I Sing Because I'm Free

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Taste and see…

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I witnessed the sweetest showing of love the other night.

There is something so primal about food.  We need it.  We want it.  And we want our “fair” share of it.

In our home, all these feelings are ramped up when it comes to dessert.

My girls always want things to be fair and equal- especially when it comes to food.  I don’t blame them- I remember feeling that same way as a kid.  When we divide a large slice of pizza, there is an all out war on which side is the bigger one, and which daughter will get it.

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Taste and see that the Lord is good- Psalm 34:8

I can’t tell you the number of times I have gone to get my “fair share” of ice cream, only to find that someone had already finished off the carton.  Worst. Night. Ever.

The other night, my youngest ran to the fridge and grabbed an ice cream sandwich, which quickly reminded my older one that she, too, must have her equal portion of goodness.

I watched her open the freezer door, and then she came and knelt down beside me in the living room.

“Mom, can I make popcorn instead?”

“Aren’t there any ice cream sandwiches left, honey?” I asked her.

“Yes…but only one.  I want to save it for Daddy.  I don’t want him to be sad.”

It really was such a small gesture- that meant something so big.  Isn’t that what love is all about?  Her desire was not to please herself, but to make her Daddy happy.  And the thought of making her Daddy happy meant so much more to her than the momentary pleasure of indulging in dessert.

And she did it without a second thought.

When my husband came home, I shared with him how she saved the ice cream sandwich for him. I watched as he took it out of the freezer and broke it in half to share with her.

I didn’t get an ice cream sandwich that night- but watching those little moments of love were sweet to my soul! The Lord’s goodness far outweighs the sweetness any dessert could ever give me!

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:26

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He works in all things

IMG_3100looking back on

circumstance

sometimes seeing 

happenstance 

in all things

faith usurps chance

as I cast a 

backwards glance

retrospectively I see 

He weaves our lifesong’s

tapestry

all events that come to be

He orchestrates them 

perfectly!

Sometimes we go through the day and things just don’t add up- it doesn’t make sense why this or that happened.  But often we are able to look back and see how God had His hand of grace on us- redirecting our steps for His purpose.

This past week seemed especially odd… lots of little things changed our normal “routine”.  This morning when I woke up, I replayed all of the week’s events over in my head. I love that I can ask Him “why” this or that happened- He doesn’t always answer, but He listens (much more attentively than any human would- I might add!)

And in that moment of talking to Him, I saw the events of the week flash through my mind like a movie.  Clips of those “odd” things… and how they led to something unusually great!

That morning I was running late?  Perfect timing!  As I drove through town that morning, I happened to pull up at a stoplight- right beside the very person who had been on my mind to call.  I rolled down the window and got to sing her “happy birthday” in person!

My fear of allowing the girls to be home for the very first time by themselves for a short while?  This ended up being a huge blessing. Showing them that I trust them has done wonders for our relationship!  They were given the opportunity to show me that they are responsible, and that yes, I have been doing an ok job all these years raising them.

The entire day I spent waiting for the cable guy to show up?  Yep- that was a blessing, too.  In my moments of frustration, I listened to awesome worship music- drawing me ever closer to Him.

Every little “odd” thing that happens has a purpose- even if only to bring us nearer to Him- and He is always at work!

And we know that in all things God works together for the good of those of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.  Romans 8:28

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Songs in the Sky

FullSizeRenderSongs in the sky- 

five lines and four spaces

perfect melodies sing

the notes of His graces

air breathed clouds

 bring shades of harmony

heavenly tones

a brilliant blue-hued symphony- 

Praise be to God alone

and all for His glory! 

Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, “All my springs of joy are in You.” Psalm 87:7

FullSizeRender I glanced up this morning, and I saw Him writing music in the sky.  Those little jet lines made a perfect music staff reaching up to the heavens.  It truly was a fantastic sight.  I couldn’t help but praise Him for the little ways He connects with me.  FullSizeRenderIt was like He was painting a symphony- the sky, His presence, the little birdies singing.  His creation is awe-inspiring.

Oh, how I love Jesus…because He first loved me!

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31

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All Dried Up

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At first glance it seems as if 

it doesn’t stand a chance

all dried up and withered

due to “desert” circumstance

I admit, I haven’t been

as faithful in its care

I left it by itself

as if it wasn’t even there

but as I take a closer look

a new bud, do I see?

