I Sing Because I'm Free

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dream a little dream

 

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I woke up the other morning with JOY just flowing through my veins!  I mean, I was so excited, I couldn’t contain it!  I had the most amazing dream- it was one of those dreams that was so real, it was being in a movie!  I literally sat up in my bed and cheered- “Woohooo!!!”

The hubs was already awake, so I went into the living room to share the excitement with him, lol.

“Oh.My.GOODNESS!  I had the BEST dream EVER”, I tell my husband.

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Now, mind you, he’s not a morning person… so he smiled and said not now.  Go write it down and tell me all about it later.  He handed me a few pieces of paper from the printer and a pen and I sat down and tried to write fast enough to capture all the juicy details.

About 10 minutes later, he turned around to me and said are you STILL writing?!

Yep!  Almost done!

I won’t bore you with all the nitty-gritty details of my dream, but the main focus was that I had found something special that belonged to a stranger.  I tracked down the stranger and was about to give them this item, and then I lost it while I was in the mall.  I prayed and prayed that I would find it, and I had all sorts of shoppers and salespeople looking for it.

I remember the feeling of expectation I had in the dream- I just KNEW I was going to find this thing!  And sure enough, I did!  I was so overjoyed that I jumped up and down and raised both arms in the air and shouted “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

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And that’s how I woke up that morning!  I was on cloud nine!  I wanted to jump up and down and tell the whole world how much I loved the Lord.

But the coolest thing happened to me that day-  I had that feeling of joy inside me ALL DAY LONG! I started thinking about how awesome it would be to wake up praising the Lord like that EVERY DAY- simply because we have another day to enjoy life!

Life’s all about perspective.

How different our lives would be if we saw every moment as an opportunity to praise the Lord!

I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.  Psalm 34

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a psalm

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I love you Lord, for You are everything to me. 

You are my Protector, my Provider, my Life-giver

my Song Singer, my Joy, and my Redeemer!  

When my head hangs low, you lift it up

when I gaze behind, You shine light 

in front of me 

You mark my path

You pick up each foot, placing one in front of the other. 

It is not my strength, but Yours, Lord 

that keeps me going in the direction of Your path.  

When I see failure, You show me Your victory

When I see darkness, Your light leads me on 

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In our small group we have been going through the book of Psalms.  Being a music lover, the Psalms speak to my heart.  So many of these verses are found in old hymns, and even in the newer contemporary Christian songs.

After reading Psalm 18 one morning,  the Lord prompted me to write a psalm of my own- to praise Him for who He is to me, what He’s done, and what He continues to do in my life.

 Nearly half of the 150 Psalms are attributed to King David.  King David is one of my all-time favorites leaders in the Bible.  He is greatly flawed, yet he is described as a man after God’s own heart.  An imperfect man, yet perfectly in love with the Lord.

His story reminds me to-

constantly seek God’s will

to worship Him with all my heart

to trust Him at ALL times 

to remember what He has done in my life

and to praise Him at ALL times!   

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  

Psalm 86:12
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lean on me

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The heavens unleashed a downpour around us as the girls and I sat waiting in the drive-thru line.  We were at Chick-fil-a, where everything is their pleasure!  I just love that place!  Not only are they uber pleasant, but their food is always awesome.

Anyway, back to my story…

We were sitting there and a tan sedan was trying to pull in between myself and the car in front of me to park in the handicap spot on the other side of my van.  I watched the car slowly pull into the space and park.  The gentleman took his time getting out of the car.

In the pouring rain, he opened the car door and tried to steady his wobbly feet.  My best guess was that he must have been in his late ’70’s or early ’80’s.  He slowly shuffled down the side of his car to the trunk.  The girls and I were quite curious as to what he was doing.  He was taking his time and the rain was really coming down hard at this point!  As we continued to pull forward in line, we turned to see what he was up to.

We watched him carefully take out a walker as he slowly shut the trunk of his car.  He pushed it to the other side and that’s when we saw him open the passenger side. There sat a beautiful lady, all dolled-up for a day out with her husband.  He took her hand and she turned and placed her own wobbly feet on the ground.  He helped her stand and handed her the walker.

I had tears as I watched this man stand in the pouring rain, holding the door for this lady and helping her to her feet.

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That’s what love is all about! I said to my girls through my tears.  Always putting your spouse first, because that’s what honors the Lord.  

We watched her maneuver the walker so that she could slide up the handicap ramp, and I watched as he rested his arm around her.

I thought to myself- doesn’t he need his own walker? And then I started to cry as I realized

he was leaning on her.

