Thursday, June 26, 2014

An Anniversary Celebration!

"Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself." 
- Anonymous 

June 26, 1998 - 16 years ago I attended my first ever Hanson concert. It was the first, but it was not the last.

You might as well know that I kind of have an undying love for this band of brothers from the 90's.

I can't believe that night was 16 years ago. Wow, how life has changed so much since then. In so many ways, I have been so blessed because of this band.

Having a love for music runs in my blood. I can't play an instrument or carry a tune but I feel music so passionately. This band has been the first of many that has ignited my heart and given me hope and inspiration. As well as something to jam out to in my car and impromptu dance parties in friend's garages.

When I fell in love with Hanson I had no idea the doors it would open. Their first CD "Middle of Nowhere" was constantly on repeat. I loved the quote I found tonight as I was writing this, "Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere you find yourself." My friend and I recently chuckled about God's plan. It's so funny. You see, I met her when I was a Hanson fan, some 15 years ago. That's half my life! So half my life ago I met this amazing girl and we were friends because we loved Hanson together. 

Recently, I felt called by God to reach out to someone to grow in my faith and networking of Christian friends. I thought of my friend, whom I hadn't talked to in a while and whom I haven't seen in forever. We got together to talk about God and life. We realized He has had this planned this whole time. 

I have pictures with Hanson but I have so many more pictures of the memories I've made because of them. Pictures of friends that have that connected with each other because of Hanson and stayed together because we realized that we are just awesome. True story.

It's more than just friends though. 

It paved the path for me to want more for my life. 

If you look at my family's history, I don't have much inspiration. College, full time career? Just graduating high school was a first.

Yet, because of Hanson I became very connected with a few awesome radio DJs. Like, really good friends. We would talk all the time on the phone, they called my mom, "Mom". Amazing. I wanted to be just like them. Even though I was still in high school, this became my dream job. It encouraged me to further my education. 

Though I am obviously not a radio DJ today, I did graduate college. I have a full time job. I bought a brand new car that I just paid off today! (Woohoo! This date is amazing! ;)) So. Many. Things. This love grew my desire to network on social media. Hi, my name is Sheri and I used to have an E-Newsletter titled "Hansonitis". Yup.

Things I never thought were possible. Dreams I would have never realized if this band didn't open my heart to do more with my life.

One of my all time favorite songs was more like a prayer for me. I realize today that as I sang along God knew this was a true desire in my heart. One He has definitely begun to fulfill.

I'm looking for a song to sing,
Looking for a friend to borrow.
I'm looking for my radio,
So that I might find a heart to follow.
-A Song to Sing

I'm not going to lie. I still get giddy at their concerts. And yes, I still go. 

In fact, I went to a concert this summer and it was the best concert of theirs I have ever been at to date. Old songs, new songs. Old memories, new memories. I jumped up and down singing the whole time and felt the 15 years I had aged in my shortness of breath!

That night I felt so connected to a higher power. Literally, everything worked out perfectly. Because, Hanson fans are still crazy, they still wait line for GA. We skipped the crazy party that day (only because we didn't have another choice - otherwise you bet I would have been there). We still had an amazing spot. In fact, one of the best I've had. It was amazing.

My mom had been heavy on my heart and mind that day. She loved this stuff. She encouraged my crazy and laughed along with me. During the concert they played a song they hardly ever play. It's from their first album I owned. It's called "With You in Your Dreams" and they wrote it about their grandmother who had passed away. I felt like this was a sign that my mother is still with me even if I can't see her. I even asked her if she would be so kind as to let us meet Hanson after the show.

And we did! It wasn't the first time for me but it was something I really hoped would happen again!

Listening to their music always makes me feel free. Makes me feel alive. Everyone has a place they feel home. When I hear this music it always takes me back to a time when life felt so carefree even though it wasn't. A place of peace, happiness, and joy. Even if it's just for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

So today, on the anniversary of my first Hanson concert, I wanted to share.

To show that life can change so much. But God is orchestrating it all. The people I have met, the memories I've made, the friendships I've had. It's all been such a blessing and it's one that I am still reaping the benefits from. 

I would have never thought that God would take something like a small band of brothers from Tulsa, OK to change a girls heart and life in Lil' Rhode Island, but He did.

He always meets us in the most unexpected places. Where has He met you?


Broken angel you've got to learn to fly
Get up and earn your wings tonight...
-Hanson, Broken Angel

Monday, June 16, 2014

Just Wait

Just a brief little observation today, friends.

Lately I've been challenged by God to wait on Him. While there are obvious parts of my life I have applied this to, He's also surprised me with parts I didn't expect.

