I Sing Because I'm Free!

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all things are becoming NEW

Seasons come

and seasons go 

but they always cycle back 

you know?

An old skill resurrected- 

I’ll teach 

new lives

for my heart to reach! 

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I am super excited to do something old today… well, I mean NEW!

When I got out of college, I began teaching music in public school. I loved my job, but I knew it would only be for a “season”. Once I knew I was expecting our first daughter, I wanted to be at home with her. I started teaching voice and piano lessons in my home and it worked out perfectly for a season while my girls were little… and then as the girls got older and began going to school, the afternoon/evening schedule became harder for our family. What a blessing it was that once I decided to not take on any new students, gradually they moved on to other things. I was on staff part time at church, and as my responsibilities increased there- my students decreased until I had none.

It has been nearly 7 years since I have taught voice and piano lessons, and for some strange reason I have wanted to start to teach again. I love pouring my musical passion into others and helping to cultivate their skills. I love watching those “aha” moments when your students really grasp a new concept, reach a new level in their musical understanding… and I LOVE recitals! Watching students grow and bloom and become more confident is the most amazing thing! My goal in teaching is not to make the next musical prodigy- but to make them fall in love with the craft of making music!

I recently reached out to a local music studio and they happened to be in need of a voice teacher. It’s only 10 minutes from my house and I am going to teach one afternoon a week. The set up is perfect for me. The girls are in high school and are self sufficient now and another blessing- I don’t have to keep my whole house clean (like I did when I taught in my home!) Woohoo!! And while I am still on staff and work part time at church, I can easily add an afternoon of teaching to my schedule.

So today is my day 1-and all of my time slots are filled! I have 7 voice students and one piano student, and I can’t wait to meet them today 🙂

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are becoming new.

2 Corinthians 5:17

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GO!

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I think I think a lot about 

nostalgic memories 

how thing were, the way they are, 

and what might come to be 

too much time I spend in thought 

so I thought that you should know   

I think my motto for the year is simply just to-

“GO” 

My mind can be my own worst enemy.  So many thoughts and ideas all at once, and it’s hard to slow my brain down at times.  And I can overthink the simplest things- like fretting over stopping by the grocery store.  Because more than likely I am already running late, and what if I see someone I know?  Then it might make me even LATER because I have to stop and speak to them!  And by the time I have thought this through, I have already added 5 extra minutes to my lateness!  I’ve got to stop overthinking stupid stuff and just GO to the store when I need to GO!

I’ve gotten better over this past year… making lists and checking them twice- umm I mean checking them off… obeying whatever the Lord tells me to do with less hesitation…letting go of all sorts of stuff that holds me back.  But I’ve got more work to do!

So, here’s to less thinking/analyzing, and more GO!

Onward, Christian soldiers, 
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
GOing on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner GO!

Therefore, GO and make disciples of all nations…

Matthew 28:19 

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seek me and find me

fullsizeoutput_1d19This is my “life-verse”.

When I was in my early 30’s, I experienced something life-changing.  I had been going to church steadily for a couple of years, and was doing my best to be a “good” person.

But I found myself in a place of complete discontentment.  Everything looked perfect from the outside, but inside, I felt like the dreams I had were slipping away… I wanted to move back to my hometown… I made all sorts of plans about my career and what I wanted to do, and none of those plans involved remaining in Charlottesville.

With every passing day, I grew more frustrated.

Finally, when I realized that the plans I had made weren’t going to come to fruition, I waved my white flag.

One evening I begged God to change my heart. I was sick and tired of being miserable, and oddly enough,  I was compelled to open the Bible and began to read.  I literally sat in my bed and flipped it open and read the first page it landed on.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:11-12 

I didn’t know who Paul was, but something in me wanted to know more. 

I said- “God, if you can make Paul content, won’t you do that for me?”  It seemed like a simple enough request.  Could you make me content right where I am?  And would you help me to let go of  my own desires?  

And from that moment on, I started reading the Word and praying daily.  Little by little, I began to see Him work in my heart and life.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

 I handed my pen over to Him- so He could write the story of my life.

And 10 short years later, I can honestly say-

His plans are far better than mine could have ever been!

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something to look forward to

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What do you have to look forward to?

For some people, it’s a big vacation coming up- or maybe a party.  Someone’s graduation?  A big work event?  The birth of a new baby?

I have this thing where I need something to look forward to something to be excited about!  If I don’t have that “thing”, then it feels like something is missing.

