Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Found God on Facebook...

I love Facebook - reconnecting with people from college or high school - or even elementary school can be so much fun! It's like all of the "good-byes" you had to say at graduation because you just knew you would likely never see that friend again have been erased (like the rewritten history on a soap opera), and now you can pop in and see what's been going on with them for the past decade or two.

Facebook is also a way to re-invent yourself from the way you were viewed in high school or college (or elementary school). Some people haven't changed, for sure. Some people have gone in a life direction that I surely would not have chosen for myself (i.e. My status will never say, "WOW... I'm still drunk this morning...") *sigh* But I've found that many people HAVE changed - me included - I really enjoy catching up with them.

This morning, I found GOD... literally... on Facebook. He has a page. You can become a fan. And at my joining today, God had 1,455,171 fans. Undoubtedly, some people joined because they were being obnoxious. And some people joined because they were being reverent. I suspect that it was more of an "Average Joe" who set up the page just to see what would happen rather than the Lord, Almighty. Regrettably, just a few hours after I joined, I had to UN-sub due to the massive amount of nasty trash photos that appeared on the page. But I did like the info that appeared on my profile page:
I like that it said, plain and clear, "Maggie became a fan of God" for all 239 friends of mine to see. :)

Would it be so outrageous to expect to find God on Facebook? If He was, he would certainly attact both the faithful AND the mockers - just as with his life as Jesus. Jesus spent most of His time with basic people. Not buddies with kings and queens - but befriended the lost, the hurting, the searching, the weak... the average. He dealt with His share of ridicule, mockery, abuse, and torment. I suspect that if God actually set up a page on Facebook, most people would be too skeptical to believe it was really Him, anyway... And, as with this particular fan page, the non-believers would, indeed, line-up to mock, ridicule the other believers, and post lewd and obnoxious content just because tearing down someone for their beliefs makes them feel better about their own lack thereof.

This "God" page aside, I love that Facebook is filled with thousands of "average Joe's" - sharing their lives, their triumphs, their hurts, their celebrations. Within Facebook, I've been able to "celebrate" the friends' birthdays, pregnancies, or anniversaries. I've grieved with friends who have lost loved ones-- some who have lost children. I even learned of a couple's impending divorce on Facebook. Each time I post to this blog, it syncs up with Facebook and posts the same content there. All of these people who knew me when I was 19, or 16, or 12, or 6 see my faith out in the open - and just maybe, they are impacted by something I write.

God is everywhere - why NOT on Facebook... ??
Psalm 139 (The Message)
1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!

Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
When you sign-up for Facebook and start letting "in" people to your profile, you are in essence inviting them to investigate your life. Your status updates, the groups you join, the wall posts you make all reflect on YOU. What does your Facebook activity say about you to the Facebook world? Is that a true reflection of who you want to be?

A Google search of "God and Facebook" did yield some comical results. One funny one was here: Another one I edited to remove some obnoxious content but overall, thought the "Wall" posts really mimicked Facebook's overal look:

One final thought - I spend a lot of time on facebook; it is my homepage now. But, I found THIS ARTICLE to be quite the good reminder that in order to truly to truly add God to YOUR friend list, you need to seek him earnestly and truly with your heart. It's not going to happen with a quick "Add To Friends" button! :)
Pin It! Share this article on Pinterest!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Julia's Story & Trading My Sorrows

This song is all about CHOICE. Choosing to push past the garbage in our lives... the sorrow and shame... the sickness and pain... and purposefully trading it in for God's Glory.

This is not an easy choice, by any means. Some of us have unimaginable hardships to deal with. Sometimes, not only can we not find a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel but we find we are at a gigantic wall... a crisis of our faith. It is at that time, where we can make the choice.

My sister-in-law, Stephany and brother-in-law, Tim have reached that point. Actually, I'm sure they've made the choice earlier than now, but now is when they are telling their story. I've mentioned my neice, Julia, in previous posts. 3 years ago, this precious baby girl was born. Dark hair, wide eyes, tiny fingers and toes. Only hours after her birth, did our family receive the devestating news: that Julia had been born with a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18 that was incompatible with life. Most babies with this condition do not even make it through the birth process. The fact that Julia was here at all was a miracle.