I'm beginning to learn how exciting it can be to wait on God. The bible says to ask, expecting that you will receive an answer. To wait and worry at the same time can be considered signs of a double minded person. You either trust that God is going to come through or you don't. If you trust, expect an answer.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. - James 1:6-7

So we ask and believe we'll receive a response. God will answer. Don't believe me, start journaling. Write down the things you pray to God and go back and see how He has answered. If you're like me, you'll find sometimes you received answers and didn't even remember it had been a prayer request at all.

Doing this has really grown my faith. It's easy to "think" God hasn't responded. But when it's here, in your own writing, your request....and you sit here months later looking back at the things you asked, you can't deny the spots where He has answered.

But wait, there's more... (I crack myself up, does anyone else laugh at these cheese ball puns?!)

Not waiting for God robs Him of the opportunity to surprise you.

This is what I realized today. I couldn't help but marvel at how God would take something I've really struggled with and show me how it can apply to something simple and light hearted as well. If I expect God will come through for me and believe it no matter what, then there's no reason for me to move before He does.

I'm not denying that there are times you need to move. I believe God will make sure you are aware of it, too. I'm specifically talking about waiting. In every aspect of the word. Maybe it's waiting for a duration of time, waiting for an answer, waiting for a breakthrough. Since I have felt challenged to wait, He came through and showed me today how I can and should be able to apply that in everyday instances as well.

To wait expectantly on God ignites a sense of curiosity. It removes the need to be in control. I reached out to someone today who said they were actually going to reach out to me today as well. I just beat them to it. Had I been patient and waited, I would have been pleasantly surprised. God knows I doubt if people really think of me or if it's simply because I've jumped the gun and reached out to them first.

When you think about it, wouldn't it be exciting to just wait for God to orchestrate things? I know He's the professional, I'm just a clumsy stagehand. I want to see Him at work. I want to look at this beautiful production of life and know that it wasn't because I tried to make things work myself. Instead, it's because God is amazing at what He does.

I love surprises. I love knowing that someone took the time to put something together specifically with me in mind. Waiting on God let's Him surprise me. I'm not peeking under the gift wrap or shaking the box. I never liked trying to guess my gifts. I don't want to know. So why should life be any different? This life is a gift.

I know I have a tendency to be impatient. If things seem to be taking too long, I try to speed it up. If someone isn't getting back to me right away, I contact them again. If God "isn't doing anything", then I do something.

What I learned today is such a blessing. There's so much talk about the Lord doing work through you. Yet perhaps, when the Lord is telling you to be still and wait, it's because He wants to do something for you.

Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted - Isaiah 30:18

In order for God to receive glory, we need to stop moving ahead of Him.
Just be still and wait on the Lord.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Restoration Project - I Am Loved

With this title I could talk for days. The ways God has shown me that I am loved is countless. I just can't measure it. It's in the little things. It's in the big things. But I wanted to share specifically what God had drawn me to about a month ago.

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress....
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy.
They rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest....
The zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this. - Isaiah 9

If you were to hang around me long enough you would discover that I get really excited about "researching." It could be what is the absolute best new place we need to try for dinner or where to take a weekend trip and most recently finding the deeper meaning in scripture.

I came across this scripture on the same day I prayed for Peace to Resistance and also the day I further applied my life to sowing seed to bear fruit (which may be a post in the future... there's so much there I'm still unearthing it all... hehe, did you see what I did there?) I digress. This is important because this scripture says that I am going to rejoice before my God as people rejoice when harvest has come around.

I don't know a lot about farming. I know I love my local farmer. I love farmers markets. I love fresh produce. Especially tomatoes and garlic and basil... I know that harvest can also be applied to the time to pick grapes for wine and delicious grape jelly. I have been blessed to be able to do this with friends. Let me tell you, it was so much fun. I may have climbed a wall and scaled a tree to get a cluster of grapes. I might have got a little excited. The point is, I know harvest time is exciting. It is when you get to see the seeds you've planted bear fruit. It is a happy time.

God is promising here that the people who were in distress will be removed from their gloom and instead given something to rejoice about. How? The zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this. 

So then I wondered, do I really know what zeal means? What is the definition?
Zeal is the fervor or tireless devotion for a person, cause, or ideal and determination in its furtherance; diligent enthusiasm; powerful interest. Synonyms are intensity and passion. 
Sounds like the God I've been coming to know.

I found a definition from a catholic dictionary, "The vehement movement of one who loves to secure the object of his love. In it's religious sense it is applied solely to the zeal inspired by the love of God, to the ardent endeavors and works under taken to promote His glory."

