Memory Verses for 2011

As some of you know, I spent 2010 in a praise and worship fast and studied liturgical worship, not because of some legal requirement, but because this was honestly the path I believed God was leading me down. Jeremiah 6:16 – Thus says the LORD:”Stand by the roads, and look,and ask for the ancient paths,where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. “

While I may be married to a Missouri Synod Lutheran – which are historically liturgical almost to the point of legalism (depending of course on who you are speaking with) – I love praise and worship and interestingly enough so does my husband. Also interesting is neither of us really like blended services. – I may or may not write more about that later, just know that my soul craves both the fullness of praise and the richness of liturgy at different times and combining the two is like – well, I don’t have a good analogy other that to say it’s like trying to fish while I water ski, if that makes sense.

And rather than go down a rabbit hole today, let me just leave it as – I needed a break. After four years of helping with our church plant – which is primarily praise and worship, teaching bible studies, pursing new career paths (comedy), and sending my oldest away to college, I entered 2010 worn out and dry as the desert. Jeff’s mom had a fatal stroke . I had a mass in my uterus that knocked me down for six months, and I started abusing diet pills trying to lose weight. 2010 was a low bottom year for me.

And yet – even in the midst of all of that I found rest. I’d been reading Joan Chittister’s book on Liturgical living and while I found her book to be dry and cumbersome to read, I did feel a certain draw in my spirit to learn more and so with the help of a local mentor/pastor – I spent 2010 studying the church year, and liturgy. I regret neither the fast, the lows, or the choices of the year – 2010 was as gloriously rich with love and grace as God had promised.

My season of fasting is over and a new season has been placed on my heart – “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” – Luke 6:21 ESV Bible

Some changes for 2011, praise and worship is back in my fold of worship opportunities as is high liturgy. I’m not sure if I’ll teach or not as I am still needing much time in the master’s hand. (I have food issues that we are working through) Last but not least, I am back memorizing verses this year, just like I did in 2009. If you would like to join me on that, please see Beth Moore’s Living Proof live page and jump in. You won’t regret it.

Have a great week you guys.

Today is Epiphany, also known as Kings Day, or the 12th day of Christmas. If you would like to know more about Epiphany, please check out the very cool link a friend of mine posted on Facebook: http://www.crivoice.org/cyepiph.html

Don’t throw away your confidence

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded, you need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

Hebrews 10:35-36

I made a commitment to God and to several of my new blogging friends to memorize one new scripture verse on the 1st and 15th of each month. We all began with a bang and most of us are still here. A lot of us chose paragraphs in our enthusiam and Beth and Amanda at Living Proof Ministries Blog lovingly suggested this might be too ambitious and to please start smaller. They were right. I was struggling with mine. I spent February committing my first verse (small paragraph) to memory and meditating on that. The fact that it is our new benediction for 2009, made it all the more fun.

God had actually impressed my first verse on my heart last Spring when I bought Seven Celebrations for the Soul by Kathy Troccoli. I picked that Bible study for our new women’s Sunday School class long before I knew what Pastor’s verse for the year was going to be.

This is my new memory verse for the next two weeks. I’ve been praying since last fall for a focus. Something that God wanted me to learn, grasp, inwardly digest and the word “confidence” keeps coming back, again and again.

So be it. The truth is, I am extremely insecure. I’m not nearly as confident in anything as people seem to think. What amazes me about that is neither are my heros in the faith. I was blown away when I discovered that. I love this new verse. I know I’ve read Hebrews time and time again and yet, I missed it somehow.

Don’t throw away your confidence.
Persevere in carrying out the will of God.

God knew that the time for me to hear those words, was now.

25 Random things about me.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. I was born near Syracuse NY and raised in: Buffalo NY, Bridgeport NY, Endicott NY, Cleveland OH, Cincinnati OH, Columbus OH, Atlanta GA, Fort Walton Beach FL, Detroit MI, Southfield MI, Redford MI. – I’e also lived in Sweden, IL and OK.

2. I’m an artist – I love scrapbooking, photography, and designing jewlery.

3 – I have a knack for speaking first and thinking – eventually – making my husband laugh from under a lot of tables and my pastor to hang his head and blush. – I call it being a UFO – Unintentionally Funny Orator. Basically that little filter from the brain to the mouth – doesn’t work.

