Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Simpler Christmas This Year

I don't know about you, but I find Christmas time to be the most stressful time of my year.  So this year - after a somewhat crazy year - I decided to make it simpler.  Less stressful.  Which may explain why you did not get a Christmas card from the Mizels!  We hope that you don't mind.  Know that we love you dearly and are so very grateful for all of our friends and family.

This year, two things helped.  First, I decided to stick to the four gift rule:  something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.  Can I just say that I LOVE this idea?  Our kiddos are old enough that they know what they want, offered suggestions for what they need and knew that my typical gloves and hats and socks would be the something to wear.  That left only books to figure out and books are my favorite gift to give.  Tada!  I am finished.  No stress and, more importantly,  no potential for disappointment (like that time I got the WRONG Nerf gun for Isaac and he had to act happy).

Gifts are fun to give and receive, but we can put too much emphasis on them. Christmas puts so much pressure on us because it has become such a commercial for all the things we don't have and should want.  We do well to remind ourselves that this is actually a time to reflect on God the Father's gift to us - the birth and eventual sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus.  I am grateful for chances to remind myself and my family that the world has stolen a beautiful time to reflect upon the coming of our Substitute.  Jesus came to redeem and restore us to God.  We are grateful for the gift of Jesus, God's only Son, and for the sacrifice that was made on our behalf.

The second thing we did was that we postponed sending out Christmas cards.  I feel a little selfish.  But, honestly, I am happy to have family time when the kids are home from school.  I can write out cards and send notes when everyone is back to school and work.  Please don't be disappointed!  We will send you a New Years card wishing you a very happy 2015.  2014 was filled with hard things and wonderful things.  And now we celebrate a new year that God has blessed us to see.  We pray that in 2015 you see more clearly the love that God has for you and that you know Him more deeply.

From Psalm 86
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me...

And Psalm 98
Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness...

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thoughts From My Dad About the Gospel

My dad asked me to post this.  He wrote out some thoughts about the Gospel.  You should read it.  Twice.

Not of works, lest you should boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9   "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

Works says:

     I - ask Jesus into my heart
     I - make a decision for Christ
     I - surrender my life to Christ
     I - commit my life to Christ
     I - etc.

Works asks,  "Did I do it right?"

Faith says:
     JESUS - died and rose again in my place.
     JESUS - shed his blood as a sacrifice for me
     JESUS - took my sins in His body on the tree
     JESUS - paid my sin debt
     JESUS - took my sin and gave me His righteousness
     JESUS - washed me clean
     JESUS - made me whiter than snow
     JESUS - delivered me from guilt and the penalty of sin

Faith says, "I'm sure that Jesus did it right."

The Gospel does not call on the sinner to do something, but rather it calls on us to believe something.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Notes from Session #3 (Saturday) At Trailhead Church Fall 2014 Women's Retreat: Be Thou My Vision

Notes from the last session of our Trailhead Church Fall 2014 Women's Retreat. (For Session #1 - click here.)

Be Thou My Vision - Filling Our Vision With Jesus As We Love Each Other Well

[Before I type out the content of my notes, I want to let you know that our team of women's ministry leaders spent much time in prayer over the subjects we would be speaking on.  This session was particularly difficult to narrow down.  There are so many different directions a message on loving each other well can go.  I know that this is the direction that God wanted us to go.  It is not meant to condemn or discourage - but to point us to Jesus who loves us well!!  Remember, condemnation says you are not good enough, not ever.  Conviction is when the Holy Spirit puts pressure on one specific point that he wants you to address.  Don't be condemned!  Look to Jesus!  He does not condemn.]

I am so grateful and excited that this section follows our Friday night and Saturday morning sessions.
 Loving each other well begins by being in the Word and being in prayer.  We cannot discuss what God has for us in community without looking at Jesus.  How did He love those around him?  How does that inform how we are to love those around us?

Think about your closes relationships.  Give me some words to describe those relationships.  "Encouraging.  Fun.  Faithful.  Life-giving."
No one said what could also be the truth:  "Shallow.  Condemning.  Hard."

Before we look closely at how we interact, let's look at Jesus.  Read Philippians 2:1-8.
So, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus is living out perfect community here.  Self-sacrificing.  Humility.  No rivalry.  No conceit.  Sacrificed to the point of death.  FOR US.

Now turn to John 13:4-17.  We see Jesus' self-sacrificing played out on a very personal level.
Jesus... rose from supper.  He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?"  Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand."

Steve [lead Pastor] spent two weeks talking about our foot washing God.  You can listen to those messages here.  Jesus humbly served in a beautiful precursor to His ultimate sacrifice which was on the cross.

Turn in your Bible to 1 Corinthians 13.  I know!  We all panic - the marriage passage!  But it is NOT the marriage chapter.  This is the CHURCH chapter.  Paul is telling believers how to behave in the church.  In community.  In relationship.  Let's read it:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Did you see Christ in verses 1-3?  We see Christ in verses 4-7.  Let's specifically see him in light of the story of washing the disciple's feet.  We are going to compile John 13 and 1 Corinthians 13.  What would Jesus have said to those men as he served them?  What would he have thought?  Let's look at what Jesus did NOT say as he washed the feet of the men he had spent three years serving, loving and teaching.  (And since we are a room full of women, we are going to use "she" instead of "he".)

"Love is patient and kind."  > Jesus did NOT say:  "Boy, I am so tired of washing her feet!"
"Love does not envy or boast."  >  Jesus did NOT say:  "I wish I had her sandles so my feet wouldn't be so dirty."  Or, "Good thing she has me to wash her feet!"
"It is not arrogant or rude."  > Jesus did NOT say:  "Wow!  Thank goodness I don't have her life!  She has the most disgusting feet!"
"It does not insist on its own way."  >  Jesus did NOT say:  "I sure wish she would walk the way I tell her so that her feet wouldn't get so dirty."
"It does not rejoice at wrong doing."  >  Jesus did NOT say:  "She is SO muddy.  Now everyone will see!"

