February 28, 2010

...And, They're Off!

Our friend Christine is going to accomplish great things for God in Haiti this week. I virtually guarantee it. But, back to her in a minute.

Greetings. Guest Blogger Dan here...I just returned from dropping off the Woodside Gang - Kelli, Doug, Bob and Christine - at Newark Airport. What a terrific team they're going to be! Here's the lineup card:
  • Kelli: Little introduction necessary. Bats left, prays right. God is clearly at work in her today. I say this not so much because she's going to Haiti, but because she arose at 4:00 a.m. and was actually conversational. Like the song says; our God is an awesome God!
  • Doug: We first met Doug a few years back when he took an Alpha Course that Kelli was running. Consistently inquisitive about his faith, bone-dry wit and open to whatever this trip has in store for him.
  • Bob. Veteran of two DR mission trips, one of the hardest workers I've ever met in my life, completely enthralled with the work of the Foundation for Peace and totally given over to God. Also, the default leader of the group - Bob went to Haiti with me a scant two weeks ago and almost immediately booked his return trip.
  • Christine. Remember Christine? This is a blog about Christine.

Christine was supposed to go on my trip 2/14-2/20. It all seemed purely ordained that she would, actually. Long story short: she wanted to go, her husband Anthony was supportive but nervous about her going, she/they found out I was going, it then turned out the best week for her to go was my week, we're all friends and so Anthony was no longer nervous. Clearly, it was meant to be, right?

Then, things got weird. First, her boss got a little wobbly about giving her the time off. Also, Christine did not have a passport, so she applied for an expedited one from the State Department. Thanks to a series of Three Stooges-worthy bureaucratic screw-ups, it never arrived and she stayed at home, heartbroken. Game over.

Around then, Kelli had begun considering a Haiti trip of her own. Meanwhile, Christine re-booked her plane ticket and time to this week. Game back on - Kelli and Christine are great pals, and would make ideal travelling companions. Suddenly, the plan was falling nicely back into place - Anthony would bring their kids to our house for a sleepover (last night) and drive everyone to Newark this morning.

On Thursday, their younger son got sick. We're talking really, really sick - barfing his little brains out. By Friday, he was OK again. Then, his older brother took up the cause. By Saturday morning, he was OK. On Saturday evening, Kelli delivered the news: "Hey, Dan: change of plans - can you drive us to Newark? Christine is sick."

So, why do I take you through this all, chapter and verse? Because I've learned to recognize something that I was first exposed to in our prison ministry. This is some USDA Grade A spiritual warfare taking place. God has clearly moved Christine into this mission field. In fact, she predicted as much late last year when she confided to Kelli that she thought "God was going to challenge her this year." Anytime that happens - capable, spiritually motivated Christians taking their love of Christ to a new level - The Enemy gets a little petulant and starts tossing obstacles in the way. An inexplicably delayed passport here, a non-understanding boss there, a sick child right behind...he knows all the tricks. You know - rarely a direct frontal assault. Just enough to make you doubt, question and with any luck, quit. And, the greater the potential that any particular Christian has for serving God, the bigger and more frequent the obstacles.

Here's the problem with his plan. He doesn't know Christine. We do.

So, Devil...yeah, I'm talking to you...I hope you had your fun. Because Christine was looking 100% this morning. And, right now, she's sitting in her seat on Continental #743, getting ready to push back from the gate with three good friends in tow. They're all headed to Haiti to do God's work and there isn't a thing you can do about it anymore.

Game over.

February 27, 2010

My Bags Are Packed

By the time time tomorrow I'll be well on my way to the Dominican Republic...and eventually Haiti! Goodbye cold and snow, hello warmth and sunshine. I am so excited to get there I'm about to burst.

I don't know exactly what kind of work we'll do, perhaps we'll dig latrine trenches, build shower stall frames, play with the children, sort donations, fix tents or anything else that needs help doing. Whatever is it, we'll do it with a servant's heart.

One thing I know with full confidence—after the covering of prayer I received this week— we will go with God. I don't know what He has in store, but I pray for ears to hear His voice, eyes to see His presence and a heart to love His people. I go not for my own glory, but for His.

