Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with The Waitresses

I just LOVE the song, Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses! It is such a fun song, and can be so true of how we let ourselves get bombarded with "holiday obligations" and forget the fun and celebration of it all...

"Bah, humbug!" No, that's too strong
'Cause it is my favorite holiday
But all this year's been a busy blur
Don't think I have the energy

To add to my already mad rush
Just 'cause it's 'tis the season.
The perfect gift for me would be
Completions and connections left from

Last year, ski shop,
Encounter, most interesting.
Had his number but never the time
Most of '81 passed along those lines.

So deck those halls, trim those trees
Raise up cups of Christmas cheer,
I just need to catch my breath,
Christmas by myself this year.

Calendar picture, frozen landscape,
Chilled this room for twenty-four days,
Evergreens, sparkling snow
Get this winter over with!

Flashback to springtime, saw him again,
Would've been good to go for lunch,
Couldn't agree when we were both free,
We tried, we said we'd keep in touch.

Didn't, of course, 'til summertime,
Out to the beach to his boat could I join him?
No, this time it was me,
Sunburn in the third degree.

Now the calendar's just one page
And, of course, I am excited
Tonight's the night, but I've set my mind
Not to do too much about it.

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
But I think I'll miss this one this year.

Hardly dashing through the snow
Cause I bundled up too tight
Last minute have-to-do's
A few cards a few calls
'Cause it's r-s-v-p
No thanks, no party lights
It's Christmas Eve, gonna relax
Turned down all of my invites.

Last fall I had a night to myself,
Same guy called, halloween party,
Waited all night for him to show,
This time his car wouldn't go,

Forget it, it's cold, it's getting late,
Trudge on home to celebrate
In a quiet way, unwind
Doing Christmas right this time.

A&P has provided me
With the world's smallest turkey
Already in the oven, nice and hot
Oh damn! Guess what I forgot?

So on with the boots, back out in the snow
To the only all-night grocery,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
In the line is that guy I've been chasing all year!

"I'm spending this one alone," he said.
"Need a break; this year's been crazy."
I said, "Me too, but why are you?
You mean you forgot cranberries too?"

Then suddenly we laughed and laughed
Caught on to what was happening
That Christmas magic's brought this tale
To a very happy ending! "

Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn't miss this one this year!
Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!
Couldn't miss this one this year!

Here's a great example of someone who remembers the FUN of Christmas:

I love Christmas shopping, Christmas caroling, Christmas crafts, Christmas music, Christmas parties, our church's Christmas pagent, Christmas weather (SNOW!!!), and all of the holiday festivities that go with the season. And it's easy to get buried in your gift lists and holiday cards and stocking stuffers and stuffing meals. But remember that Christmas is a cause for celebration: our Savior was born! Don't let the small nit-picky things get you down, and revel in all of the fun activities that occur this time of year...!

Merry Christmas!!!
:) Mags
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - SELF-CONTROL Layout

Anyone who knows me knows that "self-control" is not my best trait. :) I tend to lead with my gut - and speak waaaaayyyy before thinking. Outside of my general personality, our era is not one to perpetuate patience and careful thought either. TV, magazines, newspapers, etc. constantly tout how to do things faster, quicker, instanteously while they tell you to "buy it now!" or "Don't wait!" Our society promotes a LACK of self-control - even glamourizing it in the media with the various celebrity divorces or rehab stints.