4. I met my husband at work in Chicago 20 years ago and wouldn’t go out with him until he told me that he played guitar in a rock band – true story.

5. I love a lot of people but don’t get to spend nearly as much time with them as I would like.

6. I used to be an actress, my “claim to fame” was a Work Place Issues video filmed while I worked for Williams Companies. Depressing really, but I still have the video. It was my only paid acting gig, ever.

7. I used to think I knew who I was until I realized that I spent the first 40 years of my life defining myself by how I thought others saw me. I lived to please others, and hurt myself a lot in the process.

8. If God lined up all of the teenage boys in the world and told me I could pick whichever two I wanted, I would pick Charlie and Dillon every time.

9. I love God with everything I have and I‘m learning to believe that the feeling is mutual.

10. Raising boys is harder than I thought it would be. I find myself saying things I never dreamed would ever come out of my mouth – phrases like “No you cannot drive your go cart off the roof to make it look like it’s flying for your video.” and “No you cannot send that frog into space. Please untie the helium balloons and use a GI Joe instead.” There are other phrases, but you get the gist.

11. I have a half sister I never really knew.

12. I left corporate America to be a stay home mom, and learned that staying home is harder than working for a corporation – but the benefits are fabulous and I’d do it again in a heart beat.

13. I am a bibliophile and have a room in my house dedicated to books and reading. I want to be an author and study other authors to learn how to write better.

14. I’m a really good cook – but don’t take the time as often as I’d like.

15. I actually love public speaking – I’m not sure if it’s because I was raised an only child by a single mom and think it’s all about me – or what. I tend to crave attention – mostly though – it’s just really fun for me today because it used to scare me.

16. There was a time when speaking in general terrified me, even if it was just to say hi to someone. I used to be so shy and so scared that I would literally shake in new situations. I preferred to be invisible, but secretly wished someone would notice me. Learning how to overcome that took years of prayer and practice.

17. I love facilitating Beth Moore Bible Studies (personal hero)- and I love going to our Mom’s Group at Church (Bad Girls of the Bible) and just hanging with my friends.

18. I love praise and worship music and I love the old hymns. I believe that both bring pleasure to God. He looks to the heart of man, and I’m thankful for that because my singing ain’t all that great.

19. I wasn’t raised in the church – and when I finally joined one, it took me years to get over the fear of being kicked out. – That’s what happens when you look through broken glasses. – I didn’t really know what Grace was until I experienced a personal failure and then got drowned by Grace in ways I still cannot put into words. – I actually turned in my ministry resignation to God that year – funny thing is, he acted like he never saw it and just kept pouring out more and more gifts and opportunities to serve. I’ll never figure him out.

20. When I was growing up I wanted to be, a circus clown, an actress, or married to a rock star. – uhm.. Goals were not my strong suit. – so I married an up an coming rock star – who is now a praise and worship leader on top of his full time corporate career – and is strongly studying to be a worship pastor and I’m thinking God has an amazing sense of humor.

21. I love Oklahoma, but wish we did not live so far away from my family. We’ve been here for 16 years and we didn’t’ get to see our nieces and nephews grow up, and my boys don’t know their cousins. And I think that’s sad.

22. I have the heart of an artist – and weird (eclectic) taste in clothing.

23. I sometimes miss my corporate job – I audited line costs and kept track of regulatory pricing, negotiated local contracts with Bell Companies, designed long distance circuit layouts, and installed switches. I felt smart when I worked there – I have had to remind myself sometimes that smart is smart no matter what you do and a career does not define my value. But I still miss it.

24. When I was 15, I wanted to be an exchange student. I didn’t’ think I could, but I applied any way. The essay question was tell me about your life. I wanted to throw it away but an adult friend told me to tell the truth and turn it in. I lived in a single parent home, my mom only made about $10k per year and she was a recovering alcoholic. I’d moved almost 15 times in my life, my grades were B’s, our house was only about 1,000 sf – I knew the competition – kids from two parent homes with stay home mom’s and straight A’s. – I didn’t think I stood a chance. He knew all the lofty “right” answers – his favorite author was Shakespeare and mine was Erma Bombeck. I really thought there was no way.