I don't think I'll have access to a computer while I'm in Haiti so I'm going to hand over my blog to my husband (thanks Sue J. for the suggestion) to post updates, share witty turns of phrase and provide his own snarky commentary. If you've followed his comments on this blog you may understand why I do so with some fear and trepidation. I add this in advance: Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this site are the author's personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of his employer (me) or its clients (you).  :-)

Speaking of Haiti updates, I hope you all REALLY enjoyed the pictures I posted that Dan texted me from the relief sites because they I just got our cell phone bill and found out they cost a small fortune! Hence, I trust you'll understand why I'll share pictures AFTER I return home.

Will you please continue to pray for our team while we're away?  

Also...check out the slide show from Haiti I posted in the right hand column. Even if you've seen it before, I added new pictures today, most taken by friends who have recently returned.. This show has been viewed by hundreds if not thousands of people and has put a real face to what's going on in one small corner of the Haitian tragedy. Feel free to share with others.

Bondye beni ou! Wè ou talè. (God bless you. See you soon.)


Giveaway Winner
The winner of the Faith and Finances, A Journey to Financial Independence is YardleyDog. Congratulations! BTW...YardleyDog is a friend from here at home. I suspect he's in cahoots with my dog, Tess, who helped me select the winner. A formal investigation is underway.  :-)

February 23, 2010

A Celebration and a Giveaway

I celebrate today because these past few weeks I've seen God working all around me in big ways. Through your examples of love, through the prison ministry, through prayers with friends, through my friends' stories from Haiti and even through the tragedy of death. I feel like God's unloosed something inside me and broken through some of my stubborn hard-heartedness giving me me eyes to see what I'd been blind to before. For one, I see how, despite geography, interests, economics, race and gender we are all connected by the blood of Jesus. I see how we, as Christ followers, encourage, support and inspire one another. I see so clearly the words of Hebrews coming to life:
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." (10:24)
Dan and his fellow missionaries returned from Haiti on Saturday. We all visited together over brunch on Sunday. Their free flowing pictures and storytelling testified to the tremendous blessing this trip was for each of them. I wish I you could have been there. In lieu of that, check out this testimony by my friend Susan.

I have become convicted of the fact that we must be the hands and feet of Jesus--through our finances, but also through our presence, sweat and passion. And not just in a way that takes us to a far away location, but in a way that allows us to enter into the lives of the hurting, broken and lost around us. (I fear I'm far better at the former than the latter.)

My plans to go to Haiti are coming together. I received my shots, have started to pack and know a few key phrases in Haitian Creole including Bondye bene ou (God bless you). Thank you so much to those of you who have contributed to this trip. Your support blesses me—and I pray will bless the Haitians—tremendously. If you'd like to contribute, click on the "donate" button on the top right of my blog.

I also celebrate my recent success in writing. I'm scheduled to have an article on digital photography featured in ParentLife magazine this summer and my story about the prison ministry, "The Most Unlikely Place" appears in the recently published book The Ultimate Christian Living. I am so thankful that the amazing story of God's grace as I've seen within the walls of the prison is being shared with a larger audience.
A few weeks I mentioned that a devotional I wrote was featured in the recently published Faith and Finances, A Journey into Financial Dependence. I received my copy of the book and have started to read it. I'm proud to report that it is an EXCELLENT story/devotional. I believe this book will take readers on a personal journey into the ongoing battle between our faith and their finances. The format of the book is unique in that it interweaves a fictional story among the devotional readings. I found this made the book far more impactful and entertaining that the typical devotional.

This book was published by Christian Devotions Ministry. In addition to book publishing, this growing ministry publishes topical daily devotions. (If you're a writer looking for a home for your devotions, I highly recommend you check them out.)

If you've stuck with me so far, you're wondering about the giveaway. Well, here it is. I'm giving away a copy of Faith and Finances. To enter, comment on this post by end of day Friday...or send me an email. If you donate to my trip to Haiti I'll enter you twice! :-) I'll announce a winner on Saturday if I haven't lost my mind in the trip preparation chaos.

Bondye benne ou!

February 22, 2010

Book Review: Thin Places by Mary DeMuth

Being a fan of Mary DeMuth's writing, I eagerly awaited the release of her latest book, Thin Places. Mary has a history of sexual abuse and brokenness that's been an underlying theme in her works of fiction. One can sense she writes from an intensely personal place but that she's only revealing part of the story.

In her memoir, Thin Places, she fills in the blanks. The result is an incredibly painful story of a little girl and young woman abused, neglected, confused, searching, forgotten and oh so broken redeemed by a God who loves and sees and restores. If nothing else, the book is an achingly honest prayer to our perfect and loving heavenly Father. It offers assurance that while we may not receive the answer we seek, we will receive the answer we need.

