I Sing Because I'm Free

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before the sun sets

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Before the sun sets 

waiting for the afterglow 

watching for nightfall 

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mountains like oceans 

undulating clouds like waves 

a twilight delight 

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playing hide and seek 

sunlight slips behind slivers 

of silver lined clouds 

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50 shades of blue 

the Blue Ridge Mountains aglow 

sun sings her swan song 

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not a single sound 

not a plane nor bird was heard 

just tranquillity 

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little did we know 

peacefulness would disappear 

panic would set in…

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We took these photos on our last evening of our mini-vacation.  My hubby surprised me and took me away for a belated anniversary/ birthday trip to Wintergreen and we had the most amazing weekend!  But our last evening almost didn’t go as planned.

One of the local people told us about this little overlook where there was a perfect view of the sunset.  The last evening, we were prepared to sit and watch until the last glimmer of light was gone.

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The sun had set and after we lingered a while, we decided to head back to our car. The lookout was back away from the road, and the trail was rugged- thick with trees and undergrowth. As we walked off of the trail and onto the street, I held up my keyring in utter disbelief. My car key was gone!  I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I called ahead to my husband and told him that my key was missing.

I knew I had it when we parked, because I remembered locking the door and then hooking the carabiner onto my camera bag.  We just traded in my mini van for a new car, and I had put the new key on a simple ring and looped it through the carabiner.  Somehow the key had come loose and fallen off.

We were several miles away from where we were staying, it was getting dark fast, and I was beginning to panic.  We decided to walk back out to the overlook and I prayed the whole way.  I glanced from side to side as we walked the trail, and once we got onto the deck of the overlook, I frantically looked for the key.  The slats between the boards of the deck were large enough that the key could have easily fallen through and down onto the jagged rocks below us.  If that had happened, there was no way we’d ever see that key again.  We searched, but didn’t see the key anywhere.

Amazingly, my husband remained calm, cool, and collected… but I felt like I was going to hurl.  Of all the times I have lost my car keys, this was definitely the worst time for this to happen. I kept praying and took out my cell phone to shine some light on our path.  Soon we wouldn’t be able to see a thing! We stepped off of the wooden deck, and I frantically looked at the ground, shining the light from my phone from side to side as I shuffled my feet.

“Oh, God… please, PLEASE help us find this key!!” I repeated this same phrase over and over.

And then a miracle happened.  About halfway down the trail, the light from my phone reflected off of something shiny under a patch of grass. I bent down and couldn’t believe my eyes- I found my key!

I jumped up and down and thanked God!  Man was that a close call! And it was a an important lesson for me to NEVER hook my keys on the outside of my purse, camera bag, or ANYTHING else EVER again!

I will give You thanks, O LORD, with all my heart. I will tell about all the miracles you have done.  

Psalm 9:1

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stayin’ alive

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I basked in their peak today

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rose petals unfurled

all the way

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oh how I wish

I could make them stay

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alive

for even just

one

more

day

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My hubby brought home these lovely peaches roses for me last week to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  They were the same color as the roses I held on our wedding day.  They were so lovely, and I wanted to take a few pics of them before they wilted…

ah, ha, ha, ha stayin’ alive!

I bet you’re singing that song now 😉

Which reminded me of something my youngest daughter showed me recently…

She came running in the room, snickering, to show me what she had pinned on Pinterest-

“Mom- this is TOTALLY you!”

Now, I could have been TOTALLY offended, but instead I laughed.  Both of my girls crack me up.  They are becoming more teenager-ish by the hour.

I actually did LOL at that one…because I do LOVE taking pictures!  Of practically everything!  

So, maybe I’m not a “professional” photographer- but while I may not make a single cent,  I am paid in full in the joy it brings me to capture beautiful things and moments on camera!  Just the other day I was looking at pictures on my phone and happened to scroll through over a year’s worth of pictures, and I was so grateful for every single moment I was reminded of.  Even my youngest daughter’s numerous crazy selfies brought a smile to my face!

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And you know what is so special about looking back at all the pictures we take?  It’s not about how we looked in them, or where they were… it’s about who we were with and how we felt during those moments.

And these flowers, well they are going in the trash soon…but when I see these rose pics I will remember the love I felt for my hubby as he ran up the stairs to surprise me that morning last week.  Priceless! 

So whatever hobbies bring you joy- even if you aren’t the greatest at it- keep on doing what you love!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

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You’ve captured my heart

 

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It’s a wonderful delight

in the absence of sunlight 

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to sit and gaze upon 

a yellow bloom 

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A flower big and bright

I smile at the sight

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a little bit of happy

fills the room

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We sang one of my favorite worship songs this past Sunday- Beautiful One.   I love how you can sing a song a hundred times, but God still makes it new in your heart!  I heard this line-

You’ve opened my eyes to Your wonders anew, You’ve captured my heart with this Love...

As we sang this song, I began to think of all the ways He has “captured” my heart over the past week… little things– like a random phone call, or a simple text message from a friend.  A compliment from a stranger, the perfect song on the radio at just the right time…

And yesterday He captured my heart again!

