I've Moved!

This little blog has moved over to the official AHeartSurrendered.com! Check it out; can't wait to see you there.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

thanksgiving and the beginning of a new season

Here I am, sitting in a chair in my bedroom, laptop on my lap, headache lingering over me, exhaustion overtaking my limbs, swell in my throat.  I'm sick.  And tired.  And sick.

But as I have spent the last 24 hours in bed, just tossing and turning, catching bits of sleep here and there, I have had a lot of time to do, well, nothing.  In fact, my head has been hurting so badly, that it has felt as though I could not control my own thoughts.  Sigh.  But here I am, writing a blog post--two days after Thanksgiving.  I thought about writing a Thanksgiving post, my first reaction was, I feel like garbage, I can't think about being thankful right now, it hurts too badly!

I can almost feel His smile over me.   Amy, is your view so small?

I gave you hands to work.

I gave you parents that love each other.

I gave you siblings that love you.

A family to belong to.

Little brothers to make you smile.

A name that encapsulates who you are to Me, Beloved.

My perspective changes, my head throbs less and I smile.  Yes, Lord.  How did I not see it before?

I wish I had more photos from Thanksgiving, but everything got pretty busy once the family began to arrive.  What a blessing that is in and of itself--that we have family that enjoys us, that wishes to spend time with us!

So here I am, the last day of November, the first of December a mere couple of hours away.  Has the year flown by so quickly? As I look forward to this last month of 2013, December, admittedly my favorite month of the year, I grin with anticipation.  The month in which we begin the celebration of Immanuel.  God with us. 

The month that we seize the opportunity to celebrate the fact that God put on flesh to dwell among us.

To feel pain with us.
To cry with us.
To laugh with us.
To tell us stories.
To teach us about His kingdom.

To die for us.
To feel pain for us.
To cry for us.
To conquer death for us.
To give us victory.

...and His life on earth all began as a tiny cell.  A minuscule miracle of molecules, clinging to the side of a virgin's uterus. 

How beautiful is this?

My dear readers, I know that I probably rambled a little, and my brain is not on the organized side, lol!  But I ask you, is it not fitting that Thanksgiving should come a mere few days before the beginning of the season in which we remember the greatest Gift that mankind has ever received?

I gave you Jesus.

The best Gift, the most life-changing Gift, the most earth-shattering Gift began as a tiny Gift.
It was not fireworks. Not a grand procession.  Not a big surprise party.
It was silent.  Small.  Precious.  Fragile.

As we rush out of Thanksgiving, and into the month of December, I charge you--wherever you are, whatever you may be going through: you have something to be thankful for.


I love you, my dear readers, and I am grateful for you!
I leave you now with a few photos I snapped on my phone a couple minutes ago while cuddling one of my gifts: my precious baby brother Paul as I was yanking myself out of my sickie rut and getting the guts to write a blog post... ;-)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

sacrifice and the impossible promise

We all have things that we hold near and dear.  Parents, siblings, pets, dreams, desires.  Love and relationships are a part of life, they give us worth.  Dreams and desires give us drive, give us hope for the future.

But what happens when God asks you to give them up?

One of my mentors and I have been discussing this topic recently.  I was sharing with her how I was struggling with a passion, a dream.  I knew it was biblical.   I could testify with the Word of God that my desire was from Him, that it was something that He loves.  But I was struggling because I wasn't seeing the fulfillment of it.  It didn't make sense to me.  If it was something that I loved, and He loved it too, why would He not want to freely give it to me?

Instead, He asked me to sacrifice it to Him.  Whaaaaaat?  God, you told me this is good!  You told me this is holy!  You promised it to me!  Why can't I have it?

"Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." (Genesis 22:2b)

God had given Abraham a promise.  He promised that He would bless Abraham and his wife Sarah with a son in their old age; an impossible promise!  Years later, a baby boy was born.  He was named Isaac.

The boy that was to be the father of a new nation.  The boy through whom God would come to dwell among men as a man.  Through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed.  The promised one.  The impossible dream come true.

And God told Abraham to sacrifice the boy.

So how did Abraham respond?

The very next verse:
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. (Genesis 22:3)

Abraham didn't flinch.  In fact, the first sentence starts with "so"... as though of course that's what he would do!  God told him to, so he did it, right?

I can imagine myself bargaining with God, and trying to remind Him of His own promises before making any sudden moves.  "Wait a second, Lord.  Let's not be too hasty here. Remember, what You said about through him all the nations being blessed and stuff?  This kid can't be a father to anybody if he's dead!  Maybe we can strike up a deal here..."

But Abraham didn't do any such thing.  Instead he rose early in the morning--he didn't waste any time at all. Didn't just eventually "get to it"; he went above and beyond so that at the earliest he could possibly obey (without question, I might add), he did.

Once Abraham and Isaac make it to the top of the mountain,  Abraham binds him and lays him on the altar.  The knife is in Abraham's hand to slay his son, and the angel of the Lord calls out from heaven and stops him.

