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!
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!
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”.
Keep waiting to see the blooms.
Joy comes in the morning.
Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes inthe morning- Psalm 30:5
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.
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.
For the last (almost) 16 years, my husband and I would drive into Charlottesville and park in a special spot to watch the sunset- A busy parking lot with a million dollar view. There are two park benches that overlook the city with a perfect view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This has been our “spot” for years, and I have lost count of how many times we have gone there together to worship God’s creation.
In this spot, we have bonded over talks about our kids, reminisced about our past, dreamed about our future… and we have praised God for His many blessings. In this spot, we have gone over all the crazy “God” things that happened to cause us to move to Charlottesville all those years ago. I remember the first time I drove down route 250 heading into Charlottesville- it was as if God told me I was home.
And now a rather large church building has changed the skyline where we used to sit to watch the sunset. Kind of ironic that a building for people to worship God has physically gotten in the way of the view of what makes this city so beautiful.
But that has got me to thinking…
Has a building gotten in your way?
Now that the church building is closed due to the pandemic, I see how a building has gotten in the way of being the “church”.
So much of the church has been focused one one goal- Sunday mornings!
But now that we are unable to use the building to gather, I see how narrow minded my view of “church” at times had become.
Over these last 6 weeks, our world has drastically changed- but I can see how resilient the church has become- and it’s inspiring!
-I see pastors of all denominations and all ages putting themselves out there on social media- making videos, sharing devotionals, encouraging people, actually BEING the church- and reaching far more people!
-I see people donating food to food banks, making face masks for healthcare workers, delivering groceries, generously supporting small businesses and helping one another.
-I see people being more intentional in their relationships- writing and mailing cards, actually having phone conversations, texting, FaceTiming, and even Zoom-ing.
-I see countless churches offering online worship services- making worship accessible to everyone at anytime!
-I see people not waiting until Sunday morning to “have” church, but people BEING the church every day!
And I have hope.
Maybe this is what Church was supposed to look like all along.
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
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
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?
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?
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
My husband says I’m the queen of the 3 minute sermon. Having led worship at our church nearly every Sunday for the past 10 years, I’ve pretty much gotten the mini sermonette down to an art.
Less is more.
When I speak, what point am I trying to make? How will my words point people to Jesus? Will my words distractfrom or impact people for Jesus?
And if I’m honest with. myself- shouldn’t I use this criteria to measure ALL of my words? Whether I’m leading worship, speaking to my husband or children, or out and about running errands… ALL of my words should honor Jesus.
Less is more.
Less complaining. Less judging. Less criticism. Less unsolicited opinions.
Less mindless chatter.
Sometimes when there’s an awkward silence, I want to fill it up with words.
But those silent moments are when I hear Him most clearly.
When words are many, sin is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19
If you had the opportunity to put up a billboard to advertise anything– what would it be?
As I sat in the drive thru line at a McDonalds recently, a parked minivan grabbed my attention. It was white, had a ladder on top of it, and I knew it had to be a work vehicle. But there was something different about it- on both sides of the van there was a picture of the cross with the words ‘One Way” and then beside the picture it said- “Christ” The WAY to heaven- John 14:6. The license plate was also a reference to the same scripture.
It struck me how profound this was.
In a day where people want to advertise EVERYTHING-
their political affiliations,
here was someone using their “billboard” to point people to Jesus!
Over the front tires on either side in very small print was the name of their business and a phone number. I just happened to see that the business was called “Schock Electric”.
What an encouragement to see this today- and a great reminder to think about this – what are you advertising?