Building Blocks

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It’s been awhile since I have blogged. I’ve had lots going on amidst the miscarriage, my trip to Texas for Premier’s National Rally, and the recent vacation in Wisconsin visiting family that I just returned from. I’m trying to get back on track though! 😉

The beginning of June I got my acceptance letter for Southeastern University, a Christian college in Lakeland, Florida. I attended for a semester in 2012 but due to the hour commute and decrease in BAH (housing allowance from the government) I returned to the University of Tampa to finish my degree. However, since I have graduated from there, I decided that it was time to return to school for something I feel called to do, and that is lead worship.

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I didn’t find out about needing to apply to the music department and submit a video audition until about a week before the deadline. I was a bit concerned about all of the scales I had to do, as I wasn’t used to doing scales. I had some questions and was given the email (during the summer) of the associate-professor of music. He was very good with emailing me and helping me choose a classical selection as well as answering any other questions I had. He also told me not to worry about the scales, as they will be removing that from the requirements! Praise the Lord! (God wink 1)

Furthermore, I was in communication with the school and discovered that they extended the deadline by two months! (God wink 2) Thankfully, I was able to get my application and video submitted 4 days after the original deadline of July 1st.

July 12th I found out that I had been accepted to the music department and I cried so many tears of joy. I have sang on worship teams for the past 6 years or so, but was never really given the opportunity to grow in my gifting. This was now becoming a reality. Furthermore, Casey and I returned to our old church in March, and I am back on the team there, and will be singing this coming Sunday. 😀

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Tears of joy when I got my acceptance letter into the music department!

I’m going somewhere with this. While in Wisconsin I called SEU to find out when the music theory placement exam was going to be, as I can’t register for my classes until I take the exam. I told the gal that I spoke with that I couldn’t seem to get a hold of anyone in the music department when I called there. She gave me the number to the chair of the music department as well as someone else I had tried calling several times. I decided to call the chair.

He apparently had JUST walked into his office (which is why he answered rather casually). I asked about the exam and he said they would be sending out an email with details on it. The conversation could of stopped there, but I proceeded to tell him of my concerns with music theory, as I never was good at it. I explained how I made first chair in orchestra years in a row and was accepted to Blake High School after auditioning, but was put in with beginner’s once they learned I didn’t know theory. He told me that he would be my advisor (God wink 3) and proceeded to tell me what I needed to study for the exam: augmented and diminished triads, how to build major and minor scales, key signatures, etc. (God wink 4) Anyone who knows music theory probably knows that this is what will be on there, but I am CLUELESS. He said if I didn’t do well on the exam it could add a semester of remedial classes to my degree. I have about 9 months of free schooling left on my GI Bill, which is about three semesters. According to my calculations I will have my degree in that time—without the remedial classes.

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I’m amazed at the grace I have been given with this whole process, and the “God winks” of being directed to the right people at the right time. My Music Theory for Dummies book arrived yesterday, and I plan to get to studying. On the cover I noticed it says, “Identify the building blocks of music.” Hmmmmm, This could be important, especially if I want to write music . . .

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Building blocks. I know how to sing, am good with harmonizing, intonation, etc., but I know nothing of keys, note names (what is what), etc. In orchestra I could see a piece of sheet music and play it without a problem. I knew where my fingers needed to go on the neck board based on where the notes landed on the staff, when to rest, when to hold half or whole notes etc., but I really knew nothing of what the notes were called or anything else for that matter. That is why I got an F in orchestra in high school when we studied theory, decided to drop the course, and sold the $900 viola Dad had bought me.

So, I am in for a challenge. There is so much more to music than simply doing what you know to do. When I began teaching myself guitar and learning chords I remember how proud I was of myself. I also remember my brother who was in a band look at me and say, “Whoa, you’re actually playing the cords!” I laughed and asked, “How do you play guitar?” “Power cords,” he answered. (Whatever THAT means.) LOL.

What about our faith? We can know how to treat others with kindness, attend church, tithe a portion of our income to the church, etc., but not know the building blocks of our faith. So what are they?

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1.) Salvation: We must know God’s true character, that He is loving, and always speaks truth. We must also believe that His only son, Jesus, was crucified for our sins, buried, and raised to new life on the third day.

2.) Study: We must know the word of God by reading His truths in the Holy Bible. By doing so, we will be able to apply what we have learned to our daily lives and interactions with others. Lies that we have believed about our identity will be replaced with God’s truth about who we are in Him.

3.) Prayer: We must pray to God on a regular basis thanking Him for all we have, repenting of our sins and asking forgiveness, and presenting our requests to Him. People can’t be in relationship without communication. The same goes for relationship with our Father.

