Worship Pastor / Composer Travis L. Boyd and his wife, Cynthia, provide inspiration and resources for the worship community and all believers through sharing the blessings of worship, faith, family, ministry, music, love, & life. We also share information about Worship Sounds Music, which can be found on our Worship Sounds website at worshipsounds.com ~ Downloadable Choral Anthems * Solos * Orchestrations * Worship Songs * Accompaniment Trax

Posts tagged ‘Thankfulness’

*** Celebrating and Sharing *** Our Top 10 Reasons for Celebrating a Birthday

Happy Birthday banner colorful

Birthdays are for celebrating!

Here are our top ten reasons for celebrating a birthday:

10

Beginning the next year of possibility and promise with a party!

9

Another year of being here!
* 365 sunrises and sunsets *

8

We love surprises, especially when they are presented in colorful wrappings.

7

Birthdays are a good time to remember the blessings of the past year
and of life in general.

6

Being with friends and family is the best gift of all.

5

Making an effort to have special times is part of the joy of life!

4

Celebrating a birthday communicates a message of thankfulness

for life

and joy

and hope

and time invested in each other.

3

CAKE!
Something yummy for your tummy!

2

The rituals and celebrations of life are like treasures for the heart.

1

And…. the number one reason we celebrate birthdays is…

Uniqueness

We recognize the infinite value of each unique person
and what they bring into the world

    and into our hearts

Hearts  red with white border

And that is something to celebrate!

Dr Seuss Motivational Quotes Youer than you

Fearfully and wonderfully made scripture

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Happy Birthday with number 3 candle  Our Worship Sounds Music blog is celebrating a birthday today! 

  We’ve been here for 3 years now, and in that time we have learned so much.

  We’ve published 106 posts and 17 pages.

  We’ve shared our hearts and God’s love.

  We’ve heard from you as you have shared your thoughts or a word of encouragement.

  We’ve been blessed to have blog visitors from 183 countries.

  You have re-shared our posts and helped them reach more people than we ever could have on our own.

  Our posts have also been shared on ChurchMag, The Worship Community, Cued In, and Worship Links, plus several other websites and blogs.

  We have found expression for our faith and our love for the Lord.

  And finally, unbelievably, we’ve had very close to 100,000 page and post views in only 3 years.  Right now, the number stands at 99,000 +, and we don’t know when we’ll reach that milestone.  The wonderful truth is that it really doesn’t matter whether that happens today or a few days from now.  The important thing is that our purpose remains the same.   We are here to bring glory to God and to encourage and inspire the body of Christ.  We will continue to do our best to share inspiration, encouragement, hope, faith, and worship with anyone who is seeking the Lord.  We are very aware that all of the numbers only have meaning because they represent the opportunity to minister to people like you.  We pray for you, and we are thankful for your prayers as well.

We are so thankful to God and to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for His love and His life in us.  He is our Sustainer and the Joy of our hearts.  We thank Him for this ministry and for everthing that He has done with it, far beyond anything that we could have thought or asked.

We are also thankful for YOU and for your life and ministry.  Thank you so much for spending some of your valuable time with us and for sharing our posts and pages with others.  God Bless YOU!

Blog Birthday thank you

Blessed by amazing grace of God

 

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page. We hope that it has been helpful to you. If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”. The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions. Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”: http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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When illness gets you down…

sick guy cartoonAt some point in our lives, all of us will deal with significant or ongoing illness for ourselves and/or in the lives of those we love. Many individuals have the blessing of general good health for most of their lives. Sometimes we take that for granted. For others, dealing with injury or with a medical condition of some kind is a life-long challenge. There is a refining of the soul that seems to happen sometimes when one faces constant physical illness or challenges. I have known many such individuals who had at some point made the choice to live lives of extraordinary grace and strength, with God’s help. Choosing to see the blessings of life and even the blessings of illness or of injury or other medical and physical issues is not easy. Our natural instinct seems to be a very keen awareness of our own suffering and a desire for that suffering to be removed. After all, who doesn’t love to feel wonderful? And yet, we must remember that we have only one life, and the “sick days” or even the on-going health issues are a part of it.

Sorry u r under the weather woodstockHow, then, can we deal with illness? How can we cope with our own suffering or the suffering of someone that we love? How can we make the most of life when illness or injury or a medical condition seems to limit our time, our energy, and our enjoyment of life? In a way, I feel unqualified to answer this question. After all, I have enjoyed general good health for much of my life. And yet, I have had experience with both illness and injury, and I’ve definitely known the heartache of experiencing sorrow and pain with loved ones who were suffering. There are many wonderful books about the theology of suffering or the spiritual, emotional, and practical considerations of dealing with physical challenges. There are many stories of amazing people who have refused to let physical challenges or illness define them. I’ve read many such books, which cover these issues much more comprehensively than I will attempt to do here. All that I can offer is a simple observation, born out of my own recent experience.

Snoopys mind wanderingI have been dealing with a health situation for some time that has greatly affected my ability to function as a wife and mother and to plan ahead. I never know when I am going to have a bad day. I have recently been very frustrated by the frequency and duration of my health problems and how they affect my family. Last week, I was up very late one night. I didn’t want to try to sleep because I felt so nauseous. This was on a Wednesday night (actually early Thursday morning). Because I was feeling so sick and could not sleep, I had a lot of time to think about how my illness was impacting those I loved. I had missed church due to my illness the previous Sunday, and then I’d been forced to miss church again on that Wednesday night. I had felt okay for most of the morning but started having symptoms around before lunchtime. Often, when that happens, symptoms progress so quickly that I am not able to meet the bus carrying our little boy who has special needs when it comes at 3:00 p.m.; so I have sometimes been forced to call my husband and have him come home from work to meet Logan’s bus. (His bus must be met by an adult). On that Wednesday, symptoms were progressing a little more slowly, so I was able to meet Logan’s bus myself and be downstairs when 3 of Logan’s brothers arrived 30 minutes later.

On that day, I thought that if my symptoms would hold off for a couple of hours, I could get our 5 school-age boys to church for the Wednesday night meal so that they would not miss Children’s Choir or Missions, but I knew that I was in no shape to stay. In addition to feeling awful and knowing it was going to get worse, I didn’t want to be around food since I hadn’t had anything since breakfast and the thought of eating made me sick. So, I made sure the boys got their homework done and then took them to church at around 5 p.m., with my husband, Travis, planning to meet us in the parking lot. I pulled our Suburban around to the back of the building, near the fellowship hall where the meal is served, and then I pulled to the right beside a row of cars in the parking lot to let my boys get out and meet their Dad.

Be careful signI didn’t expect any difficulty with safely dropping off the boys since I’d called my husband as soon as we arrived. He was on this way out of the building to meet us. In addition, due to homework and needing to wait for our Middle School age son, who arrives home from school much later than his younger brothers, we were almost 30 minutes later arriving for the meal than most people who eat at church on Wednesday night. I thought everyone else would already be in the building. However, as it turned out, I almost got one or more of my boys run over that day, just because of being sick. I had gotten out of the Suburban myself and was supervising the boys as they were getting out of the car on both sides when a sweet lady who had come up behind our car decided she would drive around us. I had five boys ages 7 & 7 (twins), 8 (special needs), 10, & 12 around the car on both sides, was pulled over to the right obviously unloading, and was out of the car trying to get all of the boys safely across the parking lot to the sidewalk, and yet I could not see where all of my boys were right at that moment. If she had waited for one more minute, I would have had all of the boys safely on the sidewalk and Travis would have been there to get them inside, but she must have felt she couldn’t wait. I had pulled really far to the right, but she came around us on the right, with hardly any room between vehicles. Even though I was out of the car trying to make sure all of the boys got safely to Travis and trying to watch the boys on both sides, I was unable to keep my boys safe. If one or more of the boys had come running around the front of our vehicle right into her path, they would have been toast. From the moment that the woman began to pull around my car until the moment when she could have hit one or more of my boys if they had happened to run around the Suburban was just a couple of seconds. It had happened so quickly that I could not get in front of her and was powerless to stop this upsetting and potentially lethal incident, and it was all because of me being sick. The thought of what could have happened completely undid me.

Charlie Brown sighLater that same night, after Travis got home with the boys and they had all gone to bed, at one point my hubby wanted to talk about Spring Break and what our plans would be. He wanted to do a short trip, and I had to tell him that I am not in any shape to do it. After all of these incidents had taken place in just a few days, I was feeling very frustrated. My illness has not just affected me. It affects my family in many ways. It’s even more frustrating since I have already had lots of tests and scans but still don’t have a firm diagnosis. In fact, my Doctor referred to me at last week’s appointment as “a mystery”. So, I had gotten pretty down and had no problem at all thinking about all of the things I dislike about being sick. I had quite a mental list going. I might not have been outwardly griping around my family, but I certainly was feeling frustrated and upset inside.

cartoon checklist photoIn this state of mind, a thought occured to me. I should make a list of all of the good things about being sick. I honestly did not expect to get very far. I thought that I would be doing well to come up with 3 or 4 things and that even those reasons might be a bit of a stretch of the imagination. I decided to call this exercise my “Top Ten List of Good Things About Being Sick,” and I began to think things through. My original thinking was that after I’d named 3 or 4 lame reasons that being sick can be good, then I would put down the same phrase for all of the other slots to round out my top ten list, “Sorry. That’s all I’ve got.” At least I was thinking about the subject with a little bit of humor, but I certainly can’t say that I was optimistic. Perhaps what I was really looking for was an excuse to stay in my frustrated mindset and proof that there really was nothing good about being sick. However, a strange thing happened. When I began to think about things that I could be thankful for about being sick (even though my effort was half-hearted at best), suddenly all sorts of reasons began to occur to me. Before I knew it, I had a list of 8 things that can be good about being sick. (Although, honestly, I’ll take wellness any day). I thought for a little while more and could not come up with any additional good things, so I did end my list the way I had planned, with “Sorry. That’s all I’ve got.” I put my list on my facebook status, with my little attempt at humor as my closing statement. Just a few minutes after I posted my list of 8 good things, two more reasons really did come to me. I added them to my status as a comment, surprised that I really had come up with a list of 10 good things about being sick.

