Open my eyes

One evening last week, my voice student became MY teacher.

It had been a busy day-but a good one!

I began to play the song we were working on, and I noticed my student had fixed her gaze on the wall above the door.

“What are you staring at?” I asked her, curiously.

“The clock! When I watch the clock, the time goes by slowly.”

I looked at her a little funny.

Then she added “My voice lessons go by so quickly and I don’t want it to end!”

She flashed me her joyous smile, and I had to fight back the tears.

Because the good Lord convicted me of all the times I have hoped for the time to pass quickly-

so I can go on to the next thing.

He reminded me of all the times I am thinking of what needs to be done when I get home,

my “to-do” list for the next day- instead of being fully present in the moment.

When we walk with the Lord, in each and every moment there is JOY to be found.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.- Psalm 16:11

My daughter made me this musical mask 🙂

My house


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It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since my husband and I packed up and moved to Charlottesville with our 1 year old daughter. I never imagined we would move away from our hometown, but literally everything fell into place and it just felt like that was where God wanted us to be.

I had been thinking about that date for a while- July 10th. For the last few months, I have noticed how not only have my girls have grown up, but so has everything around my house! The trees in front of our dining room window tower over the house now. I sat on our front porch steps recently and saw all the little markings in the wood- remembering the days when the girls were little and I would sit outside with a watchful eye on them.

And it all seems to have happened overnight.

The funny thing was- that date came and went and I completely forgot! But the next day, the four of us were driving into town to get Chick-fil-A, and one of my daughters remembered and mentioned it.

“Hey- wasn’t yesterday the day y’all moved here? It’s been the best 16 years of your life, hasn’t it?” one of my daughters said to me with a cheshire grin.

Yes it has.

Want to know why?

I could go on and on about how wonderful my daughters are and how super proud I am of them for so many things. Or I could say it’s because of my husband and what a great dad he is and how thankful I am for all he does for us. Or all my sweet fur-babies… two dogs and two bunnies (which belong to my oldest daughter)…

But of all the wonderful things I have to be thankful for, there is only one that is worthy of all my praise and that is Jesus.

These have absolutely been the best years of my life and it’s all because I surrendered all of my desires and plans to His. He has been so faithful and I have seen Him work not only in my life, but in the lives of so many others, including my family.

Do you know how awesome it is that my 17 and 15 year old daughters WANT to come to church early with me on Sundays?

I am blessed.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

 

seeds

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This past Sunday, as I sat down at the keyboard on the stage at church, I noticed something on the keys.  There was some kind of seed resting on middle C.  A sunflower seed perhaps?

The strange thing is- I NEVER eat on the stage at church, and don’t recall seeing anyone else eat either.  I usually play the piano, but for the past 3 weeks or so, I have been using the keyboard to lead worship.

So where this seed came from is a complete mystery!

But it was a great reminder that morning to keep the faith.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. – Matthew 17:20 

We have to continue to fix our eyes on Jesus, moment by moment, and believe that things WILL get better!

And any obstacles you are facing today-

He may not REMOVE them,

but He WILL see you THROUGH them!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

 

the missed list

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I miss seeing the random smiles 

of strangers 

striking up conversations of 

commonalities and enjoying a 

moment of connection 

I miss the warm embrace of 

a friendly hug- the one that makes me 

instantly feel like you’re a part of

my  family 

I miss the naiveté of going about 

our daily lives without

thinking that we may infect someone 

by simply breathing 

I miss coffee shops

thrift stores

restaurants

lunch dates with friends 

having the house to myself 

but most of all- 

I miss worshipping together on Sundays

and being with my church family-

the fellowship, greeting one another, 

the buzz of joyful energy and

conversations in the cafe

singing, praying, 

and praising the Lord 

in one accord 

…but JOY comes in the morning- Psalm 30:5 

leaning

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we’re in a time 

of “leaning”- 

all our excess 

stripped away 

we’re in a time 

of leaning 

on our Savior 

 day by day

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This is a strange season we are in.

Just a few short weeks ago I was excitedly planning Easter festivities at church, my girls were anticipating their spring concerts and trips with band, and my hubby was gearing up for another busy tax season.

