Last night I had the privilege of seeing Worship Night in America presented by Chris Tomlin at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Oh. My. Gosh. It was amazing. Truly amazing. I get goose bumps talking about it and reliving it all over again. All the artist he had lined up were so, so talented and so very dedicated to serving our great God. The special guests were Louie Giglio who preached a very moving session on traveling “the 20 inches” between our knees and the floor to pray for our nation. This man had all of Madison Square Garden on our knees and praying, very moving and oh so powerful. Max Lucado was another speaker he was so wonderful reinforcing how much we are loved by our God that we should let Him love us; we can call our Heavenly Father just that “Father, Abba, Papa” because He loves us so.
The musical artists were, Matt Redman, Matt Maher, Phil Wickham, Kim Walker-Smith (whose voice was incredible with all the jumping and dancing she did and never once faltered), Bryan and Katie Torwalk, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Tasha Cobbs and the very talented DJ Promote. When Tasha Cobbs took the stage to sing “There is Power in the Name of Jesus” she had the whole Garden mesmerized and singing and worshiping with her, I wish I could describe the feelings she provoked in her performance. The only thing I can do is link her performance of the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pD2zIuiC2g She sings from her soul.
Chris Tomlin performed his hit “Good Good Father” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqybaIesbuA. He had everyone singing and worshiping. Honestly all the performers had us worshiping the one true God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I haven’t been this moved at a concert since I can’t tell you when. I felt filled with the love of Christ, something I feel is desperately needed in our country. To feel that love and to know it is finished, we’ve been ransomed and paid for by the blood of our beloved Savior.Another song was “How Great is Our God” also by Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBD18rsVJHk. Matt Redman did not dissapoint with “10,000 Reasons” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM
I can’t recall every song that was sung last night but they all prompted you to jump up from your seat, raise your hands in worship and surrender your heart to our great God. f anyone reading this has the chance to see this awesome concert I urge you to go and be prepared to be moved by the power of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This past Sunday I attended the church my sister belongs to. It’s an Episcopalian church much like the one we grew up in. The building was absolutely gorgeous with beautiful stone and wood structure and the most amazing stained glass windows especially those at the altar. The altar itself was lovely. I really enjoyed the priest, he wasn’t so serious he that he would be unapproachable, yet serious enough that you knew he meant what he said especially during his sermon.
I couldn’t help but compare “my” church to this one. We don’t have a fancy altar nor do we have stained glass windows. I wouldn’t even say we have a traditional altar per se, it’s more of a stage where the musicians and singers are set up and the Pastor speaks. High on the end wall hangs a simple cross. When I first started attending my church I was taken aback by all the musicians and singers on the “altar”. But I quickly got over it once the music and singing started. We sing contemporary Christian songs with older hymns thrown in here and there such as “That Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace” there are more (I am a friend of God) but I’m not so familiar with them to name them so quickly. I love our music worship time. To sing and worship our Lord in language that comes so easily to the tongue…it’s something that is wonderful and heartfelt.
The Episcopalian church has a formality to it. Stand, sing, sit, kneel, stand, sing again, sit, communion, etc…I’m sure there’s a particular order I’m just not used to it anymore. In my church we stand to sing and worship the Lord, we also stand in respect to reading a passage of the bible. It’s usually the passage the Pastor is going to preach on. Then we sit and our Pastor will preach for about 45 minutes to an hour, I’m guesstimating that time frame, I’ve never officially timed our Pastor. I really enjoy listening to and taking notes on our Pastor’s sermon. I like to go back and read what I’ve written and reminisce on the sermon and how it made me feel and how close to the Lord I felt. How much I felt in my heart that the Lord was speaking to me.
It was interesting to go back and attend an Episcopal church after attending my church for the past 8 years. I do prefer my church and our style of worship. To me it seems more heartfelt. I remember I tried to return to the Episcopal church I grew up in. But I left feeling empty, spiritually unfed. And they offered nothing for my children, barely a Sunday school and no youth groups or activities. My church has “kids church” every Sunday that my 9 year old attends and youth groups for middle and high schools. I love it. My older girls attended youth group and grew so much in their walk with the Lord because of those groups and their leaders.
I’m not bashing the Episcopal church I simply can’t help but compare what I have now to other worship styles. Especially after attending service so recently. I realize every church has their own style and customs, some dating back years and years. This post is not to disrespect any church that does things differently than mine does.
