I Sing Because I'm Free

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Musical musings on neglected weeds

Hard at work
we made it look
as if that’s all 
it really took
One day of labor
one day of sweat
and oh how quickly
we forget
these little things 
that creep and grow
up through our mulch
did we not know
that when we do not 
tend our weeds
and when His word 
we do not heed
how much harder 
must we work
to clear up all these 
weeds that took
and what else might
we see is found 
as we pull roots
below the ground?
 
I put this poem to song.   How fitting it was when I played my piano this  morning –  one of the keys was just a little “off” today… a “buzz” in my Eb key… thanks, God, for reminding me of the beauty in imperfections!  We all feel a little “off” sometimes, don’t we?  I am thankful for His Living Word, His grace, and mercy…. and my beautifully “imperfect” piano!
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:36
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What happens when we neglect our weeds…

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Hard at work
we made it look
as if that’s all 
it really took
One day of labor
one day of sweat
and oh how quickly
we forget
these little things 
that creep and grow
up through our mulch 
did we not know-
that when we do not 
tend our weeds
and when His word 
we do not heed
how much harder 
must we work
to clear up all these 
weeds that took
and what else might
we see is found 
as we pull roots
below the ground?
 
So, we didn’t really keep up the layer of chocolate mulch in our backyard… completely shocking, I know…   We were so proud, thinking we had finally taken responsibility for something long overlooked.  And then it seemed like overnight, the little green patches of pesky weeds started creeping in…
I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
 thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 24:30-34
Which leads me to take stock in other “weeds” that have not been tended to… what else is being neglected and allowed to fester in my life?  One day of neglect, then two… it is so easy to get out of a routine of doing our chores, and when I do, it makes me feel out of control.  When my house is a mess, I feel like I am a mess, too… but what about other important things in life- like our relationships with our spouses, our friends… what about making time for prayer, and reading the Word?
Nothing in life is easy… it takes work!  Hard work!  And consistency.  The same is true with our relationship with Christ.  He is the one who shows me what needs tending in my “garden” and gives me instruction on how to prune it.  The more time I spend with Him, the easier it is to notice the weeds that are cropping up.  Jealousy, envy, pride, bitterness… these are just a few things that can grow deep roots quickly.    Lord knows, I sure don’t want my heart to look like our poor back yard!
Speaking of the backyard–  Babe (what I affectionately call my hubby)– we got some work to do!!!
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10
Lord, help me to clear the weeds so that I can clearly see the path.  
Help me to hear Your voice, heed Your Word, and help me to rely on You- my Master Gardener-
every moment of every day. 
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it’s the little things…

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“We’ll get our homework done early- we promise!!”  my girls beg with pleading eyes.

“We’ll do all our chores, mommy! Pleeeeease???”

And so the evening routine begins.  Laundry folding- they put it away with ease.  Homework- not a peep as they pour themselves into their writing, cutting, reading, flute practicing…  music to my ears!  

I begin to make dinner.  They finish their homework just on time as I serve our dinner.   Most evenings they would balk at eating these particular vegetables- but not tonight!

We finish dinner, and they obediently do all I ask. Evenings such as these make me giddy! All aspects of the  household are moving like the inner workings of a clock- all in perfect timing…

And the piece de resistance– we all snuggle on the couch, staying up late to watch our favorite show.  My little one belts out the theme song in her most gregarious singing voice.  I couldn’t wipe the giant smile from our faces even if I tried.

And then the sweetest part of the night happens…

We hear the song “You Are So Beautiful” sung on the show and my youngest says “Mommy- I know that song from “Full House”!  Remember that show from the early ’90’s? Well, that just happens to be one of my girls’ favorite shows.  My youngest thought that was where the song was from!  And I tell her that it is one of my very favorite songs!  She looks up at me, smiles,  grabs my hand, and laces her little fingers through mine.  We all sing together in unison.  I fight back tears as I am overwhelmed with love for my family.  What joy is found in the little things!