Last week, I had planned on going to pick sunflowers, but I ended up unable to go.  There’s just something special about sunflowers- I can’t stop smiling when I see them!  I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to go, but didn’t think much about it afterwards.

Well, just yesterday someone out of the blue brought me a bouquet of the longest, most beautiful sunflowers!  She knew how badly I wanted to go pick them last week, and wanted to brighten my day.  Such a simple gesture- but He captured my heart once again!

“You’ve opened my eyes to Your wonders anew, 

You’ve captured my heart with this Love, 

’cause nothing on earth is as beautiful 

as You”

…that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.  Psalm 30:12

 

 

 

 

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squinting in a fog

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the fog had settled 

low and warm 

upon the ground 

and without form 

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a silent blanket

waits for night

hiding in the wake

of twilight

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keeping watch for coming stars

that hang down from the sky afar

expectantly I wait for Him 

even as the day grows dim

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!  

1 Corinthians 13:12

Even when I can’t see through my circumstances- I trust Him 

Even in moments of doubt- I have faith in His promises

Even when I don’t understand- I know His thoughts and ways are higher

He is good and is always worthy of my praise

Our Heavenly Father always knows best!

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Breaking the (food) chain

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peel me like an onion

heavy on the layers

I shed the outer skin

as I go to You in prayer

crying as I’m sliced up

a little more, I’m diced up 

I’m ready for the next plan

dump me in the pan

straight into the fryer 

turn the heat up higher

cook me till I’m done 

I’m in refiner’s fire

the hotter I’m becoming 

the more clearly I can see

molting all these layers 

leads me to transparency 

Tears welled in my eyes as I sliced the onion in half. I broke through that top layer of skin, and the tears freely flowed down my face.  Onions have a funny way of doing that to me.

I tossed them into the hot frying pan to sauté them. They sizzled as I stirred them back and forth. I was no longer tearing up, but noticed the sweetness of the aroma.  After they had been sautéd, their translucency was striking.  

Isn’t it something that an onion could be so drastically different in appearance, in taste, aroma, and in sight- after experiencing a little bit of “heat”?  Honestly, I don’t like being uncomfortable.  That’s why we all like comfort food, right?  It makes us feel good.  But it’s only an emotional reaction- not the real thing.

For  my entire life, I have used food for reward, punishment, pleasure, and emotional comfort.

I’m tired of being comfortable. I want to be all God wants me to be- and I really do believe that He wants me to be free from this ridiculous food obsession.

I woke up this morning, ready to cook some eggs, and I tried to tell myself that it was what I really wanted for breakfast.  Not true. I really just wanted a ginormous bowl of oatmeal.  But more than oatmeal, I want to break that chain…the never ending cycle of obsessing over food and using food for comfort.

And the only answer is more Jesus. And less self-gratification.

Less of me (literally and figuratively)…more of Him.

I’ve jumped into the frying pan with both feet, I’m feeling the heat, and I’m ready to be changed!

God- make me uncomfortable so I find comfort in YOU not FOOD! 

eat to live, not live to eat

There is power in His Name to break every chain!

Always be joyful.  Never stop praying- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 

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Signs and wonders

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Cross in the sky

Signs and wonders in the sky

cross of hope displayed on high 

Your cross of glory, true and clear

The sound of silence in my ear

Peaceful beauty, Presence close

In You, and only You I boast

Signs and wonders in the sky

Your splendor captivates my eye

The ladies from our church went on a retreat this weekend.  There were so many wonderful moments, but this one was pretty awesome!  Several of us went up on a hill to watch the sun set over the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It was exceptionally chilly, but gorgeous!  When you reach the top of the hill, there is a 365 degree view of the mountains.

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music…”  I couldn’t help myself.  Each time I climbed up there, I had to burst into the song from the Sound of Music.  After all, it is my phone’s ringtone!   And the opening scene from the movie is exactly what it felt like being up there.

“Listen!” I said to my dear friend.

It was completely silent.  The atmosphere was so still, I could hear myself breathing.

  Overwhelming peace, and the presence of my Savior flooded my soul.

We quietly took pictures and my friend showed me her camera.  The camera showed a crystal-clear cross in the sky… but the strange thing was that looking in the sky, you could not see the horizontal line of the cross, only the vertical line.  And to the left of the cross, the wispy cloud resembled a dove.

There were signs of Him- of His presence with us all weekend.

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There are signs of His great love for us everywhere when we are looking for Him

a word of encouragement from a friend

an unwarranted hug from my girls

“I love you” texts from my hubby

smiles from strangers

His steadfast love abounds!

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.  Psalm 86:15

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Heaven comes down

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snuggled in the grass 

we watch as heaven comes down 

to kiss us goodnight

 Last night, after another busy day, I began cleaning up the kitchen.  All of a sudden, my youngest daughter, Sophie, rushed into the room and said I must come– it’s pink outside and she didn’t want me to miss it. My girls know how much I love watching the evening sky. My hubby came into the kitchen to finish what I was doing so I could go outside with the girls.

