I Sing Because I'm Free

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Being remade…and a song I wrote about it

 “Remade”

I used to live my life so unaware

I didn’t know You or that You’d care

About my thoughtless sin and casual lies

until the day You opened up my eyes

and the moment I knew what I’d done

the price had already been paid by Your Son

May I never forget what You’ve done

May I never forget who I was

before You changed me and made me new

You were there all along when I couldn’t see

By Your grace, You’ve remade me

Now that I know what You want from me

Help me, make me who I need to be

You know I can’t do this on my own

So I lay my burdens down before Your throne.

I give You everything that I am

I surrender to Your every plan.

And You’ve given me a reason to sing

Lord, I give You my everything.

A while back, I had lunch with a good friend who has known me for quite some time. Our lunch is what inspired me to write this song.  As we talked about our walks with Christ, she smiled at me and told me that she remembers a time when I said I rarely (if ever) opened my Bible.  My first thought was- me?! I immediately felt grieved in my spirit- that I could have ever been so flippant about my faith, about the One I am so passionate about now.  And then I thought about how important it is for me to remember…to remember what it was like to be the “old me”…

Because that is what helps me relate to people who are too busy to attend church- because I used to be, too. I remember thinking about praying far more often than I actually prayed.  And worship- well, I used to think that was just another word for church.

And I thought of how He took ahold of my life and everything that I had known- and changed me.  It wasn’t an overnight transformation by any means… but all of a sudden, I didn’t want to do the things I did before.  I stopped cursing.  I started listening to the Christian Radio.  When my heart was awakened to His Spirit, and His love- I couldn’t get enough of Him.

I had been a Christian all of my life, but I didn’t know what it meant to be a “Christ-follower” until I was an adult.  I thought that simply believing in God and being a good person was all there was to it.  I went to church occasionally but it was not much more than an event to wear my new dress and to sing happy songs.  I was missing a key component- relationship.  Then one day, He came into my life in a way that I will never forget.  He changed me, my desires- and all those things I once held dear paled in comparison to knowing Him.  He was no longer this far-off God of judgement and condemnation… He was my loving Father, speaking to me through His Spirit, through His Word and quietly telling me to let go of my life- and to give it to Him. I wanted  whatever His will was for me.  And slowly, little by little, the more I grew to love Him, the more I wanted to honor Him in everything I did.

May I never forget what You’ve done

May I never forget who I was

before You changed me and made me new

You were there all along when I couldn’t see

By Your grace, You’ve remade me

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.  Colossians 3:10

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The Peace of Jesus

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when strife comes my way

all I have to say is “yes”

to His perfect peace

  Sometimes I can feel the storms brewing between my two girls.  You know the warning signs… their talking gets a little faster, the volume becomes slightly elevated and higher in pitch…a door slams, and then the yelling ensues.  I can sense the changing winds, and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any way for me to stop the inevitable storms from taking over my house.

And then I hear-

 “Mom!!!!!”

The three of us were busy getting the house in tip top shape, and these little storms kept brewing.  I went from one room to the other, aiding each daughter with their chores.  Having played referee one too many times, I was quickly reaching the end of my rope.

And then Jesus found me.

I had knelt down on the dining room floor to go through a random box of junk, and this little bookmark jumped into my hands…

FullSizeRenderMy peace I give you. John 14:27

Right on time.  Just the moment I was getting ready to lose my cool- that’s when He reins me in- right back to Him.

I thought about all the times I am not resting in His peace- always because of my own doing.  Peace is a gift that so many times I chose not to unwrap- because my SELF gets in the way.  And the times I am most frustrated are when I have my own agenda in mind.

So, I left the dining room and my agenda right there.

I didn’t get everything checked off my “to-do” list, but I managed to complete the most important task of the day-

saying “yes” to peace

and saying “yes” to Him.

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the gift that keeps on givin’

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Shadows of our love                         

Skipping, racing,

holding hands,

impromptu mini-dates

with my man

our time is short

but our love is big-

when we’re together

I wanna dance a jig 

We wanted to keep the evening simple. My in-laws came for a visit, and let’s face it- ain’t nobody got time to be in the kitchen all day. I am not the greatest cook, so I like to leave that to the “professionals”. I ordered everyone’s meal and got ready to pick it up from the restaurant.

“Let’s leave the kids here with mom and dad, and I’ll go with you to pick it up,”  my hubby says to me.