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Well a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
They shall travel on to where the two shall be as one
As it was in the beginning, is now until the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again
And there’s love
“There is love”- Noel Paul Stookey

 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

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take the leap

This is Jack…

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He’s our newest rescue dog, and it has been a joy watching him come out of his “shell”.

Here’s his older brother, Remy-

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They had a little bit of a love/hate relationship in the beginning, but thankfully they are good buds now!

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It’s amazing how God uses these little furry guys to teach me about life.  We don’t know anything about Jack, other than he’s about 4 years old.  When we adopted him a couple of months ago,  he was scruffy and super skinny and looked like he had a rough start to life.

We’ve had the joy of watching him grow into a beautiful, healthy, loving boy in the last couple of months. One of the things I love most about Jack is his perseverance.

Ain’t no sofa high enough 

Ain’t no bed tall enough 

Ain’t no recliner wide enough 

to keep him away from you, baby! 

When Jack wants something, he is relentless.  He will stop at nothing to get a bite of whatever awesome snack we are eating.  When he want to jump up and give you his famous 10 second snuggle, it’s like he’s competing in the Olympics.  Those little legs leap as high as they possibly can, and sometimes he hits the mark.  Other times he falls short and misses…but he doesn’t let it stop him!

He keeps his eyes fixed on what he wants and he perseveres until he succeeds.

I have heard the song  “Crazy Faith” on the radio numerous times over the last few days…

“Lord, this scares me, yeah

But it’s gonna take crazy faith

So what if it costs me everything

I’m stepping out I’m taking the leap

of crazy faith”- John Waller 

I want to have faith like that.  I want to be able to take that “leap”  like Jack does- without any fear or doubt, knowing that it’s His strength that will get me through.  When we’re continually seeking Him and His will- He is always calling us to do something…asking us to go deeper- to depend on Him more.

So what are you waiting for?

Take the leap of faith and trust Him.

 God, help me to have crazy faith

 

 

 

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Lean in ’17

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I’m gettin’ lean in ’17

a lean that’s all encompassing 

I wanna be all I can be 

and represent my Lord and King 

through ALL things, help me to SING

It’s on Him I’m gonna LEAN! 

I have just recently begun watching the show “This is Us” on NBC.  I’m a little bit behind the ball, but I’ve binge-watched almost the whole first season online, and it’s so, so good!  It’s the kind of show that you either love or hate.

This show wrecks me. Even the music makes me tear up.  But the character that I really connect with is Kate.  As a child, she is “chunky” and much of the storyline revolves around her becoming more self-conscious of her size.  Then as an adult, it shows her measuring every meal, obsessing over every calorie of everything she eats…exercising and doing all the right things- only to lose 1 lb.  Kate is charming and lovely, and yet all she can see is her size.

When I watch the show, it’s like seeing myself on the screen.  I religiously count all my calories, and then feel like a failure when I haven’t lost a pound.  Then I over-indulge during the holidays and feel like a failure when I’ve gained a pound (err…or two, lol)…the cycle never ends.

And now that my girls are entering the teen years, I try so hard to say and do the right things…

I say things like– Eat healthy so you can be HEALTHY, not THIN.  Exercise so you will feel good and feel good about yourself.  Wear clothes that fit you and flatter your curves.  Recognize that people come in all shapes and sizes, and embrace the body God gave you! You are beautiful!

But deep down, I fight those negative thoughts every single day.  I recently admitted this to someone close to me and told them that maybe this is my “cross”.  You know how Jesus tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him?  Well this love/hate relationship with food and my weight is just that- something that can either get me down every single day- or it’s something that He can use to keep me close to Him. Every moment I go to Him instead of turn to my own thoughts, well that’s another victory!

So I’m committing to getting LEAN in ’17!

I’m going to LEAN on HIM and NOT myself! 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

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You, Lord, are my lamp

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The greatest present given to me 

was not found beneath a tree 

a much more precious gift, you see- 

one that brought back memories 

In Granny’s garage, to my delight

nestled atop a fridge that night

I found an old, old antique light 

and it was precious to my sight! 

This was our first Christmas without Granny.  My aunt lives in Granny’s house, but it will forever be “Granny’s house” to me.  Even though she isn’t there, memories of her are everywhere.

We had Christmas dinner at “Granny’s house”, and I couldn’t help but wonder- were we going to talk about Granny at all?  I figured everyone else was thinking about her and missing her, too.  One of my aunts gave my mom a beautifully framed picture of Granny.  When I saw it, it was as if Granny was sitting in that same recliner in the next room.

