I Sing Because I'm Free

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nailed it

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My girls introduced me to a fab new Netflix show called “Nailed It”, in which ordinary folks try their best to reproduce a gloriously decorated cupcake or cake.  This show is deliciously hilarious and fun to watch!

Until one of my daughters said I needed to be on it.

Ouch. 

What are you tryna say about my baking skills?!  I was immediately on the offense.

Well, you’re always subbing this for that, you use coconut flour instead of regular flour…you don’t have eggs and so you’ll put something else in it…

Okay, okay, I see…. I couldn’t deny her logic.  I am guilty of all that and way more in the kitchen…

And I realized in that moment how deeply rooted my desire for perfection is. So much so, that I almost missed what my daughter was actually saying to me-

Even though you are not a “baker”- you will attempt to bake ANYTHING.  And you don’t let it stop you if you don’t have the exact ingredients- you find a way to make it work!

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You know what is awesome about this realization?  That I recognized my tendency to take a comment and twist it around in my head…and that I can CHOOSE to put the brakes on those thoughts more quickly!

So this morning, I attempted to make a copycat Starbucks Lemon poundcake (low carb and sugar free, of course)  and I didn’t have the sweetener it called for, so I had to look up some conversion charts for the Sweet Leaf brand stevia I had… and then I used coconut flour instead of the baking blend it called for…. and coconut is a “thirsty” flour, so I only used 1/2 of what it called for and upped the amount of coconut milk I used…

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And I literally LOL’ed as I remembered my daughter’s comments about my baking tendencies…

I had to bake it for 10 minutes longer for it to set…. but I totally nailed it! 

He continually reminds me to stop my pursuit of perfection, and to keep pursuing Him! Oh yeah, and it’s okay to laugh at ourselves from time to time, too!

 

I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself.  Philippians 3:12 

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my deeelightful breakfast!!! 

p.s.

Here’s the lemon poundcake recipe that I “loosely” followed 🙂

https://www.nanaslittlekitchen.com/sugar-free-copycat-starbucks-lemon-loaf/

 

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Jesus Our Lord is Crucified

Jesus Our Lord is Crucified

O come and mourn with me awhile, 
O come ye to the Savior’s side 
O come, together let us mourn, 
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

Seven times He spoke seven words of love; 
And all three hours His silence cried 
For mercy on the souls of men; 
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

O love of God! O sin of man! 
In this dread act Your strength is tried; 
And victory remains with love; 
Jesus our Lord is crucified!

A broken heart, a fount of tears, 
Ask, and they will not be denied; 
A broken heart love’s cradle is: 
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

lyrics written by Frederick Faber – 1849

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Moved by these beautiful words, I took the lyrics of this old hymn and set it to a new melody and piano accompaniment.  I would be happy to share the chord chart with anyone who would like to have it.  Be blessed!

Jesus Our Lord is Crucified

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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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One thing remains

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I think back on the days when the girls were little and I lament over how little sleep I had, and how very much I felt pulled between working part time while I stayed at home with them.   I remember the momma guilt I had when I hurried them to “get in the car because Mommy was going to be late again”… I remember how I rushed from here to there trying to fit everything in…I also remember thinking I wasn’t doing a good enough job at everything I was trying to do.

Sometimes I wonder what they remember about their “little girl” days…

Yesterday I was blessed beyond measure.  The girls found an old camera and showed me the memory card.  They wanted me to upload all the pictures onto my computer and look at them together.

Most of them were when the girls were around 2 and 5- right in the thick of my “running around” days when I taught aerobic classes at the gym and I was also teaching music lessons.

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And the smiles I saw on the girls’ faces brought tears to my eyes.  Pictures- lots of them that they took themselves- perfectly documented giggly faces covered in juice, their favorite toys scattered all around the house….there were even short videos of them watching their favorite tv shows and singing the theme songs.

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As we scrolled through the pictures, I started to delete the blurry ones- and my oldest kept saying NO!  Every single one made her remember something special.  I couldn’t believe all the little details she remembered about those years.  Every toy and dollhouse, every outfit and accessory she wore.

And all I could see was the joy in their eyes.

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Maybe I was a little too hard on myself all those years ago- because yesterday, as we looked back on those pictures, I didn’t think about anything other than how precious my girls are and how very much I loved my babies!  Looking at those pictures made me really missed those days.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

1 Corinthians 13:13

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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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All In

excuses wearing thin

tired of hiding in my sin

Your Spirit stirring from within

I’m all in

no more wasting time

with this fleeting life of mine

I’m signing on the dotted line

I’m all in

I’m all in

head over heels

I’m all in

wanna give my life

for something real

I’m all in

sold out for You

I’m all in

I’m living proof

no more scattered thoughts

I’m clinging to the cross

everything I count as loss

I’m all in

knowing what is true

want to honor You in all I do

fall helplessly in love with You

I’m all in

Last Sunday, as I played the piano at church, I watched  two people come forward to receive the Lord and embrace the cross of Christ at the close of the service.  It was a powerful, beautiful moment!  All of the congregation was invited to join them at the cross, and we came together and prayed as a “family”-  brothers and sisters in Christ.