We packed in more fun in that short 20 minute date than I thought was possible.

On the way, we drove through the neighborhood and caught a glimpse of Christmas lights.  We picked up dinner and then my husband says we have to make one more stop.  Ice cream.

Nooo!!  We don’t need it!  I beg him.

But who am I kidding?  I can’t resist the allure of ice cream with my pecan pie.  So I pull into the grocery store parking lot because now, I can’t even imagine my pie without that darned ice cream.

We get out of the car and hold hands.

“Let’s skip!”  my husband says, with a smile on his face.  And we do.  All the way into the grocery store. “You can’t skip without smiling, you know!” Yes, he is right.  Skipping is the cure all for any scowl.

He leaves me to pick out sodas while he grabs ice cream.

Have I ever shared with you a little problem I have?  I get completely and totally overwhelmed by supermarkets.  Too many choices to make.  And I’m thrifty- so I am always balancing what I want with what I need… with what’s the best deal.  So I spot the A&W Root Beer… because duh… it’s the best soda ever.  But it’s not as cheap as some of the others.  Time stands still and I ponder what to do for what feels like an eternity.

My husband spots me from the end of the aisle and is chuckling at me.

“I just knew it!”  He says.  He knows me and my little idiosyncrasies all too well…

He grabs the A & W and puts it into the cart, without giving it a second thought. We pay for our items and as we reach the parking lot, I tell him “Race ya!”

I begin to run, but he does not.  As soon as I stop, he blows past me- clearly using trickery to cheat me out of the win.

And so our mini-date comes to an end. As we drove the short drive home, I thought about all the gifts that meant the most to me this Christmas season, and it wasn’t things at all. They were moments.  Moments spent with my loved ones like-

-having my mom spontaneously lead us in singing carols Christmas night

-saying the blessing for our Christmas dinner

-sitting with my Granny and watching her open presents

-being silly with my family…ALL of them!

 -text messages from loved ones

-driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway enjoying the company and scenery

-and stealing little moments away with my husband- like our mini-date- reminding me how much I love him!

Love-

it’s the gift that keeps on givin’!

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.      

1 Corinthians 13:13

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Hungry, I come to You

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Running on Dunkin’

at the end of my own strength

is where I find Him

After my morning cup o’love, I hesitantly got on the treadmill this morning. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I know it’s good for me-mentally, physically and emotionally.

Sometimes I forget that it is good for me spiritually, too.  Whenever I chose to make Him my focus, whatever I do becomes an act of worship! I began my pace slow and steady- and as my worship tunes played on, I began to feel fatigued.  I prayed for His strength to keep going.

What am I running towards?

“Hungry, I come to You, for I know You satisfy…”

I found myself singing as I ran. I could almost feel Him lifting my arms as the steady pounding of my feet rhythmically fell in time to the music. On that treadmill to nowhere, I was running- running to Him.

“I’m falling on my knees… offering all of me… Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for…”

On that treadmill to nowhere is where I shed tears of joy. With every breath I took in, I felt Him drawing closer to me, encouraging me every step of the way.  Happy tears and beads of sweat fell down my face as I continued to pick up my pace.  The moments when I realize I can’t do anything on my own- that’s exactly where He’s waiting to show me His strength.

Shout to God with joyful praise!  Psalm 47:1

I thought about all the times I feel the need to go somewhere so I can be alone and focus- when He is right here…Emmanuel- God With us.  Not only that- He is God In us!

He is always choosing to be with us. And to think- He gives us the choice to choose Him…and the moment we do, He is right there. We don’t ever have to go anywhere to find Him-

He is always right here, right now.

His gift to us-

He is always present, always ready to fill our cups!

Shout to God with joyful praise!  Psalm 47:1

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'”  Matthew 1:23 

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Dry Beds

FullSizeRenderI do not have a thumb of green-

I have a thumb of death.    

Every living plant we’ve had-

I’ve choked it of its breath. 

O how I wish I could preserve

this beauty’s crimson hue

But tossing out its blackened husk

Is likely what I’ll do.  

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My track record of keeping plants alive is pretty dismal.  My husband says I have a thumb of death.  To this date, I have been unable to keep anything that grows alive- except for my children, of course! Every year my husband brings home a beautiful poinsettia from his office.  The one he brought home this year is so big, it’s actually wider than our Christmas tree!  The blooms are simply gorgeous.  But I am already having pity on this poor plant because of my horrible track record.