One of my aunts asked my sister and I if we wanted to go into the garage to look through some of Granny’s things that they were getting rid of.  We walked out into the garage, and sifted through a few boxes of odds and ends.  I saw a couple of oil lamps in one box, which reminded me of my favorite lamp that used to rest on the dresser in the back bedroom.  This is where my sister and I slept when we spent the nights at Granny and Papa’s house.

As a kid, I was afraid of the dark. One of my earliest memories is of me being in a crib.  I can picture myself looking through the crib slats, watching the lights go out and then watching the door to my room close.  I would cry because I was afraid of the dark.  I can remember always being afraid of the dark- especially when I slept in a different place.

But not at Granny’s house! 

On those special overnight trips to Granny’s, I couldn’t wait to see that special lamp light up the room when I went to sleep!  It had a beautiful gold hued glass globe around the top, and the black base had cut-outs of stars, which glowed when it was turned on.

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That lamp made me look forward to sleeping over at Granny’s house.  It shined light in the darkness and somehow made my Granny’s house seem magical!

As I remembered that old lamp, I looked across the garage to where the old fridge sat. There it was, clear as day- resting right on top. I didn’t even know that lamp still existed!  I asked my aunt if I could have it, and after she checked to see if it was ok- she said it was fine for me to have it.

I couldn’t wait to get the lamp home and clean it up!  I washed the hurricane glass and the globe, and then found a bulb to put inside.  The off/on switch was broken, but as soon as I plugged it in, it came right on!

And just like flipping that “on” switch, then came back all the memories of being a kid at Granny’s house.  Granny may be gone, but her light shines on…

You, Lord, are my lamp;
    the Lord turns my darkness into light.  2 Samuel 22:29

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it’s the little things

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it’s the little things 

reminding me- 

Emmanuel

He’s here with me 

The girls are maturing by the day, and I can hardly keep up with their changing likes and dislikes.  In fact, just yesterday I lamented that this is the first year neither of them asked for a single American Girl doll accessory  or”toy” for Christmas.

  Gone are those special moments when they would crawl into Santa’s lap and take sweet pictures.  And much to my chagrin- gone are the days of fighting those crowded toy store lines trying to get them the hottest toys of the season.  (that I DON’T miss!!)

As I got into my van yesterday morning I was feeling a little melancholy thinking of how much they have grown, and a part of me longed to hear their giddy little girl giggles.

But then I looked up, and I saw my windows were covered in frost from the previous chilly night. The frost glistened in the sunlight and I saw a cross- clear as day- a “frosty” cross, I’ll call it 🙂

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And He reminded me again what the real meaning of CHRISTmas is all about.

There is no giggle, no toy, no present under the tree that could ever compare to the joy He has already given me.  And the longing in my heart will only ever be satisfied by more of Him.  

In the simplest of ways He shows me that He is here.

She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'”  Matthew 1:23

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Brick by Brick

What do you think of me?
Wonder what do you see?
When I open up and let you in.
Fearing what you might say.
Afraid you’ll run away
If I open up and let you in
So brick by brick I build up walls
Till I cannot see at all
Take those walls and tear them down
every wall I’ve build around
me
Take those walls and tear them down
tear them down
let those walls come tumbling down
let those walls come tumbling down
Feeling like I can’t breathe
Thoughts like a movie screen
They’re paralyzing me
And I wish I could make it stop
I wish I could turn it off
Jesus is the only thing saving me
‘Cause brick by brick I build up walls
Till I cannot see at all

This is a song I wrote recently about praying for Jesus to help me STOP those anxious thoughts that run through my head.  When I was a kid, I was always worried about what other people thought of me. I was so afraid that people wouldn’t accept me that I didn’t even try to make friends.  It was easier to build up walls around myself than it was to be “me” and allow people into my life.

And even as an adult, I still struggle with wanting to put up walls to protect myself- because sometimes letting people “in” is scary. But it is so worth it!

I am so thankful for the many friends He has brought into my life.

He continually helps me to put my hope and trust in Him and in no other person- because people WILL let you down!  He is helping me love everyone-

even those…

who don’t like the Christmas movie Elf (gasp!!)

who don’t like dogs 

who voted differently than I did in the presidential election

who don’t look or think the same way I do 

who don’t share my interests 

even those who don’t love me back

And by His grace, He can help us see each other- and even ourselves– through His eyes.   Loving other people doesn’t mean we won’t be hurt at times, but that is what He calls us to do. And that all begins with letting Jesus into our hearts and allowing Him to tear down those walls we create to separate us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

John 4:7-11

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Deep in December it’s nice to remember…

Back in my college days, we sang a beautiful song called “Try to Remember” from the musical The Fantasticks. It’s such a lovely song, with a melancholy melody and lyrics that sing all on their own.  I woke up thinking of this song and remembering what happened to me this past Sunday…

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After I finished leading the music for the worship service, I sat down in between my husband and my daughters.  There’s something so special about sitting with my family in church- it felt like heaven!

