Tag Archives: calling

Book Review: Composing Amelia: A Novel by Alison Strobel


Composing Amelia: A Novel (click book or see below for description)
By Alison Strobel
Downloaded free on 5/26/14 (released in Sept 2011)

Rating: 3 bones

Finish Time: 4 nights.  I have a queue of books, both hard copy and e-copy just waiting to be read, but again this time (3rd in a row) I found myself looking through Amazon (Free) Best Sellers for a different book.  The last two (here and here) have not disappointed.  Having just made a big life decision and having to trust God and my husband, I couldn’t turn this book down.

I would say this follows the typical format of a Christian fiction book.  Not a bad thing, but predictable.  Come on – what kind of Christian book could end without God prevailing (really what in life could end that way either!)?  The common theme is trusting God when He throws some crazy curves your way.  And then watching your life transform into how He wants it to be.  Always amazing to read and see His amazing power.

Amelia recently married pastor-to-be, Marcus.  As they are both figuring out their new marriage, they are both trying to figure out their careers as well.  Both not going as they planned, they stay faithful and keep trucking along.  Marcus gets a call to pastor a hurting church in Nebraska (from New York) and they both spend time figuring out if that is where they are meant to be. Marcus comes to the decision quicker than Amelia, as she just got her first break in New York.

This decision threatens their marriage, and Amelia’s faith.  A few other challenges are thrown in, then the book takes a very depressing turn, then, (not really a spoiler alert), things get back on track.  A good read, nothing to rave about, but good to get me thinking if I’m being obedient and what God wants for my life (not what I want.)  Quick read, worth a few nights of reading!

Description from Amazon:
Can a brand-new marriage withstand the weight of generations-old baggage?
Newlyweds Amelia and Marcus Sheffield are recent college grads, trying to stay afloat in LA while searching for their dream jobs. Marcus hopes to become a mega-church pastor. Amelia has an esteemed music degree, and longs to play piano professionally. The Sheffields are clearly city people.
 
But when a small town church offers Marcus a job, the couple’s dedication to their dreams and each other is tested. After a risky compromise is made, Amelia falls into a dark emotional place, where she finds skeletons she’d fought hard to deny. In desperation, she calls out to God. But why can’t she find Him? While Amelia struggles, Marcus learns news that nearly crushes him. He must lean on his faith to withstand the pressure… or risk losing his wife forever.

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We won’t move without You

“God Walks With You”
Isaiah 43:2

It’s been awhile, I apologize.  It’s been one of those times, where a prayer has been answered, just maybe not (or really not) what we expected (wanted).  It’s taking time to adjust, and while I’ve felt close to God, it’s been a lot of “Really, God?”, and just pleading to open my heart to acceptance, surrender, and faith.

We are moving from Atlanta, GA to Cleveland, OH.  I had started a post, and hope to find some time during this hectic time, to list out some of the positives.  It will be good, and my attitude is probably 99% of that.  But it will be hard.  To leave family, friends, our church, our preschool, our neighbors, the amazing network we have worked to build for us and our kids.  And while I have and will cry many tears for that, I feel God keeps placing on my heart that He is what matters, He will provide, and He will not abandon us.

“We won’t move without You”

Lyrics sung tonight by Jay & Abby Akins (two people high on our list of who we will miss) at Evergreen Church, that hit right to my heart.  We may be physically moving, but we won’t be leaving God behind.  He will guide us there, He will be with us every step of the way, and He will never leave.  I need to be comforted in this, I am, but during such an emotional time, it’s hard.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
Isaiah 43:2

More to come, but tonight, I wanted to share with you the aforementioned song (take a listen below) that I’m singing and meditating on this evening.  You will lead us, we will follow, and we will always cry out that You are the LORD OUR GOD!  Amen!

The Lord Our God
Kristian Stanfill/Passion

Promise maker, promise keeper
You finish what you begin
Our provision through the desert
You see it through ’til the end
You see it through ’til the end

[Chorus]
The Lord out God is ever faithful
Never changing through the ages
From this darkness You will lead us
And forever we will say
You’re the Lord our God

In the silence, in the waiting
Still we can know You are good
All Your plans are for Your glory
Yes, we can know You are good
Yes, we can know You are good

[Chorus]

We won’t move without You
We won’t move without You
You’re the light of all and all that we need
(X3)

[Chorus]

And forever we will say
You’re the Lord our God
(X2)

The Lord our God (x2)

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Let it Go and Defy Gravity

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I can’t stop singing “Let it Go” from Frozen.  I took my LL to Frozen, her first movie (see above!) in December, and I can’t stop singing!  With no expectations, I was completely blown out of the water with this movie.  The soundtrack is Broadway worthy, and it took me a few weeks to put this together, but I’ve learned a few things.