For me, the whole exercise was a lesson. Here’s what I learned:

Snoopy lights a candle1. It’s okay to acknowledge feelings of frustration and spend a little time analyzing yourself and figuring out what was most upsetting to you and why. (For me, the root of the greatest frustration was definitely not feeling that progress was being made toward getting better and, primarily, the negative impact on my family.)

2. After taking some time to think about what you are feeling, there is one thing that seems to begin to turn things around and change an attitude of frustration, fear, or doubt (that there could be anything good in the situation). The simple cure is very effective. It is thankfulness. Even though I didn’t feel thankful yet when I began making my list of good things, I soon began to see my own illness and even sickness in general through a new lens.

3. When I began to make even the slightest effort to see things differently, it was as though God met me right where I was and opened a window so that I could briefly see the (sometimes) hidden value of things that are hard to experience in the here and now.

4. I surprised myself, but it really was God surprising me all along. He promises to work everything for good in the lives of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) Could that possibly mean even nasty germs or cancer cells? Could it include tragic injuries or even lifelong medical conditions?

Yes.

The answer is … yes.

It’s not that those things are good in themselves. After all, when we reach Heaven, illness, injury, pain, and physical limitations will not be there. The truth that we hold on to is He will take even these things and cause them to work together for good. What a promise that is!

Snoopy doctors woodstockAm I a completely reformed grouch? Well, perhaps I am semi-reformed. I can’t say that I will never wish something hard or painful or yucky would just go away. I know that many times in my life, the removal of a trial will be my fervent prayer. But what I do hope to remember is that if I look for reasons to be thankful, I will find them. If I look for the good, it will be revealed. I still won’t understand everything, because God’s ways are higher than my ways. Now, I know I see through a glass darkly; but someday, I will have full understanding. Right now, one of my main questions might be, “Isn’t there some other way I could learn this?’ Then, in Heaven, when I suddenly know even as I am known, I believe that all of my questions will be answered before I can even ask them.

So, here is my list of the top ten good things about being sick. (What was written on that sleepless night is in italics below.) This really is so much more than just a list. For me, it was really an exercise… in thankfulness and trust.

Cindy’s List of the Top Ten Good Things About Being Sick
Snoopy thank you dance1. Being sick makes you really thankful for the times when you are feeling good so that you don’t take health for granted.
🙂
2. It is really something to be thankful for that most illnesses don’t last very long. (With all of the germs around us, how miraculous it is that we are so often well!)
🙂
3. Being sick helps one to appreciate the amazing complexity of the human body and the capacity for healing.
🙂
4. Beling sick can slow one down long enough to re-focus priorities.
🙂
5. I’ve heard people say that they would not choose to have missed what they have learned and experienced through an illness or injury. (not sure I’m there at this point, but I’m thinking about it)
🙂
6. When you are sick, the people who love you are always there with a prayer or some other kind of caring. You love and appreciate them already, but the experience of ministering to one another bonds hearts like nothing else.
🙂
7. When you are sick, you realize again how amazing it is to never be alone and to have God’s presence with you through everything. It is a comfort to know the hope of healing, the hope of Heaven, and the hope of tomorrow (and to have peace when nothing makes sense because you know that your life is held in loving Hands).
🙂
8. When you are sick and you look in the mirror, you realize that your normal look is not so bad after all (compared to the bleary-eyed stranger staring back at you).
🙂
9. ?….? I’ve got nothing.
(Note: this is the way I originally wrote the list. I had nothing here, but God was not finished teaching me yet.)
🙂
10. Hey, I was doing well to come up with 8 good things, don’t ya think?
Just a little humor. Gotta keep smiling, right? 🙂
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
At this point, I thought that my list was finished. I certainly did not think that I could not come up with anthing else to add. I was ready to give myself and “E” for Effort. However, it wasn’t even five minutes before I had added the following:
🙂
Okay, I thought of 2 more, so here are my amendments to the list:
🙂
9. Going through any kind of struggle (including being sick) can make one more compassionate.
🙂
10. Going through trials helps me grow as a Christian. “…the trying of your faith worketh patience…”
The bad part is that now everyone knows for sure that my patience needs work (as if anyone was fooled in the 1st place).
🙂
The funny thing is that when I started typing the list I had only thought of 3 or 4 good things, so it was going to be more of a joke to only go that far and then say, “I’ve got nothing” for the rest. But, when I started out with thankfulness, the other good things just kept coming to me. This thankfulness thing really works! 🙂
🙂
Pollyanna glad game quoteIt may seem simple, and some people may label me a Pollyanna; but I have discovered again and again that being thankful is the way to go. What’s the alternative? Being miserable. Sometimes I may spend a little time in misery land, but I don’t want to stay there. If I’m going to be dealing with something difficult, at least I can recognize that there is still beauty in life, there is still good in life, and that I am never alone through any of it. Choosing to see the good and to be thankful is not rocket science. We all know that keeping a good attitude and staying optimistic is important. Sometimes, illness just squeezes the life out of our optimism, and we need a reminder to take back our mental, emotional, and spiritual power over frustration and despair by choosing to look for the good and be grateful. So, when illness gets you down, take a step of faith by choosing thankfulness (even if you don’t feel like it), and then wait on the Lord. He will lift you up!
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there is always something to be thankful for“Blessed be the Lord! for He has heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”
– Psalm 28:6 & 7
🙂
“Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.” Phil. 4:6
🙂
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This post was written by Cynthia Boyd
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Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page. We hope that it has been helpful to you. If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”. The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions. Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”: http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

The Secret Life of a Special Needs Parent

A revelation of grace, grief, joy, love, blessings, and challenges

We're in this together.

We’re in this together.

There are certain facts that are true for every loving parent and child.

*  Every child is different, and their needs vary significantly throughout the constant changes of growth and development.
*  Every parent seeks to meet the needs of their child or children, no matter how challenging those needs may be.
*  Every loving parent tries to stay in tune with the heart of their child, to know and even anticipate their needs.
*  No matter what a parent experiences in caring for and loving a child, the love and the joy over-ride everything else.
*  The two most important goals of most parents are to help their child go through all of the developmental stages in their emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical growth and to help their child learn how to become an independent and contributing adult with the skills, knowledge, wisdom, character, and faith they will need to live a life of meaning and purpose.

keep trying signFor parents of children who have special needs, these basic facts and primary goals are the same. However, the methods of achieving these objectives can be vastly different, often with much different expectations and a highly individual timetable for development that is discovered only through continued effort and the constant need to adapt to the individual child’s own pace in learning and in reaching developmental milestones. For some children, a developmental timetable can be relatively predictable. However, many children with special needs seem to have their own internal pace. Developmental experts can make predictions. Teachers and therapists and parents can set goals, but the true timetable for learning and developmental progress cannot be set externally. It is revealed by time. Sometimes, the developmental milestones are met more quickly than anyone expected, and sometimes progress can seem to take place, only to be followed by regression. Sometimes, progress happens but takes a long time. Parents of special needs children come to know the unpredictability of progress all too well. Special needs parents also learn to re-evaluate the very concept of progress. If, for a special and wonderfully made child, the “norms” are not the norm, hope for progress in every area possible must still be kept alive.  For some, progress can mean the absence of regression.  Even if hopes from progress and positive change must be adapted somewhat for the individual situation, those sparks of hope are fanned by the deep love of parents for precious little hearts and souls.

difficult road aheadI certainly cannot speak or write for every special needs parent or for every kind of situation. Special needs can be physical, emotional, mental, developmental, academic, sensory, social, behavioral, functional, or medical. (I am not a special needs professional, so I may be leaving something out.) The term “special needs” can also apply to any kind of combination of various types of needs. However, it’s not the needs that special needs parents want others to see. It’s the child. Certainly, an awareness of special needs can be crucial, but recognizing the child within is even moreso. It’s as though a parent of a special needs child has begun a journey with an uncertain destination, incomplete road maps, and a set of broken tools. The compass has no needle, so direction is unsure. The spyglass has a broken lens, so you can’t see what’s ahead. The GPS keeps chanting “Recalculating, recalculating…” inside your mind as you deal with an unfamiliar landscape. Your watch has stopped working, so there is no accurate timetable or way to measure progress made against whatever progress might be possible. Your cell phone has a low battery, so it’s difficult to communicate with your family and friends. They are still there for you, and they also love and know your child; but it’s hard for them to invest enough time to truly know and understand what you are experiencing along the way. Your pain comes through in spite of the dropped calls, but sometimes they don’t know what to do or say. The rest of your immediate family is travelling with you and your special needs child, and hopefully your spouse is with you in every way as you face the journey together.

family journey in the fall

Your other children each have their own journey, with their own issues and needs along the way. They need you to travel with them as well, so you are simultaneously experiencing very real life journeys that are vastly different, depending upon the needs and special needs of each of your children.  In addition to all of the common struggles of growing up, your other children also face unseen hurdles and even their own griefs as they love and try to protect their special needs sibling. There are a lot of things about having a special needs sibling that can be very difficult, but you try to teach your other children along the way that love and thankfulness are the keys to enjoying life moment by moment with their special needs sibling, while also grieving for them at times. So, as parents, you are not only dealing with your own feelings and griefs and questions and challenges (in relation to the challenges faced by your special needs child), but you are also dealing with helping your other children to understand, cope, grieve with hope, love without condition, and handle their own feelings regarding everything related to their special needs brother or sister.

For parents, it’s incredibly hard to balance the unknown aspects of the journey with your special needs child (and each of your family members’ own struggle with the family’s journey on that road) while also experiencing the milestones and life changes of growing up with your other children. These milestones and life changes have been revealed to the very core of your heart as something that cannot be taken for granted. On the one hand, they are incredibly sweet since you recognize what a miracle each of them is for the child as you witness the wonders of growth and change. On the other, you grieve inside for the fact that these same milestones and life changes are not all going to happen or are not going to happen in the same way for your special needs child. The balancing act becomes one of grieving while rejoicing, often without revealing your heart in the moment (so that the internal struggle does not diminish the joys of very real accomplishments and life changes for the child who is moving forward). When the waves of grief wash over you, you eventually learn to immediately focus your thoughts on all of the blessings of life with your special needs child and all of the victories, from the most minute to the biggest of the big, that have happened in the life of your special needs child and in your heart as you have loved and cared for him or her. Thankfulness is the only antidote to grieving that I know. It is the lifeline that will pull you out of the crashing waves of grief and into the presence of Christ.

