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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enjoy every second

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shuffling feet- 

a serenade so sweet 

as they rustle 

the fallen leaves 

while golden glittered 

sunlight flitters 

and dances between

the trees 

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I love,

love,

love

the sound of crunching leaves when I take a walk during autumn. Taking in fall’s fantastic foliage is one of my greatest joys- but unfortunately it seems that the leaves have changed and fallen overnight.  Literally.

Maybe it’s because of all the rain we have had lately.  

Maybe it’s because we didn’t have enough cooler temps before fall came. 

Maybe I’m just making up excuses because, well-

 I honestly have no idea, lol. 

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But what I DO know is that all the lovely attributes of fall are fading pretty quickly.

So you-

yes!

YOU

better get outside

and enjoy every second!

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For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.  

Job 14:7

 

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Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.  

1 Chronicles 16:33

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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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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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hands

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Do you ever wonder 

if God has hands?

And how He formed the face

of this beautiful land?

How He carved the mountains

and the valley below?

Did He hand-pick every green thing

and tell them all to grow?

Do you ever wonder?

Do you ever wonder if God has hands?

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Psalm 90:17

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Do you ever marvel over the simplest things?  Like hands, for instance….

We totally take them for granted!  It’s AMAZING the things we can do with our hands!  The fact that I can sit here and type all these letters out, and all 10 of my fingers can work together independently is a miracle!

And how about-

Tying our shoes?

or lacing your fingers through someone else’s hand?

how about painting… or coloring?

or playing piano?

I am so thankful for the hands God gave me!

I have often thought back to my early days of taking piano lessons.  I was about 12, and my teacher was in his early 20’s.  I clearly remember him saying this during one of my early lessons-

“You know, you don’t really have “piano hands”…your fingers aren’t long enough…”

And I remember feeling a lump in my throat and a sinking feeling in my heart.

Because playing piano was the ONLY thing besides singing that I loved doing! So what that my fingers are short and stubby?

I didn’t let that stop me from doing what I loved.

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As I continued playing piano, I improvised when I needed to- like omitting those crazy chords that had over an octave span.  I learned that it was ok to not play every note on the page and that playing piano with passion could make up for any technical skills I was lacking.

And honestly, I hated playing piano in front of people.  Extreme “stage fright” came over me whenever I had a recital, or even when someone asked for me to play for them.  I have often said it felt like I was a pet being asked to do a “trick”.  So besides teaching lessons, I only played for my own enjoyment.

Until I completely gave my life to Jesus.  I told Him that day- even the music I played would be His!

That was a life-changing moment for me. Within a few months, I began leading worship.

And the most amazing thing happens to me every Sunday when I lead worship-it’s almost like He puts gloves on my hands.  I don’t even have to think about what I’m playing.  The worship music just flows-it’s like my fingers are dancing across the keys!   It is the most wonderful miracle that He allows me to play in such a way that I am able to be 100% focused on Him and worship when I am leading music at church.

So, no- I’m not the best pianist.  And singing? There are better out there.  But when we say YES to God, He takes whatever our limited talents are and He makes up the difference.

Our ability to be used is not limited by our short comings (or short fingers, in my case 😉

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me-  2 Corinthians 12:9 

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no turning back

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I have always loved hymns, and in particular, learning the stories behind how they were written.  The story behind I Have Decided to Follow Jesus is one that I found particularly moving…

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a Christian hymn originating from India.

The lyrics are based on the last words of a man in north-east India, who along with his family, was converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary.

Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.

The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh. The melody is also Indian, and entitled “Assam” after the region where the text originated.The fierce opposition is possible as various tribes in that area were formerly renowned for head-hunting.  

An American hymn editor, William Jensen Reynolds, composed an arrangement which was included in the 1959 Assembly Songbook.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus

Often when we sing these words, we think of leaving behind frivolous things- like selfishness, a life of partying, or other things like gossiping or gambling.  When I think of this missionary and the courage he had to sing these words as he watched his own family be taken from him- and then knowing that his own life would be taken, too- it takes on a whole new meaning.  Are you willing to give up everything for the sake of following Christ?  

