Saturday, December 31, 2011


"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth, nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal."  Matthew 6:19-20
A glimpse of one of God's treasures He has
given us to enjoy.
Photo by Carole S. Amateis-Lebruska 2011


I was organizing storage space in one of my closets the other day - since I was putting my Christmas decorations away, it seemed like a good time to put some other things in their place as well.

Having moved recently, the combination spare bedroom and office has been bugging me.  Boxes and plastic containers from the move were still there and I have more or less, been working around the clutter which is not my cup of tea!

However, it has not been on the top of my list of priorities.  I've been busy working as a substitute para educator at a local school.  It has been fun working with the elementary kids but has taken a lot of energy.  The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is tackle that mess!  I also do some writing projects in one corner of the room to make some extra income.  God has been good in providing me work and I praise Him for it.

A week off from school duties provided an opportunity for me to clean up the room. As I worked the other day and tried to get all the boxes into the storage space, I became increasingly frustrated.  With the shelves situated the way they were - the big totes were just not going to fit.  I tried several different combinations and switched some items into smaller boxes. 

At one point, I was lifting a plastic container that held my Christmas glassware and cups to one shelf. Standing on my nifty step ladder, I was caught off guard when all of a sudden the lid popped off.  Down went the box crashing to the floor - glass flying everywhere.  It took me a second to absorb what had just happened - hadn't I just packed that box carefully so nothing would be broken?  And, yet, in a spilt second, at least half of it lay in pieces on the floor.

At first I was heartbroken.  But as I cleaned up the broken glass, I thought, I just have too much stuff.  This is ridiculous. And I was able to put it in perspective - this was just a box of glasses and cups - that is all. Sure, some had memories attached, but I still have those memories even though the items are no longer.

The words that Jesus spoke are so true.  We store up so many treasures on this earth and for what?  We can't take them with us when we enter heaven.  Needless to say, I got rid of some of my belongings after that episode and plan to get rid of some more.

I truly have all I need. Later, I reflected, maybe I should concentrate on storing up treasures in heaven instead of here on Jesus said.

What are some of those treasures?  For me, it's. . . . . .
  • Walking among nature to appreciate the treasures God has given us
  • Spending quality time with family and friends
  • Listening to the laugh of a blind boy as I push him in a swing
  • Playing the piano for a Christmas Eve service at the church
  • Keeping in touch with friends who are in need of someone to care
  • Helping a special education student learn their multiplication tables
  • Praying for friends and family and people I don't know as the Holy Spirit directs
  • Writing insights about life in my journal that may help others some day
  • Giving a personal gift that can't be bought with money
  • Doing an unexpected favor for someone
  • Taking time to write a thank you note
  • Reading my Bible and talking to God 
  • Striving to live as the Scriptures teach - not an easy one:-)
  • Smiling at someone who is having a bad day and then praying for them
  • Remembering to give some of what God has given me financially
  • Fulfilling a need someone may have, expecting nothing in return
The New American Standard Life Application Bible explains storing up treasures well.  "Our intention should be to seek the fulfillment of God's purpose in all we do, not merely what we do with our money."

So, in a world that emphasizes what we have and encourages us to get more treasures than we will ever need, the words of Jesus are refreshing. 

One incident, on a winter day, as I was working on a storage project turned out to be a blessing.  Why?  Because it reminded  me of what is really important in life.  Material possessions aren't it - and the older I get, the more I realize this truth.

How about you.  Are you storing material treasures on earth or treasures in heaven?  It is something for all of us to consider.

Blessings to you in the New Year!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"For God so loved the world that He have His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Photo by Carole S. Amateis (c) 2011

Do you truly know my Lord?

Please stop by and reflect upon these lyrics as you ponder your relationship with God and His son Jesus Christ, our personal Lord and Savior.

Do You Know Him?

Do you know Him, do you know Him, 
Do you know my precious Jesus?
Do you know Him, do you know Him,
Do you know my Lord and King?
Oh, my Jesus, He has sunshine,
He has sunshine for your soul;
And the Light, when it's within
It makes you whole.

Oh I love Him, how I love Him,
How I love my Savior Jesus.
Oh, I love Him, how I love Him
How I love this friend of mine!
For, my Jesus, He has never,
No, He's never let me down
I'm so thankful for this new love
I have found.

Have you given, have you given
Have you given Him your tired heart?
Have you given your life a brand new start?
Take His hand, take his hand now
He is waiting here to lead you
And He'll walk with You
All your life through;
Yes! All your life through!

Lyrics and music by Carole S. Amateis  1973

This is the first song I wrote when I used to rock my three babies to sleep - now all in their 30's!  It is quite simple really compared to some I now write.  But it has a profound message.  An important message for the world.

My sister Marilyn also sang this as a solo for church services and I taught it to Sunday School children.

Some day I hope to include the actual melodies that I have on CD on my website.  But for now, I hope the lyrics have blessed you and spoke to your heart and soul.

Until next time, God Bless. 