  1. I may be Idina Menzel‘s biggest fan.  She has been in Rent, Wicked, and now Frozen.  Her voice and songs bring me goosebumps and tears.  I seriously love her. (picture pulled from her website)
  2. “Let it Go” has so much similarity to “Defying Gravity” (from Wicked), which is one of my all time favorite songs.  I pulled it up today to show the kids, and by the end, LL asked why I was crying.  I absolutely love this song, it’s meaning, Wicked, everything.  Take a listen – it’s amazing.

The two songs have such a similar message too, I guess I’m not the first to link these songs (check out the cool images I found above), but I thought I would put a little lesson together, as they both have such a great message for everyone, but especially the target of Frozen, young girls.

Elphaba from Wicked, is a misunderstood green-skinned girl.  Her love for animals is one of the many reasons I love her so much, but she already doesn’t conform to society in looks alone, so she embracing that, and her “coming out” song is “Defying Gravity”.

“Something has changed within me, Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules, Of someone else’s game”

Elsa from Frozen, has always been different and isolated from the outside world.  At an early age, she discovered powers that her parents told her to “conceal not feel.”  So “Let it Go” is her coming out song.

“I don’t care, What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on, The cold never bothered me anyway”

These two characters, unlike their peers, are finally “free”.  If you’ve seen the musical/movie, you will know this does not come without consequence, but they finally discover who they are, publicly declare that, and move on.  This is hitting me in two ways.

  1. As much of a “real” rule-follower as I am, I don’t “go with the flow” and I have a partner that is the same way.  Steven and I talked about that this weekend, our decisions don’t always line up with the norm, that is just how we roll (and you may see evidence of this coming soon!)
  2. And isn’t that what it is like to be a Christian?  Knowing that you a child of God, and in his eyes, you’re perfect.  And with only that knowledge you can be free, like really free.

A few verses, then I’ll let you enjoy the song.  The message is the same, do not conform to the world, be yourself, be comfortable in that, and my added message, if God is for you and you love and obey Him, you can’t be stopped! (But use your power for good please!)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy,let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
Romans 12:6-7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Take a listen, I hope you enjoy as much as I do.  This has become my anthem.  Not only the message of being myself, even if that is different from everyone else, but also just letting go of the little stuff and putting God first.

As Elsa says:
It’s time to see what I can do, To test the limits and break through, No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free”

And as Elphaba says:
“It’s time to trust my instincts, Close my eyes and leap!”

Thanks for stopping by.  Please share, I had fun writing this post.  Amen.

(All images or videos link to the original source)
Lyrics from Wicked & Frozen

 

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Lift My Life Up – I Surrender!

Rest in the Lord and be willing to wait for Him.  Psalm 37:7

Wow, what a week.  More to come soon, hopefully.  It’s one of the weeks where I think God is answering a prayer.  A prayer I’ve been praying for quite sometime, and now it’s one of those times, where I’m spending more time in prayer asking “really?”  One of those times, that don’t happen often, where God throws in something completely off the wall, that I just need some time to process.

I don’t mean to be vague as nothing is clear yet, but my prayer this week is to give it all in surrender, my worries, my hopes, my questions, everything.  To open up my ears to hear, and heart to process, what God is saying and surrender to His will.  For God to have His way in me.  The Unspoken song below has been on my heart and hitting hard right now.

“All my dreams, all my plans Lord, I leave it in Your hands”

So I’m keeping this short today.  Meditate on this song, and know He will guide us where He wants us to be and it’s all part of the plan (that we may not know yet!)  I’m thinking maybe next week – Trust will be a good topic.  Amen – Happy Sunday!