I looked up the word vehement. I'll be honest, I didn't know the definition of this one whatsoever.

Vehement: Forceful energy, powerful, intensely emotional. Deeply felt. Forcibly expressed. Passionate.

See any familiar words? How about powerful and passionate.

This is our God. God's love for me and you is passionate, "a tireless devotion." I believe the definition from the catholic dictionary was referring more to the actions of His followers. But we have to remember that we love because He first loved us. God is love. So if we are actively pursuing others into this relationship with Christ it's because He inspired us to. We are mimicking the character of our Lord. I know He moves to secure us, the object of His love.

I just love hearing about God's intense love. (That's a lot of love!) I enjoy it so much I forget that there's promise for reaping here. That harvest is coming. My prayers and actions I've been planting are going to sprout of some glorious blessings. Not because of the work that I've done, but because of God's powerful love for me.

During this love fest I came across this scripture. (I told you, God was talking to me, it was all I could do to take notes fast and accurately).
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. - 2 Corinthians 9:10
I think this is amazing. Simply because of his vehement love for us! He gives more than I can even think to ask for. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. - Ephesians 3:20
Hopefully you are as excited as me. This is incredible. God loves us so much that anything we ask or pray for He will increase simply because He loves to bless us! Because He's passionately chasing after us trying to secure our love. A love that is secure does not go anywhere. Something that is secure holds strong even when it is shaken. He longs to strengthen us spiritually. He wants to see us succeed. He has a determination in our furtherance. So He blesses us abundantly more than we can dream so that we know that we are His and there's no where better. Even during the waiting season. Even when the rain isn't coming and it looks like there's not a chance this will be the year. Because of His generous blessings in the past we will have faith to hold on. We are secure.

Photo Credit:

It just makes me smile so big. So truly blessed for His undeserving love. Even though I fail and even though I fail Him, He loves me with that same zeal that He loves me with when I get it right. None of us deserve it but He gives us all the same forgiveness and grace.

I am praying you see all the hope of promise here. No matter what your season may look like right now. If you are waiting, if the ground is parched and all seems impossible, remember who your God is. He is mightier than any and He is above all. He is promising you, right here, right now, that there is a season of blessings ahead. You are going to harvest far more than you prayerfully requested. He is going to amaze you. He loves you and He loves to bless you because of that crazy love. He is waiting until the perfect moment to sprout your harvest. Don't lose hope! A great light is coming.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Restoration Project - I Am Worthy [Peace to Resistance]

As I've mentioned throughout this blog, I am a giant work in progress. I came to God in a crumpled up mess. Broken pieces carried from years and years of pain. Crushed spirit from a recent relationship that did not work out at all how I anticipated it would. Messy, cluttered, broken, crushed.. you name it.

God has been compassionately picking up each piece of shattered me that was on the ground and has been putting them in place where He wants them. Recently I wrote about discovering that I am enough. Today I want to discuss about how He's been teaching me that I am worthy.

I suppose you could almost think these two go hand in hand. In a way they do. Since I didn't feel I was enough, I also felt like I wasn't worthy of a second chance. I didn't feel I deserved the good life I missed out on. These two thoughts were the major players in making me as broken as I was. It stemmed from years of pain that I pushed into the past that resurfaced when my hopes vanished in a fleeting moment that somehow seemed to stand still. Honestly, just talking about this pain has me feeling a little 'meh' right now. But trust me when I say, He's done an amazing restoration on me.

On Easter Sunday, I had A LOT on my mind. I prayed a ton and wrote in my journal even more. So grateful I did that because I am able to see where He has been diligently working to rebuild my life. On this day I felt prompted to pray for Peace to Resistance. I didn't even know what it meant and I admitted that to God while agreeing to pray anyway. So I prayed based on what I thought it meant. I didn't even know if it was peace 'to', 'from' or 'for'?! It didn't matter. I just prayed.

I prayed for healing in relationships with family and friends. I thought perhaps the resistance was a term referred to for letting go. A peace that comes from letting go of the urge to resist His plan and take matters into my own hands. I also prayed for the Lord to show me understanding. Because really, I had not a clue what this even meant, but it sure does sound nice, right? All I knew was, if God was prompting me to it then I needed it.

The next night it was still on my mind so I googled it. Let me say, not at all what I thought it meant! (Geez, my prayers must have gave Him a chuckle!)

What I found, thanks to Wikipedia, is that 'Peace to Resistance' refers to the best part or feature of something. "It can be thought of as the portion of a creation that 'resists' orthodox or common conventions and practices, thereby making the whole of the creation unique and special." 

