Last week was my husband’s birthday. I admit that I am not a good “gift giver”. It’s not that I don’t enjoy giving gifts, or purchasing things for others- it’s the pressure of looking for that perfect thing- the one that will make someone feel like the king (or queen) of the world, as Leonardo DiCaprio says in the movie Titanic. And let’s face it- as adults, most of us have what we need– and if we don’t, then we just buy it!
The girls and I got him a few things that we knew he would like, but we knew the best present to give him was the gift of being with friends. He is an extroverted “people person” and loves being social- and he also enjoys playing games. So the girls and I planned a small murder mystery game party with a few of our closest friends (who are like our family).
And I think I was the one who received the greatest gift that night…
As an introvert, I love watching people and taking in the scene. I watched the joy and excitement on my hubby’s face that evening and it was such a blessing to me. It was a blessing to be with our close friends, and to see the girls’ and my “gift” played out (pun intended 🙂 all evening long!
The greatest gift YOU can ever give is yourself–
your time, your talents, your attention…
In YOUR presence there is fullness of JOY- Psalm 16:11
For YEARS I have longed to sing again in a choir, but between work, family stuff, and ministry commitments, just couldn’t find the time.
But two weeks ago, I kept seeing an add for the Virginia Consort Chorus pop up. Coincidence?
Nothing is a coincidence for people that follow Jesus! Each time I saw the ad pop up, I head that still, small voice say “do it!” Each time I saw the ad, the voice got louder and louder… until after seeing the ad about 10 times, I finally said out loud “Okaaaaaaaay! I’ll do it!”
I auditioned and it felt so good to do something like that after all these years!
We had our first practice this past Monday. It was heavenly to sing again with so many amazingly talented musicians. I am super excited and thankful that it has worked out for me to sing again!
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.- Colossians 3:17
I am beyond blessed that I “get to” meet up with my older daughter and husband for lunch on occasion during the work week. It is especially easy since Katie has been doing an internship at David’s work.
But on this particular day, Katie happened to be off, so David and I planned to meet for lunch- just the two of us. As soon as I was headed to pick up David, Katie texted me to tell me she was at in town running errands. I picked David up, and asked if we should invite Katie to join us. NO- we never get to meet up for lunch alone anymore!
Wouldn’t you know that as I merged onto the main road in front of the restaurant we were headed to, there was none other than Katie RIGHT BEHIND US! We could not escape her. She called and sheepishly asked where we were headed. And of course, we told her she could join us. I mean, what are the chances that she would literally be behind us at that exact moment driving through town?!
Then, as soon as she got out of the car, I realized we were dressed exactly the same! TWINS! How crazy was that?!
David and I say all the time how blessed we are that our girls actually WANT to eat with us… that they enjoy talking to us and being together.
And I remind myself daily to be thankful for every moment… because you never know what tomorrow will bring!
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes- James 4:14
Next week my hubby and I will celebrate our “date-a-versary”. That’s what we call the anniversary of our first date. On August 19th, it will be 28 years. How can I be that old?!?
What a blessing it is for me to go from high school years, to college years, and then to be able to build a family with one man by my side. Aside from my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with my hubby is one of the things I am most proud of. I ain’t gonna lie- marriage is hard– but it is worth it! We disagree, we argue at times, but we have both learned that above all else, at the end of the day we love and CHOOSE to love each other unconditionally.
I had something funny happen last night. I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (like I always do), and when I got back in bed, I felt his arm SMACK me across the top of my head. He had simply turned over and threw his arm out in his sleep.
“Ummm…. that is MY SIDE of the bed!” I said to him in an annoyed manner. I then pretended to karate-chop his arm with my hand at the end of “his side” and the beginning of “mine”.
Yesterday was a special anniversary for us-18 years ago on July 10th, we moved to Charlottesville.
If you had asked me even a month before we made the decision to move, I would have told you there was NO WAY we would EVER leave our hometown. Our entire family was there- and so was everyone and everything we had ever known…but my husband was looking for a job and there were literally no companies that were hiring at that time. Iremember him saying we might need to move somewhere for me to find a job.And my first thoughts are always selfish ones. NO WAY am I moving.
And the Lord brought back a memory I had of my grandfather picking up our family one Saturday morning. Granddaddy was notorious for taking spur-of-the-moment road trips. He drove us to Carter’s Mountain Orchard. I remember ooh’ing and ahh’ing with my parents over the mountains in the distance, and as we finally began the climb up to Carter’s Mountain Orchard, it seemed as if our car was going to fall off the side of the mountain! It was a happy memory- so happy that I could see us moving there. So one day I told David it would be ok for him to look for a job in Charlottesville.
Two CPA firms were hiring. He send off his resumes on a Thursday, had two interviews set up on the following Monday, and we spent the weekend driving around looking for a potential house. It was scary to think of moving away from my family. My oldest daughter was only a year old. We knew no one there, but it seemed like the Lord was lighting up the path for us to GO. David received a job offer, we listed our home for sale by owner, and we had a contract for over our asking price within just a couple of days. It was a complete whirlwind.