But you know what?  Jesus didn't care about the disciples outward appearance.  He didn't care about how clean their feet were.  He cared about their hearts!  What does he NOT say about our hearts?

"Love is patient and kind."  >  Jesus does NOT say:  "I am so tired of forgiving this woman!  She's a mess!"
"Love does not envy or boast."  >  Jesus does NOT say:  "She would really be so much better off if she would let me clean her heart."
"It is not arrogant or rude."  >  Jesus does NOT say:  "She is the worst!  She has the worst heart I have ever seen.  How ugly."
"It does not insist on its own way."  >  Jesus does NOT say:  "Stop.  Sinning.  Now."
"It is not irritable or resentful."  >  Jesus does NOT say:  "Sinful, sinful, sinful.  I am so tired of your wicked heart."
"It does not rejoice at wrongdoing."  >  Jesus does NOT say:  "I knew it!  I knew your heart would mess up like that!  I told you so!"

Now let's look at how we respond to each other through the lens of 1 Corinthians 13.  But we cannot skip over verses 1-3.  Without love we are defeating our goals of true community.  If we serve and teach and help but show no love, we are offensive!  Destructive!  Dangerous!  Things are going to get pointed now...

Love is patient.  >  This is the hardest one!  We must learn to wait - not have our own time frame for our friends.  You may want a friend to change or grow.  But only the Spirit prompts change!  Can you patiently, lovingly wait and serve as your friend stumbles and struggles with sin.  Jesus is patiently, kindly waiting.  We must be slow to speak, even in those time.  Is the Spirit prompting me to speak?  Or is the Spirit working and asking you to be patiently silent?  Do not assume that it is your right or responsibility to point out a friend's sin.  Wait patiently.  Pray and wait patiently some more.  If the Spirit prompts, speak.  If the Spirit doesn't, be quiet.  Love is patient.

Love is kind.  >  Can you give a kind word when you feel mistreated?  You will be mistreated by a friend.  It is part of life.  Can we be kind even in this?  Not in our own strength.  And not without love.  And most definitely, not without prayer for yourself and your friend!

Here I want to take a second and talk about two things.  Often before we are kind to someone we make them earn our approval or our kindness.  This is the opposite of how Jesus loves us.  We are given love and acceptance freely.  We need to learn to give kindness freely - even to the one who hasn't earned it.  Kindness is a gift we give, not a payment for good behavior toward us.  And dignity!!  A friend posted a quote from a Huffington Post article:  "Jesus' love, even if it came with hard words, somehow always seemed and felt like love.  People were seen.  They were heard.  They were touched.  They were left with more dignity than when they started."  Ladies!  That article was written by someone who isn't even a Christ follower!  Do we reflect this Christ-like quality?  Do we offer dignity along with kindness?

Love does not envy or boast.  >  Oh ladies!  We DO envy and we do boast.  Some of us envy that we can't afford to eat all organic.  Some of us boast that we are married.  Some of us envy those who have children.  Some of us envy those who don't have children!  The list goes on and on.  All we can boast about is Christ.  And envy is so, so destructive.  When we do this, we mentally or even physically divide ourselves into groups.  Those who have and those who don't have.  Those who do and those who don't do any number of things.  We as women have divided ourselves into many splinter groups - married, unmarried, have kids, don't homeschool, eat healthy, love Twinkies.  Once we envy and boast we divide.  Once we divide we are unable to love and serve the body of Christ well.  I was us to glory in our differences.  Serve each other well.  Care for that person who has nothing in common with you.  Heaven will not have divisions.  Why do we have them now?  Spend time with people who are different from you.  Move outside of your comfort friends and get to know that person who has different circumstances but the same Savior as you.

Love is not arrogant or rude.  >  The definition of arrogant is "having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities.  Friends, some of us need to practice the 5 question rule!  You cannot say anything at all about yourself until you have asked 5 questions about the person you are speaking to.  We find it too easy to talk about ourselves, our abilities and importance.  The definition of rude is "offensively impolite, ill mannered."  I think that speaks for itself!  Jesus was never ill mannered.  Was his message offensive?  Yes!  The Gospel, the Truth, is offensive to some.  But Jesus has called us to be lacking in rudeness.  Think you might be rude?  Ask your friends.  They'll tell you if you ask in humility.

Love does not insist on its own way.  >  Are we building kingdoms of people we have recruited to our ways?  Or are we seeking to point others to Jesus only?  Never say:  Be like me!  I don't care how healthy or organized or educated you are!  We are redeemed not to achieve earthly perfection, but for the glory of God!
[For your benefit here - I had to confess that just one paragraph up I had asked people to follow a rule I had.  The 5 question rule.  We laughed that I was saying don't ask people to be like me but was also telling people to do something I have done.  My apologies.]

Love is not irritable or resentful.   >  Have you ever had someone resent you?  Or show you how irritated they are with you?  How painful!  Jesus calls us to lay aside that frustration and speak words of lovingkindness.  We should not give ourselves the freedom to be short, or even sarcastic!  Be careful with your sarcasm.  Sarcasm is defined as "the use of irony to mock or convey contempt."  Yuck!  When Steve and I first got married we fell into the habit of shooting sarcastic barbs at one another.  All in good fun, right?  But soon my mom had to point out that we were continually cutting each other down in the name of humor.  And we weren't very pleasant to be around, much less seen as two people who actually cared for one another in a loving and kind way.  Ouch!  But it was so true.  Be careful how you use your sarcasm and just where you point that mockery and contempt.