When we did our last lesson for the Fruit of the Spirit album, we came across this verse in 1 Corinthians - I liked the way The Message phrased it:

You've all been to the sadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyon eelse all about it, and then missing out myself!
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

I totally can identify with the "Life is a Game/Race" analogy; I have found it to be true over and over again... in school, in work, in life. I'm often thinking, "What is the goal? What are the rules of this "game?" And "what is the fastest way I can get there?" I figured Milton's Bradley's "game of Life" would be a good jump-start for this layout:

Our "prize" to the Game of Life is a life on earth filled with more happy, peaceful moments than sad and a life of joy eternally in Heaven with Jesus. What a game to win!
If you'd like to view all of the layouts of this album together, you can visit my gallery at MooTwo Designs. Comments always welcome!
:) Mags
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with Michael W. Smith & Chris Rice

Our last Christmas carol was the song of Jesus' impending arrival from Mary's perspective. Michael W. Smith does a similar song about the everyday, ordinary person greeting Jesus in Welcome to Our World:

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from god
You've been promised, weve been waiting
Welcome holy child
Welcome holy child

Hope that you dont mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited holy stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home

Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking heavens silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect son of god
Perfect son of god
Welcome to our world

Chris Rice also does a version of this song that is beautiful:

A baby is always a miracle... but the greatest miracle is when God came down in human form as Jesus. Merry Christmas!!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - GENTLENESS Layout

We have a dog - a wonderfully sweet, Cocker Spaniel named Clifton. Clifton is my FIRST dog - we got him before kids so he was our first "baby." He chose us - at the breeder's kennel, he trotted into the room... I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, and he walked right into my lap and snuggled down. From that moment, we were hooked - Clifton was to be our dog.

Now Clifton is 12 years old, and over the last 3-4 years, he has deteriorated. He is about 90% blind; he is deaf. He has had cancerous tumors removed twice. He is prone to warts all over his body and has had 20+ removed already. He goes through periods where he has seizures, and he sleeps ALL of the time. He still has some "life" left in him, though - he searches out the bunnies that live under our patio - he snuggles up with us to watch TV - and he can still rip through ANY diaper bag to snag the snacks... even if they are in a Tupperware container!

We do know, that his years (months?) are limited. I've described him as "blind, deaf, and 1/2 dead" for at least the last 3 years! But until he cannot take care of himself or is in pain, we will continue to love him and care for him. He has been a good and faithful dog - especially to my children, and his GENTLENESS is the focus for this layout:

I love the quote that says, "A person who has never owned a dog has missed a wonderful part of life." I know our life would not have been as full without Clifton.
:) Mags
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with Amy Grant

Amy Grant has a ton of fabulous Christmas songs and albums. I always enjoy her version of Sleigh Ride. But one of her most powerful Christmas songs is Breath of Heaven - a song from Mary's perspective as she gets ready to become the mother of God's son:

I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
And I wonder what iIve done.
Holy father you have come,
And chosen me now to carry your son.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.

While searching for a video of Amy Grant singing this on You Tube, I came across a short film originally produced by the LDS Church where a YouTube user had muted the original audio and dubbed over it with Amy Grant's song. It really matches perfectly - I thought you might enjoy it:

This season, when you take a moment to remember the gift of Jesus given to us by God, remember also the sacrifices made by Mary and Joseph... everyday, ordinary people chosen by God to take part in a miracle. Merry Christmas.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: "Song of Hope"

I choose this song today mainly because of the musicality of it. It completely fits it's title, Song of Hope; the beat is infectious, and it makes you want to get up and sing. It IS a song of HOPE!

The message is simple: In your darkest moments, God is still with you. His presence will bring you comfort and strength. He gives you hope. That is our song today!

Title: Song of Hope
Artist: Robbie Seay Band
Album: Everlasting God: 25 Modern Worship Favorites

Hear it here on LastFM.

Then get up and dance!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with CeCe Winans

A few years back, David and I went to our first Michael W. Smith Christmas concert. He was touring with Amy Grant and CeCe Winans. And although we've been to other such concerts since, not one has captured the magic and power of that first show. Perhaps it is because CeCe Winans has not been a part of any concerts we've seen since. Because when she sang her version of Oh Holy Night, I nearly fell to my knees at the power of her voice. There are many, many beautiful versions of this song, of course. It is a beautiful song in and of itself, but CeCe Winan's is stunning. The album version is good - but even that cannot quite match the power of her live performance.