Mary starts Thin Places at the "beginning," but doesn't follow a strict time line as the book unfolds. Instead each chapter centers on a theme and could almost be a standalone story. At first I found this approach confusing because I wasn't sure when each chapter took place, but midway through the book I had enough of the story I could follow along and focus less on "when" and more on the message.

Mary DeMuth is a talented, passionate writer who loves Jesus with all her heart. This comes through loud and clear in Thin Places. I recommend this book especially for anyone who has a history of brokenness, abuse, neglect and wonders, "Where was God...where IS God?" While it was hard to read at times, Thin Places filled with me hope, a deeper understanding of prayer and awe at how marvelously God reveals Himself.

To learn more about Thin Place, click here.

I received a free copy of this book from Zondervan to read and review.

February 18, 2010

Scenes from Haiti - Part 2

This post is continued from yesterday. If you didn't read Part 1 click here or scroll down...

Today (Wednesday) Dan is off to dig latrines in the Haitian Refuge Camp. Please pray for him and his entire team and especially for the entire staff for the Foundation for Peace who are working tirelessly to provide ongoing relief effort to the Haitians in Jimani and Fond Parisien (sp?).

His text to me tonight said:

Good day digging - probably halfway done with latrine ditch -- 8 meters long x 3 meters wide x 3 meters deep. That's 75 yards of dirt to dig and move. Imagine that much mulch delivered to the house! I am totally whipped and we have another day like it tomorrow. Thinking we're about halfway there right now. Much happier day than yesterday which is saying something seeing as we spent the day in a 500-person refugee camp.

Even still, words can only communicate so much. I put together this slide show for the Foundation for Peace's blog with pictures taken them over the past weeks. Take time to watch it because the music and the pictures tell a powerful story.

If you have any desire to go to Haiti--go. The Foundation for Peace is only one of many organizations sending people. I know for a fact that the FFP's trips still have openings. They especially have openings for the Feb. 28 to Mar. 6 trip. You know how I know? Because as of Monday I've just decided to go with my friend Christine! Wouldn't it be great if you joined us! Go to the FFP website and check it out.

Jesus tells us to be His hands and feet. But to be them we need to step outside our comfort into the hurting—whether near to home or far away.

Be blessed...and be a blessing.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: FFP Relief Efforts
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox

All mission trips require funding. If you'd like to contribute to my trip to Haiti click on the PayPal "Donate" button on the top of the right column. If you can't donate, will you please pray for our trip?

February 17, 2010

Scenes from Haiti - Part 1

Even though I stayed safely within the comfort of my home and community, the reality from Haiti was very much in my life yesterday.

I had the privilege of spending hours speaking with friends who have just returned from their mission trip (with the Foundation for Peace) to Haiti. Through their words and tears and our shared prayers I saw the immensity of the brokenness and loss. But I also saw the tremendous hope of the Haitians, not hope of a bright future, but hope in a God who loves and a Savior who saves.

Now my husband is in Haiti. Though the marvels of texting, I heard from him yesterday. It was his team's first day of real work. He was really looking forward to getting busy and being useful. The plan was to go into one of the refugee tent camps and dig latrines and build showers, just the thing he hoped to do. But not enough people volunteered to stay behind to do patient transport in the hospital (moving patients to and from OR, recovery, x-ray, tents). So Dan volunteered

My husband is a doer. If a problem needs fixing, he wants to help fix it. I knew the last place he wanted to be was in the hospital among the patients. In fact here's what Dan texted me the night before:

Change of plans. Not enough hands went up to do patient transport tomorrow so I took it. Was a little chapped at first cause u know how much I love the sweat and the dirt. Now I think it's God telling me to do what I fear and do not understand...patient care and empathy. When I came here I prayed to hear God's voice. I hope I heard right! I'll feel sad watching the bus pull away tomorrow. Won't dig latrines until Wednesday. It can wait. Got to learn something here I think.

Yesterday here at home we covered Dan and his team with prayer. On many occasions and with heartfelt passion. He texted me mid-day and all was going well in the hospital. He learned some Haitian Creole, watched a surgery and made a friend with his little Haitian buddy Peter. It seemed the day was fairly quiet and uneventful.

I'm beginning to sense that calm and normal are a fleeting commodity in Haiti.