Do you  have any lyrics or poems you would like to share about the Lord?
 Or what the Lord means to you personally?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." Colossians 4:2

Experiencing the Power of Prayer
(c)Photo by Carole Amateis-Lebruska 2011
I believe in the power of prayer more than ever.  More than I did a year ago, more than even a month ago.  The Lord has taught me much about the divine privilege He has given each of us: the ability to communicate with our Heavenly Father, the God who created heaven and earth and you and I.

When one experiences a personal crisis, God is always at work. You can count on it. Such a struggle is kind of similar to climbing  a mountain like this.  Seemingly almost impassable. But, with one step at a time, prayer helps us to climb onward.

 God is constantly active, not only in the person who is living through it but for those brothers and sisters in Christ who are praying fervently.  He has a message for everyone - even those watching from a distance.

During the last two and half months, I have been in a struggle - recovering from surgery, the unexpected and sudden end of my marriage, and literally having no place to call home.  I am still working through the shock of it all.  Each day I think I get a little stronger.  And since the beginning  -  from the days leading up to my surgery to now, I have felt the prayers of God's people.

It is as if the Lord has literally carried me at times.  I do not even know how I got through some days - it is somewhat of a blur.  But every day - I mean every day, the Lord walked beside me.  He knew exactly what was happening - it was no surprise to Him.

I could probably write a book on the marvelous ways God has answered prayers in just this short time.  But here are just a few examples of how God was a part of every day life.These happenings are what I call a "God thing" -that is to say, He was very much involved :-)

In July, I canceled a surgery that was to be done in one hospital and went to one far from home. It was good that I did; not only did I have a hiatal hernia but further tests ordered by my doctor showed that it was large and it was twisting and could cut off my air supply. The day I was to have that test, I woke up with a massive migraine - but I had to fast for 12 hours and could not take any medicine for it.  Somehow - through the power of prayer - I drove myself through heavy traffic to the medical imaging facility and got through the test, then drove back to my son's apartment where I hit the bed after taking meds for the nausea and excruciating pain. Thank you Lord for getting me through that one.

The surgeon saw me on one day and the procedure was done the next morning.  He said it would probably take about two hours or so and I may have a tube inserted in my abdomen.  It took just a little over an hour and no tube had to be inserted.  People were praying.  Four days later, I drove myself home - across the entire state, stopping to walk about every hour or so to prevent blood clots. I made the trip just fine. People were praying. 

I was on a liquid/soft diet for six weeks.  I was supposed to have trouble swallowing but have not. I have healed much more quickly than I ever imagined. God's servants  have been praying.

When my marriage began to fall apart, the phone rang - family and friends were there for me - their prayers and counsel got me through some really painful and difficult days.  I did not know what to do and I was still not well.

Through the power of the Lord, I had the strength to move when my marriage collapsed; I was advised to take things with me if I left.  Not that I did it alone - in fact, the Lord sent wonderful Christian friends and family to help me - I mostly directed them as they packed my belongings into a storage unit.  I felt rather helpless - it was hard not being able to do much. But they were so loving and caring - often reminding me to go rest and not lift anything heavy so I would not hurt myself or undo the surgery.

Still in shock, I left the storage unit.  Leaving my belongings and the life I had known behind, it hit me.  I have no home. I have no job. My husband had told me I did not need to work outside the home.  I had little savings. The Lord brought to mind that Jesus had no home during a time when he was on earth.  He did not fret - He knew His Father would take care of Him. That knowledge was a comfort.

A longtime friend and dear sister in Christ and her husband opened their home to me.  Another answered prayer.  I stayed there for almost two weeks looking for places to live, swallowing my pride and lining up at the Health and Human Services for assistance.  It was there that I saw others - so many other people who needed help.  It was an eye opener. As was my time at the job service agency. People from far and near looking for jobs. It was something I needed to experience.  I know God will use it somehow in my future - hopefully to help others.

Even though my husband agreed to take care of me for one month, I knew I had to find a source of income soon. For days, I searched for work and a place to live.  Family and friends continued to tell me - I am praying for you.  I knew it - I felt it.  Friends, former classmates and family across the miles called.  Cell phones and the Internet can be wonderful tools to bind hearts and lives together - another  blessing from the Lord.

Then one day I walked into a job agency.  I was put to work that afternoon as a medical records clerk.  It was temporary but I was thankful just the same - another answer to prayer. Could my body endure the work?  My doctor gave me the go ahead.

The same day my wonderful Christian friends who had previously been my landlords said I could rent the very same apartment I had six years ago.  It was a miracle!  And the power of prayer in action again. I praised and thanked the Lord.

Today, the temp job has ended. I continue to search for work and to unpack boxes - which were moved by another group of Christian friends while I was at work (some the same as who had moved me the first time). Can I ever repay them for what they have done?  I will pray that the Lord blesses them in special ways, for one thing.

 One of those dear friends, a pastor, shared some of his earnings with me when my marriage first ended.  The money had been a gift to him from another Christan - he just passed it on to me.  A true blessing from the Lord.  I spend it very decisively - for I look upon it as from the Lord Himself.

 Another dear friend has hooked up my washer and dryer and done numerous things for me around the apartment that I could not do myself.  This friend has added a lot of joy to my life through humor and other friends have invited me out to eat with them to ease my loneliness.  Answered prayers.
All are God's servants.  All a part of answered prayers.

