Saturday, December 22, 2012

CHRISTmas challenge

Have you ever spent time to just talk with God?
Just Him?
No one else?
If you have...
Have you ever had that feeling...where you just feel like God's arms are wrapped around you? Have you ever felt that He is right there...sitting next to you?
I spent some time outside earlier tonight...just talking to Him...It was cold, but worth it...I thanked Him for so many things...
CHRISTmas lights
His son's humbled birth
Mary and Joseph (whom I also spoke to ;) )
CHRISTmas trees and gifts
etc...
So then, let me ask you this....
How often do we actually spend talking to Him?
How often do we thank Him for the simple?
How often does He hear our voice in praise to Him?
I will admit something to you all...those ten minutes I spent outside with Him,...was the first time I had talked to Him all day...I feel completely awful about that...but that's why i'm preaching this!! to me too!!
But now, changing views a little...

So, what does CHRISTmas mean?
Google defines it as "The annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth, held on December 25."
Celebrating Christ's birth.. sounds about right, doesn't it? That's because it is :) But to me...it's more than His birth...
It's the story of Mary and Joseph; of their great strength, of their dignity, of their humble hearts, of their trust in the Lord! How many of us women would be willing to be the mother of the One who would save the world? I think it would scare me a little too much! But Mary took it on because of her great hope and trust that the Lord would provide.
And Joseph was willing to take part in the great story of our Savior. He was willing to stand by Mary no matter what challenges they might face. His strength relied soley on God. He's who we should look for in a husband. Look for a Joseph for yourself ;)
CHRISTmas, to me...I can't even sum it up!
It's the story of how the Lord humbled Himself for the lowliest of sinners. Of how He came down as an infant, He gave up His throne, and came for us...the least of these! It's the story of His love. His grace. His mercy. Him. It's more than just a celebration. It's a commemoration. It's a service of communion for Him.
But really, CHRISTmas can be everyday. CHRISTmas is every time we give thanks. It's every time we stop and praise Him. It's every time we remember Him.
I have a challenge for you this CHRISTmas...
spend ten minutes with God. I don't care if you spread it out. But spend ten minutes with Him alone. Talking to Him, thanking Him, praising Him, etc. but on CHRISTmas day, spend ten minutes with Him...He loves to hear your voice:)
In Him forever,
montana

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to slow down this Christmas

When you're rushing around, trying to get the gifts wrapped, trying to make sure everything is in place. When things go perfect, and when things go wrong. It's that moment when everything just speeds up. It's when nothing will slow down. How do you take the moments for what they are? How do you slow it all down?
It's when Christ came down as King.
It's when Christ died as King.
Our response both times is the same - to humbly embrace Him.
To bow down to our lowest level, to kiss His feet, small or big. To wrap our arms around Him like He wraps His around us.
Christmas is here.
It can be everyday.
Christmas isn't only about the day that Christ came down as a Babe, it's about His humbling of Himself for us, His great love for us.
We can make Christmas everyday. All we have to do is embrace Him everyday.
Take it moment by moment. Second by second.
Enjoy the fullness of all life has to offer.
So this CHRISTmas...take each moment for granted...enjoy every second.
Embrace Him.
Embrace love.
Embrace grace.
Live grace.
Eucharisteo.
Because it's all for you, from Him.
Happiness, joy, and peace. They are all around you, all the time. You just have to look.
Take it one day at a time.
Joy will find you.
It's already here.
And it's coming agin.
On December 25th.
God bless you this CHRISTmas.
In Him,
Montana

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow

And then the snow fell...
All crystal white and soft...Gently falling...falling...falling. And that's how He came. Down. He fell down to earth, He humbled Himself for us. He came down in the humbles of forms, in the smallest He could be. A child. Born of a virgin. Born of a virgin. That proves God's incredible power, doesn't it?
He is the gift that keeps on giving. He is the gift that we continue to share. And I look out at the snow once more...

