driving in my car

One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to drive around and watch the sunset. Maybe it’s because driving is how we fell in love all those years ago…

When I found myself without a car to get to and from work as a teen, my boss asked a co-workers to pick me up and take me home every shift that I was scheduled to work. My co-worker became my boyfriend in a few short months, and about 18 months later we were married. We are approaching our 25th wedding anniversary this March.

It was on those drives to and from work as a teen that we fell in love. The conversation easily flowed, and we talked about nothing and everything all at the same time.

And in these days where life is busy and our teen girls are more like adults than “girls”, it is one of my favorite things do to- jump into the car with my husband and just drive around. We are instantly transported to the care-free days of long ago, when all we had was each other and a pocket full of dreams.

This is a song I wrote about our drives together. It’s usually me driving- because long ago we made a rule- whomever drives gets to choose the music!

“Driving in my car”

Driving in my car with you

There’s nothing else I’d rather do 

Than spend my days siting next to you 

Driving in my car with you 

And we’ve got no where to go 

But I know where we’re going 

We’ve got miles and miles 

Of roads to drive 

As we chase the twilight sky 

Driving in my car with you 

As we reminisce of days gone by 

The setting sun shining in our eyes

But the time with you is my true prize 

Driving in my car with you 

We fix our gaze on He  who knew 

We’d  sit side by side, 

Hand in Hand 

With the Son in view 

Life is grand

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…”

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

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 🙂

that is all

Simply trusting every day;
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all. 

Trusting as the moments fly,
Trusting as the days go by,
Trusting Him, whate’er befall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Brightly doth His Spirit shine
Into this poor heart of mine;
While He leads I cannot fall,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Singing if my way be clear,
Praying if the path be drear;
If in danger, for Him call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.

Trusting Him while life shall last,
Trusting Him till earth is past,
Till His gracious advent call,
Trusting Jesus, that is all.  

– Edgar Page Stites (1836- 1921)

I am learning to trust Jesus more every day.  I am learning to trust Him in big things and in the small things too.  And every time I have handed over a worry or a concern to Him- I can look back and see how He has always, ALWAYS worked things out!

Yesterday, as I was preparing to lead worship for the service, I set my binder with the worship order and the chord charts for the music on the piano.  As I began singing, I realized that the folder was NOT the same folder I had used earlier in the week… in fact, by the time I got to the third song, I realized that the song was not in this particular folder.

It was a song that had lots of words to it, and I had even decided at our practice to change the key to another one- one that I had never played or sang the song in before.

I had a very brief moment of panic set in… and then I remembered all the times I had led worship before- and how He had always provided what I needed- ESPECIALLY the times I felt the weakest.

So I began to play and prayed He would give me words…. and the words just flowed right out of my mouth.  It was like my fingers were dancing across the piano keys.  I was so grateful for all the days I have sat at my piano and worshipped just because.  I play and sing every day- not because I’m “practicing”- but because I want to be close to Jesus.

The more I worship, the closer I feel to Him.

The closer I feel to Him- the easier it is for me to hear His gentle whispers, and the more I can trust and obey Him-in ALL things!

“While He leads, I cannot fall; trusting Jesus, that is all.”

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.  Psalm 28:7

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Livin’ the dream

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That expression makes me crack up.  

Because when I usually hear it- it is said sarcastically… you know- like when you are cleaning up after your baby’s diaper “blow-out”…. or when your kiddos forget their school projects at home and you’ve gotta change around your morning to come to their rescue.  

But I can honestly say that this weekend I was living the dream! 

Since I was in high school chorus, I have wanted to be a high school choral director. I still get to do lots of wonderful things in the music world, and for that I am thankful!  But this past weekend I chaperoned my daughters’ marching band competition and I had such a great time.  

Haven’t you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall and watch your kids at school?  See how they interact with their friends?  

My oldest daughter asked for me to sit with her on the 2 hour bus ride to the competition.  It felt like I was re-living my old high school chorus competition days.  Kids were laughing, cutting-up, doing each other’s make-up… I even had a little “highlighter” applied to my cheeks 🙂 

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And we eventually got to the first competition. Let me tell you- marching band competitions are NO JOKE!!   So much walking, standing, running to get all the pit equipment in place in time… and then the tear down.  I am amazed that these teens (and some of the parents, too) do this every single week!! 

The marching band played really well- but not enough to move on to the final competition. The finals were held at Liberty University and that was our last destination- to watch all of the top marching band’s final performance.

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It was getting pretty chilly- so everyone was wrapped in blankets and I even saw a few teens from other schools wearing their bath robes!  It that even a thing now!? Anyway, I watched my youngest daughter from afar laughing and enjoying being with her friends, and my oldest asked me to sit with her and her friends again.  

It was the best night.  

I got to see and experience all the things my girls love about high school-

including the 2am arrival back home!  

Unlike my husband and girls- I am NOT a night owl! In fact, most nights I am asleep by 10pm.  

But it was totally worth it 🙂

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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 

21 x 2

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Navigating “mom life” with two teenage daughters ain’t easy.

Lately I feel the tug of give and take– of holding on and letting go-  at the same time.  Giving the girls room to be who they are while also giving them necessary guard rails for protection.

Like what happened two summers ago…

The girls had just begun to listen to different kinds of music.  For most of their childhood, I only allowed them to listen to Christian music or music that was “clean”.  I always had control of the radio in the car, and it was always on the Christian radio station.