So much has happened in 18 years, but it all began with being willing to go wherever He would lead. And that road led me straight to Him! About 5 years later, I felt the Lord calling me into ministry and these have been the BEST years of my life. I have had the joy of serving the Lord in my church through leading worship every Sunday, and even leading small groups, teaching, and preaching… all wonderful.
And then this past January I took a full time position working for a non-profit ministry that I love. I still minister at church and serve as the worship pastor in my free time, so I now have the best of both worlds.
My “babies” aren’t little anymore- 19 and *almost* 17! I am so grateful for His many blessings. I often feel like King David when he says this verse from 2 Samuel 7:18- “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
I am grateful and thankful that He has brought my family here-
and I can whole heartedly say that this is “home” 🙂
I have had lots of personal changes over the last few months. One of those changes was that I stopped teaching music lessons.
On my last day of lessons, I had the joy of teaching one of my favorite girls. I tell them they are all my favorites- but this was my youngest student and she stole my heart. Every lesson, she taught me something about myself- and for that I am grateful.
“I’ll race you!” She would say as soon as I met her at her mom’s car. This precocious blond girl would then run with all her might to beat me to the lesson room. Every lesson was the same routine. I would pretend to run super slow and she would beat me. Then she would hide her piano books behind the piano and when I entered the room, she would say she couldn’t find them. I’d pretend to look around everywhere for them, and low and behold- they would be right behind the piano- exactly where she would put them every week!
This girl made teaching fun. She was an absolute joy. And it absolutely broke my heart the last day I taught her. Her eyes were teary, her face sullen- she moped into the music room, barely looking up from the floor. No racing, no hiding her books. She looked up and handed me something peculiar-it was something I’d never seen before- a bright red waxy bulb with a little green shoot sticking out of the top.
“This is soo sweet of you! I will put it on my piano at home, and I’ll think about you every day that I see it!”
I confess- part of me was a little bit worried. Because if you haven’t read a few of my blogs about gardening…. well you’re right- there aren’t any! Because did I ever tell you I have the black thumb of death? I literally kill every plant I have ever had. Even when I try my hardest to take care of it! So when my precious student gave me a plant, I was worried that my black thumb would somehow kill this thing- even though you aren’t supposed to have to water it or do anything to make it grow.
I brought it home and read the instructions. You gotta be kidding me. I literally didn’t have to do a thing! Just set it in front of a window and rotate it every day or so… and it was going to bloom? This was crazy.
And on Christmas, I had a gorgeous pink bloom. Then a few more.
I thought I would be throwing this red waxy bulb away, but the shoots kept coming. Each time I cut away a dead stalk, then grew another.
And another bloom, and another.
Here we are at the end of March, and once again- I see new leaves shooting up from the wax bulb.
The blooms keep coming.
I wish I could tell that sweet girl how much joy this amaryllis bulb is bringing me. I feel like it’s such a great metaphor for where I’m at right now. So much change, some of it hard, and yet I already see so many shoots coming up out of the ground of my life. And once again, my student continues to teach me. I can, in fact, keep a plant alive 🙂
I am a “morning” person by nature, but ever since the time change this past November, my dogs have wanted to get up before the crack of dawn. Literally. I mean like 5am sometimes. I have always been a light sleeper- and I can hear their faint high pitch whimper… which slowly turns into a deep, guttural “ARF”! The “boys” are getting older, and when they’ve gotta go, well- they’ve gotta go!
So I am usually out walking with them sometimes as early as 6am. I have learned the hard way that it is much more enjoyable when I take the time to actually prepare for this walk ahead of time. If you know me- the less I have to bring with me the better! But these chilly mornings beg for socks, snow boots, a hat, scarf, gloves, and a winter coat.
I hate wearing all that stuff, because I feel like I am weighed down. But deep down I know that preparation is everything. Just like I prepare myself to brace the cold, I have to also prepare my heart and mind each day for the spiritual walk… so that I can be prepared to weather whatever storm comes my way 🙂
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.- 1 Peter 1:13
If you watch SNL, you will laugh at that. They did a parody video a few years back about how everyone else in the family gets all these awesome gifts, and the mom gets a robe. Why? Because most of the time moms are the one that do the majority of the shopping and cooking and planning for the holidays!
But the funny thing was that I actually DID ask for a robe. My husband bought me a robe for Christmas the first year we were dating. It was a super plush, red, terrycloth robe from Victorias Secret. That thing was indestructible! Can you believe that I have worn this robe for… drum roll….. 27 years?! That is just insane. Mainly because I can’t possibly be that old.
But anyway, I figured after 27 years, it was time to retire the robe for a new one.