I think it’s not done living yet-

A second chance for me!

IMG_3398I actually cleaned today.  Yes- that’s a small victory worth writing about in itself.  In the process, I thought I’d “clean up” this poinsettia that seemed destined for the dump.  Remember when I predicted the demise of my gorgeous poinsettia  before Christmas?  Well, I had given up and was ready to send it on it’s way to the trash.

I carefully sat the plant in the kitchen sink- after my daughter helped me clear away all the dirty dishes, and I picked each dead leaf off, one by one.  Crinkly, colorless, and void of any life- these dead leaves willingly fell into my hands.  As I cleared all the dead stuff away, to my surprise- I noticed that there were signs of new growth at the top.

So I cleaned it up, watered it, and left it in a sunny spot.

I thought about how much easier my own life would be it I would willingly get rid of things that are keeping me from growing.

I sat the poinsettia back onto my table, knocking over one of my favorite coffee cups. It was broken beyond repair. I have had this cup for over 15 years. It was given to me by a student on my last day of student teaching when I was in college.  I felt like I never really connected with these high school kids, and because of that- I thought of myself as a failure.  Until one of the students came up to me and gave me this coffee cup and a balloon.

It meant the world to me. It was proof that I had mattered to someone.  I’ve drank coffee from that cup nearly every day for the last 15 years.  And for the past 15 years, I’ve also held onto that feeling of “failure”- as unfounded as it was.  So, as I cleaned up my mess and threw the cup in the trash, I agreed to let go of that memory, too.

So, I’m throwing away the “dried up” thoughts and memories that are holding  me down, and throwing away the “dried up” leaves that are preventing new growth on this plant that is still hanging on!

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead  Philippians 3:13

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Every Moment I Surrender

Every Moment I Surrender

I’m doing all the things that I know to do

I’m praying every day-

I need You

to be more than just the written Word

Let it live inside my heart- make me Yours.

Awaken my passion- light this spark.

Show me I’m not alone

Won’t You melt this heart of stone?

Fill my life again and make me Yours.

Strengthen me for each new day

Lord, show me Your perfect way

Fill my life again and make me yours.

Draw me closer to You

through the storms of life.

I lay them at Your feet

I’ll sacrifice-

Everything I have I give to You

Use this, Lord,

Make me new.

Just when I think I’ve given all

You show me just how short I fall

Every moment I surrender 

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Layers

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a blue-hued sunrise

On frosty mornings

even the sky is prepared 

 and layered for warmth

How do you prepare for your day?  First, I get up and get a cup of coffee.  Then, I sit in silence and spend a few moments praying and getting my mind set for the day. Well, this is my goal most days. Something I recently started doing is putting my Bible right beside my couch so that I can read it first thing in the morning.  And then I take the dog out.  Usually, this means that I slip on flip flops- no matter what the temperature is, and sometimes I don’t even put on a coat.

This particular morning was different. I took the time to find gloves, and I put on socks (a big deal for a bare-foot girl)…and I even put on a hat and coat- a rare thing for me!  My dog, Remy, was running circles and smiling at me the entire time I was preparing myself to take him out.

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Our boy Remy

As I stepped outside, I immediately took notice of the sky- layered with blue and white stripes as far as I could see.  And on this unusually cold morning, I even noticed a lone bird singing his morning song.

It’s funny how every other cold morning I am rushing to get back into the house where it’s warm. Sometimes I could just kick myself for not being better prepared for things. I admit that I am usually in a rush, and don’t bother to put on the appropriate outer wear before I go walking outside.

But everything we do has a purpose. I thought about how often I go through the motions without intentionally thinking about what I’m doing and why I am doing it.  Everything we do has layers… layers of thought, layers of meaning, layers of purpose.

It was amazing how just a few extra minutes of layering helped me enjoy my walk again. The purpose of my walk?  First and foremost, it’s to complete a task- to let my furry friend to do his “business”. But the more important purpose?  Spending quality time with God.

And honestly, when I don’t take the extra few minutes to prepare for my walk, the only one I am cheating is myself. That extra layer of “worship” is thrown right out the window when I am doing everything I can to get back in my house as quickly as possible!

