It’s almost the end of the week and a miracle I made it without burning completely out (I may almost be there, however). Bill Hampton came by our office to facilitate discussions on how the real estate team could grow and how each person individually could challenge oneself to conquer the market.
The major points I collected were:
Be passionate about the story I tell with my life.
Learn how to be proactive (have a plan for each day) rather than reactive.
What habits can I do consistently to improve as a person and achieve my goal(s)?
We live in the age of human attention being a valuable product to sell. How can I capture people’s attention for things that matter? How can I express authenticity to my sphere of influence?
How am I a value-add to the lives around me and for the betterment of the environment in which I live?
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 1:3-11
I am looking forward the day I can say I have mastered the art of confidence and enjoyment of my work and expressing the value it has to myself & others. For now, my phone seems to grab my attention and drag me down. I have come to procrastinate on activities that require phone usage because the phone seems to wear me out. I have to use my phone for work and connect with loved ones, but I tend to feel less productive because I do not have a plan on how I am going to block my time and focus on the tasks I have to do in a certain order of priority. I end up responding to various tasks or distractions until, low & behold, I forgot the very reason I opened my phone in the first place. Do you relate? It can make a person feel crazy, because it is crazy, and it is not good stewardship.
The questions that Bill Hampton asked are ones I am using to determine where I am, where I want to go, and how I want to getthere. Working diligently with good habits may feel like a chore in the moment, but, in the future, I desire any moment I start to feel weary of the mundane to be an exception to my norm. I want to have energy, strategy, and momentum for whatever the task is before me, and I want to learn how to rest well so that I do not burnout. I want to express to others how much I believe what I am doing is worth sharing, to God’s glory and to the benefit of those around me.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. - Galatians 6:9-10
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:17
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
We count the stars, money, friends, possessions, followers and accomplishments. But of greater value is to number our days (Psalm 90:12). One must use her time to seek God and His will, and God will provide for all her needs (Matthew 6:34). God rewards those who are good stewards of the little they have, and He builds us up for what is in His blueprints, His plan for our lives (Psalm 127:1; Proverbs 19:21; Luke 16:10). Therefore, one must ask herself, or himself, if what they are seeking and treasuring is of God and beneficial to honor Him (1 Corinthians 10:23).
Treasures in Heaven
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
As the saying goes, time is money. Following that same assertion, time is also the most fleeting and valuable commodity, as you can invest it all you want, and you may not ever see a return on your investment…this side of eternity. You cannot go back in time, only forward. Therefore, a risky investment is an opportunity to which one spends his time. Furthermore, one can assume she has 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week (so on and so forth), however, no one truly knows how much time they have left (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; James 4:13-17)! Yet, we all have time at our disposal, and dispose of it we do.
Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. - Ephesians 5:15-17
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. - Psalm 90:12
I want to number my days and not presume upon the future. I have lost much time by either acting in mindless ignorance or blatant disobedience; either position is wrong as I did not treasure time God has given and was not living wisely. Guarding and maximizing on the treasure of time which God has given me takes concerted effort:
Start the day seeking God with a mindset to please God and help others; remember the eternal impact of the work I do.
Seek the Lord to provide for the day, to take my worries away, and lead me away from the temptations that rob my time (Matthew 6:9-13; 1 Peter 5:7).
Be prayerful about where the Lord wants me to invest my time and make best use of it. Ask for His hand and provision in those efforts. I want to hear, “well done, good and faithful servant” one day (Matthew 25:23).
Learn how to discern God’s voice and obey what He has taught; be a doer of the word, and I will then be a good steward of my time (James 1:22).
Time Flies by Gianna Elyse
As I get older, and count days gone by, they seem to move quicker and blur together more, similar to how I feel playing T-Rex Runner in Google Chrome when there is no internet connection. Without a reverence for God, I can so easily waste what He has afforded to me.
