Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So Long 2013: Lift my Life Up (Tuesday Tunes)

As I was reflecting on the past year I wanted to come up with a song that could put it in words how I feel. There are so many that God has used in my heart over the past year or so so I think that I am going to start a temporary "Tuesday Tunes" series to blog about favorite songs. For today though I found a post that I'd started a couple of months ago about a song that I heard on the radio and loved. Below is that post, with some additions I've made today.

A few weeks ago I heard a song on FLN online. I caught the first few words as I was in the middle of doing something else:
You brought me this far
So why would I question you now
You have provided
So why would I start to doubt
As I worked on dinner or whatever I was doing the words kept repeating in my mind. I could have written those very words. That is the cry of my heart. I needed to know the rest of the words so I got on the internet to try to figure out what song it was so I could look up the lyrics and see if I could hear it again. I finally found the recent songs playlist and from it figured out that it was probably "Lift My Life Up" by Unspoken. I searched for it on youtube to listen to it again and only found this video of a live performance. I listened to it a couple of times and searched for the lyrics online somewhere. It was kind of difficult because it turns out that the song wasn't actually going to be released for a couple of days. I guess that FLN got an advance copy.

I finally found the words on another radio station's website and they resonated with so much in our lives in the past, in the present, in the future. It goes so well with the Anything study I am doing.
You brought me this far so why would I question You now
You have provided so why would I start to doubt
I've never been stranded, abandoned, or left to fight alone
So I'm giving You control
(Chorus) I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord, I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up
Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me

If this is a river, then let it sweep over me
If I'm under fire, I know it's refining me
When I hear you calling out
I follow now wherever the road may go
I know You're leading me home

(Chorus) Take my life and let it be
All for You
Take my life and let it be
All for You

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
Take my life


My whole life God has been at work in my heart about seeking Him and wanting His way in my life. This has been especially true over the last year as we sought Him about where we should go for residency and handed Him our options with open hands asking Him to pick, knowing that He would put us in the place that would be the best for us even if it was not the place that we would prefer. We truly wanted what He wanted more than we wanted what we wanted because we know that His way is always better.

So now we are in Fort Worth, TX. "A big change from Upstate New York" as everyone says. Texas is not a place I would have ever chosen to live but I know that God has a reason for bringing us here and we have given Him control. He has allowed many trials into our lives in or short time here. I know that He is refining me and leading me home as the song says.

 This year hasn't been easy with the crazy hours of intern year, the emotional ups and downs that all the changes we have encountered have provided personally and in our family, the challenges of finding people and making friends, homeschooling, the heat, the cold, the break-in, the dog, the chicken, etc.  But God... "You brought me this far so why would I question You now, You have provided so why would I start to doubt, I've never been stranded, abandoned, or left to fight alone, So I'm giving You control"

This song has been a reminder of God's faithfulness and that I can trust Him no matter what challenges He allows. He has brought us this far through moves, friendships, years of waiting, fun times, rejection, acceptance, loss, gain. We have never been alone. I can let Him control my life.

So "I lift my life, lift my life up, I give it all in surrender, I lift my heart, lift my heart up, You can have it forever, All my dreams, all my plans, Lord, I leave it in Your hands. I lift my life, lift my life up
Have Your way in me."

As I look back on 2013 I am so grateful for how God has taken care of us, allowed pain into our lives, given us SO many blessings and showed us more of who He is. As I worked through the 20 questions to review 2013 the last one was "Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you." My answer was "learn and lean in through the changes that God allows in your life." I look forward to getting to know Him more in 2014 and the pain and blessings He will bring into our lives over the next 12 months should the Lord tarry.

So long 2013.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Jesus Storybook Bible: $1.99 on Kindle now (What's Working Wednesday)

 I want to make a plug for The Jesus Storybook Bible. It's only $1.99 right now on Kindle (probably temporarily, Amazon changes prices all the time so check the price before you by it though it is worth paying full price). NOTE: THIS DEAL HAS EXPIRED. We were originally given a copy of this book when we first started going to Missio Church and they were using it as a tool to use with the kids as they were preaching an overview of the Bible in a year.

This year we are reading though The Jesus Storybook Bible as our advent readings with an ebook guide I downloaded here. In the ebook there are little ornaments to color and decorate that go along with each of the stories. (I was planning on hanging them with little clothes pins on twine on our mirror but since none of them have been colored yet maybe I'll just stick them in our Christmas box so we can do it next year.)

We have read it most nights though this month and many times I have had tears run down my cheeks in amazement at God's plan and His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love." I love this book. It's not perfect. There are some things that are said in ways that I wouldn't have said but I really do like it. I especially love how every Bible story that is shared points to the main character of the Bible: Jesus. As it says in the introductory first story: "There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them."

We read Jonah tonight with our Advent devotional and even Jonah points us to Jesus:
     "Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message. Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness.
     "But this Messenger would be God's own Son. He would be called "The Word" because he himself would be God's Message. God's Message translated into our own language. Everything God wanted to say to the whole world - in a Person."
We have the hardcover version of the book but we bought the Kindle version today and tonight we were able to all see it without passing it around and all read along because it had been downloaded to our Nooks and a laptop. The pictures are great. The kids loved it! These stories really bring out the  expression in their voices as they read (and exclaim in wonder at what we've read). They really get into these stories.

If you don't already own a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible I would highly recommend you buy this Kindle edition now while it is only $1.99. It will not work on a phone but it will work on most larger devices with the Kindle App. Even if you don't have a tablet you can get Kindle for your computer and read it on your computer screen. If you haven't done that yet (which you should - Kindle offers great free books often) I would do it just to have this book.

OK, commercial over - and I'm not even getting anything for this free advertisement ;)

NOTE: I just saw on the Jesus Storybook Bible facebook page that this book is free through 1/5/14 but I would still spend the $2 today to buy it and not wait and forget (I hate when I do that!). It will also give you a chance to read though the before Jesus is born on earth stories before Christmas.

I haven't done one in a while but  I guess this is my What's Working Wednesday post for the week. It is working for us. I'm sure it would work for you too ;)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Where We Went (Fall of 2012 through Spring of 2013)

We spent a lot of the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 travelling and living out of our minivan for residency interviews, second looks, service opportunities, visiting friends and family, family vacation, etc. Last month I found a website that someone linked to on facebook that you could color code a map of the US. I had posted our map to facebook back then but wanted to put our map on our blog so we could look back at it/ find it in the future.

In the fall of 2012 through spring of 2013:
Green: we lived there
Purple: we slept there more than 1 night
Orange: we slept there 1 night
Pink: we drove through
I'm not 100% certain we drove in MI and I think CO may have only been 1 night though we had 2 interviews there. It was a fun, crazy few months! We got to see some awesome sights and spend time with some great people. 

 You can make your own color coded map of places you've been, places you've lived, place you want to go, etc. here.