I lean not on my own understanding

This is not going to be a newsflash to anyone who knows me or who has read my blog on any type of consistent basis. I am a control freak. I have a very hard time sitting back and letting go. Instead I try to micro-manage, script, control, and dictate the way I think things should go. And may I just say that its not working out so great for me. I get so frustrated and discouraged with the fact that when I do try and control the outcome of things it doesn’t work. Things are going to happen the way they are supposed to happen according to God’s plan – he doesn’t need me to “help.” Secondly, my need to control things, situations, people, etc. hints to me (or screams at me) that my faith really isn’t where it should be or where I claim it to be…or want it to be. It’s so easy for me to tell a friend who is struggling that “everything will be ok…God is in control.” Shame on me for speaking it into someone else’s life when I barely allow it in my own. Truthfully, the last month or so has been extremely trying and difficult in my life. (Everything is relative – and even as I type “extremely” I know that there are others suffering much greater hardships than I). Brian and I have been married 6 months this week, and while we truly have an amazing, relationship built on God first, there have been challenges along the way. But it is only when I take things into my own hands – when I lean on MY own understanding – that I think things seem tough. One of our biggest challenges has been the blending of two families. Raising children is hard. Raising 5 children…hard. Raising 5 children – 4 of whom are teenagers…yep….hard. And throw in the fact that some are his and some are mine and the bar is raised even higher for difficulty level. And the thing about it is – we are blessed. We have really good kids who make good decisions and stay out of trouble,etc. Reflecting on the last month, I realize that things are toughest when I try and make things be the way I think they should be. In the last few days, I wasn’t sure how things would work out, where it would all end up, and how all of us would fare through it – but I WAS certain that all of it be ok – because we love God and he promises us that all things work together for good for those who love Him. I kept telling myself that over and over. Its in His hands. It will all be ok. Over and over – almost as if I was still trying to control the outcome. But I do believe in God and I know that He loves me. I do trust in His word. This morning, I went to church broken. I was at the point where I just had lost the energy to fight anymore. I was finally ready to turn it all over to God and truly ask Him to take it. (And all along God is waiting for me to get to this point. You would think after a while I would learn to make it easier on all of us and just give it all to him all the time.) At the end of the sermon, we stood and began to sing the following words…

“I lean not on my own understanding.

My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven.

I give my heart to you God

Trusting you will make

Something beautiful out of me”

At first, I couldn’t even bring myself to sing the words. They were a lie. I have been trying to do things my way – all on my own. Lately, my life has been in my own hands – not in the hands of the one who created it all. I have given God my heart, but my late actions have not shown a trust in God to make me into who he has planned. As the song went on and the words were repeated over and over I could feel the weight I’d been carrying around being gently lifted from me. As I began to sing the words, I truly was making a vow to lean NOT on my own understanding. If I earnestly believe that my life is in HIS hands, what am I so fearful of? Why am I worried? I’m always amazed at the way God  works. He knows me so well. I am so moved my music and by lyrics. Today he chose that avenue to really speak to my heart. He knew I needed not only to hear the words of that song, but He knew I needed to let it all go and to sing the words from my heart to Him. Will this be my last blog about my inability to “let go and let God’? Probably not…I’m not perfect and never will be. And I’m sure my need to control will be something that I continually will have to ask God for help with. God knows my heart and he knows exactly how to speak to me. And right here and right now I am letting him carry the burden. I’m confident my life is in His hands and I do trust that He is making beauty out of my messes.

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Happy Church…happy weekend!

20130609-201102.jpgAs we pulled into the driveway and began to unload our bags, I already wanted to go back. Back to Happy Church, with its big yellow smiley-faced sign, and it’s peaceful setting, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of eastern Kentucky. But even more beautiful than the mountains are the people. It’s funny…I always say I’m not much of a “people person” but I do believe that God is changing me into one. And I am becoming attached to the very special people that I spent time with this weekend. God is pushing me out of my comfort zone and asking me to step out in faith. And I thank him immensely for the nudge. While in Breathitt County we got to visit with our friends Randy and Janet and meet new friends, Mike and Connie. They all work/serve at Happy Church and are all amazing, obedient people of God. We cooked out with some families from the community, sat around the campfire and sang songs and made s’mores, played cornhole, and just relaxed. And began to build some great relationships. Sunday morning Brian and I got the chance to lead worship and walked away so blessed from that experience. It was a spirit-filled time with new friends and with God truly moving in that place. In a county that is one of the poorest counties in the nation, there is so much pain and sorrow and hopelessness. But there is also so much to be Happy about, there are so many blessings and God is working through the lives of several dedicated servants. Children are hearing His word, they are signing songs of praise, they are learning to live their lives with His guidance, and they are being loved like Jesus would love. I’m praying tonight about what Brian and I can do to help in some way to support that Happy effort. I’m praying that God gives me a heart to love on people more every day. I’m praying for our friends in Breathitt County. And I’m praying a prayer of thanksgiving for our time there.