Things are moving along albeit slowly but that’s okay. Slow and steady is fine for both Tommy and me. I’ve learned that an agency here had requested Thomas’ “packet” from his current school and it was quickly emailed off. I still have phone calls to make, Thomas is in need of a “Medicaid service coordinator” or MSC for short. This person will help greatly in setting up services for him when he comes to live in a group home. Thomas has had MSC’s in the past when he lived at home. So we’re familiar with their role. Tommy and I are also meeting with the group home’s nurse and psychologist this week. I’m looking forward to this meeting.
I have something amusing to write about. The person from the state who was previously pressuring me to accept group home placement in other boroughs *except* for the one we live on is now totally on board for Thomas to live here. On this borough. Really? The other day this person said to me, “You’ve been away from your son long enough, you need him to live near you now…” It was all I could do to not reply in a sarcastic manner but I knew I just couldn’t. Instead I exclaimed my agreement with them, “Oh yes, exactly!”
I’m so grateful to my church family for praying with us for the group home placement to happen. People I didn’t even realize were praying for us are doing so. The power of prayer is real and I’m honored with this wonderful group of people. It’s amazing how the Lord works, He is worthy to be praised! When I look back at my journey with Thomas it’s the times I know that God was with me that mean the most. He is always with me but the distinct times I know God was blatantly, no argument, hands down, definitely answering my prayers mean so much; how do you put it into words or explain it to someone? You can’t. You have to believe.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10) is one of my favorite Bible verses. In looking up this verse I learned that “Be still” is to stop frantic activity, to cease and to look to the Lord for help.In this life I lead now, I can see no other way to face a problem. Acknowledging that God is all knowing, everywhere and all powerful; trusting Him and His plan; that we understand who He is. When I am still and surrender to God I know I can find peace.
Bunnies, chocolate, jelly beans, those darn delicious Cabury mini eggs…all things that spark recognition of the Easter holiday. But what about the “real” meaning of Easter? By real I mean seriously the real reason we celebrate. Jesus Christ was risen from the dead that Sunday morning and what a glorious day that must have been. I can only imagine how the apostles felt to see their Jesus again after a crucifixion fit for a criminal. How He was stripped of his clothing and beaten, given a literal crown of thorns. Jesus then took upon himself all the sins of the world. I love Romans 5:8, “You are loved more than you will ever know by someone who died to know you” So powerful.
It wasn’t too long ago that I brushed off the real meaning of Easter. It was just another “holiday” to get through. We (meaning my husband and kids and I) didn’t go to church. We didn’t really have a home church. I tried to go back to the Episcopalian church I grew up in but they offered nothing for my kids, no Sunday school, no bible study, no kids activities. And to be honest I finally left “the church” I was feeling frustrated and empty. I went back when I was pregnant with Samantha to the Episcopalian church but I felt empty when I arrived home afterwards. So after Samantha was baptized as a baby I stopped going. I did what I felt I had to do to ensure she would be “safe” if God forbid something happened to her, that she would go to heaven because she was baptized. I didn’t know that that was so far from enough.
I didn’t know we had to accept Christ as our Savior to be saved. I know all about Jesus I thought. Yes I knew of him but I didn’t have a relationship with Him I didn’t truly know him and wasn’t thankful for what He did for me. My kids didn’t know enough about Jesus to accept him as their Savior. It was only when we started going to our now home church about 8 years ago did my kids become exposed to the wonderful Gospel. The good news. That Jesus died for our sins and we were saved once we opened our hearts to Him and accepted the free gift of grace. I was baptized again this time by my choice on June 27, 2011. In front of the whole congregation I publicly let it be known that I am now a follower of Jesus Christ. It was wonderful and something I wholeheartedly recommend to any Christian; be baptized (again).
So Easter has come and gone. We celebrated our Lord’s resurrection with joy. And what a joyous reason to celebrate.
I remember growing up and attending church. I felt church and God was just for Sunday. I couldn’t imagine applying my faith in God to other areas of my life like school, hanging out with my friends, etc… When I was older and went back to church I again couldn’t fathom letting God in to other parts of my life such as work, friendships, relationships, etc… I mean I believed in God and Jesus but they were “separate”. They were only for Sunday.
It’s only since I’ve been saved do I really understand letting God in to all areas of my life. The Lord has permeated every aspect of my life from my marriage, raising my children, friendships, discussions, my job, you name it; and I am so grateful to have Him there. Yesterday at church Pastor John said, “You are where you are because God has put you there.” I love that. Because it’s so true. I’ve wondered often if I’m working where I’m supposed to be. I’m working as a nurse piercing ears in Manhattan. It’s definitely where I wanted to be geographically but I never imagined myself working in this capacity. Never. I’m exactly where God wants me to be for whatever reason and it’s okay. I don’t believe it’s any coincidence that my supervisor just happens to be a Christian. There are no coincidences just things that happen as orchestrated by The Lord.