4.) Speak: We must speak to the mountains in our lives and tell them how big our God is. There is power in our words. God spoke and light appeared. Jesus spoke and the sea was calmed. The disciples spoke and demons were cast out.

5.) Act: We must act on the word of God making it a reality in our lives rather than a feel good message we hear on Sunday morning. This goes beyond applying what you read to your life. This is intentional life changing action which means going out of your way to minister to a homeless person, or acting on that Holy Spirit nudge you feel to do something or say something to someone that will take you out of your comfort zone. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. He wants to make disciples of us so that we can disciple others.

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I may be able to sing well without knowing music theory, but it won’t go much beyond that. I don’t know the history of music, or how to help someone else better understand the art because I don’t know the building blocks. If I want to be able to lead a team I need to know more than simply how to sing. Granted, helping others enter into the presence of God is the goal of a worship team, but it would be difficult to make that happen if everyone was singing and playing instruments in different keys! (Hey, it would be making a joyful noise!)

I know this was a long post and I’m truly not trying to make up for lost time, lol. This is something I have been wanting to share as I think knowing the building blocks of faith is so important. I’m sure others have different building blocks, but these are ones that I find to be important to better understanding our faith. We can’t build a sturdy house without a solid foundation—so we must study and know the foundation.

“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.'”—Isaiah 28:16

 

 

Where is the Love?

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. — 2 Chronicles 7:14

This world is in need of a heart transplant. I don’t watch the news, but I still hear about it. We need to be praying harder than ever for our families, for our nation, for our WORLD. We need to stop being so self-centered, angry, and violent, and treat others as we would like to be treated. We are allowing the enemy to win. But God knows how the story ends. And this is only the beginning.

Thy Will

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Today, after a 3 hour appointment at the doctor’s office, I went across the street to Brandon Regional Hospital, which I have frequented often due to mom’s health issues. However, this time I went for myself.

The long drive up the parking garage felt different then all of the times I had driven up it before. This time, instead of checking in at security and heading to the elevators to go to mom’s room, I went to registration. I then saw the pre-op nurse.

April 23rd, after weeks of prayer, I tested positive on a pregnancy test. We weren’t trying. It was a total “God thing” that it happened. Really. I can share that story with you if you want to know. Casey wasn’t ready. I was. To my surprise, he was excited.

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We started making plans. I filled out a “Belly Book” pregnancy journal. I bought a shirt to wear and announce it. I read “The Healthy Pregnancy” book. We weren’t going to wait 12 weeks, because “that” wouldn’t happen to us. We discussed names. I ate organically, cut out sweets, artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, etc. I took high quality prenatal, EFA’s, etc. I had the pregnancy symptoms.

Then at 6 weeks I spotted a little. No cramping, so there wasn’t much concern. Went in for my first appointment days later. Had my very first ultrasound, not under the circumstances I had wished. No heartbeat. It was still early though.

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I returned the following week and still no heartbeat and an enlarged yolk sack. “What is the baby measuring at?” I asked the doctor. 1 day larger than the ultrasound 6 days prior. It was no longer a viable pregnancy. What?? The doctor talked of having a D&C, going under anesthesia, having my uterus cleaned out of “products of conception,” etc. It was too much to handle.

I felt as though I was taking a walk of shame out of the building. So many expectant mothers sat in the waiting room, bellies protruding, and I walked out with a tear stricken face trying to hold it all in so I wouldn’t scare them. My eyes met a young pregnant mother who had two toddlers with her. I watched her unload them from her car when I arrived. As I pulled away she was loading them into the car. Our gaze met. I think she knew.

A fellow blogger, Vanessa Dionne says it best:

Miscarriage is one of the most painful kinds of death we can experience because it seems so unfair. Blinded to the sanctity of unborn life, our fallen world cannot offer hope to the woman who has lost her baby. We cannot find our hope in this fallen world. We must turn back to the Author who alone creates, cherishes, and sustains life according to His will.

My world came crashing down upon me. I was angry at God. He knew how long I had prayed for this. “We’ll try again honey,” Casey said as he tried to comfort me in the doctor’s office. We didn’t think this would happen to us. We scheduled another ultrasound to confirm a week out.

I spent three days grieving. I began to heal, although I felt so very alone. 1 in 4 women miscarry, and they usually suffer in silence. I wanted to go public with my story in effort to help those who have gone through this, but also to help those who haven’t gain a better understanding of it.

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I want to give some advice to those who have never experienced a miscarriage, as it truly is difficult to comprehend if you haven’t walked through it. I have found that I have needed to have a lot of grace. Those who have walked (or crawled through this) will be able to relate. I will make this a separate blog.