At the end of the day I sat in my car outside my daughter's voice teacher as she took a lesson. (No, my daughter won't let me inside to listen!) Dan sent me a text:

Little baby was just rushed in--dehydrated and in shock. Was watching them treat him when they called it. Giving him morphine now so he's at least comfortable on his way to the Lord. Pray for him. 

The mother just asked the doctors to work for 10 more minutes then it would be in God's hands. She wanted to hold him until he died. The doctors just finished. While they worked I was in the hallway watching while parents were singing praise songs across the hall. I'd heard about the Haitians faith and now I've seen it. I'm humbled. I think I have faith. I don't.

After reading I sat in my car and sobbed. For the baby. For the mother. For all the parents losing children. For my husband who was there. For all the sadness and suffering. And most of all for the goodness of God, visible even in the darkness.

Last night was a prison night. After the day I'd had I knew I had to go no matter what! Lately my visits to the prison have been disappointing because the spirit of disruption and disrespect have overshadowed the worship. But last night, from the first inmates who walked in I knew the Spirit of God was in control. The inmates came to praise and praise we did!

During the service I had a chance to share with them about the experiences of my friends and husband in Haiti. As I spoke about the situation there, the complete loss and utter brokenness, the room was still and all eyes focused on me. I shared about Dan and the little baby. And the unwavering faith of the Haitians who despite having absolutely nothing still proclaim victory in Jesus. He is their portion. It's hard to describe, but it was a holy moment. Not because of my words, but because the Spirit of Truth testified to God's goodness and faithfulness.

To be continued tomorrow...

February 13, 2010

Love in Action

After weeks of quick planning my husband is going to Haiti tomorrow. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, he knew he had to go. So in the pre-dawn hours he and six others from our church will head to Newark airport, laden with suitcases filled with first aid supplies, donated clothing, men’s flipflops and other necessities that have been requested. 

In the wake of the earthquake, it seems everyone wants to do something to help. Haiti isn’t the kind of place one just gets on a plane and goes to, so few will have the chance to actually go and help.

But the Foundation for Peace, the group with whom our church has partnered with to do mission work is located in the Dominican Republic. They have the experience, staff, contacts and know-how to provide medical, physical and spiritual help directly to quake survivors and they’ve been doing so since days after the earthquake. Now they’re taking in teams of volunteers. As a result, Dan jumped at the opportunity to go. Three from our church were there this week and arrive home tonight. I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear all the details of their trip.

Besides time and a calling, mission trips require money. Many trip goers pay for these trips out of their own pockets. Some pursue fundraising. Dan chose the latter. Not shying away from the Christian aspect of the trip and even quoting a Bible verse, Dan penned an appeal and emailed it to friends, business colleagues and clients asking for their help.

Then, he sat back and watched God work.

As he and I have seen in past experiences, fundraising is about so much more than a financial transaction. It brings out people’s natural generosity that they’re just not sure where to channel, especially in a situation as daunting as Haiti. It allows folks to be a part of an experience much bigger than themselves. And it demonstrates what it looks like when ordinary, everyday Christians become the hands and feet of Jesus.

It’s the best kind of evangelism. Love in action. Love with no expectation of repayment. Love that requires sacrifice (and a good bit of discomfort).

Let’s face it Christians as a group often get a bad rap. As a whole we’re frequently painted as a closed society filled with closed-minded people. How refreshing when someone with a previously sullied opinion of Christianity sees faith in action. Perhaps it causes a few to say, “Hmm, maybe there’s something to the Jesus thing.”

What a difference we can make when we live our faith out loud, for others to see. No pressure. No preaching. No moralizing. Faith in action pure and simple.

I expected Dan would receive donations. I didn’t, however, anticipate how blessed the donors would be by Dan’s appeal or how enthusiastically they’d support him. Like the long out-of-touch high school friend who donated and then passed the request on to her friends. Or the Cub Scout troop who took up a collection at their meeting and delivered coins and crumpled dollar bills. Or the business colleague so inspired he’s looking into going on one of the upcoming trip. But I was most blessed by the response from one of Dan’s clients. The client passed the fundraising note on to his staff and encouraged them to contribute. Each staff member chimed in and offered what they could. “I’m in for $10.” “Put me down for 20.” “I want to give $50.” The responses poured in. And then the client matched what his staff donated. The amount collected almost funded Dan’s entire trip!

God's love is everywhere and with each donation, no matter what the size, I’ve seen evidence of this love. Whether the donors can put a name to it or not, with each gift God is glorified.