Having God be a part of every aspect of my life certainly changes the way I think and approach circumstances. I know it’s the Lord’s presence that gives me the calm, patient demeanor I have with my clients. I know it’s the Holy Spirit that gives me words when my kids have questions about God or our Savior Jesus Christ. I know it’s also the Holy Spirit working through me when co-leading my small group/bible study.
I would encourage everyone to simply let God in to all areas of your life. He’s already there you just need to acknowledge Him.
The office where I work has moved. I’m no longer working on the relatively quiet street of East 30th Street, I’ll now be working right on 5th avenue close to the Empire State Building. I helped my boss and her family move into the new place Saturday evening after I was done for the day. I liked where the old office was, nice and quiet kind of tucked away…but now things have changed. My boss is no longer leasing office space from another physician; she has her own office and I’m happy for her. I’ll be happy in the new space once I get acclimated. One thing I’ll have to get used to is the busy-ness of 5th Ave. I felt overwhelmed by the whole New York-ness of the area. And to top it off I didn’t know where the subway station was so I looked like a tourist trying to find my way after we were finished setting up. I had to ask a street vendor for directions and walk 2 blocks to get the 1 train. Two long city blocks. The next time I’ll take a different train, one closer to the office. I’ve already mapped it out.
The new office has 3 rooms, one my boss will be renting out shortly and 2 for her own use. One is almost set up ready for me to begin, we’re just waiting for a sink to be installed which will be nice for me to be able to wash my hands without running down the hall every 15 minutes between clients. I’ll no longer be close to a thrift store I found that was close to the old office. I’ll just have to find another one…I know I will.
The other change is my small group/bible study begins in 2 days. I will admit I’m excited and nervous. I’ve never undertaken anything like this. Any other group I was involved in I was never a “leader” but one who attended. I’m praying this works out well. That I’ll be able to bring God glory through my experiences with Thomas and my family and the depression from the trauma of living with him the last 6 months or so that he was home. I’m praying the book I chose speaks to the other women the way it spoke to me. I’m just praying…
I’ve been thinking about Thomas lately. He ended up in the ER/Urgent Care the other night for an infection on his leg. He’s fine but did have to have a dose of IV antibiotics. That got me worried a little being that I’m not there nearby but I know he’s in good hands with the nursing staff and residential staff. I have to trust them.
I’ve been thinking of the road we’ve traveled with this son of ours. It hasn’t been an easy one. Many doctors, psych hospitalizations, many med trials and finally residential placement not once but twice. Residential the second time was “easier” because the situation was so dire and my safety was becoming more and more at risk. The school district cooperated with no need to hire a lawyer like the first time. But that didn’t make it a walk in the park. He’s still my son. And my ideal life for him wasn’t for Thomas to live somewhere other than his home, with people other than his family.
My ideal scenario was for Thomas to stay home until he graduated school at age 21 (special Ed students are educated and receive services until they are 21 yrs old). I then envisioned the perfect group home placement close by to where we live. This is not the reality obviously. Our reality is that we are unable to meet Thomas’ needs here at home, he lives an hour away and I pray for group home placement on Staten Island and not an hour away when he turns 21.
In as little as a few years ago I felt like a failure to Thomas. I’ve written about this in the past. I had distinct visions of me one day meeting our Father in heaven and him being disappointed in me, shaking His head saying, “I gave Thomas to you, what have you done??” I no longer feel this way. I know Tommy and I did the best we could with the situation we were given. I know I haven’t failed him as a mother. To quote Maya Angelou “We do the best we could with what we knew, when we knew more we did better”. I’ve had people ask me if that quote was an excuse for doing a bad job. My answer is no and the quote is quite simple and true. It puts my mind at ease as Thomas’ mother because the more I knew about my son and his diagnosis’ the better I did at getting help for him.
My other favorite quote is a bible verse from Romans 5: “3Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” My suffering has produced endurance, I have character. I certainly have hope and I know I have God’s love.