And it calls me. Oh, how it calls me. It brings me to remember. His grace. His mercy. His goodness.
Immanuel. God with us. And He is. Oh, how He is. Our comfort, our peace, because of His wounds. Because He came down, He simpled Himself. God incarnet became infant. God in heavenly relms became God on this lowly earth. From being in a room of vast glory that was almost too small for Him, to being curled in a ball, in a mother's womb, that could barely hold Him. He gave up the River of Life to give us life. That mystery - of a baby King. He is the mystery. And He revealed the large mystery - by being small.
He is the gift that we wrap and unwrap. We can give away His love. We can give away His grace. We can unrap His love. We can unwrap His grace.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Even if He doesn't

FINALS ARE OVER!!!!
I have to admit... I was crying in my basement last night - such a rough day... You know those days where you can tell you are just out of it? That was my yesterday...except it kept getting worse...luckily, I am blessed to have people in my life who are willing to hold my hand and help me through the rough and the great days... <3

So, i've been thinking a lot about this verse...
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
"But even if he does not,"
those are some powerful words...
and some words we often don't think about...
what if God doesn't?
Heal you or your loved one...
Deliver from pain...
Provide the right words or actions...

What if He doesn't?
Are you still willing to fully trust Him? To full give him everything? Would you still give Him every ounce of you? Would you still believe that He has a good plan? That He can still use you?
This is something that I have been struggling with lately...as in yesterday and today...
But honestly ask yourself that question...What if He doesn't? How will you react?
We know that God is good. We know that He will provide. We know that He is holding us no matter what...but do all of those things start to fade away when things don't go our way? Trust me, I'm preaching to myself here too!! This is something I need to work on!!!
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to stand for Him even if He didn't deliver them from the flames that surrounded them...what are your flames? Are you willing to stand for God if He allows them to engulf you? Or will you turn away and try to handle the pain on your own?
This is something that went through my mind when I decided to rededicate my life...that I couldn't handle the flames on my own. Now, if I couldn't handle them then, then what makes me think I can handle them now? What makes me think that if God doesn't (do this or that), then I can do it all on my own? The answer is satan...He's the one that tries to through those lies at you saying that you can handle it, that you are strong, that you are brave...I'm not strong, and I'm not brave...but God is! He's been through flames beyond any comparision to mine, and all for me! So then, why not give Him these flames?
and...
if He doesn't...
Continue to trust Him...
He delivered Daniel from the lion's den...
He delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale...
He delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fire...
and so many others...
And He can deliver you too...maybe not today, maybe not next week, or maybe He won't...but even if He doesn't, are you willing to go that distance? If not, you might need to check where you stand with the Lord...
Much love in Him,
Montana

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wrapping and Unwrapping

It's been a rough day, guys! So i took to curling my hair :p
It always puts me in a good mood....but one other thing from today...
When everything goes wrong, God is the only thing that is right. And even in the midst of struggle, today, I've been finding joy from Him.
A friend texted me and said "I wish I could take it away from you...I'm sad"
I simply replied "why?"
She said "Because you are having a rough day"
I simply laughed...and I told her, You can be sad, but not too sad...because maybe God is strengthening me for something...and no matter what, He is still good.
You know, as CHRISTmas comes around, everyone is so excited for the presents...and the family time...and the food....and honestly, I am too! But this year, I'm going to make sure it's different- at least for me... I want to make sure that I tell Jesus "Happy Birthday!"
we are always so ready to celebrate someone's birthday with presents and with a cake...then why are we so often forgetting the guest of honor? The main event? The entire reason we can celebrate!!! This year, make it a point to tell Him happy birthday...maybe even get a small cake in honor of Him ;)
Also, a friend just texted me saying her mom and her got in a big fight....please keep her in your prayers...Let's be prayer warriors here, guys! I'm praying for all of you.