Lately I have been feeling like I don’t have anything to look forward to.  It’s not true, by ANY means!  My life is good- really good. The girls are doing great in school and they have wonderful friends. David and I are happily married, and as the days go by- I feel as if we are growing closer and closer together… which is, in itself, something to celebrate and look forward to.   I lost weight and found health- and still overjoyed at the freedom I have in this new way of eating… I have so much to be thankful for!  And yet, today I have found myself longing to look forward to something. 

And wouldn’t you know it… God showed me something.

I ran to the store to pick up a few groceries, and as I wheeled my cart towards the check out line, there was this shopping cart filled with mark downs.  I sifted through it and there were Starbucks K-cups on clearance! Woohoo!!

And then as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the magnolia tree that we planted earlier this summer is getting ready to bloom…

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The fact that this tree has not died yet is a miracle- because I can’t keep any plants alive on my own accord.  So to see it is not only alive, but thriving and getting ready to bloom makes me the happiest girl in the world today.  And there was not just one bud- but 3 white buds getting ready to blossom!

That is how I know there is a God.

He knows me better than I know myself.  He knows exactly what I need-every single day. And His timing is always perfect.

My magnolia tree is alive.

I am alive.

He is alive.

And walking with Him is always an adventure to look forward to!

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in you.”  

Psalm 39:7

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The Secret

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I remember years ago, when I first started taking piano lessons, how frustrated I would get.  I had been picking out chords and melodies by ear for several years before I actually began taking lessons.  It was so hard for me to train myself to follow all the new “rules” my piano teacher gave me.  The hardest one was keeping my eyes focused on the sheet music-

and not my hands!

When I taught myself how to play by ear,  I focused on watching my fingers. I didn’t care which finger did what- all that mattered was whether I hit the correct notes.  My piano teacher never missed an opportunity to correct me when I looked down.

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Eyes on the music,  he used to tell me.  But it’s too hard! I would whine in frustration each  and every time I was caught looking down.

And then little by little, slowly but surely- I began to have confidence in my playing. As I continued with lessons, I learned how to focus on making music– not just playing correct notes.

I have noticed that my walk with the Lord is a little bit like taking piano lessons.

Keep your eyes on Me.  Stop looking to the right and left. Stop looking behind you.  

Stop trying to follow rules and just follow Me.  

I am ashamed to admit how often I still get distracted, or discouraged.  Every so often, I catch myself falling into bad habits… especially during the summertime when the girls are home from school and there seems to be a huge shift in our routine.

I told my husband I had been feeling particularly “down” this past week.  I mentioned to him just this morning that my life verse is Philippians 4:12-  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Well, have you learned that secret?” my husband earnestly asked me today.

Absolutely.  With 100% certainty I know the secret.

That verse has been my prayer for years now- to be like the apostle Paul.  To be perfectly content, no matter WHAT is going on around me.

The secret?  It’s not a secret– it’s a “SEEK”-ret-

to be constantly SEEKING Him!

to be constant in my pursuit of  His will…His way…His desire…His heart…

and His presence.

fullsizeoutput_5Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.  

Proverbs 4:25-27

 

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walk by faith

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perched up high 

backdrop of sky 

a victory song is sung 

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joyful singing 

praises ringing 

the battle has been won 

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after days and days 

and days of rain 

we bask in the sunlight  

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my little friend sings 

he spreads his wings 

preparing to take flight 

It has rained for days on end here.  I LOVE the rain, but one of the downfalls of the rain is that the grass grows insanely quickly!

By the time I got home from church, the sun was shining and it was the perfect time to mow the yard.  Still squishy from all the rain, I managed to slosh through the yard to get the lawn mower out of the garage.  I heard a bird chirping, and happened to look up and see this little blackbird perched onto of my house, singing away…

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That little guy was there the entire time I mowed the front yard! It was a beautiful day, and I was so happy the sun was out, I didn’t even mind cutting the grass!  I didn’t realize how much I missed the sun over the rainy days!

Even when we can’t see the sun-

we know it’s still there.

 

For we walk by faith, not by sight-  

2 Corinthians 5:7

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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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He Leads

The sky was cerulean blue, and the pear trees blossoms were in full bloom.  It was one of those days where all of nature seems to be in technicolor.

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There are some days that I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude- for everything-

Thankful that I have a car, and that I can drive anywhere I want!

