I Sing Because I'm Free!

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GO!

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I think I think a lot about 

nostalgic memories 

how thing were, the way they are, 

and what might come to be 

too much time I spend in thought 

so I thought that you should know   

I think my motto for the year is simply just to-

“GO” 

My mind can be my own worst enemy.  So many thoughts and ideas all at once, and it’s hard to slow my brain down at times.  And I can overthink the simplest things- like fretting over stopping by the grocery store.  Because more than likely I am already running late, and what if I see someone I know?  Then it might make me even LATER because I have to stop and speak to them!  And by the time I have thought this through, I have already added 5 extra minutes to my lateness!  I’ve got to stop overthinking stupid stuff and just GO to the store when I need to GO!

I’ve gotten better over this past year… making lists and checking them twice- umm I mean checking them off… obeying whatever the Lord tells me to do with less hesitation…letting go of all sorts of stuff that holds me back.  But I’ve got more work to do!

So, here’s to less thinking/analyzing, and more GO!

Onward, Christian soldiers, 
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
GOing on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner GO!

Therefore, GO and make disciples of all nations…

Matthew 28:19 

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glory gazin’

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we’re glory gazin’

chowing down on Chick-fil-a

the sky- our dessert! 

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Having two teenage daughters is… interesting.  I never quite know what to expect.  One minute they are screaming at each other, the next minute they are hysterically laughing together.  It is an adventure, for sure!

The other day, I picked the girls up early from school due to an orthodontist appointment.  Hubby was out of town for work, so I decided to stay in town and take the girls to Chick-fil-a for dinner after our appointment.  As we pulled through the drive thru, I noticed the sky was beginning to change colors.

 When you feed your teenagers Chick-Fil-a, they will smile and agree to anything!  They were in the best mood. Let’s watch the sunset, I suggest.  Since they were happily eating CFA , they naturally obliged.   As we drove around, my youngest daughter stuck her hand out of the window-

Look, Mom- even the sun is shining down on my Chick-Fil-A milkshake! 

lol. I had to chuckle at that one!

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His radiance is like the sunlight;
He has rays flashing from His hand- Habakkuk 3:4

We parked in the shopping center across the street and took in the beautiful evening.  The girls were hysterically laughing at each other, taking “selfies” because it was “glow time” (sunset lighting) and I thought my heart would burst.  Any strife that may have occurred earlier in the day paled in comparison to the joy we experienced in the car.  It was the perfect evening.

On the ride home, I literally cried from laughing so hard at the girls. They can be so funny sometimes.

It has been way too long since I have laughed like that.

I never realized how quickly their childhood would fly by.

I am savoring every moment-

and realizing how short life is!

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  

Psalm 27:13

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Anticipation

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For a moment, I thought the zombie apocalypse might have come.

I had just returned home from running  a few errands, and the girls were no where to be found.  When I was out shopping, I had called both girls on their cell phones, and also tried texting them.  It was very strange for neither of them to respond to my messages.

So when I entered the house, I called their names.  There was no response.  I was a little concerned.  The dogs followed me from room to room as I looked for them.

As I entered my bedroom, I saw that all of the blinds had been raised.  The sunlight was streaming in through the windows, revealing the last of the golden leaves on the trees.

And then I heard it-

Was that really the sound of my two teenage girls outside?  laughing together? 

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I peaked outside from my bedroom window and saw both of them twirling broom sticks, throwing them in the air and laughing as they practiced together.  My oldest has been in marching band for the last 2 years, and recently both girls have taken an interest in learning how to twirl flags (color guard). I breathed a sigh of relief and then thanked the Lord they were enjoying one another’s company- and that they were NOT on their cell phones, arguing,  or watching tv!

About a half hour later, they came inside- giggling and being silly together.

Then my oldest asked if she could use my fancy camera to take pictures.  “Mom, you never even use it!”

“But you’re not going to know how to work it,” I tried to reason with her.

And sure enough, she picked it right up and clicked a few buttons and was well on her way to understanding the settings and all the other bells and whistles.

As I cooked in the kitchen, I watched Katie sneak  around on the floor- taking candid pictures of our dogs, of Sophie, and of our Christmas decorations.   And then it happened- she popped my favorite movie into our DVD player- Elf!

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It was such an awesome afternoon.

It brings me great joy in this season of motherhood any time my two teenage daughters get along and laugh together.

No arguing.  

No cell phones.  

No hiding out in bedrooms.

Just me doing mom stuff, and the girls, enjoying life together-

 anticipating all the joys of the coming holiday season.

I think Thanksgiving Eve may be my favorite day of the entire year 🙂

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!  Psalm 27 

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When the sun rises, so do I

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colors blaze

across the sky-

when the sun rises,

so do i

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a fresh new day 

another try

when the sun rises 

so do i

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ocean crashes

seagulls fly 

when the sun rises

so do i

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I climb the stairs

with a pensive sigh

when the sun rises

so do i

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This past weekend we had our annual women’s retreat with our church.  We went to one of my favorite places- the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

At home,  I am usually the first one to wake up, and the first thing I do is make a cup of coffee.  I like my quiet time in the mornings.