When I’m in a good mood I just love the Lord and want to sing! I sing along to the Christian radio I always have on in the car and I want everyone else to sing with me. To know that He is God and He is in charge, it’s all going to be alright after all Jesus died for us… Then the mood shifts. And I start to question Him. Why have I gained all this weight? If God loved me I wouldn’t be struggling so much with this. Why am I in such a bad mood? Why is my daughter having such a difficult time at school? Why is my son the way he is? I know some of these examples seem silly but this is what runs through my head.
This time the mood was different than the others. I at once felt guilty to be so quick to blame God. It literally stopped me in my tracks and it got me thinking about my faith. I’m so quick to praise when life is going good, I need to be just as quick to praise when I’m in “a mood” and things aren’t looking so rosy. I remember when Thomas was home for Christmas. Thomas was very high maintenance during that visit and I was having a hard time with him. Was I praising God? Nope, I was annoyed that my son is the way he is. I realized that I wasn’t in prayer and worshiping the Lord and I felt odd about it. Fake. I did however pray for patience with Thomas. And I do feel He heard my prayer. I still listened to my Christian music in the car and sang alone and went to church the Sunday after Christmas. But I should have been in prayer a few days earlier when I was having a difficult time. Instead I was annoyed and anxious.
This mood of mine was an eye opener. More praise, prayer and worship in tougher times, not only when all is right with my world.
Like most of the country on most of the East coast we’re snowed in. It’s not so bad the kid are older so there’s less fighting, note I said “less” fighting, not “no fighting”. Somehow a 14 year old will find a way to annoy the crap out of a 9 year old and vice versa. But all in all it’s been a quiet day.
I’ve been reflecting on my blog. When I started, my intent was to talk about being a personal shopper and write about all my wonderful thrift finds. Well, I’m no longer a personal shopper, it didn’t take off as I’d hoped but that’s okay, God had other plans. My first entries are all about my thrift finds and trying to sell said finds. I wrote about my husband and then finally Thomas and and all we went through when he was a baby up to his life now. In fact Thomas’ whole life story is here in this blog. (See July 2013 and scroll through, I don’t know how to link, sorry :))
I’m still thrifting. The thrift store is my happy place. No one bothers me there and it’s where I go to escape for a little while. I have my phone on me so it’s not like I’m unreachable. I have a thrifting face as my daughter once told me. We were thrift shopping together and Alyssa stopped me to ask a question, I said, “What??” and she said, “Mom! You should see your face!” Some people have a resting bixch face, I have a thrift face.
I still write about Thomas, I’ll probably always write about him. I wouldn’t be who I am now if it weren’t for him. I had certain ideas and opinions of what it was like to be a mother as we all do *before* we have kids. Being Thomas’ mother humbled me in a way I still find difficult to describe. His many diagnosis’ opened up new worlds and new people into those worlds. People I never would have met and appreciated and loved had he not been special needs. If Thomas were born a typical child I would have grown to be a different person and I’m not so sure I would have liked her. This is not to say I wouldn’t give anything for Thomas to be typical. I just wouldn’t want to give up who I became as a result of him not being typical if that makes sense.
I still write about God and my Savior Jesus Christ. I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am without the Lord in my life. His love and direction keep me focused and have shaped me and brought me to spiritual places I’d never have reached without Him. My love of the Lord spills into my writing when I least expect it or intend it to. I guess that’s what happens when the Spirit takes over. My fingers start flying on the keyboard or on my phone and I can’t find the words fast enough to tell people how much God loves them. I wish for so many people I know to realize that God is real. Jesus died for them. And all they have to do is ask Jesus into their heart.
It’s still snowing.
I’ve mentioned before that I have been praying for direction. I want The Lord to guide my steps and lead me. So far it’s produced a feeling of calmness. Not serenity but just calm because I know that He is in charge and I have faith in God.
I’ve also been praying for more hours at work. So far that prayer had been answered, praise God! My boss is opening her own office in Manhattan so she’ll no longer be leasing space from another doctor. I’m excited for her and for me 😀. The plan is to gradually increase the hours and/or days as long as there are customers. So I could potentially be looking at another day or two in the future and I’m totally okay with that. It really is an answered prayer. For years I prayed for the “right” job to come along and here I was presented with this one which was extremely part time only a few hours a week. When I would get discouraged my husband would be encouraging saying its ok you haven’t worked in a while this is good to get your feet wet. And he was right. I know I wasn’t ready to commit to more. Now after praying about it; time has passed and things have changed and more hours have been offered. God is good.
On the bible study front things are moving along. I’ll be glad when arraignments are done and set in stone and we are ready to get started. This isn’t to rush anything I’m just eager to feel more settled and begin.
God is so good.