You become what you behold.

Brian and I have 5 kids. Three teenagers. One tween. And one still young enough to like us. The four older ones love their music. Brian and me…not so much. Sometimes I feel like that old person I swore I would never become…recalling the good old days when music was real music. But I have to say…some of the stuff our kids tend to want to listen to is just garbage. Since we married a few months ago and are all now sharing one house we have laid down guidelines about what will be acceptable in our house as far as music and movies. The kids have not bucked us – too much. Our approach was not to yell and scream and just simply tell them we don’t like the music. Rather we have tried to make them really think about what the lyrics in their music represent. The lesson to them has been what you put into your mind is what you eventually begin to think on and speak. Garbage in, garbage out. This thought process isn’t just for our kids, though. We as adults are also bombarded with so much. Constant information, images, status updates,and tweets feed our brains. They help shape and determine our thoughts. And it can be very easy to let all of that noise infiltrate our hearts. In 2 Corinthians, we read that “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” I believe that Satan uses the veil of this constant noise to keep us from seeing God and a better way for ourselves. However, if we allow that veil to be removed through God’s endless grace, then we begin to see things differently. And then, we eventually become what we behold. “But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” As we live with our sights set on God and his glory, we change. Our minds are renewed, our hearts are changed. About 6 months ago, Brian and I got rid of a lot of the “noise” that was feeding us in ways that we knew weren’t reflecting the Lord and his will for us. The change has been amazing and we have drawn closer to each other and to God in our daily walk. We pray daily that we will be able to influence our kids to learn to take in less of the world and become new creatures in Christ. After all, you become what you behold. 

 

This little light of mine

One of my favorite Bible songs growing up was the song called “This little light of mine.” I loved the words, the hand motions, all of it. I woke up this morning thinking about the promise of the new year and all that lies ahead, and that song was in my head. I believe that things happen for a reason – there was some reason that song was playing in my mind. So I sat down with my Bible and began to look at scripture that contained the word “light.”
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One year later

The weekend is over – at least according to the calendar. But it is still being replayed in my mind over and over.  It was a weekend that we had anticipated and looked forward to for some time. On December 10, 2010 Faith Passage played our first “show” at Now or Latte Cafe in Trenton, Ohio. We had only begun writing songs a few months prior to this – but couldn’t wait to get out there and share them with people. A lot has changed in this last year Continue reading

“I know the plans I have for you…”

The house is completely dark and quiet this morning as I sit and reflect. Recently I have been battling challenges and adversities – mostly within myself. I do my best to be a positive, happy person…but sometimes I fail miserably. Lately, this has been the case. I feel like I have been bombarded with one thing after the next just trying to with test my will, or topple me. Through the difficulties, I will have a few bright moments when I can calm myself and remind myself that God – the creator of the universe – is truly in control of my life…I just have to let Him lead. During these shining moments, I am at peace and can just let go and let God. The problem is that I don’t allow those feelings of peace last. Yes…I’m a control freak…not only do I feel the need to control the moment…I’d be happy if I could control the next – say 20 years. And yet I know that each and every time I get in the way of myself and try to lead, I fail miserably, end up worried, upset and in a pretty deep state of depression. I spent a lot of time over these last few days truly listening to God and trying to just be in His presence. He wants me to count the abundance of blessings He has given me. He truly has plans for me – I just keep getting in the way. Big plans. God gave me a wonderful person to journey with…a person who loves God, loves me unconditionally, has a heart for those who are hurting, and has an amazing talent with which to share God’s message and His love. I can’t imagine my life now without Brian Suman. God knew that Brian and I would be able to do great things for Him together. God gave me a mission field of children to teach and to nurture every day. God gave me two awesome children of my own. God gave me the desire and the drive to write music that will share His good news and His love. He has chosen me – ME! – unworthy me, to minister to others through music. As I type I am humbled to see just a small number of the blessings God has covered me with. I am in awe of His love for me. I am comforted by the fact that I know He has a plan for me and for my life…and that the challenges that I face are blessings too! God is making me stronger through adversity. The sunrise is beautiful this morning…yet another gift from God. My prayer for today is that I will not dwell on the small challenges of my own life, but that I will go out today and be thankful for the abundant life God has granted me…and that I may be a blessing to someone else.

Lean into it

About a year ago, Joe Boyd taught me a very important lesson while speaking at Vineyard Community Church. It’s a lesson that has been pivotal in my life and in my journey over the past year. Joe is a great storyteller…and a history lover and I think that is one reason this particular lesson is still so fresh in my mind. He talked about the Wright brothers and their passion for inventing and their desire to fly…and how other people doubted and just didn’t “get it.” (Of course he told their story much more creatively and eloquently than I am recounting it here). The lesson here was Continue reading