I Sing Because I'm Free

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the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light

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And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  

John 1:5

We wanted to do something as a “family” this past weekend- just the four of us. I admit, I wanted to do the “mom” thing and go see some holiday lights- while the rest of the family wanted to go to the movies.

So imagine how happy I was when they decided to do what I wanted to do!

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You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

  Matthew 5:14

We went to see the Holiday Lights at the Richmond Botanical Gardens and it was truly magical! We had such a wonderful time laughing, posing for pictures, and just being together.  We held hands, skipped down the walkways, and took in the beautiful lights all around us!

It was good to feel like a giddy kid again, and to be making memories with the ones I love the most!

And it made even more special to know that they wanted to go because they knew it would bring me much joy!

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Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come on you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he goes.  John 12:35

As we walked, the darker the night sky got- the more brilliantly the lights did shine!

May the beautiful sights and holiday lights of this season remind you of the greatest gift of all-

the Light of the World- Jesus!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  

Isaiah 9:6

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I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  

John 8:12

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But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light 

1 Peter 2:9

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Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.  

Ephesians 5:14

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Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

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When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.

 Psalm 94:19

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I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  

John 8:12

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 Merry Christmas!

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Create in me…

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Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51

Today I am excited to collaborate with some lovely people who write for the blog church set free!  We are all writing about what worship means to us.  I hope you will visit the site and that it will encourage you in your journey to knowing and growing closer to Him…  

Psalm 51, for me, defines what worship is all about.  It is through the process of “creating” that He inspires me to worship, drawing me closer to Him.  My love for God compels me to create (sing, write music, poetry, take photographs) and as I worship, He is at work within me- renewing me, purifying my heart, and filling me with joy!

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Worship is how I connect to Him. I pour out my heart to Him and seek to know Him more. Worship is loving God, and allowing His love to flow through me in my everyday life. I am learning how to love Him more every single day…and that all begins with worship.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 12:1

Worship in itself is an act of obedience. He is worthy of our praise- no matter how we feel or what our circumstances are because He is God!  I worship Him by allowing Him to use all of my life for His glory.  As someone who is a creative person, it is a challenge to “create” when I do not feel inspired…but it is through that process that He fills me.  Even though worship is not based on emotion- there is no greater joy for me than feeling His presence when I am sitting at the piano creating music.

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For we live by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

This is a song I wrote based on Psalm 51 last week. Singing and creating music is a huge part of how I worship and connect with Him. Last week, I was not feeling very “joyful”- but through the process of creating music, He was at work- restoring the joy of His salvation within me.  And praise the Lord, today I can honestly say- He has restored my joy!

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the fog lifted…

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perspective changes 

when the fog lifts- we see what 

was there all along

Speaking of fog…over the summer I got to “view” this gorgeous place-  Swannanoa Palace … and it just so happened to be under a heavy blanket of fog that day- adding to the mysterious but still lovely atmosphere.  I had the joy of going back to Swannanoa with my sister and a dear friend recently, to catch a glimpse of the clear mountain views and to take a few more pictures.

I am so thankful for the visit with my sister and our childhood friend!  It doesn’t matter how much time has passed between seeing each other- it’s like no time has passed at all when we are together…and it’s just like we’re kids again!

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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panoramic views from the Palace tower

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crystal clear view from the palace tower

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panoramic views from the tower

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the overgrown, but still beautiful pergola

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the pergola on a perfect fall day

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I found this little ivy covered bridge in the garden

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can you imagine waking up to a view like this every day?!

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a view to remember…the Blue Ridge Mountains

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The stunning foliage around the water tower

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Have you ever seen a hydrangea bush this big?!

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The best view of all… my girls and their cousins!

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The water tower (or Rapunzel’s tower… as I like to call it)

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the view of the gardens from the stairwell

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The best view of all… my sister, my dear friend, and our wee ones 🙂

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Swannanoa Palace

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The stained glass TIffany window

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The magnificent stairwell

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The only way to have a friend is to be one

– Ralph Waldo Emerson  

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Emptied to be Filled

  

Blessings abound

When I give what I’ve found

Emptied so I can be 

Filled

Each moment I find

Greater peace of mind

When I obey Him 

And follow His will 

Last spring I found an abundance of 4 leaf clovers. This year- not so much.  I found one a few weeks ago as I was talking with a friend in my driveway, and I gave it to her. 