So in several short hours this week’s team of missionaries, including my husband, will board planes and head to Santo Domingo. There’s no clear roadmap for what they’ll do. Needs change daily. Patience and flexibility will be required. But I know the work they do is in the Lord’s hands.

I pray our heavenly Father covers them with His protection and fills them with His Spirit. And though they travel a great distance hoping to make a noticeable difference, even if they sit on a mat and hold a child's hand, let that be enough.

And by their example may others know deep in their heart they've encountered Jesus.

On Valentine's Day, what greater gift of love is there than this?

February 8, 2010

A Time to Mourn

This weekend, while he slept, Jesus called home one of the young ones in our church family. The summoning came without warning or a chance to prepare. I imagine devastated and shell shocked can’t even begin to describe the emotions of this 14-year-old boy’s family. One minute a mother is making cocoa for her still sleeping son and the next she’s covered with shrapnel from her new reality. All the members of this close, loving family are.

It’s the kind of moment from which you awaken with a start and gasp with relief that it was just a dream. But there was no waking.

My friend, a neighbor of the family, was there before the emergency personnel arrived. Her husband ran to the house first to try to provide CPR. But it was the son’s time. My friend made the calls that needed to be made. First to our pastor and then to the family’s closest friends. Within moments members of our church family arrived to provide support, comfort, prayer and a loving embrace. It didn’t matter that our area was in the midst of a major snow storm or that they had other things to do or that this was too hard. They were needed and they went.

Though I am not part of the family’s inner circle, I mourn nonetheless. We all do. We are connected and our entire church family grieves the profound loss. We weep and grieve together.

I look at outpouring of love that so completely envelopes this heartbroken family and am amazed at the immediacy and completeness of God’s love. Yes, this family has many other connections in the community, but it was the Church who responded first and took the lead. I saw this same overwhelming display poured upon our friend Kirsten and her family. In far too short of a time God is asking us to go this road again.

Jesus commanded we “love one another.” This is what that love looks like—brothers and sisters in Christ offering pure, all-encompassing, selfless love. Love that sometimes just offers a hand to hold and a simple prayer because that’s enough. Love that doesn’t wait to be told what to do, it just shows up. Love that has nothing to do with buildings or theology or denominations or egos or titles or agendas or committees.

This is what the Church looks like. The Church as Jesus intended.

Before Jesus, the presence of God dwelt in the Temple. After Jesus’ death, the presence of God dwells in his Church—a spiritual house made of living stones, powered by the Holy Spirit. “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21-22)

You and I, as believers, are the living, breathing Church. We are the hands and feet of Jesus.

We offer hope to the hopeless.
Light in the darkness.
Rest for the weary.
Love for the unloveable.
Comfort for the brokenhearted.

As a Church, Jesus makes our mission abundantly clear:
  •  Love one another. (John 13:34)
  •  Spread the Good News. (Matthew 28:19)
  •  Feed my sheep. (John 21:17)

When we do these things, others meet Jesus.

When we pour love on grieving friends, others see Jesus.
When we pour love on the Haitian refugees, others see Jesus.
When we pour love on addicts, the homeless, the hungry and the incarcerated, others see Jesus.
When we give a ride to chemo, hold hands, wipe tears, send cards, make meals and do favors—without expectation of repayment—others see Jesus.

When we love Jesus, we feed His sheep. And we love His people.

I think of all the time I spend in the “business/busy-ness of the church” and see how often I lose sight of Jesus’ three simple instructions. How frequently I get caught up in wanting my own needs satisfied. How quickly I forget that the Church isn’t a place, it’s a people.

Imagine what the Church would look like if I followed Jesus’ commands.
Imagine what the Church would look like if we all did.
All the time.

Right now our friends walk through a valley of darkness. Our mere words offer little. But we bring with us hope that only Jesus provides. It may be that they must walk this journey alone, but through our fervent prayers we stand in the gap. We lift them up to the throne of grace asking for an outpouring or love and comfort. For healing of the immense void and peace that passes understanding. I have confidence that through it all God is with us.

Love one another. Share the Good News. Feed His sheep.
This is what the Church looks like. The Church as Jesus intended.

It’s what we must do.

February 4, 2010

Hate Me

I'm writing over at Exemplify Online today. Here's a preview. I hope you  join me there.

