Heart Choices: 2010-04-04

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Prayer and Extravagant Grace


Extravagant Grace
 
This morning I was blog hopping.  After all, it's Then Sings My Soul Saturday and I have the opportunity to sing and worship with many of my blogging friends.  It's a time to sing many of the songs I know and love. I also get to learn new worship songs.  There's always a variety of hymns and contemporary praise music.  It's a wonderful way to praise our awesome God ...from the luxury of my home computer.
 
I came upon a blog I follow called Extravagant Grace.  eLisa is such a talented writer, graphic artist and designer and most importantly ....a woman who loves the Lord
 
eLisa is all about God's grace; hence her blog name of Extravagant Grace.  She didn't become a believer until she was in college so she has a past.  Don't we all? 
 
I loved how transparent she is as I read her testimony.  She had to post it in eight parts but it's worth taking the time.  You can start reading here.
 
She also encouraged others to consider sharing their story, especially if others could be blessed by it.  She describes it as being real and here is the link to find out more.  You know, we each have different circumstances and backgrounds.  If our story could speak to someone else's heart, it might be worth considering.  I know I am ...
 
Today is the 10th day of April.  eLisa has committed to Prayer on the 10th of each month.  Her post reminded me of that this morning.  There are so many needs in our world today including lost loved ones, homelessness, job losses, financial burdens, plane crashes, sickness. I could go on and on.  And yet I have the privilege of coming before the Lord in prayer. 
  • He is El Roi ...the God who sees me 
  • He is Elohim ...mighty Creator
  • He is El Shadday ...God Almighty
  • He is El Olam ...the Everlasting Eternal God
  • He is Yahweh Yireh ...The Lord will Provide
  • He is Yahweh ...LORD
If you are a regular reader of Heart Choices, you know that I'm studying Ann Spangler's book "Praying the Names of God".  Next week, I will be up to Adonay; LORD, MASTER. 

What a blessing and a time of learning for me.  I also get to link up with my friend Jill of Forever N Ever N Always

If you've not read this book, I encourage you to get your hands on one. 

As I go through challenges in my life, it helps me to remember who God is.  I can keep my focus on Him and then I'm not afraid.  After all, my theme for 2010 is to trust and obey Him.

And by the way, eLisa reminded us that we are already one fourth of the way through 2010!  Time goes by so fast.  I want to be accountable for how I spend my time.

I encourage you to visit eLisa at Extravagant Grace.  But most importantly, I encourage you to pray.  How much peace we often forfeit as the great hymn says ...everything to God in prayer.

Blessings and love, 



QuickEdit

Then Sings My Soul Saturday ~ Holy Ground



It's Then Sings My Soul Saturday when I link up with Amy of Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

Today I chose the song "Standing on Holy Ground".  I've been studying Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God".  The focus for this week was praying to God as Yahweh.  He is the God who performed awesome miracles to save His chosen people, the Israelites.

Yahweh is the same God who performed an amazing miracle by saving me from the penalty of my sins and the power of sin. 

He is holy and cannot come into the presence of sin. 

So no matter how I may rationalize my sins, the only way I can come into His holy presence is through Jesus.  Jesus covers me with His righteousness.  How thankful I am!
 


Happy Saturday!  Don't forget to visit or link up with other bloggers for Then Sings My Soul Saturday.

Blessings and love,
QuickEdit

Friday Photo Flashback ~ Capri


Friday Photo Flashback
It's Friday Photo Flashback when I link up with Alicia of More than Words.

I decided to post a few pictures from a trip Greg and I took to Italy.  One of our favorite spots was the Isle of Capri.  If you've ever watched Giada DeLaurentiis on the Food Network, this is one of her family's favorite places to visit.
This is me in Sorrento.  Check out that fantastic view!

Our first glimpse of Capri

There were so many rowboats waiting their turn to take tourists into the Blue Lagoon.

The opening into the lagoon varies with the tide.  Certain conditions need to exist so the opening is large enough.

Luckily, we were able to get in the lagoon.  Our rower sang the whole time.

 I took this photo from the top of the Isle of Capri.  Isn't this view gorgeous?  Trust me, this is one place to put on your list.   

Happy Friday!


QuickEdit

Thankful Thursday ~ Spring


 

It's Thankful Thursday when I get to share all I'm thankful for this week.  What a joy it is to look forward to this day.  I find that my perspective changes as I choose to be on the lookout for good things to share.  My friend Lynn of Spiritually Unequal Marriage is our host this month.