Love does not rejoice in wrong doing.  >  Oooh!  We do not often see someone who rejoices when a woman sins.  That isn't our typical issue.  What do we do?  We pull out the sledgehammer of truth!  Ladies, let me caution you.  If you see someone in sin - unless the Spirit has given you the right to speak, unless the Spirit is calling you to speak, you better keep your mouth closed!  And if you cannot speak that truth without speaking softly, gently, in love, then you have to right to speak at all.  Keep quiet.  If you cannot speak without getting angry, keep quiet.  Notice, it says but "rejoices in the truth"!  Joy.  Truth spoken with love, in gentleness, brings rejoicing.  Do your words bring rejoicing?

And finally - LOVE BEARS ALL THINGS.  LOVE HOPES ALL THINGS.  LOVE ENDURES ALL THINGS.  Our hope is in Jesus, not our own words or actions or deeds.  Love does endure all things - by keeping our eyes on Jesus!

I want to close with a few verses out of a book my mom gave me when I got married.  So long ago!  It is from IF, by Amy Carmichael [another blog about that book here].  The verses are poetry.  She uses the phrase "then I know nothing of Calvary love" which is used as a contrast for our actions.  Obviously we do know about Calvary love and we are recipients of that grace.  So just listen,  keeping our eyes on Jesus for his grace and mercy and continued growth.

Love is patient:
"If I have not the patience of my Saviour with souls who grow slowly; if I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing) till Christ be fully formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
Love is kind:
"If I have not compassion on my fellow-servant even s my Lord had pity on me, then I know nothing of Calvary love."
Love does not rejoice at wrong doing:
"If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any:  if I can speak in a casual way even of a child's misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love."
Love does not insist on its own way:
"If I can hurt another by speaking faithfully without much preparation of spirit, and without hurting myself far more than I hurt that other, then I know nothing of Calvary love."
Love is not arrogant:
"If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love."
Let's refocus.  I am not speaking condemnation.  In Christ Jesus we are not condemned.  But we are called to fight the good fight - to struggle together.  We want to be those strong pillars from Psalm 144.  We are called to be women of the Word, to be women of prayer and to be women who love well.
Psalm 144:12  "May our daughters by like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Notes from Session #1 (Friday) at Trailhead Church Fall 2014 Women's Retreat - Be Thou My Vision

We did not record our first session at the women's retreat... so I have been asked to type out my notes.  For what it's worth...

Be Thou My Vision, Session #1 - Filling Our Vision with Jesus by Being Women of the Word

If you were at the last women's breakfast you will have heard me share this verse.  It is my hearts desire for us as women.
Psalm 144 is a Psalm of battle, or war.  David is speaking.  Verses one and two read:  "Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge..." That sets the tone.  Then we move down to verse 12:  "May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, and our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace..."  THIS is my desire for every woman in this room.  I think we talk often about being strong.  But it is in the context of relationship - to men or friends or students or government or our children.  But when we really dig into the Word of God we see where that strength comes from and what it is in relation to.   Turn to Psalm 1.  Verses one through two:  "Blessed is the man (woman!) who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers but his (her!) delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."  This is where true strength is grown - in the delighting and meditating on the Word of God.  And when we do that we will see what happens.  See verse three.  "He (She!) is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he (she) does, she prospers."  This delighting and meditating produces a strength that yields fruit and does not wither and prospers.  This is our desire.  This what we are praying for this weekend.  So - let's dig in!

From Psalm 1 we wee that strength comes from delighting in the Word, from meditating on the Word.  What is there in this Bible, in the Scripture for us to know - to meditate on?  We must start with a good beginning.  I highly recommend that you listen to Steve's second message from the Great Adventure series.  (Click   We were given a clear view of the story arc of Scripture.  This is a story.  We have a story telling God.  It speaks of creation and rebellion and promise and redemption and mission and restoration.  This is the story of God.

It is NOT the story of us.  Matt Chandler has one of my favorite quotes:  "The Bible is about Jesus.  It isn't about you.  You're in there but your part is not attractive."  So true.  But we often choose to ignore this fact.  We need to wrap our brains around the fast that this is the Word of God - Jesus (the Logos of John 1).  We are called to know Him.  To study Him.  This book, the Bible, boldly and clearly reveals God on every page!

So many of us as Christ followers spend our time longing to be Christ like.  Our goal is to be transformed into the image of God.  Jen Wilkin says:  "It has been said that we become what we behold.  I believe there is nothing more transformative to our lives than beholding God in His Word.  After all, how can we conform to the image of a God we have not beheld?"  So often we spend our time in the Word beholding ourselves.  Who am I?  What should I do with my life?  When we come to the Word with these two questions we are making the Word centrally about us and how we feel - not who God is.  Our hearts and our emotions are important - but we need to use our brains to dig deep into this Word and study our God.   Our hearts cannot love what our brains don't know.  And in learning and love the Word we are transformed as Christ followers.  We sometimes go through our day meditating on us in the Word.  I want to encourage you to study GOD in the Word.  It is how He reveals Himself.

Let's say I have a friend.  I love her dearly.  I talk about her all the time.  But I never let her speak.  Ever.  Would I really know this friend?  Would I know her heart?  No!  In order to speak on her behalf I would have to construct a whole identity for her - a context and personality and likes and dislikes.  I could construct something - but it would likely be false.  Do I do this with God?  I can confess to love him.  But, if I do not let Him speak for Himself and study what He has to say about Himself and His story, then I have to construct my own version of Him and His story.  How awful would that be?  To speak for the God of this universe?  Especially when He has given me a beautiful resource in which He has revealed Himself.  I must let God speak for Himself, reveal Himself.