Oh Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and there are many amazing versions out there. Other ones you might want to check out are Shawn McDonald and Shane & Shane's versions. If you have a favorite version of this song, feel free to post it in the comments section!

Have a blessed Christmas!
:) Mags
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

I Found God In Santa Claus...

I know there are some Christians out there who want to distance themselves from Santa Claus and the commercialism that accompanies the Christmas holiday. It makes sense, Santa does often overshadow the true purpose to the Christmas celebration. But, I happen to love Santa Claus and the spirit of Christmas he symbolizes, and I think there is room for both Jesus AND Santa Claus at Christmastime.

Of course, if you compare the two side-by-side, Jesus is the clear winner (exerpt below by the Rev. James Spellman):

Santa lives at the North Pole ... JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh ... JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year ... JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies ... JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited ... JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa ... JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap ... JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl,what's your name?" ... JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly ... JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO ... JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry" ... JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

Santa's little helpers make toys ... JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but ... JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree ... JESUS became our gift and died on a tree.

But what about their similarities...? God and Santa are very similar in many respects (exerpt below originally from HERE - and yes, it's tongue-n-cheek):

They look and dress alike: Both are older dudes with big fluffy white beards and both wear robes (sort of, Santa's red outfit looks like something you could wear as a robe).

They're both all-knowing: God, in his omniscience knows everything that has happened. Santa is virtually the same, he knows what EVERY person did EVERY year.

They're both everywhere: Just ask any priest, particularly in a church, and they'll tell you that God is everywhere. Santa delivers presents for the WHOLE world (at least those of us that celebrate Xmas and can afford it, but who's counting??) in one night, that's darn near close to omnipresent.

They're both all-powerful: God, because you know he created the universe and all that. Santa, because let's face it, the dude is a supply chain genius, even better than Michael Dell, that's pretty omnipotent.

They both judge: God looks at our lives, whether we've sinned or not and decides our eternity in heaven or hell. Santa looks at our lives, whether we've been good or bad and decides whether we'll get the GI Joe with Kung Fu Grip, American Girl Doll (heaven) or a lump of coal (hell) of course that's only for a year but you get the point.

They are both related to Jesus: Jesus is apparently God's only begotten son and Santa brings gifts ONLY on Jesus birthday, I can't think of many people other than parents that would celebrate their child's birthday EVERY year LONG after he died. I guess we're the beneficiary of Santa not being able to let go.

They both live in billowy white areas: God--Clouds, Santa--Snowy North Pole.

They both have friendly, protective servants: God--Angels, Santa--Elves

They both get offerings from the believers: God believers give money, Santa believers give him cookies and milk.

What I love the most about Santa is the way he inspires others to spread goodwill and charity at Christmastime. Many of us remember our own childhood Christmases where Santa brought that one magnificent gift that we'd been craving (For me, it was a 4-foot long, Kenner Glamour Gals Cruise Ship). Now that I'm a "grown-up," I want other kids to feel that same joy - so our family joins in on all of the adopt-a-family opportunities we can afford (through our church, the kids' schools, hubby's work, etc.). Christmas makes people feel generous. Of course, it'd be nice if we all felt generous all year around. Of course, it'd be nice if we did it "just because Jesus would want us to." But if the end result is that Santa is a good "non-partisan" type figurehead that inspires people across different sub-faiths to be more generous... so is that really a bad thing??

I don't know if God objects to Santa. I do know he doesn't like it when people or things overshadow Him and His Son. But, there ARE ways that we, as Christians, can use Santa to remind children of the true meaning of Christmas: GIVING:

God gave the world His only son.
Jesus gave His life for the salvation of the world.
We can give to others in the spirit of Christmas.

T.A.W. wrote a fabulous article on enjoying BOTH Jesus and Santa at Christmas. My favorite idea was to write a letter from Santa to your children:

Dear [Child's Name],

It's so great to see you this year! I've been having lots of fun making trips around the world. Thank you for the cookies and milk. I'm glad to know that you've been very good all year!

