I Sing Because I'm Free

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He Leads

The sky was cerulean blue, and the pear trees blossoms were in full bloom.  It was one of those days where all of nature seems to be in technicolor.

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There are some days that I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude- for everything-

Thankful that I have a car, and that I can drive anywhere I want!

Thankful for sunshine and all the things that come alive in spring. 

Thankful to be alive and breathing– even if it is pollen-laden spring air!

I spent the afternoon running a few errands,  and then decided to get coffee.  I found myself driving to an out of the way Starbucks- one that I don’t go to often.

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I walked in and there was an elderly man coming out of the restroom.  I couldn’t tell if he was trying to get around me to go to his seat, or if he was actually getting in line to order coffee, but he looked a little flustered.

“You go ahead of me,” he said, motioning for me to step in front of him.  I smiled, and got in line.

Then the oddest thing happened- he started talking to me as if he’d known me for years…

“You know, that movie Paul the Apostle of Christ– that was something else, wasn’t it?” Out of the blue, he started to tell me about this movie, which I wanted to see but haven’t yet-  “It was the most amazing movie.  You know how Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh?  They did such a beautiful job with that.  We’ve all got a thorn in the flesh, don’t we?”   He continued on to talk about the movie I Can Only Imagine… “And the whole symbolism between his earthly father and his Heavenly Father was just amazing…”

Wow.  A random stranger was talking to me- in the middle of the Starbucks line- about God.  I told him that I hadn’t seen either movie yet, but that they were on my to-do list.  I placed my coffee order and then went to the other side of the counter to wait.

Sure enough, he stepped beside me again as we waited for our cup of heaven.  I knew the Lord wanted me to ask him if he went to church.

“So, do you go to church anywhere?”  I asked him.

“I do, but I’m looking for another one.  This one’s so big, I can’t seem to form relationships with anyone. How about you?  Where do you go?”

I briefly told him where I went to church, and that I also lead the music there.

“Well, isn’t that something?” he says, “it’s a divine appointment!  Me meeting you here at this Starbucks!”  We chatted for a few minutes longer, and then I went on about my day.

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I’ve thought about the gentleman at Starbucks a lot over the last few days… and while he thanked me for encouraging him, he was actually an encouragement to me- reminding me that He marks every step of our path during the day.

A “divine appointment”

How many “divine appointments” do we miss out on every day because we aren’t looking for them?

I don’t want to miss a single one.

Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth you have for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unlock and set me free.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth you send so clear;
and while the message sounds in my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart, and let me prepare
love with your children thus to share.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it- Hebrews 3:2 

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You’re Sew Vain

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My Sewing/Vanity Table 

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted an antique vanity- with a big fancy mirror, and those little drawers to put all your make up and pretty things in.  Unfortunately we don’t have a good place for me to put one, so I have re-purposed an old sewing table as a vanity.

Several years ago, my Granny was getting rid of things and my mom asked if I wanted Granny’s old sewing table.  I thought it would be neat to have, so I  brought it home one day.  It sat in our guest room downstairs for a while, and then I decided to bring it upstairs and put it in my room.   Now it has become my make-shift vanity.

I keep my make-up bag on top, and I have a stand up mirror that I keep on top of the desk.   And there are all sorts of little treasures in the side drawers…

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I find something new every time I look in these drawers! 

 I wonder how many times my Granny sat at this same table to sew on a button, or fix a hem?  Even though Granny has been gone for almost 2 years now, I think about her every day.  And every time one of my girls needs something hemmed- or a button repaired-  I go straight to this sewing table! I think to myself- “Granny to the rescue”!

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My white Easter dress 

This past Good Friday would have been Granny’s 89th birthday.  It’s hard to believe she’s been gone that long!  I had a white dress to hem for Easter, so naturally I went to Granny’s old sewing table for some help. Yep- Granny to the rescue, again!  

Sure enough, there was a sturdy pair of sewing scissors in the middle drawer… and snow white thread with a spool that must have been 50 years old! And plenty of different sized sewing needles- good for every type of fabric.