How fitting that song is for a night like tonight.  my cup runneth over-  psalm 23:5  

Crisp, cool fall evenings, a husband that loves us and provides for us and two beautiful girls who make my life complete,  a nice home, plenty of food in our cabinets, enjoying our favorite show together snuggled on the couch, holding hands…

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God!  1 John 3:1

So many blessings… and as my children thank me for letting them stay up a little later, I thank my Father for all of His many blessings, and for beautiful evenings such as these!

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Willing to be Made Willing

Carter's Mountain- Charlottesville, VA

If you are willing and obedient,
    you will eat the good things of the land;  Isaiah 1:19

There are times in our lives when we know that He is asking us to do something that is out of the ordinary.  One of these “out of the ordinary” times for my husband and I was when we had to make the decision to leave our hometown and move here  to Charlottesville 9 years ago.    I was not even going to entertain the idea, because I did not ever want to move.  We had everything we needed right there… but there was that little voice telling us to “go”!   You know that saying “never say never”?  Well, I never thought I would have to make that decision.  I was scared.  I was terrified to leave my family and everything I had ever known.  My family….my husband’s family… all of our friends…

It really did not make sense to us at the time, but we heard that voice inside telling us to “go”, and so we did.  I told my husband that if we needed to move somewhere, I guess I could see myself living in Charlottesville.

As a child, we took many trips here to pick apples on Carter’s Mountain and to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It is absolutely breathtaking around here in the fall! I can still remember the excitement of driving down interstate 64 and seeing the blazing fall colors of the mountains over the horizon,  and in the car we would “ooh” and “aah”  in a sing-song voice at the spectacular sight!

And that was that… my husband found a wonderful job here, we sold our house in 2 days, and found our new house the first trip up to Charlottesville.  It was really that fast.  And simple.  And not a coincidence- but a “God Incident” that we are here.

I think of that moment I said I was willing to move… I was only partially willing- I wanted to move back after a couple of years.   After living in Charlottesville for a short while, I began to harbor resentment for leaving my home. I bargained with God for ways we could move back.  I searched for houses back home on the internet, jobs for us, anything I could think of to make it happen.  And I made everyone around me miserable.  I was pretty miserable, too.  After moving here and fighting what God was wanting me to do, I reached a point of being willing- willing to be made willing.  Even though I did not want to be here, I prayed for God to change my heart, and help me to be content and to be willing to do whatever it was that He was calling me here for.

After months of prayer, I finally surrendered and told Him I was willing…. willing to do everything He wanted me to do- no matter the cost- no matter if we moved “home” or stayed here. Our “home” here is temporal-  home is where He is- and He is with me always!   And ultimately I was willing- willing to stay or go, and willing to be all His and to serve Him and go into ministry.

for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  Philippians 4:11

Whatever He is asking you to do- you just have to be willing.  He is with you every step of the way.  Moving here was a good thing.  It was definitely a “God” thing.  Seeing how God has worked in our lives since that moment 9 years ago is amazing.  He is simply amazing!

Here is a song that my husband and I wrote about being willing… being willing for God to change us and mold us into what He wants.  Being willing  to yield to His voice and to be obedient to all He asks- no matter the cost, because our life is not our own.. it is for His gain and His glory!

Lord, I am willing…  

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He Washed Me White as (Ivory) Snow

One of these things is not like the other!

One of these things is not like the other!

I am going to share something slightly embarrassing today… yes, folks, I have been a victim of “laundry bottle identity crisis”.  I cannot be the only one that has suffered from this condition, so I felt the need to come out of the closet…

One evening when my youngest was still a baby, I was carefully switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer.  As I  mindlessly took each article of clothing out, my dear, darling husband sweetly pointed out  that the bottle of laundry detergent I had been using for weeks was, in fact, not detergent at all- it was….. wait for it…. FABRIC SOFTENER!!!!  The horror!!!

I did not know what to do!  I mean, I thought wow, my clothes sure have been smelling good!!   And then I worried- what if it was just like spraying Febreeze on them?  What if I was just covering up the stink??