 And I can take joy in the words he uses to reveal Himself.  Jeremiah15:16 says: "Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts."
Colossians 3:16 says to "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly..."  Psalm 119:2 "Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole hearts."

So... who are we seeking?  Read Isaiah 6:1-5.  Put yourself there in the temple with Isaiah.  Be overwhelmed with God's glory.  "In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim.  Each had six wings;  with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said:  'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'  And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.  And I said:  'Woes is me!  For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!'"

This is who we study.

[At this point I asked all the women to stand for reading of the next passage of God's Word.  Often we lose sight of who our God is.  Let's remind ourselves.]

Revelation 19:6-16  [And maybe I got pretty emotional when I read this out loud...]
"Then I hear what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, 'Hallelujah!  For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure' for the linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.  And the angel said to me, 'Write this:  Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'  And he said to me, 'These are the tru words of God.'  Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, 'You must not do that!  I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus.  Worship God,'  For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!  The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.  He is clothes in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.  And the armies of heaven arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.  He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." The Word of the Lord

Take a moment - since you are reading.  Read it again!

Now - we are going to get practical.  How are you doing studying the Word of God.  Jen Wilkins in her book talks about some different ways we study.  Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  • Letting the wind pick the passage!  I actually did this last month while trying to decide what to speak on tonight!  Not a good idea.  Ever.
  • "Xanax approach" - from Women of the Word - Using the Bible to address our issues.  I am anxious I will read Philippians 4:6.  I am tired so I will read Matthew 11.  I am feeling ugly so I will read Psalm 139.  Sure, there is a time for each of these readings... but this cannot be how we study continually.  Remember, the Bible is the complete story of God - we are not the center.
  • "Magic 8 Ball" - again from Women of the Word - I have questions.  I have a problem.  I need a yes or a no from Scripture.  Then I find a passage about ME!
  • Telephone Game - This is where we rely on what other people are learning in the Word.  Other people read it, study it, digest it, and then feed us.  Ms. Wilkin writes:  "We're called to love the Lord our God with all of our mind, not John Piper's mind."  Hilarious!
What ways have you studied the Word of God before?  There are lots! 

Let's look instead at four ways we can effectively study the Word of God.  Four ways that will help us to be those strong women spoken of in Psalm 144.

Four Questions -  From The Journey (St. Louis) and SOMA (Tacoma, WA)

  1. Who is God?  When we study God’s word, we always want to start with God himself. Write in your journal what you see in the passage about God and his character.
  2. What had He done?  God’s character is often expressed in his actions. What do we see God intending and doing in the passage? Write it down in your journal.
  3. Who are we?  The Bible reveals the people were made in God’s image, and so our identity is rooted in and derived from who God is. We also learn that people have rebelled against God, and so we are identified that way too. Write in your journal what we learn about people as rebels against God, but even more importantly, write about what we learn about what people are made to be as image bearers of God.
  4. What are we to do?  How does this passage call us to trust God to empower us to change in response to who he has created us to be and to how he is changing us into the image of Jesus? Write it down in your journal. Note: some Christians would call this the “application”, but because it is rooted in God’s character and actions first and foremost, rather than in our morality or self-righteousness, we try to avoid that word and it’s Christian sub-cultural implications.
Analytical Study Method
Choose a section of Scripture.  Begin broadly  by getting an overview of the book you have chosen.  Read your passage carefully and repeatedly.  Understand the context of the chapter then narrow your focus to the paragraph you have chosen.  Within that paragraph focus on one verse, then possibly even one phrase or word that peaks your interest and speaks to you.  Consider using Bible dictionaries and commentaries to expand your understanding of the passage.  Often it is helpful to spend days or even weeks in the same chapter to delve into the meanings of words and phrases within the context of your chosen paragraph, chapter and book.  Always being mindful of  what God is revealing about himself and how the passage fits into the overall story arc of Scripture.

  • ROAD - From the Journey (St. Louis)
    There are many different methods for reading the Bible. This one is fairly simple: It’s called R.O.A.D. journaling. The acronym R.O.A.D. contains the directions. We encourage you to actually write down your thoughts (ie journaling) if you use this method. Here’s the meaning of the acrony
    • R (Read)  Pray for understanding, then read through the text slowly and deliberately. If you have time, read the text twice.
    • O (Observe)  Observe the details of the text and try to understand what the author is saying. For example, pay attention to things like: facts (Who? What? When? Where? Why?), repetition, contrast, cause and effect, definitions, explanations, questions, quotations, commands, prohibitions, warnings, promises, etc.
    • A (Apply)  Answer two questions: What do I hear God saying in this text? What am I going to do about it?
    • D (Depend)  Pray for continued understanding, trust, and obedience. Ask God’s Spirit to help you apply these truths to your life right now. As the Spirit leads, feel free to praise God, confess and repent of sin, embrace God’s grace, etc.
  • The Five P’s from Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin
    Study with PURPOSE
    • Understand where your text fits into the Big Story of creation-fall-redemption-restoration
    Study with PERSPECTIVE
    • Understand the “archeology” of your text (its historical and cultural context)
    Study with PATIENCE
    • Resolve not to hurry; set a realistic expectation for your pace of study, focusing on the long term
    Study with PROCESS
    • Begin methodically reading for comprehension, interpretation, and application
    Study with PRAYER
    • Ask the Father to help you before, during, and after your study time 

Now, in closing let's read Ephesians 3:14-20  This is my prayer for us.  This is how we become strong women!  
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.  The Word of the Lord

Friday, September 26, 2014

Come, Bring All of Your Heavy Burdens

I have been thinking on two things that were shared on Facebook last week. They are overwhelming reminders of God's grace to me. Read the quote. Then listen to the song. And if you want to hear how to lay down your burdens - send me a message. I would love to tell you about Jesus, how he says "Come as you are". He alone is Hope.