Unspoken
Lift My Life Up

You brought me this far so why would I question You now
You have provided so why would I start to doubt
I’ve never been stranded, abandoned or left here to fight alone
So I’m giving You control

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up

Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me

If peace is a river then let it sweep over me
If I’m under fire I know it’s refining me
When I hear You calling out I follow now wherever the road may go
I know You’re leading me home

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up

Have Your way in me
Have Your way in me

Take my life and let it be all for You
Take my life and let it be all for You

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
(Take my life)

I lift my life, lift my life up
I give it all in surrender
(Take my heart)
I lift my heart, lift my heart up
You can have it forever
All my dreams, all my plans
Lord I leave it in Your hands
I lift my life, lift my life up

Have Your way with me
Have Your way with me
Have Your way with me
Have Your way with me

Take my life and let it be all for You

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Happy 1-year Blogiversary to me!

Can it really be 1 year since I started this blog?  Wow, does not seem like that long.  I’ve had my ups and downs, figured a few things out, still working on quite a few others, but most days am glad I have stuck with it.  I wish I had some great, ground-breaking news to share, like I figured it all out, but not yet – probably not ever.  But I have come a long way – see my first post here – My dog-eared purpose.

But I’m okay with that, and I think that is what I am taking away from 2013 and this 1st year of blogging.  I may not have discovered my one “purpose”  and I may not ever, but have figured out a few along the way:

  • My purpose is to raise up my 2 precious children to know, love, and tell others about God.  Through both words and how they act and treat others.  And it’s my job to be a model of this.

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  • My purpose is to be a good, Godly wife.  To support and love my husband unconditionally as he works hard for us and has to make tough choices that aren’t always easy.

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  • My purpose is to love and raise my 3 (mostly) sweet dogs.  To show others that pets are part of a family and should also be treated as such.  And with all animals – to speak for those who cannot.  (Hoping to put more emphasis on this for 2014)

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  • My purpose is to be comfortable in the skin (or clothes) I am in.  I may not be trendy (although I may try to be), I may wear clothes from Target, or last season, but if my family is loved, fed, and cared for, I’m good.  I know God does not care what I look like on the outside and although I do “try” to maintain a good outward appearance to feel good myself, it’s definitely not all that matters.
  • My purpose is NOT to have all the answers.  I want my kids to see I’m not always perfect.  I want them to see me accept blame if something is my fault and not be quick to point fingers at others.  I want them to know mistakes happen, and we need to apologize, try to make it right, learn from it, and move on.  (Still working on this!)
  • And in all these things my purpose is to love God unconditionally, thank Him everyday for the good and bad, and let His light shine through me, my family, and this blog.

I did update my tag-line to “taking it one book, song, and day at a time.”  That is all I can do, I can plan all I want, but things are not always going to go as planned, and although this is hard for me and will take a lot of prayer and disappointment, it’s all I can do to survive.  Life, kids, jobs, circumstances are always changing, but if I stay anchored in my faith with God as my guide, He will give me all that I need.

Lastly, I’ve seen on a lot of blogs and Facebook posts lately people choosing a word to represent their year ahead.  I never outright stated it, but I think my 2013 word was PURPOSE, and my word for 2014 is INTENTIONAL.  To be intentional in all my actions, words, blog posts, whatever.

in·tent : the thing that you plan to do or achieve : an aim or purpose
in·ten·tion·al: done on purpose; deliberate.

So stay tuned for more book reviews, more inspiring songs and verses, more vacations and family fun, more dog posts, and hopefully some surprises!  I have no idea what 2014 has in store, but I can’t wait to find out through being INTENTIONAL and faithful.

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Thanks for stopping by and God Bless your 2014!

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Just because He may not answer doesn’t mean He don’t care…

…some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.  Beautiful song by Garth Brooks.  It’s been around for a while and it always comes to mind when one door is closed and I’m waiting for another to be opened.  See the lyrics at the end of the post.

It’s been a long week, I think we are all fighting off allergies, kids aren’t sleeping well (I’m not sleeping well), and we’re still in that period of waiting and unknowns I think I blogged about a few weeks back.  And it’s just got me thinking about prayers.

I’m not sure how you pray, but I try to be general when I pray to avoid an answer I don’t want.  I don’t think that always works. I pray for patience, answers, peace, comfort, an open-heart, an open-mind, a servant attitude, Your will to be done.  But is that what I really want?  Sometimes yes, but God knows the inner-most desires of our heart and will give us those.  Really?  I guess sometimes what your mind says and what your heart wants can be different, but ultimately HE knows what HE is doing and we need to trust.