And then came Corona… 

It seems like life as we know it has come to a screeching halt.

Alone with my thoughts, I have come to realize how many things I have taken for granted.

Like my trips to Starbucks for egg bites and flat whites…those weekly galavants to the thrift store to socialize with strangers and to get lost in my thoughts sifting through junk…meeting friends for lunch and coffee…having the house to myself throughout the week to clean and organize…. but of everything, having “church”- this is the biggest for me.  I miss being able to hug my church family every week.  I miss seeing all the smiling faces and being together in person to praise the Lord on Sundays.

And yet here we are- all going through this strange season together.

We’ve been stripped of everything that isn’t necessary for our survival.

And yet, even in the midst of uncertainty, I have peace.

In these “lean” times- may we lean into Him! 

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
what a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning,
safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
leaning on the everlasting arms. 

-E.A. Hoffman (1894)

How you doin’?

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As Joey from my favorite sitcom, Friends, would say-

“How YOU doin’?”

I have written lots of half posts but haven’t actually “published” one in a while.

It’s kind of funny, because we used to be so busy- with work, taking kids here there and everywhere, after school activities… in fact eating meals as a whole family was very rare for us- except for Sundays.

And then Corona came.

By the way- am I the only one that sings “My, my my, myyyyy Corona” (instead of Sharona)?!  every time you hear that word?!  

Ok, I gotta focus…

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Anyway, I guess it’s sort of a blessing that life as we know it has come to a screeeeeching halt.  Now all four of us are pretty much together- all.the.time.

I try not to lament and think about what if’s…but today I am sad for all the kiddos and everything they are missing out on in these coming weeks like:

all the musicals and plays that won’t debut

the spring band and chorus concerts that have been postponed or cancelled 

the competitions that are cancelled

the spring trips that have been cancelled 

the sporting games that won’t get played 

every high school senior who may not go to prom 

all the graduations that will be postponed 

The list goes on and on.

And though life looks a little bit different right now, life goes on, too.

But I am also so thankful that I get a little taste of what life might be like if we were to”homeschool”-

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-we get to sleep in every day 

-our schedule is less rushed and more adaptable to what suits our family 

-the girls are able to help more around the house and with preparing meals

-our dogs are in HEAVEN having everyone at home all the time

-we get to take long walks together and talk about life 

-I get my daughters ALL TO MYSELF- a rarity for two busy high schoolers! 

I have always been a “glass-half-full” person, so I’m going to make the choice to focus on all my blessings.

God is good.

All the time.

And I’m going to repeat this verse and believe it-

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.  – Psalm 27 

 

 

 

this much

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How much does God love you?

One of my fondest childhood memories is of my dad asking me and my sister if we knew how much he loved us.

This much? – he would say as he open his arms a little bit.

Thiiis much?  He would open his arms a little bit wider.

Thiiiiiiiiiis  much!  And then he would stretch his arms out as wide as they could reach.

It is hard to quantify love and our capacity to love in tangible ways, but yesterday I saw a glimpse of how much God loves me.

I tweaked my back yesterday morning- simply bending over to give my dogs a treat of all things.  The pain was so severe- I felt sick to my stomach all day from it.

And since both my oldest daughter and my hubby are working all day,  my youngest daughter and I were supposed to spend the day together doing whatever she wanted to do.  Shopping- of course 😉

If you have a teen, you know that shopping days aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.  Shopping with her brings back a flood of emotions from my own childhood.  Nothing ever fit me- and anything that I liked, or that actually fit- was waaaay out of my price range.  Shopping always sounded like a better idea than it actually was.

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So after trying on lots of clothes and not finding anything, my daughter picked out a pair of earrings.  Earrings ALWAYS fit-  and she really needed another pair.

We went to another store and after trying several things on, we left empty handed.  Again.  

As we sat in the car, I began to tear up remembering what it felt like to go clothes shopping at her age.  The earrings she was wearing were hurting her ears, so she took out the new pair to put them on.  As soon as she got the first one out of the box, it slipped out of her hand and lodged itself in between the car seat and the middle console.