Rudolph has been guiding my sleigh this year, as usual. If you hear thumps on your roof top, it's probably him.

I wanted to let you know why I do this every year. I love to see your smile when you open a present from me. However, the reason for Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus gave the ultimate gift when he died on the cross. He gave us life. And that is why I give presents every year to remind children (and adults, too!) that Christmas is about giving. If you know the Christmas story about Jesus, why don't you share it with your family?

Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas! I know you will have lots of fun today.

Love, Santa

Still not sure how Santa can be "Christlike?"

Read this article about a Jewish man, Jay Frankston, who dressed as Santa for many years - bringing gifts to needy children...

Or visit and see how volunteers sort through thousands of "Dear Santa" letters at local post offices and bring gifts to the neediest children based on their letters.

Santa is a servant of Christ too.

I love this Oath by the Rocky Mountain Santa:
The Santa Claus Oath

I will seek knowledge to be well versed in the mysteries in bringing Christmas cheer and good will to all the people that I encounter in my journeys and travels.

I shall be dedicated to hearing the secret dreams of both children and adults.

I understand that the true and only gift I can give, as Santa, is myself.

I acknowledge that some of the request I hear will be difficult and sad. I know in these difficulties there lies an opportunity to bring a spirit of warmth, understanding and compassion.

I know the "real reason for the season"
and know that I am blessed to be able to be part of it.

I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest and show fellowship to my peers.

I promise to use "my" powers to create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life in the true and sincere tradition of the Santa Claus Legend.

I pledge myself to these principles as a descendant of St. Nicholas, the gift giver of Myra.

Phillip L. Wenz
©Arcadia Publishing

There's room in my heart for both Jesus and Santa, but I welcome your thoughts and comments too!
Merry Christmas!!
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Caroling... with Casting Crowns

You can tell by now that I just LOVE music. The iPod is by far one of the best inventions we've seen yet. The ability to carry around hundreds, thousands of songs in the palm of your hand is a miracle. So in these days leading up to Christmas, I want to share some fantastic Christmas songs I've discovered. Today is a selection from Casting Crowns.

Casting Crowns has a beautiful Christmas album out called Peace on Earth. And my favorite track is I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day. Here are the lyrics:

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men
And the bells are ringing
Like a choir they're singing
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
But the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men
Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing
Like a choir they're singing
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men
Do you hear the bells they're ringing?
The life the angels singing
Open up your heart and hear them

Peace on earth, good will to men
Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

It's a new twist on a old favorite, and you can hear it HERE on LastFM.

It's hard to sing about "peace on earth" when you hear news reports of suicide bombers, bank robbers, children hurting, and more. But this version reminds us that God is steadfast and faithful to His children. He is with us through the troubled times, and our prayers for peace do not go unheard.

This Christmas, remind yourself that God sent His son to bring PEACE to us-- the rest of His earthy children. PEACE be with you.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - FAITHFULNESS Layout

I'm sure that most people who get married, aren't wondering how soon they will get divorced. Everyone expects their marriage to last "forever." But in an age where quickie-divorces are easy and common, actually having a marriage last until death do you part is getting rarer and rarer. A lasting marriage requires the active committment from both people involved to stick it out through the tough times:

  • the times when you look over at your spouse and wonder if you've married a buffoon (not that that has ever happened, of course!)...
  • the times where you aren't even "in the same book" - let alone the "same page"...
  • the sad times,
  • the times of great loss,
  • the angry times,
  • the financially unstable times,
  • the lonely times,
  • the beyond-hard times...
David and I have made this committment - twice, actually. The first was at our wedding. The second was when we went to a Marriage Encounter weekend and re-affirmed our committment to each other. We are faithful to each other - in our body, mind, and spirit. We choose to stand by each other - no matter what. Faithfulnes is LOVE HANGING ON. It is love saying, "I WILL NOT QUIT." That is my focus for this layout:

The song lyrics are by Fisher - a song called, "I Will Love You." It is a gorgeous, gorgeous song!
You can bet you'll hear about it again on a Karaoke Tuesday!
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit - GOODNESS Layout

In October, my husband went to Austria for a 16-day Mission Trip to Haus Edelweiss. It is a school where Missionaries and Pastors can go for Master's Classes in Divinity - completing an entire semester class in 2 weeks. He was there as a short-term worker: fixing things, building things, preparing meals, cleaning up, and talking with the missionary students. In order to go on the trip, David had to take 2 weeks of his own vacation time from work - and our family had to give up two weeks with him. It was a l-o-n-g two weeks here for sure... I probably lost all of my sanity and patience with in the first week... but my kids and I knew that this was an important trip for Daddy to do - and for the students who would benefit from his service. That is why I chose his experience for my "GOODNESS" layout:

David's perspective on those who work and live in the Mission Field is forever changed now that he's had more 1st-hand knowledge of the kind of life they lead. And my kids have seen that it is important to help others - even if it means sacrificing your vacation time to do it. I'm so proud of David!
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Found God In A Wrinkle...

...In Time's author, Madeleine L'Engle. (I know... the title just pulled you right in and then I veered off in another direction! Sorry!)

I was surfing the Facebook feeds when I stumbled across this quote posted by my high school friend, Joe:

"There was a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath,
when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word,
who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl,
and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song,
and the angels clapped their hands for joy"
-Madeleine L'Engle

And I was just struck by this quote - with the enormity of it. We have entered the Christmas season, barreling into it with our shopping frenzies, our lists of Santa Claus, our party obligations. We may (or may not) take time out to remember the point of Christmas.... choosing to fill our minds with Black Friday bargains or recipes for egg nog. Those things are fun, and can certainly be a part of our holiday celebrations, but it is imperative that we remember the CENTER of Christmas is Christ, the miracle of his birth, and the impact He had on all humankind.

This weekend, my friend, Steph, and I will volunteer at our church's Christmas ADVENTure for primary age kids. We are making a Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar out of pizza boxes, construction paper, and large office tags. On the inside lid of the box is this reminder:

The True Meaning of Christmas

The FIR TREE - Teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven.

The STAR - The star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise.

candle icon Pictures, Images and Photos
A CANDLE - The candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.

A WREATH - The wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.

A HOLLY LEAF - The holly plant represents immortality. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent the blood shed by Him.

The GIFT - God so loved the world that he gave his begotten son. Thanks be to God!

A CANDY CANE - The candy cane represents the shepherds' crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper.

An ANGEL - It was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men.

A BELL - The lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring mankind to the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.

A SANTA CLAUS - Santa Claus can symbolize the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December. Certainly he can be a part of your Christmas, but he is not the center. The center of our Christmas celebration should always be remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

REJOICE! It is Christmastime

You can keep your shopping and wrapping and caroling. You can enjoy your egg nog and breakfast casseroles. You can sit on Santa's lap and make your Christmas wish list as long as you want. But through it all, remember that you've been given the most important gift already... and that gift came from God, himself.
Merry Christmas, God... and Happy Birthday, Jesus!
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: Your Love Will Never Change by Dave Barnes

Everyday, ordinary people in the Bible who first heard of Jesus and his love were often, at first, incredulous. "How could the Son of God love me?" they wondered. The same is true today - people who are broken down, who have endured a miserable life, and who truly learn about Jesus later in their lives wonder the same: "I'm such a mess... how could someone love me at all?" Dave Barnes addresses this in his song, Your Love Will Never Change.  Read the LYRICS here.

What a relief this is!! To know, that even when I'm the darkest version of myself, God loves me. Even when I'm rotten, God loves me. When I'm broken, God loves me. When I'm a mess, God loves me.

God loves me.
God loves me.
God loves.... me.

And He does the same for you. Period.

You can hear this song HERE on iMeem.
Song: Your Love Will Never ChangeArtist: Dave Barnes
Album: Bring the Sun
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