I do not know what the future holds but I know Who holds my future.  I am trying very hard to listen to the Lord's leading.  I have music to share and writing skills to put to good use for Him.  But I also have to make a living and I am no spring chicken!

And through this all, as God has taught me much about the power of prayer, I have prayed for others and continue to.  Because I know prayer has power and is one of the truest expressions of Christ-like love.

 If the Holy Spirit is prompting you to pray for someone, do it.  And keep praying as He told us to - without ceasing.  God always answers - in His time.  He may answer in ways you do not expect or say "wait awhile" or perhaps His answer may even be "no" - but He will answer, according to His divine will. 

And if you need prayer - ask for it.  Do not be ashamed or too proud to ask for help.  God has provided this gift to us - receive it and be thankful. 

Have any of you had the opportunity to see prayer at work in your life?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:18

Windmill At Rest
(c) Carole Amateis Lebruska 2011
Time has flown since the end of May when I developed some health problems. . . . . a week ago today I had surgery and am now recovering. Thus, no blog post for awhile. And this one will be brief.
The small garden plot I previously wrote about is yielding a harvest of fresh veggies in abundance, although I cannot eat much of it nor care for it now as I allow my body to recover.  But my hubby can:-)
A period of six weeks or so will require a soft, liquid diet, no lifting anything over 10 pounds or straining, lots of rest and lots of walking.
It will be a test in patience:-)
I was incredibly blessed during this experience and am so thankful to be a child of God.
Stay tuned for more later.  I have so much to share.
I hope this verse from 2 Corinthians encourages you in some way. . . . whatever you are facing, remember, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as your Savior, you are a child of God. You  are his son or his daughter - how awesome is that?
 He walks with you every single day of your life and is a constant abiding presence.  I have experienced His strength, His peace, His counsel. I can say, without a doubt, that I have felt the prayers of His people and continue to.
  And, I am more determined than ever to make a commitment to serve Him via the music He has given me. To take it out into the world to minister to those in need of comfort, peace, and joy. Beyond the walls of Sunday School classrooms and sanctuaries where worship services are held. 
But right now, I must be patient and let my body heal from the trauma surgery entails.  I rest in the comfort that I am His daughter - and He will continue to be my Father. . . . forever!!
Until next time - hopefully soon, take care and blessings to each of you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man, so that He may bring forth food from the earth......" Psalms 104:14

Sometimes God surprises me! I never thought I would enjoy a garden because I have tried large gardens before and they are alot of work especially when it comes to weeding.  I am not typically an outside person when it is hot unless I am in a swimming pool:-)  I don't sweat much so I get over heated really easy.  So, most of my time to work outside in the summer is early morning or evening.

But, this year my hubby and I planted a raised garden in a small plot. Now, this idea, that I saw in a magazine, was a stretch for him.  "We have acres and acres of land around us and we are going to plant a garden in this small space?", he said. "Well, it's all about managing it," I replied, since I was the one who was going to be taking care of it.  He has a huge sweet corn garden that he maintains mostly with farm equipment and irrigation water.  That is about all he has time for in the summer with all the farm work.  I love to flower garden but huge spaces filled with veggies is not my cup of tea.

Our little garden is soo cute!  We have rows of lettuce, onions, green beans, peas, carrots and kohlrabi.  Also some tomato and pepper plants and two hills of bush cucumbers!  Everything is growing nicely and I am keeping the weeds down by putting mulch in the rows and around the plants. And I am actually enjoying it.  I walk out there every morning to see how much it has grown and if there are any weeds popping their ugly heads up and if so, I just pull them by hand. (no hoe required - yes!!!)  I am surprised by how much it grows in one day alone.  It has been a true blessing to have this veggie patch in the yard of our country home.  Water is just a few feet away too!  

We have enjoyed fresh lettuce in our dinner salads so far - it has been a long time since I have eaten lettuce grown in a home garden.  I enjoy picking it and so far, no rabbits have discovered it!  I can't wait to eat the fruit from the other plants. 

When we planted the seeds it was just some dirt surrounded by wooden logs.   I know people have been doing this for ages but for me to see little seeds pop up from the rich earth and turn into plants was amazing to watch. And a reminder of how grand God has made the place we call home. He has really surprised me - I never thought I would enjoy a garden in a million years.

Planting, growing, harvesting. . . .is somewhat of a miracle my hubby and I decided as we glanced over fields of corn, sugar beets and dry edible beans all around us.  The very fact that man can plant a seed and it turns into a plant and then it becomes food for our bodies.  God had a great plan when He formed this earth. And the miracle - well, perhaps  it is something we take for granted too much. 

How many times do I go to the grocery store not even giving it a thought where the food came from - who grew it or where it was grown?  Someone else's labor has provided food for me many times over and God is the Head Gardener.  Have I remembered to thank Him?  To ask Him to bless those who provided it by their toil? Not often enough.

How about you?  Have you thanked Him lately?  Do you have a veggie garden and has God surprised you in any way lately?   