Thankful for sunshine and all the things that come alive in spring. 

Thankful to be alive and breathing– even if it is pollen-laden spring air!

I spent the afternoon running a few errands,  and then decided to get coffee.  I found myself driving to an out of the way Starbucks- one that I don’t go to often.

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I walked in and there was an elderly man coming out of the restroom.  I couldn’t tell if he was trying to get around me to go to his seat, or if he was actually getting in line to order coffee, but he looked a little flustered.

“You go ahead of me,” he said, motioning for me to step in front of him.  I smiled, and got in line.

Then the oddest thing happened- he started talking to me as if he’d known me for years…

“You know, that movie Paul the Apostle of Christ– that was something else, wasn’t it?” Out of the blue, he started to tell me about this movie, which I wanted to see but haven’t yet-  “It was the most amazing movie.  You know how Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh?  They did such a beautiful job with that.  We’ve all got a thorn in the flesh, don’t we?”   He continued on to talk about the movie I Can Only Imagine… “And the whole symbolism between his earthly father and his Heavenly Father was just amazing…”

Wow.  A random stranger was talking to me- in the middle of the Starbucks line- about God.  I told him that I hadn’t seen either movie yet, but that they were on my to-do list.  I placed my coffee order and then went to the other side of the counter to wait.

Sure enough, he stepped beside me again as we waited for our cup of heaven.  I knew the Lord wanted me to ask him if he went to church.

“So, do you go to church anywhere?”  I asked him.

“I do, but I’m looking for another one.  This one’s so big, I can’t seem to form relationships with anyone. How about you?  Where do you go?”

I briefly told him where I went to church, and that I also lead the music there.

“Well, isn’t that something?” he says, “it’s a divine appointment!  Me meeting you here at this Starbucks!”  We chatted for a few minutes longer, and then I went on about my day.

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I’ve thought about the gentleman at Starbucks a lot over the last few days… and while he thanked me for encouraging him, he was actually an encouragement to me- reminding me that He marks every step of our path during the day.

A “divine appointment”

How many “divine appointments” do we miss out on every day because we aren’t looking for them?

I don’t want to miss a single one.

Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth you have for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unlock and set me free.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth you send so clear;
and while the message sounds in my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart, and let me prepare
love with your children thus to share.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it- Hebrews 3:2 

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i sing

 

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It was just another ordinary day.

I got dressed and slipped a special necklace over my blouse.  It is a silver chain with an old silver spoon pendant with the words “I Sing Because I’m Free” embossed on it.  My mom had it made for me for Christmas a few years back.  It’s the name of this blog, and it is also a line from one of my favorite hymns- His Eye is on the Sparrow.

It’s funny, because I get asked more questions about that piece of jewelry than I’d ever thought possible!  It seems like everywhere I go, someone will notice it and ask me what it means.

Anyway, I drove to town and met a friend for lunch, and then had a bunch of errands to run.  I tried to plan them so that all of the stops were in order.  My first stop was the health food store to pick up some vitamins.  They are always friendly, but there’s not a lot of chit-chat in the check-out line.

I grabbed the one thing I needed and met the cashier at the counter.

I opened my purse and it took me a minute to find my debit card.

“I sing because I’m free?”  he inquired.

It’s a line from an old hymn, I told him.  Do you know it?  It’s called His eye is on the Sparrow…

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one,”  he said.

And I knew the Lord wanted me to just start singing it.  Without any hesitation, I broke out into the chorus of the song.

“Ah… that’s a really nice song,”  he said.

I am free because of Jesus, I said to him.  

And I could have cut the silence with a knife.  Can you say- AWKWARD!?!

“That’s real nice, m’am”, he says to me.  He never looked up at me as he tore the receipt from the register, handed me a pen, and asked me for my signature.  I signed my name and told him to have an awesome day.

I got in the car and something strange happened.

I wasn’t embarrassed.  

I didn’t want to hide.

I didn’t feel defeated.  

Although it might have seemed a little awkward in the store, I was obedient to do what God wanted me to do in that moment.

No regrets. 

You win some, you lose some-

But when you are obedient to do what He asks- no matter how big or small-

you always win!

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 

Galatians 1:10 

 

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when things need mending

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I have a favorite pair of shoes.

They are nothing special.  In fact, one of the reasons I love them is because they reminded me of a pair of shoes a friend of mine had in high school a few…umm 20 something years ago.  They are a simple pair of Mary Jane black flats, made out of fabric.  They have a little ankle strap which I love- no chance of slipping out of these suckers!  They feel like slippers and go with everything.