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What a blessing it was for me to sit at this old table of Granny’s on her birthday, and to spend some of the day remembering her- making use of all the little treasures that are in this sewing table.  One of the things I loved most about Granny was that she was a good listener.  Sometimes when I sit there to sew, or to put on my make-up- I imagine that I’m talking to her…telling her all kinds of tales about raising my girls…and I imagine her listening intently, smiling back at me.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens…

    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak-  Ecclesiastes 3 

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nailed it

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My girls introduced me to a fab new Netflix show called “Nailed It”, in which ordinary folks try their best to reproduce a gloriously decorated cupcake or cake.  This show is deliciously hilarious and fun to watch!

Until one of my daughters said I needed to be on it.

Ouch. 

What are you tryna say about my baking skills?!  I was immediately on the offense.

Well, you’re always subbing this for that, you use coconut flour instead of regular flour…you don’t have eggs and so you’ll put something else in it…

Okay, okay, I see…. I couldn’t deny her logic.  I am guilty of all that and way more in the kitchen…

And I realized in that moment how deeply rooted my desire for perfection is. So much so, that I almost missed what my daughter was actually saying to me-

Even though you are not a “baker”- you will attempt to bake ANYTHING.  And you don’t let it stop you if you don’t have the exact ingredients- you find a way to make it work!

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You know what is awesome about this realization?  That I recognized my tendency to take a comment and twist it around in my head…and that I can CHOOSE to put the brakes on those thoughts more quickly!

So this morning, I attempted to make a copycat Starbucks Lemon poundcake (low carb and sugar free, of course)  and I didn’t have the sweetener it called for, so I had to look up some conversion charts for the Sweet Leaf brand stevia I had… and then I used coconut flour instead of the baking blend it called for…. and coconut is a “thirsty” flour, so I only used 1/2 of what it called for and upped the amount of coconut milk I used…

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And I literally LOL’ed as I remembered my daughter’s comments about my baking tendencies…

I had to bake it for 10 minutes longer for it to set…. but I totally nailed it! 

He continually reminds me to stop my pursuit of perfection, and to keep pursuing Him! Oh yeah, and it’s okay to laugh at ourselves from time to time, too!

 

I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself.  Philippians 3:12 

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my deeelightful breakfast!!! 

p.s.

Here’s the lemon poundcake recipe that I “loosely” followed 🙂

https://www.nanaslittlekitchen.com/sugar-free-copycat-starbucks-lemon-loaf/

 

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Jesus Our Lord is Crucified

Jesus Our Lord is Crucified

O come and mourn with me awhile, 
O come ye to the Savior’s side 
O come, together let us mourn, 
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

Seven times He spoke seven words of love; 
And all three hours His silence cried 
For mercy on the souls of men; 
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

O love of God! O sin of man! 
In this dread act Your strength is tried; 
And victory remains with love; 
Jesus our Lord is crucified!

A broken heart, a fount of tears, 
Ask, and they will not be denied; 
A broken heart love’s cradle is: 
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

lyrics written by Frederick Faber – 1849

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Moved by these beautiful words, I took the lyrics of this old hymn and set it to a new melody and piano accompaniment.  I would be happy to share the chord chart with anyone who would like to have it.  Be blessed!

Jesus Our Lord is Crucified

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i sing

 

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It was just another ordinary day.

I got dressed and slipped a special necklace over my blouse.  It is a silver chain with an old silver spoon pendant with the words “I Sing Because I’m Free” embossed on it.  My mom had it made for me for Christmas a few years back.  It’s the name of this blog, and it is also a line from one of my favorite hymns- His Eye is on the Sparrow.

It’s funny, because I get asked more questions about that piece of jewelry than I’d ever thought possible!  It seems like everywhere I go, someone will notice it and ask me what it means.

Anyway, I drove to town and met a friend for lunch, and then had a bunch of errands to run.  I tried to plan them so that all of the stops were in order.  My first stop was the health food store to pick up some vitamins.  They are always friendly, but there’s not a lot of chit-chat in the check-out line.

I grabbed the one thing I needed and met the cashier at the counter.

I opened my purse and it took me a minute to find my debit card.

“I sing because I’m free?”  he inquired.

