I Sing Because I'm Free

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rise and shine

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5 am, eyes open wide

the morning light

called me outside

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the moon and sun

played hide and seek

behind the clouds and mountain’s peak

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And when the sun

did finally rise

His splendor shone before my eyes

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the sky was crystal clear  

My hubby and I took a recent trip to the mountains and one of the things I most looked forward to was watching the sunrise.  From my home, there isn’t a good view of the sunrise, so while we were away, I couldn’t wait to watch the sunrise come up over the mountains!

The funny thing was that I didn’t even set an alarm that first morning- my eyes just popped open at 5am!  I’m definitely a morning person- but 5am is a bit early… thankfully He got me up right on time for the show 🙂

God is good!

 

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enjoying the view…

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early morning… you can still see the moon in the sky 🙂 

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.  

Psalm 113:3

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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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What I’ve learned at 40…

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I’ve learned that 40 really isn’t that old

and not to believe everything I’ve been told

the older I get, the faster time goes

and the wiser I get, the more I know I don’t know

I’m a mom, and a singer- but those aren’t the things

that define me because I’m a child of the King!

I’ve learned it is better to give than receive

and when I focus on others, the blessing’s on me

I’ve learned that it’s better to wait on the Lord

than to simply do things on my own accord

As a mom, I’m still learning to love and be stern

and I’m learning I’ve still got a lot more to learn!

I’ve learned that money doesn’t measure success

and no earthly treasure will make me feel blessed

As a wife, I’ve learned marriage is a marvelous ride

and it’s been a great joy having him by my side

I’m learning that life is too short to hold grudges

and each day I get better at heeding His nudges

As a kid I could not wait to be on my own

but now that’s the opposite of what I’ve been shown

I’m learning to trust and to always depend

on Jesus for everything– He’s my best friend 🙂

Every day that goes by is a blessing to me

and yes- I’m STILL singing because I am free!

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I am turning 40 on June 9th.  After dreading this number all year, it has turned out to be the most awesome birthday EVER!  I haven’t even officially turned 40, and it has already been so great!  We took an awesome vacation to Florida a couple of weeks ago, I had an amazing surprise (early) birthday party at my church, I traded in my mommy-mobile (my minivan) for a newer car, we voted in a new lead pastor at our church after an entire year of waiting, and my hubby is taking me away this weekend for a belated anniversary/ birthday celebration! Oh, and I also reached my goal weight today 🙂

God is good!!  I am thankful and so very BLESSED!!

 

 

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counting the cost

fullsizeoutput_1f39In search of solitude

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and to myself I softly

I talk

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the talking soon becomes

a song

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and then I hum it

all

day

long!

I was compelled the other day to stop and walk on the trail.  There was a green glow about the trees, and the birds serenaded me as I began to walk.

As I walked, I realized another victory He has given me!  For years, I have been in bondage… a “slave” to numbers- numbers on the scale, the number of calories I consume at each meal, or the number of calories I burn while exercising.  I would track them on my cute little phone app all day long.  I was a slave to that app.  And then there were days when I would take a break from tracking the numbers- and yet I would STILL keep a running tally in my brain.

But since Dec 31, I have stopped “counting”.  Cold turkey.  This was one of the things I had prayed to be free from, and praise the Lord I am finally FREE!

So as I walked, I realized that I wasn’t clutching my phone…and  I wasn’t trying to beat my best walking time…and I hadn’t set a goal for distance or calories burned. I was just walking to walk, and it was wonderful!

I no longer need the validation of a magical number to find my self-worth.

I have Him and He is all that I need.

let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12 

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holding on

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My girls aren’t little anymore.

Overnight, it seems like the playroom has become a museum- frozen back in a time when the girls pretend played for hours on end with their Barbie dolls.  Doll clothing and toy pieces still litter the floor.

There’s a part of me that wants the playroom to stay that way forever so I can remember it all… their excited giggles, the singing, and the not-so-quiet sound of toys being tossed around.

I feel like my “mom life” is in a bit of a transition.  I don’t write about it as much as I used to, because those cute moments don’t come as often.  And as I watch my coming-of-age daughters try to navigate life, I’m still finding my own way as a mom.   It is WAY harder than I ever thought it would be.

I told the girls recently that they needed to clean the playroom and get rid of some of their dolls and toys.  We don’t need all that stuff down there anymore- I tried to reason with them.

But my oldest looked at me in utter disbelief…

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Mom!!  You are NOT giving away my whole childhood!  You just can’t do that! 

How long has it been since you actually played with those Barbies??  I tried to reason with her.

Umm… just a few weeks ago- she sheepishly admitted to me.   

And then I smiled. I might have even teared up a little bit.

Just when I thought I was having a hard time letting go of my girls being little girls– I see they’re not ready to let go either.

We’re all holding on.

Hold on to what is good-

1 Thessalonians 5:21

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“Sometimes you will never know the value of something,

until it becomes a memory.” – Dr Seuss 

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trust me

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It was an unusual evening.

I happened to be all alone, and usually I relish those quiet times, but on this particular day, I needed to get out of the house.  I was in a dog fight, wrestling with my own thoughts…

So I decided to make it a “date”- me and God.

