songforanewday

Knowing You, Meeting Me

Worshipper Me

One of my favorite songs right now, is one written by the phenomenal Freda Battle. It’s a pretty simple song with a pretty powerful punch. Here are the words:

Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that’s within me

Every day is a joy to know You as Savior and Lord

I’m reminded as I reflect on Your goodness

Your love and mercy endure forevermore

Oh, bless the name of Jesus

Oh, oh my soul, bless the name of the Lord

Oh , oh, oh, oh, bless the name of Jesus,

Oh, my soul, bless the name of the Lord

Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, the Prince of Peace

The God who heals all disease and removes all my iniquities

See? Not that complicated. I’ll bet you already have it memorized. But, I could – and have – listened to this song for hours on end. Why? Simple – I understand it.

Back in 2000, I was going to a Christian college. I grew up in a Christian home, but decided that I wanted to know if I really believed in God or just was trained to believe in God. Actually, that’s not entirely true. There was a boy (duh) that was feeling like that and even though I did have my own questions, when he decided he was an atheist, I decided that I was an atheist. It didn’t’ go so well.

My (literal) week as an atheist went something like this:

Me: I don’t believe in You anymore, God!

God: Then, why are you talking to Me?

Me: Uh…ummm…

God: And, we both know you hear Me. So, you’re either not an atheist, or you’re crazy. You pick and get back to me.

Me: Oh, crap.

I wish I could tell you I was making this up, but, there are people who were there who still (as of this past weekend in fact) like to joke about it. It doesn’t bother me. In fact, I love to remember that because it reminds me how far I’ve come.

God was right, I’m not an atheist and I never was. I am a worshipper. Worship is the stuff that makes me get up in the morning. The day we found out my son, Kameron (now 9) had cancer (he wasn’t even 2 at the time), the first thing I did was cry, the second thing I did was worship. That’s always been my go to reaction. Something bad happens – first I cry second I worship. In my entire life – even when I tried to walk away from Him – God didn’t walk away from me. He’s held me in the palm of His hand my entire life and He’s doing the same with my family. This is why it wasn’t a surprise to know that my son’s tumor shrank faster than it was supposed to and his 18 month chemo plan was finished inside of 10.

In the words of a fabulous songwriter, William Murphy, “praise is what I do”. There have been times – including during the chemo…and the autism…and the celiac disease – that people have wondered how I can still believe and turn to God. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” What that means to me is that even when my kid is sick because he’s had poison injected into his body, even when my husband has trouble finding a job, even when my mom dies, even then, my Heavenly Daddy is there to take care of us.

“For this I give You praise” (“For Every Mountain” –  Kurt Carr)

I sing because I get it. I praise because I understand. I ran away and came groveling back expecting to be reprimanded and told how much I “knew better”. But, that’s not what happened. The loving arms of my God welcomed me back and set me at a place of honor. And now? Now He’s using who I am to bring glory to Him. I love that! I get to write and to sing and to – through Him – be the very best version of me.

I’m not perfect. I’ve messed up and I’ve even been an (albeit very bad) atheist. But, it’s not my past that gets to define me. Dare I say, it’s not even my present that has to define me. It’s the words that are written on my destiny by my Creator. The words that say, “you are mine and that’s why you are enough”.

So, like I said, I’m a worshipper. It’s not what I do, it’s the DNA that makes me who I am. And now, I get to walk that out. I even get to take my cheesy dancing husband (who, btw, wasn’t the boy, but knew the boy and did know I wasn’t the atheist I claimed to be) with me. He has no rhythm, but I love him anyway. I have enough rhythm for both of us. LOL.

I guess February has been the month of me encouraging you. It’s been me letting you know that your life isn’t over and that your future is just beginning. God’s love is bigger than your past. My best friend likes to say, “your destiny stands in need of you”. Take God’s hand, find out who you are – and who you aren’t – and go get it.

See you next month,

Mo

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More Than Gold

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

“This, this is for all those girls

Boys all over the world.

Whatever you’ve been told

You’re worth more than gold

So, hold head up high

It’s your time to shine

From the inside out it shows

You’re worth more than gold.”

Gold – Britt Nicole

 

Today, I am feeling inspired. I have this amazing little sister. Well, she’s not exactly my little sister. She’s my friend’s daughter that I love like a sister. Every time I see her, she greets me with a smile and a hug and makes me feel like the entire world is stopping to love me. Not many people on the planet have that power. This awesome girl does – it’s one of the many many reasons I love her so much.