It’s a line from an old hymn, I told him.  Do you know it?  It’s called His eye is on the Sparrow…

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one,”  he said.

And I knew the Lord wanted me to just start singing it.  Without any hesitation, I broke out into the chorus of the song.

“Ah… that’s a really nice song,”  he said.

I am free because of Jesus, I said to him.  

And I could have cut the silence with a knife.  Can you say- AWKWARD!?!

“That’s real nice, m’am”, he says to me.  He never looked up at me as he tore the receipt from the register, handed me a pen, and asked me for my signature.  I signed my name and told him to have an awesome day.

I got in the car and something strange happened.

I wasn’t embarrassed.  

I didn’t want to hide.

I didn’t feel defeated.  

Although it might have seemed a little awkward in the store, I was obedient to do what God wanted me to do in that moment.

No regrets. 

You win some, you lose some-

But when you are obedient to do what He asks- no matter how big or small-

you always win!

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 

Galatians 1:10 

 

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One thing remains

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I think back on the days when the girls were little and I lament over how little sleep I had, and how very much I felt pulled between working part time while I stayed at home with them.   I remember the momma guilt I had when I hurried them to “get in the car because Mommy was going to be late again”… I remember how I rushed from here to there trying to fit everything in…I also remember thinking I wasn’t doing a good enough job at everything I was trying to do.

Sometimes I wonder what they remember about their “little girl” days…

Yesterday I was blessed beyond measure.  The girls found an old camera and showed me the memory card.  They wanted me to upload all the pictures onto my computer and look at them together.

Most of them were when the girls were around 2 and 5- right in the thick of my “running around” days when I taught aerobic classes at the gym and I was also teaching music lessons.

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And the smiles I saw on the girls’ faces brought tears to my eyes.  Pictures- lots of them that they took themselves- perfectly documented giggly faces covered in juice, their favorite toys scattered all around the house….there were even short videos of them watching their favorite tv shows and singing the theme songs.

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As we scrolled through the pictures, I started to delete the blurry ones- and my oldest kept saying NO!  Every single one made her remember something special.  I couldn’t believe all the little details she remembered about those years.  Every toy and dollhouse, every outfit and accessory she wore.

And all I could see was the joy in their eyes.

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Maybe I was a little too hard on myself all those years ago- because yesterday, as we looked back on those pictures, I didn’t think about anything other than how precious my girls are and how very much I loved my babies!  Looking at those pictures made me really missed those days.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

1 Corinthians 13:13

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when things need mending

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I have a favorite pair of shoes.

They are nothing special.  In fact, one of the reasons I love them is because they reminded me of a pair of shoes a friend of mine had in high school a few…umm 20 something years ago.  They are a simple pair of Mary Jane black flats, made out of fabric.  They have a little ankle strap which I love- no chance of slipping out of these suckers!  They feel like slippers and go with everything.

So imagine how sad I was when I realized that my fur baby, Jack, made a little snack out of one of the ankle straps! Ugghh… I HATE it when that happens!  Totally my fault though, because I didn’t put them away and instead left them out in the middle of the floor so that Jack could nibble on them.

I couldn’t bear to part with them, so I put them in my closet for a while.  And then a couple of weeks ago I had an idea for a quick fix- a safety pin!  I could reattach the ankle strap to the shoe with a safety pin and no one would ever know.  It was on the inside of the ankle- hardly noticeable!

I wore my beloved black flats to church one recent Sunday.  I was only a little concerned about the safety pin, and was grateful for the comfort as I played piano and led worship.   After church we went out to lunch with a whole group of friends from church.  Those are the days I love.  I think of it as the “after church”… it’s like an extension of the service because we are truly breaking bread together and sharing in one another’s lives.

So I was sitting there and all of a sudden my friend looks down and says “is that what I think it is?”  I looked at her a little strange, not knowing what she was talking about.

“Do you really have a safety pin holding that shoe together??”

I busted out laughing.  She knows I am a little quirky sometimes.  We both laughed at the absurdity and I told her how glad I was that it held up and didn’t bust open and poke me in the middle of church!

