I Sing Because I'm Free

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nothing is ever really lost…

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My hubby and I had an impromptu date yesterday,  and we decided to walk one of the local trails.  Instead of wearing crocs with no socks (that rhymes, lol),   I took the time to put on socks and shoes-  a rare occasion it was!

We got into the car, and marveled over the crystal clear blue sky and the smell of autumn in the air.  You can just feel change coming- and we are anticipating the leaves changing any day now.

Anywho, we got out of the car, I reached for my phone in my purse, you know- the one I am addicted to?  and wouldn’t you know it-   I couldn’t find it! Hubby could not BELIEVE that I actually left home without it.

Neither could I.

Ughh… how am I going to document this beautiful day?

Hubs handed over his phone so I could take a few pictures.

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But only a few, he said.  We need to enjoy the moment.  

And we did.

We exchanged jolly, banter back and forth- memories of years gone by, and we dreamed about our future.

I looked around as we walked, and I saw the evidence of the heavy downpours we experienced over the last few weeks- sandbags, a rushing waterfall, trenches dug for drainage.

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I saw weary mommas walking with toddlers, dog-moms walking their fur babies.

I remembered all the times I walked that trail with my own babies.  One in a backpack and the other in a stroller. Those sleepless days were sweet, but seemed like they were light years ago.

Seasons come and go so quickly!

The hubs and I  had lunch together, and afterwards I scoured the house looking for my cell phone.  I couldn’t find it anywhere!  I wasn’t desperate to use it- just desperate to find it- because once I forget where I’ve put something, the chances are slimmer and slimmer that I will ever see it again.

On a whim, I went back to the car to check for it… and there it was in the backseat.  Plain as day.

So I had my phone with me all along.  I can’t remember a walk I have taken without it.  And you know something-

I didn’t miss is at all! 

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

-L.M. Montgomery 

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I realized today…

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I realized today that I am completely addicted to my smart phone- and I don’t like it.

Not one little bit.

When my girls were little, I intentionally only used it when I needed to.  Same with the laptop.  I didn’t want them to have to compete with electronics for my attention.

Fast forward 13 years or so…now both daughters have them.  At first, they only used their phone when necessary.  And then little by little, whenever one of us was watching something on tv that the other did not like-  it was super easy for the other person to whip out their cell phone and surf the internet.  When a commercial came on- same deal.  The cell phones would come out.

Must. Be. Entertained.

And I have fallen into the same trap.  I do not care for sports and my hubby is a huge sports lover.  So, I sit with him and hold my phone in one hand, mindlessly thumbing through Amazon, Pinterest, Facebook…and a whole host of shopping sites that I frequently visit.

I checked my phone usage a few weeks ago, and I thought well- that’s not so bad!  And then I realized the usage was per DAY not for the whole week!! No lie.

I use it ALL the time- it is my “watch” because I hate wearing one.  It is my computer in my pocket when I need to email, text, or look up something important.  It is how I keep in touch with my family, with my daughters and husband during the day.  I use it for ministry.

But I also use it to numb my mind and to distract myself.

I can literally feel my attention span shortening every time I pick it up.

I decided to put my phone down and then thought about what else I would do instead of browsing Pinterest.

Naturally, the one first thing I thought of  was to play piano!

Then I had this thought- if I’d had a cell phone as a teen, I wonder if I would have ever learned to play piano at all?

Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.  Proverbs 4:25

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I am making a vow today to cut back on my phone usage.  I’m going to turn it completely off in the evenings.

If the family is watching tv, I will sit with them and read a book.  I will make conversations with them during commercials.

I might even sit in silence and twiddle my thumbs for a minute.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll do some writing.

There are far too many productive things I could be doing to be wasting so much time holding a phone!

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness…. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.- Ephesians 5:16-17

 

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Hope

I am not really one who likes to talk about politics. Not at all. I definitely have my own thoughts and opinions about things but I do my best to try to look at situations with an unbiased view. I happened to watch the news the other day, and I was heartbroken.  Heartbroken at how our country is so completely divided and how we refuse to even consider where people on the “other side” are coming from.  Instead, we immediately villainize others as the enemy.

I believe that most people (including me) generally have the desire to see justice served- to see wrongs made right.  I also believe that there are people in power who use other people’s sufferings to promote hidden agendas… which makes it nearly impossible for us to know the truth about anything!

As heartbroken as it makes me to turn on the news, I still believe that God is on the throne and He is a God of justice and mercy.  If we put our hope in people and politics, we will be let down every time.  God is faithful and He is Lord of all.

This is a song I wrote about putting aside our political opinion and fully trusting Him.  Are we honoring Him with the words we speak on these matters?   I am hopeful, and I am praying for a Holy Spirit revival to sweep across this country!