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Great is the Lord and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite." Psalm147

Lately, my understanding of why things happen as they do is being tested.  I recently lost a dear friend who had plans to work with me on my music and had previously illustrated two children's books my daughter and I wrote. The books were distributed to every school in the state of Nebraska as part of an educational campaign for the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.  For awhile, my daughter Melissa, Randy and I toured and promoted the book and formed a company called Benjamin Bean Productions.  But, eventually, other projects led each of us in different directions. 

Randy was young - in his late 30's.  I had just talked to him weeks before his death about how we could get together and explore ways to improve my musical compositions and submit them for publication and possibly put them on the Internet.  Now, that will not be happening. Why did I tarry?

Randy was so brilliant in so many ways.  And he was humble about it.  He could write music in his head and pen it on paper - not just one instrument but many.  Another Mozart in a sense.  His artistic endeavors were amazing. The details he drew in the pages of our books could not go unnoticed - they were unique - some included bits of  humor and imagination coupled with the reality of a true story.

He was getting closer all the time to being recognized for his talents - to get them out "there" so to speak and to share with more than just a few.  In fact, I am confident he would have, if only he were still here on this earth.

It has been nearly a month now since he has passed into the arms of God.  And I still find myself thinking of him.  I just got most of my compositions recorded on CD and Randy was anxious to hear them and so willing to help me. I had been sitting on this project for ages.  God has given me these melodies to share with others which I have done over the years as Randy did.  But I know God wants me to do more.  I keep dragging my feet.

But after Randy's passing, I was determined to do something with my music.  I sent one song I wrote to a Gospel Music contest in Nashville.  It's like, my tribute to him.  His death was not in vain in just this one sense, for it got me going on my project.  He would be so excited for me - he was just that way.

I don't understand why he had to die when he did.  His future looked so bright even though he had been through lots of struggles in life.  I felt God was refining him and preparing him for a greater work..

Now I think of him in heaven, playing his classical pieces for God on his guitar and drawing pictures of heaven.  I have to trust in God's infinite wisdom.  God knew it was Randy's time to be with Him.  It doesn't make sense to me but it does to God.  I must leave the questions, the whys in His hands and believe that He had a reason.

I look froward to seeing Randy in heaven some day.  I was so happy to hear from one of his friends  and former classmates who told me the story of how he had continually witnessed to him about the salvation of the Lord.  And Randy had accepted Christ as his Savior.  

I praise God for the hope He gives us all.  Do you know Him as your Lord and Savior and do you plan to be in heaven one day?  Life is fragile.  Be sure you are headed in the right direction.  I am so glad I decided to follow Jesus when I was a teen, many years ago.  He has walked with me, carried me, and kept loving me even when I did not understand.  Thank you Jesus.

And thank you that I had the opportunity to know Randy and to work with him on creative projects.  It was truly a blessing.  See you again some day friend!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Sing to the Lord. . . . Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains." Psalms 147

Well, I have begun. Again. To plant grass seed in a very stubborn spot in our yard. I call it stubborn because last spring and summer I dug out all the weeds by hand, planted seed, watered, fertilized, pulled more weeds, treated it with herbicide. . . . trying to give the small grass shoots a chance to grow. But, the weeds eventually overtook it.

So, in the fall, I dug up all the weeds again. This time I requested a tiller from my hubby. He agreed and he tilled the soil for me and helped me spread seed. We watered and we waited but the stand was minimal. Turns out that I was the one who is stubborn!

The first time I walked to the spot this spring, I jokingly said to myself, "Here I am again - same spot, same weeds, only next year!" I asked God.,"What are you trying to teach me here? There has to be some lesson in all of this."

Since sod is not an option hubby says, I decided I would get some advice from a lawn expert before I even began. I quit being stubborn and I started to become wise - by asking for help!!!

Surprisingly, he said we had to get a different sprinkler first and foremost - one that is just like a gentle rain. Like God's :-) The walking one we had used is the worst, he said - it spreads too big of droplets on the ground, washing the seed away or disrupting growth. He also advised that I should water three times a day. I admit - I had not done that before and it is a very sunny spot. No herbicide until late summer either, he advised. I probably loaded that area with way to much of the stuff!!! I was determined to get those weeds! And he highly recommended a seed conducive to our area - "Tuff Turf".

So today, I planted a small spot and tomorrow I will continue - we had to remove weeds first though and prepare the soil. If God sends some rain, well, that would be wonderful - I won't have to be dragging hoses and moving the sprinklers around every day.
If only I had asked a professional last year I could have avoided a lot of work, time and money. God gives us helpers along the way - we only need to ask.

As I reflect upon this experience, there are other spiritual insights to gain. These are just a few: (1) Read His Word to gain wisdom on how to live - He's the expert! (2) Let the Son shine His light on every situation- you need spiritual vitamins to stay healthy. (3) You'll have less sin (weeds) to deal with if you let His living water flow through your soul -ask for forgiveness and/or forgive at least three times a day. Or 70 times seven:-) He'll gently wash those sins away and make you clean inside! (4) Ask for His help through prayer - how many times do we do it our way only to find out there was a better way. . . . . if we had only asked, only listened.