That night, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I thought about what it means to embrace the cross- to be “all in” for Him.   I wrote this song that night as I thought of the two courageous people who stepped forward to “embrace the cross”, and also reflected on my own moment of surrender.

I thought of all the times I felt quickened in my spirit to go to the altar to pray, to raise my hand, to publicly declare my need for Him… and I held back for so long.  But there comes a moment when you can’t hold back any longer.

And once you go “all in”- it becomes a daily decision… daily seeking Him, laying down your own will and desires for His.  Acknowledging that His ways and thoughts are far better than yours could ever be.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death…

Philippians 3:8-10

 

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take the picture

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 blink too fast 

and before you know it 

the moment is gone 

with nothing to show for it 

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tick tock ticking- 

time’s passing me by 

so I’ll keep my camera 

close to my eye 

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I had the joy of spending the entire day with my oldest daughter this past weekend.  It was a perfect day.  I have spent a lot of time with both girls recently as they have had multiple snow days off of school, added onto the 2+ weeks off for Christmas break… let’s just say the girls were getting a little tired of one another!  They are as different as night and day, and being with the both of them can be emotionally and mentally exhausting.  And honestly, we were all ready to get back into a routine!

So back to my day… we took a road trip, and my normally quiet, tired teen was bubbly, giggly, and chatty the entire day!  We talked about everything from school to politics to her friends- all the things I wish she would talk about with me ALL of the time!

Having her all to myself allowed me to appreciate her so much more…how she likes peace and quiet,  how she, too,  loves coffee (just like me!), and her desire to have as many dogs as she can possibly take care of when she’s on her own.

As we were heading home that evening, I noticed the sky was brewing up a beautiful sunset.  I wanted to enjoy every second of that evening.

“Living in the moment is so overrated, ” my daughter told me.

“What do you mean?” I asked her.

“Like how everyone says not to take pictures- to just enjoy the moments… that’s silly. Take the picture. Then you’ll always have something to look back on to remember the moments.”

Wise words from my (almost) 15 year old-

and I even have a few pictures to remember it 🙂

You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. 

Ecclesiastes 11:9

 

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Whiter than Snow

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
Break down every idol, cast out every foe—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies,
And help me to make a complete sacrifice;
I give up myself, and whatever I know—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat,
I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet,
By faith for my cleansing, I see thy blood flow—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

The blessing by faith, I receive from above;
Oh, glory! my soul is made perfect in love;
My prayer has prevailed, and this moment I know,
The blood is applied, I am whiter than snow.

Written by James Nicholson in 1872

 

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Free at last

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I am free 

like a bird 

flying high I soar 

because I’m not

weighed down 

anymore 

the chains

broke 

the shackles

fell 

and I am feeling- 

pretty swell 

because you see- 

I am finally 

free

New Year’s Eve marked the one year anniversary that I began following the Trim Healthy Mama plan. It has been a year of food freedom for me- but so much more than that!  For years I have been a slave to counting calories- how many calories I consume at each meal and how many calories I burn at each workout.  Even on the days when I would “take a break”… I would still keep a running tab in my head.

And the worst part of it all?  None of that effort made any difference!  No matter how much I worked out, no matter how carefully I watched my calorie intake- I couldn’t lose a pound to save my life!!  For years I felt defeated and discouraged.  My body hurt all the time and I had no energy.

I have my friend, Natalee to thank for introducing me to the Trim Healthy Mama plan.  Just give it a try, she told me.  So I began reading about it and checking out recipes on Pinterest.  I started looking for ways to make the things I already eat fit in with the program. And the great things is that I have found ways to eat everything I love!

For all of 2017, I have not counted a single calorie! That is a miracle for me!  And I have worked out less this past year than I have in the last 15 years!  And praise the Lord- at 40,  I feel better than ever!  I have lost 35 pounds over this past year and I have gained so much more-

-balance 

-food freedom 

-freedom from the scale 

-self confidence

Thank God Almighty-  I am free at last!!

 

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

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Be Born In Me

This has become one of my favorite Christmas songs.  Written from Mary’s perspective, it so beautifully captures the range of emotions she felt when realizing she was carrying the Son of God.

One of my favorite lines is this –

“I am not brave, I’ll never be- the only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy.  I’m just a girl, nothing more,  but I am willing- I am Yours…” 

May we all make room in our hearts for Him.   Be Born in me.

Be Born in Me (Mary’s Song)

Everything inside me cries for order
Everything inside me wants to hide
Is this shadow an angel or a warrior
If God is pleased with me, why I am I so terrified
Someone tell me I am only dreaming
Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes
And before my head agrees, my heart is on it’s knees
Holy is He. Blessed am I.

Be born in me, be born in me
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me
I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me

All this time we’ve waited for the promise
All this time You’ve waited for my arms
Did You wrap yourself inside the unexpected
So we might know that Love would go that far?

I am not brave
I’ll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I’m just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

*written by Nichole Nordeman

*originally sung by Francesca Battestelli  

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