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But like all growing things- a little TLC goes a long way.  The truth of the matter is that I simply forget to water them.  I take them for granted, and then when I notice those blooms aren’t smiling back at me- well, they are too far gone to bring them back.

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 So, here I am again… with another chance to keep this poinsettia alive.  I am thankful that He gives us second chances. Even when I have waited far too long to drink His water, when I know that my “bed” is dry- it’s never too late.  As long as there is breath in our bodies- His grace is sufficient for us when we come to Him.

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.  John 4:14

Lord, help me remember to come to You…. and help me tend to all the living things in my life!

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Exposed

IMG_2843When everything is stripped away

exposed for all to see

When all the rustling leaves are gone

it’s simply just a tree

How beautiful His radiance

and endless glories shine

right through these spindly branches

straight into this heart of mine

I admit that I am a fan of pretty things.  I also use these pretty things to hide myself quite often.  As pretty as the fall foliage was, the bare trees are just as beautiful- and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that His light shines through more clearly when the trees are stripped of their beauty.

It is so easy for me to get caught up in my insecurities about my weight, or other silly things- and at times it can become an obsession.  It is a vicious cycle, one I pray about often.

The past few days, I have felt like that spindly tree…exposed before Him.  As His light shines down on me- He is showing me all kinds of things I need to work on.  As I release these “little things” to Him, His light gets brighter.

I recently made a commitment to change my diet… no, I’m not going on a diet, but I am changing what and how I am eating. Far too frequently, I turn to the instant gratification of food to satisfy my desires.  I have managed to stay away from all processed food and have greatly limited the amount of sugar I intake.  I must say that the past few days have been difficult, but this has definitely drawn me closer to Him.  He is always faithful…even when I am not.

 I am desperate to change, and change only comes with being willing to be changed.

The less I focus on me-

the greater my focus is on “He”

When I bare my soul to Him, He bears my burdens all the more.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him- Psalm 37:7

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Night Lights

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The smallest of lights

remind us of His presence

in the darkest night

We faced my daughter’s biggest fear recently.  My husband and I are so blessed to have two happy, healthy daughters- a blessing I do not take for granted!  The one thing that has plagued them is dental issues.  Due to frequent visits for unpleasant reasons, they both have a higher than usual fear of going to the dentist.

So when my youngest came to me in tears, with a piece of her tooth and a crown in her hand- I knew we would be making another visit to our Dentist friends.

As my daughter sat in the dentist chair, she asked my oldest to hold her hand.  Love conquered fear as she yielded to the poking and prodding… and the dentist said that she needed to remove the tooth- it was beyond saving.  My daughter sat up and ran to my lap.  As she cried and hugged me, I told her it would be ok-  God would give her strength to get through it and it would all be over with soon.

She was so brave.  And it was beautiful to see how loving and sweet her big sister was… holding her hand, encouraging her in a sing-song Mary Poppins voice.  When we got home, Katie even did all her sister’s chores without a single complaint.

And the best part of all happened at bedtime.  Katie offered to sleep in Sophie’s room- something she doesn’t agree to do often- but she did it to support her little sister. I tucked them both in and prayed with them.

The girls had put up small Christmas trees in their rooms the week before, and the lights on Sophie’s tree never came on. She was disappointed, but I told her we’d get her another one after Christmas. As I turned off her bedroom lights, as soon as I hit the switch- the lights on Sophie’s tree lit up!

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I am teary as I write this, because God is just so amazing.  The simple, beautiful ways He reminds us He is with us leave me in awe.  Those little lights on that tree were the biggest blessing to us that night, and they are still burning bright.

There is not enough room on the page to say how much I love the Lord.  God is good ALL the time, and ALL the time- God is good.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.  John 1:5

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The Last to Fall

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some foliage may leap

at the first sign of autumn

while others will tarry

before hitting bottom

The leaves yet to fall

get a bird’s eye view

a forecasting of all

they’re jumping into

Growing up, I often felt like an outcast. Tall, overweight, pimply and awkward.  I was quite frequently the last one picked in school to be on any team of any kind.  One perks of not being “chosen” first was that I was able to observe and take in the scene- I have always loved people-watching! 

As I was out walking the other day, I noticed fields of gold crumpled leaves on the ground.  Almost all of them had already fallen, but there were just a few still clinging to the branches.  It was a beautiful sight. And it all reminded me that there is a season for everything… and that every dying leaf will eventually be “picked” off the tree.

