I Sing Because I'm Free

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The “LBD”

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The little black dress-

How could I have known?

All the times He’d used it

to make Himself

known!

The LBD

I think it’s time

to keep bringing it out

of this closet of mine!

Mondays are usually days I use to “TCB”- take care of business… to do all the things that went un-done over the weekend.  Today was unusual, as I was singing for a funeral and also had errands to run. I had thought about bringing a change of clothes, but didn’t think I’d have enough time to stop before the funeral to change into my dress.  So to save time, I left the house wearing my black dress.  It was slightly unusual for me to be dressed up on a Monday, but I decided to just go with it.

I wondered if anyone would notice what I was wearing-

and boy did they ever!

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My first stop was the car place.  My car was due for an oil change, so I brought it to one of my go-to places.  Sure enough, the lady who usually waits on me asked me why I was all dressed up.  I “get to” sing for a funeral today, I told her.

Oh, I’m so sorry…

And that’s how most people respond.

Oh no- it is one of the greatest blessings that I “get to” sing about Jesus to a family who is grieving, I told her. There is nothing that brings me more joy than singing and being able to share His Word in such a special way with people.  For the Christ-follower, death is not the end… it’s the BEGINNING of eternal life with Him!  And that is something to celebrate!  

Then she tells me how much she needs to be in church.  Pray for me, she says.  I ended up having a short conversation with her, which ended with an invitation for her to join me at church this coming Sunday.

In fact, that was the first of many God-centered conversations I had while I was running errands.  I ended up inviting multiple people to my church, I got to talk about Jesus, and death, and funerals- all sorts of taboo subjects with random people today.   Why? All because I wore a black dress.

It’s amazing to me how He shows up in the little things.  And to think- I almost brought a change of clothes with me!   

I didn’t even have to try to make conversations with these people! He did it all for me.  I wanted to share all of this with you NOT to pat myself on the back, but just to show you that He’s not looking for the greatest, brightest, most talented people to use…

all He needs is someone who is willing.

Willing to say yes, to be obedient- to WHATEVER He wants! 

And today- all He wanted me to do was wear a black dress!

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be prepared in season and out of season…2 Timothy 4:2 

 

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I almost missed it

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lost in wonder

we sat under 

a tree- pensively waiting

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thoughtfully gazing 

we were both praising 

the Lord- and anticipating

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the silent display 

a heavenly array 

we beheld a glorious sight 

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while the world kept on spinning 

the two of us grinning-  

we watched Him turn day into night 

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One evening last week, I got a phone call from my husband.  He had worked late most evenings that week, and he had called to let me know he was on his way home.  About five minutes later, the phone rang again- Babe- grab your shoes and your camera and meet me outside, he says to me.  So I did.  The moment I stepped outside, I saw the cotton candy pink striped clouds through the trees.  Quick! Get in the car!  We drove the short distance to our closest sunset spot, and with each turn we saw the colors fading away.  We parked and the once magnificent display had settled into a dull gray sky.  Oh well. Even though we missed it, it meant the world to me that my husband tried to get me there in time to see the sunset.

Then this past weekend, hubby and I had an evening to ourselves, and to be quite honest- I wanted to sit at home and do absolutely nothing.  But my loving hubby suggested otherwise.  You know how much you love watching the sunset- let’s go find a spot and have dinner.

I was tired.  And I hadn’t seen a good sunset in a while- mostly because I have gotten out of the habit of looking for it.  But how could I resist an evening out with my hubby, with the promise of a sunset view?  So we drove up to one of our favorite spots in town, at the edge of a shopping center.  We parked and sat on the grassy hill, overlooking the valley and it was a magnificent evening.

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On that hill, we sat together and took in all the beauty around us. I was so grateful for the quiet time together.  It made me infinitely thankful for my husband- who loves me enough to get me out of the house- and he always knows just what I need.  Cars were passing by, people were going in and out of the stores… the busy world kept on turning- all while He was painting a masterpiece in the sky.