Which brings to mind another experience I had this week. While driving home after doing errands in town, I saw a boy - probably around 11 or 12 - walking along the sidewalk and he was quite upset. Every once in awhile he would stop, throw his bike, growling deeply, his face as red as an apple. He would walk a short distance - only to toss his bike a few feet in the air again. His angry expression and growls continued all the while. I thought to myself - I think something must be wrong with his bike and he is really mad that he has to walk home, backpack and all.

A storekeeper stepped outside her shop as she heard the deep growling which sounded more like an animal than a boy. She hurriedly went back inside. I decided to drive around the block to see if I could help. I stopped my car near him in a parking lot, rolled down the window and asked him if he needed help. Perhaps I could load his bike and drive him home. That kind of thing. I was afraid he would hurt himself or someone else. But he only glanced at me and growled louder. And he kept walking.

I asked the Lord, "What should I do?" Light bulb moment. . . . . .This is obviously a situation I am not capable of handling. Someone with experience and knowledge of such a dramatic and unusual response needed to help him and it wasn't me. I prayed for the boy. But that didn't seem enough.

Then I called 911. After giving them the location and what was happening, they said they would take care of it. I was so relieved.

Then I reflected abit . . . . . . . what if I had gotten out of the car and he had reacted in a way that would have hurt both of us or someone else? Or what if he had accepted my ride, only to throw a fit and cause an accident? The "what ifs" just flowed through my mind. I was so glad I listened to the Lord's leading. And thankful that someone who knew what they were doing and how to handle such situations was there to help him.

So, lately, I think the Lord is teaching me a few things. Of course, He will continue to teach me - life is a growth process. I am glad He is with me. My times are in His hands and I rejoice they are!!

Have you had any growing experiences lately?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, He has triumphed over us so that now whevever we go, He uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume." 2 Corinthians 2:14 LB

As I write this, I am listening to the recordings of the first three CDs I recorded recently - the fourth is soon to come.  Now I must ask my Lord for direction on how to share these melodies and lyrics that are all about Him!

My husband just came in from the field - he's been planting corn today.  He sat in our kitchen and listened to a few of them. Although most of them have lyrics, this first set does not include the vocals.  That is another project all its own.  It was interesting that he could describe what the song was about by just listening to the melody- I was astounded actually. 

Through the years I have shared them in various churches, at home with family, and for a community celebration.  At one time I led a children's choir who sang some of the songs God has graciously given me. My older sister Marilyn, who is a soprano, sometimes sang my songs for special services as did other "sisters in Christ".  My daughter Melissa and I have sung my compositions together - i.e - on Christmas Eve and for a pastor's ordination service.  Both were special experiences!

Sunday school students who are now adults learned them years ago in VBS and Sunday School opening exercises.  They also performed songs I wrote for a Christmas musical - my friend had written the play and speaking parts and I then added the lyrics and melodies - it was a great time!  Thanks Lord:-)

Just recently, one precious child of God beautifully sang one melody for our congregation.  Another blessing to count.

God has been good.  But I sense He wants me to do more with this music He has given to me through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I certainly did not write them on my own!  And they are to share -  to spread these melodies like perfume for they are full of messages from God!

 There are so many ways I could go - produce a CD on my own, which has become very popular and is not hard to do but could be expensive.  Go the publishing route - send query letters and samples of my music to possible music agents and/or publishers to get the music in song books, hymnals, or whatever the Lord may have in mind.

I know there are some who have started a ministry using music God has given them - two such people have been to our church. That may be an option.  However, the thing is, I am not the best soloist in the world - the piano is my voice and my expression of love for God.  I would need a traveling singer:-)

One thing for sure, I do not want to bring glory to  myself in any way.  But give God the glory and the honor.  My picture will not be on any CD - in fact, I have an 11 year old granddaugther who just may be able to design a label for me:-) Wouldn't that be awesome?

 My mission is to share the Gospel so that others may know Him as Lord and Savior.  My prayer is that the notes I play will touch souls, will bless people; calm, uplift and encourage them and to help them feel the presence of the One who loves them so. 

I have a huge responsibility to my Savior if this music should go out into the world at large. And I will guard what He has given me well - the music must be included in Biblical based material or published/used  by a solid Christian organization or company- unwavering in their core values, Christian principles and devotion and love for God.

Right now, I have some ideas but no real sure sense of what direction to take or where to go for assistance. I feel abit overwhelmed.  But I know God knows and has a plan.  I only need listen and watch for open doors.

Please pray I will be open to His leading. 

Thanks for visiting my post.  I wish I could share at least one of my songs with you on this blog - perhaps my computer expert daughter can help me with that one!

Melodic Blessings to each of you this week. 

Where will the melodies God has given me bloom?

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in me." John 14:1

As I reflect upon worship services I have attended through the years to celebrate the Resurrection of my Lord and Savior, many memories come to mind.

While raising our family, there were many Easter Sunrise services we attended early in the morning - it wasn't easy getting up from a warm toasty bed only to be greeted by a dark, cold morning.  And waking up three children to accompany us was kind of a hassle.  But, I don't think there was ever a time when we were not blessed by attending one and were so glad we had taken the time to remember what the Lord had done for us.  