But two summers ago, the girls started asking me to change the radio station to listen to other kinds of music.  At first I resisted. What if they heard something in these lyrics that changed them, or caused them to *gasp” not be a Christian any more?!  I slowly realized the irrational fear I had, and that I needed to let them be kids and enjoy the music they liked.  After all, I did grow up listening to hair metal bands and grunge music… and I think I turned out ok 🙂

So, little by little, I let them occasionally choose to listen to their choice of music in the car.  One of those groups happened to be 21 Pilots.  As I listened to the girls sing every word to the Blurry Face CD, I realized that their music was actually really good.  That summer we drove to Universal Studios in Florida, and we listened to nothing but 21 Pilots, One Direction, and various other favorites of my girls for the 10+ hour car ride there and back.

It was a coming of age time for them, and a time when I realized that my girls were growing up- that they were enjoying new things and searching for their identities.  And it made me realize that we have raised them right and pointed them to Jesus… and that it’s ok to give them a little room to explore.  In fact, I have grown to love some of their favorite songs!

So for my birthday this past Sunday, my awesome hubby got tickets for the girls and I to go to the 21 Pilots concert.  They just happened to be here on my birthday- and the show was absolutely amazing!  The girls and I sang every word of every song and I loved every second of it.  Most of all, I loved being with them- not just because I’m their mom, but because I love the people they are becoming!

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At the concert, I leaned over to both girls and said this- “Isn’t it neat that we’re here at a 21 Pilots concert on my birthday… celebrating with thousands of other people… and isn’t it cool that I am 21×2 today (42)?  And I get to celebrate with my 2 favorite girls!”

Isn’t it something to know that while our kids are growing up-

we’re still growing up, too! 

“There are two things we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.”- author unknown 

 

growth

Usually I file and clip 

and hear the choppy 

snip snip snip… 

but now they’ve grown 

and I can’t stop staring 

’cause it looks like press-on nails 

I’m wearing 

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I have let my nails grow and they are reaching enormous lengths!  It’s not something I normally do, because when I play piano they break easily…but I have been blessed with a few weeks off from ministry (it’s called a sabbatical) and I am grateful for the time of renewal and rest.  I am also completely amazed at how fast my nails have grown over these 2 weeks!

I’m sure they grow fast all the time- it’s just that I normally don’t notice it because I keep my nails filed down.  I always say it’s a good Sunday when I am leading worship and I break a nail playing piano!   I give my all every Sunday morning for Jesus- and it brings me great joy to lead worship.

But this time away has been good.  I’ve been able to reflect on my spiritual growth, and as trivial as it may sound- I’ve also enjoyed having long nails for a couple of weeks 🙂

I have been the worship pastor at my church for over 10 years now.  Years ago, when I would miss a Sunday-  I couldn’t stop thinking about church and wondering what I had missed!  What if this happened, or this didn’t get done… would people miss me being there?  So many what if’s, it exhausts me just typing them out!  But now, I have learned that He always makes everything come together.

And time away is a very good thing.

When we stop, everything somehow keeps on going 🙂

I can’t wait for that first Sunday back- it’s going to be a “nail breaker” for sure!

 

I Wonder as I Wander

1. I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

2. When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

3. If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.

This is one of my favorite Christmas hymns.  The lyrics paint beautiful pictures in my mind, and the melody is in a marvelous minor key.  I recorded my own version of it today.

The story behind this song is fascinating.  It was written by John Jacob Niles, an American folk singer, in 1933.  However, the original idea came from a young girl that he met while attending a fundraising event.  Here is Nile’s account of that meeting-

“A girl had stepped out to the edge of the little platform attached to the automobile. She began to sing. Her clothes were unbelievable dirty and ragged, and she, too, was unwashed. Her ash-blond hair hung down in long skeins. … But, best of all, she was beautiful, and in her untutored way, she could sing. She smiled as she sang, smiled rather sadly, and sang only a single line of a song.”

“The girl, named Annie Morgan, repeated the fragment seven times in exchange for a quarter per performance, and Niles left with “three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material—and a magnificent idea”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Wonder_as_I_Wander

Niles went on to write two more verses and it was performed for the first time in North Carolina on December 19, 1933.

The song is just as beautiful now as it was then.

make the time

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on a weathered

bench I play 

minutes…hours…

half a day!

How I wish 

to pause the time 

play the day away 

on this piano of mine!

Every year when the Christmas season is over, I always wish I had spent more time playing through my favorite Christmas piano books.

Not this year!

I am determined to set aside time daily to play my favorite carols.

There is something special about sitting down with a good piano book, lit by Christmas lights, and just letting my hands dance across the keys.  It’s like meeting an old friend for coffee and a little conversation.  The piano books come to life as I read and play and reminisce about all the years I practiced and learned to play these old songs.

The first Christmas carol I ever learned to play was God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  It was from a Muppet Christmas book with Kermit the Frog on the front of it.  I played and played that song so many times that I thought I’d never want to hear it again.  And yet, even now, when I play it- it’s like a home movie running through my mind.  I remember what the keys felt like on my old piano and I can see the dimly lit dining room where I sat as a young girl.

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I’ve still got my first Christmas piano book!

When I sit at the piano and play, I feel like a kid at Christmas again.

So, what’s that one thing that is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit? 

Whatever it is- make time for it this year-

and DO IT!

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“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” – Sergei Rachmaninov 

“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” ― Leo Tolstoy

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” ― Maya Angelou

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ― Aldous Huxley

“Where words fail, music speaks.” ― Hans Christian Andersen

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”  ― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“Music is like a dream. One that I cannot hear.” – Ludwig Van Beethoven