While visiting my sister recently, I headed out for a morning walk but grabbed her iPod instead of mine. It turned out to be a good mistake as I enjoyed listening to a new mix of music. A song came on that I’d heard before but hadn’t paid much attention to. The lyrics, mingled with my solitude and vacation-relaxed state of mind, touched my heart in a deeply profound way.

The song, Hate Me by Blue October, tells the heartbreaking tale of a mother’s love for her addicted son—despite the incredible pain he’s caused her through the years. The recently sober son, overwhelmed with self-loathing and filled with guilt for his past mistakes, sees himself as nothing but a source of pain to his mother.

He’s so unworthy and such a mess. Her love torments him. He pleads that she’s better off without him. If only she’d hate him. And forget about him. And walk away. He might find a scrap of peace, and so might she.

But the son doesn’t realize that no matter how far way he goes away or how much he hurts her, she’ll never stop loving him. Not because he deserves it, just because he is who he is—her son, her baby boy. And for her, that is enough.  

Love so enduring.

It’s a lot like the way God loves us. As much as we don’t deserve it, God loves us with an everlasting love regardless of who we are and what we’ve done (for better or worse). But we are a mess. Our world is a mess. There is so much pain and brokenness and addiction. There are so many folks, like the son in the song, who believe they’ve stepped too far outside the boundaries of forgiveness. That there’s no coming home. Or hope.  This might be you.

We’re all unworthy. Every. Single. One of us. But God loves us anyway. In fact, He loves us so much He sent His son not to condemn us but to show us the way back to Him. We can run away. We can screw up everything. We can resist and deny. But through it all Jesus stands at the door of our hearts waiting for us to invite Him in. (Revelation 3:20) Not because we deserve it, but because we are His. And that is enough.

Grace so amazing.

As Christians we need to first believe this message ourselves. To take it in to the marrow of our bones. And then we must go out into the broken, messed up world and tell others the Good News. To offer hope to the hopeless. Love to the unloveable. And light to the darkness.

We must do this.

“…the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1, 3)

February 1, 2010


Thanks for your comments, encouragement and support of my last post. Parenting (and living in, but not of, the world) is no easy task. In today's morally muddied waters, it's often a challenge to discern Truth from foolishness. I'm thankful we're in this together.

praise [preyz]

  1. to express approval or admiration of; commend; extol.
  2. to offer grateful homage to (God or a deity), with words or song as an act of worship: 
According to Baker's Evangelical Dictionary: Words that are often used as synonyms or in parallel with "praise, " and so help point to its meaning, are "bless, " "exalt, " "extol, " "glorify, " "magnify, " "thank, " and "confess." To praise God is to call attention to his glory.

The Psalmists knew a thing or two about praise. In fact, in Psalms alone, the word "praise" appears 175 times! The Jewish people praised the LORD for His love, protection, mercy, blessings, goodness, teachings, strength and more. They praised God just because He was—and is—the great I Am.

Using words like "exhalt," "extol," "delight," "glofiry," and "rejoice," the Psalmists describe praise as a full-body experience. They shouted, sang, danced, played instruments, lifted hands, cried out. To them praise was continual, passionate, and an essential part of their being.

Even though, our culture and customs little resemble that of King David's day, God created us ALL to praise Him with our bodies. To delight in his presence. To partake of his wonders. To exalt His name.

"My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long." (Psalm 71:8)

In theory I completely agree with this. But, I'm a reserved person. I clap and occasionally raise my hands during worship, but the idea of physically praising God makes me pretty darn uncomfortable. Dancing, shouting, crying out...in public (even in private)? No, sir. Not me!  

I praise God in my own way—usually in the quiet of my heart. While my body may not show it, my spirit rejoices, delights and extols. I pray God finds these offerings acceptable. I remind myself that He did, after all, create me and my personality.

However, there came a moment this weekend as I rode on the training bike in my basement. I worked through my newly created "Sweat Set with God" playlist on my iPod, letting each song dictate my ride and its tempo. As I wrote before, my workout session became a sweaty, out-of-breath prayer. Then a song came on that invited—no dared—I go further. It was Take My Life by Jeremy Camp. Guitar-driven, hard-hitting and aggressive. 

I cranked up the volume and became one with the music. I pushed myself as hard as I could and for the duration of the song, I gave God an an all-out, heart racing, sweat pouring, muscle burning offering of praise.

I discovered that although I may be quiet and reserved, sometimes letting go and giving God my all is good. Really good.

It's why He created us in the first place. We were made for praise.

In what exuberant or passionate ways have you praised God?