And I am overwhelmed this morning knowing that all those years of feeling like the last one to be chosen- that I have been “picked” by Him, and that by His grace, I won’t fall into a pile of decaying, moldy leaves… but that I will be continually made new by His Spirit.  I have “fallen” for Him… There is a time for everything- and His time is always now!

I am loved, I am chosen, and I am His!

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens- Ecclesiastes 3

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If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

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I have a little confession to make-

I do NOT like loud noises.  Of any kind.

As a former elementary music teacher, I remember the days of teaching eager budding musicians…the rite of passage for a 4th grader was getting their very own recorder and learning to play this instrument.  But learning to play any instrument is a painful process- and there is indeed a slight discomfort inflicted on the listener’s ears as their skills are “fine tuned”.  I heard many “skwaaaaks” in those years!

Now my youngest has received her very own recorder.  Knowing how much I love music, she is always eager to practice and play for me.  And I admit- she is quite good at it.  But it is loud.  Very loud.  And her favorite time to play is first thing in the morning- in the kitchen beside me as I make breakfast.

This morning was no different.  I woke up with a terrible back ache and not in the greatest mood.  I managed to wake the girls with my happy sing-song voice as I stumbled down the hallway and into the kitchen.  Both girls got up without even a second wake-up call from me.

As I scrambled eggs, my youngest pulled her recorder out.  I swear she was playing in my ear.  Every fiber of my being wanted to scream.  I calmly asked her to play it in her room while I was cooking.  Oddly enough, she did not challenge me and stopped playing.

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A few minutes later, she returned with her recorder.

“Oh mommy– guess what I’ve got!”  she says to me with a sly smile.

She surprises me with a second recorder.  “Will you play with me?” she sweetly asked me.

And I couldn’t help but laugh.  As if one instrument making loud noise wasn’t enough- now she wanted me to double it.

So I picked it up and joined her in the Wacky March.  And to my surprise, she even taught me a harmony part!

“Momma- you play a G while I play a B here, ok?”

FullSizeRender And quickly my “tolerance” of her noise turned to acceptance. The “noise” turned into music…and the music turned into a symphony in our kitchen. I fell in love with my girl all over again.  When she wants to do something, she is relentless.  She has a passion that inspires me to be a better mom.  And instead of tolerating my children’s loud noise, sometimes I need to join in and see the symphony He is orchestrating in these moments!

How wonderful and pleasant it is
    when brothers (and sisters!) live together in harmony!  Psalm 133

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Silver Linings

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stunning sunset…

Splendor in the sky

He exceeds expectations

with silver linings

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captivating sky….

 I almost missed this-

brought to my attention by

my youngest daughter!

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Psalm 19:1

From rising to setting sun, may the name of the LORD be praised.  Psalm 113:3

I am slowly learning to release all my expectations and to enjoy the moment.  Our “holiday” weekend was not a traditional one.  The four of us spent the entire Thanksgiving day together.  There was a time when that would have made me sad- thinking that it wasn’t really Thanksgiving unless everyone I called family was under the same roof.  But we had a wonderful day… filled with rest, relaxation, and quality family time.

I didn’t go out shopping on Black Friday, either.  I confess, it seemed like I was missing out on something. I leisurely woke up, drank my coffee, and snuggled on the couch with my girls.  There was no place I would have rather been!

We traveled to see my in-laws over the weekend. Against tradition, we all met at a restaurant for our “holiday” meal.  It was awesome!  No cooking, no clean-up…we were all able to enjoy the stress-free meal and fellowship together. I also got to spend time with my sister while we were back “home”. We had the best weekend!

And as we prepared to head home from visiting with family, my youngest daughter says to me, “Mom- you should look outside.  It’s really pretty.” The odd thing was, I didn’t see her get up from where she was sitting and the mini-blinds were pulled shut- so I don’t know how she knew about the sunset.

She got up, took my hand, and led me outside. I was stunned at how beautiful it was!  Before I knew it, all four of us were in the backyard, smiling and looking up at heaven.

One of the things that made the weekend special for me was my expectations.  I had none.  And to top it off, I didn’t even know the sun was setting as we were gathering our things to head home.

When I release my expectations and put them in His hands, He exceeds them- every time!

A family affair-

huddled close beneath His sky

we take a selfie…

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