Now That’s Love!

CHRIST’s love is greater than any person can ever know. But I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of GOD.

Ephesians 3:19

Think of the strongest love you can: Romeo and Juliet? Tony and Maria? Jack and Rose? Can you imagine how strong GOD’s love is in comparison? No, you can’t. HIS love for us is so strong that our minds cannot even fathom it! HIS love is so strong that HE would give the life of HIS son to be with us forever. Now that’s strong!

What Will You See…

Hey guys! It feels like I haven’t been here in forever! Oh, how I miss it! Sorry, I haven’t made any time to post in a while. :(  LORD forgive me please!

So, I wrote a speech this year for an event called musicality, where you get to perform a song and speak about it. GOD told me to put it on here, and when GOD tells you to do something, you do it! So, here it is!

Enjoy!

P.S. I added a link to Christina’s version if you’ve never heard the song. (the speech is in italics) ;)

A very wise man named Theodore Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss, is quoted as saying: “Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.”
Today, I would like to share a piece of my heart with you in the best way I know how: through the language of music. A little later, I will be performing a song you may already know, called Reflection. But first, I’ll explore the song’s history, some of its key themes, and present a crucial question that we all must answer at some point in our lives: “What do you see when you look at your reflection?” So, let’s get started!
 
Point 1) Information on “Reflection”        
     Reflection was written and produced by award winning lyricist David Zippel and composer Matthew Wilder, for the 1998 Disney film, Mulan. It was originally performed by actress and singer Lea Salonga, who provided the singing voice for the title character. Having also supplied the vocals for Princess Jasmine in Disney’s animated film, Aladdin, Salonga was given the prestigious Disney Legends Award in 2011. But she is not the only one to benefit immensely from the popular tune. For the movie’s soundtrack, the song was re-imagined by Matthew Wilder for up-and-coming recording artist Christina Aguilera. (This is the version I will be performing later.) Reflection was Aguilera’s “ticket to fame.” It became a hit for both her Latin and American debut albums, one of which earned a Grammy Award for Best Album. The song also did well for Zippel and Wilder, as both received Annie Awards for the film score, and Academy Award nominations for the music and lyrics.
 
Point 2) Understanding & Acceptance
     But let’s put the hype aside, and dive into the themes of Reflection by looking at some of the lyrics.
 
I am now
In a world where I
Have to hide my heart
And what I believe in
 
To me, these words are the cries of a misunderstood soul. I say this because my heart has cried these same things before. Often, I hide my thoughts and feelings for fear that, in revealing them, I will be misunderstood. In my experience, misunderstanding has lead to my deepest fear – rejection.
 
In an ideal world, understanding wouldn’t be a necessary step towards acceptance – therefore hiding would be irrelevant. Unfortunately, given the nature of man, it is difficult for us to love that which we do not understand.
Thankfully, GOD is not like man. Deuteronomy 31:6 holds a heartening promise. It reads, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
 
Even though man may reject us, we have nothing to fear, for our GOD is always with us! And who can better understand us than our Maker? With GOD, there is no reason to hide.
 
Point 3): Self-Estrangement
Not only is hiding pointless, it can actually be harmful.
Let’s continue with the lyrics:
 
Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me
Why is my reflection someone I don’t know
 
If you have ever worn a mask, you may have noticed that the longer you kept it on, the harder it was to remember what you looked like without it. That is one of the dangers of a masquerade; you begin to forget who you are underneath the disguise. Yes, the charade has its short-term benefits–acceptance, attention, attractiveness–but do those things last? Are they real, and worth losing yourself over? These questions you must answer for yourself.
 
Point 4) Self-Confidence
In addition to its previous messages–acceptance, understanding, and self-estrangement–Reflection also touches on the topic of self-confidence. My favorite part of the song is possibly the following phrase:
 
And be loved for who I am
 
Would you believe me if I looked you in the eyes, and told you, that you are the most beautiful, incredible, wonderful person in the world? I didn’t think so. Why? Because I don’t know you! Even if you and I were the best of friends, there would be no way for me to know everything about you. In light of that fact, do I have the ability to appraise your worth?  
 
Bottom line: if the basis of your confidence is others’ opinion of you, eventually, you’ll be disappointed with yourself. And if you change to meet others’ expectations, you will still be unsatisfied. Either way, you will fall short in your own eyes. So, what are you supposed to do?
 
If you are like me, you don’t need to change who you are, you just need to let GOD define who you are. I’d like for you to try something: every negative thing anyone has ever said about you, throw it out the window right now. Give it to the LORD. And in its place, I want you to put the words of Ephesians 2:10 and Colossians 2:10: “I am GOD’s masterpiece. I am perfect and complete.”
 
With so many things vying for your attention, self-affirming words like these aren’t easy to remember. So shut out those other voices! Listen to GOD’s truth. HE does not ask you to be anyone but who you are. HE didn’t make a mistake when HE made you. HE loves you in the good, the bad, and everything in between. Let HIS unwavering love be the defining factor of your worth.
 
Maybe you feel misunderstood and rejected. Maybe you you’ve lost who you are. Maybe you don’t even like yourself. But the next time you look in the mirror, I challenge you to look past all of that. Let go of what others have said about you, and remember who GOD says you are: HIS accepted, understood, and beloved child! No power in all of creation can take that away from you. But the decision to believe it is yours. So, what will you see when you look at your reflection? 
http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOX4E9jRxFI

Do you ever get irritated when you do something good, and you don’t get congratulated or recognized for it? Like when you go out of your way to do something for others, and they don’t say thank you? Well, I get really irritated when that happens. I mean, what’s the point of doing good, if no one seems to notice or appreciate it?