Jalene Browning, a fellow jeweler and Christian sister of mine shared a song with me the day before my follow up. It changed my outlook. I clung to this song as my anthem. Had I not, I would have come out from the next appointment angry and bitter. I returned at my 8 week ultrasound to have the miscarriage confirmed.

 

Today has been 28 days since my baby got it’s wings. Yes, it was my baby, heartbeat or not. I believe life begins at conception. I was holding up quite well, even Saturday when the spotting started. I wanted to pass it naturally, although I had heard how painful it could be, and the chance of needing to go to the ER due to so much blood loss. The memories came flooding back. This wasn’t over. It was like throwing salt into an old wound. Monday I went to the doctor and they recommended a D&C based on how much time had passed. I didn’t want to do it.

At 3:45am this morning on the way to the bathroom, I believed I passed everything. It was horrible, yet surprisingly painless. I thought to myself, “Could this be it?” I hadn’t had contractions or “labor” as so many describe. I went in today for another ultrasound and was told it wasn’t over. “Just do the D&C so you can begin to heal from this,” the doctor said yet again. “But it’s beginning,” I countered back. I knew it could take time, a lot more time, and then the risk of infection would be high. I also ran the risk of not passing it all, and needing a D&C anyway. I just wanted to be over it. 28 days later . . .

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The hospital was so cold. I felt so alone. Two ladies who worked there told me that I have such a positive outlook despite my circumstances. I gave God all the glory for this, because it truly is by His strength that I have been able to get though this.

On the drive home the tears came. I tried so hard to do this the natural way—to let nature take it’s course, but I’m tired. Tired of waiting, and not knowing when and where it will happen. I cried because I felt so weak in that moment. I am having surgery to remove the remains of my pregnancy . . .

I looked at the hospital bands on my arm and tears flooded my face as I drove home listening to “Thy Will” and trying to sing along through the tears. I gave in to the procedure I was so dead-set against. To me, it is essentially an abortion. It’s the same procedure. In fact, the doctor slipped up and caught herself saying “abortion” and quickly said “miscarriage”. I know my baby is no more. It’s just a scary thought, especially when you read the description of the procedure on the consent form . . .

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But, I know that this whole experience is nature’s way of saying that something wasn’t right. Chromosomally, something wasn’t right. God knows. He is God and I am not, just as the song states. Casey and I will get though this. We will trust our Father, even when we don’t understand and circumstances don’t seem fair. He has our best interests at heart.

I want to thank those who knew about this and have prayed for me and reached out to me to see how I have been holding up. I especially want to thank Kelly Spezzano and Jalene Browning, my fellow Premier sisters, as well as Mike Glenn of Premier Designs prayer team. Your love and support have meant so much to me. Also, thank you Jenny Cruz and Jessica White for your encouragement and support. May God bless you immensely. Momma Del, your texts meant so much to me. Cheryl Johnston, your tears and prayers touched my spirit deeply. And lastly, my sister Janet: Your calls, texts, and tears helped me during such a difficult time. Love you.

My procedure is at 10:30am tomorrow. I would appreciate all of the prayers and support I can get. I know I will leave feeling empty. But I know this isn’t the end of my story. As with my accident, this test will become a testimony. This season may take awhile to heal from, but healing will come.

 

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 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” —Psalm 34:18

 

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Everlasting Love

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This week Casey and I are celebrating three years of marriage. Tuesday, May 17th was our actual anniversary. It doesn’t seem possible that three years have passed already!

While our vows will never fade, I must admit, the happiness and enthusiasm I felt on that day does at times. For better or worse. In sickness and health. It sounds so much easier at the time of saying it. Then life happens. You get hurt, upset, and say stupid things you wish had never passed your lips.

Divorce isn’t an option (for us anyway). We made a covenant before God and plan to honor that all the days of our lives. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. It means that we will have to work harder at working through our problems and learn to communicate better.

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Photo I took using salt from Israel from the Dead Sea. We used it in our salt covenant.

Thankfully, we have plenty of time to get this communication thing down. We don’t have to fear one person walking out on the marriage. It’s just not an option. Marriage is a constant work in progress. It is learning to grow together and learn together.

I think too many times people run off of their feelings (preaching to myself here), and feelings can get us into a heap of trouble. When we come to accept Christ and are born again in spirit, our soul doesn’t get an automatic overhaul. No, our mind, will, and emotions need to be renewed in order to line up with Holy Spirit. And when you are used to acting or reacting one way for so long, you can bet it is going to take some work to establish a new pattern of thinking and behavior.

I think about my marriage. In three years we have had disagreements, disappointments, and hurt feelings. However, that doesn’t mean we love one another any less. Our love is everlasting, because that is what we vowed on the beach three years ago Tuesday. He could cheat on me, abuse me, emotionally abuse me (not that he would ever do those things), and I may temporarily leave for my own safety, but you better believe I would be interceding for him every single day. I know he would do the same with me. God is a God of restoration. Satan wants families and marriages torn apart. God does not.

