Tag Archives: BigSisterKnows

Sing Like the Stars

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This year, Robby’s grandmother turned 97 years old. I really wanted to give her a meaningful gift to help celebrate the big occasion, but what do you get someone who’s lived for nearly a century? All the usual gifts were either too techy or duplicates of what she already had (and how many blankets can one woman really use?).

That’s when I remembered that her first name, Esther, means “star”—and I knew instantly what to give her!

 

A Surprise Symphony

Several years ago, David Hull, my professor at the Bible college, played some CDs for us before class. Several sounded modern, with unique beats and rhythms. Others sounded like choirs or angels singing. Then David told us what we were listening to: space!

He was playing Symphonies of the Planets, a compilation of audio recordings from NASA’s Voyagers I and II. As these automated space probes made their journeys through our solar system, they recorded vibrations around Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. The recordings included:

  • The interaction of solar wind on the planets’ magnetospheres, which releases ionic particles with an audible vibration frequency
  • Waves from the magnetosphere
  • Trapped audio waves bouncing between the planets and their atmospheres
  • Electromagnetic field noise in space
  • Charged particle interactions between each planet, its moons, and solar wind
  • Waves from charged particle emissions from the rings of some planets

These recordings were later translated into sound waves that were included in the Symphonies of the Planets. Although the CDs don’t contain the full raw data, they are compilations of what the Voyagers recorded, arranged in a musical form. Unfortunately, these CDs are no longer being produced, but you can listen to them on YouTube.

And that’s what we did for Grandma King’s birthday. I found a YouTube channel on my phone and turned the sound up, and Grandma King heard something she had never heard before: the sound of the planets singing.

 

An Unexpected Praise

The word for “star” in the Old Testament is kokab (Strong’s 3556). It gives the sense of something round, blazing, and shining. Since planets reflect the sun’s light and can often be seen in the night sky, they are usually included in biblical references to “stars.”

And what exactly what does the Bible say about stars?

  • They praise God: “Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light!” (Psalm 148:3 NAS).
  • They sing: “Where were you when…the morning stars sang together…” (God speaking, Job 38:4-7 NAS).
  • They have names: “[God] counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them” (Psalm 147:4 NAS).
  • They’re unique: “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory” (1 Corinthians 15:41 NAS).

Isn’t it amazing to think that celestial bodies worship God?

A Higher Praise

We often think that worship is something we do in church before the pastor delivers his weekly sermon. But the praise music of stars reminds us that worship is more innate than that.

If we love God and live for Him, everything we do can be considered worship, from cooking dinner to doing the dishes, and from working in an office to raising the kids. Simply doing what we’re supposed to be doing—being obedient to God—is worship.

As human beings, we have the capacity to decide whether to live for God or not. For that reason, our worship is considered the sweetest and most precious out of all of God’s creation…even the celestial bodies! This week, I encourage you to remember the value of daily worship, of living each day for God’s glory. Then your life will sing like the stars!

[Click to Tweet: Worship isn’t just for Sunday mornings. As believers, being obedient to God in our daily lives is worship.]

 


I wrote the following poem many years ago. Though I don’t consider myself a poet, it seemed fitting to share this with you here. May it bless you this week!

 

Merely Mirrors

How can one make the sun more luminous
Or lend beauty to a plucked wildflower?
Can one add joy to a child’s laughter
Or make the lion more regal?

No, we cannot add to a mountain’s breadth
Or to the calm in the eye of the storm.
The earth is already adorned;
Its daedal posts hold fast.

What good are we, then,
The not-so-innocent bystanders?
Indeed, we find ourselves interlopers,
Bombarding onto an open set.

Still, He says we are formed in His image,
But not to add to His glory.
Our part is to continue the scene—His story—
As merely mirrors, reflecting His beauty and grace.

God doesn’t give you more than you can handle…or does He?

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This week’s post was first published on KristenHogrefe.com. Take a look at her site for more encouraging posts, award-winning Christian fiction, and more!


“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” I’ve heard this saying all my life, always from well-meaning Christians.

But there have been plenty of times when I just couldn’t “handle.” After my grandmother passed away, I couldn’t handle the grief, and depression set in for two years. Later on, my body couldn’t handle what I was eating and the stress I was under, and I suffered with physical pain for several years. During those periods, hearing that God hadn’t actually given me more than I could handle felt disingenuous. What’s more, it added to my frustration and self-condemnation.

So let me give it to you straight: yes, God may give you more than you can handle.

You are human, after all, and human beings are fallible creatures. You will make mistakes. You may suffer from illness or grief. You may be called into a family role or ministry that is far more than you can do on your own. At some point, you’ll feel like you’re drowning.