Quote from Tim Keller: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
Song from Grand Ole Opry:

Reminds me of a few verses that I love:
Matthew 11:28, 30  "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest... for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  (Words of Jesus)

Exodus 6:6-8  "I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens...I will redeem with an out stretched arm... I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens... I am the Lord..."  (This is from the story of how our great God rescued the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt.  Read the whole chapter!)

Our God did not leave us unknown and alone.  His offer to come as you are - with all of your burdens, cares, pride, fear, guilt,  hate, or despair - is for you.  He will bring you out from under those burdens and into His lovely, lovely grace and mercy.  Yes, there will still be burdens, but you will not bear them alone and He died to remove our ultimate burden - the need to be redeemed and given peace with God.  He gives us Hope:  redemption, removal of condemnation, and unchanging love.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Still Celebrating! 25 wedding photos from 25 year ago

Things I remember about August 4, 1989

  • It was the 80's!  Puffy sleeves, big hair, big bows, the mullet (which would not be called the mullet for a very long time!) 
  • Sewing the bridesmaids dresses with my mom and Aunt Pat
  • Family and friends!  
  • 100 degrees!
  • Donuts with my family for breakfast.
  • Crying - lots of crying!
  • My mom getting excited that Steve had planned to cut his hair before the ceremony - except he just shaved the sides!  :) (see photo below)
  • My matron of honor stabbing me in the head with a bobby-pin  (see photo below)
  • Getting trapped in the restroom because Steve was hovering right outside the door - trying to see me before the ceremony
  • Having to run back to the restroom to grab my flowers - I almost walked down the aisle without them!
  • Looking at the floor the ENTIRE time that I walked down the aisle (again, see photo below)
  • Isaiah 53 - the passage my dad spoke out of when he performed the ceremony - so happy that he
    agreed to do the wedding for us  (Now that I am older I realize what a big thing we were asking him to do!)
  • Greg, Steve's brother and best man, being so serious
  • Mr. Byrum praying during the ceremony
  • Steve having to raise my veil in order to kiss the bride
  • Introducing Steve to so many family and friends during the receiving line -one of my favorite parts of the day  
  • Meeting some of Steve's family for the first time - all the way from California and Michigan!
  • At the reception, I didn't want to leave my parents and sisters because I was leaving that day - for a quick honeymoon, then CALIFORNIA!  Thus, more crying...
  • Having a groom's cake at the reception - which was a foreign concept to Steve - Welcome to the south.  And yay for chocolate! (see photo below)
  • Our saran-wrapped car waiting for us as we left -  Mr. Coin had to help us get in by cutting it with a pocket knife! (see photo below)
  • Birdseed everywhere! 
  • Being SO very happy to being marrying Stevie
Now for the photos...


Monday, August 4, 2014

Twenty Five Years with You, Stevie

How do we celebrate twenty five years of marriage, Steve?  Words just can't do it.  At least not mine - you are the one who is good with words.  So - how about a little walk down memory lane with twenty five songs?  Twenty five songs for twenty five years
of marriage!

1989 - We got married!!  Two Hearts Beat As One - U2  Do you remember that thunderstorm in Louisville on our honeymoon?  One of my Very. Best. Moments. Ever.
1990 - Dancing with you in our first Missouri apartment - Soul Cages - Sting
1991 - We got to see U2 at Busch Stadium.  I was pregnant with Victoria.  It was SO loud.  We saw Bono interview someone from Sarajevo and call President Bush.  Such a good memory.  Mysterious Ways - U2.
1992 - Victoria is born!   Your first words to her were "You are so beautiful.  She's so beautiful.  She's so beautiful!"  We had sung "You are my Sunshine" for months waiting for her arrival.  We had no idea how Baby Sunshine would change everything.  She did.  She still does.  Listen to Johnny Cash sing it and celebrate the enthusiastic, brilliant, driven, beautiful woman she has grown into!  As she says, she is 100% you and 100% me crammed into one body!  You Are My Sunshine - Johnny Cash
1993 - I Would Walk 500 Miles - The Proclaimers
1994 - We first heard Dave Matthews Band on David Letterman.  One listen and we were hooked.  One of our best dates was Dave Matthews at Riverport.  Yay for babysitters!  Under the Table and Dreaming - DMB
1995 - In May God gave us the blessing of Esther.  She was born so alert and pink and beautiful.  She stole our hearts.  And little did we know just how many shark facts we would learn or how many shark movies we would watch! The tiny shark loving girl has grown to be a shark-obsessed woman!  Listen to the theme song from Jaws and celebrate the beautiful, independent, creative, gifted woman she has become.  The Theme From Jaws
1996 - This life is crazy!!  No sleep for us.  Stay Up Late - Talking Heads
1997 - Remember that time we LOVED hearing Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers but we walked out on Counting Crows?  Another great date night on a hot August evening.  "Laughing Out Loud" with you.
1998 - Isaac is born!  He has made us laugh from the beginning.  Little smiley boy Steve called him.  Little boy blue.  He is growing to be big and strong like his dad and to love Jesus with his whole heart.  Yet he is different from you in so many ways.  Listen to one of his favorite songs, Beautiful Day, and celebrate the joy that he brings, the hugs that he gives, and the smart, thoughtful, caring, handsome man he has become.  Beautiful Day - U2
1999 - Ten years of marriage!   California Stars - Billy Bragg
2000 - New House!  Ringing in the new century! And bluegrass makes a comeback.  :)  I'll Fly Away - Allison Krauss 
2001 - The most healing, spiritual concert after 9/11 was U2.  Such a painful thing.  But a beautiful song.  One - U2
2002  How many times do you think we have sung Man Of Sorrows by now?  Every night for TEN years!  Man of Sorrows - anybody!
2003 - Oh, Norah Jones.  Come Away with Me - Norah Jones
2004 - We found our way to a new church and it changed everything.  From the psalms... a new song! U2 - 40
2005 - For the first time ever we left the kiddos and travelled to CA alone.  I will never forget that week.  The ocean and the hiking and the clam chowder and the rain and light houses and the sleeping to the sound of the waves again.  Do you want to be my "One and Only" love?  One and Only Love - Teitur
2006 - This year life changes forever.  You go to work for the Journey and our next adventure begins.  I will follow you anywhere.   Rocco Delucca - Colorful
2007  - Sometimes you hear a song and know that it will forever be in your brain - because it expresses so much of what is in your heart.  "All of these lines upon my face tell you the story of who i am... so many stories of where i been and how i got to where i am... I was made for you.  Story by Brandie Carlisle
2008 - I turned 40.  We celebrated our 19th anniversary.  We started a church!  AND in the same month we traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland.  We realized that Snow Patrol was from Belfast.  "Crack the Shutters Open Wide" was released the month we were there.
2009 - Twenty years of marriage.  It went by so quickly.  And still...  "All I Want is You" - Jars of Clay version may even be better than the real thing.  :)
2009/2010 - Mumford and Sons  "Awake My Soul"
2011 - Trailhead begins!  Jesus of the Scars - Jake Gehret
2012 -Trailhead's first birthday!!  Beautiful Things - Gungor
2013 -  God is so good to us.  Approach My Soul the Mercy Seat - Jon Yerby
2014 - Three years at Trailhead and twenty five years of marriage.  Teach Me To Know - Lone Bellow 