Time flies by like a sigh
Brings on a new air to the blues
Time feeds fire, soul's desire
Adds to the old, standard tune
Hear how it hums, carries a drum
Louder each moment, dying with distance
The farthest you've come, the shortest you'll run
Body and spirit, growing resistant
Time flies by like a sigh
Brings on a new air to the blues
Time feeds fire, soul's desire
Adds to the old, standard tune
Feel how it jumps, it's never enough
Ends in the silence, you'll never miss it
Then fixing the wrong, God brings you home
Goodbye unrented, careful to kiss it
Time flies by like a sigh
Brings on a new air to the blues
Time feeds fire, soul's desire
Adds to the old, standard tune
Ⓒ Copyright 2022 by Gianna Elyse Carrasco
One of my earliest memories was of my third birthday, which, at the time, I did not understand why so many people were gathered at our small upstairs ‘apartment’. My family lived in my grandmother’s house which was split into three levels, with my parents, sister and I living in the top level. My brother would be born less than three weeks later. We celebrated my sister’s 2nd birthday the same day because her and I have birthdays just days apart (we were almost Irish twins)!
After pushing past some confusion, I realized the gathering was Blues Clues themed, and a man in a giant ‘Blue’ costume came out to greet us. I don’t remember much else, except, at the end of the gathering, I followed the giant Blue to the room where he was going to change out of his costume. When I tried to enter, he had a few choice words to express to me, however. Perhaps he could have done better to heed the words of Jesus:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. - Matthew 18:1-5
The memory of my 3rd birthday is from so long ago (March 2001) and perhaps I mixed up some details in my mind over the years, but I do remember how I felt. I felt confused at first, and I felt the anger from that man. Maybe I had a good time, but maybe I was overwhelmed, but certainly all of it is a blur. It is interesting that I did not realize the party was for me, but I got a chance to act on my curiosity, and what I discovered left a lasting impession.
I don’t know if I wanted more time with Blue or if I wanted to see who was under the costume. Whatever the reason, I followed that blue alien dog (the O.G. before Lilo & Stitch) as I was acting in my own real-life Blue’s Clues episode.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. -1 Corinthians 13:11
To this day, I’m more of an introspective type and not into large gatherings. I find myself looking for ways God chooses to show his glory and will for my life. My curiosity for God propels me forward to discover clues into what I was made for and where I am going. What’s important is that I do not allow the many distractions and trials of life to stunt my relationship with and growing knowledge of God, but to continue to mature in my faith and to even challenge myself out of the comfort zone.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. - Philippians 3:20-21
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. - Romans 1:20
To this day, I want to know what I can share with others while I am learning and growing as a living testimony to many things God has done through Jesus Christ in me. I am excited to continue learning and professing His name!
For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. - Hebrews 13:14-16
Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. - Psalm 124:8
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. - Proverbs 29:25
The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? - Psalm 27:1
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. - Isaiah 30:15
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. - Hebrews 4:11
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.” - Deuteronomy 31:6
He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. - 2 Chronicles 20:15
Today, bravery looked like confronting someone with the help of the Lord, even when the words came painfully and slowly. To share the truth is to also to be loving (1 Cor 13:6; Eph 4:15; 1 John 4:18). God uses personal challenges and conflicts to stretch us and teach us character. Thus, bravery is part of trusting in God to teach me, and to allow Him to use me to be a light to others during my challenges. As the cliche goes, God turns each “test into a testimony.” A sweet friend encouraged me this week with a scripture, as she knew I had just lost my grandmother over the holidays:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. - Romans 5:3-5
It was bittersweet to face family and friends at my grandmother’s funeral. Yet, in my personal pain and trial, I was still able to speak with regard to God’s plan for my situation and I hope I encouraged someone else to be brave and do the same.
God bless you in this season, even if it includes loss. God’s peace be with you.
I shared with a woman my age on a train ride to NJ that no one is righteous before God on their own account (Romans 3:10). She asked if I considered babies good. Not even a sweet and innocent baby is good. Any good deeds I do are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). Surely, I was sinful at birth (Psalm 51:5). I see it in every person and myself; no one has to be taught to sin, they just do. Thus, I have been reflecting on the fact that we all need Jesus, the only worthy Savior, for we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God chooses to look on Jesus as the atonementfor one’s sin. There is nothing I can do apart from God (John 15:5).
And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. - Ecclesiastes 4:4
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?" declares the LORD Almighty. This is what the LORD Almighty says: " I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God." -Zechariah 8:6-8
On another train ride, I spoke with a man named Adam, and he shared a verse he memorized and loved:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. -Hebrews 13:8
I have been reflecting on that scripture all day this first day of 2023 (Hebrews 13:8). God’s purpose and desire has always been the same for His creation. And He always will be what He has been and what He is.