After the essay – I was first runner up – then came the interview – this is what they told me – “Because of what recovery has done for your family, and the life issues that you have overcome, which have made you stronger – we believe you are the right candidate” – And just like that I got to be a Rotary International Exchange Student and live in Sweden for a year and they paid for the whole thing – I even got to go to the Nobel Awards and meet the King (which would be when I told him he was shorter than I thought he’d be. ) That’s when I really learned that my past can be my greatest asset.

25. For this decade in my life, I’m exploring the world God has called me into – studying everything I can get my hands on – learning public speaking, writing sketches and learning stand up. I’m learning how to find the courage to say “I want to learn from you.” I’m learning about who I am – and more and more about who He is – and I feel like I’m falling in love all over again.

I Love How God Works

Ladies

I need to tell you something cool. I got bored a few days ago – okay, maybe bored isnt’ the right word – I needed some vegetation time that looked product so I ran to the internet searching for blogs. In looking through various blogs and finding new ones to read, I found a blog for Living Proof Live (Beth Moore and her daughters – see LMP on my side bar) The day I found it was the day she was asking people to commit to memorizing two scripture verses a month for 2009. I had no idea she was blogging and I chuckled at God because I already knew he wanted me back on that train this year. I’m guessing He just wanted to make sure I really knew that? He already knew I was going to facilitate one of her studies again this year – so why not go the extra mile and put into practice what I tell people, hunh? I’d kinda dropped that habit in 2008. Got busy and all. No excuse believe me. Anyway – I’m back on track.

Our pastor has changed his benediction for 2009 to Ephesians 3:16-19 and wanted us to memorize that. So my first few verses for January are chosen and I signed my little name in the comment box along with my verse. I broke it into three because it is kinda long for me.

But here is where God gets either too scary for me, or too funny, I’m not sure which.

I had prepared and chosen a Sunday School class for women at my church beginning in October. It’s a Bible Study by Kathy Trocolli (Seven Celebrations for the Soul – made for Life Today) and I just knew it was “the one.” Don’t know if you’ve been there or not – but it was a knowing, okay? Things got crazy in the fall and I had to postpone it to January. I had no idea why I couldn’t teach it when I wanted, but I just couldn’t.

Me being well, me – full of my own plans and ideas, I had really planned on doing my own introduction to it, not Kathy’s and just jumping right into the heart of the Seven Celebrations when something told me today, to not do that. Don’t ask.

So I revamped my plans, I layed down my nice lesson plan and watched the introduction, and lo – which verse do you think she pulled out for her intro? Pastor’s new benediction and my memory verse for January.

EPHESIANS 3:17-19.

17 “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts – through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasph how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I’m showing the introduction – written by Kathy – I’m not adding or taking away a single thing. God is God, He knows what He is doing and I am but his servant. And thankfully He knows that I am but dust.

If you cannot join us on Sunday Mornings, than go to the above link and buy your own copy – and start 2009 Celebrating God and Living Life Abundantly

Your dusty friend,
Deana

Mary Did You Know?


Our Christmas sermon was on a song written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene called “Mary did you know?” Mark apparently wrote it as a poem for his church one Christmas and Buddy put it to music several years later. It’s one of Pastor’s favorite songs.

Pastor pondered the questions in that song and asked a few more taking his references from Luke 1:26-37

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Two things jumped out for pastor and he wanted to relay them to us. Did Mary really know what it meant to be “highly favored?” and did she really believe that “Nothing is impossible with God?”

When we think of what it means to be “Highly Favored” we think of wealth, health and prosperity, don’t we. Do we think of her reality though? Pastor pointed out some things I’d never thought of.

1. She was a young child herself suddenly with child – and not her fiance’s how would she explain that?
2. Her fiance was planning to quietly divorce her.
3. The leaders of her church and community had authority to stone her to death if they chose.
4. An angel took care of Joseph – this much we know.
5. She traveled for days to Bethlehem and gave birth in a stable
6. They had to flee for their lives soon after

There’s also the rest – she watched her son die. And other things.

Highly favored – at least for Mary doesn’t sound good when compared to our own limited perceptions. She was favored – she gave birth to the Messiah – to Christ. She was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceived the Christ Child. With Favor came great responsibility. And yet nothing is impossible with God. She did learn that. But favor does not mean cushie life. Does it?