When I got home,  I pulled out my sewing needle and found some dark thread (because, naturally, I couldn’t find any black thread… so I used what I had) and within a few minutes I sewed it back on, good as new.  In fact, I don’t think anyone would even notice that it had ever been a  Jack “snack”.

As I mended my shoe, I thought about all the times I want to take short cuts and look for the quick fix instead of really doing things the “right way”.  My husband always laughs  whenever he finds a half- opened box of anything in the kitchen- because I have a funny habit of opening things  just enough for me to get out what I need.

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Guilty of opening one corner… to desperately grab a K-cup!!

I also thought about how very blessed I am to have the kind of friends who are willing to point out things that need fixing- big and little things!  Those are the kind of friends that hold us accountable and make us better people.  And those same friends that can be honest with me- those are the friends that I can trust to laugh and cry with me about silly things and important things, too.

I am grateful for ALL of my Jesus girlfriends!!

Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Proverbs 27:17

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All In

excuses wearing thin

tired of hiding in my sin

Your Spirit stirring from within

I’m all in

no more wasting time

with this fleeting life of mine

I’m signing on the dotted line

I’m all in

I’m all in

head over heels

I’m all in

wanna give my life

for something real

I’m all in

sold out for You

I’m all in

I’m living proof

no more scattered thoughts

I’m clinging to the cross

everything I count as loss

I’m all in

knowing what is true

want to honor You in all I do

fall helplessly in love with You

I’m all in

Last Sunday, as I played the piano at church, I watched  two people come forward to receive the Lord and embrace the cross of Christ at the close of the service.  It was a powerful, beautiful moment!  All of the congregation was invited to join them at the cross, and we came together and prayed as a “family”-  brothers and sisters in Christ.

That night, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I thought about what it means to embrace the cross- to be “all in” for Him.   I wrote this song that night as I thought of the two courageous people who stepped forward to “embrace the cross”, and also reflected on my own moment of surrender.

I thought of all the times I felt quickened in my spirit to go to the altar to pray, to raise my hand, to publicly declare my need for Him… and I held back for so long.  But there comes a moment when you can’t hold back any longer.

And once you go “all in”- it becomes a daily decision… daily seeking Him, laying down your own will and desires for His.  Acknowledging that His ways and thoughts are far better than yours could ever be.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death…

Philippians 3:8-10

 

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take the picture

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 blink too fast 

and before you know it 

the moment is gone 

with nothing to show for it 

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tick tock ticking- 

time’s passing me by 

so I’ll keep my camera 

close to my eye 

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I had the joy of spending the entire day with my oldest daughter this past weekend.  It was a perfect day.  I have spent a lot of time with both girls recently as they have had multiple snow days off of school, added onto the 2+ weeks off for Christmas break… let’s just say the girls were getting a little tired of one another!  They are as different as night and day, and being with the both of them can be emotionally and mentally exhausting.  And honestly, we were all ready to get back into a routine!

So back to my day… we took a road trip, and my normally quiet, tired teen was bubbly, giggly, and chatty the entire day!  We talked about everything from school to politics to her friends- all the things I wish she would talk about with me ALL of the time!

Having her all to myself allowed me to appreciate her so much more…how she likes peace and quiet,  how she, too,  loves coffee (just like me!), and her desire to have as many dogs as she can possibly take care of when she’s on her own.

As we were heading home that evening, I noticed the sky was brewing up a beautiful sunset.  I wanted to enjoy every second of that evening.

“Living in the moment is so overrated, ” my daughter told me.

“What do you mean?” I asked her.

“Like how everyone says not to take pictures- to just enjoy the moments… that’s silly. Take the picture. Then you’ll always have something to look back on to remember the moments.”

Wise words from my (almost) 15 year old-

and I even have a few pictures to remember it 🙂

You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. 

Ecclesiastes 11:9

 

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Whiter than Snow

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
Break down every idol, cast out every foe—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies,
And help me to make a complete sacrifice;
I give up myself, and whatever I know—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat,
I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet,
By faith for my cleansing, I see thy blood flow—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

The blessing by faith, I receive from above;
Oh, glory! my soul is made perfect in love;
My prayer has prevailed, and this moment I know,
The blood is applied, I am whiter than snow.

Written by James Nicholson in 1872

 

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