God said to Moses, “ I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘ I am has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:14
Reflections for 2023
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. -Micah 6:8
But godliness with contentment is great gain. -1 Timothy 6:6
This year I want to steward well the gift God has given me. When God returns to restore things as they should be, I will hear “well done good and faithful servant” and “great is your reward on heaven.” (Matthew 5:12, 25:21,23; Luke 6:23, 19:17).
For this new year, in 2023, God has put it on my heart to have humility before Him as I reflect how powerful He is, with fear and trembling to live in obedience (Philippians 2:12). But also to have joyful expectation of His purpose in this temporal, earthly life and of His promises for the future. He has done what He promised in the past, even miracles, and He can and will continue to do so. He is also the same God in joy and in pain, and He is just in everything He does (Psalm 111:7). God is loving, GREAT, and merciful. I am so thankful for his saving grace. In turn, I want to be continuously thankful, and I want to be gracious towards others. Furthermore, I want to live from the same power that rose Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-12)!
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. -Psalm 111:7-10
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. – Revelation 22:20
God is coming back very soon! I want to be ready if He comes back in 2023!
I am not very fond of cats. They are finicky and sometimes smell weird. Nevertheless, they are part of God’s creation. I do appreciate the allusion “Bell the Cat” because the proverbial cat has negativity associated with it, and the illusion of power. The cat may represent a life-controlling issue in one’s life. For the Christian, his enemy is like a lion, seeking who he may steal from, kill, or destroy.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. - John 10:10
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8
From the standpoint of a teensy mouse, stringing a bell around a cat’s neck is risky and daunting, but once done, not only will that mouse be warned when danger is near but her friends’ will also know. Too often, I have sat quietly, safe and complacent in the realm of my existence, when I’d do good to speak up for someone and against a wrongdoing, or even to simply label a negative feeling I was experiencing. Some silence seems innocent, like saving face when someone has hurt one’s feelings or tread on the waters of comfort, saying, “retreat further and maybe the issue will dissipate”. However, many a mother knows when her children are eerily quiet, they are ‘up to no good’. In a similar way, the pet peeves fostered in silence only grow more mischevous, robbing someone of joy and growth. The silence shackles and hinders resolution.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
When the bell is ringing, one knows it is time to fight or to run the other direction. But without any sound, you and those you love may be caught unawares and in danger. One might ask the question, “Do I lay down my pride in this life for a healing moment, for a bold, righteous statement that brings to light what others may assume or allude to in gossip, but never acknowledge directly.” For if a cancer is present, but the doctor never says a word, unbothered, it spreads and kills. Why not bother the cancer?
The most cherishable relationship the Christian has is with her family of believers. Yet, it seems conflict is more feared than losing the ties that bond our lifeline together. I am reading a book called “When Church Conflict Happens” by Michael Hare in which the author lays out common ways unaddressed conflict destroys churches. Avoiding conflict does not solve anything but compounds the very issues presenting, until silence cannot be kept any longer. So, who will ‘bell the cat’ before a massacre happens? Love is hindered when one is silent about life-controlling issues. God certainly is not silent about when He is not pleased with us, yet He still loves us.
My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof,for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. - Proverbs 3:11-12
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Silence is usually a defense mechanism or a habit passed down or encouraged by those around us. The Word of God goes contrary to our habits and comfort zones. How does sitting in silence become unloving? Does resentment look like passive-aggressive behavior? Does silence foster a pattern wrongdoing in one’s life? One who passes time in resentment or fear, in their silence, refuses to bear the worthwhile burdens attached to loving people and instead engages in burdens entangled in sin & death.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:1-2
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. - Colossians 3:12-14
I love how Colossians 3:12 parallels 1 Corinthians 13 so well. The themes are to reject resentment, selfishness, and pride, instead take on forgiveness, compassion, kindness, humility, and patience. Love is fruitful and not silent, it rejoices in truth. Imagine if people spoke up for the truth in love and gave witness to not only the joys of love but the burdens we also gladly bear for each other (Ephesians 4:15).
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:1-3
Remember how Christ has found joy in loving us in the most difficult way! He died loving me and you. Christ exemplified how to ‘bell the cat’ when He was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Have you been drowning in a situation by keeping silence, when perhaps you need to tackle it by speaking the truth of God in love?