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Perhaps you aren’t married and you can’t relate to this post. Ahhh, but you can. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have an everlasting love—one that is greater than any earthly love. How awesome is that? His love will never fail. He will never walk out on you. He will always believe the best in you. His love is unconditional.

“The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.” —Jeremiah 31:3

His love is right there with you. Open up the Bible, His love story to the world, and discover just what He thinks of you. You are so very special, so very loved, and nothing you could ever do could change the Father’s love for you. ❤

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Beautiful Blessings

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Pass-a-Grille beach

Hubby and I went to the beach last week. It was about 4:00pm, but the sun was still shining brightly and the water was warm enough for us to finally get in for the first time since last year.

I couldn’t believe how clear and blue the water was. We could see straight through to the bottom. It wasn’t long before I saw something nearby in the water. I wasn’t too alarmed, as I could tell it was a fish of sorts, and as soon as there was a break in the waves I could see that it was a Sheepshead (or something similar). After a moment I saw several more.

Initially, we were a bit freaked out, as they were swimming about two feet away from us and weren’t quick to swim off at sudden movements. However, we found that they stuck to themselves pretty much.

It was such a beautiful day, with beautiful water and even beautiful fish keeping us company. How important it is to count our blessings, no matter how small they may seem. When we open our eyes to the wonder of God’s majesty, we will notice more and more of the beauty He has given us. Have a wonderful week and keep your eyes peeled.

Rain, Rain, Rain

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Photo found here.

It just keeps coming down. Earlier this morning a thunderstorm blew in, and the torrents of wind and rain were terrifying to drive in. I found it so difficult to see 10 feet in front of me and had to be careful not to hit a puddle and hydroplane.

Four hours have passed and it’s still pouring down. We haven’t had rain like this in awhile. The land must be thirsty, and God has opened His hand. It’s crazy to think that yesterday I was at the beach in the water on a beautiful, sunny day. Today, there isn’t much sun to be found.

But it’s there, hidden behind the clouds.

It’s days like this I often find it difficult to get motivated. There is something about the rain that makes you want to curl up in bed all day and just sleep. It’s wet out, and people would much rather stay inside.

But sometimes we need to get wet.

It wakes us up. It refreshes us. I remember as a child, and even sometimes as an adult, standing in the rain with my face to the heavens and my arms outstretched. There is something about the rain that makes me want to get up, go outside, and get wet, but only if I have no where to be afterwards and/or have time for a shower! 🙂

I want to encourage you to embrace today and all that it brings. There is always a blessing to be found. Remember, the sun is still shining even if you can’t see it. I can hear the birds’ song now . . . ❤

Persistence

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Forgive me for being MIA for awhile. Mom ended up back in the ER with another MRSA infection and needed immediate surgery. She is now back in a rehab facility on an IV antibiotic for 6 weeks.

Today I wanted to blog about prayer. My pastor talked about the topic this past Sunday, and although it seemed somewhat juvenile to me, I was able to take away a lot from the sermon.

Last night a friend messaged me about the very topic, asking whether it was okay to repeatedly ask God for something or if that showed lack of faith. My response was the above verse. I also reminded her of the parable of the persistent widow. However, deep down I knew where her question came from. I have been taught to ask for something once, and then step out in faith and thank God for it as though it were already done.

But this is hard. Especially when you have taken that approach for so long and not seen the manifestation of the healing, the financial provision, the restored marriage, the promotion, etc.

Satan likes to come in and cause doubt and unbelief. You may hear him whisper, “Your faith is too small.” Or, he may convince you that you haven’t done enough to earn what you are hoping for. He also may say, “It’s not your job to be trying to change this situation. Shouldn’t your spouse be the one praying?” Those are all lies. Yes, we are called to have faith and believe without doubting (Matthew 21:21), but I don’t believe it nullifies our faith to continue to ask God for that which we desire. If anything, it shows faith to keep pressing in and presenting our requests to Him rather than to simply stop asking.

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Photo can be found here.

Also, we must make sure that we are content in our current circumstance, trusting in God through whatever it may be. If we can’t trust Him in the tough times, why should He deliver us of them? Perhaps like Paul, He wants to display His power in our weakness, because otherwise He wouldn’t get to do so.

Some of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life have come through the desert seasons.

I will finish with this: What you desire may look different from what Papa desires. “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.(Proverbs 16:9, NASB). He ultimately knows what is best for us. Compared to Him, we have such a narrow scope of life. Let’s continue to knock on the door of heaven persistently for that which we are believing for, but let’s also be patient and trust that Daddy truly does know best.

What are you believing God for?