Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy National Karaoke Week!

Brace yourself. It is National Karaoke Week.

Wow. What a time to be alive.

Now, I have never actually been to Karaoke. Well….never actually participated in Karaoke. But the thought of it, right? Very exciting! I have “a song”. You know when Pandora sends you the song you most listened to the whole entire year? Yeah, my song is the same every single year. I know you think it is going to be spiritual and meaningful and may even bring you to tears. So inspirational, so powerful. Thank you for thinking so highly of me.


It is “Ice, Ice, Baby”. If we can’t be friends anymore, I understand. Actually, wait. I do NOT understand. What happened to, “Hey, you be you…”. I can’t explain my fascination with this song. I’ve tried. I can’t tell you why I LOVE it. And I do LOVE it.

I can’t tell you why I know every word or why I crank it up SO LOUD (that loud!) every single time it comes on, which is often. I can only tell you my heart is forever bound to this song. I know every word. I have my own dance moves. If Vanilla Ice ever had an emergency, he could call me. I’m ready for it. 

I’m telling you all of this so you will schedule some karaoke time this month. My guess is most of you have never written “karaoke time” in your planner. Me either. But how much fun is it to turn off the world for a bit and sing at the top of your lungs? I think its pretty fun. I’m sure going to find out.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Random Acts of Kindness.

Did you know there was such a thing as “Random Acts of Kindness Day”?! I didn’t, so predictably, I missed it. It was February 17. But all is not lost. Can’t any…random…day be a random acts of kindness day?

I mean, what a great idea for a day of celebration!! PLEASE celebrate the idea of this holiday, on any day of your choosing. Who knows who you will bless, at just the right time.

I talk to so many women going through such hard times. They are your cashiers at the grocery store. They are the ladies who check you out at Ross. They are your servers at the restaurant. They drive beside you and work beside you and pick up their kids from school beside you and live beside you. You just never know who you are blessing.

You just never know whose husband has just left, whose child has just been diagnosed, whose heart has just been broken, whose hope has just been crushed. And every single day we have a chance to bless, to love.

If we are the light of the world, then our part is to shine, even when we don’t know the back stories. Many times, most times, we won’t. It’s so great to know that God knows who needs our light most, and that’s why we trust Him to order our steps.

Go shine all over the place today. Random acts of kindness—sometimes they are as simple as a smile, as a compliment.

I try to remember that everybody has a back story as the cashier is rude to me. Or the server forgets my water again. As the driver cuts me off. Okay, that last one isn’t true. Yet. I’m still working on that…

But it’s true that every one of us has a hard day, and how awesome is it when on that day someone comes right along and just blesses our socks off? Go bless some socks off.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Worth Celebrating!

Happy Easter everyone! He is Risen! Easter is a great day at our church, in our homes, for us and our families. It is meaningful and should be celebrated! It is a day that represents hope for us as Christ followers. What better news could there be—Jesus died in our place, giving us access to God and forgiveness of sins! BEST NEWS EVER!

I had my spiritual birthday recently and I was thankful and it was exciting—23 years! I was thinking that day about how it is really worthy of celebration all year long. A day on the calendar is wonderful because it gives me a chance to shout it from the mountaintops and to have a concentrated day of celebration. But every day is a celebration of my salvation.

Please, please don’t hear what I’m NOT saying! I’m not saying, “do this instead of that”! I am saying, “Do this in addition to that!” I guess it’s like anything worth celebrating, right?! I mean, birthdays. Do you know me? I have birthday month. So I am down to celebrate the one day that is Raina Day. But I’m also down to celebrate “Raina” every day. Are you picking up what I’m laying down?!

I think you should celebrate you daily. I think you should celebrate Jesus daily. I think Easter should be a year-round party. He is alive! I can come talk to Him on Easter Sunday, and that is AMAZING! I can also come talk to Him on a random May Friday. Or a September Saturday. Always. Forever. Every. Single. Day.

What a thing worth celebrating!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Quiet Time

Sometimes I am hesitant about sharing specific things from my time with the Lord. As a “pastor’s wife” (fyi, I have never been introduced to someone as “this is my plumber’s wife” or “this is my realtor’s wife." Just saying.), I realize that many people look up to me—particularly new Christians—and would want to copy exactly whatever I am doing. I know this because I have done this, too! If someone I respect is doing something just so, then maybe the way to do it is just so.