But that doesn’t mean your “failing” at being a Christian.

In fact, that over-your-head feeling is all part of God’s plan to make you understand and accept your reliance on Him…

Like the Jews had to do in the wilderness

Like Noah had to do when he built a boat unlike any other

Like Jonah when he was sent somewhere he didn’t want to go

Like Paul when he shared the Gospel to the Gentiles for the first time.

The good news—no, the great news—is that you don’t walk through life alone. As a follower of Jesus, you have His ultimate protection over your life, and the Holy Spirit as your inner guide. Whenever you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, remember that God is in control. The journey may not be comfortable, and you may not end up where you wanted to go, but God is with you, and He has good plans for you. (See Jeremiah 29:11.)

I’m speaking from experience here. During my times of grief and illness, I relied on God completely. He was my Comforter, Protector, and Guide. And in the end, it was He who healed me and made me whole.

When you’re going through a rough patch, don’t rely on platitudes. Instead, claim powerful verses like these as your own, reading them out loud to encourage your spirit:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 11:29 NAS).

 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 NAS).

“We would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10 NAS). 

“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NAS) 

Platitudes may sound nice, but the Word of God is powerful. Let His Truth give you comfort and guidance in every season of life.

Have you ever needed a word of truth, only to receive an empty platitude? How did it make you feel? Does that experience encourage you to speak truth into the lives of your loved ones?

[Click to Tweet: Feeling overwhelmed? It may be God calling you to accept your reliance on Him. #bigsisterknows #faithlife #godisincontrol]

A God Connection: Being Available for Kingdom Work

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A couple weeks ago, I walked through security at the Tallahassee airport and headed toward my gate. I saw him instantly—an older man in a wheelchair tuning a mandolin. Not something you see every day.

I sat down near him to enjoy the melody emanating from that beautiful instrument, but he quickly began to put it away. Before I could think of a reason not to, I leaned over and blurted out something like, “Excuse me. I’m a writer, and I would love to have a picture of you holding your instrument. Would that be okay?”

Mr. Gordon with Maggie Maggie

He beamed. “Of course! Do whatever you’d like.”

We introduced ourselves, and he said his name was Mr. Gordon. He sat proudly holding his mandolin while I snapped a few photos. Then he told me all about the love of his life: Maggie Maggie (pronounced Maggie McGee). Of course, he was referring to the century-old wooden mandolin he held with pure reverence. Mr. Gordon had been the proud owner of Maggie Maggie for the past fifty years.

Our talk soon turned to the reasons for our trips. I was on my way to New York for the first time to attend the BookExpo of America. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was trusting God was going to do awesome things.

Mr. Gordon was fleeing a disaster. He had lived in Hawaii for much of his life, and now his home was being threatened by recent volcanic activity. When lava had come within two miles of his house, he was evacuated. Fortunately, he had family in Georgia, which is where he had spent the past couple weeks. Now he was headed to Tennessee to visit with some old musician friends. He wasn’t sure if he’d have a house to go back to, but he was glad for the opportunity to reconnect with those who mattered most.

Available for Service

It may have been the mandolin that caught my attention that day, but it was Mr. Gordon’s sweet spirit that drew me to him. You might call it a God connection. At the end of our conversation, I asked to pray with Mr. Gordon (something I don’t do very often), and he readily agreed. I was only slightly embarrassed as I wiped away a couple tears during our prayer. After all, it is a holy thing to speak true words of comfort over a brother in Christ.

“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 NAS).

I love this sign on Maggie Maggie’s case!

That encounter with Mr. Gordon set the tone for my trip to New York. I was reminded that God’s plans are greater than mine, and He is always looking for opportunities to draw others to Himself…even in the middle of an airport. I agreed right then to make myself available to Him—even in busy New York—so I could be useful for His service.

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20 NAS).

The trip to New York was awesome! We had a wonderful time, and the fruit of those meetings is still being realized. But it’s the Mr. Gordons that I met along the way who mattered the most.

Encouragement for the Week

This week, I encourage you to make yourself available and useful to the Lord. Start by saying a simple prayer like this: “Lord, life is so busy that it can be hard to recognize those you put in my path. Please forgive me for all the opportunities I’ve missed to do your will. Soften my heart and quicken my spirit so that I can be receptive to your desires. Make me a willing participant in your kingdom work. In the name of the True Servant, Jesus. Amen.”

Have you had any “God connections” lately? Did they encourage your spirit?

 

[Click to Tweet: Lord, help me to not be so busy that I fail to be useful for your Kingdom. #faithlife]