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  Luke 14:33

“No Turning Back”

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

The world behind me, the cross before me

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

Though none go with me, still I will follow

No turning back, no turning back

Hallelujah, hallelujah!

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Hungry

If we're not hungry for Christ, we're probably too full of ourselves — via @MurrJohnson
You, Lord, are all I want!
    You are my choice,
    and you keep me safe.
 You make my life pleasant,
    and my future is bright.
Psalm 16:5-6 (CEV)

If you’re anything like me, when I start making good “diet” choices, those are the things that I begin to crave.  Like drinking water- that’s not really something I like to drink, but when I am intentional to get in my 6-8 glasses, I notice how much better I feel when I make those good choices.

It’s like that with seeking the Lord, too. When we get sidetracked with life, we can easily forget how desperately we need a steady diet of Him… but when we are intentional to read the Word, to pray, and to seek His presence- He faithfully fills our cup.

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
Psalm 107:9

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The Secret

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I remember years ago, when I first started taking piano lessons, how frustrated I would get.  I had been picking out chords and melodies by ear for several years before I actually began taking lessons.  It was so hard for me to train myself to follow all the new “rules” my piano teacher gave me.  The hardest one was keeping my eyes focused on the sheet music-

and not my hands!

When I taught myself how to play by ear,  I focused on watching my fingers. I didn’t care which finger did what- all that mattered was whether I hit the correct notes.  My piano teacher never missed an opportunity to correct me when I looked down.

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Eyes on the music,  he used to tell me.  But it’s too hard! I would whine in frustration each  and every time I was caught looking down.

And then little by little, slowly but surely- I began to have confidence in my playing. As I continued with lessons, I learned how to focus on making music– not just playing correct notes.

I have noticed that my walk with the Lord is a little bit like taking piano lessons.

Keep your eyes on Me.  Stop looking to the right and left. Stop looking behind you.  

Stop trying to follow rules and just follow Me.  

I am ashamed to admit how often I still get distracted, or discouraged.  Every so often, I catch myself falling into bad habits… especially during the summertime when the girls are home from school and there seems to be a huge shift in our routine.

I told my husband I had been feeling particularly “down” this past week.  I mentioned to him just this morning that my life verse is Philippians 4:12-  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.

Well, have you learned that secret?” my husband earnestly asked me today.

Absolutely.  With 100% certainty I know the secret.

That verse has been my prayer for years now- to be like the apostle Paul.  To be perfectly content, no matter WHAT is going on around me.

The secret?  It’s not a secret– it’s a “SEEK”-ret-

to be constantly SEEKING Him!

to be constant in my pursuit of  His will…His way…His desire…His heart…

and His presence.

fullsizeoutput_5Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.  

Proverbs 4:25-27

 

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Amazing Grace (House of the Rising Son)

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
When we’ve been there, ten thousand years
bright shining as the son 
we’ve no less days, to sing God’s praise
than when we first begun 
Several years ago, one of my friends from church mentioned that we should try singing the words of Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Son.  I sat down at the piano the other evening and that conversation from years ago came to mind…I finally tried it 🙂
I will sing a new song to You, O God;
Upon a harp of ten strings
I will sing praises to You
–  Psalm 144:9
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walk by faith

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perched up high 

backdrop of sky 

a victory song is sung 

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joyful singing 

praises ringing 

the battle has been won 

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after days and days 

and days of rain 

we bask in the sunlight  

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my little friend sings 

he spreads his wings 

preparing to take flight 

It has rained for days on end here.  I LOVE the rain, but one of the downfalls of the rain is that the grass grows insanely quickly!

By the time I got home from church, the sun was shining and it was the perfect time to mow the yard.  Still squishy from all the rain, I managed to slosh through the yard to get the lawn mower out of the garage.  I heard a bird chirping, and happened to look up and see this little blackbird perched onto of my house, singing away…

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That little guy was there the entire time I mowed the front yard! It was a beautiful day, and I was so happy the sun was out, I didn’t even mind cutting the grass!  I didn’t realize how much I missed the sun over the rainy days!

Even when we can’t see the sun-

we know it’s still there.

 

For we walk by faith, not by sight-  

2 Corinthians 5:7

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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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