I Sing Because I'm Free

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A recent attempt at a fish tail braid

There are some things I really stink at. Ok- lots of things.

One of them is french braiding.

I spent many lazy summer days as a pre-teen learning to french braid my own hair.  I spent hours on and off for days on end learning how to craft the tightest, smoothest braid possible. But for some reason, as strange as it seems, it is far easier to braid my own hair (without even being able to see what I’m doing) than it is to braid either of my girls’ hair.

So this morning, when my spirited younger daughter came to me with the request of a french braid, I had to break the news to her.

“Momma’s not so good at that.”

“Just try. Please?!”

“Are you sure?  I might mess up…I may have to do it more than once.”

“That’s ok, momma. I still want you to do it.”

And so I took the brush from her hand and began gingerly brushing her ultra-thick, tangled hair.  She was incredibly patient with me.  Usually at this stage of the game, there would be lots of ouches!  and you’re hurting me!! 

But not today.  She believed in me.

And slowly I separated the pieces of hair and began to work on that braid.

“It’s a little bit messy,” I told her.

“That’s ok, Mom.”

Before I knew it, I had a french braid staring back at me.  I secured it tightly and she smiled from ear to ear. I took her to the mirror and showed her my imperfect handiwork, and placed bobby pins to hold her wispy strands back from her face.

“Are you sure you want to keep it up like that?”

“Yep!” she exclaimed, and flashed me her dazzling smile.

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My Sophie taught me two very important lessons today:

-My daughter believed in me… and because she believed in me, she gave me the encouragement to not give up

-trying my best will always be good enough to those who love me

His perfect love shined through my daughter this morning, blinding me to my imperfect braid… and reminding me how He uses the smallest things to show me how great He is and how much He loves us!

               Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2

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Dancing with Jesus

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The sun streaming through the trees on a recent walk… 

I woke up one morning filled with joy-so much so, that I couldn’t stop smiling!  God had answered a very specific prayer of mine in a very special way. I didn’t call anyone to share the good news- I simply spent the day being quiet with Him- and that made the day all the more special!  Doing ordinary, everyday tasks, I felt His presence with me all day.

You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever  Psalm 16:11

I had to drive into town and run a few errands- nothing special- but He was there. I remember there being lots of road work and traffic- things that would normally irritate me- but as I sat there in the car, I felt His hand in mine.  It didn’t matter what I did or where I went, feeling His presence in such a way was the most wonderful thing I could have imagined.  As I was driving home from running errands, I noticed the sunlight glittering through the trees.  I remember exactly where I was on the road when I had this vision…

A picture flashed in my mind. It was instantaneous, and yet it felt like an eternity.  As I drove up the curvy road, I saw a vision of Jesus and I holding hands- standing with our arms extended.  We twirled in circles and danced around like children. Sunlight sparkled all around us and there were flowers everywhere.  And then it was gone. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought about what it will be like to be in heaven, worshipping Him for all eternity.

I told my husband about my experience the next day.  I shared with him how I felt His presence all day, and about catching this glimpse of what heaven might be like.  He smiled at me and said it sounded like I needed to write a song about it… and so I did!

“Dancing With Jesus”

It’s a new day

I’m singing your praises

thankful and grateful for all that you are

Driving around

sun shining down

and I see a vision of 

You and me

Your presence is real

I’m moved in my soul

I grab Your hands

as we sway to and fro

I’m dancing with Jesus

Singing, rejoicing, 

and worshipping Him

I’m dancing with Jesus

I rest in Your arms and I know

You are with me wherever I go…

A moment it was

frozen in time

a glimmer of heaven

and what it might be

Amazing and sweet

feeling complete

I surrender all that I am 

at your feet..

How sweet it will be

when Your face, I see

when I get to heaven

and dance with You there

Forever more

and always I’m Yours

In your presence I will 

forever adore You 

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Heaven comes down

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snuggled in the grass 

we watch as heaven comes down 

to kiss us goodnight

 Last night, after another busy day, I began cleaning up the kitchen.  All of a sudden, my youngest daughter, Sophie, rushed into the room and said I must come– it’s pink outside and she didn’t want me to miss it. My girls know how much I love watching the evening sky. My hubby came into the kitchen to finish what I was doing so I could go outside with the girls.

“Oh my goodness!” my youngest one says in a hushed voice.  “It’s like Jesus came down!”

And then they did the cutest thing- they said they wanted to touch the sky and asked me to take this picture of them….

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Then I laid down in the grass- and before I knew it, my girls joined me. And for just a few moments, we took in the amazing view.  For a short time, all the pre-teen angst and disappointments from the day melted away as we watched the breathtaking sky.  He is always faithful to meet us right where we’re at.