And if the evening had gone as I had initially wanted it to-

I would have missed out, too.

He went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Matthew 14:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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being “present”

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The moment I seek

and desire His presence-

I find He is near

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Isaiah 55:6

Twilight is my favorite time of day.  It is a time of two-fold expectation for me- expecting to see something beautiful in the sky, and it’s also a time to have a momentary heart-to-heart chat with my Heavenly Father.

Speaking of heart-to-heart chats,  I have been lamenting over how those chats with my daughters are fewer and farther between now that they are getting older.

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The girls woke me up early the other day with one request- to watch a movie with them.  Honestly, it wasn’t a movie that I had any desire to watch, but I thought about how seldom they ask me to do things with them now.

“Momma- NO laptop and NO phone!  You have to sit and pay attention!”

I smiled and secretly loved the fact that they wanted my undivided attention. So I obliged- I put away every electronic device and set aside every thought that was not pertinent to the task as hand.

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Surprisingly, I enjoyed watching the movie.  Mostly it was because I knew how much my girls wanted me to sit with them and experience the very same joy that they have when they put themselves into the movie’s fantasy world. But the greatest joy for me was watching their smiles, the way they looked back at me to see if I laughed when they did…and knowing that they wanted to feel connected to me through this shared experience.

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The verse above reminds me that when we seek to be in His presence, we know He is already with us.  As my girls are getting more independent, I find them asking to spend time with me less…and only coming to me when they need something.

But it made me think about all the times I do that very same thing with the Lord…only going to Him in prayer when I have a need- when my greatest need is to continually be in His presence.

He desires my constant fellowship with Him- reminding me that when my girls are truly seeking to spend time with me- all I need to do is to be present.

Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

1 Chronicles 16:11

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eclipse

when clouds roll in

over a sky of blue 

and you can’t see the eclipse- 

what’s a girl to do? 

take a picture 

anyway! 

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I’m not really the best at planning ahead, so naturally I did not have a pair of “eclipse” glasses laying around the house.  But honestly, I wasn’t really interested in watching it… I’m just not that into you.

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Until I noticed the sky got all strange looking…and then I couldn’t look away.

 I admit it-  I was sucked into the eclipse obsession, trying my hardest NOT to look up, but still look around at all the cool clouds and colors.

 

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While the eclipse was a bust here in Charlottesville, I experienced my own personal “eclipse” that day.  It seemed as if a cloud were hanging over me when I woke that morning, and I was desperate to see the light of the Lord.  This was partly my own fault.   I’ve been spending way too much time watching the news and surfing the internet… spending time doing meaningless things that I could be spending with the Lord.  So I did everything I could to get my heart and mind completely focused on Him.

I turned off the tv.  I prayed.  I read scriptures.  I cried as I read through the Psalms…

Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
 I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.  Psalm 63

I prayed that verse over and over. Because His love is better than life. And the more I prayed it, the more my heart felt it.  He is everything.  He gives me life.  And I thought- why would I ever choose to do anything other than praise the Lord when I have any “down time”?  It is through worship that He fills me up!

Then I watched church on youtube. The first service I clicked on happened to be a baptism service.  It was so beautiful- on one side of the stage, there were people leading worship, and on the other, a pastor was baptizing and praying with people.  You could hear the cheers as the people were baptized.  I was so moved- I cried tears of joy for these people I’d never even met!

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I mean- I was all wrapped up in worship.  Hands raised, crying, singing…

And then I moved on over to the piano.  Words and music flowed out of me effortlessly.

It was such an amazing God-filled day.

It made me really think about how I was spending my “down” time on a regular basis-

Are the things I’m doing bringing me closer to the Lord?

Or are they taking precious time away from Him?

His love is better than life.  

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

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adulting

My girls went back to school yesterday.

It brings me JOY.. and it also makes me a little bit sad.  I remember all those years I dreamed of having a baby, and in my own naiveté, I thought those toddler years would last forever.  But I blinked, and my girls have grown up overnight.