It’s not just her incredible hugs that inspire me; it’s who she is. This girl has been through so much and still she has the biggest heart of almost anyone I know. She has every reason on the planet to be jaded, and yet she just floors me with who she is. I quite literally thank God for her presence in my life.

But, here’s the thing – sometimes, I get the feeling that she doesn’t know how phenomenal she is, which I find completely tragic! She’s a teenager, and other teenagers can be mean, so I know that the brave face she tries to put on sometimes is just a really good act. I’m sure that you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So, what to do? I suppose the first place to start is the same place I always do – the Bible. Ok, so Jeremiah 29:11 is obvious – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” I love that! God takes His time to not only form us in our mother’s womb, but to plan out an amazing life for us! Even more, if we were the only one who needed His salvation, He would still consider it worth the cost. If. You. Were. The. Only. One. That’s love. In Luke 15:3-7, Jesus tells a parable about a shepherd who went out to look for one lost sheep out of 100 because He had love for each sheep and considered each to be priceless. Ok – by the same logic, each of us is priceless. Each of us is a crucial and necessary piece of God’s puzzle designed with precision and intent. That should make us feel pretty amazing!!

Oh, but what if life isn’t so great all the time? We aren’t promised that it will be. But, we are promised the love of a God that will “never leave or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). Even more, Deuteronomy 31:6 reiterates this thought: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I have four kids. I love them all. They are amazing and incredible. They each have their own personalities and quirks and idiosyncrasies that remind me of their individuality and uniqueness and remind me of how aware of God’s presence in my life I am. They are my world. Even though I love them differently, I love them equally. If something happened to one of them, I wouldn’t be happy because I’d have the other three. All four are very necessary pieces of my existence.

For that matter, so is my little sister.

So, what was the point of all this? Bragging rights? Yeah…admittedly, a little of that. But, even more, I need you to know how very much you are loved. It’s not enough for me to just live the life of a Sunday morning Christian if my life doesn’t constantly remind you that you’re worth more than gold. If I haven’t done that, I haven’t completed my mission. No matter who you are or what you’ve done or where you come from or who has forgotten about you – and this part is really important – YOU ARE LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY! You have a God who finds you more beautiful than all the stars He put in the sky. He is dazzled by your smile and amazed at your feats. He cries when you’re sad. Your prayers don’t fall on deaf ears (more on that another day). You. Are. Loved.

I know that you may not always feel that way and I know some people like to make you feel otherwise. They’re lying. You’re amazing. And, I don’t have to know you to know that. So, consider this a reminder of how incredibly special and wondrous you are. If the God who hung the sun in the sky declares you enough and worth it, who is anyone else to tell you otherwise?

Yeah…I didn’t think so.

Be blessed and feel loved!

~ Mo

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Feeling Sleepy

“I’m tired, I’m worn my heart is heavy

From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I’ve made mistakes; I’ve let my hope fail

My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world

And I know that You can give me rest

So, I cry out with all that I have left

 

Let me see redemption win

Let me know the struggle ends

That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise

From the ashes of a broken life

And all that’s dead inside can be reborn

‘Cause I’m worn; yes, I’m worn

 

–          “Worn” Tenth Avenue North

If you read anything from my old blog (which I just recently transferred here), then you know that I try to be as real and honest as I can be in my writing. Today is the kind of day that I just want to write from where I am.

I’m married. I have four kids. My oldest has autism, ADHD, a bit of anxiety and to top it off, Celiac Disease. YAY! Don’t get me wrong, I love my family. But, my life is exhausting. I have great people around me that are very supportive. But, I also have naysayers that like to throw rocks at me because they know I won’t return the favor.

In short – I’m worn.

I’m a Christian – no surprise there. I haven’t hidden it from the blog nor written about much of anything – if anything – else. I’m not just the go to church on Sunday and forget about God on Monday kind of Christian, but the type that is in relationship with the God of the Christian Bible. Every decision I make – and, particularly the ones I don’t make – is filtered through the fact that I am a Christian.

When other people are feeling worn, they typically come to me for advice because I love to encourage. I have a mental storage box of stories, scripture and song that I can break out at will for the right situation. Lately, I’ve felt a bit empty. I am running on fumes. It’s as though I’m on the highway trying desperately to keep up with the flow of traffic, but I know my gas light is on and at any moment I’m going to just stop.