Some sunrise services we attended were just down the road from our farm.  On a grassy hilltop stood an old rugged wooden cross our neighbor and brother in Christ had made and placed there.  It was a perfect location because just as the sun rose, it peeked over the hill and shone on all of us believers standing near the cross - as if we were bathed in the light of the Lord himself.

Wrapped up in blankets and stocking caps, we worshipped the Lord on that hilltop. We sang hymns, we listened to the Word, prayed and took communion. Some sat on straw bales, or lawn chairs and others stood. There was a brief message to ponder and sometimes special music, readings or skits.

 Two particular services at this spot stand out in my mind.  One included a reenactment of Christ carrying the cross up the steep hill - accompanied by some powerful dramatic music.  It was very touching because a few men from the church struggled to carry the heavy structure  - none of them could carry it alone.  They had to help one another to get it to the top.  But they would not give up - they got it to crest of the hill and positioned it in the dirt - it was hard work. And it was just a tiny glimpse of what  Jesus chose to endure to carry out His Father's mission. . . . for you and for me.  The whole scene brought tears to my eyes.

Why?  First of all, their determination reflected God's love for us and their devotion to the Lord and one another. What if they would not have made it and gave up?  But they didn't and neither did God.  He did send His only Son to die for us so that anyone who believes in Him will be saved and not perish. And Jesus willingly carried out His Father's mission even though He could have asked a thousand angels to rescue Him from the pain and agony. But He chose not to. Have you ever thought about that?  

Second, as I watched the men strain and labor, I thought of how that struggle reflects men's battle with sin  And how Jesus who was without sin, took the sins of the world upon Himself, so that we could be forgiven and not have to wrestle with sin alone. In fact, we can be free from the strife sin can cause if we can give it to Christ and leave it there. That is sometimes a challenge but Jesus is there for us. And once we believers reach eternity - no more sin at all - how wonderful that will be!

Finally, when the men from our church finally reached the top, the great reflection of our Lord's victory over sin and death  - the fact that the cross was empty made an enormous impression. He was no longer hanging on a cross or in a tomb - He had risen from the dead and was no longer there. In fact, through the power of the Holy Spirit, He was right there with us - amazing!

Another touching service at this same location was when we wrote down sins or burdens we were struggling with on small pieces of paper.  Then we were given nails and each one of us nailed those paper notes to the cross, believing that God would give us the strength to overcome them, to be forgiven and have a fresh start. Literally giving our burdens to God.  As I reflect upon that, I think a sense of peace came over the group as one by one, they gave their troubles to the Lord.  We left those notes on that cross and only God knew what they said.

After each service, we all joined together for a warm breakfast back at the farm house - it was wonderful fellowship and a time of rejoicing. All because of what Christ did for us and the promise of eternal life in heaven one day!  Praise and thank you Jesus!

These are just a few of the experiences I have had.  What reflections do you have of past Resurrection Sundays?

God's reflection of our heavenly hope in a cross shaped pole of foilage.

Copyright Carole S. Amateis Lebruska 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Wake up, O harp and lyre! We will meet the dawn with song." Psalms 108

It has been said that "music touches the soul like nothing else" and  also "music is the same in any language."   That is so true!   I, for one, am so thankful God gave us this marvelous blessing in this temporary place we call home.

Have you ever noticed how the music you listen to or play affects your mood?  This is how deeply it affects the human soul, your body, and feelings.  In fact, there have been studies done on how music can calm an anxious or depressed spirit much like David's playing of the harp comforted a distressed Saul. A melodic flow of notes from the scale can actually help bring relief from physical pain or help one sleep. Pretty remarkable!

Music certainly plays an important role in my life's journey. It's been a part of my life since I was a child, as my mother played the piano by ear and she made the keyboard on our old upright piano come alive and fill our household with music! These are fond memories!

And it probably made more of an impact on me than I realized.  Now, for example, if I am struggling to exercise, whether it be simple walking or riding a stationery bike, if I turn on my CD player and listen to upbeat music, it definitely makes a positive difference.  My body seems to get more energized, I feel like moving and before I know it, 30 minutes or more have passed.  Silence in this case, would make my exercise session drag and a 15-minute ride would seem like an hour!  But if walking, there is one exception- when strolling through nature - songbirds chirping among the trees can offer quite abit of  inspiration to take more steps than you may have planned.

I can be driving to town and listening to a favorite CD - most classical music just soothes my soul and I am one relaxed, calm driver.  The miles just fly by. The sky looks more blue, the sun is more bright and the world outside my car windows seems so peaceful.  I even look forward to running errands that I might otherwise dread.

Bluegrass and Irish upbeat music can make me feel like dancing as does some rock and roll.  If I listen to hard rock, I feel chaotic inside and beyond uncomfortable. Love and Gospel songs with meaningful words stick in my memory bank -  each word, each note, bringing feelings to the surface that were perhaps hidden before.

Some music makes me excited, other compositions, sadden my heart - even bringing tears to my eyes.  Still there are melodies that just bring an instant smile to my face and joy to my soul. Some songs from the past spark memories.