One more thing....I told you all I reached 500 blessings, right? I'm really excited about that...but one thing to keep in mind...it's not all about the number...it's about constantly recognizing blessings for what they are...blessings!
The Lord continues to give us grace and mercy and unending love, and all we must do is unwrap simple love! Tis the season for gift wrapping, right? Then let's take a challenge! Each time you wrap a gift, you unwrap 3 :)
So, let's say you wrap a gift for your sibling, or your child, then you count 1) family gathering in celebration 2) colorful wrappings of gifts and 3) blessed and being a blessing
I think that sounds pretty joyful :)
The Lord calls us to be children of joy. Let's be children of joy together.
I know this wasn't as "poetic" as the others, but I'm really tired and there is a lot on my mind!! Thank you, all of you, for reading my posts...it means more than you know...
More love than words can express,
Montana

Friday, December 14, 2012

CHRISTmas

Are there a thousand things running through your mind this season? Are you feeling a little stressed? A little overwhelmed? Just a little too busy? Are you frantically searching for peace? Are you just waiting for CHRISTmas to get here already? If so, I'm in the same boat...As school finishes out with finals, my mind is a never-ending maze. I'm constantly going from one thing to the next. I'm trying to find some peace in this hectic place.
What are you most excited about this CHRISTmas? The presents or the presence? Trust me, I know the presents are always something to look forward to...but let's not forget the real reason we celebrate! Why try to glean every present in sight when you can easily and simply have His presence, the greatest gift of all? It doesn't require driving in all of the holiday traffic. It doesn't require a list of gifts. It doesn't require your hard-earned money. All it requires is YOU. He desires us to desire Him. To desire His presence. And I know that you do, whether you will admit it or not.
 You desire to be filled with Him, filled with the pure awe that He brings.
 You want to sit in His lap and simply be.
 You want to look at His face, hear His voice, and be filled with complete love, with complete joy.
So then...
be.
Look.
Listen.
Be.
Let Him be blessed with your presence while you are blessed with His.
Take one moment. One second of the precious life He gave you, and simply give thanks. Simply sit with your Creator. Let Him have all of you -- even if for only a moment. Because, that's all He wants... You.
Don't be Martha (from the Bible, not Martha Stewart). Don't be so busy that it distracts you and keeps you from sitting down and washing feet. 
His feet.
Take a bowl of water, a washcloth. And bow. Humbly bow. Humbly wash. Humbly awe. And be. Be with your Father. Be with the Savior. Just simply be!
And let's not forget to unwrap His gifts. Not the ones visible underneath the tree in your living room. Not the ones that will be delivered. Not the ones handed to you from friends and famliy. Of course, you can unrap those too, but I want you to focus on unrapping unending love. Unwrapping merciful grace. Unrapping joy. Things that only He can provide. Things that you may not really recognize are gifts until you're halfway done ripping the paper off. Until you can see the corner of the gift and your excitement rises and suddenly you unwrap faster and faster until it's all done. And it's open. And it's visible. And you smile.
But those gifts...aren't just given at CHRISTmas...those gifts (lucky us!), are given continuously...ferverently throughout our days...every day....so let's unwrap together -- what do you say? Will you join me in unwrapping His endless gifts to you? In giving thanks for the simply beautiful? Even the utterly ugly? He can turn all things good and beautiful.
I reached 500 blessings tonight...literally two seconds ago I finished writing them down...another blessing...right? ;)
Let's remember to keep CHRIST in our CHRISTmas. Because without Him, it wouldn't exist. And without Him, we wouldn't exist.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

stress!

