The dress

I am unapologetically nostalgic and sentimental. Actual “stuff” isn’t that important to me- but the memories that certain things bring to my heart are priceless.

There are a few items that are special to me- one of which is my great-grandmother’s piano. It was passed down to my grandmother, and I can remember visiting her home during the holidays and I couldn’t wait to play it! When I got married, my grandmother gave me the piano as my wedding gift. I have used this piano to teach many, many children and adults how to play piano through the years.

My grandmother’s piano

Another special item is a lamp from my granny’s house. When I was a child, I remember this lamp in the room that my sister and I would stay in. It was a lamp on the top, and there was another light on the bottom that filtered through a base of tiny stars. When just the bottom portion of the light was on, it was like a night light- shining stars all over the room. It was magical– and I am happy to have this.

The magical “star” lamp

My beloved mother in “love”, Iris, passed away this past June. We are so grateful that my in-laws decided to move to Charlottesville last year. They left their home of over 33 years, and left much of its contents behind, too. I really admired them for make this move- to leave behind all the “stuff” to be near family. We will be forever grateful for that last year with our Mom. For the first time in our marriage (of over 25 years), we got to go to church nearly every Sunday with my in-laws. I will never forget leading worship during that year and seeing my precious mother in love raise her hands and sing praises. We spent many Sundays going out to lunch and spending time together- and that was a priceless gift!

My father-in-law had been asking me and my daughters to go through Moms clothing to make sure there wasn’t anything we wanted. Well, I knew we didn’t wear the same sizes, and didn’t think there was any clothing that we would use- after all, they left most things behind when they moved here.

Recently, my father-in-law told me a friend was going to pick up her clothing to take it to a local clothing closet. I was thankful that the friend was helping him! And then the following week, the friend called me to let me know the mission had been accomplished. He had delivered the clothing to a clothing closet, and then he said he took the wedding dress to a consignment shop. I immediately felt a lump in my throat- her wedding dress?! I had just assumed that her wedding dress wouldn’t be given away…

I thanked him for helping my father in law, and as soon as I got off the phone, I prayed. Lord, is this something I’m gonna regret not keeping? Lord knows, I don’t need another piece of clothing in my closet, lol! But something inside of me said I had to find it.

I called my father in law and asked for him to describe the bag it was in, and had him text me a picture of Mom in the dress. I called the shop, and the owner was very kind. “I think I remember this coming in. You’re welcome to come by to see if we still have it.”

As I drove to the shop, I remembered all the times Mom talked about that special day- how beautiful she felt in that dress and how overjoyed she was to get married to her sweetheart! They were happily married for over 50 years! Her wedding dress was one of the few things Mom actually wanted to bring here with her to Charlottesville- and I just couldn’t let it go!

I entered the shop and explained what I was looking for. She took me to the dress section, and there were several wedding dresses- but none resembling my Mom’s dress. I described the bag to her and she said she’d go check in their processing room to see if it was still there.

“I think we have it!” I followed her into the back room, and there it was- still hanging in the original bag, with the original receipt stapled to it. “Merry Christmas,” they said as they handed me the bag. I had tears in my eyes as I shared with them about my precious mother-in-“love” and what she meant to me- and what a treasure it is to have this dress in my family.

When I got home that day, I carried the white dress bag in with me. It was like bringing a “treasure” home! I hope that one day I can pass this beautiful heirloom down to my daughters and tell them the story of how special this dress was to Grandma.

My beloved mother-in-love

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. -Philippians 1:3

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Laundry DJ

On this Thanksgiving morning, I am giving thanks for so many things. One of the things I am most grateful for is my relationship with my daughters.

My “baby” is now in the middle of her senior year in high school, and my oldest in her second year of college- and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Not for the things they do- but for who they are! I love laughing with them and remembering funny things that have happened through the years.

Just the other day we were cracking up about our old washing machine. We have absolutely the WORST luck in buying appliances. In the 18 years we have lived here, we have had multiple refrigerators, multiple dishwashers, washing machines, numerous vacuum cleaners, and we just finally replaced our broken over-the-oven microwave. We “nurse” these half broken appliances for what seems like years until they completely die- and only then do we look for the latest and greatest deal to replace them.

Well, our washing machine had been replaced and wasn’t really that old- but of course, it stopped working.

Now, to be fair- each of us do our own laundry. Some of us put more items in the washing machine than others, so each of us had a different experience when we washed our clothing.