I thought that was an interesting message for Christmas. I had someone make that statement about me once – calling me “favored of God.” – I’m not so sure I like that now.

I have some new readers – so let me explain that a little bit. I don’t typically make it a habit to talk about myself as much as I have been lately. God is doing a work that I do not know how to explain fully. Part of my personal testimony includes being born in a home for unwed mothers, growing up in all kinds of disfunction and such, being kicked out of church as a child because of my parent’s divorce, being raised by my mom who made less than 10K a year, and other things.

Knowing that I get to facilitate Bible studies now? Blows my mind. Seriously. It surprizes others too who knew me when. (Trust me) I am the woman who busted the binding on my Bible during my very first Precepts (Kay Arthur) class taught by my pastor’s wife 13 years ago and here I am – certified to teach it if I want, facilitating Beth Moore Studies as well as others, teaching Sunday School for women, and serving as a missionary in my own denomination (Ablaze).

I’m not doing any of those things because I’m so great and so smart – trust me. I am a scardy cat coward who cannot believe God actually wants to use me most days. I used to do them to seek his favor – but I’ve learned that Christ already did that for me. I do those things today, out of obediance to God. This path I’m on? Was not my choosing at first.

I’m learning to follow his voice even when it doesn’t make sense. I take the classes today that he tells me to. God has had a lot to teach me in the last few years. Including what I will and will not do as a teacher. (see older posts on Matthew 23).
I’ve argued with him a lot. I know what His word says about teachers, and leaders and it scares me. That’s a lot of responsiblity – I don’t want to let him down. And true to form when I tell him that – I’m reminded that “nothing is impossible with God” and that HE won’t let me down.

So for 2008 – it’s a year of getting over myself yet again – and focusing on him.

I don’t have the right – to write this blog – to teach – to lead – to speak – I am a fellow traveler who gets to share and journey with others.

What a kick that is.

God worked miracles in my life this year as far as courage goes. I took some huge risks following God. Major steps of courage. I chaired a community egg hunt at our mission start – which was a total flop by the way, I planned for 750 and 2,000 showed up, over ran us and beat eachother up over candy filled eggs. I turbo hosted a comedy concert for Chonda Pierce with several other helpers and it sold out. I’ve hostessed some other Christian events as a runner and met some speakers I get to learn from now. I went to a Speak Up class in Mich taught by Carol Kent (by myself mind you with no security blanket come with me friends.), I joined a comedy association and actually speak with some of the comics so that I can learn, I went for and got my Precept teachers certification. I reached out to people in the faith who are farther along than I am and asked them questions – I asked for and found mentors, I’ve gathered materials, I’ve laid myself down as a student whenever possible.

Why am I sharing these things with you? Because 15 years ago I shook in church. 15 years ago, I couldn’t put two words together in front of a crowd. A lot has changed in 15 years.

God and I have come a long way from the days where I was more interested in cloning myself into those I admired, rather than being me. The old me wound up setting my dress on fire as a result. You’d think I would have learned from that, but.. it took a few more years and a few big failures, before that message really sunk in. I don’t want to be the next Kay Arthur or Ken Davis, Beth Moore, or Chonda Pierce nor do I even want to be my with me mentors like Lisa Lessing, Joy Moss, Zeal Beal and Velma Campbell – real life women who have been kind enough to teach me and share with me along the way and be my friend – I just want to learn from them. All of them.

I went three years without a teacher – or mentor of any kind. God brought me to himself, loved on me, and revealed to me his word. I was stripped of all would be idols and learned to desire him alone. Then and only then did he bring new people into my life.

I’ve been writing about some of them because these are the people I get to learn from right now. – with intention and with blessing and with humilty and thankfulness.

I want to honor God with my life like they do theirs, what ever that means. I want to be open to His call on my life – and not my limited vision as I have in the past.

I haven’t taken the time to fast and pray yet for the new year, but I will. I have no clue where he wants me – or what he wants me to do – except the next right thing directly in front of me. Somehow, I know that he will get me where he wants me to be.

I am the Lord’s servant. May it be with me, as he says.

Blessings to you my friends, both old and new. And thank you for walking this path with me. May the Lord our God bless and keep you this new year.