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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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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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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All In

excuses wearing thin

tired of hiding in my sin

Your Spirit stirring from within

I’m all in

no more wasting time

with this fleeting life of mine

I’m signing on the dotted line

I’m all in

I’m all in

head over heels

I’m all in

wanna give my life

for something real

I’m all in

sold out for You

I’m all in

I’m living proof

no more scattered thoughts

I’m clinging to the cross

everything I count as loss

I’m all in

knowing what is true

want to honor You in all I do

fall helplessly in love with You

I’m all in

Last Sunday, as I played the piano at church, I watched  two people come forward to receive the Lord and embrace the cross of Christ at the close of the service.  It was a powerful, beautiful moment!  All of the congregation was invited to join them at the cross, and we came together and prayed as a “family”-  brothers and sisters in Christ.

That night, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I thought about what it means to embrace the cross- to be “all in” for Him.   I wrote this song that night as I thought of the two courageous people who stepped forward to “embrace the cross”, and also reflected on my own moment of surrender.

I thought of all the times I felt quickened in my spirit to go to the altar to pray, to raise my hand, to publicly declare my need for Him… and I held back for so long.  But there comes a moment when you can’t hold back any longer.

And once you go “all in”- it becomes a daily decision… daily seeking Him, laying down your own will and desires for His.  Acknowledging that His ways and thoughts are far better than yours could ever be.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death…

Philippians 3:8-10

 

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The “LBD”

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The little black dress-

How could I have known?

All the times He’d used it

to make Himself

known!

The LBD

I think it’s time

to keep bringing it out

of this closet of mine!

Mondays are usually days I use to “TCB”- take care of business… to do all the things that went un-done over the weekend.  Today was unusual, as I was singing for a funeral and also had errands to run. I had thought about bringing a change of clothes, but didn’t think I’d have enough time to stop before the funeral to change into my dress.  So to save time, I left the house wearing my black dress.  It was slightly unusual for me to be dressed up on a Monday, but I decided to just go with it.

I wondered if anyone would notice what I was wearing-

and boy did they ever!

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My first stop was the car place.  My car was due for an oil change, so I brought it to one of my go-to places.  Sure enough, the lady who usually waits on me asked me why I was all dressed up.  I “get to” sing for a funeral today, I told her.

Oh, I’m so sorry…

And that’s how most people respond.

Oh no- it is one of the greatest blessings that I “get to” sing about Jesus to a family who is grieving, I told her. There is nothing that brings me more joy than singing and being able to share His Word in such a special way with people.  For the Christ-follower, death is not the end… it’s the BEGINNING of eternal life with Him!  And that is something to celebrate!  

Then she tells me how much she needs to be in church.  Pray for me, she says.  I ended up having a short conversation with her, which ended with an invitation for her to join me at church this coming Sunday.

In fact, that was the first of many God-centered conversations I had while I was running errands.  I ended up inviting multiple people to my church, I got to talk about Jesus, and death, and funerals- all sorts of taboo subjects with random people today.   Why? All because I wore a black dress.

It’s amazing to me how He shows up in the little things.  And to think- I almost brought a change of clothes with me!   

I didn’t even have to try to make conversations with these people! He did it all for me.  I wanted to share all of this with you NOT to pat myself on the back, but just to show you that He’s not looking for the greatest, brightest, most talented people to use…

all He needs is someone who is willing.

Willing to say yes, to be obedient- to WHATEVER He wants! 

And today- all He wanted me to do was wear a black dress!

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be prepared in season and out of season…2 Timothy 4:2 

 

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eclipse

when clouds roll in

over a sky of blue 

and you can’t see the eclipse- 

what’s a girl to do? 

take a picture 

anyway! 

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I’m not really the best at planning ahead, so naturally I did not have a pair of “eclipse” glasses laying around the house.  But honestly, I wasn’t really interested in watching it… I’m just not that into you.

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Until I noticed the sky got all strange looking…and then I couldn’t look away.

 I admit it-  I was sucked into the eclipse obsession, trying my hardest NOT to look up, but still look around at all the cool clouds and colors.

 

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While the eclipse was a bust here in Charlottesville, I experienced my own personal “eclipse” that day.  It seemed as if a cloud were hanging over me when I woke that morning, and I was desperate to see the light of the Lord.  This was partly my own fault.   I’ve been spending way too much time watching the news and surfing the internet… spending time doing meaningless things that I could be spending with the Lord.  So I did everything I could to get my heart and mind completely focused on Him.