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”  (Genesis 22:11)

Abraham answers humbly, he is in the process of killing his son, as a result of what God had commanded him.  His heart is in shreds.  His only son that he loves more than life itself, he is sacrificing on an altar. Because God told him to.  God didn't give an explanation.  He just told him to.  Now, knife in hand, poised above the beating heart of his impossible dream come true, how does Abraham respond?  With humility, "Here I am."

He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22:12)

Can you imagine the relief that washed over Abraham's heart?  Can you imagine the joy?

What do you think was Abraham's secret to giving Isaac up to God?  How could he bear to hold a knife to his son's chest?  How could he put the same wood on the back of his son that would be that which would burn the very flesh off his bones?


Okay, it sounds like total "church talk", but hear me out:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

Abraham had such faith, that he believed that to fulfill that which God had promised, He would raise Isaac from the dead if He had to.  Abraham knew that God does not change.  When He makes a promise, it will not be broken.  Therefore, Abraham had faith in the promises of God, that even when he was told to sacrifice his impossible dream on the altar, he knew that everything that God had promised He would bring to pass.  Abraham's was only to obey, and leave the rest up to God.

You know, it interesting to note that, up to the point of Abraham, there hadn't been any resurrections.  No one had ever been raised from the dead (from what is recorded in the Bible).  Just like Abraham believed that God would make good on His impossible promise of Isaac's birth in his and Sarah's old age, Abraham believed that God was big enough to continue His impossible work, and do something never before done.

Think about it.  We have heard stories in the New Testament about people being raised from the dead, and yet do we have enough faith to believe that if we were to sacrifice one of our children on the altar to God, that He would raise them from the dead?

Abraham obeyed God and trusted that God would bring about whatever happened for His glory, and to the advancement of His kingdom.

What about you?  What is your Isaac?  What has God called you to lay on the altar as proof of your love for Him?

As for me, I have taken my Isaac, my own impossible dream, and I have laid it on the altar.  I have faith that God will make good on His promise, that His plan will go forth through my obedience, and that His kingdom will advance as a result of my surrender.  Do I expect to have my dream back?  No.  I can't.  It's a sacrifice. I must trust that even if it were to die, He has the power to raise it from the dead for His sake, not mine.

It's a test.  Do I love Him enough to sacrifice my dream so that He can advance His kingdom?

"I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, 'Lord, this causes me such heartache.' To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness."

~Oswald Chambers {My Utmost for His Highest}

Monday, November 4, 2013

song of faith

Today was my sister Melody's 15th birthday.  Wow, I seriously can't believe she's 15 already.  Just yesterday she was 2, toddling after me in the backyard. Now, she is a young woman, blazing a trail in front of me.

A little less than a year ago, I hacked into Mel's blog and wrote a post about her.  Here's a portion that I thought was fitting for today:

 Melody is the third child in our family-- the first child born after my mom and dad made the decision to trust God in the amount of children that they were to have.  When my mom was pregnant with her, a woman at our church at the time prophesied over her, proclaiming that the baby within would be a "Warrior for the Lord".  My mom, unknowing the baby's gender, and having had 2 girls beforehand, assumed that maybe this meant that this new baby would be a boy-- a strong boy that would grow up into a courageous man, to do great things for the Lord, to greatly advance His kingdom through dramatic, great and mighty acts.  

 Lo, and behold, on November 4, 1998, a baby girl was born.  My parents named her Melody Faith which literally means, "Song of Faith".  In faith they gave their womb to the Lord.  They knew that it wouldn't be easy, everywhere we heard about the financial and domestic difficulties in the abundance of children.  But they believed that God's word says that "children are a gift from the Lord..." (Psalm 127) and that if God is willing to give you a gift, who are you to deny it?  They took a leap of faith, and were blessed.

  Melody was a blessing of a baby.  If you ask my mom, out of the 9 of us so far, she was probably the best-- most easy going and content.

  Melody is 5 years younger than me, but she has always been my best friend.  She has always had a soft and gentle heart.  She has always loved the Lord-- I mean it.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that.  I know it sounds weird, but she has.  God has always, always had His hand on her-- from the womb.  She puts me to shame, as I watch her pray, read her Bible, her zeal, love for the Lord spills over-- contagious.  Her heart for people, missions, inspires me.  I know that God has some amazing plans for her.

(You can read the full post here.)

Since I wrote this post, Melody has only grown beyond what I could ever imagine.  She has since written two novels, she is Momma's "go getter girl" for our Farmer's Market business, she has been teaching herself guitar...  her hard work ethic, her passion and drive are such an encouragement and inspiration to me!

I'm always bragging on her to my friends.  I have people that have not even met her that know how awesome she is!  I share her story of her heart for the orphans of Brazil, I share the story of her birth, and the meaning of her name... I probably annoy people with how much I talk about her, lol!

Melody Faith,

You inspire me daily, you keep me on my toes; I appreciate you so much!  Keep pressing forward, stay strong in the faith. I'm so excited watching you grow into the young woman that you are becoming.  I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for you next.  Keep inspiring others in their walks with Jesus!

You are my best friend, I love you so much, girlie!


I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 1:3-6