Tim and Stephany were blessed with 6 days with their daughter. Six heartfelt, heart-wrenching, heart-stopping days to hold and kiss... to care for and cuddle... to sing to and pray over. And after 6 days, Julia gave up her earthly fight, and went to play in Heaven's grand playground.

What in the world can you say to a person who has lost their child? What small words of comfort can you come up with? There are none. There are no words that will lift the cloud of grief off of their shoulders. And even as they learn to laugh and love again, that grief hole is always there in their hearts.
But Tim and Stephany made the conscious choice to use Julia in a way to positively impact others. They set up a scholarship fund, and this year, will award the 2nd Julia Scholarship. They have an annual Charity Golf Outing to raise money for the fund... with amazing raffle prizes and even the opportunity to win a CAR (IF you can get a hole-in-one on a certain hole...). As the lyrics to the song proclaim, they are trading their sorrows for the joy of the Lord.

Trading My Sorrows - LYRICS HERE

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 talks about Treasures in Jars of Clay
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
My sister-in-law, Stephany, is ready to tell her story of frustration AND faith, grief AND gratitude, staggering loss-- yet bountiful blessings. She has aptly titled her blog "My Jar Of Clay" - knowing that while she and her husband have dealt with some of life's most devestating hardships (many times over!), they have found that their Faith has grown exponentially.
Hard-pressed, perplexed, struck-down... Yes.
But NOT crushed, despaired, abandoned, or destroyed.
I invite you to stop by her site and read her stories. The blogging journey is just beginning for her - but the story is not over, and there is MUCH to share. Here is the link:
Pin It! Share this article on Pinterest!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Karaoke Tuesday: I'll Take You Back by Jeremy Camp

Jeremy Camp is rapidly becoming one of my new favorite artists... I love how he's redone some old favorites as well as created some new material. One of the songs that I particularly like is called I'll Take You Back.

If you're a regular on this blog, you know that the story of the Prodigal Son is probably my LEAST favorite Bible story because I've often felt that I most closely emulated the older son... the one who stuck around and did everything "right" only to watch his younger, screw-up brother get welcomed back with a feast. It has only been in the last few months that I've been able to view this story with new eyes - seeing clearly my own imperfections and how, in God's eyes, I resemble that Lost Son much more closely that I'd care to admit....

Considering that...
  • I took a completely break from church from 9th grade until I got married - only "church-shopping" for a permanant Sunday location because it was important to my husband...
  • That even after I was married, I insisted that we only actually attend church very other weekend (one week "on" and one week "off" was my motto!)...
  • And that even when attendance became a weekly routine, I found it just another avenue to visit with my friends... I didn't feel God there at all... even sitting between the gorgeous stained-glass walls of our sanctuary, I never felt anything in my heart other than the urge to get the service over with as quickly as possible. This went on for a decade. I may have been physically present in church, but I was not mentally, emotionally, or spiritually there at all. In effect, I was lost.
It was only 3-4 short years ago when we visited our current church. On our second visit, I found what I had been looking for. (You can read about it here.). Finally, I was not lost anymore.

And that's one of the reasons I love this song.... Because no matter now long it takes you, no matter how twisted the path you take, God will always, ALWAYS welcome you home:

Lyrics for "You Take Me Back" HERE.

I fall... He picks me up.
I curse... He gives me better words.
I cry... He comforts.
I search... He shines a light to guide my way.
I screw up... He forgives me.
I get lost... He finds me... always... again, and again, and again, and again.