Gratitude is ...

One of the many blessings that is a part of life with the incredible gift of your special needs child is the fact that there is a sharpened and very keen level of awareness of the need to be more fully aware in all of life. If I am more aware of the pain and challenge and difficulty and loneliness in my life, I must also become more aware of the joys and blessings and victories and wonderful moments and graces within the tough moments. Here are some examples of the ways that this awareness of the need to become more aware  manifests itself in my life as a special needs parent.

> In my moments of the most acute need, when I am dealing with some aspect of now or of tomorrow, I can become so aware of the fact that the challenge is mine to face that I could miss the sweetness of possessing this need. Here is part of the fuller awareness that I need to find and to remember:
I have this need because of an infinitely incredible gift.
*  I have this need because of life and because of love.
*  I have this need because somehow God saw something within me that could be made beautiful with the help of a precious little soul who has become my teacher.

every journey begins with first step

> In moments when hopelessness begins to creep into my heart, I can become so aware of feeling overwhelmed that I miss the lessons of holding on to hope. I can even miss the truth that hope is at its most powerful when the answer or solution or resolution or realization of that hope seems the most remote.
I have this hope, and I hold on to this hope, because I will never give up seeking to make life better and more full and loving for my child.
*  I have this hope because I know that there are people who have never given up on me, and I have seen how powerful this force of hope can be in my own experience.
*  I have this hope because all things are possible through Christ.
*  I have this hope because when desperation has caused me to lose my hold on hope, I fall into the hands of my Father, who surrounds me with His love and with the knowledge that all hope is found in Him.
*  I have this hope because life has infinite value and because I have been blessed.

My help comes from the Lord

> In moments when a victory happens, I sometimes become acutely aware that there is almost no one that can really grasp the significance of this victory because so few see the entirety of the struggle. I can become so aware of the loneliness of incomplete knowledge that I miss all of the blessings that should be my focus.
This victory has happened because of the will and the spirit of a little trooper who keeps on trying and is often so blissfully unaware of the fact that this moment was long in coming that nothing dims his joy.
*  I can rejoice in this victory because it means that all of the investment of time and love and care and therapy and intervention (which was valuable in itself, even without and before tangible results) has produced a positive change that has made life better in some way for my much-loved child… which, in turn, gives hope and motivation to keep going!
*  I can rejoice in this victory because it is a reminder that even though I may feel alone sometimes and even though there is no one (other than Travis and I) who has seen all of the parts of the story of our Logan from the beginning until now, I meditate on the fact that we have not been alone. We (my husband, my family, and I) have had each other, and we have had the presence of God with us every step of the way, even in the hardest moments that no one else has ever seen. I can also recall and rejoice in the fact that there are so many wonderful people who have loved our Logan (and still do) and who have been a part of his journey and ours in very significant ways, helping both him and us to reach the vantage point from which we can look back and see all that has taken place. The feeling of loneliness and of recognition that few can fully grasp a victory is replaced with thankfulness for family and friends and teachers and therapists and specialists and doctors and volunteers in support organizations and respite volunteers and Sunday School teachers and workers, and child care givers, and special family friends who have cared for Logan, and Choir and Missions and Vacation Bible School teachers and helpers at church, and people who volunteer to serve as a “shadow” for Logan and focus on his needs, and every kind stranger who has ever spoken a word of encouragement.

uphill road

It’s really difficult to explain this crazy roller coaster of parenting a special needs child. There are moments of sheer terror or panic and moments of thrills and laughter. There are many times when my heart and my life feels so full of love, and many times when the uncertainty, the questions, and the challenges threaten to attack my peace and steal my joy. There’s so much more involved in the experience than could possibly be contained in this article. While it can be exhausting to experience so many emotional highs and lows involved in the blessing of parenting all of our children and particularly our son who has special needs, there is also a strength that is born out the the knowledge that for every awareness of difficulty and acknowledgement of pain, there are blessings and joys that come to light with the re-focus.

It’s the secondary focus on the awareness of the flip side (to every difficulty) that reveals burdens shared and lifted, victories gained, spiritual lessons, simple joys, and love… always love.

And many, many times, that side (the blessing side, which we see by faith and also because it is very real) is what we’ve learned to see first. We choose to see the positives. There are a lot of blessings! There is a lot of joy!

Many things are the same for us and for other special needs parents as for any parent and child. Highs and lows are experienced in every family. Challenges and heartbreaks come. Victories and heart-warming moments come, too. There are moments of recognition and realization that are so significant and memorable that they become part of the story of every parent and child. Moments of realization with other children might be about discovering an ability or talent that can be nurtured. A moment of realization with Logan might be a flash of recognition that we have been praying the same prayer (that this would be the year, the month, the day when he would finally learn to chew and be able to eat real food) for six years now. A moment of victory with another child might be all A’s on the report card. With Logan, a recent moment of victory involved Logan finally doing something that most children do as a pre-schooler. Last year, there was a day when Logan took a paper out of his backpack when he got home from school and showed it to me. It was the first time he’d ever done that (at age 7 rather than at 2 or 3). A couple of weeks ago, Logan again brought me a paper; but this time, he spoke to me about it.  It was the first time he’s ever brought me a paper and told me about it…at age 8 (almost 9). He brought me this paper (I scanned it so that you could see it here), and he said, “Look, Mama! It’s Logan’s beautiful heart!” I could not have said it better myself.

"Logan's Beautiful Heart"  It's purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out.  A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

“Logan’s Beautiful Heart”
It’s purple construction paper with a heart-shaped cut-out. A dyed coffee filter is glued to the back of the construction paper so that it shows through the heart shape.

We certainly cannot deny the fact that our Logan is a child who has special needs. More importantly, though, Logan a little boy. He loves to have fun and be silly. He loves to run and play. He may not be able to experience everything in the same way as his brothers, but he experiences everything with his whole heart. When he’s happy, he is whole-heartedly happy. He makes others happy, too! Logan does have a beautiful heart.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

A beautiful life may be different from the lives of others, but it is still beautiful.

Every special needs parent, like us, learns to see beyond the needs, the challenges, the diagnosis, and the uncertainty of the the future to the precious and wonderful gift of their child. There will always be many questions about tomorrow. There are questions about how much progress Logan is going to be able to make. There are questions about how independent he is going to be able to become. There are questions about who will care for him when my husband and I no longer can. In addition to those concerns about the future, there are many needs right here and now. With our five other boys and all of their needs, it is hard to find enough time to do all that we need to do for Logan. He is getting special therapy for his eating issues twice a week, but he also needs a lot of one on one time (as do all of our boys). He needs us to read to and with him, to do math flash cards with him, to play board games with him, and to teach him to do household tasks. There is so much that can be done and so much that will need to be done in and for his future. However, we can’t let ourselves get so caught up in all of the tasks and all of the unknowns that we miss just simply loving and relating to Logan right now. We need to enjoy him, and there is much to enjoy. From his affectionate nature to his quirky sense of humor, to his fun personality and all of the things that he is learning, Logan is an awesome little boy. Developmental targets and statistics and academic goals and plans for the future are all very important, but Logan’s beautiful heart and soul are the most important.

faith makes things possibleSo, while we don’t want to sugarcoat a life that has major challenges and many heartaches that no one else sees, we choose to look for the blessings.

While it’s true that we are always aware of human emotion and human reactions to life’s challenges, we are on a journey toward having a sharpening of vision. Our spiritual eyesight is responding to the lessons of the heart and soul and learning to see blessings first. When we look at our Logan, we do see infinite blessings. We know that many, many others see the blessing of Logan, too, and that’s really what we want as parents.

We want to know that when you look at our child, you see a little heart and soul that is a blessing of uncalculable and infinite worth.

–This post was written by Cynthia Boyd

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NOTE: Even though this post is fairly long, it still feels as though I have published it in an incomplete state. There is so much more to write and so much more to learn and experience. There is so much in my heart, and I haven’t been able to put it all into words yet. I can see the value in sharing the words that are already here, even though there is more to come and much more to understand. So, here are the thoughts that have made their way into this revelation of life. I hope they bring understanding and help someone. If this post touches your heart, please share it with others, using this link: http://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/the-secret-life-of-a-special-needs-parent/

For more on the story of our personal journey, read this post: http://familysong.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/one-brave-little-boy/

Or, read some of the other posts in our “Special needs, Special blessings” category at: http://familysong.wordpress.com/category/special-needs-special-blessings/

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Obstacles road signNote: I love this little sign. The figure is not stopped by the obstacle, he jumps right over it. Parents of special needs children, this is you! You are an overcomer of obstacles, a stubborn warrior who will not give up, and a tidal wave of love that cannot be stopped. Sometimes, this is my sign, too. And, sometimes, I need a sign that is a little bit different. Sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure being lifted over the obstacle or carried through the storm by the strong hand of Father God, and sometimes I need the sign that shows the little figure and his family camped out in front of the obstacle, working and hoping and praying for victory. If you pan back a little farther on my camp out sign, you will see that the ground on which our campsite stands is not really earth. It is the hands of God, where He is holding us as we wait and work and believe that this obstacle will be conquered. If you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, I can assure you that nothing else would help you more with all of the challenges of life, and nothing else will make you more aware of your blessings and give you more hope for eternity. If you have questions about life and eternity and God and purpose, please go to our page called, “Do You Know Jesus” at this link:
http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

There, you will find links to many web pages that have been designed specifically to answer any question that you might have. Some of these pages even have the capability to be translated into multiple languages. Let us know if you find the anwers you are seeking. We are praying for you!

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Here’s a music video with some precious photos of special needs children and Moms and Dad. It will bless you!

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Singing a New Song

Sing to the LordWhat does the Bible have to say about new songs or new music, and what can new songs mean for us?

Here are some scripture verses about a having a new song and some thoughts about how new songs can bring new life.

A new song, wherever you are!

Sing a new song to the LORD.  Sing His praise from the ends of the earth, you people who sail on the seas and all the creatures that live in them, you coastlands and all who live on them.

–  Isaiah 42:10

God has given us the gift of music so that we might creatively express thoughts and feelings with a depth of emotional and spiritual meaning that goes beyond what mere words can convey.  He has given music as a tool whereby we might respond and communicate with each other and with Him.  He has given us the ability to appreciate and enjoy music.  And, He has given us the ability to create music.