But one of the things I enjoyed most about this weekend was waking up early and finding fellowship with the other ladies who were also early risers.  I loved drinking coffee together, watching the sunrise, and sharing stories with one another…and then sometimes we sat in silence.

I told the ladies that I LOVE it when our clocks “fall back”- because I LOVE getting ready for bed early!  As soon as the sun comes up, I naturally wake up- no matter what time I go to bed, so the earlier to bed, the better!

When the sun rises- so do I! 

…weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning- 

Psalm 30 

 

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a little closer to home

I’ve wandered near and far

in search of you

looked high and low

for a perfect view

when all the while

all I had to do

was look

a little

closer

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When my husband has the whole weekend off, I love for us to do things together.  He is a meticulous planner, and I am a fly-by-the seat of my pants girl.  It works out pretty well for both of us!  A little give-and-take goes a long way, and compromise is always a winner for both of us.

So the other night, I randomly suggested we go to the lake together to watch the sunset.  Why have we never thought to do this in our 14 years of living in this neighborhood?!  

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We journeyed the 5 minutes down the street to the marina, parked the car, and found a resting spot against the guard rail.  The sky was absolutely gorgeous. Just stunning.

We could see Carter’s Mountain off in the distance from the lake. And there were pontoon boats tarrying near the marina, taking in the spectacular view.

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Sometimes I think about how much time I waste looking for something better- like looking for a better sunset view….

when we had a perfectly fine view right here all along!

He put your feet on a wonderful road
    that took you straight to a good place to live- Psalm 107:7

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You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  

Psalm 16:11

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seek me and find me

fullsizeoutput_1d19This is my “life-verse”.

When I was in my early 30’s, I experienced something life-changing.  I had been going to church steadily for a couple of years, and was doing my best to be a “good” person.

But I found myself in a place of complete discontentment.  Everything looked perfect from the outside, but inside, I felt like the dreams I had were slipping away… I wanted to move back to my hometown… I made all sorts of plans about my career and what I wanted to do, and none of those plans involved remaining in Charlottesville.

With every passing day, I grew more frustrated.

Finally, when I realized that the plans I had made weren’t going to come to fruition, I waved my white flag.

One evening I begged God to change my heart. I was sick and tired of being miserable, and oddly enough,  I was compelled to open the Bible and began to read.  I literally sat in my bed and flipped it open and read the first page it landed on.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:11-12 

I didn’t know who Paul was, but something in me wanted to know more. 

I said- “God, if you can make Paul content, won’t you do that for me?”  It seemed like a simple enough request.  Could you make me content right where I am?  And would you help me to let go of  my own desires?  

And from that moment on, I started reading the Word and praying daily.  Little by little, I began to see Him work in my heart and life.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

 I handed my pen over to Him- so He could write the story of my life.

And 10 short years later, I can honestly say-

His plans are far better than mine could have ever been!

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Hope

I am not really one who likes to talk about politics. Not at all. I definitely have my own thoughts and opinions about things but I do my best to try to look at situations with an unbiased view. I happened to watch the news the other day, and I was heartbroken.  Heartbroken at how our country is so completely divided and how we refuse to even consider where people on the “other side” are coming from.  Instead, we immediately villainize others as the enemy.

I believe that most people (including me) generally have the desire to see justice served- to see wrongs made right.  I also believe that there are people in power who use other people’s sufferings to promote hidden agendas… which makes it nearly impossible for us to know the truth about anything!

As heartbroken as it makes me to turn on the news, I still believe that God is on the throne and He is a God of justice and mercy.  If we put our hope in people and politics, we will be let down every time.  God is faithful and He is Lord of all.

This is a song I wrote about putting aside our political opinion and fully trusting Him.  Are we honoring Him with the words we speak on these matters?   I am hopeful, and I am praying for a Holy Spirit revival to sweep across this country!

“Unwavering”

Caught in between 
A lie and a sympathy
What to believe?
The world is a mockery
When I can’t trust 
What I see 
I  still  believe 
You are God and 
You are king 
You have won the 
Victory 
You are God of 
Everything 
And my hope is 
Unwavering 
Everyone’s got a side
Fighting for their right 
But what if we’ve all been blinded by 
The filter of our pride 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful- Hebrews 10:23

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think of these things…

You know that saying-

you are what you eat?  

Well the same thing applies to our thoughts and the things we think about.  We all have good and bad days, but we really can make a conscious decision to focus on the positive things…. which brings me to a couple of my favorite scriptures-

Philippians 4:8- Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Psalm 19:14- May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

This is my prayer-

God help me to focus on those things which are good and praiseworthy, and may the things I say AND do be pleasing to You and bring You glory!

Here is a song I wrote, based on those scriptures.

 

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something to look forward to

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What do you have to look forward to?