Hey guys.... I might be distant for a while as finals approach, but I will try to post something short on saturday or sunday at least...
Speaking of finals, that's on the topic I want to discuss : Stress vs peace.
I know how easy it is to get caught up and lost in all the stress this life brings us, especially as finals approach, as the holiday comes up, and as everything gets just  a little more chaotic. The thing is...Although it's so easy to let stress overcome us, we can choose to let peace encompass us. We can choose to look to the Lord, and ask Him to fill us with His presence. Because, reality is...He is always with us, just waiting for us to see Him. So then, why does it seem so hard to let Him in? Why do we choose stress over peace? Well, I think there are a few answers here...
1 - we are human. it's in our nature, so its how we usually and naturally respond to all the chaos life can bring!
2 - we are prideful. We don't like to admit that we need help to find peace. We don't want to have to call on someone else to take our problems from us, because well, "I can handle it
3 - It's easier this way... It doesn't take as much effort. Sometimes I think we are just lazy. too lazy to care.
Now... I will honestly admit that I am being a hypocrite here... There is so much stress right now, and it honestly feels too hard to give up...if that makes any sense at all...It just seems like I can't feel God's peace...then again, I haven't exactly asked for it... So that's my plan for tonight...for right now... To ask for His peace...
.
..
...
..
.
And I just did. And it's crazy how I feel it. Already. So soon. Within seconds. Because of simple words. God is just that good. God is just that gracious. Incredible.
Now, my picture wouldn't upload, but today I wrote four things on my hand... Yaweh, Joy, Grace, and God-struck. It was a reminder to me all day. Of how when we whisper, God's name, "Yaweh" is said. How in Him, we can have constant joy. How He is forever providing grace. How I need to learn to constantly live and be God-struck. Because He deserves our awe. I'm out of words...in so many ways.
On a new topic... I've been writing some new CHRISTmas songs lately...I want to share one with you all...It's just a rough draft ( I am so excited to get a new cd recorded by wednesday!!!), but I think it gives the message...
video
I didn't listen to it before I posted it, so I'm hoping it's the right one :p It's from Mary's perspective... not all the emotions are in there, but her awe-struck moment is there I believe..... let me know what you guys think... shoot me a message on facebook, or if you have my number, text me :)
So I leave you with this...
Hold a pause.
Be God-struck
Live eucharisteo.
"How when you are turned away from God, life turns ugly, but when you are turned toward God, life turns lovely."
Push back the dark, and let the light shine.
love you guys

Friday, December 7, 2012

Geeks and Grace

So this might be a short post, but I wanted to say something real quick....
Blessed... Surrounded by grace, love, mercy, all abounding... all encompasing... surrounded by voices and noise, and I choose to write... I choose to unwrap blessings... I choose to sit quietly in the peace of the Lord, sit openly with my heart layed out... why?
i'm not exactly sure... it just feels...natural...
I am surrounded by geeks...yes, geeks... those who love to play videogames, who love to be surrounded by soda and chips...but they are real...and they aren't afraid to be...they are open to all life has to give- the funny and the serious...they are humorus in their own way...they fill this school with joy and laughter and they sit in the aroma of friendship...of welcoming arms...
isn't that how we should always be? waiting with welcoming arms? then why aren't we? oh, that's right... we are afraid to be different...this world tells us to stay in our own groups, to stay put away from anything or anyone different.  But what if we all are "different"? Because we really are... we are all different in our own way; and it's a good thing!! Jesus was different! He sat and talked and befriended the sinners and beggers and He died on a cross for those!!! He died on a cross so that we could share His love with everyone, not just a select few. He calls us to be His witnesses to a world in the dark. and the only way to do that is to be full of grace. To share the grace. To rest openly in His words. We are called to show mercy, to show compassion, like He did. We didn't deserve Him taking the beatings, the mocking, the scorn. We don't deserve His death. We don't deserve His un-ending love! And yet, He provides us with that, and much more... He provides us with grace and mercy and love all-abounding. He provides us with opportunity, with relationships, with blessings we are not worthy to recieve.
So, as I sit here, alone but yet surrounded by many....I realize that i'm not alone...and that i'm not worthy...and that this is really quite funny-that I would choose to write about Him, instead of play games with my friends...but He is worth it...and even though my writing has just been jokingly made fun of, I'm not mad....this is my voice...God's voice...and no one else's...

Slowing

The child in the manger....The joy He brings...the Joy of that night...Are the best things really ever things? Are the best gifts just merely physical gifts? Or is it more?
I slow my heartrate down....Take a deep breath. And I can feel it-the slowing, the pulsing, the beating...but that's not all I want to slow down. I want to slow down time-make it still-have more time. More time to bless. More time to give. More time to slow. That's what I need to do with this season. Slow it down. Really stop and think. Meditate. Breathe. Thank.

I sit upstairs quietly alone...at peace. Trying to feel the Lord's presence as I write one more song. As I strum those chords in hopes of finding the right pattern. In hopes of finding the right words. And time slows. It's quiet. I can breathe. And the words come. Softly but surely.
"I'm holding the King of Kings. Watching the Prince of Peace. The One who knew me before I knew Him. I'm holding the Great I Am. My baby, God's own Lamb."