Psalm 37:4 says: (print found on etsy – click to check it out!)

Are the periods of waiting God preparing us for what is next?  Maybe the build up will make us more appreciative?  Maybe He just doesn’t think we are ready (even though we may think we are?)  Maybe there is something AMAZING waiting for us, but it’s another year out?  Who knows?  Well God does and we are to be obedient and wait and TRUST that He will come through.  He always does and always will.

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7

So maybe unanswered prayers is not the correct term, rather not-the-answer-I-hoped-for-but-God’s-right-answer to my prayers.  Mark 11:24 says:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Keep on praying, trusting, and loving, and God will reveal His amazing plans for you.  They may not have been what you planned for but they will be what HE planned for and will most likely be even better.  I know I can look at my past and be thankful for many prayers that were answered very differently than I had in mind, but for much better!  What about you?  Have a great week – Amen!

Here is the referenced song, I really just like the chorus and his realization at the end:

Unanswered Prayers
by Garth Brooks (it doesn’t appear his version is available anywhere to download except for buying the CD)

Just the other night a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn’t help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I’d wanted for all times
And each night I’d spend prayin’ that God would make her mine
And if he’d only grant me this wish I wished back then
I’d never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers 
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs 
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care 
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers 

She wasn’t quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn’t much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers

Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered

Some of God’s greatest gifts are all too often unanswered…
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

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Whom Shall I Fear? (Happy Hump Day)

Happy Wednesday aka Hump Day!  Anyone else notice the increase in camel pictures on Wednesdays?  Maybe it’s just my FB friends, but I swear the last few weeks I see at least 2-3 camel pictures on Wednesday – new trend?

That all being said, I’ve strayed away from my typical Sunday posts the last few weeks.  And thought I would try to post when I felt most inspired, or when I need it the most, and today that just happens to be on a Wednesday!  I will try to post weekly though as it helps me and hopefully some of you!

I have been encouraged by many songs this last week, particularly some of THESE AWESOME ONES, but I’ll save a post on one of those for another week.  This past week at church we sang this one – Whom Shall I Fear – and I also hear it daily (maybe hourly) on the radio.  It seems those are the songs I’m drawn most to posting about, but when I think that through, it makes sense because it gives the song time to sink in and after a few (hundred) times hearing it, it’s made an impact.

This week at a couples bible study we were discussing two types of Facebook posters.  One was deemed the overly, happy almost fake sounding, that only posts about good things.  The other is the opposite, using it as a platform to complain to ask for sympathy.  No one wants to raise their hand for either, but if I had to label myself it would be the positive one.  I hope not fake, but my Facebook friends (be them real or virtual) don’t need to see that side on my life, so I’m guilty of only posting happy things.  Not that I want to be a negative poster, but I save my issues for my friends and family off-line.  Neither of these is right or wrong or healthy or not (I’ll leave that for you to decide).  I do believe by airing grievances, you may find sympathy and/or support, and definitely get some extra prayers.   But is there a point where it is TMI or you’re just boasting (if it’s on the positive side)? Which one are you?  (And I’m sure there is an argument in here that’s anti-social media, a highly debated topic in many of my groups – but we’ll save that for another day!)

That being said (yes I know I already started a paragraph with those words – it’s my transition today!), things aren’t always happy and shiny in my life.  These last few posts (Here and Here) focused on great things that we did.  I need to do that sometimes (often) to refocus and spend time praising God for the good things in my life, which there are WAY more than not.  But other days, and more this past week, I’ve been consumed with panic and fear.  Of unknowns and of trusting God.  And this song – Whom Shall I Fear – always brings it back into focus for me.  Who should I fear when I have God – the God of Angel Armies albeit, by MY side?  I love the imagery of that.

Here is what Chris Tomlin says about the song:

The Scripture really came to life for me after we wrote the song. I may have read that Bible passage from 2nd Kings before, but my eyes weren’t really open to the story. When Elisha is told about the army camped outside the city, and sees the fear in his servant’s eyes, he tells him, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prays for the Lord to open the eyes of his servant. Then he saw the angel armies all around their enemies.

Remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? We raise our hands to celebrate and in surrender. We can lift up our hands in confidence to God and know that His mercy is unfailing. His love is never-ending. He is our refuge and our strength. God’s ultimate will is not to bring affliction upon people, but to restore us so that we may experience His unfailing love.

May you always remember that you believe in God – the God of the Angel Armies, and that He’s got your back.  Always.  Amen and Happy Hump Day!

Whom Shall I Fear
Chris Tomlin
You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light
 
Whom shall I fear
 
You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my Sword and Shield
Though trouble lingers still
 
Whom shall I fear
 
I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always on my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
 
My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory
 
Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
 
And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding onto Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful
 
I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always on my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
 
The God of angel armies is always by my side

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TRUST by Jay and Abby Akins

(Click on Album to be directed to Amazon to hear samples and BUY!)
Trust
Jay & Abby Akins
Release Date: October 1st 2013

I am SO excited to be finally sharing this with you all.  This is Jay & Abby’s 1st album, it came out today on Amazon and iTunes, and it is AMAZING!  Filled with 8 catchy songs that will move you to dance, sing along, and praise GOD above all.  Call me a groupie or just a dedicated friend and fan, but Jay & Abby inspired this post HERE. They are some of my inspiration as I search to find what I am called to do, as they clearly have found and are living out their calling.  And this one here where we hosted them in our backyard to introduce some of these very songs!

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Their passion for music and Jesus come through in each and every song.   I’m so happy for them and am proclaiming my bragging rights here and now that we knew them BEFORE they were big time!!  But check it out – share it – tell friends, you won’t be disappointed!  My favorites are #2 – I Stand in Awe and #4 – Trust (but they all are really great!)

Congrats Jay & Abby!  You guys are amazing, encouraging, and 2 of the best people I am blessed to know and call friends!

Read more about Jay & Abby, stories behind the songs, and much more on their website:

JayandAbbyMusic.com

Aren’t they stinkin’ adorable (borrowed this from their website too!)

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Tasty! (God and Candy Crush)

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Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8

You’ll never believe where I heard God speak to me this week and my inspiration for this post.  Seriously, this is embarrassing, but I know some of you will know what I am talking about.  Any Candy Crush addicts out there?  Don’t judge me, it’s my down-time (what little of it there is) indulgence.  We all have one (or two).  Usually I have the volume down, but sometimes on my computer it is up and you’ll hear the creepy voice throughout the game proclaim “Tasty!”.  And the verse above and song below came to mind.  Now whenever I indulge in Candy Crush, I have this song in my head, and even playing a mindless game, I feel close to God.  I know – far-fetched but it’s a stress-reliever for me (along with exercise and other things), and just a momentary break from the present.  (I could tie this in with the topic of temptation that was discussed in my small group this AM, but we’ll save that for another day!)

But this song below “Taste & See”, first heard at church from Jay & Abby Akins (who are releasing their first album, Trust, very soon!!), has always been one of my favorites.  Catchy, good beat, and really gets you moving and feeling the music.  And not to mention a GREAT message – God is good and I’m going to proclaim it anyway I can!  I’d argue that not only can we taste and see, but we hear, feel, and even smell God in all the little indulgences He allows us, and HE IS GOOD!  I am thankful for that piece of dark chocolate or pumpkin latte I can TASTE.  I am grateful for the beautiful changing leaves I SEE.  I can rest in the silence during naptime or after the kids go to bed at night that I HEAR.  I FEEL hugs and kisses from my husband, my kids, and my dogs each day.  I am refreshed with the SMELL of dinner in the oven or the cool crisp air of AM.  And there is nothing better than knowing in my heart that God loves me and has provided so many blessings and amazing things for us to experience on this earth.  Pretty cool.

I pray that we all take time this week to be blessed by all God places for us to taste and see each day (even if it is in a silly game!).  Amen.

Taste & See
Hillsong United

O taste and see
That the Lord is good
O taste and see
That the Lord is good
He is good to me

You’ve turned my mourning
Into dancing
Put off my rags and clothed me with gladness
And I will arise and I will praise you
I’ll sing and not be silent

O Lord, My God
I will give thanks to you forever
O Lord, My God
I will give thanks to you

And I’ll live only for you
And I’ll lift these hands up to you
And I’ll dance before you
I will shout it, I will shout it to you

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