I began hearing each family members groan when they went to switch the clothes into the dryer- because the clothes would still be sopping wet. The drum stopped spinning. It would wash the clothing fine, but every now and then, the spin cycle wouldn’t work. I would work fine for me- but not for my hubby or the girls…

Somehow, they realized that if they opened the top before the spin cycle, you could use your hands to spin the inside of the drum to get it going, and then it would pick up speed and wring the water out of the clothes. This began a season of us waiting for that point in the cycle… and then we would hear someone taking out a few sopping wet items to lessen the load, and then you’d hear the hands slowly spinning the drum. The funny thing is that this became normal.

I remember one day it didn’t spin the clothes for me. I was trying to spin the drum with my hands to get it going- just like I had watched my girls and hubby do- and I was really frustrated that I couldn’t get it spinning. Hearing what I was trying to do, my husband called out to me- “You’re not doing it right!” He then came in and showed me his skilled hand spinning technic. Sure enough- he got it going!

I told him he was the Laundry dj- spinning the drum to get the laundry going. We laughed so hard at the absurdity that we were “laundry dj-ing” for so long!

It was only a month or two later that the washer completely stopped working. And yes, we found a great deal on a new one.

So today I am thankful for funny memories with my daughters and hubby.

And that today, we can wash our clothes by simply pressing the button 🙂

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.- Proverbs 31:25

Twins

I am beyond blessed that I “get to” meet up with my older daughter and husband for lunch on occasion during the work week.  It is especially easy since Katie has been doing an internship at David’s work. 

But on this particular day, Katie happened to be off, so David and I planned to meet for lunch- just the two of us. As soon as I was headed to pick up David, Katie texted me to tell me she was at in town running errands. I picked David up, and asked if we should invite Katie to join us. NO- we never get to meet up for lunch alone anymore!

Wouldn’t you know that as I merged onto the main road in front of the restaurant we were headed to, there was none other than Katie RIGHT BEHIND US! We could not escape her.  She called and sheepishly asked where we were headed.  And of course, we told her she could join us.  I mean, what are the chances that she would literally be behind us at that exact moment driving through town?!

Then, as soon as she got out of the car, I realized we were dressed exactly the same! TWINS! How crazy was that?!

TWINS!!

David and I say all the time how blessed we are that our girls actually WANT to eat with us… that they enjoy talking to us and being together. 

And I remind myself daily to be thankful for every moment… because you never know what tomorrow will bring!

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes- James 4:14

On Your Side

Next week my hubby and I will celebrate our “date-a-versary”. That’s what we call the anniversary of our first date. On August 19th, it will be 28 years. How can I be that old?!?

What a blessing it is for me to go from high school years, to college years, and then to be able to build a family with one man by my side. Aside from my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with my hubby is one of the things I am most proud of. I ain’t gonna lie- marriage is hard– but it is worth it! We disagree, we argue at times, but we have both learned that above all else, at the end of the day we love and CHOOSE to love each other unconditionally.

I had something funny happen last night. I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (like I always do), and when I got back in bed, I felt his arm SMACK me across the top of my head. He had simply turned over and threw his arm out in his sleep.

“Ummm…. that is MY SIDE of the bed!” I said to him in an annoyed manner. I then pretended to karate-chop his arm with my hand at the end of “his side” and the beginning of “mine”.

And then he said the sweetest thing in his sleep-

“I’m always on your side”.

Sigh.

Isn’t that was love is all about?

Home

Yesterday was a special anniversary for us-18 years ago on July 10th, we moved to Charlottesville.

If you had asked me even a month before we made the decision to move, I would have told you there was NO WAY we would EVER leave our hometown. Our entire family was there- and so was everyone and everything we had ever known…but my husband was looking for a job and there were literally no companies that were hiring at that time. I remember him saying we might need to move somewhere for me to find a job. And my first thoughts are always selfish ones. NO WAY am I moving.

And the Lord brought back a memory I had of my grandfather picking up our family one Saturday morning. Granddaddy was notorious for taking spur-of-the-moment road trips. He drove us to Carter’s Mountain Orchard. I remember ooh’ing and ahh’ing with my parents over the mountains in the distance, and as we finally began the climb up to Carter’s Mountain Orchard, it seemed as if our car was going to fall off the side of the mountain! It was a happy memory- so happy that I could see us moving there. So one day I told David it would be ok for him to look for a job in Charlottesville.

Two CPA firms were hiring. He send off his resumes on a Thursday, had two interviews set up on the following Monday, and we spent the weekend driving around looking for a potential house. It was scary to think of moving away from my family. My oldest daughter was only a year old. We knew no one there, but it seemed like the Lord was lighting up the path for us to GO. David received a job offer, we listed our home for sale by owner, and we had a contract for over our asking price within just a couple of days. It was a complete whirlwind.