And I laughed, and laughed for weeks on end about that little mishap.  And you know what? It has happened again… many, many times!

So, the real question is why do they make these bottles so similar?  Come on, guys!!! Those of us who are keeping you all in business are sleep deprived mommies and caregivers who just need a little extra sign on the front of the bottle.  It is really hard to tell the difference between these bottles… same color, shape, size, and sometimes they even have similar pictures on the front!  And the word “laundry detergent” is in the smallest print possible!!

Then I got to thinking about this “laundry bottle identity crisis”…  it’s not that it isn’t labeled… it’s just that I fail to pay attention to details.  But-  I don’t want my laundry to just smell clean, I want it to be clean!

Which leads me to one of my favorite Bible verses-

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

 I don’t want to just look clean, I want my heart to be clean before God.  It is even more important that we take care of our “deeper cleaning” and make sure our hearts are clear before Him each day.   Just as I need to take an extra minute to read the laundry bottles, I need to also take those few extra minutes throughout my day to pray and  read God’s Word.

Lord, help me to mind the “small print” on the laundry bottles and in Your Word, to take the time to pay attention to details, and to continue to see You in all things.  May You help me to laugh more, get frustrated less, and to find peace and joy in You!

 

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The Boiling Point

Photo on 9-7-13 at 6.31 PM

I had been dreading this particular afternoon for days.  I picked my daughters up from school early one afternoon last week to take them to the dentist.  Visiting the dentist always proves to be an afternoon filled with anxiety and fear.   As I sat in the school’s  office, I noticed a poster on the wall-

It was titled “212 Degrees” and said this underneath-

212° the extra degree captures the essence of excellence in an unforgettable way… At 211° water is hot. At 212°, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive. The one extra degree makes the difference.

And in that moment, I forgot about everything else except that phrase…  Excellence…. one  extra degree makes all the difference.

I immediately thought about the one extra degree as one extra step of obedience to God.  You, know, that little extra “nudge” telling us to make just one extra phone call to tell someone they are missed.  One extra prayer for someone who God puts on your heart.  One extra meal for someone who is in need.  One extra smile on those days that you don’t really “feel like it”- because God is our strength!  How many people do you know that are hurting?  Lonely?  That need to feel loved? At times, I have reached out to others and have felt like it didn’t make any difference.  The fact is that God calls us to love each other- even if they do not love us back.  Even if they don’t smile back at you.   Even if they do not love you back… One extra degree– He wants us to put our hope and trust in Him alone and know that this verse is true-

So will the words that come out of my mouth  not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.  Isaiah 55:11

I want to be at the “Boiling Point” with God- showing obedience in every little thing- bubbling over with His joy and doing all He asks of me!

In that dentist office, I was at my boiling point with God- quietly praying while calming down my youngest child.  Instead of worrying alongside her and getting angry over her meltdown, I knew that one extra degree of being a loving, understanding mommy  was what He was asking me to do in that moment.  Sitting patiently with her, much to my surprise, the dentist cheerfully said, “no cavities!”  And at that point, several of the other hygienists looked over at us with smiles on their faces, knowing the not-so-cheerful reports we have had in the past.  And the girls and I loudly cheered and I said “Praise the Lord!!!”

One extra degree… one extra step of obedience… I wrote a song about a year ago about giving God my all… having no regrets and not looking back.  This song came to mind when I saw that poster in the school office that day.    It is called “All or Nothing”.  I don’t want to just be steam… I want to boil over with the joy of the Lord! 

“All or Nothing”

Everybody’s looking for something,

for something to fight for.

but the battle has already begun

and He’s won.

He came to show us His love and to

reconcile our sins.

His grace abounds and when we receive it,

our journey begins…

Don’t want to do it “half-way”

It’s all or nothing.

Don’t want to do it “half-way”

I’m gonna pick up my cross

and follow You.

Don’t want to do it “half-way”

It’s all or nothing.

Don’t want to do it “half-way”

Whatever You ask for, I’m gonna do for You.