I fall to my knees in the middle of the chapel. In the middle of hearts poured open. In the middle of grace. And I feel hands. And I hear prayers. Whispered. True. Heart-felt. And I cry. Oh how I cry. And time slows. My head races with "sorry"s, my hands stretch high to reach Him. To reach His grace. To reach His mercy. To reach His forgiveness. And I already have it. All of it. I already have Him. But I slow. And I rise. I go back. I sit and I cry out. I feel more hands and hear more prayers. I feel love. I feel loved. And I know I am. He's told me that before. "We love because he first loved us. " (1 John 14:9) "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, " (Ephesians 2:4). And I give Him myself. I give Him all of me. Once more. Because He is worthy. I am nothing without Him. He is grace and mercy and good and love. He is here. And how long does it take us to realize that? How long til we realize He is enough? And my heart beats open. How hard is it to be open after all you have been is closed? How do you become vulnerable when all you've been was hurt? After so many scars?
We are healed by His scars. We are healed by His wounds. That night on which He was betrayed. That night that He gave thanks. For the good and the bad. He knew He would be wounded, He knew it would hurt. But He took it all so that through His scars we might be healed. We might be remade, renewed, revived. And it's only by His comforting hands that we find peace and mercy and grace and healing. It's only by His love that we find His presence, Him here, Him alwasy-present. And we can always have more of God. We can always want more, because He gives it to us. He gives us all we need. He is always open to us, so let's be open to Him. Let's be God-struck today. Let's be God-desiring.

Monday, December 3, 2012

When things are bad, and when things are good

Everything in my life has been chaotic lately...chaotic bad, but also chaotic good... I find myself having constant joy in the LORD, and all the while forcing myself to remeber why I smile. But I also find that in the midst of pain and struggle, I am not only praying to Him, but praising Him. This is something that has required much practice, practice, practice, and much hammer, hammer, hammer.

“I hunger for filling in a world that is starved.”  (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts). Isn't that the truth, though? That this world is starved. This world is hungry; but most of us don't know what for... we strive and long for something of fulfillment, something to give us satisfaction, but we so often look for that as it being something of this world...not just in it, but of it.. we look for the humanistic side of things, rathere than the heaven-pointed side of things. we look for lust when we should be looking for true love from Him. We look for money when all our riches are in Him. We look for power when He is the one that gives power! Don't you see? All of our needs, all of our wants, all of our desires, our cravings, our strivings...they are all found completely perfect in Him. Not in this world, but in Him!!!

I'm kinda jumping from one subjec to the other tonight...but something else I want to say in this post is this: What if...what if...that is a question I have so often asked myself and asked God.... What if...I didn't have this problem? What if... I was born into a different family? What if...I died tomorrow? What if...all I have was lost? What if? What if? But instead of asking "What if?" why don't we try saying "Thank you"? Thank you for this problem. thank you for this family. Thank you for life. Thank you for all I have...because we don't know what tomorrow holds... we don't know what the next two seconds hold... but HE DOES! He is already there and He holds it all in His hands! Because isn't the question "What if" almost as if we are telling God that we aren't thankful for what we have? Isn't it like saying "Well, thank you for all I have, but couldn't you have done better?" And who would want to say that to God?! Who would want to look our creator in the eyes, and say "I'm dissapointed in what you have done"?! Just something to process.....




Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving





Today was our third and FINAL Thanksgiving.... My youngest cousin and I spent the night at my grandma's to help cook and get everything ready... this morning I drove to church and came back early to help set up for the day. Everyone started showing up around 12:30. It's always interesting to have the cousins together, and this time we added three new people -my two oldest cousin's boyfriends and my brother's girlfriend. what a household!! Thanksgiving is family dysfuntion at it's best. Other than being tired of turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the thanksgiving fixings, it was a long day with a slight headache. But I found a way to make it a great day!! My youngest cousin and I took pictures yesterday, and around 3:30 I told my brother and his grifriend that I wanted to take pictures of them...
 
