Stay and Rest

Back to work this morning… I could stop right there, because obviously I’d rather stay on vacation! But I have a job to do and it’s waiting for me. I woke up this morning asking God to go with me to work, to go before me because I know what’s waiting there. As I climb the stairs to my studio with coffee in hand, I ask Him to open His word and speak to me.

Word of God, Speak!” This MercyMe song touches me at the deepest core of my being. When it comes on the radio, I have to stop and listen. I have no choice. It’s like the Holy Spirit compels me to stop whatever I’m doing and listen to this song.

I’m finding myself at a loss for words and the funny thing is, it’s okay.
The last thing I need is to be heard,
But to hear what You would say.

Word of God, speak.
Would you pour down like rain, washing my eyes to see Your majesty?
To be still and know
that You’re in this place?
Please let me stay and rest
in Your holiness. Word of God, speak.

And there it is. That’s why I must stop. I want to stay and rest in His holiness. It’s my safe place. It’s where I’m most relaxed and at rest and it’s hard to leave it for the real world.

More lyrics…

I’m finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise.
All that I need is to be with You and
In the quiet, to hear Your voice

This song makes me feel more connected to God than practically any other song. (That’s hard for me to say because I don’t have a favorite.)

So here I am… First thing in the morning, and I stop everything to listen and write down these words and my thoughts. Here in my studio before dawn, I want to be still and know that God is in this place. Later this morning at work when the chaos of returning after vacation is more than I can stand, I want to be still and know that God is in that place. I can stay and rest in His holiness any place. Any time.

listen to this song

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When I woke up this morning, the sun was peaking over the horizon, checking to see if I was ready to play. More than ready, I jumped out of bed, almost giddy with anticipation and excitement. My studio waits patiently, like a long-lost friend, as I make a cup of dark French roast coffee and head up the stairs.

Watching the familiar sunrise from my studio window, I think of all the sunsets I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks. Amazing Technicolor displays over mountains, the piedmont, the ocean… Stunning! And yet. And yet, nothing compares to the sun rising over the farmland and treetops right here in central Kentucky. Because it’s home.

As I fell asleep last night in my own bed in my own house, I was thanking God for safe travels, a chance to rest and relax, time away with my husband, beautiful places to visit, dear friends and family who provided for us during this time… and so much more. As I awoke this morning, this one line of lyric and music is running through my head…

How will I ever declare my love for You?

Because I feel that, no matter how I try, I will never be able to express to my precious Lord Jesus how much I love Him. How grateful I am to God for His blessings beyond measure. Words cannot express how my heart feels at this moment on this Lord’s day to be here, in my home, in my studio, with my Bible and my coffee, writing this love letter to God. And I can only imagine that this is a teeny tiny, itty bitty little piece of how I will feel when I finally make it Home to Heaven and see Jesus face to face.

Have a listen to a couple of songs that popped into my mind as I wrote… Both are MercyMe songs.

I Can Only Imagine

Finally Home

I chose the title for this blog because none others seemed to fit. The featured image is our home in Kentucky.

Thoughts on vacation

Some observations about vacation…

1. No matter how far I go or how long I’m gone, God is there.
2. God’s creation cannot be outdone except by God Himself.
3. Even with the best of accommodations, home is best.
4. God’s color wheel is endless!
5. God sings over me no matter where I am.
6. People everywhere need and appreciate a smile and a kind word.
7. If you look for Him, you will find Him everywhere!
8. Unsweetened tea at McDonalds is universal.
9. I’m never ready to leave the beach and it’s healing warmth.
10. I’m always glad to be home and sleep in my own bed.

This morning… Our last one on vacation… I woke up with these words rolling around in my head. The melody is obscure… new and yet unformed.

I will call upon your name
I will answer to your claim
You are with me
You are near
You are my rock and my redeemer
Your word is crystal clear
You are with me
You are near
You never leave me or forsake me
Your promises are true
You are with me

I’m so thankful for this precious reminder this morning as we set out for our last leg of the drive home. We had great travel, great food, excellent accommodations, time away to rest and relax, and finally made it home safe and sound. Our dogs were happy to see us, too. I miss the sandpipers and pelicans, the salt air already. Next year.

What heals me

I was born and raised a landlubber, but I love the sea. The artist in me loves the way the water changes colors through the day, and how the sun shimmers on the water at sunset. I’ve sketched pelicans, sandpipers, egrets, children, palm trees… Lots of good subject matter at the beach. Last year, we came to this same beach for vacation. We rarely visit the same place twice… There are so many places to see! But we loved it so much, and the salt air heals me.

Salt and sand. They permeate everything when you’re on vacation at the beach, don’t they? Weeks later, we find sand in shoes or bags. And the salt air makes my hair curly and stiff… Without even trying. I think that God’s love is like the salt air. It seeps into every pore without us even noticing, and as we breathe it into our lungs, it cleanses and heals.

Have you noticed how salt whitens everything it touches when it sits in the sun? God’s love does the same thing! Just like the salt air, it whitens, purifies, cleanses us when it soaks in the Son.And just like I need to get a good dose of salt air at least once a year, I need to get a daily dose of God’s perfect love… To feel Him moving all around me, permeating every part of my heart and soul. It heals me.

Off to the beach for one last look before we hit the road home this morning. But, just like the love of my Lord, I know it’s there waiting for me when I return, ready to give me what I need.