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We celebrated so many firsts when they were little… their first giggle, their first bite of real food, their first steps… then came their first days of school… losing their first teeth…

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And now those “firsts” are becoming fewer and farther between. With one in 7th grade, and the other in 9th grade, I had to literally beg them for a first-day-of-school picture.  Gone are the days of them running to give me hugs when they get off the school bus, or them wanting to tell me all about their day.  I feel them trying to pull away from me and it is hard.

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But this time at our back-to-school night, I witnessed another first… 

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My oldest, who normally hides behind me- afraid to speak to anyone;  she actually introduced herself to all of her teachers-  on her own! And then she even asked them important questions- like about testing and whether they accepted late work.  And for the first time, I watched her beam with confidence as she walked down the hallways, waving and smiling at her friends.

My oldest was adulting… and it was one of my proudest “mom” moments yet!  Those little girl days may be a fading memory, but growing up is a good thing!IMG_4676

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11 

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pardon me, dude-

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Pardon me, dude-

I don’t mean to be

rude,

but I’m not

in the mood

for your

‘tude!

We had the most aMAZing week earlier this summer! The girls and I took a trip with our friends to Florida.  We went to Universal Studios Theme Park and it was absolutely fabulous!

If you know anything about my girls, you know that they are huge Harry Potter fanatics. So to say that their dreams came true is a slight understatement.  Harry Potter World at Universal did not disappoint- and even I was amazed!

But what I didn’t expect was how much fun we had in the Dr Seuss park! The lines were incredibly short and even I found my inner child as we rode the whimsical rides and listened to the wild rhymes of Dr Seuss.

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One night we were so tired that we couldn’t stop giggling.  You know how when you get overly tired how everything seems funny?  Well all of us girls were snuggled into the hotel beds, and I came up with that poem and I laughed so hard that I couldn’t even get it out.  I was trying to be serious, trying to get them to settle down and go to sleep, but even I couldn’t stop myself from laughing!

I am so thankful for that special week with my girls, and also for the reminder that you’re never too old to be a kid!fullsizeoutput_21f0

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10

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Oh my, oh golly-

how long it’s been

since I have seen

that number “10”

I’ll shout it from the roof tops,

I’ll say it again-

It’s the number 10

for the big WIN!

Remember my new year’s resolution to get  Lean in ’17?   I am happy to report that I’m still going strong!  In fact, I had the joyous experience of wearing a pair of size 10 jeans today!  I haven’t worn a size 10 in over 10 years!  Praise the Lord!  And more importantly- I’m feeling groovy!

I bet you’re humming that old classic Simon and Garfunkel song now, aren’t you 😉

As I got ready to leave the house yesterday, I went tell my hubby my good news-

“Babe!  Guess what?!  I am wearing a SIZE 10!  Can you believe it?!”

He lovingly smiled and said-

“You’ve always been a perfect 10 to me!”

Husbands, love your wives, 

just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her- Ephesians 5:25

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remember the “green lights”

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I began dating my husband when I was 17 years old.  We worked together at a movie rental place inside of a grocery store for about a year before he asked me out on our first date.

My parents had recently separated and I was a little bit jaded about the whole idea of  marriage, and what a happy family should looked like.  I met my husband’s parents early on in our relationship and I remember wondering why they were so happy all the time!

I spent lots of time at my husband’s family’s house that first year we dated.  So much time, that it was pretty much assumed that I was going to be there for dinner every night.  My  (future) in-laws frequently brought home a Wendy’s frosty for me- knowing how much I loved ice cream.

One afternoon I was riding with my (future) mother-in-law to get ice cream.  I clearly remember the light turning green and hearing her say Thank you, Lord.

In my mind I remember thinking that was a little bit over-the-top.  Really?!  Who thanks the Lord for the light changing to green?  But in reality, I wasn’t thankful for much of anything  during that time in my life.  I felt sorry for myself for lots of reasons and I was completely oblivious to all of the many blessings I had to be thankful for.