When we return a new song to God in praise, we have completed a circle of giving.  He gives the capabilities to hear various pitches, to internalize rhythms, and to understand the meaning of lyrics.  He has created, and He gives us the ability to create.  God has given to us a revelation of truth or a new way to express truth that becomes the message and style, melody and rhythm, harmony and expression of the new song.  Together, these elements form the whole of a gift that we can then give back to our Father God as we worship Him.

No matter where we are, we can live in relationship with God in a way that allows Him to give us a song.  Whether your song is one you recently discovered, written by someone else, which expresses exactly where you are on your spiritual journey or whether God used your gifts to write the song 6 minutes ago, He knows when our hearts are pouring out a new message of love and thankfulness to HIm.

Sing to the Lord a new song all the earthA new song as a personal expression of worship

I will sing a new song to You, O God; Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You.

–  Psalm 144:9

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At its highest and noblest purpose, music can be a vehicle whereby we communicate the truths of God’s word or His character and lift that message up to God in worship, with the purpose of bringing glory to Him, encouraging the body of Christ, and sharing a message of testimony and truth that God’s Spirit can use to draw hearts to the Lord.

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A new song as congregational praise

Praise the LORD!  Sing to the LORD a new song.  Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful.  

–  Psalm 149:1

sing a new song to the LordThere are times when we need a new song.  Perhaps the songs we already know don’t say exactly what we want to say.  Perhaps God has given inspiration for both melody and words to say something new or to share a well-loved truth in a new way.  Every song begins with an idea, whether that idea is a musical idea or a lyrical one.  However, songs that are written to bring glory to God begin with something more profound:  a revelation.  God speaks to the heart of the songwriter or lyric writer through His Spirit, through the Word, through something that someone says, or a book or article, or even through His creation.  A revelation of spiritual truth can also come through the lessons in a time of trial or even in a time of victory as we learn to trust God in all of life.  All of these kinds of experiences can be used by God to inspire someone that He has gifted with songwriting abilities in the creation of a new song.  This song in turn can become a vehicle for the writer and sometimes for the praise of the congregation or for multititudes of congregations.

A new song as a hymn of praise and a powerful testimony that draws others to the Lord

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see what he has done and be amazed.  They will put their trust in the LORD. 

–  Psalm 40:3

Sing_to_the_Lord_a_New_Song  header

In our experience, the music that Travis has been inspired to write has been a chronicle of our spiritual journey and what the Lord has been doing in our hearts along the way.  Many of these songs were born out of a moment of recognition or revelation when a spiritual lesson was beginning to become a clear guiding light of recognizable truth that God would use to move us further along down the road to becoming more like Jesus.   Many of these spiritual life lessons are truths that we thought we already knew.  However, God has allowed us to experience them in a deeper or more profound way that has changed our perspective, focused our efforts, and refined our character.   For example, we had always heard and read and known intellectually that God is faithful.  However, through some rocky experiences over a long period of time and the simple fact that we were able to hang in there and keep hoping until we saw the faithfulness of God manifested in various situations, God taught us again to trust His faithfulness.  We learned once more that we could choose to trust Him even when we had no understanding of why things happened as they did and even when every fiber of our being was desperately crying out for resolution to pain and crisis NOW!  We learned that we have the easy part (if you could call waiting in desperation easy) of just holding on, while God is not only working throughout the situation but also working in the hearts of we who are struggling to believe while knowing that we must believe even when belief seems contrary to every indicator of reality.  How patient He is with us as we learn the same lessons over and over again, hopefully at a deeper level of spiritual understanding and growth.  Out of such experiences came songs like Travis’ “God is Faithful,” “I Am Here,” (the assurance of God’s presence) and “Much More Than a Song” (the recognition of the fact that God is worthy of praise in any circumstance).

Sing a new songA new song as a Psalm of thanks for what God has done.

Sing a new song to the LORD, for he has done wonderful deeds.  His right hand has won a mighty victory; His holy arm has shown his saving power!

–  Psalm 98:1

The fact that God continues to give “a new song” is an encouragement for individual Christians and for the people of God.  It means that God is still at work in the hearts of His people.  It means that God is still “with us” and is striving to complete His work in our lives, as He has promised.  It means that God’s patience (long-suffering) is still delaying His judgement of this world because of His mercy and grace and His great love.  Like a sermon or a book that someone has been inspired to write and to proclaim, a new song means that there are still lessons to learn and souls that need to be saved.  As long as God continues to inspire new songs as messages of His love, His faithfulness, His mercy and grace, His plan for our lives and for all of creation, God’s people are reminded through another means that God is still working to accomplish His purposes.  His Spirit is working in our hearts, His Word is instructing us in righteousness, and the messages that God inspires men to write or speak or act or paint or sing or sculpt (and, especially, to live!) for His glory are testimonies of God’s faithfulness in all of these things.

A new song for everyone!

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 

–  Psalm 96:1

sing of the mercies of the LordSome of the songs that individuals feel inspired to write may never be heard by many people.  The purpose of a song may be as an individual expression of praise to God.  This kind of new song is very personal to the writer as a part of their spiritual journey and may exist only to serve as a vehicle of praise for that person.  Someone who has never thought of themselves as a song writer may even find themselves singing to the Lord in worship with lyrics that are uniquely their own.  A song does not have to be sung by millions in order to be a valid expression of praise to God.  He knows when your “new song” expresses the praises of your heart or speaks of a lesson learned or a truth that has been understood in a new way.  In essence, every time we sing any song of praise to God, it can be a “new song” of praise to Him when it becomes the very real and sincere praise of the present moment, when our hearts cry out anew in thankfulness and awe.

A new song in Heaven

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain; and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 

–  Revelation 5:9

Our God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  But His creation continues to change even as He creates newness in hearts and lives.  The heartbreak of pain and loss will not always be with us.  All of the trials of this world are temporary.  Someday, He will make all things new, just as He is now making our hearts new.  The process of His work on our spiritual creation gives us some new songs to sing along the way.  Is is a joy to know that someday we will sing of His victory in a place where there is no more to overcome.  We will have overcome all things through the blood of the Lamb, through the giving of our lives to Him, through the Word of truth, and through the word of our testimony.  Our songs of trusting God when we don’t understand will become obsolete.  Finally, we will know Him even as we are known, and God will give us a new song of thanksgiving and praise for all of eternity.

Sing HallelujahA new song of joy

Sing a new song of praise to Him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy. 

–  Psalm 33:3

For now, we will continue our songs, both old and new.  We will sing of God’s salvation and power.  We will sing of His faithfulness and love.  We will sing of God’s mercy and His amazing grace.  We will sing with joy, for we know that we are not the only ones who are singing.  Our God rejoices over us as his dearly beloved children, and He sings over us as well.  He is with us.  He is mighty in power and yet tender and gentle in His patience, renewing us with His love until that day when we will dwell with Him and the former things will all pass away.

His song for you and me

The LORD your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy. 

–  Zephaniah 3:17

My husband, singing his song, “Much More Than a Song” (available as a Vocal Solo or Choral Anthem on http//:www.worshipsounds.com )

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Looking for answers for yourself or for a friend?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page.  We hope that it has been helpful to you.   If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”.   The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions.   Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”:  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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Worshipful Ideas for Choir Appreciation Sunday / Music MinIstry Sunday

Click the image above to go directly to the official facebook page for National Choir Appreciation Sunday

Click the image above to go directly to the official facebook page for National Choir Appreciation Sunday

Sunday, January 20th, 2013, has been designated as the second annual National Choir Appreciation Sunday.  Since appreciation, thankfulness, and encouragement are always appropriate at every time of year, such an event is a good reminder for those who lead in Music and Worship Ministry that we need to express thankfulness publicly for the volunteers who give so much of their time and energy to participate in Choir and other Music Ministry organizations, with the purpose of using their talents to glorify and honor the Lord.

Remember that the designated date for Choir Appreciation Sunday is not the only time that you can plan an appreciation event for your choir or for all of your music ministry participants. January may not be the best month for such an event at your church. It can be difficult to come back right after Christmas and plan a large musical event within the month. So, if you want to plan an Appreciation Sunday event for your Choir(s) or for all of your Music Ministry volunteers (musicians, tech team, drama group, etc), good planning is essential. Here are some suggestions and ideas that you may want to consider or implement.

1. After you have formulated some plans in your mind and before you do any publicity, share your plans with your Pastor and at Staff Planning Meeting. Your Pastor and fellow Ministers may have some ideas that will be helpful guidance for you in selecting the best date to have such an emphasis and also some ideas about how to proceed with planning that may give a boost to your own creativity. The primary thing that you need to stress is that you want to say “thank you” to these faithful Music Ministry participants without taking the focus off of our mighty God, who is the Source of music, the Giver of gifts, and the reason we sing. Remember that you do not have to stick to the January date if that does not allow enough time for preparation right after the Christmas holidays or work well for your church, your groups, or your calendar. Flexibility is key.

2. In doing your planning to prepare for meeting with your Pastor and Ministerial Staff, pray for direction. For example, you need to determine whether to make this a Music Ministry Appreciation Sunday or whether to just make the Choir your focus. You may have other groups that you want to include in this time of thanksgiving, such as accompanists, orchestra, handbell choirs, age-group choirs (from pre-school choir to Sr. Adult Choir and everything in between), praise teams, rhythm section, tech teams, etc.

3.  If your focus is to be for all of the Music Ministry groups, you could use a “Celebration Sunday” approach, with several groups sharing messages in song or performing together, keeping the focus on worship. At some point, you could direct the attention of the congregation to the fact that God is the Source and Giver of Music and musical talents, that He sings over us, and that He has blessed your church with some incredible volunteers in Music Ministry. You could ask the congregation to join you in thanking God through prayer for the gifts that He has given and the privelege of singing (and playing) music for His glory. Applause in thanksgiving would also be appropriate, again directed at God. At the conclusion of this focus time, I would recommend a brief statement, encouraging your congregation to verbally express their thanks to the people who are involved as volunteers in Music Ministry in your church whenever possible. stating that we all need to encourage one another, and saying that verbal encouragement to anyone who serves in any capacity within the fellowship lifts the body of Christ and draws our hearts closer to one another. Then, get back to praise and worship of the One who gives us a reason to serve, to sing, to play, to teach, and to love.
Your Pastor may want to tie his message to the focus for the day, perhaps preaching about encouraging one another or about worship in general, but this is not absolutely necessary. However, your planning and communication with him gives him the opportunity to do this if he feels led in this direction.