I’m worn.

So, now what? I’m not the first mom to have a lot on her plate and I certainly won’t be the last. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, we read, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (NASB). I often say, “It is by the grace of God I made it through this day!” Apparently, I’m not wrong. I’m worn. And that’s ok.

This is not the best blog piece I’ve ever written and to be honest it probably isn’t the worst. I’m learning that I don’t have to rely on my own strength (which is good because I have none!!!!) “I know I need to lift my eyes up, but I’m just too weak, life just won’t let up. And I know that You can give me rest, so I cry out with all that I have left.” That I CAN do. I don’t know if I have it in me to finish cleaning my house or doing the laundry, but I can give myself a few moments to let the love of my Savior wash over me and restore me.

Jehovah Jireh is my provider. Right now, I need strength. I need to get through this day, this week, this month. I need to get to the next phase of my life and make it there in one piece. The wonderful thing is that I don’t have to do it on my own. Psalm 23:4 ”Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for You are with me.” Not my strength, but Yours.

So, I guess this is a little more to the introduction of me. I’ll write more “happy” later. In the meantime, know that if you are feeling worn, there is a very big very loving Father God who desires to let you rest in His loving-kindness. My advice to you? Go take a rest!

zzzzzzzzzz

~Mo

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Getting to Know Me

Hello, again. Even though, I found a nifty tool to import my Blogger blog to this WordPress one, I know that my last post wasn’t of the usual introductory kind (my last post having been pre-import) so, here goes. For starters, my name is Monique, and, as I said in my last post, I have a lot of nicknames. The one I go by most frequently is “Mo”. As of next Saturday (February 23) I will have been married to my best friend for ten years (YAY US!). I like to celebrate that fact, because I think marriage is a rarity anymore – at least lasting marriage. Between Hollywood and The Bachelor, I don’t think it’s an institution many take seriously anymore. That, however, is not something I plan on getting into today.

My husband, Lee, and I have four kids – two boys and two girls. They are beautiful, smart, funny, sweet, sensitive amazing kids (you’d think I was a little biased, no?) and we are completely blessed to have them. Our oldest, Kameron, was diagnosed with autism when he was 4. People still offer their sympathies when I say that. The thing is, Kameron is cuddly, ferociously funny, deeply feeling and empathetic and technologically brilliant. YOU may be sorry, but I certainly am not. God gave me my son just the way he is and I wouldn’t change him for anything.

God…yeah…that’s probably the most important thing to know about me (as if it wasn’t obvious from my last post). I love God. Not in that Sunday morning, Christmas, Easter kinda way, but in that, “this is the air I breathe” kinda way. Specifically, I am a Bible-believing Christian who does her very best to be a little bit more loving like Jesus every day. Some days, I’m not so good at it. For a long time, I’d let my many imperfections get the best of me. For a Bible-believing Christian who can quote Scripture pretty well, sometimes it’s easy for me to forget one of the most important verses I need to remember.

Romans 8:1-2   “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

For years, I struggled with fear of abandonment. There are those who don’t like it when I talk about this, because they think it comes from a place of un-forgiveness. I was raised by my mom following my parents’ divorce when I was a baby. I didn’t see my dad again until I was 14. The fact that I’m past that doesn’t change the fact that it affected me. What I “learned” from that experience is that I was expendable. I “learned” that in other ways, too. People I thought loved me would walk in and out of my life at their leisure. So, I became terrified of vulnerability and relationships. For a long time, it was hard not to see God through that same fear.

I tried to be “good”, even though the Bible tells us in Romans 3:10, “As it is written, there is no one righteous, not even one.” That should have been freeing, but it only made me feel worse. No matter how hard I tried, I could never be good enough (Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God).

Here’s the thing I have figured out since then – I was right. No, in my own strength, I will never be good enough. No matter how well I sing on Sunday, how many inspirational blogs I post or books I write or songs I (hope to eventually) record, I will never be good enough. If I could be I wouldn’t need a Savior.

And, I do.

I’ve also learned (ok, well, figured out I have to remember) that as long as I wake up each morning and continue to breathe, there is still time. It’s funny that so many of the verses I memorized as a child – and really didn’t take hold then – mean so much to me now. For example:

Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”

I’m. Not. Done. Yet.