I couldn't believe it. Here in front of my eyes God was speaking to me. He was whispering that I am worthy. I told you all how I cried feeling that I wasn't loved uniquely. This just spoke to me. Something that is a unique creation is certainly more valuable than a cookie-cutter mold, right? It's like God was telling me that I am a peace to resistance in His eyes. That His love for me is a unique and special creation because He created me to be unique and special.

The description goes on to say, "The phrase gives the sense that the referred to element is the most outstanding, notable, or defining of the collection." Most outstanding, notable ... the defining of the collection!? It just feels a little extreme. But I'm learning that's what God does. What's more noteworthy is the fact that I know He means it. Not because I am so sure of myself but because I am that sure of His love. This has nothing to do with me feeling this for my own courageous reasons (though, I wish I could say I did!) and everything to do with how He keeps showing me His love over and over.

As if that wasn't enough, it goes on to say, "The term is also used when someone is finishing something and calls the last piece to complete the build the pièce de résistance." How amazing. At this moment I truly believe He was telling me this is it. This is His work, He's the builder and He's going to give me that last piece that makes me worthy. I have prayed for Him to work in my life before moving into the next important phase of my life. I know this part is integral for my journey. This seals the deal and erases any questions. I am His and I am worthy of being loved not just by the Creator himself, but by others as well.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." - 2 Corinthians 4:7

A while back the pastor at church referred to the verse of the clay jars. He spoke about how the jars were cracked so that His light that is inside of us can shine outward for others to see.

That's how others can come to know Jesus. I loved that. That through my brokenness someone else can see Jesus. That's kind of the whole point. It's what I've spoke about here and here. That's what I've wanted out of all of this, if nothing else.

“Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” - Ephesians 5:14

Then I heard another pastor speak of a Japanese art form and thought how beautifully it ties this all together. "When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful." -Billie Mobaved. The name for this art is Kintsugi (Literally, the Art of Broken Pieces). Another translation says it is the 'Meaning of Mending'.

The process of Kintsugi welds broken pieces of ceramics back together with gold. Instead of throwing these once cherish possessions away, they are repaired with one of the worlds most precious metals. At first glance it's so bizarre - that they would fix the cracks not only with something so precious, but also something so visible. I don't know about you, but I don't like people to see all my cracks. I further more don't need others to see what's been repaired. (Although, perhaps that all went out the window the day I signed up for a blog). However, I adore that there is visible beauty in the broken with this art form.

Photo Credits:
How can we not draw a correlation to God's work in our lives from Kintsugi? We all have a wound that we don't want to share, a part of us that we know is broken, but why would we ever want to broadcast that? God sees those broken pieces. He will work on us regardless of if we ask for His help or not. But when we do finally ask for His help, He repairs us with gold. He takes the broken pieces, puts us together and then puts us on display for His glory. God is the gold here. He is what holds us together and makes us beautiful and worthy.

What's also great is these restored pieces hold more value than the original version of itself. It's been said some people break pieces intentionally so they will be worth more. Now, I can't imagine wanting to be broken just so I can be repaired, but it is amazing how we can become more valuable once we've allowed Him to put us together. Piece by piece.

Another great thought is that no two cracks are the same, therefore all pieces are put together differently. "Thereby making the whole of the creation unique and special." I love that some ceramics have a lot of repairs and others have just a few that are deeper and require more gold in places. Just like us.

I loved how this blog described it. "As a philosophy Kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Perfection being seen as the result of imperfection. The damaged or flawed being honored as an essential in enhancing an object."

Perhaps why I was broken in the first place was so God could show me how wonderful it is to let Him fix me. So that I could see that this is what makes me beautiful. To embrace my brokenness. This restoration alone makes me worthy and it's this brokenness that increases my value. Truth is, we're all broken. Whether we admit it, talk to anyone about it, or just hide it, maybe even from ourselves. We each have something that needs God's mighty hands to fix. I think knowing how wonderful His results are will leave me more humble and graciously open to accepting His help. Admitting I can't piece these broken parts back together myself. Honestly, I couldn't even find where the pieces fit if I tried (Of course, I've tried). But He knows where it all goes because He is the one who made me. He completes me and makes me the unique and special creation He intended me to be. He puts me on display and thinks I'm beautiful. He believes I am worthy of more than sitting in the ashes of my broken pieces. He not only restores me but adds value to my life at the same time.

It's important to remember that this message is not only for me. This message is for anyone who needs to hear that you are worthy of God's love. I am just His clay vessel, here to deliver the glorious light of Jesus himself. I pray this revelation will also help you come know how loved and valuable you are in the eyes of our Savior.