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Psalm 36:5

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Shedding Light

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pondering the path we walk

often times it seems quite dark

but even so, steadfast He keeps

shedding light as footsteps sweep

even when we cannot see

the pathway laid before our feet

Rest assured, steadfast He keeps 

shedding light as footsteps sweep

Shadows fall, disguising day

how quickly they lead us astray

but even so, steadfast He keeps

shedding light as footsteps sweep 

When we keep Him in our sight

his presence keeps away the night

and all the while steadfast He keeps

shedding light as footsteps sweep

Our family had a wonderful weekend together.  We did something we had never done before- we took a walk on the Monticello Trail.  The main trail is almost 4 miles up and back, and the girls have come here many times-but this was the first time we all finished it together.  My husband and I kept telling the girls we had to make it all the way to the bridge, and then we could turn around.

“Can’t we just turn around here?” my youngest begged several times.

“No- we’re almost there! You’ll know when you see the bridge.”

I kept telling them we would be in sight of the bridge soon.

I led the pack, followed my my youngest girl, then her older sister behind her, and my husband was the caboose.  It worked quite well.  I set the pace, and challenged my youngest to keep up with me.  I offered her many praises along the way- telling her how proud I was of her.  And sure enough, we eventually made it to the bridge, touched it, and then turned to go back.

Sometimes along our journey, our “goals” aren’t always so tangible.  Looking for the bridge kept us all focused as we walked. What a relief it was to finally see it as we neared the half-way point!  We told the girls it was all down-hill from here- literally– so it would be a much easier trek back.

On the way home from our hike, I confessed to my husband that I seemed to have lost sight of some of my goals. Often times my own shadows hide the light He is shedding on my path.  My biggest problem is me.  Focusing too much on myself.  A smaller number on a scale, a better car, or a newer iPhone aren’t going to get me very far on this walk with Christ.

And as my family walked the trail, I saw us building one another up and walking as a team. My heart longed for nothing more than spending more time together. Not more things, not more time alone… more time in relationship with the ones I love- and with my Heavenly Father.  Forget “me” time. I need more “knee” time- spent with Him in prayer, and more “we” time with the wonderful family He has blessed me with!

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6

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Finding Him in the moment

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The seven 4-leaf clovers I found all together on a walk…

Picking clovers one by one

and seven did I find-

but all the clovers in the world

can’t bring me peace of mind.

Knowing Him and seeking Him

each moment is the way 

to see His many blessings

as we journey through our day.

I found these clovers a while back- actually it was July 4th. I found seven 4 leaf clovers on 7/4. I really do believe that God has a sense of humor- and that He gets our attention in the most unique ways! I hadn’t even been looking for clovers, I happened to glance down and they literally jumped out at me.  I was reminded of this today, as I thought about how He is relentless in His pursuit of us and of our attention.

And so this morning, I sense Him trying to capture my attention, once again.  I have always been a little on the clumsy side, and have a tendency to bump into random things.  My husband affectionately calls me a peach, because with these bumps come many, many bruises.  Last night the corner of my daughter’s bed reached out and lunged at my thigh- leaving me with a  bruised knot…and just a few moments ago, I walked smack into another hard surface, bruising my arm.

Slow down… these are the words I hear Him whispering to me today.  To be intentional about my steps and what it is I’m doing. I have a tendency to do a task-while thinking and plotting the next one.  Often that leaves the beginning thing undone- because I’m not truly focused on the moment.  And in that moment is right where I find Him!

Look straight ahead,
    and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path for your feet;
    stay on the safe path.  Proverbs 4

Lord, I don’t want to be so focused on the next thing that I miss out on seeing You!  Slow my thoughts, guide my steps, and help me to be focused on You and Your will- moment by moment!

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As the sun rises

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 as the sun rises

so does appreciation

for all He creates

At the moment, I am waving my white flag- surrendering my frustrations to Him.  Sometimes technology is our best friend- and other times it’s my worst enemy!  The latter description is what I am experiencing at the moment.  Instead of continuing to work on a project that is causing me undue frustration- I am choosing to step away from the desk and worship.  He created all things and surely He will give me guidance in His timing to complete this tech-savvy task.

So this morning, I am in awe of His beautiful sunrise, and I am in awe of everything He has blessed me with… including this computer (which at the moment is the source of my frustration).  He shows me time and time again that His ways are far better than mine, and that I can do NOTHING without His help!!

Lord, thank You for being patient with me.  So many times I try to jump in and do things on my own without asking for Your guidance. Thank you for reminding me that no task is too big or too small to bring to You for help!  

Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created  Revelation 4:11

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Standing Tall

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Standing tall- a radiant sunflower on a recent day trip

 Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong- 1 Corinthians 16:13

It’s the little things that make me smile.  Sunflowers are one of those things.  I can’t get enough of them.  A daydreamer at heart- I could stare at them all day if I’d let myself!  I remember seeing them when I was young, and wondering how on earth they could have such a huge, beautiful bloom and still stand so tall on such a thin stalk.

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God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.  Psalm 11:7 (MSG)

I remember when I was in elementary school feeling self-conscious of how tall I was. Feeling like a giant, I often walked around with hunched shoulders, hoping it would allow me to fit in and not be noticed by others for my tallness. Standing tall meant that I would be standing out above the crowd- literally. It was during my adolescence that I took notice of sunflowers and how beautiful they are.  If they somehow had the strength to stand tall, certainly I could find it the strength to embrace my tallness and do the same.  I began to realize all the beautiful things I missed out on seeing by hunching and looking down all the time.

And one of the things I detested about myself as a child, I have grown to appreciate. I love being able to grab something off the top shelf for a friend, or a fellow shopper in the grocery store.  By His grace, I now stand tall for my faith in Christ. And I stand tall for my fast-growing daughters- who look up to me (literally and figuratively) and follow my example.

God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.  Psalm 11:7 (MSG)

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I Wait

I am lost, lost, lost 

without You, You, You

showing me, me, me

what to do, do, do

so I wait, wait, wait, 

patiently-ly-ly

as I sit in 

sweet surrender

at Your feet

won’t You sing

over me

with your sweet sweet 

melody 

 I wait patiently

as I worship

at Your feet

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.  Isaiah 30:18

I remember being worried sick over little things that were completely out of my control.  And every single time, whatever it was, it worked itself out. Or He worked it out, unbeknownst to me.  When my girls were babies, I taught piano and voice lessons out of my home. I was blessed with wonderful students who would take turns being my “helper” and they would watch my girls while I taught.  Often, one would get sick or something would happen and I would not have a babysitter.  I remember the sheer panic I felt, as if my entire world was going to end. But each and every time, He met my need.  

I think about all the unnecessary stress I caused myself over worrying- not to mention the gray hairs I added to my head.  It has taken me a long time- and I have a long way to go- but I am beginning to see these things as opportunities- for God to show me how faithful He is.  Often when we say “wait”- we mean to “stop”.  When God asks us to wait, He calls us to action– to worship with adoration and expectation! He wants us to commit our situations to Him, and to know that He will answer- in His timing, in His perfect way.   

I wrote this song recently as I waited for Him. And I’m still waiting…and the worship is sweet as I look to my Heavenly Father for guidance and direction- in all things!  

The waiting doesn’t ends- until He calls us home.  

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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maybe just one more cup…

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Streaming sunlight beckons me

to sit and spend some time with Thee

one cup, two cups, maybe three

there’s always time for more coffee!

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love. 

Psalm 59:16

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The more things change, the more they stay the same

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My girl walking on the Outer Banks

 daughter of mine 

walking on the shore

you’re no little girl anymore

 becoming a lady far too soon

and I’m afraid to blink

cause I might miss 

your little girl hugs and that little girl kiss

dare to dream big, daughter of mine

walking on the shore

you’re not a little girl

anymore…

This beauty warmed my heart tonight. 

After getting home late from church, my girls got ready for bed and began reading.  I went to tuck my youngest one in bed and pray with her, and she said “Momma, will you pick out an outfit for me to wear tomorrow?”  

Now, this is the ultimate privilege- having my daughter value my fashion-sense enough to want my input in what she wears.  So, naturally, knowing my youngest and her flair for the cray-cray fashion, I picked out two things that did not match.  

“Ewww…Mom! They don’t even go together!”  

So I pick out another completely different outfit- one that I actually liked.

“That’s more like it, Mom.”  

Weird.  She always likes things that clash.  But if that wasn’t weird enough, then my older one says she needs help, too…

“Mom, pick out my outfit for tomorrow, ok?”

“But honey- you never like what I pick out for you.”

“I know, but just pick out something, ok?” she asked as she rolled her eyes.  

And so I perused through her drawer and found a lovely green t-shirt and a pair of jeans that she painted herself. She is a t-shirt and jeans girl, just like me.  My oldest and I are so much alike, it blows my mind. Watching her grow into a lady often times feel like I’m re-living my own childhood. 

 “That looks good, Mom.”  

“But Mom, you know I’ll try to change what I wear in the morning, don’t you?” my daughter says.

“But Mom- don’t let me.” 

A simple statement- reminding me that my independent young lady still seeks “mommy’s” approval and guidance… 

My heart is full.  

I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.   Isaiah 61:10

 

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