 Now we were both crying!

My back was hurting so bad, but not as badly as I wanted to find that earring for her!

I hobbled around to the back seat and could see the earring laying on the floorboard- but it was on the crease of two pieces of carpet.  As soon as I reached for it, it slipped between the crease and then it was out of reach.  I tried everything I could to get it and then out of the blue a man and his daughter came over to the car.

Is everything ok?  He asked me.

Yeah- my daughter just lost her new earring….

Let me see if I can get it.  

And like that- he was on his knees, pulling the carpet back, pushing the car seat to and fro. At one point, he was trying so hard to reach it, he cut his hand on something under the seat.

It’s ok- we will look for it later- I said, knowing this earring was probably not going to be found.

Let me keep trying- I might be able to get it! 

He looked for at least 15 minutes for that earring.  He could feel it, but was unable to grab it.  It meant so much that this stranger and his daughter cared enough to try to help us.  Even though he wasn’t able to get the earring for us- it was like he felt my momma heart breaking.

He asked me how much the earrings cost.

I said several times that they were cheap, it wasn’t a big deal.  And then without a second thought, he pulled out his wallet and handed me money.

I can’t take this, I told him.  The earrings didn’t even cost that much.  Really- it’s ok! I’m just thankful you tried to help us! 

And then he said something I won’t forget-

“I love making people happy.  I don’t want your daughter to be sad.  It makes me happy to make others happy.  I want her to be happy today.”

I began to cry tears of joy.

My daughter and I both hugged this man and his daughter.  I told him he was an angel and that he had really blessed me today.  Not only did he go through all that to try to get the earring- but then he actually gave her money to replace it?!  It didn’t make sense! I tried to give the money back to him but he wouldn’t take it.

He and his daughter disappeared into the store and as I got into the car with my daughter, I was overwhelmed by God’s love.  That random act of kindness came at the exact moment we needed it.

Do you know how much God loves you?

Thiiissss much- 

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Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 63:7

more than a feeling

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focusing on feelings 

leaves my heart reeling 

and my goal becomes 

a far distant dream 

but when I instead

plan each step ahead  

the destination’s 

not as far 

as it seems 

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I had an “aha” moment this morning.  Yeah, that happens occasionally- but not as often as I’d like 🙂

I really wanted to start working out again- for no other reason than it’s good for your body to move.  I needed to do something that was easy and didn’t require a lot of thought, so I decided to download one of those “couch to 5k” apps.  I love those because it takes the guesswork out of your workouts.  3 days a week, all I have to do is start the app and get on the treadmill and it tells me when to run and when to walk.  Easy enough!

Until this past week.

I have been doing this for 4 weeks now, and instead of getting easier- it is definitely getting more challenging.  I haven’t missed a single workout, and I have run/walked every minute the app has told me to.

But this morning I got up and dreaded it.  I knew I’d be running for even longer bursts today… and I was already tired before I even got out of bed! But I had already laid out what I needed to “get my workout on” the night before

“Stop thinking about how you feel, ” I kept saying to myself over and over.  “Just do it!” 

I pulled my hair back into a ponytail, and slipped on the headband.  I went through all the steps… and then my oldest daughter saw me in the kitchen.

“What in the world are you doing?” she asked me when she saw my crazy head gear and my outfit.

“I’m trying to get in the mood to do the treadmill this morning.”

And as I had this conversation with her this morning, I was struck with the idea that my girls are always watching me.  Not just what I say to them- but what I do.

I want to be a person of my word- someone who follows through. Someone who sets goals and accomplishes them.  I always talk to the girls about how important it is to not to be led by their “feelings”… and here I was, ready to take the morning off from working out- simply because I didn’t “feel” like doing it.

But the simple action of doing what I had planned on doing the night before kept me on track.

My shoes were by my bed when I woke up.  Headband was put on my night stand.  And I slept in my workout clothes (yes- they were clean!)

So I went downstairs and as soon as I took the first step on the treadmill, it was like He was carrying me.  He gave me every ounce of energy I needed to complete my goal.

