I am the queen of playlists. I love them. There must be a dozen of them on my iPod. I tend to categorize by the time of my life: 80s, high school, college, Michigan (for when we lived in Michigan... it was a big music time for me), and the like. I have a playlist for my novel (because I work better with a soundtrack) and my praise and worship one as well.

It's in my praise and worship playlist that you'll find an unusual song: "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty. As my daughter likes to say, "It's true!" I think it may well be the greatest spiritual warfare anthem ever written (even though I'm 99% sure that's not what Tom Petty was thinking when he wrote it... :-) ). Whenever I feel like the devil is beating me up, I cue up that song and remember that God is my deliverer and that I have been set free and that "He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world" and that God never intended me to back down from the enemy--He intended me to stand and fight or, at times, simply to stand. (I'm thinking Ephesians 6 right about now.) It's a good thing to remind the devil that "you can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won't back down." For me, it's a shout-from-the-rooftops anthem of my strength in God and my determination to be what He's called me to be.

So, before I start to quote all of the words to you, I'll get on with what I want to say. I used to be agoraphobic, and I lived for ten years in incredible fear. Oddly enough, one of the things that I feared most was sickness. So now, on several occasions when Satan has wanted to try to keep me from doing what God wants me to do, he's used sickness to attack me. Sometimes, that's my indicator that I'm doing exactly what God wants me to do. (Hey, why not use the enemy's tricks against him? He's just confirming it when he attacks me.)

Well, this pops back to yesterday's Third Day post. I've tried for years to see them, and I knew this time would stick. I knew I needed the corporate worship and to sit under some anointed music. And, of course, just before we left for Montgomery, I started to feel sick. By the time we got to the venue, I was nauseated and had a yucky stomach and sweaty palms and felt totally feverish. Not my idea of fun. I wanted to go home and go to bed, but no way. I knew the attack when I saw it and I chose to fight it. I chose to tell Satan no. I chose not to back down.

We were about half an hour early for the show. While we were waiting, they were piping in music, the vast majority of it was Christian rock/alternative. So I'm laid back in my lawn chair, praying for God's help and telling the devil no, when they blasted out my favorite Tobymac song, "Ignition." It was fun to hear it cranked up so loud. It got my attention.

The song after it was really, really low and quiet; I could barely hear it. But then... I caught part of the melody. And I sat straight up. My friend Kelly was next to me, and she's a music geek like me, so I grabbed her by the arm and said, "Kelly. Is that... Tom Petty?" (This gives me chills...) She said, "Yeah. It's 'I Won't Back Down.'" I just sat back in my chair and grinned so big I know that half of the people in Montgomery's Union Station thought I was crazy.

God so ROCKS MY WORLD when He does stuff like that. Here I was in a private battle and thinking that I was not about to back down, and God sent me my unlikely "fight song." Right before a Christian rock show, in the midst of all of the Christian music they were playing, there was Tom Petty. Only God could do that. And then He decided to make me laugh, because during the intermission between Brandon Heath and Third Day? They played my song again. (And, a side note... Brandon Heath opened with "I'm Not Who I Was." So COOL!)

Things like that make me feel like God has wrapped me up in His arms. It's times like that when I can hear his fatherly laughter and practically see him smiling down on me. There is absolutely no way to call that a coincidence. And it wasn't what I like to call a "postcard from God," either. It was a full on, spotlighted, neon billboard that said, "Jodie, I'm with you. You keep doing what you're doing."

My God so rocks... even to Tom Petty. :-)

I am, right now, exhausted. So let me apologize if I wander off into la-la land and get lost. I didn't get to bed until two in the morning thanks to the drive back from Montgomery and various weather-related issues last night. I could curl up under my desk and sleep for a week right about now, but I wanted to share...

Last night, I had the most amazing experience. For four years, I've been trying to see Third Day live. They always seem to come to town just before or just after we move. Or they show up an hour or so away on a day I simply cannot go. Last year, I bought tickets and had to sell them because the Army messed up our move schedule. I was bummed beyond belief. I have always been so touched by their music and believe it to be so anointed that I just wanted to go and be there live with an audience of people praising God while Mac Powell and the boys provided the tune.

A few weeks ago, my dad got to go in our hometown. Here's one of the reasons I love my daddy. Whenever he goes to the beach, he always goes down to the water, calls me, and says, "Listen to this" and lets me hear the ocean. Well, when he went to see Third Day, he called me and held up his phone so I could hear the entire song "God of Wonders." Right then, I decided that I had to go see them on this tour. I mean, just listening over the phone brought tears to my eyes, because I could hear the band and the crowd being all about Jesus, ya know?

Last night, I finally made it.

What an incredible thing! OH MY GOSH! (I told a friend I should actually say, "OH MY GOD," because it was ALL ABOUT HIM!) To sing "God of Wonders" and "You Are So Good to Me" with so many other people, with my hands up high and hearing so many voices blend with Mac Powell's to sing to my Jesus... To hear "Don't You Know I've Always Loved You" and "Love Song" (I cried...) and to just let it wash over me just how much God loves me. It was unbelievable. If they had played on for four more hours, I'd have stood there with my arms up and basked in being with my Jesus. Wow. If you ever get to go... wow.

Funny story, though: we were outside by a railroad track and just as the band started the first verse of "You Are So Good to Me," a train went by. For a few seconds, we couldn't hear anything at all, and I expected them to stop playing and wait for the train to pass. But after the engine went by, I could just barely make out what Mac Powell was singing: "I hear the train a-comin', it's comin' 'round the bend." They proceeded to perform "Folsom Prison Blues" while the train went by. :-) Great showmanship by the whole band at every point. Found video on youtube:

The last song they performed was "Creed," which has always been a personal favorite of mine. I get movin' on that one, because "I did not make it, no IT IS MAKING ME!" YES! Anyway, it was a perfect close, to just sing what I believe with so many other people. I can't do them or the experience justice. Go see them!

But one of the coolest things that happened really had nothing to do with Third Day. There were two African-American gentlemen standing about four feet to my right. And they were all about Jesus during the show. They sang every word, cheered, had their hands up and praised like they meant it. I loved being in their vicinity and praising right along beside them! As I was walking out, I stepped over to them and said, "I have thoroughly enjoyed you both tonight. Thank you for singing beside me." Both of them laughed and gave me hugs like you get from your brother, ya know? Just good ol' family hugs. (I'm tearing up even now.) I couldn't get those men out of my head, because, for some reason, God just filled me up with spiritual brother-sister love for them. I kept on thinking how it's so amazing that we were strangers and yet, in that moment of praising God, we were truly a sister and two brothers in Jesus, the way God intended for it to be. So, I came home and I was brushing my teeth and God said, "When you see them in heaven, you're all three going to know each other." Wow. I wish I had the words for what that did to me. (Yep, I'm crying as I type this... Sorry.) I have to say "Praise Jesus" right now. Gimme a sec. :-) One of these days, I'm going to be in heaven and run into them on the streets of gold and we're going to point to each other and go, "Third Day show!" and be so happy to see each other again. And it's going to happen because we all three love Jesus and we all three share that. For the first time in my life, I truly, truly, truly grasp the truth of what it means to be a family of believers. I understand how God can fill us up with love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, even the ones we haven't met yet or the ones we say exactly two sentences to and never see again on this earth. That's the love of God. Amazing.