I'm so thankful for the beautiful Arizona spring weather.  It's been in the low 70's and sunny.  Our new neighborhood is very quiet and peaceful, except for the birds, quail, jackrabbits and ...coyotes. 


Yes, we had four of them in the backyard one morning this past week.  When I slipped out with my camera  they ran.  But not before I captured a photo of one of them.  Can you see him between the shrubs on the right?


I'm thankful that my niece Kristin got engaged to Kevin at Sea World.  You can read all about it here, in case you missed it!

I'm so thankful for the freedom I have because of Jesus.  He paid the penalty for my sins and ...I am free.
This past week, we celebrated Easter.  I loved hearing the Hallelujah chorus sung by my church choir.  What a beautiful sound!

I'm so thankful for the prayers of my friends.  I love that I can request prayer and know that God hears.  He answered a specific prayer this week in a wonderful way.  I hope to be able to share it with you next week. 

So, stay tuned and ...be on the lookout for all you can be thankful for.


QuickEdit

Wednesday's Walk ~ Kristin Gets Engaged



I think it's time for another Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane.  It's hosted by Jenilee of The Goodwin Family blog.

I received some exciting news about my niece this past week.  Kristin Sumstad (my brother Steve's daughter) is engaged to be married to Kevin!

I thought I'd post a few memories I have of Kristin (who is like a daughter to me).  Since I'm the only family member who lives in Arizona (not Florida), every trip was special to me.

Kristin looks so young and innocent here.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

Getting ready for her dance recital.

Opening up a Christmas gift from Aunt Debbie and Uncle Greg.  I loved to shop for pretty girly dresses.  Hmm ...maybe she wanted a toy instead?


This photo was taken on a trip to Lake Powell.

Kristin graduated from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.  This photo was taken when she was getting all set in her apartment off campus.


Here she is with her BFF ~ Harley!

Harley is no dumby!  He knows the most comfortable place to sleep is in Kristin's arms. :)


This photo was taken on a trip with Aunt Debbie to La Jolla, CA.

Kristin and Kevin began dating two years ago.

Last weekend at Sea World Kevin proposed to Kristin on bended knee.  He had asked for her parents' permission in advance.  Good move Kevin!

Kristin says ...YES!

Even the dolphins are excited!

Kristin graduated with a Master's Degree in Speech Pathology and is working in the school system in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Kristin, I love that you are so beautiful both inside and out!
Congratulations to you and Kevin. 
Uncle Greg and I are looking forward to the wedding.
We love you!
QuickEdit

Say Yes to Joy


FaithBaristaLLogo2 I've recently discovered Bonnie Gray's Faith Barista blog.  This lovely Silicon Valley blogger enjoys serving up 'shots of faith for everyday Christian living'.  Being a coffee drinker myself, I love her description. 


Bonnie really caught my attention by a recent post where she asked the following question:

Are you driven by pressure or God's pleasure?

She used a quote from my all time favorite movie "Chariots of Fire".  Eric Liddell, Olympian runner and Christian missionary explained to his sister why he didn't want to give up running and immediately return to the mission field. 

I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast.  And when I run, I feel His pleasure.

To feel God's pleasure; wow.  Do I ever remember a time when I felt God's pleasure?  Or am I always driven by pressure?

I'm so accustomed to living my life in the midst of stress and challenges.  Some of these challenges are due to:

  • Consequences of choices I've made

  • Choices other people made

  • Things outside of my control

Don't get me wrong.  There have been times when life seems to be going along smoothly.  But then I find myself wondering what will go wrong next.  I hate that about myself but it seems if I let down my guard, I'm impacted by yet another challenge.  Maybe that's just life but my desire is to truly ...trust and obey God.

I read in Zephaniah 3:17

Did you catch that last part of the Scripture?  It says that God will rejoice over me with singing. 

Oh my, there's something about that picture of God that causes  my heart to be happy.  I love to read that He ...takes delight in me. 

Bonnie of Faith Barista challenged us to join her and write a blog post about how we can begin to feel God's pleasure more.  Step 1: Say Yes to Joy is Bonnie's blog post title. (I just went to link up with Bonnie and found out I was too late but I'm going to post this one anyway.) 

My first step to saying yes to joy and feeling God's pleasure is to become more aware of God's moment by moment presence in my life. 

Years ago I heard a lecture in Bible Study Fellowship.  Georgann, our teaching leader used a term that stuck with me.