“Oh my goodness!” my youngest one says in a hushed voice.  “It’s like Jesus came down!”

And then they did the cutest thing- they said they wanted to touch the sky and asked me to take this picture of them….

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Then I laid down in the grass- and before I knew it, my girls joined me. And for just a few moments, we took in the amazing view.  For a short time, all the pre-teen angst and disappointments from the day melted away as we watched the breathtaking sky.  He is always faithful to meet us right where we’re at.

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Psalm 36:5

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Shedding Light

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pondering the path we walk

often times it seems quite dark

but even so, steadfast He keeps

shedding light as footsteps sweep

even when we cannot see

the pathway laid before our feet

Rest assured, steadfast He keeps 

shedding light as footsteps sweep

Shadows fall, disguising day

how quickly they lead us astray

but even so, steadfast He keeps

shedding light as footsteps sweep 

When we keep Him in our sight

his presence keeps away the night

and all the while steadfast He keeps

shedding light as footsteps sweep

Our family had a wonderful weekend together.  We did something we had never done before- we took a walk on the Monticello Trail.  The main trail is almost 4 miles up and back, and the girls have come here many times-but this was the first time we all finished it together.  My husband and I kept telling the girls we had to make it all the way to the bridge, and then we could turn around.

“Can’t we just turn around here?” my youngest begged several times.

“No- we’re almost there! You’ll know when you see the bridge.”

I kept telling them we would be in sight of the bridge soon.

I led the pack, followed my my youngest girl, then her older sister behind her, and my husband was the caboose.  It worked quite well.  I set the pace, and challenged my youngest to keep up with me.  I offered her many praises along the way- telling her how proud I was of her.  And sure enough, we eventually made it to the bridge, touched it, and then turned to go back.

Sometimes along our journey, our “goals” aren’t always so tangible.  Looking for the bridge kept us all focused as we walked. What a relief it was to finally see it as we neared the half-way point!  We told the girls it was all down-hill from here- literally– so it would be a much easier trek back.

On the way home from our hike, I confessed to my husband that I seemed to have lost sight of some of my goals. Often times my own shadows hide the light He is shedding on my path.  My biggest problem is me.  Focusing too much on myself.  A smaller number on a scale, a better car, or a newer iPhone aren’t going to get me very far on this walk with Christ.

And as my family walked the trail, I saw us building one another up and walking as a team. My heart longed for nothing more than spending more time together. Not more things, not more time alone… more time in relationship with the ones I love- and with my Heavenly Father.  Forget “me” time. I need more “knee” time- spent with Him in prayer, and more “we” time with the wonderful family He has blessed me with!

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6

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Finding Him in the moment

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The seven 4-leaf clovers I found all together on a walk…

Picking clovers one by one

and seven did I find-

but all the clovers in the world

can’t bring me peace of mind.

Knowing Him and seeking Him

each moment is the way 

to see His many blessings

as we journey through our day.

I found these clovers a while back- actually it was July 4th. I found seven 4 leaf clovers on 7/4. I really do believe that God has a sense of humor- and that He gets our attention in the most unique ways! I hadn’t even been looking for clovers, I happened to glance down and they literally jumped out at me.  I was reminded of this today, as I thought about how He is relentless in His pursuit of us and of our attention.

And so this morning, I sense Him trying to capture my attention, once again.  I have always been a little on the clumsy side, and have a tendency to bump into random things.  My husband affectionately calls me a peach, because with these bumps come many, many bruises.  Last night the corner of my daughter’s bed reached out and lunged at my thigh- leaving me with a  bruised knot…and just a few moments ago, I walked smack into another hard surface, bruising my arm.

Slow down… these are the words I hear Him whispering to me today.  To be intentional about my steps and what it is I’m doing. I have a tendency to do a task-while thinking and plotting the next one.  Often that leaves the beginning thing undone- because I’m not truly focused on the moment.  And in that moment is right where I find Him!

Look straight ahead,
    and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path for your feet;
    stay on the safe path.  Proverbs 4

Lord, I don’t want to be so focused on the next thing that I miss out on seeing You!  Slow my thoughts, guide my steps, and help me to be focused on You and Your will- moment by moment!

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As the sun rises

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 as the sun rises

so does appreciation

for all He creates

At the moment, I am waving my white flag- surrendering my frustrations to Him.  Sometimes technology is our best friend- and other times it’s my worst enemy!  The latter description is what I am experiencing at the moment.  Instead of continuing to work on a project that is causing me undue frustration- I am choosing to step away from the desk and worship.  He created all things and surely He will give me guidance in His timing to complete this tech-savvy task.

So this morning, I am in awe of His beautiful sunrise, and I am in awe of everything He has blessed me with… including this computer (which at the moment is the source of my frustration).  He shows me time and time again that His ways are far better than mine, and that I can do NOTHING without His help!!

Lord, thank You for being patient with me.  So many times I try to jump in and do things on my own without asking for Your guidance. Thank you for reminding me that no task is too big or too small to bring to You for help!  

Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created  Revelation 4:11

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