.  I might as well find my own inspiration because my daughter is already chomping at the bit to get busy on things for next year and even JW is thinking that this might not be such a "girlie" thing after all.


my scarf
snowmen made by some of our Keepers friends

LB's wreath

my decoupaged clipboard

LB's decoupaged wooden shopping bag ~
she has done a couple of these as birthday gifts for her friends.

LB's woven paper basket ~ we were both surprised that she got a blue ribbon
since she has used the basket a lot since she made it and it looks a little worn.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

boys and sticks


I'm linking up with Katharine again this week with a Thursday is for Simple Things post.  Choosing something simple this week was extremely easy.  We have spent the last two Thursdays at the Clinton Nature Center with our home school group.  I am planning an entire post about what the kids have done there over on my other blog, but here I just want to share a couple of pictures of the boys and their favorite collectors' items from the nature center.

JW and his friend J

D looking tough with his stick

D and Max "working"
 One stick and a little boy's imagination can create many useful tools:
walking stick
building material
fuel for a fire

It really is simple:
boys and sticks really do go together.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

appreciation and clarification

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the comments and e-mail regarding my earlier post.  Just knowing that so many of you understand my emotions and are praying for us helps tremendously.

I do want to point out that, in my overly dramatic rant, I may have made our situation seem worse than it really is.  Nothing actually changed today, except that we now have an even greater confirmation that the opportunity for advancement is virtually non-existent as long as he continues to work for his current employer.

We aren't sure exactly what we need to do with this new information, if anything.  For now, we will continue to move forward and trust that the hand of God is leading us ...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

keeping it real

I'm not even going to try and fake anything today.

I am frustrated. 

I am angry. 

Mostly, I am discouraged.

For nearly eleven years I have watched my husband go to work almost every week day.  He works hard.  He doesn't complain (at least not at work).  He is the only one left of the three people (other than his boss) who worked in the department when he started.  They never replaced the other two after they quit.  Do the math ... three positions, one person doing the work.  The only reason the company could get away with this is because Ronnie came in and quickly realized that the work could be done much more efficiently if they used the computers that were already sitting on their desks for something other than e-mail.

Over the last several years the company has changed hands several times.  Unfortunately, one of the co-owners was the infamous thief of World Com.  About the time Bernie got his fingers in the pie, things started going sour and what was once a good company to work for has become a place for the "good-ole-boy" system to thrive.  The honest, hard working guys twist in the wind while others manage to work little, talk a lot, and still get promoted.

This isn't the way it is supposed to work ... at some point in time, hard work is supposed to be rewarded.

But, today is not that day.

Yes, I am frustrated and I am not feeling much like the kind of person that I profess to be. 

My heart is heavy as I feel the war inside of me.

I know the answer, but to be completely honest, I am not ready to give up my anger yet.

I suppose, it would be better to keep this venting of frustration to myself, but I am sharing because I am asking you to pray for us as we make decisions about our future.  We seem to have reached a crossroads and in all honesty, we don't know which direction to choose.