I wanna see the world through Your eyes

and not be hypnotized by the world’s lies

Help me to see You in everything,

in every circumstance

may I not be devoted to anything other than You

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Puppy Love

This is our dog, Remy- the most totally awesomest dog ever-

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My husband and my youngest daughter are severely allergic to cats and most dogs.  Being a dog lover, I had suppressed my desire for a fur-baby far too long.  It was like a clock ticking inside of me- you know how when you are desperate to have a baby you notice every single expectant mother?  Well that is what happened to me… only I oohed and awed at every single dog I saw.  It was just pathetic.  So, one day I convinced my hubby to let me just look at rescue dogs on line.  I fell in love with one- a poodle mix and  emailed all the forms necessary to be considered for the adoption process.  Several days later, I noticed his picture was gone from the website, and my hopes were dashed.

About a week later, I saw this same dog’s picture back on the rescue site, and I quickly sent an email to them explaining that I sent paperwork and was very interested in him.  I got a response the next day, and went to see him at his “foster home”.  He roamed the field with dogs 5x his size and held his own. He was confident and quiet.  Fast on his feet and gentle with the girls.  He was delivered to us a few days before my oldest daughter’s  8th birthday and we have been blessed ever since!

So, here are my top 10 reasons why he’s a most totally awesome dog-

1. He smiles at me.  He has this little underbite and when he looks up at you, you can’t help but notice that he his smiling at you, and you have to smile back!!

2. He sneezes when he’s excited.  It is the cutest thing ever- he sneezes when he wants to play with you, when he wants what you are eating, when he is excited about anything- he starts sneezing.

3.  He gives us running hugs in the evenings.  I mean just what I said- he will (completely out of the blue) run into the living room and jump into my or my husband’s lap and put his paws around our neck.  Is that the sweetest thing ever?!

4. He allows me to enjoy a slower paced life.  One of the things I love about having a dog is that it keeps you grounded at your homestead.  I am a “homebody” and really do love being home.  Having a dog gives me a great reason to get home at a decent time.

5. He stops and smells the roses.  So, this reason is one that most pet owners will identify with- you go for a walk, and the instant he smells something, he will sniff for what feels like days and days… and it is usually when I am in a hurry to be somewhere.  But this reminds me to enjoy God’s creation and to not be in such a hurry.

6.  He loves to dance!  Ok- so he might be scratching his back, but in our happy little minds, he is overcome with joy and throws himself on his back and wiggles away, smiling all the while.

7. He keeps watch over us.  When any one of us are not home, he will faithfully sit by the basement stairs door, patiently waiting for whomever is not home.  He does not sleep soundly until everyone is accounted for.

8. He loves for me to play the piano.  No matter where he is, as soon as I sit down to play, I can hear the pitter-patter of his paws scurrying down the hallway to come be with me.  Remy will lay on top of my right foot- the one that is pedaling the piano.  Maybe he is just wanting a massage?!

9.  His fur makes great stuffing for pillows.  No joke!  I clipped his fur a few months back, and my oldest daughter gathered it all up and said that she wanted to use it as stuffing and make a pillow so that she would be close to him while she slept.  True story.  She still has the bag of fur. No fur pillow yet…

10.  He is a wonderful reminder to me that God cares about our every desire.    I prayed to God for the perfect dog for our family- for a long time.  I knew how severe my husband’s allergies and my daughter’s were, but I prayed that He would bring us the perfect dog to fit our family dynamics and health concerns.  He is faithful in all things!

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

In the two and a half years that we have had Remy, I have not regretted having him even for a single moment.  We don’t have a fenced in yard- so it is quite the commitment to walk him several times a day.  He gives us so much joy.  I love watching the girls play with him and take on more responsibilities with him as they get older.  When they have a bad day, all they want to do is snuggle with him.  He brings us closer together as a family and it is a joy to have him in our household!   And praise the Lord- most of the sneezes in the house are from Remy, not my allergy- plagued family!  He makes us happy, happy, happy!

So, what makes your dog awesome?

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