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. - James 4:7
Enjoy a song I wrote called “Facing Lions”:
Think fast fix your eyes on the goal til the end The devil prowls around, seeking whom he may devour Stand firm, soon you will learn the world's not your friend Hold ground don't give up the fight You're called to be a light
Here I stand in this jungle facing lions Who threaten all I believe Because I decided ... I won't hide it Your kingdom is important to me
Fall flat face on the ground this life's not your own Keep safe His Word in your heart, be careful never depart Seek first the kingdom of God, He sits on the throne Speak up and don't wait around, one day you'll give an account
Here I stand in this jungle facing lions Who threaten all I believe Because I decided ... I won't hide it Your kingdom is important to me
I will rise on wings like eagles soar above the lion's roar with your Spirit, conquer evil for Your hand has won the war
Here I stand in this jungle facing lions Who threaten all I believe Because I decided ... I won't hide it Your kingdom is important
On November 12, 2021, a gorgeous charcuterie board was set out for me and other ladies studying commercial music at the university I attend. The occasion was a Q&A presentation from Jackie Patillo regarding Women in the Commercial Music Industry. Jackie Patillo is the President and Executive Director of the Gospel Music Association (GMA) which includes directing the Dove Awards. She shared personal testimony of her journey interacting with new artists, going through life's ups and downs, and lessons she has learned along the way. What a precious and intimate time we ladies had to discuss the inevitable qualms and rewarding joys as aspiring professionals in the commercial music industry!
What is important for women in Commercial Music to consider?
Commercial music is a male-dominated industry, but you should not use your femininity as an excuse (it is not an option underperform the men or play the victim). On the contrary, be ready to deliver. As hard as it may be, as cruel as it may sound, if you are a mother who wants to succeed in Commercial Music, you shouldn’t expect others to accommodate you or excuse you on the basis of your children. For example, be at each meeting and have your childcare in place. Maybe a softer way to put it is: you must be adaptable! However, women should also use their gift of nurture, letting their femininity also be an advantage.
***Perform EVERYWHERE! & record everything***
Look into pitching your song-ideas for tv & movies through sync licensing!
☆What it takes to be an artist:
•Something to say (blog, podcast, etc…) and that ‘something’ should serve people (something beneficial or that matters to them)
•Ask the question:
“Are people receiving what I have to say?”
The way record labels gage interest in your music, blog etc, is by analyzing you social media following.
There is an it-factor, which includes making sure one looks good as an artist. However, Jackie made some cautions against going over-the-top with one’s style. I won’t mention any names in particular, as what constitutes over-the-top can be subjective, but an example was extracted from the 52nd annual Dove Awards. The point is, people will recognize an artist with the it factor as soon as they walk into the room, even if they have never heard of them. It is not just the artist’s clothing, but attire/style certainly will contribute to overall…it-ness.
During the session, a young lady asked if singers are expected to play an instrument in the commercial music industry, to which Jackie Patillo advised it is generally a factor that a singer who can play at least one instrument and write songs has a head in the competition for sure. In fact, I gathered that it is almost essential to play an instrument in the commercial music industry nowadays.
She used the artist Doe as an example, as she can sing her song “Brighter” with guitar.
How to market oneself:
Getting on a playlist (apple music spotify etc.) is important
There are packages to help one get marketed as an artist
Be On Guard
As Christians in the industry, there are spiritual things to consider. For example:
•Record labels do not cultivate ministries
•Artists should make time with God just as Jesus was intentional about stealing away to pray
•Nothing tests like success (don’t let it get to your head)
•God decides to use whoever he chooses (he is no respecter of persons: 1 Samuel 16:7; Acts 10:34)
•We all sin & fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
Jackie Patillo has witnessed Christians in the commercial music industry fail to cultivate a strong walk with God. She warned the ladies about the aforementioned, recounting what she has witnessed and experienced personally.
I pray that you who are reading take heed and remember, in whichever field God places you, that you would only grow closer to Him and be a good steward in each season He grants to you.
I hope these notes were helpful!
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Last December, I had the pleasure of singing in the choir at my university’s annual Christmas concert. Talented faculty sang selected solos from George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah.” On the outset of the solos, the choirs had the privilege to echo choruses straight from the prophet Isaiah. My personal favorite solo was when Dr. Hugo sang “Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted.”
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11, NIV
The Holy Spirit prompted me to create my own version of “Ev’ry Valley…” based on my reflections from Isaiah 40 and Psalm 139. What came was a solidifying reminder that God is not only in sovereign control over every aspect of my life, but also over every aspect of nature. A new song (or in this case, a new take to an old song) is always exciting! “Every Valley” is no different for me. In the same breath, the words also deeply convict, especially considering the verse composed as “Every shadow…never can hide you.”