3. Combine Choirs and include groups of all ages!  You may choose to have the Youth Choir and Senior Adult Choir join the Adult Choir in sharing a message on your special emphasis Sunday. This is the sort of thing that requires advance planning for all of the groups’ schedules as well as a little bit of extra rehearsal time, so repertore decisions and decisions about which groups to include need to take place in the early stages of planning. (Note: See our repertoire suggestions at the end of this blog poat.) At our church, these 3 groups could sing a song that our Senior Adult Choir already knows and has just shared at our statewide Senior Adult Choir Festival. In rehearsal times, invite your Senior Adult Choir and Youth Choir into the Adult Choir rehearsal to help the young people learn the song. Most churches have some very lively and fun-loving youth and Senior Adults, so this should be an energetic and enjoyable time for all. Then, plan a joint rehearsal with all three groups, along with accompanists or orchestra and rhythm section, your tech team that will be coordinating sound, lighting, and media, and any other participants such as scripture readers or banner carriers, prior to the special emphasis Sunday.

Here are some additional ideas (some that would work best for an All-inclusive Music Minstry Celebration Sunday, and several that would work well for a Choir Appreciation focus) to consider during your planning:

a. If you have worship banners that are not up in your Sanctuary or Worship Center all the time, consider using these to add to the celebration (of giving thanks for God’s gift of music and for the musical gifts within your volunteer musical groups) in your service that day. Or, you may want to use several weeks to focus on the attributes of God before the focused Celebration Sunday comes to pass. For example, if you have a banner that says, “Lamb of God,” make this your focus on a particular Sunday. Sing songs and read scripture that relate to the sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God. Then, if you have another banner that says, “King of Kings,” make that your focus on another week. Save your “Jesus” or “Lord of Lords” or “Mighty God” banner for the final week of Celebration emphasis when you will express thanks for your faithful Music Ministry volunteers but primarily focus on the God who has formed them, gifted them, saved them, and called them to serve.

b. You could also have a few Music Ministry volunteers give a brief testimony, one each week, in the weeks leading up to your special emphasis Sunday. They could tell what the opportunity to serve in this way means to them and how God speaks to them through music.

c. Enter singing praises! You could begin the special service by leading a worship chorus with only your accompanists and rhythm section on the platform or in the loft area. Then have your choir come in (from the back of your Worship Center) near the end of that song or during a second, more upbeat, worship song or hymn, singing as they come down the aisles. If you involve multiple choirs, this could be especially effective; and banners that relate to worship and praise could be carried in at the front of each group. Perhaps each Adult or Senior Adult Choir member could walk beside a child from your childrens choirs, making sure that ‘their’ child winds up standing where the Childrens’ Choir is supposed to be (perhaps on risers or just in a group in front of the Youth and Adult Choirs). You could even ask the congregation to stand in worship of our mighty God and join your choirs and/or musicians in lifting praise to Him. Then, you could have an excellent trumpet player play a short but majestic fanfare just prior to the song or hymn that is used for the choir’s entrance. Fanfare guidelines: if someone else (your trumpet player, for example) chooses the fanfare that will be played, make sure he/she knows what key will work well with the hymn or chorus that is to follow, make sure that it is not a familiar fanfare (such as the well known ones used for the Olympics), and listen to it being played to give your final OK. For the choral procession, I would suggest “Worthy of Worship” as a great hymn choice or “Sing to the King” if you prefer to use a chorus.

d. If you want to have a one day focus, using all of your banners or media to focus on the attributes of God, you can use all of your banners on that one Sunday by focusing each song or scripture reading on a different attribute or name of God (having that banner carried in during the appropriate song), ending with a “Lord of Lords” or “Mighty God” banner and focus. You could even have various lay leaders help you to end the time of musical praise by having each person emphatically state the name for God or for Christ on one of your banners; and when all the names have been pronounced, say that this is why we worship Him. He is worthy of our praise.

e. You could choose to have a Choir Reunion or Music Ministry Reunion be a part of your special day. If there are former members that you could contact who live within driving distance and could join you for a special Sunday emphasis, this could be very meaningful. Be sure to give them a few weeks notice in your invitation to come. This could also serve as a reminder of the ultimate Choir reunion that will take place someday in Heaven.

f. Use your media capabilities to the fullest. Have pictures of your groups (in rehearsal, from special productions, serving in various ways on mission trips, etc.) that are shown on the screen as you speak about them or when they join together to sing (and play) a special worship song.

g. Do some research and study about the use of choirs in worship and praise (in the Bible and throughout the history of the church) so that you may be able to share some specific scriptures or brief facts during your service. (Note: See our page entitled “Lift Your Voice (worship scriptures)” for a great worship scripture reference from both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the link: http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/lift-your-voice/

h. Remember that this is a special day of encouragement and thankfulness for the people of God who use their talents to glorify God, and then ultimately direct all praise toward God Himself, who is always worthy of our thankfulness for every good thing.

i. You could have a special dinner after the morning worship service for your Choir(s) or for all Music Ministry volunteers (at your church or at a restaurant). This dinner could end with a prayer of commitment to continue to use our gifts in His service.

j. Attempt to keep the focus on worship of God and Jesus and off of yourself as Worship Leader, Minister, or Pastor. Worship is the privelege of every Christian, and you could even have a couple of teachable moments for your congregation (about 24/7 worship, seeking to glorify Him in all that we do) woven into the fabric of your focused worship time. To help emphasize the point that worship is so much more than just singing or hearing a song, if you use a bulletin, make sure that it utilizes specific worship headings, such as”
“Worship through contemplation” (prelude)
“Worship through proclamation” (song of proclamation of who God is, His power, what He has done…)
“Worship through giving” (tithes and offering)
“Worship through testimony” (spoken or sung)
“Worship through exhortation” (a message or song of challenge or encouragement)
“Worship through thanksgiving” (sung, spoken, or prayed)
“Worship through prayer”
“Worship through praise”
“Worship through the spoken Word” (scripture reading)
“Worship through the proclamation of the Word” (sermon)

You get the idea. All that we do is worship when done with the motivation of glorifying God.
For help with ideas for communicating a theology of lifestyle worship, see our page entitled “Lifestyle Worship” at http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/lifestyle-worship/

k. Use a meaningful reading at some point, such as excerpts from David Nassar’s book, “Glory Revealed.” Begin reading on page 30, chapter 2, (titled ” Glory Revealed Through Conversation) under the bold print heading, “…every song we sing to the Lord is a duet and not a solo.” Read through the end of the chapter (slightly less than 3 pages). You will probably want to make some cuts in the text, such as the section on lullabies, for use in congregational worship; but this is a very meaningful passage that can change the outlook of individuals regarding worship for the remainder of their lives. Decide whether to have one person read this or to divide the lines up between 2 readers, and make sure this is well-prepared in order to be most effective.

SOME  REPERTOIRE  SUGGESTIONS  FOR  CHOIR  OR  MUSIC  MINISTRY  APPRECIATION SUNDAY

Here are a few suggestions for your repertoire on Choir Appreciation Sunday or Music Ministry Appreciation Sunday:

1. “Sometimes I Hear God’s Music”
lyrics by the late J. Paul Williams
music by Joseph M. Martin
(Full orchestration available for the recently updated version of this anthem.  See link below.)
If this piece is already in your library, you may want to consider re-purchasing it in the updated version released as part of the “Legacy” series honoring well-known lyricist J. Paul Williams. The arrangement has been updated by composer Joseph M. Martin, and a new orchestration has been written for this piece by Stan Pethel. This piece is now available for SSA and TTB in addition to the SATB voicing. For more information, here is a link to the publisher’s info page:
http://www.halleonard.com/product/viewproduct.do?itemid=35020874
To listen to the updated version of “Sometimes I Hear God’s Music” in SATB voicing, with the new orchestration, use this link: http://listeninglab.stantons.com/title/sometimes-i-hear-gods-music/141068/

2. “The Music of God”
lyrics by John Parker
music by Mark Hayes
Here is a link to a performance video of “The Music of God”:  http://www.choirplace.com/videos/2781/the-music-of-god-mark-hayes-jakarta-festival-chorus
Can incorporation choirs of all ages, including children’s choir
Also published by the Harold Flammer division of Shawnee Press (now under Hal Leonard)
This piece is arranged for SATB choir (though much of the part writing is in SAB), with children’s choir, congregation, and flute obbligato. It has an excellent text and beautiful melody. It also encorporates the familiar hymn melody known as Ellacombe (“I Sing the Mighty Power of God”) for congregational singing. I could not find a listening sample in my web searches, but you can obtain a free browser copy of this anthem on Mark Hayes’ website at this link:
http://www.markhayes.com/Anthems/THE-MUSIC-OF-GOD.html

3. “Sing a Song to the Lord”
lyrics and music by Travis L. Boyd
published by Shawnee Press (see info on our websites ‘Published Music’ page at http://www.worshipsounds.com )
This is a more upbeat choral praise anthem, in SATB voicing, with a contrast in styles between the legato verses and the rhythmic chorus. Here is the Publisher’s description: “Travis Boyd is fantastic at up-tempo rhythmic pieces and this youthful expression of praise is no exception. Use as a call to worship or as an intergenerational moment incorporating youth and adult choirs. The creative transition section builds to an impressive crescendo that is very exciting to sing and hear. Exhilarating!”
To listen to this anthem, use this link: http://listeninglab.stantons.com/title/sing-a-song-to-the-lord/335710/
“Sing a Song to the Lord” is available from:
* Stanton’s (hear complete demo, price $1.75) @ http://listeninglab.stantons.com/search/?v=Travis+Boyd&t=composer&x=67&y=17
* Pine Lake (complete demo for listening, info about accompaniment track, price $1.75) at this link: http://pinelakemusic.com/Results.aspx?search=Travis% 20Boyd&toc=false
* Sheet Music Plus (with complete demo and sample pages, no mention of trax, price $1.40) at this link: http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/search?q=Travis+Boyd
* Music Mart (price 1.75, no demo) @ http://www.musicmart.com/Search.aspx?k=Travis%20Boyd
* Music 44 (price $1.75, no demo) @ http://www.music44.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Session_ID=6064E0ACEA8A57A23CE7B0B96DBF8E2A&Screen=SRCH&Store_Code=X&ArtistSearch=Travis_Boyd&Pg=2&SortBy=1&PerPg=12&PgChange=1
* From original publisher, Shawnee Press (price $1.75, no demo), at this link: http://www.shawneepress.com/search/search.do?subsiteid=204&keywords=Travis+Boyd
* And from Hal Leonard (price $1.75, no demo) at this link: http://www.halleonard.com/search/search.do?subsiteid=5&keywords=Travis+Boyd&searchcategory=00

4. “Let the Trumpet Sound”
lyrics and music by Travis L. Boyd
SATB Choral with piano accompaniment and Trumpet Obbligato (obbligato can also be played on organ or keyboard)
This anthem has a classical type sound. It has been sung, in an SSAA arrangement, by The Singing Churcwomen of Oklahoma, then under the direction of Dr. Bill Green, and was used at the beginning of the group’s worship concerts. This anthem is available on our WorshipSounds website’s “General Usage Anthems” music page.  (Click link, below right, with Worship Sounds church logo,  then scroll down to the anthem.)