I finished, and came upstairs to both girls sitting on the couch.

They asked how my run was.

It was hard, but good.  It wasn’t easy- but nothing worth doing ever is!

And the best part?

My daughter said she’s going to get on the treadmill when she gets home today, too.

“Failing to plan… is planning to fail.” 

Set your mind on things above- Colossians 3:2 

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made new

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making old things

new 

let the vintage

shine through 

cleaned up to

perfection 

for the 

clarity of my 

reflection 

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This past week, my hubby went with me to pick up a few of my granny’s things- a couple of dressers and her china set.  It’s hard to believe my granny passed away over three years ago… so many memories- especially Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings- revolve around her home.

My granny and pawpaw bought these dressers new and used them for many years.  By the time I remembered seeing them, they were used in the guest room- where my sister and I would stay overnight when we were young.  I remember thinking they were so beautiful and fancy.  I have always loved old things- especially things that remind me of joyful times- like staying at granny’s house.

I remember always wanting to look inside the dressers to see what was in there.  I didn’t ever snoop- but when I was little, I imagined these dressers held fancy dresses and all sorts of treasures!  More than likely- it was extra blankets and boring things like that, lol… but it was fun as a kid to imagine and pretend 🙂

After my husband and I got the dressers safely home, I searched the internet and found a vintage ad for the exact same bedroom set!  It was in a Life magazine in 1959…

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How cool is that?! I remember sleeping in the same bed, but they must have gotten rid of it at some point.  Amazingly, the dressers are in excellent shape for being 60 years old! All I need is to find a couple of new drawer pulls for the tall dresser.

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The china was a perfect fit in my china cabinet.  I am looking forward to using it and making NEW memories around our own dining room table.

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Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are NEW every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”- Lamentations 3:22-24

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good things come…

Isn’t it funny how some days don’t seem to start off on the right foot…and then by the end of the day, you look back and see how it was one of the very best days?

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The gorgeous moon at the end of my day! 

I woke up one day with a feeling of dread.  There were several things I had to do, and some days “adulting” is hard work, lol!  But there is an undeniable feeling like I’ve conquered the world when those tasks are accomplished!  I set aside my “feelings” and got right to getting my business done.

Around lunchtime that day, I stopped in to see someone who was in the hospital.  After the visit, I meandered through the lobby and heard the sounds of Christmas Carols being played on the grand piano.  I decided to sit for a few minutes to take in the music.  So often I am the one playing the piano- and it was so nice to be on the other end and to be able to appreciate this lady’s musical gift.  After a few songs,  the Lord prompted me to go into the cafe to get a cup of coffee.  It was a little strange for me to do- since I had JUST had a cup, but I got up and got into the line.  An older gentleman was ahead of me in the line, and he turned around to me and said this-

“I’ve been here a looooong time… and I want to warn you- this lady isn’t very fast.”  He smiled as he said it- so I could tell he wasn’t in a big hurry.

I said to him- “What’s that saying- good things come to those who wait?  Hopefully whatever we’re getting will be worth the wait!”

He asked me if I worked at the hospital, and I told him no- that I was visiting someone.  I told him I was a pastor and shared with him the various things I do at my church.  He then said he was here with his wife, who had lots of health issues. They used to go to church but recently stopped attending.  We had the nicest conversation and like that- the line had dwindled and he made his purchase.

I paid for my cup of coffee and saw the gentleman sitting with his wife just outside of the coffee shop.  I walked over to them and I introduced myself to his beautiful wife.  You would have never known she was sick.  She was stunning- I would even say she was glowing that day.

“Would you mind if I prayed for you?”  I asked the lady.

“I would love that.”

I knelt down and put my arms around them both and prayed.  I watched them reach for each others hands.  They were holding their hands so tightly together that I could see them shaking.

It was such a beautiful moment.

The carols being played on the piano across the room… people passing by… couples sitting in the cafe…

and you know who else was present?

Jesus.

Good things will always come when we walk with Jesus.

He Himself IS GOOD and He is always up to something good around us-

if we will keep our eyes open!

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.- Zephaniah 3:17 

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