So much has happened in 18 years, but it all began with being willing to go wherever He would lead. And that road led me straight to Him! About 5 years later, I felt the Lord calling me into ministry and these have been the BEST years of my life. I have had the joy of serving the Lord in my church through leading worship every Sunday, and even leading small groups, teaching, and preaching… all wonderful.

And then this past January I took a full time position working for a non-profit ministry that I love. I still minister at church and serve as the worship pastor in my free time, so I now have the best of both worlds.

My “babies” aren’t little anymore- 19 and *almost* 17! I am so grateful for His many blessings. I often feel like King David when he says this verse from 2 Samuel 7:18- “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?

I am grateful and thankful that He has brought my family here-

and I can whole heartedly say that this is “home” 🙂

bloom

I have had lots of personal changes over the last few months. One of those changes was that I stopped teaching music lessons.

On my last day of lessons, I had the joy of teaching one of my favorite girls. I tell them they are all my favorites- but this was my youngest student and she stole my heart. Every lesson, she taught me something about myself- and for that I am grateful.

“I’ll race you!” She would say as soon as I met her at her mom’s car. This precocious blond girl would then run with all her might to beat me to the lesson room. Every lesson was the same routine. I would pretend to run super slow and she would beat me. Then she would hide her piano books behind the piano and when I entered the room, she would say she couldn’t find them. I’d pretend to look around everywhere for them, and low and behold- they would be right behind the piano- exactly where she would put them every week!

This girl made teaching fun. She was an absolute joy. And it absolutely broke my heart the last day I taught her. Her eyes were teary, her face sullen- she moped into the music room, barely looking up from the floor. No racing, no hiding her books. She looked up and handed me something peculiar-it was something I’d never seen before- a bright red waxy bulb with a little green shoot sticking out of the top.

“This is soo sweet of you! I will put it on my piano at home, and I’ll think about you every day that I see it!”

I confess- part of me was a little bit worried. Because if you haven’t read a few of my blogs about gardening…. well you’re right- there aren’t any! Because did I ever tell you I have the black thumb of death? I literally kill every plant I have ever had. Even when I try my hardest to take care of it! So when my precious student gave me a plant, I was worried that my black thumb would somehow kill this thing- even though you aren’t supposed to have to water it or do anything to make it grow.

I brought it home and read the instructions. You gotta be kidding me. I literally didn’t have to do a thing! Just set it in front of a window and rotate it every day or so… and it was going to bloom? This was crazy.

And on Christmas, I had a gorgeous pink bloom. Then a few more.

I thought I would be throwing this red waxy bulb away, but the shoots kept coming. Each time I cut away a dead stalk, then grew another.

And another bloom, and another.

Here we are at the end of March, and once again- I see new leaves shooting up from the wax bulb.

The blooms keep coming.

I wish I could tell that sweet girl how much joy this amaryllis bulb is bringing me. I feel like it’s such a great metaphor for where I’m at right now. So much change, some of it hard, and yet I already see so many shoots coming up out of the ground of my life. And once again, my student continues to teach me. I can, in fact, keep a plant alive 🙂

Isaiah 11:1- A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

In Winter

keep walking in winter

though the cold makes you shiver 

there’s growth to be found 

Buried deep in the ground 

In winter 

Keep walking in winter 

Though the frost may be bitter 

Barren fields lie in wait 

For the sunlight to breakthrough

In winter 

Season come 

And seasons go 

Every moment

leads to growth 

Like seeds our change 

Is happening 

In places unseen 

Seasons come and seasons go 

In every one of them

I know that

You’re working 

Deep below In winter 

Keep walking in winter 

Don’t be a quitter 

Keep your eyes on the prize 

therein our joy lies

In winter 

My snow buddies- the real reason I go walking in winter 🙂
a frosty delight 🙂
Even trees need to “lean in” to the Son.
Is that popcorn on my branches?!

I am a “morning” person by nature, but ever since the time change this past November, my dogs have wanted to get up before the crack of dawn. Literally. I mean like 5am sometimes. I have always been a light sleeper- and I can hear their faint high pitch whimper… which slowly turns into a deep, guttural “ARF”! The “boys” are getting older, and when they’ve gotta go, well- they’ve gotta go!

So I am usually out walking with them sometimes as early as 6am. I have learned the hard way that it is much more enjoyable when I take the time to actually prepare for this walk ahead of time. If you know me- the less I have to bring with me the better! But these chilly mornings beg for socks, snow boots, a hat, scarf, gloves, and a winter coat.