Every day I take the same walk- always scanning clover patches as my dog sniffs and tarries. Usually I am talking to God and praying, but the other day I started thinking- where have all those clovers gone? Am I just not looking in the right place? Am I giving up too easily? It is easy to do things when you get immediate results. When you have to put time into it, well…sometimes it doesn’t seem worth the effort. 

But for some reason, I had to find one 4 leaf clover that morning. I searched, I talked to God, and when my dog was ready to move on, I tarried…and just the moment I felt like turning away- there it was! A beautiful, humongous 4 leaf clover- standing tall above the rest of them- like it had been planted there just for me.

As soon as I picked it, I saw an elderly man walking towards me.  Give him the clover! I heard a little voice within me say. What if he thinks I’m weird? I argued back. Just do it! You will regret it if you don’t! And like that, it was settled. 

As I continued walking, the elderly man approached me. “It’s a beautiful morning, isn’t it!” he greeted me.

“It sure is!” I smiled and extended my hand to give him the 4 leaf clover. “It’s going to be a great day,” I told him. “This is for you!” He grinned a child-like grin as he reached for the 4 leaf clover, and we parted ways. 

I glanced down at my feet, and much to my surprise- there was another 4 leaf clover waiting for me. Isn’t it funny that I would walk for weeks and not find a single one- but the minute I find one and give it away- He multiplies it?

When we empty ourselves- He fills us up again! 

And if you look for it as silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.-Proverbs 2:4-5

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Pi Day

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How could I ever deny 

a day that’s devoted to pi?

I partake without care

blissfully unaware

that it finds a new home on my thigh! 

My oldest daughter celebrated “pi” day at school yesterday. She asked me to come for a special activity her class was doing to celebrate- including eating pie, of course!  Anytime my 12 year old asks me to be a part of her day- I am there with bells on!  Due to the busy-ness of our week, I had not purchased any pies ahead of time. I decided to go to the store first thing in the morning, and much to my surprise- there were no pre-baked pies.  I guess people really do plan ahead, lol!  The entire bakery shelf was bare. I am thankful I minded His “nudge” to get out early to buy the frozen ones that I had to bake.  

On a side note- my daughter added before she left to get on the bus- 

“Momma- don’t forget to wear your “skinny jeans!”  

False advertising at it’s finest!

I smiled…just maybe one day those jeans will do what they say! 

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You can’t hide under the umbrella forever

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 I love being a mom, but some days it breaks my heart.  

One of the most difficult aspects of motherhood is re-living my own childhood through my daughters. The older they get, the more I see myself in them. One of them in particular is very sensitive- like me.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and always wants everything to be harmonious.  When anything is not as it should be- she is in turmoil.  

Some mornings I will wake up with a pit in my stomach- an uneasy feeling that I just can’t shake.  It doesn’t take long to remember whatever the situation is that is making me feel uneasy. Occasionally when this happens, I will go into “hiding”…take shelter in my home and spend time with my best friend- Jesus.  

When my girls got home from school the other day, it was clear that one of them wanted to go into “hiding”.  The day did not go as she had hoped.  We sat outside and chatted while I did yard work.  As I trimmed the the shrubs, my daughter grabbed a giant umbrella off our porch and proceeded to sit down in the grass and open it. The umbrella was so big, it nearly hid her whole body from me.  It could not have been a more beautiful day to be outside.  

“Mom, this is how I feel today,” my daughter said as she hung her head low.

“Oh, Baby… I know just what you mean… Even Momma has days like that.  I have many days when I feel like hiding under an umbrella, too.”

And as I talked to her, I realized that as she held that giant, black umbrella, the beauty of the sunshine was being blocked from her. 

“But you know what? You can’t hide under that giant umbrella forever.  You gotta get out from under it so His Son can shine on you!”

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.  Psalm 30:5

And as I spoke these words to her, I realized that I, too, must get out from under my umbrella on those days I want to hide away.  It’s ok to take time away to re-charge…but too much time can lead to self-pity. We’ve gotta pack our pity party bags and leave them at the feet of Jesus…and trust the situation to Him.