Click this image to go to the Adult  Choir tab on the General Usage Anthems page of our Worship Sounds Music website.

HERE’S THE LINK TO OUR WORSHIP SOUNDS MUSIC WEBSITE!  Click this image to go to the Adult
Choir tab on the General Usage Anthems page of our Worship Sounds Music website.

5. “For the Glory of God”
lyrics and music by Travis L. Boyd
SATB Choral anthem with an upbeat message of praise, also available in SSAA and TTBB voicings
This anthem is in the current repertoire of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Jubalheirs, a choir made up of women who are active in Worship ministry throughout the state of Georgia, under the direction of Dr. Jon Duncan. It is also available in SSAA. “For the Glory of God” can be found on our website’s Adult Choir tab on the “General Usage Anthems” music page.  (Click link at right with Worship Sounds church logo, then scroll down to the anthem.)

6. “Much More Than a Song”
lyrics and music by Travis L. Boyd
SATB Choral, also available as a Vocal Solo (in 3 keys for Low, Medium, and High voice)
This anthem has been sung in a TTBB voicing by The Singing Churchmen of Oklahoma, then under the direction of Dr. Bill Green, and by the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Jubalheirs, under the direction of Dr. Jon Duncan. It is a lovely ballad with a thoughtful and inspiring message about choosing to praise God in every circumstance. “Much More Than a Song” is available on our website’s Adult Choir tab on the “General Usage Anthems” music page.  (Click link above with Worship Sounds church logo,  then scroll down to the anthem.)

7.  “Praise God”
lyrics and music by Travis (L.) Boyd
SATB Choral, published by the Glory Sounds division of Shawnee Press (now with Hal Leonard)
A lovely setting of the traditional Doxology lyrics with a flowing piano accompaniment, this choral anthem incorporates a portion of the hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”.
You can hear this anthem in its entirety on our SoundCloud, and then there are links in the information about the anthem that will lead you to distributors who offer it. Here is the link to the publisher’s choral demo on our Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/#travis-l-boyd/05-praise-god-copyright?in=travis-l-boyd/sets/publishers-demos-of-my-choral
“Praise God” is available from Sheet Music Plus at this link: http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/search?q=Travis+Boyd

8. “All the Praise”
lyrics and music by Travis (L.) Boyd
Published by the Lorenz Corporation
SATB Choral
Available from the Lorenz Corporation, with all related products (Brass & Rhythm Score, Acc. Trax), complete demo and sample pages at this link: http://www.lorenz.com/Results.aspx?page=1&rpp=25&title=Travis%20Boyd&voicing1=&div=&producttype=*&usage=&level=&pop=False&pod=True&bnew=True&bbest=False&sortorder=ASC&composer=&acap=False&series=&SearchOpt=&biblebook=&biblechapter=-1&bibleverse=-1&divwiseproduct=False

9. Magnificent Praise
lyrics and music by Travis (L.) Boyd
Published by the Lorenz Corporation
SATB Choral
Available from the Lorenz Corporation, with all related products (Brass & Rhythm Score, Acc. Trax), complete demo and sample pages at this link: http://www.lorenz.com/Results.aspx?page=1&rpp=25&title=Travis%20Boyd&voicing1=&div=&producttype=*&usage=&level=&pop=False&pod=True&bnew=True&bbest=False&sortorder=ASC&composer=&acap=False&series=&SearchOpt=&biblebook=&biblechapter=-1&bibleverse=-1&divwiseproduct=False

* If this blog post has been helpful to you, please take a moment to comment to that effect on the referring web post or social media site so that others will know that reading it is worth their time. Please share this blog post link with others who might not see it without your referral.
* If you have additional ideas for a Choir Appreciation Sunday or Music Ministry Appreciation Sunday, please add them as comments to this blog so that others can benefit from your creativity and inspiration. Thank You!
* Be sure to bookmark this blog post so that you can refer back to it as you are doing your planning. There may be additional ideas from fellow Ministers of Music and Worship that will work wonderfully for you as well.

Click the image above to go directly to the National Choir Appreciation Sunday facebook page

Click the image above to go directly to the National Choir Appreciation Sunday facebook page

* You can register your church’s participation in National Choir Appreciation Sunday on the official NACS facebook page, sponsored by the music distribution company J. W. Pepper, a strong supporter of Choral Music in Church Worship Ministries.

Blessings to you and to your Church and Music Ministry as you plan a special emphasis to say “thank you” to the fine people who help you share the message of God’s love and mercy through music. For more inspiration, check out our blog page entitled “Creative Worship Ideas” at http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/creative-worship-ideas/
You will also find practical helps, inspiration, and helpful articles in our “Worship with Wonder” catergory of posts at:
https://worshipsounds.wordpress.com/category/worship-with-wonder/

Travis and Cindy Boyd
WorshipSounds Music

Downloadable Music for your Choirs (Adult, Sr. Adult, and Youth choir music), Ensembles, Orchestra, Congregation, and Soloists
You will find our music to be very affordable, practical for use in local church ministry, Biblically sound, meaningful, and musically memorable.
* Master PDFs for Choral Anthems range from $10.00 to $15.oo, with permission given to make as many copies as needed for your Church, Christian School, or Choral Organization.
* Bundled PDFs for Anthem Orchestrations include Conductor’s Score, String reduction for keyboard, and Reproducible parts for all string, wind, and percussion (+ rhythm section lead sheet) and are priced at $25.00 or $30.00.  Again, you are authorized to print copies as needed (for your group only).
* Vocal Solo music is available at a cost of $5.00 for the PDF Master copy, with permission to print copies as needed for your soloist, accompanists, and rhythm section.
* Congregational praise music is available in the form of a Worship Pak for $10.00, which includes reproducible bulletin or hymnal sized music sheets, reproducible lead sheets for rhythm section, and the Vocal/Piano score.
* Accompaniment Tracks for both our Choral Anthems and our Vocal Solos come as a downloadable Mp3 for $10.00.

You’ll find all of this on our WorshipSounds website

http://www.worshipsounds.com

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Note:  This blog post has been featured on Worshiplinks.us (a site with the slogan, “A hand-picked collection of the best worship resources on the web”).  You can see the Worshiplinks.us article which links to this blog post at http://worshiplinks.us/2013/01/appreciation/#comment-6

Thanks, Brad!

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Do you know Jesus?

The decision to ask Jesus to come into your heart and life as your Lord and Savior is the best decision you could ever make! The one true God is ready to give you forgiveness and eternal life as soon as you understand your need for Him and believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus, for your salvation. Here’s a blog page link to help you find the answers to your questions about Jesus. http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

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30 Thankful Verses

Thankful hearts, rejoice!

Here are thirty verses about giving thanks to God.  There is one verse for each day of the month, with some brief devotional thoughts to inspire you.

1  DAY  ONE

  “The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord.   Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:  “He is good; His love endures forever.”   Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud.”    II Chronicles 5:13

Jesus prayed that we (God’s people) would be one.  When we come together as one to praise and thank Him, God’s presence is made known to us as he inhabits (literally, dwells within) the praise of His people.  Today, let us thank God, as the trumpeters and singers did, for His great love that endures forever.

2  DAY  TWO

  “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to His righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.”    Psalm 7:17

He is holy and righteous.  Thank God today for His righteousness.

3  DAY  THREE

  “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart:  I will tell of all Thy wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and exult in Thee, I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High.”     Psalm 9:1 & 2

How are we supposed to give thanks to the Lord?  This verse tells us that we should give thanks to God with our whole heart.  A half-hearted thankfulness results from giving thanks out of a sense of duty, just because we know we should.  However, when we spend some time thinking and meditating on all that God has done (His wonderful deeds), thankfulness is the natural overflow of our hearts in response to our great God.  Spend some time thinking of His wonderful deeds, and thank Him with your whole heart!

4  DAY  FOUR

  “Blessed be the Lord!  for He has heard the voice of my supplications.  The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts; so I am helped and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.”    Psalm 28:6 & 7

Thank the Lord today for being a God that we can trust.  He has our best interests at heart.  He gives His strength, protects us, and helps us.

5  DAY  FIVE

  “Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name.”     Psalm 30:4

His saints…   He has accepted us as we are, saved us, and is at work in our hearts to make us like Jesus.  Thank God for His mercy in all of these things!

 

6  DAY  SIX

  “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.”    Psalm 50:14

He has given sacrificially to us in every way, and He always keeps His promises.  Thank God today for accepting your thankfulness as a sacrifice to Him, for the sacrifices He has made to you, and for His unchanging character as a keeper of promises.

  7DAY  SEVEN

  “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”    Psalm 69:30

Thank God for the songs that allow you to praise His name and bring glory to Him through thanksgiving.  Sing one of these songs to the Lord today.

8  DAY  EIGHT

  “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High; To show forth Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every night.”     Psalm 92:1 & 2

Thankfulness is a good thing!  From morning until night, give thanks for God’s lovingkindness and faithfulness today.

9  DAY  NINE

  “O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also.  The sea is His, and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.  O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.”     Psalm 95:1 – 7a

He is a great God!  Our God is the sovereign ruler and creator of all things!   And yet, he regards us with tenderness, as the sheep of His hand.  Thank God for His might and for His tenderness today.