I hate wearing all that stuff, because I feel like I am weighed down. But deep down I know that preparation is everything. Just like I prepare myself to brace the cold, I have to also prepare my heart and mind each day for the spiritual walk…
so that I can be prepared to weather whatever storm comes my way 🙂

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.- 1 Peter 1:13

Create

Genesis 1:1- In the beginning, God created…

As a pre-teen, I used to sit on my old piano bench and play away my thoughts on the keys. It was therapeutic to let melancholy chords ring while melodies ran through my head. Creating music made me feel alive!

I remember the first time I shared a piano piece I wrote with my piano teacher. I was nervous, but proud of the song I had created. 

I played with hesitation- desperately wanting my teacher’s approval. When I finished, the first thing he said was that I should try this chord instead of that chord …and surely it would sound better if I did it this way instead. Lots of criticism followed. 

I was crushed. I remember thinking surely if I had wanted it that way, I would have already written it that way!

That one moment had a huge impact on me.For many years, I felt like what I created didn’t have value, wasn’t good enough. 

But here’s the thing-we all have a song to sing. How boring it would be if all songs had the same chords and melodies. How bland music would be if we all had the same voice. 

Let Him create something NEW in you- and then pour it out as an offering for His glory! 

manifest

manifest= clear or obvious to the mind

My hubby and I began watching a series on Netflix recently called Manifest. We were hooked from the beginning, as the storyline is very intriguing and the series offers lots of twists and turns.

One of the main themes of the series is Romans 8:28- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This is a verse I quote often, because it’s an encouragement that we are called to follow and seek Him in all things, and a reminder that we can trust He has a greater purpose at work than what we are able to see with our own eyes. We can completely trust that even when we are in a BAD situation, that somehow He is going to use it for His good.

In the show, the survivors of the 5 year plane disappearance hear voices, later referred to “callings”. These callings will at times bring survivors together to solve a puzzle… always leading them to help someone in need and miraculously these callings connect to each other in deeply personal ways with the characters. This is one of the best ways I have seen my walk with Jesus displayed on a screen… and probably one of the easiest ways to describe what it feels like for me to hear that “small whisper” of the Holy Spirit, and to walk with Jesus each day.

Just the other day, I went to a local senior living community to do a worship service in the middle of the week. Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of the week for me. I play and sing a few hymns with the residents, we pray, and I share a short devotional and then close with another song and prayer. It fills my heart with great joy to see the residents clapping, singing, and experiencing the blessing that is corporate worship. When I leave, I always feel like I have made a difference in their lives for Jesus.

And this past week- it was the walk to my car where I heard the “small whisper”.

There are outdoor patio areas for the residents to sit outside of their rooms on the ground floor. It happened to be raining that day as I was heading out to my car. I spotted a lady who was all done up- she looked like Elizabeth Taylor and was strikingly beautiful. She held a book in her hand and was gazing out over the parking lot watching the rain fall.

As clear as day, I felt the Lord telling me to go and speak to her.

I said hi as I approached her and she greeted me.

“Isn’t it just heavenly listening to the rain?” she said to me.

Listening to the rain is one of my favorite things to do. We chatted for just a moment, and then I invited her to join me next week for our time of worship.

“Oh, I’m a life-long atheist,” she replied.

And what struck me was her tone- she was not timid or shy about what she believed, but was confident and proud of her declaration.

I smiled and told her I loved her and would welcome her to join us.

I thought about her statement that the sound of the rain was heavenly.

I think about heaven a lot.

Even our greatest, most pleasurable moments here on earth will pale in comparison to the place He has prepared for us, and I want this special lady to see that place one day.

Romans 8:28… ALL THINGS work together for good. Who knows- maybe I will never see her again. Maybe the Lord simply used me to plant a tiny mustard seed in her heart.

But just maybe I will see her next week for worship!

Romans 8:28

Empty Spaces

“You love when I’m empty…”

I heard this line recently when I was listening to a new worship song, and it slapped me in the face.

How can God love it when I am empty?

I thought about the idea of emptiness and what that means to me. When something is empty, we immediately want to fill it up. I know when the paper towel roll is empty, I want to run downstairs to get a new roll to fill the dispenser. When we are almost out of dog treats and the jar begins to look empty- I know I’m going to be in trouble the next day when I bring my dogs inside from a walk unless I fill up the jar again.

And yet, there are some things we keep “full” that don’t necessarily need to be filled. Like my stomach, lol.

The idea of emptiness gives me a sense of longing… that something is not complete.

But that line struck me. Does God love it when I’m empty?

I thought about Jesus feeding the 5000 people with only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. I bet that basket looked pretty empty to the disciples that day.

And yet, that emptiness gave God room to do a miracle.

When we are empty, we long for more.

When we are empty, we have nothing left.

When we are empty, we are completely dependent on what He has to give us.

Where can you make an empty space in your life for God?

You love when I’m empty…”