Often when I choose to hide, I miss out on His blessings. Just maybe He wants to use you to be an umbrella for someone else today… but we have to put down our own, first…

 

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And after our heart-to-heart, that’s just what my girl did!  

But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat.   Isaiah 25:4

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Blog Tour

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One of the things I love the most about blogging is finding and connecting with other awesome bloggers!  A talented, fellow blogger, Lorrie Bowden, has graciously invited me to join her virtual blog tour in this post.  She writes inspirational poetry, and has an eye for photographing the beauty around her.  Lorrie never fails to lift my spirits with her positive posts and her encouraging words. Her tag line is “Blessitude- I am so blessed and full of gratitude” and this shows in every thing she writes. Please visit her lovely blog!

The rules are to invite three other bloggers to join the tour, and to give them a Monday to post on.  I am asking them to post on Monday, August 3rd. Then, they are to answer 4 questions about their writing…

  1. My first blogger is January, who blogs at  http://coffeewithashotoffaith.wordpress.com.  I am blessed to have her as not only a blogger friend, but a friend in real life as well.  She is a fantastic writer who shares straight from her heart about her personal walk with Christ, raising her three children – including one with special needs – and also about her ministry. Her openness and honesty in her writing is truly beautiful to read!
  2. The second blogger is Tanya, who blogs at  http://godscharacter.wordpress.com  She is one of the first bloggers I connected with when I started blogging. She has written several series of posts, including “A Family That Prays Together” and “Find us Faithful”. She shares scriptures and often writes about parenting.  Her love for the Lord shines through in her writing. Her posts are heartfelt, sweet, and always uplifting!  
  3. The third blogger is Chris Ludbrook, who blogs at http://unhiddenlight.com.  He has a wide variety of things on his blog- including original music he has written, poetry, and essays. A Christian, he describes his blog as a place to share his journey: “This is about letting my light shine, no longer will I live in the fear of who I am, my light is bright & beautiful & it’s time I stopped hiding it.”

I am also going to mention a 4th blog-  http://brittanymoultroup.wordpress.com.   Brittany is a worship leader with a lovely voice and a beautiful heart for following Christ.  I always look forward to reading her thoughts on scripture and worship! 

I hope you take the time to visit these wonderful blogs.  I truly enjoy following and reading each one of their posts!!  

Here are the answers to my four questions…

What are you working on/writing? 

I am currently working on recording a CD of original Christian songs I have written over the last few years.  It is a work in progress, and I am excited to be on this journey!  It has been a long process, but I am soaking up every new thing I learn along the way. I try to write blog posts once or twice a week, and write music or poetry as the Lord inspires me. Most of my creative focus is devoted to serving Him and leading the worship ministry at my church.  

How does your work/writing differ from others of its genre? 

I think everyone has a unique voice. I don’t write to be different- my writing is an expression of my heart and of my love for God. 

Why do you write/create what you do?

Most of the songs I write come out of spending quiet time with the Lord.  They are my personal,  heart-felt prayers, experiences, and desires put to music. Several of the songs I have written have been a collaboration with my husband.  He writes beautiful lyrics and I have set them to music. I began playing piano when I was about 10, and started making up my own songs right away. Funny enough, my first song was called “Sunset”…which is fitting because 25 years later, that’s what I love to photograph most- sunsets!  I love to take photos of His beautiful creation and sing His praises… so I create out of having a desire to share what God has done- and continues to do-in my life. I write out of obedience to Him.  

How does your working/writing process work?

I have to be inspired!  Most times, when I write a song it comes together in a very short time- a matter of minutes.  I don’t make myself write if I am not in the mood to do it.  So, I basically wait for Him to inspire me- and then it flows. He is always faithful and gives me MUCH to write about! 

Thanks for reading and I hope you take the time to visit these other blogs! Be Blessed!

 

 

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The Reason

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Our evening sky as I looked to Him last night…

When I question everything

and all that I hold dear

when I bring it all to You

I feel Your presence in my tears

I know You are here

 

When I’m feeling like a fish

out of water in my own skin

like a jagged puzzle piece

that’s just not fitting in

I know I fit in with You

 

I’m no longer looking back

I’m looking up to You

You’re the only reason

for everything I do  

 

You’re the reason I sing

You’re the reason for living

In your presence i bring

a song of offering

You are the reason I sing

 

When I’m feeling all alone

Like no one understands

You remind me You’re enough

and to rest within Your hands 

All I need is You

 

You remind me that my home 

is not a place I’m sitting in 

and that peace is found in You

I let go and let You in

I know You are here

 

I’m no longer looking back

I’m looking up to You

You are the only the reason

for everything I do. 