So imagine how sad I was when I realized that my fur baby, Jack, made a little snack out of one of the ankle straps! Ugghh… I HATE it when that happens!  Totally my fault though, because I didn’t put them away and instead left them out in the middle of the floor so that Jack could nibble on them.

I couldn’t bear to part with them, so I put them in my closet for a while.  And then a couple of weeks ago I had an idea for a quick fix- a safety pin!  I could reattach the ankle strap to the shoe with a safety pin and no one would ever know.  It was on the inside of the ankle- hardly noticeable!

I wore my beloved black flats to church one recent Sunday.  I was only a little concerned about the safety pin, and was grateful for the comfort as I played piano and led worship.   After church we went out to lunch with a whole group of friends from church.  Those are the days I love.  I think of it as the “after church”… it’s like an extension of the service because we are truly breaking bread together and sharing in one another’s lives.

So I was sitting there and all of a sudden my friend looks down and says “is that what I think it is?”  I looked at her a little strange, not knowing what she was talking about.

“Do you really have a safety pin holding that shoe together??”

I busted out laughing.  She knows I am a little quirky sometimes.  We both laughed at the absurdity and I told her how glad I was that it held up and didn’t bust open and poke me in the middle of church!

When I got home,  I pulled out my sewing needle and found some dark thread (because, naturally, I couldn’t find any black thread… so I used what I had) and within a few minutes I sewed it back on, good as new.  In fact, I don’t think anyone would even notice that it had ever been a  Jack “snack”.

As I mended my shoe, I thought about all the times I want to take short cuts and look for the quick fix instead of really doing things the “right way”.  My husband always laughs  whenever he finds a half- opened box of anything in the kitchen- because I have a funny habit of opening things  just enough for me to get out what I need.

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Guilty of opening one corner… to desperately grab a K-cup!!

I also thought about how very blessed I am to have the kind of friends who are willing to point out things that need fixing- big and little things!  Those are the kind of friends that hold us accountable and make us better people.  And those same friends that can be honest with me- those are the friends that I can trust to laugh and cry with me about silly things and important things, too.

I am grateful for ALL of my Jesus girlfriends!!

Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Proverbs 27:17

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The “LBD”

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The little black dress-

How could I have known?

All the times He’d used it

to make Himself

known!

The LBD

I think it’s time

to keep bringing it out

of this closet of mine!

Mondays are usually days I use to “TCB”- take care of business… to do all the things that went un-done over the weekend.  Today was unusual, as I was singing for a funeral and also had errands to run. I had thought about bringing a change of clothes, but didn’t think I’d have enough time to stop before the funeral to change into my dress.  So to save time, I left the house wearing my black dress.  It was slightly unusual for me to be dressed up on a Monday, but I decided to just go with it.

I wondered if anyone would notice what I was wearing-

and boy did they ever!

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My first stop was the car place.  My car was due for an oil change, so I brought it to one of my go-to places.  Sure enough, the lady who usually waits on me asked me why I was all dressed up.  I “get to” sing for a funeral today, I told her.

Oh, I’m so sorry…

And that’s how most people respond.

Oh no- it is one of the greatest blessings that I “get to” sing about Jesus to a family who is grieving, I told her. There is nothing that brings me more joy than singing and being able to share His Word in such a special way with people.  For the Christ-follower, death is not the end… it’s the BEGINNING of eternal life with Him!  And that is something to celebrate!  

Then she tells me how much she needs to be in church.  Pray for me, she says.  I ended up having a short conversation with her, which ended with an invitation for her to join me at church this coming Sunday.

In fact, that was the first of many God-centered conversations I had while I was running errands.  I ended up inviting multiple people to my church, I got to talk about Jesus, and death, and funerals- all sorts of taboo subjects with random people today.   Why? All because I wore a black dress.

It’s amazing to me how He shows up in the little things.  And to think- I almost brought a change of clothes with me!   

I didn’t even have to try to make conversations with these people! He did it all for me.  I wanted to share all of this with you NOT to pat myself on the back, but just to show you that He’s not looking for the greatest, brightest, most talented people to use…

all He needs is someone who is willing.

Willing to say yes, to be obedient- to WHATEVER He wants! 

And today- all He wanted me to do was wear a black dress!

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

 

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