I Sing Because I'm Free

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At night His song is with me

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Our church silhouetted against the evening sky

Like liquid gold, the sunlight shone

and glittered in the sky

the church stood silhouetted 

as the night was drawing nigh

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The sinking sun over Carter’s Mountain

how marvelous, how glorious

watching daylight turn to night

In awe of His creation-

In Him I take delight!

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By day the Lord directs his love, at night His song is with me—

a prayer to the God of my life.  Psalm 42

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I have called you friend

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Déjà vu… it happens all too often lately.  One simple statement from my kids and I am instantly whisked back to my own childhood. My daughter got off the bus with her usual cheery smile, but I sensed something was wrong.

“Who did you sit with at lunch today?”

Nobody.”

My heart dropped to the floor.  She said that the table where all the girls were at was full, and that she went to the empty table and no one sat with her.  As she spoke, I had to hold back tears as I remembered so many similar days at my school.

I must have been about my daughters age-there were 10 to a lunch table, and all the “popular girls” sat at the main table.  There were 12 girls in our class, and the 11th girl and I sat at the other table every day.  One day a girl from the “popular table” was not there and I made a bold choice- I decided to sit where I always did, because I didn’t want my friend to sit alone, and because,well- that’s just where I always sat.  So I got out my lunchbox… I can still remember where I sat, and how the light filtered through the cafeteria windows.  I watched in slow motion as my friend came through the cafeteria lunch line….and sat at the table of 10.  She chose them over me.  I was crushed.

I went home that day and remember thinking I could never go back to school.  Ever again.  I stayed home from school the following day. I said I was sick, and really I was!  Sick to my stomach because I felt like the only girl in the world without a friend.

And I tell my daughter this story and tell her that she will never, ever, find a truer friend than her sister.  As quickly as I tell her this, she interrupts me and says “No, mom!  JESUS is our best friend!”

Oh how right she is!

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  John 15:5

The next morning, as we waited for the bus, I told her to look for someone at lunch who needs a best friend- because she already has one- Jesus!  And there are so many people out there who don’t know this Friend of hers- and He wants to be their friend, too.  I tell her it is so simple- just love people and show them that you care about them.

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

He is with us wherever we go, He will never leave or forsake us, and we are never alone.

Jesus is all the world to me:
  My life, my joy, my all.
He is my strength from day to day;
  Without Him I would fall.
When I am sad, to Him I go;
No other one can cheer me so.
When I am sad, He makes me glad;
  He’s my Friend.  

 by Will Thompson

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The Sound of Grace

My 80 year old baby grand piano

Playing piano in front of people has always been a huge fear of mine.  I have horrible stage fright- always have.  My biggest fear is that my hands will freeze up and I will be the laughing stock of the room.  Yes, I have played many, many wrong notes over the years… but, thankfully,  He has never allowed me to make a complete fool of myself!

I had the honor of playing for a wedding this past weekend.  I opened my piano books and began playing some classical pieces as the attendees began to enter the sanctuary. As I played quietly, my mind wandered to the many hours I spent practicing as a little girl.  All that time I thought was being wasted… and now He uses it for so many awesome things. As I reminisced about my childhood, the sweetest thing happened- several of the young children who were in the wedding came onto the stage and started playing with me.  They ever-so-gently pressed the keys up high and down low on the piano, right in time with me- as my own hands played the classical tunes.  I admit that initially, I was frustrated- I was trying so hard to play the right notes and to not make mistakes- which requires a ton of concentration for me. But once I saw the joy on their little faces, I immediately let my frustrations go.

He reminds me that music is not just about playing right notes!  It’s about the heart.  

I continued to play, accompanied by the young children, and then I transitioned to “Amazing Grace”.  I didn’t have any sheet music for this one- I was simply worshipping… playing whatever He led me to play before the actual ceremony began.

Then the most awesome thing happened- one of the pretty little girls leaned over and whispered in my ear-

“That’s a beautiful one!”

 “Do you know this song?” I asked her.

“No.  But it is a beautiful one,”  she said again with her eyes shining.

Yes it is. There is nothing quiet like the sound of His grace.

There are no words to describe it.

He sings His grace over our lives in the most wonderful ways. Through giggling children,  innocent little fingers tickling the ivory piano keys, and through heart-felt words said by little ones.

His grace abounds!

“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 2 Samuel 7:18

I am grateful for His grace and thankful that I get to serve Him in so many wonderful ways!  And to think of all those hours spent practicing at a piano as a little girl… I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Little moments like these bring me so much joy. I am thankful He sent those little children on the stage to remind me why I do what I do… He has not intended for me to play perfect notes- but to play with joy like a child.  He has blessed me beyond measure. If only I could tell those children how much they blessed me- and how He used them to relieve me of my “fears” of playing!

“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.”

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

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Keep Looking Up

Glorious Sunday morning in Keswick, VA

Sky of a thousand

shades of blue

How I long

to gaze at you

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Sea of azure

in the sky

Your wonder clouds

go swimming by

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Sky light, sky bright

always keeping 

Him in sight

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His glory shines

on everything

Oh, how Your beauty

makes me sing!

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Friday Night’s Sunset

Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.  1 Chronicles 29:11

The day always goes much more smoothly when I look up.  The moment I allow my thoughts to go astray, nothing good comes from it. My mini van didn’t want to start this morning. Immediately, I began to panic. I detest car (or in my case, mini van) troubles.  I don’t know a thing about cars.  But isn’t it crazy that we can trust our cars to take us here, there, and everywhere without knowing much of anything about them and how they work?