I admit that I was more focused on the presence of the Lord than I was on the sermon that morning. But the most wonderful thing happened- I started to remember last December and how absolutely miserable I was.  For the last 12 years I have been dealing with allergies.  My symptoms started off pretty minor, and I would lose my voice for a few weeks in the first few years.  And then each year my symptoms increased- as did the amount of time I was plagued with a cough and laryngitis.  And unfortunately, these symptoms have always been the worst during the Christmas and Easter seasons- which are the BUSIEST times of the year for anyone involved in music ministry!

Last year around this time,  I remember feeling so defeated.  I even questioned if He really wanted me to keep singing for Him.  I am embarrassed to admit that there were many Sundays after church when I cried- feeling like I had let Him down, feeling like I embarrassed myself (by something I said, or by my voice cracking…).  I am embarrassed to say this because it made worship all about ME and not Him!

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After lots of prayer and encouragement from my Christian friends, I resolved to worship and praise Him- even if!  Even if my voice was gone, even if my cracking, coughing, weak voice would embarrass me- I would STILL sing His praises and be obedient to sing!

Well, after the Christmas season last year, I decided to finally visit an allergy doctor.  After going through the testing, he determined that I was having reactions to nearly all of the 60 environmental things I was tested for.  After trying other medications to help alleviate my cough and other symptoms, I decided to try immunotherapy- allergy shots.

I have been doing them since May, and I have FINALLY reached the “maintenance” phase.  It has been a long process, and it’s been quite time consuming- 2 visits each week, 3 shots each time.  I have prayed and prayed that this would help and that I was not wasting all this time!

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But Sunday, as I sat there with my family in the service- He reminded me of all that He has done for me over this last year.  He has taught me so much about worship… how my skills and talents are useless without His power. How being an “instrument” is not for other people to pat me on the back, but to glorify Him!  And usually by September, the coughing begins…but praise the Lord- the cough is almost non-existent!  I am so grateful and thankful!  I wanted to stand up and shout on Sunday when He reminded me of what I felt like last year compared to now!

So whatever trial you are going through- no matter how big or small it is- try to remember all the things He has brought you through, and keep on praising Him!

 

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

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seasons in between

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I walked to the beat 

of falling leaves 

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beneath my feet 

leaves thick as thieves

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I watched the foliage 

drift and sway 

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on this breezy, balmy

autumn day 

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I wanted to hit the pause button again this morning. This is my favorite time of year… that time when we are still full with Thanksgiving JOY and yet we anticipate all the excitement the Christmas Season brings!!   And secretly, I wish I could hoard pumpkin spice EVERYTHING so that I could savor it a bit longer…

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Speaking of this in-between season, I’ve got a ‘tween at home…  She marches to her own beat, and I honestly don’t know what’s going to come out of her mouth from moment to moment.  A strong willed child, she’s also a delightful mix of sarcasm, humor and wit.  Her name is “Sophia” which actually means wisdom.

I was out running errands with both girls the other day, and my oldest commented that I’m getting old.  My jaw dropped as I turned to her with a look of disbelief that she would say such a horrid thing!

Well, I guess there’s a little bit of truth to that- I will hit the big 4-0 in June….ugghh….

Without skipping a beat, my youngest chimes in with her words of wisdom- “Mom, I like that you’re getting older- it means your more experienced!”

My heart warmed just a little bit as I turned to look at her lovingly.  “Soph, that’s so sweet!”

“Well, I just said it to make you feel better.  You ARE old!”

Sigh.   

But then, just a few days later, she surprised me again…

I went to my favorite grocery store the other day- Trader Joe’s.  If you’ve never been- you are missing out.  I love everything about this place!  The employees treat me like a long, lost friend- always eager to chit-chat and offer suggestions of new things to try.  I was desperate, I mean DESPERATE for more Pumpkin Spice k-cups, but, alas, they were all out.

At check out, the cashier asked me if I found everything I was looking for.  I told him how I wanted more Pumpkin Spice coffee.  We both commiserated over the ending of the “pumpkin season”,  and he shed an imaginary tear with me.

Then my  daughter piped up-

“But Mom, it wouldn’t be as special if you had it all the time!” 

So true.

Which reminds me to treasure those special days with these girls… because just like pumpkin spice- they are only young for a “season”!

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” – L.M. Montgomery 

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