I Sing Because I'm Free

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I am Willing…

“Willing”

Lord, You’ve given me everything

I ought to raise my hands and shout

And I know I have nothing-

nothing to complain about 

Still I find myself unsatisfied

filled with jealousy and pride

I can’t escape the pain inside 

can’t count how many times I’ve cried

I wish that I was stronger 

that I could hold on longer

And if what it takes is pain

and I have to lose to gain- 

then make me willing 

willing to be made willing

I am willing

willing to be made willing

I don’t want to lose anything

I want to keep it for myself

but I’m looking for something

I can’t find upon a shelf

so when I feel alone and terrified

I don’t have to run away and hide

cause I know Your Son was crucified

and I can live because He died

Lord, You can make me stronger

and You help me hold on longer 

and if You bring me pain

I know it’s for Your gain

and I’ll be willing

willing to be made willing

I am willing 

willing to be made willing 

I recorded this song that my husband and I wrote last year and for some reason, the Lord has these words running through my mind and heart..make me willing… willing to do WHATEVER it is You want me to do. I dug out this recording to share with you today.  Whatever He is asking you to do- are you willing?  And if you’re not there yet– are you willing to be made willing?

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Balance

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A little to the left

a little to the right

this way, that way

looking for Light

a balancing act

one foot- then two

step by step

I’m  following You 

On a sweltering summer morning, I took a long walk. With sweaty palms, I held my cell phone as I listened to music. I walked all the way to the end of the cul-de-sac and turned to come back the way I came.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw this tree-

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I had to take a second glance…  A tree smack dab in the middle of the creek- looking as if it were suspended in mid air.  The roots of the tree were grounded in the earth on either side of the creek bed, and there it stood right in the middle, as the water flowed freely beneath it’s trunk.

Even when the world beneath my feet looks as unsteady as a creek bed- I know that I can stand on His solid ground.  Even when I can’t see the earth beneath my feet- He will uphold me.

I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 63:8

When I keep my eyes on Him, He keeps me in balance.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17

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50 Years

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half a century

of loving and living 

half a century

of sacrificial giving

half a century 

as husband and wife

half a century

of love in Christ

half a century

an example so great

50 years- 

we celebrate!

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My husband and I went out of town recently for a very special occasion.  My in-laws celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary!  All of the family got together to celebrate at one of their favorite restaurants. It was a beautiful night!  My mother in-law was even able to get a wedding cake made from the same bakery that did their original one- 50 years ago!

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My in-laws have had a huge impact on my life. I met them when I was only 17 years old- a know-it-all, cynical young adult.  My own parents separated and later divorced when I was 16- leaving me to question everything I knew- about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. But my (future) in-laws loved me anyway. They saw past my mile-high guard rails and the walls I put up around myself- and welcomed me into their family with open arms.  They where among the first people to really show me what it was like to love like He loves us- without judgement, free of expectation. They saw me like He saw me.  

During their anniversary dinner, my mother in-law was chatting with me.  She reminded me of a conversation we had nearly 20 years ago. 

“Do you remember me asking you if you had ever considered becoming a minister of music?”

I vaguely remembered this conversation… and remembered thinking NO WAY would I EVER want do that…

“I always knew you had a calling on your life” she told me at their celebration dinner.  “Even back then.”  

Many times she has told me how she prayed for her sons’ future spouses- even when her boys were babies. What an awesome thought that she had been praying for ME all those years!!

I am grateful. 

And grateful to been adopted into their family…. and into His! 

I am blessed.  

Happy 50th Anniversary!! 

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restless

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With every breath

I’m falling deeper

into the hands

of my great Keeper

I’m restless till 

I rest in You 

With every thought 

my vision clearer

upward bound

my heart draws nearer

only resting 

when I rest in You 

I had the pleasure of having a massage recently- cashing in on an awesome birthday gift from my hubby.   As I laid on the table, my tense muscles crumbled under the monstrous pressure of the hands that kneaded me.  Jokingly, the massage therapist told me she calls her job “steam-rolling”.

At times the pressure was so great, it was uncomfortable– but the more I emptied myself of any thoughts, the more I was at peace…not aware of any discomfort. As I laid there, I thought about how much I crave being quiet… but how I wrestle with my own thoughts in those quiet moments instead of resting in Him.

Restless.

I long for quiet when I am in the midst of noise… and yet, when I sit in silence, the sound of my own thoughts is deafening to me.

When I am alone, I want desperately to be with people…and yet when I am with people, I crave solitude. Restlessness- always brought about by my own thoughts and my own desires.

When I desire peace and fail to look to the Prince of Peace- I am always restless.

I am restless until I rest in Him.

   O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water. 

         Psalm 63:1   

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childhood dreams

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My oldest “dreamer”- looking out over the sea

i had to catch 

my breath, as i

gazed into 

your azure eyes-

a thousand times

i dreamed of you 

and all my hopes

you would out-do 

i remember well- 

the very first day

i gently rocked 

your cries away

i held you close 

and breathed you in 

that was the moment

i could never begin

imagining life

without you

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

With great joy, I am watching my girls grow into independent young ladies. While they are still young in many ways, at times they impress me with their insight and words of wisdom.  Recently, they asked me what I used to want to be when I grew up.  I told them I dreamed of doing all sorts of things- a news reporter, a singer, a mother, a teacher…

Katie’s eyes lit up, and with a smile-she said “You know what, Mom?  You ARE all those things!”  