But praise the Lord- years later, somewhere in my misery, God’s grace found me.  He opened my eyes and He came into my heart.  I am so thankful for how my husband’s parents have selflessly loved me with a Christ-like love all these years.  And over the years, I realized the source for their happiness- it’s simply the JOY of the Lord!

I once was lost, but now I’m found

was blind but now I see 

Whenever I feel myself begin to slip into that bottomless pit of self-pity, I think of my mother-in-law and how she praised the Lord for something as simple as the green light that day.

When we begin to thanking Him for the little things- we realize just how much we have to be thankful for! 

And just as my wise father-in-law says- “give God all the glory- even when you think He doesn’t deserve it…  because He does!” 

Be thankful in all circumstances-  1 Thessalonians 5:18

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crayons and markers

 

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like crayons and markers 

I watched as she drew 

outlined and shadowed 

but before she was through- 

she’d say look this way- 

and with special care 

she’d dab a little here 

and she’d dab a little there- 

transforming me into 

a queen for a day 

how I loved it when

Grandmother 

came to play! 

Today I was thinking about my Grandmother and remembering all the times she used to travel to visit us.  We didn’t see her often- maybe a couple of times a year, but she was a true southern belle and I loved her dearly!  She passed away just a few years after I got married.  As I was putting on my moisturizer this morning, I remembered something special she used to do with us…

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Grandmother kept her make-up in something like this

 

 

 

 

One of the things I loved most when Grandmother came to visit is when she would put her make-up on in the morning.  She would sit on the couch and lay out all of her makeup on the coffee table. And if my sister and I were sitting with her, she would include us in her beauty ritual.  We would carefully watch her apply her blue eye-shadow, and then it was our turn!

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I kept my make-up in one of these! 

She’d lean over and swipe the blue shadows on our lids.  And then she’d dab a little bit of mascara on our lashes, and then we’d pick a shade of lipstick.  A little puff of nude powder dusted on our faces, and we were all dolled up!  I remember thinking- oh just wait till my friends see me like this! 

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Her favorite powder…White Shoulders 

And then I’d go outside to see our friends who lived next door, and I’d wait for them to notice something different about me.  Inside, I felt like a beauty queen, but the funny thing was that to them- I didn’t look any different!

It is amazing how a little extra attention from someone you love can transform your own thoughts about yourself.

 I am so thankful for those memories-

and for how special and loved my Grandmother always made me feel!

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight. 

1 Peter 3:4

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a home-cooked meal

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Cooking is something I have never really enjoyed, but eating– that’s a whole different ball game! I love food! And I have gotten much better at meal planning and cooking lately.  But these summer days seem to be even busier for me than the school year.

After running around all day, my youngest daughter asked me what we were going to have for dinner-

“Come here”, I told her.  “I have something really important to tell you…”

Actually, I was in the middle of practicing one of the saddest songs I have ever heard, trying to learn it to sing at an upcoming funeral- and I was choking back tears as she called to me from the other room.

I wanted to have this super sappy conversation with her.  I wanted to hug her tight and tell her how much I loved her and that I didn’t ever want her to get big and leave home- but I didn’t.

“I have been meaning to tell you this,” I said in my most serious voice.   “Dinner is cancelled.  We won’t be having dinner tonight.” I said with a deadpan expression on my face.

“Mom!” she smiled at me and rolled her eyes.

“I think I’m going to make quesadillas… or maybe spaghetti?”  Dinner of champions! Those are my easy go-to meals when I don’t wanna think about meal prep.

“But Mom- you NEVER make us a home-cooked meal anymore! Never!  All I want is to order pizza!  Please?  Pretty please?!”

I burst out laughing.

Because ordering pizza is definitely not a home-cooked meal!

But that night pizza seemed perfect.

And in that moment I realized how incredibly blessed I am.

I have two awesome daughters- who definitely do NOT expect perfectly home-cooked meals from me,

a hubby who loves me just as I am- and was equally in favor of pizza,

and a God who loves me infinitely more than I could ever comprehend.

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