I have, with the help of God,  written quite abit of music over the years.  Right now I am in the process of recording it on CD.  Some of the songs I composed on the piano were during difficult struggles I was experiencing at that time in my life - you can hear the sadness and strife in the melody lines.  Others are happy and upbeat when days were brighter.  Some are simple lullaby's that I sang to my babies (now all in their 30's) .  Many are songs I wrote for Sunday School kids and children's choirs to sing, with catchy rhythms.  And they tell about the love of the Lord and God's plan of salvation via tunes and lyrics.

There is one particular instrumental I have written that  has brought tears to more than one person who has listened to it as I play it on the piano or clavinova.  Those notes and how I express them on the ivory and ebony are touching souls in a special way.  I would say this is through the power of the Holy Spirit - who worked through me to compose the melodies in the first place. I give Him all the glory!

It is definitely true that music can define our mood for the day, the hour, or even the minute. Next time you watch a movie, listen to the music and what an impact it has on the storyline and on you.  Imagine a scene with different music or no background score at all.  It is a  real eye opener!

Let's face it - music is one of the most awesome gifts our Heavenly Father has given us.  It is powerful.  And it influences us when we do not even realize it.  That is why it is important to listen to music that is good for the soul and what God would want us to listen to.

  I used to emphasize this fact to my Senior High Sunday School students and our youth group who are exposed to music probably more than any other age group. Our brain does not forget what we hear and without even realizing it, it is planted in our conscious. For example, think of commercials - I can repeat several words and jingles from radio or television word for word just from listening to them day after day.

 Some music and lyrics are not the best for our moral convictions - we have to be aware and make good choices.  Choices God would want us to make.  Not en easy thing to do when the radio is blaring in our car stereos.  And some of what is "out there" is okay and other music is "of this world" and does not honor our Lord.  It is so important to make good choices - and feed nourishing music to our precious souls and minds.

Something to reflect upon. . . . . can you imagine the world without music?  What would it be like?  And what kind of music lifts your heart?  What kind of music will you choose this week?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Guard my words as your most precious possession. Write them down and also keep them deep within your heart." Proverbs 7:2

As I reflect, God is giving us wise advice in this portion of Scripture; it could also be understood as a command from our loving Lord for us to obey. Even a warning, perhaps.

According to Webster, the word guard, as used in this context, means to protect or defend.  Some other synonyms include to shield, shelter, to watch over, keep safe, preserve, save and secure.

I have found in this day and age, that the language of our culture and the teachings of some Christian resources challenge us to apply this precious counsel more than ever before.

In my 50 plus years on this earth, swear words that flow from the mouths of people of all ages has changed dramatically- both among Christians and non-Christians.  When I was a young girl, growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, tolerance for swearing was low.  I remember adults threatening to wash out their children's mouth with soap if a cuss word was even uttered from their lips. If in school, you were sent to the principal's office.  And no teacher ever spoke in like manner.  Profanity was simply not allowed on television shows or in movies.

 Spin ahead to 2011 and those same words are tolerated by the public at large and the thought of punishment seems lost in the corridors of our minds.  I am confident there are Christian believers out there who are still "guarding" the word of the Lord and the principles He teaches.  Yay for them!!!!!  Because today, it takes courage and fortitude to be different, as Christ instructs us to be.  In Matthew 5 He said,"You are the salt of the earth; but if your salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?""   

Some may call me old fashioned and not up to date on the latest trends in cultural language development.  I am solid in my convictions and content to rely on the Word of God and not those of professors and researchers (who have studied the world and people He made but for a brief time).  If I were in a college language logistics class, I would probably not agree with what they call logical/reasonable conclusions.  Just from my recent research, around 20 references in the Holy Scriptures proclaim swearing is a sin.  Period.  Using God's name in vain is probably the most noted but certainly not the only one.

Along this same vein of thinking, guarding God's word's as your most precious possession has many other benefits. Just having it in your thought processes is remarkable !  And it is amazing to me how the Holy Spirit brings a verse to mind at just the right moment - to comfort, to give counsel, to remind me of God's abiding presence and love or perhaps to help minister to a friend in need. It is indeed a precious treasure to have within oneself - the very Word of God. Think of it!!  Reflect upon this reality.

It is also a helpful and important tool in this day and age.  I have become more keenly aware of this fact in the past ten years.  The Holy Spirit has warned me many times.  And  because I have some knowledge of what the Scriptures teach, red flags pop up in my head, so to speak, when I hear or see something that just doesn't fit with what God teaches. Unfortunately, during one such experience, those warnings came about in a Christian atmosphere.  I heard swearing and I heard sermons that were not based on Biblical facts but on men's ideas. It grieved my soul greatly and was hard on my faith.    

For some reason, some believers think we must move ourselves into the world's value system in order to reach others for Christ. We must become like them, entertain them, feed them, let them color our world instead of us coloring theirs.  That simply is not true and not Biblical at all. I believe a swaying from God is happening more and more in our society.  And thus the warning - "guard my words as your most precious possession."

Last week I was preparing a Sunday School lesson for middle-aged children.  The curriculum seemed Christian based.  Once I got to digging into the lesson I realized the author had written something - a concept the entire lesson was based on - but it was not found in the Bible.  I researched several versions of the Bible, along with footnotes, to distinguish this error.  I believe the Holy Spirit was also helping me. I struggled for hours over this lesson. Finally, with much relief, I decided not to teach it - for it was not based on the truth. My point being?  Check out what is "out there" against the teachings of the Scripture.  Guard what God has given us.  Stick to the truth like glue!!!

