Monday, June 30, 2008

Lydia!!!

Congratulations to Eric and Ashleigh and the rest of the Sanzone family!! You finally have your Lydia and she is beautiful! Praise God!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Transitions

Jon and I are going through a lot of transitions right now and to be completely honest...I'm stressed out. I haven't been sleeping well and that alone has messed up my schedule and added even more stress to my life. This has been a time when I know I need to steady myself on Christ but it's so difficult. Tonight, at work, I've spent a good deal of my time praying and asking God to give me the strength I need to have more faith. I feel meager holding up my hands to the Lord with this tiny mustard seed of faith. In the grand scheme of things I know this dilemma is far from life changing but it still weighs heavy on my heart and I would appreciate your prayers concerning this particular need. I almost feel silly asking for prayer since I know others are facing much more difficult situations but if you feel led please partner with us in prayer.

We need a place to live. Monday we will put in our 30 day notice to our apartment complex and as of right now we have no place to live once those 30 days expire. The thought of moving forward without any safety net is terrifying and all of the worst possible things that could happen have been running through my mind. Please pray along with us that the Lord would provide a 1-2 bedroom apartment, within our price range that allows dogs. Seems simple enough right? We've been looking for quiet some time with no luck.

So God...I believe, help my unbelief.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thoughts on Art

Moses- Michelangelo

I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about art but I certainly do appreciate it. What I find interesting in a piece of artwork brings me to search and learn more about. So I investigate, and read as much as I can. This particular statue is one I've been interested in for quite some time.

Michelangelo's works are some of my favorite. His paintings are beautiful (for example just look at the Sistine Chapel) but for me his sculptures are awe inspiring. Take this one of Moses. The intricacies of the fabric folded around his legs, the way his beard is brushed off to the side, and what about the beauty of the human form? One would hardly know that this was made out of stone. But does anyone else notice something...something different..?

Yes, Moses has horns. Odd, isn't it? I found the explanation to this very interesting. Apparently it is believed that this representation came from Exodus 34:29-35. In the passage we read about Moses coming down from Mount Sinai and that his "face was radiant" because he had spoken with the Lord. Through misrepresentation and an error in translation at the time of Michelangelo, artists began to depict Moses in numerous sculptures and paintings with horns on the top of his head. If you're interested you can read more about this at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses#Horned_Moses.

Here are a few other useless facts that I happen to find fascinating (yes, yes I know I'm a huge dork):
- Moses is the centerpiece of the tomb of Pope Julius II.
- If you notice Moses' torso, shoulders, and arms are larger, making them slightly disproportionate to the rest of the body. His face also has an overly dramatic expression. The reason for this is that when the statue was originally commissioned Moses was going to be placed on the upper part of the monument, where it would have been viewed from below.
- The face of Moses is also very similar to the face of God portrayed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What's been on my heart...

"O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

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"O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may seel ight, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lydia

My family and I have good friends of ours who have gone on quite an amazing journey. I first met this couple (Eric and Ashleigh) when I was a freshman in high school. Eric was the youth pastor for Hill'n Dale Christian church and ever since then his family and my family have been close. Eric was an officiant at my wedding and two of his children were involved in the ceremony as well.

Back in 2006 the Lord began to stir in Eric and Ashleigh's heart the desire to adopt a little girl. Well after a couple of years and many amazing miracles Eric and Ashleigh are finally on their way to meet beautiful Lydia for the first time They leave today to fly to China. Anyway, they have been heavy on my heart this morning and I would encourage any of you who read this to lift up a prayer for safety as they travel today. Also keep them and the rest of their family in your prayers as they prepare for this blessed addition to the Sanzone clan.

Here is a link to their blog. If you get a chance you should read through their story because God's faithfulness is the center of this amazing journey!! Whew, I get chills just thinking about how awesome God has been in this situation and I can't help but praise Him!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer

video

This video is related a bit to what I talked about in my last post. I have found lately that God has been teaching me more about prayer and I've realized how much I need to grow in that area. Anyway this message was one that brought a lot of conviction to my heart but that also gave me so much hope. So if you get the chance take some time to listen to this message by Jim Cymbala (the author of Fresh Wind Fresh Fire, Fresh Faith, Fresh Power) addressing vital need for prayer within the Body of Christ.

Waiting


Pentecost- El Greco

I'm in a season of life right now where I'm waiting. My husband is in school working towards his masters degree and we are just plodding along looking forward to being done and in full time ministry. Currently it seems like that day will never arrive. I'm also feeling this way in my job. I've been working nights for over two years now and I'm tired...I'm perpetually tired. Lately I've been praying for the Lord to show me if it is time to move on and I've heard no distinct answer from Him so...I'm waiting.

I think all this waiting is making my spiritual life seem dry as well. Don't get me wrong, I'm learning so much as I spend time in the Word but I'm anxious for something new and exciting. I think this anxiety could make me miss out on what the Lord desires for me to learn right now.

I'm reading a book called "Fresh Power," by Jim Cymbala (If you haven't read any of his books I would highly recommend them.) Anyway, this specific chapter I'm reading has been focusing on the Pentecost. As I read I was struck not just by the power of God displayed in his followers but even more so by what took place before the Holy Spirit descended. The disciples along with other believers were holed up in a room praying for days on end. "They all gathered together constantly in prayer..." As I read this I was convicted. I am certainly not in a place where I can say I am a woman of prayer. God has brought this conviction to my heart recently and it's beginning something new in me. We'll see where the Lord takes it.