As much as I hate to admit it, the Prodigal Son and I aren't that much different after all. And lucky for me, God has room for ALL of his prodigal sons and daughters. :)

If you'd like to hear the song, you can HERE on LastFM.
Pin It! Share this article on Pinterest!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Found God In Little Eyes - An EverydayPlaces Rewind

First... a little note (THX, Michelle for forwarding this to me!):


When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing, and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say,
'Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'

-Author Unknown (by me, at least)

This is my segway into EverydayPlaces Rewinds - a way to highlight some older posts that may have gotten lost in the Archives. One of my favorite posts is about being an AUTHENTIC Christian. "Little Eyes" see a LOT... just like God... who sees past our facades and who knows our hearts, our intentions, and our motives.... Go HERE to rewind to the original post about "God & Authenticity." It's a good one! :)

Pin It! Share this article on Pinterest!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Karaoke Tuesday: Hope Now by Addison Road

So it's after Easter... everyone has had their fill of marshmallow Peeps, jellybeans, and Cadbury eggs. You may have brought your kids to the obligatory Easter Egg Hunt... you've undoubtedly taken your Easter Photos with them dressed up in their new spring clothes. Hopefully, you found a moment to reflect on the meaning behind Easter... the part that is deeper and more important than visiting with the Easter bunny. So what now?

I was struck by a new(ish) song I heard on 93.3 recently by Addison Road called Hope Now. Take a look at the lyrics below:

If everything comes down to love
Then just what am I afraid of
When I call out Your name
Something inside awakes in my soul
How quickly I forget I'm Yours

I'm not my own
I've been carried by You
All my life

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

When my life is like a storm
Rising waters all I want is the shore
You say I'll be ok and
Make it through the rain
You are my shelter from the storm

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

I am not my own
I've been carried by you all my life

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down

You've become my hearts desire
I will sing Your praises higher
Cause Your love sets me free
Your love sets me free
Your love sets me free

It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:13. After the widely-used wedding verses on Love Is..., comes this sentence:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

After the betrayal.

After the pain.

After the sacrifice.

After the Cross... comes Faith, Hope, and Love.

As the story posted on Easter Sunday said, we are not just celebrating "Easter" once a year. Easter is every day. Every day, we reap the benefits of Jesus' sacrifice and blessings. We may dig out the plastic eggs, bunny ears, and baskets in March and April, but it is through all seasons that we should be cognizant of the marvelous gift we were given. As the song says, it is the Love of Jesus that has set us free.

I attended an Episcopal school from grades 4-8. We had Chapel services each Thursday, and at the end of the service, the Pastor would say, "Go in peace... to love and serve the Lord" and we would reply, "Thanks be to God." While I enjoy much more the unscripted church service we attend now, I do think that farewell is fitting for this post. The best way to show our gratitude for the blessing of Jesus' sacrifice is, indeed, to go in peace... to love and serve the Lord.

Thanks be to God. ♥

Pin It! Share this article on Pinterest!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Name Is Maggie... Do You Believe In Easter?

If you are actually stopping by here on Easter Sunday, I imagine you are looking for something more meaningful than the crackle of the wrapper around a Reese's Peanut Butter egg (my personal favorite Easter treat)... so I have a story for you:

Edith Burns was a wonderful Christian who lived in San Antonio, Texas. She was the patient of a doctor by the name of Will Phillips. Dr. Phillips was a gentle doctor who saw patients as people.
His favorite patient was Edith Burns.

One morning he went to his office with a heavy heart and it was because of Edith Burns. When he walked into that waiting room, there sat Edith with her big black Bible in her lap earnestly talking to a young mother sitting beside her. Edith Burns had a habit of introducing herself in this way: "Hello, my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?" Then she would explain the meaning of Easter, and many times people would be saved.

Dr. Phillips walked into that office and there he saw the head nurse, Beverly. Beverly had first met Edith when she was taking her blood pressure. Edith began by saying,"My name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?"

Beverly said, "Why yes I do."

Edith said, "Well, what do you believe about Easter?"

Beverly said, "Well, it's all about egg hunts, going to church, and dressing up." Edith kept pressing her about the real meaning of Easter, and finally led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Phillips said, "Beverly, don't call Edith into the office quite yet. I believe there is another delivery taking place in the waiting room."

After being called back in the doctor's office, Edith sat down and when she took a look at the doctor she said, "Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?"

Dr. Phillips said gently, "Edith, I'm the doctor and you're the patient"
With a heavy heart he said, "Your lab report came back and it says you have cancer, and Edith, you're not going to live very long."