I believe we, as followers of Christ, must be alert, educated, filled with the Holy Spirit and courageous in the days to come.  God knew.  That is why He included such wisdom in His Word.  He knew we would need it in what some Christians are proclaiming are the last days. 

 There are some signs of what the Bible foretells as the last days of the earth as we know it.  But I truly do not know if we are living in that time - only God knows.  I leave it in His hands.

In the meantime, I am on guard.  Reflect upon this verse as you walk with Christ, your Lord and Savior."Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think."  Romans 12:2a

p.s. And some encouragement -  "Don't hide your light, let it shine for all." - words of Jesus as noted in Matthew 5 

 Remember . . . . . . .God is with us!

What are your reflections on this topic?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love Is An Everlasting Melody. . . . . . . . .

"You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Deuteronomy 6:5

This rock formation is as if God drew lines down
its' side with His pencil. What does that tell us about God?

(c) 2011 Carole S. Amateis-Lebruska  
I've Never Been To Heaven                                        
 No, I've never been to heaven
But I see Him every day!
He is always here beside me,
And He listens when I pray.

I can see Him in the flowers,
I can see Him in the trees,
I can see Him in a sunset
In the soft and flowing breeze.
 (C) 2011 Carole Amateis-Lebruska

Reflections of God are all around us. As I think of those aspects of life that I love, I realize that what I love reflects the character of my Father in Heaven. And thus my love for Him. This is a sample of a few of my loves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I love........the fresh, clean smell after a gentle falling rain

 a sunflower's bright shade of yellow

tiny birds gathered around a frosty birdbath to get a drink

squirrels playing chase in our big black walnut tree

the laughter of children

breathing in the fresh scent of sheets dried on the clothesline

puffy white picture clouds tucked in a baby blue sky

a gentle snowfall displaying huge, defined snowflakes

the smile of another, and then returning it
a giant orange harvest moon

the first signs of spring, budding trees, green grass, blooming tulips

tomatoes and sweet corn fresh from the garden

divine melodies played on an instrument

reading words actually written by God

my family and my brothers and sisters in Christ

the wonder and innocence in a baby's eyes

a hug from a family member or friend

the sound of a thunder storm and the flash of lightning

a wooden cross as the focal point of a church sanctuary

the sight of a radiant rainbow after a summer shower

communicating with God, family, friends and strangers

pretty horses grazing on the prairie

the soothing sound of birds singing from the treetops

smelling fresh baked bread made from the fruit of the earth

crickets chirping, frogs croaking on a summer's night

the black velvet fur of a new born calf

shelter from the cold, and when it is hot; cool breezes and shade

These are just some of the things in life that I love that also reflect my Lord and who He is.

 What/whom do you love? And how does each one reflect God?


(c) Carole Amateis-Lebruska 2011 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Sing a new song to the Lord! Sing it everywhere around the world! Sing out His praises! Bless His name. Each day tell someone that He saves." Psalms 96:1-2

  I have set a goal for the New Year - a goal I have been wanting to achieve for some time - to record all the compositions I have written on CDs.  I have a source that has willingly agreed to help me at a minimal charge - for which I am soooo grateful.  I started the project this month and I am finding that it will probably take longer than I expected. 

With over 60 songs written - some with lyrics and some not, I am familiar with most but some series of notes are lost in my memory bank.  After all, some were composed when my children were babies - I used to sing some of the tunes to them as I rocked them to sleep.  Precious memories!  Now all three of them have become adults and are in their 30s!  My how "time flies", as the saying goes.

Through the years, I have shared the tunes with fellow Christians at numerous churches - some in Sunday School, others for VBS, others were used as solos or duets during worship. Some are Christmas songs written for a musical. A couple were used for calls to worship.  God has been good. 

 But it seems He is tapping me on the shoulder and telling me - "Get with it servant, it is time to get them out in the world so more will know Me." Following my recent birthday, I realized my life on this earth is limited even if I live to be 100 - unlikely.  I am getting older, how much time God has planned for me to stay here is not known - I must get this done before I leave and am heaven bound.  And I  must have faith that God will lead me to a publisher. 

The featured photo on this blog posting is the actual piano where I have written songs for nearly 40 years.  It is very precious to me. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I have been able to put notes together in my head and move my fingers on the ivory and ebony keys, creating glorious melodies. Songs that tell about the love of God, His plan of salvation and teach Biblical principles. 

I am still writing melodies to this day. How do I achieve this? Only through Him Who has graciously given me this gift and so, there is no question - I give Him all the glory and honor for without Him, it would not be possible. Most of the melodies are in my memory bank - some are written down on paper and some on cassette tapes.  Now, my goal is to get them categorized and on CD.

I pray I will stay focused and accomplish it early this year.  Please pray I will be able to do this.

Are their any gifts God has given you to share with others on this earth?  If so, how are you doing with your God-given mission?  Could you use some prayer too?  Let me know:-)

Melodic Blessings To Each of you!