 

 

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Light exposes darkness….and unwanted critters

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Light exposes the true character of everything  Ephesians 5:13

 The light coming from the moon was so bright the other night.  As I pulled into the driveway, I didn’t even need a porch light to get into my house.  The pathway leading to my door was perfectly illuminated by the moonlight.

Light exposes darkness.

We had a slight problem recently.  It seems that one of my fabulous thrift store furniture finds brought an unwanted guest into my home- roaches.  Yes, I shudder even typing the “r” word. It is no secret that they like the dark.  Is is any wonder that these detestable pests scamper at the first sign of light?  I crept into the kitchen many times in fear as I flipped on the light switch…fortunately I only saw one or two run for cover, but I knew there had to be more.

I could have left it alone, and kept spraying the one or two that I would see, but I knew if there were one or two, that there had to be more hiding- in my walls, cabinets, other tiny crevasses that harbored snug hiding places…

Which got me thinking- how many times have I tried to mask something that was happening on a deeper level in my personal life?  I can paint smiles on my face and stuff away feelings, but unless I go to God about all things, they will always be there, lurking in the darkness.

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.  Psalm 119:18

When I come to Him, just as I am, I don’t want to stay that way. I want Him to change me.  I want Him to disinfect every area of my heart that offends Him.  I don’t want any sin critters running rampant inside of me, I want them all gone!

It is so easy to make excuses for ourselves and to continue to mess up and do the same things again and again… but we don’t have to!  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can be free from the things that are holding us down, keeping us from living a life of abundant joy and peace.  And praise the  Lord- my not-so-friendly critters are gone!!

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We all need a little help sometimes

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.   Matthew 6:26

It’s the little things that make me happy!   In a previous post , I shared how I found a bird’s nest on my front door.  My girls and I have been anxiously waiting for these little guys to hatch!  We peeked into the nest every day to see how these jelly-bean sized eggs were doing…

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I looked into the nest just as they were coming out of their shells!

I peeked a little while later, and they were soundly sleeping…

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and then the last one finally made his way out…

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And they all snuggled together…

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Yesterday, in the wee hours of the morning, I awoke to a loud noise.  Thinking it was coming from my children’s room, I quickly went in and checked on them.  Everything seemed fine, so I went back to sleep.  When I got up to begin the morning routine, I glanced outside my front door to check on the bird’s nest.  Much to my dismay, I found the basket’s ribbon had come undone from the door, and the entire basket had fallen down onto the porch.  I looked at those tiny baby birds scattered on the porch, and didn’t know what to do.  I feared the worst. I got the girls out of bed and told them about the nest.  We looked outside and my oldest said “Mom,  one of them is moving!”  Sure enough, they were moving their little beaks ever so slowly.  A friend came over and helped me get them all back into the nest, and  fortunately- they all seemed to be ok. I prayed that their momma would come back and take care of them.  Before I knew it, I heard rustling on my front door!  Momma was back and I don’t think she has left their side.

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:2

I have a little bit of “momma bird” in me, too-  I like to think that I have everything under control.  We can build a happy home, plan and prepare for the day’s events, but sometimes our baskets get too heavy – and they come crashing down.  There was no way momma bird could have gotten those babies back into the nest without our help.  When my girls were babies I often felt overwhelmed.  It was hard for me to ask for help when I needed it.  Several years ago, I remember praying for God to help me.  My babysitter was sick and I had piano students coming to the house later that day. I didn’t know how it was going to work out- but I had peace in heart. My first student of the day happily babysat for me that afternoon. This was one of the first times I realized that God places special people in our paths to help us. I wouldn’t be half the momma I am without all the wonderful friends and family He has placed in my life!  It takes a village- and just like momma bird- we all need a little help sometimes!

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1

Lord, thank You for the sweet reminder to call on You, my Helper, for all things- no matter how big or small.  Thank you for Your faithfulness, and for allowing me to catch a glimpse of  Your magnificent creation!  You are, indeed, a Wonderful Maker!

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