I thought about it for a second. I have a teaching degree in music, I’ve taught voice and piano lesson, and now I am a worship leader….but a reporter?  Surely I was missing something

Puzzled, I said “Well, I’ve never been a news reporter.” 

“Sure you are!  You do the video announcements at church, “ Katie answered me matter of factly. 

I smiled at her.  Sometimes kids have the coolest way of seeing things, and they have the ability to shed light on our lives in ways we never could. Not in a thousand years would I have thought that yes– He did, in fact, allow all of my childhood dreams come true…

it’s all about perspective!

 Open my eyes to see…   Psalm 119:18

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We’ve all got stories

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a GREAT story-telling spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains…

We’ve all got stories

stories that need 

telling 

but every story worth 

telling 

needs

someone who will

stop

and listen

Have you seen the movie “The Wedding Singer”?  Drew Barrymore’s character is named Julia, which I can identify with- because even though my name is Julie- my grandfather (and several other people) have always called me Julia!  Well, my husband likes to joke that I’m the “funeral singer”.  I have sung at many funerals and while it may sound strange, it has been one of the greatest blessings to be able to minister to families in this unique way. 

I sang at a recent service, and when it was over, I gave my condolences to the family members. It was drizzly outside, and so I began to head up the hill to where my car was parked. I had several things to get done that afternoon and I was mentally going over my to-do list. I noticed an older gentlemen standing tall, nicely dressed, looking out over the cemetery. I felt the Lord nudge me to go talk to him.  I walked up to him and stuck out my hand and introduced myself. He gave me the biggest smile and began talking about his family and sharing all sorts of stories about them. He was close to 80 years old, and his memory was impeccable.

As I stood there, the Lord impressed upon me how important it was for this gentleman to have my time-my full attention– and just how much he needed his story to be heard. Nothing I had to do was as important as giving this gentleman my listening ear in that moment. 

He shared many stories, and at one point, I wondered if the stories would ever converge. After a few minutes, he told me that God has always been so good to him and that God’s grace had followed him all the days of his life, even before he was born- even in uniting his parents.  As he continued to talk, I thought about how special it is to hear these stories and to realize that this complete stranger suddenly seemed like part of my “family”.  And in that moment, I realized that we were “family”- both having the same Heavenly Father.

God reminded me that as a minister, being present and listening to others is one of the most valuable things we can do, and how sometimes He asks me to not say a word

to just listen and shine His light. 

My Christian brothers, you know everyone should listen much and speak little.  

James 1:19

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Your life is like the morning fog…

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The garden at Swannanoa Palace

all that remains

left to decay

a faint whisper

of yesterday

once a fairytale

they say

covered in blankets

of fog so gray

on a mountaintop

tucked far, far away

Your life is like the morning fog—

it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  James 4:14

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Swannanoa Palace

What little girl doesn’t want to be a princess when she grows up?  I sure did!  And I still do…I couldn’t wait to visit this old palace at the foot of the Blue Ridge Parkway this past weekend!

 Swannanoa Palace was built in 1912 by James H. Dooley for his wife as a summer vacation home. They both passed away a few years after it was completed, and it has been unoccupied for many years.  Despite the deterioration of this once beautiful home, the current owner opens the Palace for tours several times a year- but this beauty has definitely seen better days.

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4,000 piece stained glass Tiffany window

As I took it all in, I couldn’t help but think of all the fancy events that may have happened here…dinners, dances, family gatherings… and the view- the spectacular view of the Blue Ridge Mountains… well, it just happened to be covered by the fog that day- so even the view was left to my imagination.

My heart broke when I thought of how amazing this place could be- with a whole lot of TLC. The craftsmanship, the detailed woodwork, and the Tiffany window were just breathtaking!  But much of this home is a shadow of what it use to be.

I found myself longing to fix this place up. A home without a heart is nothing more than four walls and a roof… the vacancy of this place hung in the air.

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The grande staircase

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The beautiful, ornate walls

And He also reminded me that I have a perfect little castle that I already call home- filled with life, love, joy, and family…a little “castle” that I sometimes take for granted.  All of the things we have-  this life, this world- they are all temporary and fade with time.

And it’s not really the things I treasure- it’s the relationships with the people that share them with me.

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Ornate ceiling above grande staircase with scenes of the four seasons

And then He reminded me that I am already His princess- and He is my King!

God is bedrock under my feet,     the castle in which I live,     my rescuing knight. My God—the high crag     where I run for dear life,     hiding behind the boulders,     safe in the granite hideout.  

Psalm 18

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looking down the staircase

The King’s daughter is all glorious within; Her clothing is interwoven with gold.     Psalm 45:13

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Solid marble staircase

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  

Matthew 6:19-20

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One of the fireplaces… beautiful hand carved mahogany mantle

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ornate chandelier

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The music room

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The weathered satin-covered walls in the music room

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The side of the palace

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The gardens

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Solid marble banisters and bench in the garden

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The servant’s house

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The servant’s house

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The only sign of life in this place… a tree grows through the window

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The fog makes it even more lovely

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The water tower… I told my girls it was “Rapunzel’s Tower”

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a peek into the stairwell of the locked tower

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The tower is covered in vines

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The front entryway to Swannanoa

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