Remember the movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights? One of my favorite parts of that movie is when Robin misses in the archery contest and then flips through the script to proclaim, “Wait a minute! I get another shot!” Well, so do I. I’ve missed the mark. We all have. But, through the grace of our loving God, we get another shot. My goal is to spend every day making it the best shot yet.

And, that, in a (very long) nutshell, is me.

~Mo

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My Daughter’s Nickname

Do you have a nickname? I probably have about 15. A few of my nicknames are just shortened forms of my real name, while others are used only by a select few and typically are based on some inside joke. There is only one person on the planet that calls me Moglifoofoo and we both know exactly why that is. It speaks to who we are. No one who was just a casual acquaintance would dare even call me “MoMo”.  That is a name reserved for the best of the best, my absolute dearest, those close enough to be considered family. I’m sure the same is true for you.

I got to thinking about nicknames last week because of a story told to me about my six year old daughter, Regan, by her Kindergarten teacher. Both my girls go to a WONDERFUL Christian school, my husband’s alma mater. When we met for parent teacher conferences last week, she asked us about Regan’s nicknames as we were wrapping up. “Have you noticed how Regan has been writing REV (pronounced re-vee) instead of Regan on her papers?” We had been wondering about that, as a matter of fact. So, she told us the story of Regan explaining the change.

Susan: Regan, why do you keep writing “Rev” on your paper?
Regan: It’s my nickname!
Susan: Oh, does your middle name begin with a V?
Regan: Nope!
Susan: Do your mommy or daddy call you Rev?
Regan: No
Susan: Then, how is that your nickname?
Regan: It’s what God calls me when He talks to me.

I was dumbfounded. My daughter not only recognizes the Voice of God, but they talk enough to be on a nickname basis. God has given my daughter a nickname. What a relationship they must have! I began to wonder if this is why Recee (which is what we call her) is so content to play by herself. She interacts and plays with her friends and siblings just fine, but she is perfectly happy to enjoy the quiet space in life and – apparently – talk to her Daddy God.

In the first chapter of Jeremiah, God calls the young man to be a prophet. In perhaps one of the most famous passages in the Old Testament, Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah is reassured that his age makes no difference in verse 7: But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.

We were told, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions (Joel 2:28). Certainly, this should not be a surprise. The more and more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’m jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the Voice of God – it’s been not only a guide to me, but has helped me to write the blogs that have been a support to those I care about. But, I can’t say that God has ever given me a nickname!!!

My beautiful baby – opps, I mean big – girl has yet to be jaded by the disapproving murmurs of those who told her what is unlikely or impossible. No one has yet told her she isn’t enough for this or that. All she knows – all she needs to know – is that God loves her enough to talk to her often and give her a nickname.  Oh, that we all had that child-like faith!!! Whenever Regan hears her father call for his Recee, she comes running to his arms; she feels the love of her daddy just from the way he calls her. It doesn’t matter if she was just in time-out, when Daddy calls, Recee knows he loves her. She doesn’t question it or think about it, she just knows.  Apparently, she feels the love of her Daddy God the same way.

That’s my goal for this year. I don’t want to get so caught up with what’s right in front of me, that I forget that my Abba Father takes care of me and loves me and treasures me. I don’t want to get so stressed that I don’t take the time out to spend time with my Daddy God because of everything else that “has to get done”.  I want God to give me a nickname.

Of course, that puts pressure on me. Those friends who get to call me MoMo – I spend time with them. I call them, we hang out. We do things together. We grow as a unit and have a deep relationship because of how much we’ve been through together. They are my family.

How much more does that need to be true of my Savior? Believe me when I say that my friends have done a lot for me. They were there for me when my (now 9) 2 year old son was going through cancer treatments. At the same time as my mom. 600 miles apart. They were with me when my mom later died and through my son’s autism diagnosis. Every battle I’ve had to fight in the past several years, I did with some of the best people on the planet at my side. I honor and treasure every last one of them for who they are.

But, they don’t love me like God does. They didn’t go to Calvary for me. I need to be more passionate about my relationship with my Heavenly Father than about any of the other people in my life. We need to spend more time together. That’s one of the best ways relationships are cultivated.

I want God to give me a nickname. Before Regan turns 7 in September, I want to be able to tell her how she inspired a positive change in my world – and in the world of those around me. If God gives out nicknames, I’m getting in line for mine.

How about you?

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