10  DAY  TEN

  “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.”    Psalm 97:12

We can be called righteous only to the extent that His righteousness indwells our hearts.  Thank God today for living within you.

11  DAY  ELEVEN

  “Make a joyful moise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness; come fefore His presence with singing.  Know that the Lord is God; it is He that has made us and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good:  His mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations.”     Psalm 100 (all verses, 1 – 5)

The Lord is good!  His mercy lasts forever!  (He never tires of showing mercy!)  His truth will prevail, even when it seems that the world is full of lies.  Thank God today for these great truths about who He is.

12  DAY  TWELVE

  “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the people.  Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him; talk of all His wondrous works.  Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice.”    Psalm 105:1 – 3

We can rejoice and give thanks because when we call upon the Lord, He hears us.  When we seek Him, He responds.  Before we knew we needed Him, He met our need.  These are among the wondrous works of the Lord.  Thank Him today for being a God who knows us and who wants to be known by us.

13  DAY  THIRTEEN

  “Praise ye the Lord; O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever.  Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord?  Who can show forth all His praise?”   Psalm 106:1 & 2

Thank the Lord that His mighty acts are so numerous that no one can name them all.  Thank Him for the ways that He is at work that we cannot see.  The Lord is good!  Show forth His praise today.

14  DAY  FOURTEEN

  “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to the sons of men!  And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His deeds in songs of joy!”   Psalm 107:21 & 22

No matter who we are, where we’ve been, or what we’ve done, God’s love for us is steadfast.  Thank God today for His wonderful, everlasting love.

15  DAY  FIFTEEN

  “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!  I will sing and make melody!  Awake, my soul!  Awake, O harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn!  I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples, I will sing praises to You among the nations.  For Your steadfast love is great above the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let Your glory be over all the earth.”    Psalm 108:1 – 5

God’s faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  It is beyond any faithfulness that we have ever known.  God’s faithfulness is not dependant on perfection from us.  He is faithful is spite of our sinfulness.  Thank God for His faithfulness today and every day.

16  DAY  SIXTEEN

  “With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise Him in the midst of the throng.”    Psalm 109:30

Where did the Psalmist give thanks and praise to God?  ….in the midst of the throng.   And how?  …with his mouth.  Thank God today, no matter where you are and who is there with you.  Thank Him out loud!

17  DAY  SEVENTEEN

  “Praise the Lord.  I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.”    Psalm 111:1

Where else did the Psalmist give praise and thanks to the Lord?  …in the company of the upright, in the congregation.  You will never know how much your presence and the testimony of your praise may mean to the heart of another believer.  Do not forsake the worship of God with your congregation.  As iron sharpens iron, the faith of others increases our own faith, and your faith increases the faith of others.  Thank God today for those who have been a spiritual influence in your life.  Give Him praise with your whole heart, and remember to assemble with the saints in your congregation every time that you can be there.

18  DAY  EIGHTEEN

  “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God upon the lyre.”     Psalm 147:7

Why are we told in scriptures so many times to sing to the Lord with thanksgiving?  It’s because we matter to Him, and our praise matters to Him as well.  We were created to bring Him glory.  Thank God that you matter to Him, and that He considers you to be of such infinite value that your praise brings Him glory.  Glorify Him with your praise and thanksgiving today.

19  DAY   NINETEEN

  “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.  Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.”     Isaiah 12:4-5

To whom are we to make God’s name and His deeds known?  …to the nations, and to all the world.  Our God wants everyone to know Him.  He values all people.  He loves all people.  Today, thank God for the fact that He has allowed you to be part of His great mission to make Himself known and to reach the hearts of people around the world.

20  DAY  TWENTY

  “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.”    II Corinthian 4:15

Thank God for His wonderful, incredible grace, reaching out to us in spite of our sinfulness and covering our sin because of His great love.

21  DAY  TWENTY  ONE

  “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”    Eph. 5:20

For what should we be thankful?  …everything.  This is the most difficult thing for us to do, but He is with us and is working all things together for our good.  Give thanks for the hard places in your journey.

22  DAY  TWENTY  TWO

  “Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God.”    Phil. 4:6

Thank God today for the fact that we have the ability to talk to Him in prayer about anything.  We are to come to Him without reservation.  We do not need to worry.  He hears our prayers and answers them in His wisdom.

23  DAY  TWENTY THREE

  We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power, so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.  May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light.    Col 1:11 – 12

God continues to give!  He gives strength through His glorious power, along with endurance and patience.  He gives us an inheritance as His people.  He allows us to live in the light of His glory and grace.  Thank Him today, with joy!

24  DAY  TWENTY  FOUR

  “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”    Colossians 2:7

We don’t have to stay where we are in our walk with the Lord.  He accepts us and loves us as we are, but He also continues His work in our hearts as we build our lives on Him.  Thank God for His work in your heart and life.  He will be faithful to complete it!

25  DAY  TWENTY  FIVE

  “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.”    Colossians 3:15

Thank God for His peace, and ask Him to help you allow His peace to rule in your heart no matter what circumstances surround you.

26  DAY  TWENTY  SIX

  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”    Colossians 3:16 & 17

Thank the Lord for Christ our Savior!   He has given His all for us, so may we live to bring Him glory!

27  DAY  TWENTY  SEVEN

  “Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas.   You accepted what we said as the very word of God–which, of course, it is.  And this word continues to work in you who believe.    I Thessalonians 2:13

Thank God for the power of his Word, which continues to work in us, and for Jesus the living Word, who has been the physical incarnation and demonstration of the Word

28  DAY  TWENTY  EIGHT

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”    I Thessalonians 5:18

We belong to Christ Jesus!  He has saved us, and God holds us in the hollow of His hand.  How can we fail to be thankful?

29  DAY  TWENTY  NINE

  “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.”    I Timothy 2:1

Thank God for the people in your life…all of the people!  And, when God brings a name or face across your path (whether you know the person or not), thank Him for this person and ask God to help them.

30  DAY  THIRTY

  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe.”    Hebrews 12:28

Thank God for His eternal Kingdom and His ultimate victory.  With our thankfulness, we offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence for Him and awe because of who He is and what He has done.  Thank Him for being who He is.

WORTHY  OF  OUR  THANKSGIVING

For all of time, God has been the same.  He has always been worthy of praise and thanksgiving, and He always will be.  Our grateful hearts on earth foreshadow the thankfulness of the great multitude in Heaven.  Give thanks to Him every day!  Amen.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multititude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!”  And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, ” Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever!  Amen.”
Revelation 7:9 – 12

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This thankfulness guide could certainly be used in the month of November as many people focus on thanksgiving to God.  However, it can be used at any time!  Everyday, we have 10,000 reasons to thank God and give Him praise!

Note:  The verses used in this post were copied from BibleCC, the Online Parallel Bible at http://bible.cc/
The verses were found using the following search terms:  ‘thank’, ‘thanks’, ‘thankful’, ‘thankfulness’, ‘thanksgiving’, ‘give thanks’, and ‘giving thanks’.  In each case, the Bible translation which seems to convey the meaning of the verse most clearly was used, so the verses represent various Bible translations.  There were other verses in which the thankful terms also appeared.  However, many of the verses in Psalms were very similar to verses already chosen.  Other verses were part of a narrative and would have sounded incomplete when used out of context.  The 30 verses chosen were just the best representation of verses about the subject of being thankful or giving thanks.

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These scriptures were compiled and the devotional thoughts were added by C. A. Boyd

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Do you know someone who is looking for answers?

Thank you for spending your valuable time reading the contents of this page.  We hope that it has been helpful to you.   If you or someone that you know is looking for answers about life, we hope that you will visit our page called “Do You Know Jesus?”.   The links provided on this page will help to answer life’s deepest questions.   Here is the link to “Do You Know Jesus?”:  http://www.worshipsounds.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Please feel free to share this URL with anyone who is looking for answers about life and eternity.

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The End of an Era (almost)

“We tried child-proofing, but….”

I considered several different titles for this post…

“Adventures in Child-Proofing”  was one possibility.

“To Insanity…and Beyond”  had a certain ring.

Another option involved the simplicity of sticking to the facts, with

“We Survived Three Junior Houdinis!”

(I want the t-hirt!)

Sticky boo bear Camden

All of the possibilities listed above have the “hanging on by your toenails” chaotic edge that captures a bit of the reality of our life at the Boyd house for the last few years.  But, alas, none of those catchy titles had the other element that all parents recognize as one childhood phase is ending and another begins:  an odd combination of giddy relief and totally dramatic nostalgia.  The symptoms are common.  As you regain your sanity after realizing that the pre-school years have truly passed, you may find yourself looking at photos of sticky little boo bears sitting in a high chair and wishing you could go through half a tub of wet wipes cleaning up a squirmy little cutie pie’s face and hands just one more time.  You watch a video of the holidays and realize how joyful it is to see wonder and delight through the eyes of a precious little one.  Or, you see something that your child would have just loved as a pre-schooler… and realize that you don’t have anyone to share those kinds of things with any more.   The feeling of treasuring all of the short-lived sweetness of the baby and toddler years lingers long after the outgrown clothes and toys have found a new home.  Ah, sweet memories!

Let’s not forget the flip side of forgetful nostalgia, though.  I don’t have to view many sticky boo bear photos before remembering all of the milestones that moving forward represents.  There are no more diapers, no more potty chairs, no more sippy cups, and no more baby gates.  Ah, yes.  It’s all coming back to me now in a flood of the aforementioned giddy relief.

No more diapers means:  no more changing diapers, no more buying diapers, no more waiting for the stall with the nasty changing table to become vacant, and no more wet spots in your lap.

No more potty chairs means:  no more cleaning potty chairs, no more 50 yard dash through a crowded restaurant to a potty that your suddenly persnickety toddler refuses to use, and no more wet spots on your couch (even worse than on a lap).

No more baby gates means: no more parent wipe-outs after the “I think I’ll just step over it this time” syndrome claims one more victim.

And, finally, no more sippy cups means:  no more frantic treasure hunts for the elusive favorite cup that fell out of the stroller somewhere on the ten block walk from your car to the arts festival (and then finding the missing cup two weeks later under the seat of the car after searching for the source of noxious fumes in your vehicle).