“Unwavering”

Caught in between 
A lie and a sympathy
What to believe?
The world is a mockery
When I can’t trust 
What I see 
I  still  believe 
You are God and 
You are king 
You have won the 
Victory 
You are God of 
Everything 
And my hope is 
Unwavering 
Everyone’s got a side
Fighting for their right 
But what if we’ve all been blinded by 
The filter of our pride 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful- Hebrews 10:23

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All Things New

“All Things New”
I wish  
some things 
in my  life  
had been 
just a little  bit
 different 
when I take time to 
reminisce
wax poetic 
with my pen 
it’s then I see that He 
has made all things 
work for His good 
every little dash and line 
brush strokes 
with His hands of time 
He’s making all things new
every regret 
I’d like to forget- 
all things led me 
to You 
every day 
A new lesson learned 
touch the burner 
you will get 
burned 
forgive me Father 
for I have sinned 
a new creation 
then begins 
Now  I see that 
He has made all things 
Work for HIs good
“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43 
Now that I have two teenage daughters, I think a lot about my own teen years… the decisions I made, the things I did.  Now I can look back and see how He has taught me so many important lessons over the years from the not-so-great decisions I’ve made.  I am grateful for God’s grace, and how when we surrender our life to Him completely- he takes ALL THINGS, even our regrets- and uses them for His glory.
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think of these things…

You know that saying-

you are what you eat?  

Well the same thing applies to our thoughts and the things we think about.  We all have good and bad days, but we really can make a conscious decision to focus on the positive things…. which brings me to a couple of my favorite scriptures-

Philippians 4:8- 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.

Psalm 19:14- May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

This is my prayer-

God help me to focus on those things which are good and praiseworthy, and may the things I say AND do be pleasing to You and bring You glory!

Here is a song I wrote, based on those scriptures.

 

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something to look forward to

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What do you have to look forward to?

For some people, it’s a big vacation coming up- or maybe a party.  Someone’s graduation?  A big work event?  The birth of a new baby?

I have this thing where I need something to look forward to something to be excited about!  If I don’t have that “thing”, then it feels like something is missing.

Lately I have been feeling like I don’t have anything to look forward to.  It’s not true, by ANY means!  My life is good- really good. The girls are doing great in school and they have wonderful friends. David and I are happily married, and as the days go by- I feel as if we are growing closer and closer together… which is, in itself, something to celebrate and look forward to.   I lost weight and found health- and still overjoyed at the freedom I have in this new way of eating… I have so much to be thankful for!  And yet, today I have found myself longing to look forward to something. 

And wouldn’t you know it… God showed me something.

I ran to the store to pick up a few groceries, and as I wheeled my cart towards the check out line, there was this shopping cart filled with mark downs.  I sifted through it and there were Starbucks K-cups on clearance! Woohoo!!

And then as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the magnolia tree that we planted earlier this summer is getting ready to bloom…

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The fact that this tree has not died yet is a miracle- because I can’t keep any plants alive on my own accord.  So to see it is not only alive, but thriving and getting ready to bloom makes me the happiest girl in the world today.  And there was not just one bud- but 3 white buds getting ready to blossom!

That is how I know there is a God.

He knows me better than I know myself.  He knows exactly what I need-every single day. And His timing is always perfect.

My magnolia tree is alive.

I am alive.

He is alive.

And walking with Him is always an adventure to look forward to!

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in you.”  

Psalm 39:7

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hands

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Do you ever wonder 

if God has hands?

And how He formed the face

of this beautiful land?

How He carved the mountains

and the valley below?

Did He hand-pick every green thing

and tell them all to grow?

Do you ever wonder?

Do you ever wonder if God has hands?

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

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Do you ever marvel over the simplest things?  Like hands, for instance….

We totally take them for granted!  It’s AMAZING the things we can do with our hands!  The fact that I can sit here and type all these letters out, and all 10 of my fingers can work together independently is a miracle!

And how about-

Tying our shoes?

or lacing your fingers through someone else’s hand?

how about painting… or coloring?

or playing piano?

I am so thankful for the hands God gave me!

I have often thought back to my early days of taking piano lessons.  I was about 12, and my teacher was in his early 20’s.  I clearly remember him saying this during one of my early lessons-

“You know, you don’t really have “piano hands”…your fingers aren’t long enough…”

And I remember feeling a lump in my throat and a sinking feeling in my heart.

Because playing piano was the ONLY thing besides singing that I loved doing! So what that my fingers are short and stubby?

I didn’t let that stop me from doing what I loved.

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As I continued playing piano, I improvised when I needed to- like omitting those crazy chords that had over an octave span.  I learned that it was ok to not play every note on the page and that playing piano with passion could make up for any technical skills I was lacking.