Honorable Mentions!
Rain in the Summertime - The Alarm
War Child/Where The Streets Have No Name - Elbow
Joel Lindsey - What Is Love?
Unchained Melody - Willie Nelson

I have been thinking about these songs and these memories for a while now.  Each song evokes so much emotion.   We have had such a good life, Stevie.  I am so very thankful for it.  I know that what we have is a gift - nothing we have earned and deserved or created.  God gives good gifts.

Here are the lyrics to The Story by Brandi Carlile.  
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am

But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true, I was made for you

I climbed across the mountaintops
swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby I broke them all for you

Oh because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
You do, I was made for you

You see the smile that's on my mouth
It's hiding the words that don't come out
And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed
They don't know my head is a mess
No they don't know who I really am
And they don't know what I've been through
Like you do, and I was made for you

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am

Oh but these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true, I was made for you
Oh yeah, well it's true that I was made for you

Ha!  I just wrote a whole blog without a Wendell Berry reference!  Haha!  Proud of me?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Request

Today is one of those days I dread.  I know so many women do.  So for today, would you do me a favor?  When you pass a woman, one of your friends, would you LOOK at her?  Really look at her?

Take a moment to see her heart - not the external circumstances she is living in.  We as women can be a tough bunch.  "Happy Mother's Day" can be thrown around without much thought.  To many it is a day of sadness - for what has been lost (mother or child) or what has never been.  To many, it is a glorious day to celebrate all that has been given.  And even, it should be a day to celebrate women who aren't mothers (maybe not even married) who have helped you along the way - to be your mom or help as you be a mom.

So please, look at her.  Really look at her.  You may not know what to say, but that is okay.  Maybe that is even better.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

One Lie About Singleness (and Marriage, Too!)

So, I am going to climb up on my soap box for a bit.  I'm not getting up there to speak down to anyone - but to try to make my point clearly.

In a recent conversation, a friend told me why she entered counseling.  She casually stated that she was talked into going to counseling by a friend who told her that she didn't have to go, but that if she didn't go, she would never get married.  She would always be alone and always stuck with her sin! It was as if her friend was telling her, "Go fix yourself and then God will bless you with marriage."

I got a little excited when I heard this.  Angry is the better word for it, actually!  While it is true that counseling does help us see ourselves (and sometimes our sin) more clearly, her friend was telling her that she needed to fix herself before she could get married. And I think a lot of people think this.

I want to tell you, this is not so!  Obviously, God is calling us as women to grow more like Christ.  And for some of us, counseling really is a must. But we seek wise counsel in order to grow and mature, not to work to earn a mate.  The bad idea here is that marriage is a reward or guaranteed outcome for that growth or maturity.  Marriage is NOT a reward.  Marriage does not come when we get our lives figured out.

Marriage is a gift of God.   It is NOT a reward (nor is it a goal we use to motivate ourselves to get help when we need it).  If I had waited until I deserved marriage, I would never have gotten married.  I know women who waited until their 40's to marry - not because they were unworthy of marriage, but simply because God hadn't chosen to give them a husband.  I know women who have married at 20 (me included) who then went on to struggle with selfishness and maturity and had lots of growing to do.  Our worthiness did not determine our marital status.

The problem here is not mainly wanting to earn marriage or deserve marriage.  The problem is our view of God.  Do we look to God for karma (giving us what we deserve) or to be a Santa Claus (giving us what we want), or as a Father (who gives us grace)?  As singles, if you look to God for karma, you will try to improve yourself in order to earn a spouse.  If you look to God as Santa Clause, you will create a list of what makes a perfect spouse and demand that God give you exactly what you ask for.  But if you approach God as Father, the giver of grace, you will run to him with your needs, desires, pains, joys, and requests - eagerly trusting him to meet your needs, even if he doesn't give you exactly what you request.