It’s a gift

Did you ever have to return a gift someone gave you? Maybe it didn’t fit, or it just wasn’t something you wanted, or you already had one of those. Sometimes we just keep it because the return process is too much trouble. What if the gift was given for the express purpose of returning it?

James 1:17… Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

“I give it all back to You.” This line from Mandisa’s song, Back to You, woke me up at 5:30 this morning (remember, I’m on vacation) and was still there at 7:30 even though I’d gone back to sleep. I blogged about this song a couple of weeks ago… (read it here).

My first thought was, “Lord, I’ve already written about that song!” But God is always teaching me something in these songs He sings over me. And what comes to my mind is that giving it all back means that my life is a gift to God… But really I’m returning a gift He’s given to me. My life is a gift! Every moment of every day of every year since the minute I was born has been and always will be a gift from God. He created me. And this crazy, imperfect, beautiful life has all been part of His perfect plan for me.

So I’m returning His gift. This return process is NOT too much trouble. Not if I use the gifts He has given me to share Him with others. Not if I give God the glory due Him for every good and perfect gift in my life. Not if I live my life as a sacrifice of praise to the God who made me.

Love BIG!!!

I absolutely love sunsets! I can’t help myself from whipping out my camera to take yet another picture of the sun as it slips under its sheets of silver water, putting itself to bed for the night. Even at home, I often step out on my porch and try to capture the colors in the sky as the sun drops behind the trees.

What is it about a sunset that captures our attention and holds it so strongly?? Why are we drawn to them with a power beyond our control, to stand and gaze until we can’t see a hint of sun on the horizon? It’s like a window to heaven opens for a little while, and we can see the just the lowest piece of the robe of God in all its stunning beauty. Like God gives us a little glimpse each night so that we know He’s there, in all His majesty, keeping watch through the night.

It’s one of the many ways God says, “I love you!” It’s a BIG way to express a BIG love. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 says, “May The Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.” Love abounds. Love BIG or go home!!
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Home!!

Have you ever gone back to a place you’ve only ever been to once before, but the moment you saw it or stepped foot on it, you knew… Home. Our vacation spot is the same place we visited last year. When we finally arrived late yesterday and set foot in the sand and heard the ocean and the birds, saw the water and felt the breeze, I said out loud to my husband, “I’m home!!!!”

I knew I was in desperate need of a vacation, a little time away to relax and rest. I just had no idea how much until I set foot on the beach. Then, every song I knew about “home” popped into my head. From Simon and Garfunkel (Home, where the music’s playing) to MercyMe (when I finally make it home) to John Denver (Ain’t it good to be back home again.)

The song in my head this morning doesn’t have anything to do with being home or the beach. But it gives me reason to believe and hope in my heavenly home. That final place where I will be with my Lord Jesus forever, that place where I will take one step and know that I am home.

You lived a life I could never live
You died the death, oh, that I deserve
You rose to life and now You live
That’s how You forgive

Because Jesus died and rose again, because He forgives me all my sins and casts them as far as the East is from the West, I WILL be home in heaven someday.

Listen to Shane & Shane perform That’s How You Forgive

Beautiful

Armed with coffee and a full tank of gas, we pulled out of the driveway at 4:30 this morning, off on the next leg of our vacation. Even at that incredibly early hour, I was… still am as we travel this morning… hearing God sing over me that I am beautiful, treasured, His.

You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You are treasured, You are sacred, You are His
You’re beautiful

Please listen to MercyMe sing their song, Beautiful, here.

Let me just say right here and now that every girl, every woman, needs to wake up hearing these words first thing in the morning. Every morning!! Though some women are lucky to have someone to whisper these words to them on a daily basis, most of us don’t hear them as often as we like or need. My husband says he thinks them all the time, he just forgets to speak them aloud sometimes.

But God NEVER forgets to tell me that I am beautiful. My Lord never forgets to say how treasured, sacred, precious I am to Him. He even wrote it out in a love letter to me, written in red. No matter what I look like, no matter what I’ve done or said, God thinks I’m BEAUTIFUL!! And this morning, He wanted me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Dance in the kitchen

God has such a wonderful sense of humor! It’s Sunday morning, and the song rolling around in my head is Michael Feinstein’s voice singing If This Isn’t Love from Finian’s Rainbow…

If this isn’t love, the whole world is crazy
If this isn’t love, I’m daft as a daisy
With moons all around and cows jumpin’ over
There’s somethin’ amiss, and I’ll eat my hat if this isn’t love

I love musicals! I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working in musical theater, both on stage and off. The Sound of Music, Swingtime Canteen, Oklahoma!, Nuncrackers, The King and I… They’re a lot of fun, a lot of hard work, and worth all the sweat and tears. I’ve never seen Finian’s Rainbow, but I do have this song on a Michael Feinstein CD of Broadway hits. It makes me dance in the kitchen!

I have two completely different observations about this song.

1. We had dinner with some old friends here in Atlanta last evening. An older couple that have been together for decades. It was a treat to watch them at dinner and, later, at their home. Like clockwork, they anticipated what each other needed and provided it in the middle of chaotic conversation and laughter. Though my mind was a little numb after watching this for several hours, it never fazed them… If this isn’t love, what is?

2. From Romans 8, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If THIS isn’t love, what is????

Now, THAT is something to make me want to dance in the kitchen!!!!

cover photo courtesy of today’s Bing homepage.