A little preparation goes a long way towards enjoying the journey…and my “walk” with Him!

be prepared in season and out of season- 2 Timothy 4:2

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Just one more day

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My oldest daughter and I

 Just one more day

to snuggle up close

just one more day

with those I love most

Just one more day

to savor the season

Just one more day

to remember the reason

Just one more day

to take it slow

Just one more day

to bask in the glow

Just one more day

ok- maybe two...

who says the “holiday”

season is through?!

How many times have you wished that something could last just one more day?

I confess that I get the “Christmas blues” after the holidays end. Just a few weeks ago, my mom called me and said “You remember how you used to cry every Christmas?”  Yep.  Sure do.  Thanks for the reminder, Mom!

I remember many Christmas mornings when I was a child,  we’d open presents and there would be one last gift to open… and then the floodgates would come.  So much build up to this one morning- and then it was over before we knew it.

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My youngest daughter… all smiles!

But the saddest day ever for me was New Year’s Day.  This was the day we always took down our tree and put the house back in order.  When I think about New Years’s Day, the sound of the vacuum cleaner comes to mind.  And tears- lots of them.  Mainly because I didn’t want to go back to school the next day.

So I always wait to take the tree down until after the girls go back to school.  In fact, I managed to leave it up until the middle of January last year.  Today was going to be the day… until both girls were feeling under the weather and ended up staying home from school.

It was like a mini extension of the Christmas break!  Since the girls were not feeling well, they were so sweet to one another. But imagine my surprise when my youngest came to me in tears this afternoon-

“Momma- what if I missed something special today?  I miss my friends. I really wish I could go to school.”  She cried earnest tears and wanted nothing more than to be with all her friends.

And then my oldest says, “Oh, and by the way, Mom- it’s time.”

“Time for what?” I asked her.

“Umm… the tree, Momma.  You said you were going to take it down today.”

“Well, that’s because I thought you girls were going to be in school.  I am waiting to do it until you all are back in school.”

Our conversation this afternoon reminded me how much my own childhood plays a part in everything I do- or don’t do- with my children.  All this time I have felt like I was “saving” them from the sadness of getting everything back to normal… and here they are begging for it to happen.

So, my “one more day” of having the decorations up seems to have had nothing to do with the girls at all. It’s all about me – not wanting to hear that vacuum running. It’s about me not wanting to go back to school- which I absolutely dreaded with every fiber of my being. I would have done anything to have stayed home just one more day.

I am thankful for God’s grace that allows those memories to soften through the years, and that thankfully, my girls don’t have the same hang-ups that I did as a kid. And hearing my girls’ affirmations that they are ready to get back in the swing of things helps me to see that moving on and letting my past be in the past is a good thing.

But maybe I’ll leave my tree up-

just one more day.

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All to Him I owe

 

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simple reminders

of the price He paid for me-

a thorn-adorned tree

As my husband and I walked our dog down the street, I noticed this bare tree- one I have passed countless times.  But today, as I looked through it’s spindly branches, they resembled thorns.

“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe…”

That lovely old hymn played on repeat in my head all afternoon.

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I thought about all the times I jokingly tell my husband that he owes me for this or that…you know- for those little “good deeds” we do for one another. Like all the times I let him choose the movie we are going to watch, or the times I let him decide what “take-out” we order for dinner. If I am honest with myself, sometimes I do it with an expectation in mind. If I do for him… then he must reciprocate.  

And the great thing is that most of the time that happens. But what about when I do good deeds for friend, acquaintances, or random strangers?  Am I expecting something in return?

Sometimes I do. But staring at that tree today reminded me that He has already paid the price in full.  No one ever owes me anything.

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Every good thing I do for anyone-

even my husband-

should be done only out my love and obedience to Christ, and never for what’s in it for me.

One of the hardest things for me to let go of is my expectations of others. There have been many times when I have reached out, given to others, done some kind thing for someone- and it has gone unnoticed. Not even a thank-you.  And I admit, that sometimes I have been disappointed.  But He continues to remind me to “mind the nudges”, do whatever He asks, and to leave the rest to Him.

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  2 Corinthians 9:7 

But as I stared at those thorns on the tree today, I thought about how how He poured His life out on that cross for each of us- wearing a crown of thorns- expecting nothing in return.

Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.  Ephesians 5:2 msg

Lord, help me to live and love with the kind of extravagance that You have shown me. May I put my faith and my hope in only You!  Help me to give with hands and arms wide open, and to do it with a cheerful heart!

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain-

He washed it white as snow.  

 

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