I recently heard a single woman quote John Newton:  "Everything is necessary that God sends.  Nothing can be necessary that he withholds." We must learn to trust God, that in our singleness or our marriage, He is good and He is working out our story to HIS glory.  Do we have a right to demand anything from God?  If karma or Santa is our standard, then sure.  You can demand a husband.  But if God has redeemed us as His own, if he has paid such a heavy price for us, then we are daughters of the King!  We are His!  What rights do we have to demand that He give us anything.  He has given us all things already - salvation!  redemption! restoration!

I am not saying that we don't struggle with being single, or being lonely while married, or any number of struggles that we as women have.  But please, stop trying to earn a different situation and rest in the situation you find yourself in - being the daughter of the King of Heaven!  Have grace for yourself... remind yourself that your current situation isn't a reward or punishment.  You don't have to earn anything from your Father the King!  You just need to trust Him.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Singleness: Resources

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time processing singleness.  It has been a while since that was my situation, but some of my closest friends are single and I have two lovely young daughters who are single!    I want to share some resources with you.  Let's get a good conversation going and encourage each other to honor Christ in whatever situation we find ourselves!!  And for the record, very few of these thoughts are going to be original to me.  I will try to give credit where credit is due!

My friend Johanna asked me to read a book called Redeeming Singleness.  I am only half way through, but it has challenged my thinking in some pretty crazy ways.  Specifically how in Old Testament times there was no place for singleness.  Women needed marriage for protection and the nation needed marriage for growth - children!  But Jesus came and all of that changed.  With the foundation of the church as the body of Christ there was, for the first time, a way for a single person (never married, divorced or widowed) to be cared for, loved, and provided for by other believers.  Jesus could have chosen to be married, but he remained single.  Why?  Perhaps because we are all, in the future in heaven, going to be single again!  I will keep reading the book, but pretty interesting stuff, to be sure.

Then I came across an article from Desiring God:
This article presents the idea that singles have a huge advantage in serving the kingdom.
"With God’s help and leading, you have the freedom to invest yourself, your time, your resources, your youth, and your flexibility in relationships, ministries, and causes that can bear unbelievable fruit."
It may sound like a cop-out, but the truth is marriage and family distracts me - a lot. Probably more than it should.  Paul says that he wished that all of the Corinthians were single (1 Cor. 7:6).  Why is that?  There is freedom in having to attend to only my own needs - but I am not free to do that.  Nor am I free to invest in a large group of friends.  As a wife and mother, my family has to come first.  As a single woman I was able to invest in a larger group of friends and activities.

All of these thoughts are great, except for the fact that they do not address some of the issues generally attributed to singleness. Mainly loneliness. If you have not read Wesley Hill's book entitled Washed and Waiting, I highly recommend that you do so immediately. It will be the best twelve dollars you have spent in a while. Wesley is a believer who struggles with same-sex attraction. He gets into the details of that, which I won't get into right now. But the reality is, in seeking to honor Christ with his life he is looking at a life of singleness which involves loneliness and chastity. Those are huge subjects to tackle. A discussion of singleness cannot ignore either of them. One quote describes the struggle:
 “The love of God is better than any human love. Yes, that’s true, but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel---in the deepest parts of who I am—that I am wired for human love. I want to be married. And the longing isn’t mainly for sex (since sex with a woman seems impossible at this point); it is mainly for the day-to-day, small kind of intimacy where you wake up next to a person you’ve pledged your life to, and then you brush your teeth together, you read a book int eh same room without necessarily talking to each other, you share each other’s small joys and heartaches…One of my married friends told me she delights to wake up in the night and feel her husband’s foot just a few inches from hers in bed. It is the loss of that small kind of intimacy in my life that feels devastating. And, of course, this ‘small intimacy’ is precious because it represents the ‘bigger intimacy’ of the covenantal union between two lives.” (see page 105) 
Another great point that Mr. Hill makes is about community.  So many times Christians present the idea that marriage is the best form/picture/expression of community.  But we see in Scripture that the church, the body of believers in Jesus, is the best/truest form of community.  Community in Christ is accessible to everyone - not just married people.  We cannot deny that marriage is a intimate form of community - when it is good.  But we also cannot deny that a bad, disconnected marriage can be even more lonely than singleness.  I could give you a zillion quotes from the book - but instead - READ IT! (Here is the link to amazon: click here)

And finally, the resource I am MOST excited about is a recent seminar from Tim Keller's church, Redeemer Church in New York City.  It was titled S1NGLE - God's Gift:  Our Plans.  I think this is one of the best resources you are gonna find on the subject.  Click here for the website. There are three separate videos on the site.   Watch the first video - an interesting presentation of stats about singles.

Then watch the middle video.  Three speakers (including former Redeemer intern Jordan Tanksley and current Redeemer intern Jessica Hong and author Wesley Hill) share their experiences.  Have you ever been asked "Isn't it about time you settle down and get married?" or heard comments like "I just don't understand why such an amazing woman/man like you isn't married yet?"?  The speakers discuss all aspects of singleness: loneliness, chastity, family expectations, dating a non-believer,  identity, defining ourselves as daughters and sons of God (not our marital status), worth, friendships, and community.  This is SUCH a good collection of speakers!!  So very helpful.

Then in the third video Kathy and Tim Keller speak.  Always a challenging, thought provoking thing.  They challenge singles about struggles, what our biggest problems are, circumstances, trust in God, sexual satisfaction, spirituality, expectations for the future, and personal story.  Please, oh please, watch this video.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas Trees and Ebenezers

I love words.  Not like Steve loves them in that he uses them well.  I have a fondness for certain words.  Fidelity. Membership. Ebenezer.  There's a word you don't hear every day!  The dictionary defines ebenezer as "a commemoration of divine assistance".  It has its origins in Hebrew, meaning stone of help.  Samuel used the word in reference to the "stone which he set up in commemoration of God's help to the Israelites in their victory over the Philistines at Mizpah (1 Samuel 7:12)".  (Also from the entry in the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary).