In my moments of panic, He reminded me of this- how often I put my hope in worldly things to meet my needs when they often fail me.  Cars, appliances, circumstances…even in other people.

So I looked up.  I gazed into the sky and handed Him my worries. He will meet my needs. It’s not if– but when– my van fails me, I trust that He will provide the help I need.  It’s not if- but when– my appliances break, when someone hurts me, when life and relationships get messy- He is there.  And in Him, there’s always hope!

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You.  Psalm 39:7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

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Take Me As I Am

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Your love makes me want to be

the version of me that You see

filtered through the blood of Christ

and sanctified by sacrifice

So take me as I am 

make me something new

take my sins away

make me more like You

may Your will be done

let Your kingdom come

Help me find a better way

Cause I don’t want to throw away

the gift You gave me on the tree

by living my life just for me

You said that we could live like You

but all that I can seem to do

is fail just like I did before

Jesus, I want so much more

I don’t want to wait for heaven

I want fellowship right now

To claim the gift that I’ve been given

Jesus, help me, show me how

take me as I am 

make me something new

take my sins away

make me more like You

may Your will be done

let Your kingdom come

My husband wrote these lyrics and I wrote the music to this song. These words beautifully sum up our response to God’s amazing love. His loves compels us to want to live a life that glorifies Him and honors Him through our every thought, action, and deed- only made possible by seeking Him and living in fellowship with Him.  He takes us just as we are- but, praise God, He doesn’t leave us that way!  He continues to shape and mold us into His likeness-moment by moment.

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Do you ever wonder?

An overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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?

My girls and I were driving around recently and we were talking about the mountains.  I asked them how they thought God might have made them. Do you think God has real hands like we do? They said, “of course He does!!” without giving it a second thought.  Then we talked about how cool that would be for God to take this ball of clay in His big hands and smooth it down, and then just crumple little bits at a time to make all the little mountains and valleys…

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

I adore these little conversations when I get to see God through my children’s eyes. He is the source of everything– and He is the creator of creativity itself!  I am so thankful He gave us hands to use. I feel most alive when I am using my hands- either by making music, or writing…or the wonderful feeling I get when I hold hands with my husband or our children. I don’t know if He really has hands or not…but our conversation got me thinking-
I know that He touches me.
And that He holds me.
and He continues to mold me and shape me every day of my life.
And He has handed us the most precious gift- the gift of eternal life, and the abundant joy of fellowship with Him through His Spirit every day of our lives.
For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.  Psalm 92:4 
I thank You, Father, for Your hands of mercy
I thank You for Your hands of grace
I thank You for Your hands of love. 
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Sometimes you feel like a nut

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Falling, falling everywhere

acorns take us by surprise

Surely they will hit our heads

When we’re not looking with our eyes.  

‘Tis the season to keep watch

Falling nuts are everywhere

So kindly proceed with caution…

Walkers, joggers- beware!

We have noticed that acorns are falling out of the trees like crazy lately.  Many times, the girls and I have barely missed being clonked on the head by a falling acorn.  On this particular day, all three of us just missed being hit. It’s just nuts, I tell you! Literally.

My youngest has a nut allergy- tree nuts, to be exact. Can you imagine a Thanksgiving without pecan pie?  No nutella?  Never a brownie garnished with walnuts? Those are the biggies for her. She knows exactly what to steer clear of, and surprisingly, it does not make her sad in the slightest to avoid any of these goodies.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we were able to look at sin like this?  To effortlessly avoid the things we knew were not good for us…and not see it as “depriving” us of something we want? If only we could see sin as something we are “allergic” to.  Instead, we want to drool over that pecan pie and get our forks as close as we can to it! Then we think oh, just one bite won’t hurt me…but it does! Even one tiny bite will hurt someone with a severe allergy. Because my daughter knows what happens to her when she partakes of “nutty” things, she steers clear of anything even resembling a nut.  And so we, too, should steer clear of sin- the things that are stumbling blocks in our walks with Christ.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 1:17

Speaking of nuts we decided to go to Dunkin Donuts that day- a far too frequent treat of ours. I got my usual coffee and the girls get their donuts.

“We’re just having a nutty day, aren’t we?”  I tell the girls.

One of my daughters has a crush on a boy at school, and gives me frequent updates on what goes on at recess.  At times it sounds like a soap opera.  She knows she is not allowed to have a boyfriend, but I admit, listening to her talk about all the recess drama is quite entertaining.

“Momma- you know who are really nuts?  Boys. Really. They are just nuts.

“Momma, I guess that means I’m allergic to them, huh? she says with a sly smile.”

If only!

Oh, how I wish you were, my nutty girl.

Sometimes you feel like a nut…

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Letting Go

An early fall day in Charlottesville, VA

Today the leaves fell down like rain 

I saw their loss as only gain 

letting go of all things old 

releasing grip of all they hold  

preparing for their dormant state 

for all the coming change they wait 

making room for all things new

making room for more of You 

we anticipate it patiently 

blazing colors we’ll soon see 

Every living thing brings glory 

to the One who writes our story

Driving home today, I saw one of the first tell-tale signs of fall.  Leaves were dancing, swirling around as I drove down a twisty road.  All these beautiful trees around us are preparing to bare their naked branches before the world.  Letting go for us is a process…but these beautiful, dancing leaves reminded me that letting go is also a beautiful thing.

And I thought of some of the things I hold on to… that I need to let fall to the ground.

Like having unreasonable expectations of myself, and of others. 

past hurts

mistakes I have made

of “stuff” I don’t need taking up space in my house

of what others think of me

and the more I am able to let go of these things… the more room I make for Him.

But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.  Isaiah 43:18

 

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