And honestly, I hated playing piano in front of people.  Extreme “stage fright” came over me whenever I had a recital, or even when someone asked for me to play for them.  I have often said it felt like I was a pet being asked to do a “trick”.  So besides teaching lessons, I only played for my own enjoyment.

Until I completely gave my life to Jesus.  I told Him that day- even the music I played would be His!

That was a life-changing moment for me. Within a few months, I began leading worship.

And the most amazing thing happens to me every Sunday when I lead worship-it’s almost like He puts gloves on my hands.  I don’t even have to think about what I’m playing.  The worship music just flows-it’s like my fingers are dancing across the keys!   It is the most wonderful miracle that He allows me to play in such a way that I am able to be 100% focused on Him and worship when I am leading music at church.

So, no- I’m not the best pianist.  And singing? There are better out there.  But when we say YES to God, He takes whatever our limited talents are and He makes up the difference.

Our ability to be used is not limited by our short comings (or short fingers, in my case 😉

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me-  2 Corinthians 12:9 

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hurry up and wait

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hurry up and 

wait- 

what’s the rush? 

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lay down a while 

and feel the lush 

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fresh dewy grass 

beneath my feet 

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a  morning’s walk 

nearly complete

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perched under a kelly-green

foliage canopy

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that’s where you’ll 

be finding me! 

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I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.  Psalm 27:13 

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Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:14

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born to fly

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You can’t

keep a butterfly 

down

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born to fly- 

won’t stay 

on the ground 

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flitting and floating 

you’d think it was gloating

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that her post-cocoon

freedom 

was found! 

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“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest”-  Psalm 55:6

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My girls went back to school this past week.  It spiraled me into a mini- midlife crisis, realizing that BOTH of my daughters are now in high school!   I started thinking about how few years they have left before they will one day “fly”.

That morning, I went to sit up at the cross on the hill behind our church.  It was a beautiful day, despite the extreme heat and humidity.  As soon as I got to the top of the hill, I noticed there were an unusual amount of butterflies flying around me.  One in particular was HUGE!  Bigger than my hand!  It was bright blue and reminded me of a peacock.  Every time it landed, I tried to get a picture of it- and as soon as I took a step forward, off it went again.  It stayed right near me the whole time I was at the cross, never staying in one place long enough for me to get a picture.

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The funny thing is that my girls have become like that, too!  I asked to take a picture of them on the morning before they went off for their first day of school-   “Mommmm…. PLEASE don’t “post” a picture of us anywhere!”

Gone are the days of making them pose for sweet smiley school pictures and waiting with them for the bus at our bus stop… gone are the days of controlling their every move!

They are preparing for take off, shedding layers of their childhood cocoons one day at a time.  And as the days fly by- they are needing me less and less.

It is a juxtaposition of feelings-

both bittersweet and overflowing joy.

“You may outgrow my lap, but never my heart”

– author unknown 

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but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.  

Isaiah 40:31

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Help Us Accept Each Other (a hymn remake)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,  but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails-  1 Corinthians 13

If I have faith, but not love- I am nothing.

If I give to the poor, but do not do it out of love- I gain nothing

God is love.

I am nothing without God.

I am nothing without His love.

If I do anything that is not out of love– it is meaningless.

How many times have you done the right thing because you knew that was what you were supposed to do? I have done it for years!  But if I really love Him, I have to do everything out of love. Without love in our hearts, “doing the right thing” still doesn’t cut it!

For many years, I have “done the right thing” when it comes to certain situations.  But we aren’t supposed to just do the right thing- we are called to LOVE.  When we LOVE, when we love with God’s love– His love compels us to do the right thing- each and every time- without fail!

And without reciprocity.

No strings attached kind of love. Because that’s what His love is like.

We don’t deserve it.

We can’t earn it.

But when we accept His love, He compels us to give it- freely.   And His love changes people.  I know, because it sure has changed me!

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8 

A dear friend showed me this hymn a while back.  These words have resonated with me for quite some time.  I set it to new music and also added a chorus to it.  May He give us a passion to love those who hunger for the kind of love only He can give!

 

“Help Us Accept Each Other”

Help us accept each other

as Christ accepted us

teach us as sister, brother

each person to embrace

be present, Lord, among us

and bring us to believe

that we are ourselves accepted

and meant

to love and live

to love as You have loved

to give as You have given

to die to our own desires

so we may do Your will

and love as You have loved us 

Let Your acceptance change us

 

so that we may be moved 

in living situations 

to do the truth in love 

to practice your acceptance

until we know by heart

the table of forgiveness 

and laughter’s healing heart 

Lord, for today’s encounters

for all who are in need

who hunger for acceptance

for righteousness and bread

we need new eyes for seeing

new hands for holding on

renew us with Your Spirit, Lord,

free us, make us one

*original text by Fred Kaan 

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