Edith said, "Why Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes? You have just told me I'm going to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just told me that I am going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having difficulty giving me my ticket!"

Dr. Phillips thought to himself, "What a magnificent woman this Edith Burns is!"

Edith continued coming to Dr. Phillips Christmas came and the office was closed through January 3rd. On the day the office opened, Edith did not show up. Later that afternoon, Edith called Dr. Phillips and said she would have to be moving her story to the hospital and said, "Will, I'm very near home, so would you make sure that they put women in here next to me in my room who need to know about Easter."

Well, they did just that and women began to come in and share that room with Edith. Many women were saved. Everybody on that floor from staff to patients were so excited about Edith, that they started calling her Edith Easter; that is everyone except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse.

Phyllis made it plain that she wanted nothing to do with Edith because she was a "religious nut". She had been a nurse in an army hospital. She had seen it all and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane. She had been married three times, she was hard, cold, and did everything by the book.

One morning the two nurses who were to attend to Edith were sick.

Edith had the flu and Phyllis Cross had to go in and give her a shot. When she walked in, Edith had a big smile on her face and said, "Phyllis, God loves you and I love you, and I have been praying for you."

Phyllis Cross said, "Well, you can quit praying for me, it won't work... I'm not interested."

Edith said, "Well, I will pray and I have asked God not to let me go home until you come into the family."

Phyllis Cross said, "Then you will never die because that will never happen," and curtly walked out of the room.

Every day Phyllis Cross would walk into the room and Edith would say, "God loves you Phyllis and I love you, and I'm praying for you."

One day Phyllis Cross said she was literally drawn to Edith's room like a magnet would draw iron. She sat down on the bed and Edith said, "I'm so glad you have come, because God told me that today is your special day"

Phyllis Cross said, "Edith, you have asked everybody here the question, "Do you believe in Easter but you have never asked me."

Edith said, "Phyllis, I wanted to many times, but God told me to wait until you asked, and now that you have asked." Edith Burns took her Bible and shared with Phyllis Cross the Easter Story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Edith said, "Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants to live in your heart?"

Cross said, "Oh I want to believe that with all of my heart, and I do want Jesus in my life. "
Right there, Phyllis Cross prayed and invited Jesus Christ into her heart. For the first time Phyllis Cross did not walk out of a hospital room, she was carried out on the wings of angels.

Two days later, Phyllis Cross came in and Edith said, "Do you know what day it is?" Phyllis Cross said, "Why Edith, it's Good Friday." Edith said, "Oh, no, for you every day is Easter. Happy Easter Phyllis!"

Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Phyllis Cross came into work, did some of her duties and then went down to the flower shop and got some Easter lilies because she wanted to go up to see Edith and give her some Easter lilies and wish her a Happy Easter.

When she walked into Edith's room, Edith was in bed. That big black Bible was on her lap. Her hands were in that Bible. There was a sweet smile on her face. When Phyllis Cross went to pick up Edith's hand, she realized Edith was dead. Her left hand was on John 14: "In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." Her right hand was on Revelation 21:4, "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Phyllis Cross took one look at that dead body, and then lifted her face toward heaven, and with tears streaming down here cheeks, said, "Happy Easter, Edith - Happy Easter!"

Phyllis Cross left Edith's body, walked out of the room, and over to a table where two student nurses were sitting. She said, "My name is Phyllis Cross. Do you believe in Easter?"

God works in wonderful ways, and to believe in his power is to truly be free. Not only do I wish you and yours a Happy Easter - but I wish for you the ability to see Easter as a daily celebration of His love for you. More than bunnies, and chicks, and eggs, and baskets... More than a once-a-year party... but as a daily reminder of the promises that are still to come in your life.


Do you believe in Easter?
Pin It! Share this article on Pinterest!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Found God In A Quilt...

Got this great inspiration email from Gran-Roberta (my-step-grandma-in-law):

Quilt of Holes

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.

Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the
bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.

My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.
Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my
world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light.

An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you."

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through!

God determines who walks into your life ... it's up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.'

When there is nothing left but God...

that is when you find out that God is all you need.

Pin It! Share this article on Pinterest!