Are you giddy yet?

Our four pre-schoolers enjoy a moment of stillness during the sippy cup phase.  Believe me, it was only a moment.

Braden is the oldest of our four who were all in the pre-school phase at once. Here’s just what he looked like back then. Isn’t he a cutie?

If you are still overtaken with parental nostalgia, allow me to refresh your memory with a tale of aging parents totally outnumbered by four adorable and clever pre-schoolers plus two older boys.  Travis and I were experienced parents before we had pre-schoolers times four.  We had a daughter who was married, a son in junior high, and another son in elementary school.   We’d dealt with all the issues of child-rearing previously, but the years between our oldest three meant that we were dealing with the baby or pre-school stage one child at a time.  At least, that was so until the four youngest Boyd boys came along.  Braden, the oldest of the four, was three years old (almost four) when his twin brothers, Austin and Camden, were born.  In the middle of the pre-school pack was Logan, who was born about half-way between Braden and the twins.  So, by the time that twins Camden and Austin were fully ambulatory at age one, Logan was two and a half and Braden was four (almost five).  At that stage, we were child-proofing like crazy.  We had all of the usual outlet plugs and cabinet latches, but we quickly discovered that we needed to go much further.   Though Braden was past the age of getting into everything, he was fascinated by the toys belonging to older brother Zachary (then age 6) and by oldest brother Jared’s Star Wars lego structures.  If Jared forgot to lock the door to his room, Braden discovered it and was inside in a heart beat, destroying the complicated Lego builds.   The force was with him.  In the room that Braden and Zach shared, Braden left most things alone.  However, he loved to dump out the baskets and bins of sorted toys (like hot wheels, super hero figures, monster trucks, construction vehicles, and duplo blocks) that were stored in the closet.  To prevent all of the small toys from being out at once, we did place locks on the closet doors.  Even with the force, Braden could not defeat us.  We were undaunted.  It was a hassle getting into the closet when we needed something, though.

Precious little snoozers Camden, Logan, and Austin needed a red flashing warning light on their foreheads that said, “Recharging” !

Co-conspirators Austin and Camden

The three youngest pre-schoolers shared a bedroom out of necessity, so at first we had two cribs and a toddler bed in the room.  Later on, we had three toddler beds.  Yes, we used all of the conventional child-proofing stuff with these three, but we were forced to go far beyond the norm time and time again.  Our three sweet-faced toddlers might have looked totally innocent, but these little guys were amazingly resourceful.  What one didn’t think of, another one would.  Then, they would work together to accomplish their dastardly plan.  Logan was our fearless climber.   There was no such thing as “out of reach” where he was concerned.  Have you ever seen a pre-schooler totally dismantle a lamp, leaving the shade totally torn apart down to the framework and the base of the lamp dismantled (miraculously, without breaking the light bulb)?   Logan did.  We gave up on having a lamp on top of their chest of drawers.  As with Braden, we had to use locks on the closet for Austin, Camden, and Logan’s room.  They would even pull clothing off of hangers and drag out all of the linens stored inside if we accidentally left the closet door open.  In addition, Travis had to drill holes in every drawer front and install key locks on their chest of drawers.  Otherwise, they would pull the drawers out and use them as a ladder to climb to the top of the chest.  They would also pull out all of the folded clothing and have a good ol’ time throwing it everywhere in their room.  If Mom was in the utility room trying to start a load of laundry, it was amazing how much destruction they could create in just a few minutes.   Twins Austin and Camden also had their own twin language.  This is not uncommon for twins, and it was quite fascinating.  We never figured out what they were saying, but they understood each other perfectly.  I think they were conspiring to pull off their next daring feat of destruction.

Logan, our most skillful escape artist and climber, enjoys a moment of pure toddler joy.

One thing that our three little Houdinis did was to repeatedly figure out ways to escape their room.  They had plenty of play space and toys, and their room was right next to the kitchen, so we often had them playing in their room with the baby gate to keep them confined to one area and safe.  After a while, they figured out how to climb the gate.   We got a taller gate.  It worked for a few days.  It was like watching a military obstacle course in basic training.  They were over the top in no time.  In response, Travis built a smooth, half door to take the place of the gate.  It was rather tall. with nothing that could be used as a foot-hold.  That worked for a long time, but Logan eventually learned to scale the sheer cliff face of the half door.   What would appear to a little fellow as a rather imposing structure, significantly taller than their full height even on tiptoe, was no match for our little escape artists.

With three toddler beds and three pre-schoolers all in one room, the only time their room looked like this was when Mom picked up while they were all at pre-school.

Then, there was one thing these three did that I have never heard any other pre-school Mom mention.  They would not leave their beds intact, no matter what we did.  That drove me crazy.  Every single day, the three of them took off their sheets and mattress pads.   Camden and Austin started doing this when they were still in their cribs.  Logan thought they had a great idea, so he was soon dismantling his bed as well.  Then, they started taking the mattresses off.  We finally wound up purchasing a bunch of luggage straps and strapping the mattresses to the bed frames, with the latch for the strap down below the slats inside the enclosed frame.  One luggage strap was not enough.  Each bed had to have one strap in the middle and one at each end.   Have you ever heard of such a thing?  I’m telling you, when those three little boys worked together, they were very strong.  We tried everything to get them to stop doing this.  We tried praising them when their beds stayed together for any length of time.  We did time outs, we removed some of their toys and their favorite blankies, and even tried a little diapered bottom swat to discourage our miniature slumber demolition crew.  Then, they figured out that if they all pushed, they could move furniture!  Unbelievable!   We literally had to fasten furniture to the wall with anchors and “L” brackets and whatever else worked.  This kind of determined and systematic dismantling of their beds and their room continued for almost 3 years!  Even when they could go anywhere in the house, they still were a wrecking crew in their own room.   We finally abandoned using sheets for a while.  It was pointless to keep trying since the sheets never stayed on.  They all slept on their plastic covered mattresses in their toddler beds for a few weeks.   Finally, one day, they asked for sheets.  We put them on, and they have never gone back to the daily bedding battles.  Whew!   Finally!

Room decor genius or toddler graffiti?

Sometimes I wondered if they older brothers were supplying contraband.  No matter how we tried to make sure that all coloring was done at the kitchen table or on their high chair trays, a marker or crayon would sometimes wind up in the little guys’ room.  You may have seen what one toddler can do with a writing implement.  Multiply that times three, and we’re talking graffiti on an epic scale.  Walls were not the only target.  They also ‘decorated’ furniture, the windowsill, and the window itself.  Thank goodness for Mr. Clean magic erasers!

It was such a blessing to have a handyman husband during those childproofing battleground years.  Travis was constantly having to come up with new strategies to keep them safe, reconstruct things they broke, and maintain some remnant of sanity for the rest of the family.   They actually pulled the door knobs off of their closet doors four times, stripping out the screw holes each time.  To replace them, Travis would turn the knob a new direction so that the screws would be in a different place.  The knobs are on the doors now only because Travis found a super strength filler that allowed him to re-use the stripped out holes.  One day not long after we moved to our new home in Georgia, I looked up to see Camden (who had been sitting on the couch watching a pre-school program just moments before) climbing over the stair rail and catapulting himself onto a table below.  It was one of those hide-a-tables (with a plywood top and three spindly legs) that you cover with a floor-length tablecloth.  The table was no match for Camden.  As soon as his little bottom and the force of his toddler exuberance hit the table top, the whole thing collapsed, with Camden on top of the heap.  That incident may have been life-saving.  It scared Camden (and his brothers) so much that no one has ever climbed over the stair rail again.  To fix the table after this incident, Travis built a rectangular box with a shelf, adding a base for stability; and it became the new support for the table top, with the bonus of some hidden storage.  Who else do you know who has an industrial strength hide-a-table?   What a man!

A couple of weeks ago, a significant rite of passage occured.  The final piece of toddler furniture in the Boyd house has now been donated to Good Will.  We had been talking about purchasing a bunk bed for the room shared by Austin, Camden and Logan so that they could finally all have a ‘big boy’ bed.  When I found a great deal on a used bunk bed with the sturdiest metal frame I’ve sever seen, we bought it.  Austin and Camden now share the imposing structure, and Logan has his own twin bed.   The last remaining toddler bed is finally gone.  I must admit that I did feel a little wave of nostalgia when we were removing the toddler bed from the room.  After all, this toddler bed frame is the one that Travis made after the boys tore up Logan’s two previous toddler beds.  The white, metal framed toddler bed that had served us well for Jared, Zachary, and Braden bit the dust when the welds connecting the bed platform to the headboard began to fail.  We tried to get it re-welded, but none of the local welders we tried wanted to mess with it.  So, we purchased a new toddler bed with a metal frame and molded plastic legs, headboard, and footboard.  They destroyed the molded plastic parts of that bed within less than a year.  Our final toddler bed was a super sturdy wooden one that Travis made, with rounded corners for safety and total overkill on the strength of the frame and the bed platform.   It lasted for as long as it was needed, and we closed the door on nostalgia when it was carried out to the pick-up for transportation to Good Will.

Travis and all six of our boys pose after a visit to the Georgia Auarium in late December, 2011.

Through the years, Travis and I have shared so much joy with our bunch, even during all of the craziness of the pre-school years and constant child-proofing.  Each of our six boys is incredibly awesome.  We are so proud of them and so blessed to be their parents!  If we had been blessed with more than our six sons and one daughter, we would have loved them all and found a way to make it through.  Our little guys were not the only ones who knew how to be resourceful.  We are just thankful to have survived and to see our boys well on their way to growing up strong and living a life that honors God.  We still have locks on the closet doors in Austin, Camden, and Logan’s room, but we don’t have to worry about them climbing on  the chest of drawers anymore.  Logan has special needs; and he still can be destructive, but we are working on that.  He and his twin brothers all keep their sheets on now, and they are growing up.  So, goodbye to baby gates, strollers, sippy cups, high chairs, potty chairs, diapers, child-proofing devices of every description, and pull-ups.  All of the baby and toddler gear served us as well as possible, but we don’t need it anymore.  We’ve loved our little guys through every stage and laughed at all of their antics; but now the three littlest Boydinis are moving on, and so are we!

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This post was written by C. Boyd

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Do you have any unusual child-proofing tales to tell?  We’d love to hear about your experience, so feel free to comment.

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