As I have given space for the words of this post to develop, my joy to sing a new song intermingles with a conviction that there are areas of my life in which I can try to cast shadows on Christ’s light. Where I could risk being preachy about believers being a light in the world, now more fitting than ever, God helped me realize the words were flowing introspectively, preaching to myself (Matthew 7:5).
“Every Valley” by Gianna Elyse
(Based on “Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted” by G.F. Handel) and selected scriptures:
Isaiah 40:4-5; Psalm 139:7-8, 11-12; Matthew 28:19-20; John 1:1-5; Hebrews 1:12
Every valley, every valley…shall be exalted And every rock and mountain made low For the mouth of the Lord made it so Should I make my bed in the depths Should I climb the highest height I have not escaped you yet Oh, the mouth of the Lord makes it so You are with me wherever I go Every shadow, every shadow never can hide you. Before the Son of God the earth will fold Every rock and mountain made low Oh, the mouth of the Lord made it so
Provision, Protection, & Perseverance
God provides in every valley. No matter what you experience, you can learn to be content and overcome in every situation (Philippians 4:12-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-7; 1 John 4:4; Luke 10:19; John 1:5,16:33).
God is with you and wants to grow you.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christand be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
It is important to live pursuing holiness, sharing your testimonies. Colossians 1:9-14 implores believers to grow in wisdom and fruits of the spirit continually. May God…
…fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified youto share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As Christ illuminates my path, I am learning of His grace, that I am not condemned even as the accuser tries to condemn me (Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Revelation 12:10), God’s provision for me (Psalm 50:10; Mathew 6:32-33; Philippians 4:19;), and His divine purpose for my life (Mathew 5:13-16). Overall, I also see an overarching theme of what it means to exude the light of Christ: humility.
It is so beautiful to me that the brightest star of all was also the most humble one. That starlight is Jesus, who laid His life down in humility, as a human baby, then died on a cross, taking my criminal penalty (Philippians 2:1-8). Furthermore, He was victorious over death and resurrected to life and is exalted (Romans 8:34; Philippians 2:9-11). The same power with which Christ rose from the dead, now lives in me (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:18-23).
Following Christ requires humility, just as He came humbly to the world (Philippians 3:7-11).
We can live humbled lives and be empowered by God at the same time.
Two ladies come to mind: Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Hannah, the mother of prophet Samuel. They sang personally about God’s control over the earth, simultaneously, how He pierces each person’s joints and marrow to judge hearts’ thoughts and intentions (Luke 1:46-55; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Hebrews 4:12).
Just as these women placed faith in God, we do good to come to believe the Gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, as nothing good comes apart from Christ. When we work from our own might, we grow weary, but by faith in Jesus, with His Spirit we live victorious lives (Isaiah 40:30-31; John 15:5; James 1:17; Zechariah 4:6).
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Good News to Carry On!
Please be encouraged that one day Christ is coming back, a new heaven and new earth will be established, and each person will be judged for his deeds on earth, namely, whether or not they placed faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 2:6).
To me, some of the most impactful visuals in the Bible are mentions of God likening the earth as a garment (Isaiah 51:6; Psalm 102:25-28, 104:1-2, 5-6; Proverbs 30:4; Job 38:8-9, 12; Hebrews 1:10-12). The ease and control with which God destroys the old earth and will usher in the new is just the same as if I were to fold my old bed sheets and replace them with new, clean sheets (Hebrews 1:10-12). God is ironing things out, if you will. Regardless of your eschatological viewpoint on chronology of the events to unfold, what is certain is that Jesus is coming back to judge the people of the earth.
Not all is doomed, however… One must respond to the truth of God’s Word, to be a doer, not simply a hearer of it (James 1:22-25)…surrendering her life to Christ and confessing Him as Lord and Savior, since the only way to be righteous is through Jesus’ penal substitution for our sins, and she will be saved (Exodus 20:1-17; John 14:6; Romans 10:13). Every person has sinned according to God’s holy standard, and that sin requires punishment by death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). No amount of one’s good works or asking for forgiveness will save him, but only repentance from his sins and faith in the good work Jesus did on the cross for him accomplishes salvation.