For some people, it’s a big vacation coming up- or maybe a party.  Someone’s graduation?  A big work event?  The birth of a new baby?

I have this thing where I need something to look forward to something to be excited about!  If I don’t have that “thing”, then it feels like something is missing.

Lately I have been feeling like I don’t have anything to look forward to.  It’s not true, by ANY means!  My life is good- really good. The girls are doing great in school and they have wonderful friends. David and I are happily married, and as the days go by- I feel as if we are growing closer and closer together… which is, in itself, something to celebrate and look forward to.   I lost weight and found health- and still overjoyed at the freedom I have in this new way of eating… I have so much to be thankful for!  And yet, today I have found myself longing to look forward to something. 

And wouldn’t you know it… God showed me something.

I ran to the store to pick up a few groceries, and as I wheeled my cart towards the check out line, there was this shopping cart filled with mark downs.  I sifted through it and there were Starbucks K-cups on clearance! Woohoo!!

And then as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the magnolia tree that we planted earlier this summer is getting ready to bloom…

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The fact that this tree has not died yet is a miracle- because I can’t keep any plants alive on my own accord.  So to see it is not only alive, but thriving and getting ready to bloom makes me the happiest girl in the world today.  And there was not just one bud- but 3 white buds getting ready to blossom!

That is how I know there is a God.

He knows me better than I know myself.  He knows exactly what I need-every single day. And His timing is always perfect.

My magnolia tree is alive.

I am alive.

He is alive.

And walking with Him is always an adventure to look forward to!

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in you.”  

Psalm 39:7

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he who began a good work in you…

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I am excited to share with you something awesome that happened to me recently!

After taking ministry prep classes for over 8 years, this past Friday I was ordained as an elder in the Church of the Nazarene!  Aside from my wedding day and the birth of my two daughters, it was absolutely the most joyous night of my life!

I told my husband I felt like I was getting married all over again- married to the church!  There was a special Ordination Service held this past Friday evening, and there were 8 other ministers from Virginia that also got ordained.

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My husband and daughters were there, and several other family members, and lots of people from my church made the trip to come to the service.  Then during our fellowship time at church yesterday, they had a lovely reception to celebrate.

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As I listened to the sermon during the Ordination Service, the Lord confirmed in my spirit once again that His timing is perfect and I am exactly where He wants me to be. The pastor made many references to the word “green” and “green grass” in his message that night.  I know it sounds a little strange- but the Lord used the word “green” to spark something in me about 10 years ago…

 I hid it well from people, but inside I was miserable- desperate for something to change.  I made every excuse I could why I wasn’t happy… but what really needed to change was ME!

I wasn’t very involved in church back then- I didn’t even sing during the services. But there was this one song that one of the college students would occasionally lead us to sing during worship that I liked.  It had a melancholy tune, vaguely reminiscent of a Simon and Garfunkel song.

As the months passed, I had forgotten about that song.  But the Lord brought it to my mind one Sunday afternoon.  I couldn’t remember the tune or any of the words to save my life!  It was driving me nuts!

And then out of the blue- I remembered one word-

green

I called my husband, who happened to be working that afternoon- and I asked him if he could remember “the song”… you know it, babe- it’s the one that sounds like a Simon and Garfunkel song?  It’s got the word green in it somewhere!  It’s THAT song! 

Yes, he remembered it, but like me- he could not remember the tune or any lyrics.  But sure enough, that evening,  he remembered some of the lyrics- enough to google them,  and find out what the song was.  He emailed me the words and immediately the tune came to mind.

I can’t explain it any other way- I was COMPELLED to sit at my piano and play that song.  Over and over.  Every time I walked past the piano, I’d sit and play and sing it.  In fact, that “green” song was the first worship song I ever played without having any sheet music to go by.

And then one morning, I sat on my old piano bench, and  I remember my youngest daughter was crawling around on the floor in the next room.  I began to play this song that I had been compelled to play for weeks on end… and for the first time, I tried to sing and nothing came out.  Tears flowed down my face as I realized all this time I had spent searching for the words of this song- I had been searching for Him.  And these words I was compelled to sing- He was doing that for me all along, and had already done this for me… He was simply waiting for me to see it.  You know that saying “fake it ’till you make it”?  After all that time of singing praises- finally in that instant, empty words were brought to life in my heart, and His presence was so real.

He was already with me…I had been blind, but praise God- that was the day that for the first time- I could see!

And my response? Total consecration of my life!  On that day, I promised Him I would do anything He asked of me.

My call to ministry began with the Lord giving me the word “green”…. and every time I heard the preacher during the Ordination Service Friday evening mention the word “green” over and over,  He reaffirmed in my heart once again that I am exactly where He wants me.

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.  Psalm 30 

And in case you are curious, here’s a link to the “green” song-“You Have Redeemed My Soul” by Waterdeep-

 https://soundcloud.com/julrayhar/you-have-redeemd-my-soul

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ-

  Philippians 1:6

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