We don't see ebenezers around much these days.  But if you look, you can find them.  They may look like Samuel's:  I have a stone in our back yard to commemorate the amazing, miraculous way God blessed us with this house.  But they may look completely different than Samuel's:  Our Christmas Tree.  Our Christmas tree is my favorite part of the holiday.  It is a collection of ebenezers for our family.  We have so many ornaments.  Each one has a very specific story or remembrance for us.  Each year we get to look back over all of the ways God has blessed us.  It is a beautiful activity.  It is also the sole reason I enjoy taking down our tree.  As I wrap each ornament I again think back on what God has done and thank Him - for He is good and gracious and glorious and great.  And I can see it right there on our tree.

So I want to share a few of our ebenezers with you!  This SIUE ornament is one of the most exciting.  When I see it I instantly go back to the day when we received an envelope in the mail informing us that Victoria had been awarded a full scholarship for college.  Room and board for four full years!  I get giddy just thinking of that day.  All the emotions and excitement flood back.  God truly provided and blessed us (and Victoria) beyond belief!

We have ebenezers to remember those that are no longer with us.  We do
think of these people more often than Christmas - but it is a beautiful thing to hang an ornament and tell a story or two about people we have loved and lost.

I cannot put up a tree without a flood of feelings of gratitude for family.  Specifically, this tree ornament
 brings back childhood memories.  My mom made this blue Christmas tree.  The year was 1977.  I see it and am forever grateful for parents who love me and love the Lord and who are still such an absolute blessing to me and Steve and the kiddos.

Our favorite ebenezers to put on the tree (and they may actually cause arguments among us for who gets to put which one on the tree!) are a set of simple cardboard "Adornaments" that are pictures depicting the "I AM's" of Scripture.  Jesus says "I am the Door", "I am the Good Shepherd", "I am the "Light of the World", "I am the King of Kings", "I am the Living Water", "I am the Bread of Life", and so on.  What a glorious reminder of His goodness, provision, grace and mercy to us.

This snowflake is a gift from Steve's days at the Journey.  What a blessing that church was to us.  We learned so much of the grace of God while we were there and God used the leaders of that church to change our lives forever.  We put this ebenezer up with thoughts of love and fondness and gratitude.

The 80's Precious Moments ornament was a gift from my parents for the first year of marriage for Steve and I.  1989.  Oh so long ago.  But I will be eternally grateful for such a wonderful man.  I hang that ebenezer with joy each year!!

There are ebenezers for places we have lived (California, Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois).  We cherish each one of those states and homes.  There are ebenezers for adventures that God gaves us - Ireland, Rock City, Land Between the Lakes, Vail, Phoenix and the list goes on and on.  Each a sweet remembrance of "divine assistance".  My ornaments are back in their box until later this year.  But I loved taking each one out and rejoicing in the faithfulness of our good God.  We commemorate Him.

Music Concerts - My Favorites

We just saw a great concert last month - the Lone Bellow at the Old Rock House in St. Louis.  Perfect.  Perfect band.  Perfect venue.  Perfect crowd.  One of the best concerts I've been to.  Which leads to the question:  What are my favorite concerts?  Here's a list!

U2 at Savis November of 2001.  This was one of their first stops in the US after Sept. 11th.  Powerful.  Who would have thought that a group of four Irish guys could help a crowd full of people heal.  But it happened.  We wept as the band sang in front of a massive screen with the names of the 9/11 victims scrolling.  One of the most moving musical experiences of my life.  So happy that I got to share it with Steve.

Mumford and Sons - Off Broadway June 15, 2010.  What can I say?  Mumford and Sons with a small crowd of 200 on their first US tour.  Doesn't get any better than this!  It was like we were in on a little secret that the world hadn't discovered yet.  Now the whole wide world knows.  And I am still a fan!  (Check out a Riverfront Times concert review here).  It helped that this was Victoria and Esther's first concert experience.  What a great first!

The Lone Bellow - Old Rock House November 10, 2013.  This is the perfect venue.  The group sang without microphones on several songs and even walked out into the middle of the crowd and sang on
the dance floor.  And the whole place sang along!  There were also moments when you could see the crowd leaning forward, holding their breath, listening intently.  Amazing. (photo from July 2013 at the Pageant)

Snow Patrol - Soldier Field, Chicago September 12, 2009.  I love U2.  This was the fifth or sixth time we got to see them.  They are
always great.  But it was actually pretty cool to see Snow Patrol.  They were obviously ecstatic to be playing to such a huge crowd.  Lead singer Gary Lightbody couldn't stop smiling.  It was contagious.  They were having fun, so we were having fun.  Gotta love those concert moments.  I have since become a huge Snow Patrol fan.  First started listening to them after a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland where they are from.

Nylons - Humphrey's, San Diego Bay 1990.  Finally, we go back to the beginning.  Our first year of marriage.  One of the best surprises from Steve ever was a concert the first year we got married.  I have always been a Nylons fan.  For those of you who don't know, they are an a cappella group singing songs such as "Happy Together" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".  They're great!  I had wanted to see them at Humphrey's - an outdoor venue on the bay in San Diego, where we lived.  Steve said the tickets were sold out, but offered to take me to the restaurant for dinner.   I remember being sad, but enjoying the evening.  When I could hear the crowd getting excited, he walked me out to the concert!  I was so surprised!  A fun night.  Fun music.  Amazing beachside venue.  (Fun first year of marriage!!)

Lots of honorable mentions...  Rocco Delucca at the Duck Room, Punch Brothers at the Sheldon Concert Hall, U2 at Busch Stadium in '92.

So, what are your top five concerts?