But really, the best gift was not under the tree. (and I know, I know… the best gift is Jesus)
But the OTHER best gift (besides Jesus) was spending time with my family. We got to see *almost* our entire family this year and it was great! And then after Christmas, my hubby and the girls and I always go out to have brunch and then the girls and I go shopping. I never knew how much joy it would bring me to spend time having fun with my girls as they have gotten older. As they have gotten older, we are able to enjoy each other’s company, laugh together, shop together, and our shopping excursions would not be complete without a Starbucks coffee run!
The greatest gift for me isn’t the presents. It’s ALL about being in the presence of the people I love.
I am thankful.
In your presence there is fullness of joy- Psalm 16:11
One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to drive around and watch the sunset. Maybe it’s because driving is how we fell in love all those years ago…
When I found myself without a car to get to and from work as a teen, my boss asked a co-workers to pick me up and take me home every shift that I was scheduled to work. My co-worker became my boyfriend in a few short months, and about 18 months later we were married. We are approaching our 25th wedding anniversary this March.
It was on those drives to and from work as a teen that we fell in love. The conversation easily flowed, and we talked about nothing and everything all at the same time.
And in these days where life is busy and our teen girls are more like adults than “girls”, it is one of my favorite things do to- jump into the car with my husband and just drive around. We are instantly transported to the care-free days of long ago, when all we had was each other and a pocket full of dreams.
This is a song I wrote about our drives together. It’s usually me driving- because long ago we made a rule- whomever drives gets to choose the music!
As a pre-teen, I used to sit on my old piano bench and play away my thoughts on the keys. It was therapeutic to let melancholy chords ring while melodies ran through my head. Creating music made me feel alive!
I remember the first time I shared a piano piece I wrote with my piano teacher. I was nervous, but proud of the song I had created.
I played with hesitation- desperately wanting my teacher’s approval. When I finished, the first thing he said was that I should try this chord instead of that chord …and surely it would sound better if I did it this way instead. Lots of criticism followed.
I was crushed. I remember thinking surely if I had wanted it that way, I would have already written it that way!
That one moment had a huge impact on me.For many years, I felt like what I created didn’t have value, wasn’t good enough.
But here’s the thing-we all have a song to sing. How boring it would be if all songs had the same chords and melodies. How bland music would be if we all had the same voice.
Let Him create something NEW in you- and then pour it out as an offering for His glory!
My hubby and I began watching a series on Netflix recently called Manifest. We were hooked from the beginning, as the storyline is very intriguing and the series offers lots of twists and turns.
One of the main themes of the series is Romans 8:28- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This is a verse I quote often, because it’s an encouragement that we are called to follow and seek Him in all things, and a reminder that we can trust He has a greater purpose at work than what we are able to see with our own eyes. We can completely trust that even when we are in a BAD situation, that somehow He is going to use it for His good.
In the show, the survivors of the 5 year plane disappearance hear voices, later referred to “callings”. These callings will at times bring survivors together to solve a puzzle… always leading them to help someone in need and miraculously these callings connect to each other in deeply personal ways with the characters. This is one of the best ways I have seen my walk with Jesus displayed on a screen… and probably one of the easiest ways to describe what it feels like for me to hear that “small whisper” of the Holy Spirit, and to walk with Jesus each day.
Just the other day, I went to a local senior living community to do a worship service in the middle of the week. Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of the week for me. I play and sing a few hymns with the residents, we pray, and I share a short devotional and then close with another song and prayer. It fills my heart with great joy to see the residents clapping, singing, and experiencing the blessing that is corporate worship. When I leave, I always feel like I have made a difference in their lives for Jesus.
And this past week- it was the walk to my car where I heard the “small whisper”.
There are outdoor patio areas for the residents to sit outside of their rooms on the ground floor. It happened to be raining that day as I was heading out to my car. I spotted a lady who was all done up- she looked like Elizabeth Taylor and was strikingly beautiful. She held a book in her hand and was gazing out over the parking lot watching the rain fall.
As clear as day, I felt the Lord telling me to go and speak to her.
I said hi as I approached her and she greeted me.
“Isn’t it just heavenly listening to the rain?” she said to me.
Listening to the rain is one of my favorite things to do. We chatted for just a moment, and then I invited her to join me next week for our time of worship.
“Oh, I’m a life-long atheist,” she replied.
And what struck me was her tone- she was not timid or shy about what she believed, but was confident and proud of her declaration.
I smiled and told her I loved her and would welcome her to join us.
I thought about her statement that the sound of the rain was heavenly.
I think about heaven a lot.
Even our greatest, most pleasurable moments here on earth will pale in comparison to the place He has prepared for us, and I want this special lady to see that place one day.
Romans 8:28… ALL THINGS work together for good. Who knows- maybe I will never see her again. Maybe the Lord simply used me to plant a tiny mustard seed in her heart.
But just maybe I will see her next week for worship!