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” 🙂

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

I Got a Robe

I got a robe for Christmas.

If you watch SNL, you will laugh at that. They did a parody video a few years back about how everyone else in the family gets all these awesome gifts, and the mom gets a robe. Why? Because most of the time moms are the one that do the majority of the shopping and cooking and planning for the holidays!

But the funny thing was that I actually DID ask for a robe. My husband bought me a robe for Christmas the first year we were dating. It was a super plush, red, terrycloth robe from Victorias Secret. That thing was indestructible! Can you believe that I have worn this robe for… drum roll….. 27 years?! That is just insane. Mainly because I can’t possibly be that old.

But anyway, I figured after 27 years, it was time to retire the robe for a new one.

But really, the best gift was not under the tree. (and I know, I know… the best gift is Jesus)

But the OTHER best gift (besides Jesus) was spending time with my family. We got to see *almost* our entire family this year and it was great! And then after Christmas, my hubby and the girls and I always go out to have brunch and then the girls and I go shopping. I never knew how much joy it would bring me to spend time having fun with my girls as they have gotten older. As they have gotten older, we are able to enjoy each other’s company, laugh together, shop together, and our shopping excursions would not be complete without a Starbucks coffee run!

The greatest gift for me isn’t the presents. It’s ALL about being in the presence of the people I love.

I am thankful.

In your presence there is fullness of joy- Psalm 16:11

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

Joy Comes

We planted a baby magnolia tree in our yard several years ago. My husband was gifted it by someone at his work, and we had been thinking of planting something in the center of our circular driveway for some time – so it was the perfect addition to our yard.

Well, knowing my lack of gardening skills, I followed the instructional pamphlet to the t. I watered it with exactly the amount it said, and as often as was instructed -and I couldn’t wait to watch it grow and bloom. After all, magnolia blooms have the most wonderful fragrance.

And it took forEVER to see a flower. At first, there was just one or two. Then the next year there were a few more. And again, at the beginning of the summer it didn’t look like we were going to have any blooms. But after all the rain we have had these past couple of weeks, I looked out and saw not one or two, but a bunch of little flower buds!

It’s amazing how God created all these beautiful trees and plants, and they grow and bloom and reproduce without anyone or anything telling it what to do! It really is a miracle when you think about it!

And as I was out there this morning enjoying the blooms, God reminded me of all the days I saw nothing. All the while that tree was growing and faithful to do what it needed to do to produce the “fruit”.

Be faithful

Keep waiting to see the blooms.

Joy comes in the morning.

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning- Psalm 30:5

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…”

Available

One morning I woke up and I knew that the Lord was asking me to do something. When this happens, I am on a mission… obsessed with completing whatever the “thing” is the Lord wants me to do.

This “thing” was getting the Covid vaccine. I will admit to you that I was on the fence for a while about it. I am healthy, not high risk at all, but I knew that if the Lord wanted me to do it that I would know. And one morning my hubby called me while I was working and asked me about getting it. As soon as we finished our conversation, I knew that the Lord wanted me to do it.

So I checked numerous websites, and finally ended up waiting in an online list. I knew it might be a while, because it kept saying “wait time over one hour”. Now, this was just the site to sign up for a time for the vaccine. And so I kept waiting… and waiting… and waiting…

And nearly 5 HOURS LATER, I was sent to the home screen to sign up for a time. I entered my zip code, and it said no appointments available.

I really really wanted to throw the laptop across the room.

I had waited 5 hours…5 HOURS… only to end up right back at square one.

I knew if the Lord really did want me to do it, that He would make a way for it to happen, so I resigned myself to not thinking about it anymore this week.

And then something really cool happened.

I was supposed to teach some make-up music lessons this week, and then ended up not needing to do it. Guess how many hours these lessons equalled? Yep- 5 hours! Those hours I spent waiting for a non-existent appointment were given back to me in the form of rest.

And then another really cool thing happened.

My husband received an email this morning from a coworker asking if he wanted to receive a vaccine today, and that one of the clinics had vaccine appointments available and spouses were also welcome to receive one, too. I told him that was totally a God thing- and that we should definitely do it. We went, received our vaccines, and it could not have been easier.

I used to be fearful of stepping out of the “boat” to do the things I felt God telling me to do.

Not anymore.

These days, I fear NOT doing the thing the Lord asks me to do- because He is ALWAYS faithful. His ways and thoughts are so much higher and wiser than mine, so when I hear that still, small voice- I answer “yes” every time!

I want to always be available for Him. When I do whatever the “thing” is that God asks me to do, I am immediately filled with peace.

So my 5 hours didn’t end up in an appointment- but God made another way.

After all, He is the WAYMAKER 🙂

In Tune

I had an “aha” moment recently.

Owning two pianos, tuning them regularly can be quite costly. I have a pretty good ear and can tell when a note begins to sound “off”, so I decided to look up tuning kits to see how affordable they were. Much to my surprise, they were pretty inexpensive, so I purchased a piano tuning kit and couldn’t wait for my package to arrive. I mean- how hard could it be to tune a piano?!

My baby grand piano is nearly 100 years old, and has a couple of notes that are notoriously wonky. I love the quirks of owning an antique piano, but I have begun avoiding playing certain notes because they have become so incredibly out of tune- even an untrained ear could hear the somber sound.

The kit arrived on a Sunday afternoon (thanks, Amazon!) and it was like Christmas morning all over again! I watched a couple of videos on piano tuning ahead of time, so I knew a little bit about what I was in for.

I went right to the worst offender- my bass C note- notably the most played key on my piano. I opened the top of the piano and found the bolt that needed adjusting. I loaded a tuning app onto my phone and then placed the tuning wrench on the bolt and pulled it ever so slightly. It didn’t take much turning to change the pitch, but boy did I have to pull to get that bolt to move! A little to the left, a little to the right, and that C sang like a songbird!

But something peculiar happened.

As I played, I noticed that other notes were ever so slightly under pitch compared to the C… so I began tweaking a few more, then even more… until I began at the lowest note and started to work up.

Let me just say that this process was more difficult than I thought! My hands ached from gripping and pulling the tuning wrench, my back was sore from bending over the piano, and it took me hours. But it was totally worth it! And I have a completely new understanding and appreciation for piano technicians and the amount of skill it takes to do this for a living!

I kept thinking about how tuning a piano is so much like being “in tune” with the Holy Spirit. The more you begin to listen and adjust things in your life that are out of tune to Him, the more things you see that need adjusting. I’ll be honest- it is hard for me not to pull out that tuning fork every day to double check the pitches on the piano… but once I start tuning, it will reveal others that also need to be adjusted.

But that’s what our walk with Jesus is about… being in a constant state of tuning to Him.

Tuning our thoughts to His thoughts… our words to His Word… our heart to His.

Abide in me, and I in you- John 15:4