When someone accepts the gift of salvation, it is then she can be empowered by the Holy Spirit living within her (Zechariah 4:6; John 14:15-17). God is building His kingdom with willing hearts, even those who are the least of the earth (Matthew 5:1-12, 25:40). Therefore, the gospel does not make sense to those wise in their own eyes, but God does choose the seemingly foolish things of this world to confuse human understanding (1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 3:5-8; Isaiah 5:21; Romans 1:22; Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 1:27, 3:18-20).
God is close to the broken and contrite heart (Psalm 34:18, 51:17). Is your heart broken or suffering? I hope these words encourage you, and if you have not received Christ’s gift, I pray you do accept it this moment. God has a plan for you to prosper you and not to harm you, even to give you a hope and a future in a wicked and depraved world (Jeremiah 29:11; Philippians 2:15).
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:2, NIV
Hope in Jesus, and soon you will be resurrected; the old will pass away, the new will come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We hope in Jesus to make everything level. What’s more, nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, through every circumstance. In the meantime, God provides a way for contentment through the process of sanctification (Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5). Yes, life is difficult at times, and we groan, yet, all things will work together for our good. God will perfect that which he started in you (Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:18-39).
Let’s seek first God’s kingdom, realizing what we experience day to day and what we are physically involved with will soon pass away (Matthew 6:31-34; Philippians 4:12-13; Hebrews 13:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
One last thought, how can you apply the passages of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 139 to your own life? God wants to comfort us in the shadowy valleys of our lives and level the haughty areas in our hearts (2 Samuel 22:28; Psalm 18:27; Proverbs 3:34; Hebrews 12:11-13). He will straighten out your path, even amidst all that troubles you (Proverbs 3:5-6). The resolution may not always be in your external circumstance, but God always promises His peace and comfort when you cast your cares on Him (John 16:33; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22; Philippians 4:4-9) . After all, remember that your trials are producing for you an eternal treasure, and these trials will soon enough pass away along with everything else that is imperfect and unclear (Matthew 6:19-21, 33; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Romans 8:18,37-39)
Consider some lyrics that I have not worked into the song yet (see Isaiah 40:21-22):
“Child, have you heard
Child, don’t you know
He is with you wherever you go.”
❤️️ Gianna Elyse
When I opened my computer to record “Every Valley,” I found an old recording time-stamped 8/28/2021 8:11pm! At first I did not know which song for which I was playing the chords or if I was improvising. Now, I recognize the chord patterns are for a song I wrote, titled, “Come Again.” While listening to the audio for “Come Again,” take a moment to pray and meditate on the Lord, inviting the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then, please comment in the discussion below whichever scripture, lyrics, words/phrases, or any ideas that come to mind for this audio. After I receive a few responses, I will record the original lyrics over this audio to share with you soon, and it will be interesting to reflect and compare with your comments. Perhaps a new song will come out of this too! P.S. Do not hesitate to post anything, from serious to goofy. God has a sensible sense of humor, after all, and perhaps he is ministering in that way to you now. Maybe you wanna be more ambitious and post your own demo version… Hey, by all means! All things considered, please do not be crass, as the goal of anything we write should be to glorify God.
Sometimes, I wake up in the early morning, and walk outside to a silent, starry sky. A peace washes over me as I breathe in deep the cool of the shaded morning. I say “thank you God,” because He has given a special memory for the stars to hold. A promise was given to Abram (later called Abraham by God in Genesis 17), that he would have many descendents, and the whole world would be blessed through him (Genesis 18:18).
He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars —if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
- Genesis 15:5-8
I relate to Abram because there are times I have to be reminded, away from the noise of the worldly opinions… reminded that God can make innumerable amounts of stars, and people, thus so infinite is His power and sovereignty in my life. He will accomplish all He set out to accomplish in me, as He washes me and sanctifies me with His Word, and then sends me out with His Word (Psalm 138:8; Isaiah 55:11; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 2:10, 5:25-27; Philippians 1:6).
I appreciate Abram asking, but Lord….How?
When I wonder, “But God, how will you use me?” He says… “look at the stars”…
He who created the heavens, considers me so precious and His thoughts are so numerous and intentional concerning me (Psalm 139:16-18). So I say, “Thank you God…and I trust you… lead me and guide me.”
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. - Psalm 8:3-5
When I look at the stars, I feel hope and confidence.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. - Hebrews 11:1