Constant Conscious Communication.
 
We called it the 3 C's.

I can't tell you how many times it has come into my mind.  And whenever I remembered it caused me to smile.  Oh if only I could remember more often ...

Recently, I read from a devotional book called Jesus Calling.  The author Sarah Young writes the following words that spoke to my heart.

I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me.  Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life.  You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted.  But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world.  Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all.

This got my attention.  How often I've thought about living a simple life.  I want to avoid all of the stress and live out the life of my dreams.  No problems, no worries ...yeah right!

Saying yes to joy requires me to recognize that no matter what is going on in my life ...God is with me. 

I am not alone.  When I learn to trust Him and yield to His direction, I am calm and more peaceful.  As I pray and commune with Him throughout my day ...the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

I find pleasure in doing simple things like talking with my neighbor who is sitting in his wheelchair in the driveway or cutting a flower from the garden to place on the kitchen table. 

Photo Credit: Country Living Magazine

As I say yes to joy and feeling God's pleasure, I'm more aware of the birds chirping and singing in my backyard as the rabbits hide under the orange trees. 

The pressures and challenges of life are still present but the awareness of God's presence quiets my soul.  And then I can feel ...God's pleasure.

Blessings and love,


QuickEdit

Praying the Names of God ~ Yahweh



I continue to study Ann Spangler's "Praying the Names of God".  How timely this study is for me. 

You see, I've a tendency to focus acutely on the challenges I'm going through as I attempt to figure out my own solutions.  But  when I focus on who God is ...it's so reassuring for me. 

There is none like Him.  He is El Roi and sees all that I'm going through.  He is El Shadday so nothing is impossible for Him.  As I spend time in prayer, reading His Word and yielding it all to Him, I'm learning that I must ...trust and obey Him in all things.

This week the focus is on God as Yahweh; LORD

God revealed Himself as Yahweh to Moses.  As Moses was tending his father-in-law's flock, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  There he encountered a burning bush that did not burn up.

Here the LORD revealed to Moses that He had seen the misery of His people, the Israelites.  He was going to use Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.  Moses asked God who was he that he could go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt.  Exodus 3:14-15 says:

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you."  God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD the God of your fathers - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob - has sent me to you .  This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

According to Ann's book, Yahweh is the name 'that is most closely linked to God's redeeming acts in the history of His chosen people.' 

When I pray to Yahweh, I remember that He is the same God who redeemed me.  How grateful I am that He saved me from slavery to my sins just as He saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

I love that God sees and knows all that we go through.  He wasn't a distant God who was unable to intervene.  He cared about the Israelites suffering as they were in slavery in Egypt.  He intervened and chose to use a man, Moses to be His instrument of deliverance.

I can identify with Moses' reluctance to be this instrument.  Who am I?  Why would they listen?

But God told Moses what to say.

I remember a time when I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to do something.  I was working as a nurse and heading to the hospital to make rounds.  One of our patients was in an assisted living home near the hospital and I knew I needed to stop by and check up on her.  As I was parking my car, I felt the Spirit nudge me to share the Gospel with her.  At first, I thought it wasn't my place as a nurse.  But I remembered how over the years we had numerous talks about her past.  She'd been angry at God for the death of her son from leukemia so many  years ago. 

As I walked into her room, I sat with her and boldly shared the Gospel.  I asked her if she wanted to invite Jesus into her heart.  She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said yes.  That day we prayed together and Vivian became a believer.

The next day I stopped by to visit her and to make sure she understood.  I asked her if she remembered and she nodded yes and smiled.  Within three days from that time, Vivian died.

I attended her funeral and learned that her daughter-in-law was a Christian.  I was able to share with her what had taken place.  With tears of joy, she told me how she'd prayed for years for Vivian but that she was unyielding.  She told me that sometimes it takes someone outside the family to share the Gospel.  She had such peace knowing that her mother-in-law was in heaven.

How glad I was that I trusted and obeyed Yahweh.  He knew the exact day that Vivian would die.

How grateful and privileged I felt to be used me as His instrument to deliver the message of salvation to a soul in need.

Yahweh, the Covenant name of God saved the Israelites in Egypt.

That same God saved a woman named Vivian from her sins. 

Yahweh still at work today.

I'm linking up this post with Jill of Forever N Ever N Always.  If you'd like to view other posts or join in yourself, you can go here.

Blessings and love,



Yahweh Photo Credit: Linda4Yeshua
QuickEdit
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