I got into my car, and it just happened to be twilight- my favorite time of day!  I drove aimlessly around in search of God’s beauty.  Funny enough, my husband texted me earlier that day with this message- “Wow! Spring has sprung this morning!”, so I made a point to look for the visible changes as I drove around.  I finally settled on a spot and parked the car.

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I prayed a lot.  I asked Him lots of questions… why questions, what if questions… and I very much felt like a little girl asking my parents lots of worrisome things that don’t  need answering.

I remember how I used to try to get out of practicing piano as a kid.  I hated playing those boring songs over and over and over.  Why do I have to keep doing this? It seemed so pointless.  And yet, every time I wanted to quit- my parents said no.  Honestly, I didn’t want to quit- I just wanted to pass over all the practice to get to the good part… I wanted to play something real, something that moved me!

Oh, if I had known then what He would be using all those hours of practice for- well it might have scared me out of playing at all!   The fact that He chooses to use me to lead worship every week is very humbling.  It’s nothing short of a miracle, actually.  I am forgetful, clumsy, not a technically great piano player…. but I am willing… and I praise the Lord EVERY DAY for all He has done in my life!

Sometimes waiting is hard.  Waiting for an answer, for a door to open, for a door to close… to win the lottery (just kidding!!!!)… but in the waiting is where He is fine-tuning our skills, and that’s where our faith in Him grows stronger. 

As I sat in the van that night, an overwhelming peace came over me. I pictured myself sitting in His giant lap with His arms wrapped around me tight.

And suddenly all those thoughts I had wrestled with instantly melted into His one big, beautiful answer-

just trust me! 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

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Built for a King

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He is working-

moving and shaping

changing and growing

cultivating, crafting

He’s transforming

You 

into something magnificent

a beautiful building-

something He sees

worthy

of Living

in…

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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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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Steadfast I Walk

every day’s 

another battle 

trying my best 

staying in that saddle 

everywhere I look I see

another roadblock staring at me 

but steadfast I walk with You

I will not be moved 

even though I might be shaken 

I will trust in you 

I’ll never be forsaken 

even when I cannot see 

keep me on the path 

in front of me 

steadfast I walk with You 

even when it seems 

like nothings changing 

help me stay the course 

never wavering 

doesn’t matter how fast the pace 

slow and steady wins the race 

steadfast I walk with You  

I wrote the song Steadfast recently as I prayed for the Lord to help me keep my eyes on Him.  It’s not always easy to stay on the right path because there is temptation all around us.  As most of you know that are reading this- one of my biggest temptations is food.

I have always wanted a healthy relationship with food.  I wish I didn’t have to think about it, but unfortunately we HAVE to eat every day, so there’s no avoiding that one!  And even though I make good choices, for years I have seen no physical changes- despite calorie counting and exercising.  I loathe counting calories, and I have done it for years.  Even the days when I didn’t actually record my calories, I would still keep a running tally in my head.

But today I am praising the Lord and giving Him VICTORY for FREEDOM from this struggle.  It has been since New Year’s Eve- almost 2 months now that I have finally found something that is working for me!  It’s called Trim Healthy Mama and heres’s a link to their website- http://www.trimhealthymama.com.  It’s not a “diet”- it’s a different way of eating for life.  And PRAISE THE LORD- I have found food freedom! No more counting, no more thinking of food as a reward or punishment…just sticking to the plan and focusing on Him!

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.  John 8:36

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dream a little dream

 

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I woke up the other morning with JOY just flowing through my veins!  I mean, I was so excited, I couldn’t contain it!  I had the most amazing dream- it was one of those dreams that was so real, it was being in a movie!  I literally sat up in my bed and cheered- “Woohooo!!!”

The hubs was already awake, so I went into the living room to share the excitement with him, lol.

“Oh.My.GOODNESS!  I had the BEST dream EVER”, I tell my husband.

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Now, mind you, he’s not a morning person… so he smiled and said not now.  Go write it down and tell me all about it later.  He handed me a few pieces of paper from the printer and a pen and I sat down and tried to write fast enough to capture all the juicy details.

About 10 minutes later, he turned around to me and said are you STILL writing?!

Yep!  Almost done!

I won’t bore you with all the nitty-gritty details of my dream, but the main focus was that I had found something special that belonged to a stranger.  I tracked down the stranger and was about to give them this item, and then I lost it while I was in the mall.  I prayed and prayed that I would find it, and I had all sorts of shoppers and salespeople looking for it.

I remember the feeling of expectation I had in the dream- I just KNEW I was going to find this thing!  And sure enough, I did!  I was so overjoyed that I jumped up and down and raised both arms in the air and shouted “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

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And that’s how I woke up that morning!  I was on cloud nine!  I wanted to jump up and down and tell the whole world how much I loved the Lord.

But the coolest thing happened to me that day-  I had that feeling of joy inside me ALL DAY LONG! I started thinking about how awesome it would be to wake up praising the Lord like that EVERY DAY- simply because we have another day to enjoy life!

Life’s all about perspective.

How different our lives would be if we saw every moment as an opportunity to praise the Lord!

I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.  Psalm 34

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