I Sing Because I'm Free

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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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Free at last

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I am free 

like a bird 

flying high I soar 

because I’m not

weighed down 

anymore 

the chains

broke 

the shackles

fell 

and I am feeling- 

pretty swell 

because you see- 

I am finally 

free

New Year’s Eve marked the one year anniversary that I began following the Trim Healthy Mama plan. It has been a year of food freedom for me- but so much more than that!  For years I have been a slave to counting calories- how many calories I consume at each meal and how many calories I burn at each workout.  Even on the days when I would “take a break”… I would still keep a running tab in my head.

And the worst part of it all?  None of that effort made any difference!  No matter how much I worked out, no matter how carefully I watched my calorie intake- I couldn’t lose a pound to save my life!!  For years I felt defeated and discouraged.  My body hurt all the time and I had no energy.

I have my friend, Natalee to thank for introducing me to the Trim Healthy Mama plan.  Just give it a try, she told me.  So I began reading about it and checking out recipes on Pinterest.  I started looking for ways to make the things I already eat fit in with the program. And the great things is that I have found ways to eat everything I love!

For all of 2017, I have not counted a single calorie! That is a miracle for me!  And I have worked out less this past year than I have in the last 15 years!  And praise the Lord- at 40,  I feel better than ever!  I have lost 35 pounds over this past year and I have gained so much more-

-balance 

-food freedom 

-freedom from the scale 

-self confidence

Thank God Almighty-  I am free at last!!

 

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.  John 8:36 

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Be Born In Me

This has become one of my favorite Christmas songs.  Written from Mary’s perspective, it so beautifully captures the range of emotions she felt when realizing she was carrying the Son of God.

One of my favorite lines is this –

“I am not brave, I’ll never be- the only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy.  I’m just a girl, nothing more,  but I am willing- I am Yours…” 

May we all make room in our hearts for Him.   Be Born in me.

Be Born in Me (Mary’s Song)

Everything inside me cries for order
Everything inside me wants to hide
Is this shadow an angel or a warrior
If God is pleased with me, why I am I so terrified
Someone tell me I am only dreaming
Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes
And before my head agrees, my heart is on it’s knees
Holy is He. Blessed am I.

Be born in me, be born in me
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me
I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me

All this time we’ve waited for the promise
All this time You’ve waited for my arms
Did You wrap yourself inside the unexpected
So we might know that Love would go that far?

I am not brave
I’ll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I’m just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

*written by Nichole Nordeman

*originally sung by Francesca Battestelli  

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Your constant love is better than life itself…Psalm 63

IMG_0657O God, you are my God,
    and I long for you.
My whole being desires you;
    like a dry, worn-out, and waterless land,
    my soul is thirsty for you.

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Let me see you in the sanctuary;
    let me see how mighty and glorious you are.
 Your constant love is better than life itself,
    and so I will praise you.

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 I will give you thanks as long as I live;
    I will raise my hands to you in prayer.
 My soul will feast and be satisfied,
    and I will sing glad songs of praise to you.

Psalm 63

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The Holly and The Ivy

“The Holly and the Ivy”
The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown 
The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour
From the rising of the sun
Unto the going down of the same
The Lord’s name is to be praised 
The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
From the rising of the sun
Unto the going down of the same 
The Lord’s name is to be praised
I have always loved this old Christmas carol!  The beautiful sing-song melody, combined with the lyric’s rich symbolism have always intrigued me.  I added a chorus to it and changed up the accompaniment. 
Hope you enjoy- 
and Merry Christmas!
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. 
Psalm 113:3
https://youtu.be/eO2tdXC9C5g
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Christmas Dishes

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I was feeling a little melancholy the other day as I was fixing a day-after Thanksgiving meal for the 4 of us.  Now that the girls are getting older, holidays just feel different.   I miss the girls being little and wanting to spend time with me.   I miss the excitement of Santa and long toy lists and just the sheer giddiness that exudes from children this time of year.

As I was cooking dinner, my oldest came out of “hiding” (she spends lots of time in her room now) and she asked me about what sorts of traditions I did with my family as a kid.

Did you have lots of Christmas decorations when you were little?

I remembered the glass candle globes with holly berries around them that we placed on our coffee table and dining room table.  And we always hung mistletoe in the hallway.  And there were these Christmas dishes…

Wait a minute- you had Christmas dishes?  For some reason, that piqued her interest.

Actually, I have them somewhere in the garage packed away. 

And like that, my oldest daughter was a giddy child on a mission to find them.

I went to the garage with her, and we dug through several bins looking for them.  Lo and behold- we found the magic tub filled with the Christmas dishes.

“I can’t believe you never told us about these!”

I helped her bring the tub upstairs, and then I watched as she took out every piece and neatly stacked it on the kitchen counter.  She snapped a picture of the dishes to send to her friend. “It doesn’t take much to make me excited!” She grinned from ear to ear as she sent her friend a text with the picture of the treasure she found in the garage.

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Why have we never used these?!”  she asked me.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of breaking them when you girls were younger.”  And that was the honest truth.  I remember my aunt got us those dishes for Christmas when I was really young, and they were special to me.

I told her if she wanted us to use the dishes then she needed to hand wash all of them.  She happily obliged, and then she set the table for our day-after-Thanksgiving meal with our fancy Christmas dishes.

And as we ate together as a family that evening, I was filled with joy.  Something as simple as eating on a plate with a Christmas tree used to make me so excited as a kid!  Knowing that those same dishes brought the same joy to my daughter’s face that day overwhelmed my heart with gladness.

And just like that- something old that had been packed away years ago became new again…and a new family tradition has begun!

    Old things have disappeared, and look! all things have become new!            

     2 Corinthians 5:17

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autumn-atic

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Golden leaves

dripped from trees

as I walked autumn’s

wonderland

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foliage bright

a glorious sight

crafted by

the Master’s Hand

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Final chance

to catch a glance

before the colors 

fade  

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was hard to budge

I felt the nudge

so glad that I obeyed

Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.  Psalm 150:6

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He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.  Psalm 1:3

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For everything there is a season  Ecclesiastes 3:1

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He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.  Psalm 104:19

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You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. 

Psalm 65:11

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