I think the power of God working in our lives and our effectiveness in ministry are closely linked to the depth of our relationship with Christ. I'm so hungry for more of God and I'm desperate for less of myself. Those around me certainly don't need to see more of me. The girls I minister to, who have suffered horrendous abuse, do not need me. They need Christ, who is the ultimate physician. The church does not need more eloquent preachers, or modern songs. They need more of God. So while I'm waiting...I'll continue to pray: Father, less of me and more of You!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Worshipper

Do you ever have those days when you feel broken? I'm not talking about brokenness over difficult circumstances. I'm speaking of the brokenness you feel when you know you have allowed sin to separate you from God. Maybe at first it doesn't seem like something big, a slip of the tongue, or perhaps a lingering thought. Maybe it's more than that. Maybe it's a hard fall that leaves deep scars and builds a wall between you and God. You hear a voice that affirms your deepest fears...that God would never be able to love someone like you.

However as conviction begins to stir in your heart so does the truth of the Gospel. It is in those moments that God's greatest mercy is reserved for his broken and rebellious creation. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17). This sort of pain felt by a follower of Christ is deep. To even think that your actions have grieved God can be unbearable but there is beauty in that pain. The work that comes through the refining fire of God is difficult but in the end the result is something glorious, a hatred of sin, a deep longing for God and his will to be lived out in your life, and an unquenchable desire to praise Him. Our brokenness is covered over, and our sorrow is turned into praise because God's grace is more than we deserve, and His faithfulness is more than we can fathom.


The Worshipper- Kate Austin


"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
- Isaiah 6:3

A New Creation

Slave (Awakening) - Michelangelo Buonarroti
Quotes from Michelangelo:
- "The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection."
- "The more the marbles wastes, the more the statue grows."
- "The best artist has that thought alone Which is contained within the marble shell; The sculptor's hand can only break the spell To free the figures slumbering in the stone."

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This statue is an unfinished piece of work by Michelangelo. Despite the raw form I think this sculpture is complete and it stirs my heart. I am reminded of the following verses in:

Luke 4:16-19
"And he [Jesus] stood up to read.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.
Unrolling it, he found the placed where it is written:
'The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good new to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'"

I see so much sorrow in this sculpture but I also see astounding beauty. I think this piece resonates with me because my heart breaks for the bondage that so many people face. Those who have yet to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ are held captive by their unbelief and the sin that has separated them from God. But just as Christ proclaimed, there is freedom!
I've grown up in the church and I've seen some beautiful pictures of God's anointing and divine calling on his people. However even in the church there are those held captive by all sorts of things. Hearts have been hardened due to unrepentant sin, the study of scripture has been neglected leaving no room for the law of God to convict the soul, and prayer is often missing within the lives of those who claim to be followers of Christ.

Lately, I have been reminded that yes we have been given freedom but our freedom is marked with purpose. We are freed so that we may proclaim the majesty of the One who gave us life. We are freed to share this truth with those who still live in bondage. Our hearts have been stirred as the master artist brings beauty out of chaos chiseling away our imperfections. We are stirred to action. We are stirred to serve.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Power of God

The Conversion on the Way to Damascus- Caravaggio

This painting attracted me the first time I saw it when I was studying art history my freshman year of college. My faith has always been an all encompassing sort of thing for me. I seem to grasp the greatness of the Gospel best when I can see it in the beauty of art, literature, and song (just to name a few.) This has brought me to the painting you see to your left. Saul's dramatic conversion and the passionate life of faith that followed is challenging to me. My faith journey has been far less astounding than that of Saul's, at least to the average person. My journey so far has brought me from the formative years of my faith to a new knowledge of the greatness of God.

I grew up in the church as the daughter of a pastor and I came to follow the Lord at an early age. Over the years, as I grew, my faith and knowledge of what it means to be a Christian began to blossom. I remember my high school years to be the most life changing and influential part of my foundation as a believer. I was blessed to be a part of a phenomenal youth group led by a couple who have lived a life of utter abandonment to the Lord. Even now I am so inspired by their faith. During that time of growth I was stretched and challenged in more ways than I ever imagined.

College proved to be far more daunting. I went through a lot of trials during my four years and most of them centered around learning who I was in Christ. Those years were filled with trials of loneliness, insecurity, questioning and spiritual drought. God's faithfulness during that time is still humbling to me and despite the fact that these issues still come up from time to time I am reminded every day that my foundation is secure.

Lately in my walk with the Lord He has been revealing himself in new ways. Over the past few months God has challenged the box I placed around him. This box appeared without my knowledge and before I realized it I had reduced God to some minor character with little power who just desired me to follow a set of rules. I never intended this to be the case but my faith became something I put on Sunday mornings and struggled to live up to during the week. Through reading a series of books and getting back into the Bible daily God shook me out of my stupor and opened my eyes to who He is. He is a God of power and passion. Our God does dramatic things. He uses flashes of light to get the attention of his creation and just like the blinding of Saul, God dramatically intervenes to save the lives of his created people. Christ's death on the cross was more than a gesture of love it was the moment of Christ's greatest glory and God's ultimate justice. The hideousness of our sin could only be atoned for by the sacrifice of the One who was without sin. Praise be to God that His blood covers over a multitude of sins! I pray that my encouter with the Lord of all creation will remain fresh in my mind and that His amazing grace would stir me to a life full of worship, and a heart overflowing with a passion to tell others of the gift of Christ!

India


I've been on an India kick lately. During some of my free time I've searched for pictures, listened to the music, read about their religions and studied their culture. Although my interest has waned every now and then I'm still fascinated by this beautiful country. I would love to go there but now is not the time...maybe one day.