I turned off the tv.  I prayed.  I read scriptures.  I cried as I read through the Psalms…

Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
 I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.  Psalm 63

I prayed that verse over and over. Because His love is better than life. And the more I prayed it, the more my heart felt it.  He is everything.  He gives me life.  And I thought- why would I ever choose to do anything other than praise the Lord when I have any “down time”?  It is through worship that He fills me up!

Then I watched church on youtube. The first service I clicked on happened to be a baptism service.  It was so beautiful- on one side of the stage, there were people leading worship, and on the other, a pastor was baptizing and praying with people.  You could hear the cheers as the people were baptized.  I was so moved- I cried tears of joy for these people I’d never even met!

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I mean- I was all wrapped up in worship.  Hands raised, crying, singing…

And then I moved on over to the piano.  Words and music flowed out of me effortlessly.

It was such an amazing God-filled day.

It made me really think about how I was spending my “down” time on a regular basis-

Are the things I’m doing bringing me closer to the Lord?

Or are they taking precious time away from Him?

His love is better than life.  

 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.  Philippians 4:8

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Built for a King

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He is working-

moving and shaping

changing and growing

cultivating, crafting

He’s transforming

You 

into something magnificent

a beautiful building-

something He sees

worthy

of Living

in…

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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dream a little dream

 

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I woke up the other morning with JOY just flowing through my veins!  I mean, I was so excited, I couldn’t contain it!  I had the most amazing dream- it was one of those dreams that was so real, it was being in a movie!  I literally sat up in my bed and cheered- “Woohooo!!!”

The hubs was already awake, so I went into the living room to share the excitement with him, lol.

“Oh.My.GOODNESS!  I had the BEST dream EVER”, I tell my husband.

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Now, mind you, he’s not a morning person… so he smiled and said not now.  Go write it down and tell me all about it later.  He handed me a few pieces of paper from the printer and a pen and I sat down and tried to write fast enough to capture all the juicy details.

About 10 minutes later, he turned around to me and said are you STILL writing?!

Yep!  Almost done!

I won’t bore you with all the nitty-gritty details of my dream, but the main focus was that I had found something special that belonged to a stranger.  I tracked down the stranger and was about to give them this item, and then I lost it while I was in the mall.  I prayed and prayed that I would find it, and I had all sorts of shoppers and salespeople looking for it.

I remember the feeling of expectation I had in the dream- I just KNEW I was going to find this thing!  And sure enough, I did!  I was so overjoyed that I jumped up and down and raised both arms in the air and shouted “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

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And that’s how I woke up that morning!  I was on cloud nine!  I wanted to jump up and down and tell the whole world how much I loved the Lord.

But the coolest thing happened to me that day-  I had that feeling of joy inside me ALL DAY LONG! I started thinking about how awesome it would be to wake up praising the Lord like that EVERY DAY- simply because we have another day to enjoy life!

Life’s all about perspective.

How different our lives would be if we saw every moment as an opportunity to praise the Lord!

I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.  Psalm 34

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a psalm

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I love you Lord, for You are everything to me. 

You are my Protector, my Provider, my Life-giver

my Song Singer, my Joy, and my Redeemer!  

When my head hangs low, you lift it up

when I gaze behind, You shine light 

in front of me 

You mark my path

You pick up each foot, placing one in front of the other. 

It is not my strength, but Yours, Lord 

that keeps me going in the direction of Your path.  

When I see failure, You show me Your victory

When I see darkness, Your light leads me on 

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In our small group we have been going through the book of Psalms.  Being a music lover, the Psalms speak to my heart.  So many of these verses are found in old hymns, and even in the newer contemporary Christian songs.

After reading Psalm 18 one morning,  the Lord prompted me to write a psalm of my own- to praise Him for who He is to me, what He’s done, and what He continues to do in my life.

 Nearly half of the 150 Psalms are attributed to King David.  King David is one of my all-time favorites leaders in the Bible.  He is greatly flawed, yet he is described as a man after God’s own heart.  An imperfect man, yet perfectly in love with the Lord.

His story reminds me to-

constantly seek God’s will

to worship Him with all my heart

to trust Him at ALL times 

to remember what He has done in my life

and to praise Him at ALL times!   

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  

Psalm 86:12
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