Well, if you are doing good for the wrong reasons, like human acceptance, attention, or appreciation, there is no point.

But, if you are doing it to serve the LORD by blessing others, you in turn will be blessed! GOD sees everything you do for others, even when the world doesn’t. HE will reward you for everything you do for HIS kingdom.

I know how tempting it is to flaunt your works and be rewarded by man, but GOD’s blessing are much greater than any that human’s could ever give! So hold out for the blessings of GOD, and not the recognition of man when you do something good.

Thank you LORD, for showing me this today! I pray that it blesses you as well. Have a great day! ;}

Colossians 3:23-24, Matthew 6:19-22, Matthew 6:1, Galatians 6:9

No Strings Attached!

SAM_3762SAM_3763SAM_3764SAM_3768

What do you see when you look at this guitar?

I bet I can guess: you see a scratched-up, dented, broken instrument. How close was I? ;}

If you are like most, you would sensibly advise me to buy a new guitar. After all, it may end up being less expensive to get a brand new one rather than fix the old. “So, why not start all over?” You’d say.

Because Trixie is mine. She has helped me write songs, share my heart, and express my feelings. I’ve invested time in her, so to speak. And, as weird as it may seem, she is my friend. Just because she has a few scrapes and bruises, that doesn’t change the fact that she belongs to me. Sure, I can do the same things with her as I could with any other acoustic guitar, but I don’t want to give up on her. I don’t want to start all over with someone new. In spite of her nicks and dents, I still love her. Actually, her scars just make me want to love her that much more.

As I looked at her in this broken state, and said the above words to myself, I realized that GOD’s love is the exact same way with us. We are tattered and torn, broken and bruised, scared and scathed, but HE still loves us more than we know. HE wants to take care of us and patch us up, making us even more beautiful than before.

You see, we are never too dirty, or too ugly, or too scared for HIM to love us. HIS love is not dependent on our purity or brokenness. HIS love is independent of our mistakes. And, even more importantly, HIS love is stronger than them.

Romans 8:35, 37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Nothing you have done, no scars you bear, hidden or visible, will ever stop GOD from loving you and watching you. And if you ask for it, HE will forgive you for whatever it is you’ve done. Nothing is unforgivable.

And I wanted to share (my version) of 1 John 4:16 with you.

And so we are sure of GOD’s love for us, and we trust completely in that love. GOD is love itself. Whoever lives a life of love, lives in GOD.  And GOD in him.

GOD’s love comes with no strings attached. (get my joke? ;) So trust in HIS love! It will never fail you.

GOD bless you, my dented friends! And thanks for reading! ;}

Lexi

Psalm 23.1, 4, and 6

The concept of forever used to shake my soul. The thought of having to praise someone constantly, until the end of time, terrified me.

I’m not sure why; I think that maybe my life up to that point had been controlled by fear, and even though Heaven is supposed to be a happy place, I was only going because I feared Hell even more. It had less to do with loving GOD, or being overwhelmed with gratitude and conviction because of Jesus’ sacrifice, and more to do with a frightened child trying to avoid eternal condemnation.

When I really fell in love with GOD, for the first time, it was like an elephant that was on my back finally decided to get up! I know that is a comical thought, but…I was free for the first time. I had peace. I felt loved. I felt whole and complete. Never have I gotten that feeling from anyone, or anything else in my almost 17 years of living on this earth, and I KNOW that I will never, ever get it again from anyone but my sweet JESUS!

You might be having a déjà-vu moment; I have written something like this before. But I am just in awe of this all-consuming love we are offered! FREELY! This promise of a safe place when our lives on this earth end. No tears, no loneliness, not even death itself.

Forever. Isn’t that a beautiful word?!? Forever in the arms of love. *Sigh. Thank you, my Healer, for letting me love you forever.

 

Reflections (Prayer)

12-31-12

Lord,

Thank you for this insane year! As painful as it has been, I wouldn’t change a minute of it. You have blessed me and taught me so much, and I love You more than ever before.
You have shown me, that it is okay to be imperfect, because that does not mean I am incomplete. You are teaching me how to love myself, those around me, and accept Your unconditional love.
But, my favorite thing about this entire year, is how You have continually surprised me. Just when I thought my world would come crashing down, in my weakest moments, when I was ready to end my own life, You whispered Your sweet words of love to me, and turned my light into darkness.
Through hopelessness, You have given me hope. Through suffering, You have blessed me with joy. Through my darkest hours, YOU have shown me love, and for that, I will always love You!
Thank You, most of all, for teaching me how to live.
Love Your humble servant,
Alexis M. Winters

2 Samuel 22:29-37

“Lord, you give light to my lamp.
The Lord brightens the darkness around me.
With your help I can attack an army.

With God’s help I can jump over a wall.

“The ways of God are without fault;
the Lord’s words are pure.
He is a shield to those who trust him.
Who is God? Only the Lord.
Who is the Rock? Only our God.
God is my protection.
He makes my way free from fault.
He makes me like a deer that does not stumble;
he helps me stand on the steep mountains.
He trains my hands for battle
so my arms can bend a bronze bow.
You protect me with your saving shield.
You have stooped to make me great.
You give me a better way to live,
so I live as you want me to.” – 2 Samuel 22:29-37