Such a cute picture :) I am determining that they will get married, because I love this girl to pieces. She is such a joy and she is good to my brother... He is good to her!! They make each other laugh and I honestly think having her around has helped my brother and I's relationship... somehow... :)
 
This morning was very rough for me... full of lots of things I wish i could avoid, but happen nontheless... but I got some encouragement from a few people that I would like to share with you... The first is from a bible teacher I had in 6th grade... she is absolutely amazing... she texted me with the words "Nothing comes our way without passing through His hands first..." That really hit me... that God knows all I'm dealing with, and He knows the outcome... I just have to trust that whatever He let go through His hands to me, I can handle THROUGH and WITH Him... and that He has a reason and a plan...
The second I want to share is from a woman at our church. She is my "gramma". Love her to death, and she never fails to make me smile... She responded with "through our cracks God's light shines through!" That is something we talked about last year in small groups... that maybe the cracks in us are ways of Him shining through us when there seemed to be no other way.. Maybe the cracks aren't a bad thing, but good...she also asked me a question... "what are three words describing this time between thanksgiving and the start of advent?"
This question made me think...but I came up with "awaiting...slowing...and Holy..." She came up with "thankful...love...Holy Spirit."
What are three words you could use to describe this time???
 
 
Be grateful. Be eucharisteo. Be holy for Him.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blessings in disguise

We put our CHRISTmas tree up last night... I am always filled with joy some way or another when the CHRISTmas season is approaching. I am blessed beyond belief to know the LORD our God, and have a real realationship with Him. He is so good and gracious to us... and we so often ignore the blessings that He places right in front of us... Maybe not intentionally, but unintentionally... we just drive right past them without stopping to realize that they might actually be blessings, maybe in disguise... like a grandmother passing away...but she is free from pain... or the girl in the hospital... but she is recieving help... or maybe even the girl crying to her friend... but she is not holding it all inside... there are so many blessings we often pass by... and we don't deserve a single one of them... We recieve blessings not because of who we are or what we do...but because of who HE is and what HE has done... because HE is good...


I took this photo last year... I like it because it is an immage of a cross in the snow.... another blessing he has bestowed... the joy and glammer of glistening snow fallen soft on the ground... HE is so good... granted, we do realize many blessings from Him; like rain or snow when we need or want it... but how many times do we really thank Him for all He has done and is doing? Not very often...I challenge you to keep going on your list today...and tell me if it truly brings you joy...
" ' Noel', I hear the angels sing."
He is here and He is good.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Give Thanks


This is what I'm struggling with lately....not just simple give thanks for my home and for family...but in the constant of every day life...in every moment...in every situation... the good AND the bad... eucharisteo... it means "He gave thanks"... it's what Jesus did when He broke the bread that night at the table... He "gave thanks" or "eucharisteo"...that is how He lived... it is how I should live... but trust me... it's hard... very hard...
The Lord calls us to be His children. To be His people. To share His love... it doesn't mean that I can't have struggles or trials...it just meand that I need to learn to look to Him when I have those trials...Lately I have been bombarded with all of the bad that life can bring...seems like all life could possibly hit me with, is hitting me all at once.. straight in the gut... but what I'm learning is that my troubles may be bad....but I have a God who is bigger... much bigger... He is bigger than any mountain that I could face...
I've been reminded of my life verse a few times this week...and just at the right time... so often I forget what it really means...but what it means, is exactly what it says...Isaiah 41:10 - "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." It means that HE IS holding me... HE IS here. HE IS my GOD... HE WILL help me... HE WILL uphold me... even when it seems like i've fallen too far to get back up...because I haven't... and I never can.
As the holidays approach, it's a time of list-making..of things we want...my challenge for you at least for one week, is to make just one more list...and not of things you want...or need...but of things you already have...of things He has already blessed you with.. the small (382. hugs), the big (381. hospitals), the good (385. thousands of prayers), and the bad (242. words missunderstood)... those are just a few of my current list... a list to 1000... i'm on my way!!! Here are the last few I have written down...
381. Hospitals
382. Hugs
383. Time to write letters
384. an amazing uncle full of wisdom
385. Thousands of prayers united
386. Sharing of my testimony unexpectedly
387. God's work
383. Friendly doctors
389. Jokes during serious topics
390. Upping my medicine
391. TRUST

God is good -- all the time... <3