So I preface this post by saying there are SO MANY ways to spend time with God! And you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you are spending time with God, you are already doing it right. That said, I am a sucker for new ideas. And I do love to peek in at how other people do things.

I keep all my “quiet time” stuff in one place. Maybe you call it “devotional time” or “time with God” or maybe you don’t label it at all. I have no idea why I started with “quiet time”, but it has stuck! And we have a saying in our house that we read somewhere long ago--if I miss it one day, I know it. If I miss it two days, Jason knows it. If I miss it three days, the whole world knows it. Why? Cause I need Jesus rubbing off on me all the time! Every day! So I keep all my stuff in one place to make it easy.

What is this stuff I speak of? Mercy, it has varied quite a bit over the years. Different books and Bibles, notebooks, gratitude journals, pens, tissues, devotionals, highlighters. Of course, I have never met an office supply store I didn’t love, so I have to work to keep the stuff at a minimum. And since I am on a simplification kick, these days I only have my favorite Bible (a New Living Translation soft covered study Bible), a pen, a pair of headphones to listen to worship music on my phone (my favorite at the moment is Rita Springer’s “Battle”), a notebook to write Scriptures in, and a sweet little book my husband bought me 17 years ago called “Daily Light” that has Scripture readings for each day. That’s it.

Recently I bought a new bag to keep it all in. A cheerful bag that would make me happy every time I look it! Its all together for me to sit down with on my couch, or scoop up and take to the porch, or wherever my heart wants to sit with God. Some great advice I got after learning about spending time with God was simply keep your Bible and what will help you study it in one place, at the same place, so you don’t have to go chasing all over creation to find it. When that happens, its all too easy to say forget it when we go through seasons when we are a bit weary, or busy, or hardened.

So I pass this on to you. This is nothing new to many of you. But to those who know it but haven’t gathered it all together—whatcha waiting on? Go ahead. To those who haven’t heard this little tid bit, it's simple advice that has proved beyond helpful over the years for me.

Now, as much as I like to gather, to prepare, to plan—the trick here is to actually use it!! Just spend some time with the Lord. Again, no wrong way to do that. Pray. All that is is talking to God—we forget that sometimes, in a world of formulas and outlines. Just talking. How sweet is it that He listens to us?! And then do some listening. To worship music, sure, but to God mainly. Open up your heart. Read His Word. He’s got all sorts of neat things to say to you in there! Happy things, wise things. Things that will help you live out today, right where you are, just what you need.

Being a light to others starts with being ignited on the inside. That is exactly what I believe happens as we spend time with Jesus.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Festive Praise!

1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”
-Isaiah 61:1-3

I love this passage of Scripture. Jesus read the first two verses of this chapter in the Temple in Luke 4 and followed up with the words, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” GOOD NEWS! I love it!!

I’ve been playing this chapter on audio the past couple of days. Sometimes I just want to dig into a passage and I want to hear it over and over again! So thank you, Bible app for making that possible!

The whole passage is breathtakingly beautiful, but one thing that has jumped out at me is the phrase “festive praise”. God is promising to give us festive praise instead of despair. What a word picture! Not just regular praise. Not some sort of rote praise, if that can even be true praise. But festive praise!! And the fact that it is a gift is so beautiful to me! I don’t have to work it up. I don’t have to find it somewhere. God is going to give it to me INSTEAD OF my despair! So He takes the yuck and gives me the fun. What a good, good Father.

Would you think on this passage with me? Meditate on it? Roll it over and over in your mind. What would that look like for you? If you just trusted God with great abandon and took Him at this Word and gave Him all the things you may be despairing over. Big things. Little things. In between, you don’t know where to put them, things. Things that cause despair when even the whisper of the thought comes to you.

Despair means absence of hope, and that is something that you can be 100% certain God does not want for you. He is all about hope! He sent His Son for us so we could have hope for eternity, and hope for today, and hope for all the days between the here and the there. So that despair—it's not from God. He has hope for you. He is going to make a way where there seems no way. He’s going to order your steps so that you get to where you need to be. He’s going to give you festive praise.