Heart full

Early in the morning, before anyone else is awake, I can hear my clock tick. Every sound is amplified in the quiet stillness of the house. My head is still full from our thanksgiving celebration last night. Yes, my belly is too… somewhat. But my mind and my heart are still stuffed with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It seems a little lame to say it was so “good” to see everyone, but it WAS good.

The pictures we took didn’t turn out so well, but my memories are bright and clear. For a few short hours, all my children and grandchildren were home at the same time. This is a priceless treasure to me. It’s a gift that only a mother could want and love so very much… Time with her children, all together. Sharing the same space, breathing the same air, hearing the same sounds, all the kids laughing and playing. Sometimes there aren’t enough words. Blessed beyond measure. Overwhelmed by God’s goodness and mercy toward us.

My house is a disaster. I’ll deal with it later. Tomorrow is a marathon day for me, followed by a week of dress rehearsals and performances, doctor appointments, painting classes to teach, and so much more. But for these few minutes, I’m sitting in the quiet of my studio watching the sun rise on a gray morning, listening to the clock tick and the music in my head, remembering last night and marveling at how blessed I am to be the mother and grandmother of these beautiful people I call my family.

It was so good to see everyone. God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

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All You Need Is Love

It didn’t attack her, but her heart decided to take a little vacation now and then without warning. Her heart was broken, but not beyond repair. After 24 hours, two ambulance rides, three doctors, one physicians assistant, several excellent nurses, three worried kids, one scared-out-of-his-mind husband, and countless family and friends praying across the country and around the world, my mother’s heart has been surgically repaired and seems to be back to work.

All through this stressful process, I saw love. Everywhere. Expressed in little ways and in ways that were nearly my undoing.

The nurse at the first hospital who went the extra several miles to get her the right doctor, the best and fastest care possible.

Several people who happened to be in the hospital with their own friends or family, who came by to check on mom and dad, to bless them, to pray with them.

People who drove in from other cities, just to check on her and keep Dad company while we waited.

Every smile on every face… Every time we had questions or needed anything, we were met with people whose only focus at that moment was meeting those needs with grace and kindness.

Phone calls and texts from those who could not be with us.

Stories and laughter exchanged while we waited. And waited. And waited.

My mom’s hand sneaking out from under the blankets to take hold of my dad’s hand for a moment, just making sure he was still there. He has.. For over 60 years.

The sheer relief on dad’s face to see her awake and talking after surgery, knowing she was going to be okay.

The song in my head this morning is The Beatles singing All You Need Is Love. And I think maybe they’re right. Without love, we are nothing. Love believes all things, bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Love is all around us if we look for it.

Click here to listen to this classic song.

Winds of Change

Wind blows fierce and strong
Sweeping clean, clearing debris
Nature’s do-over

A little weather haiku this morning. The wind is formidable this morning! I don’t know if it’s blowing something in or blowing something out. If there were any leaves on the trees, there aren’t now. They’ve all been blown off and away. The ground has been blown clear of any leaves that were there. My wind chime is no longer singing the sweet simple song of summer, but has reached a crescendo of protest that it must work so hard. The birds have all taken shelter in the trees, afraid to fly… Or at least understanding it would be pointless today.

The “winds of change” are blowing both physically and metaphorically. I’ve been faced with a heart-wrenching decision in the last few weeks, and, in many ways, it feels as though I have been blown by a strong wind straight toward my ultimate conclusion. It’s a strange feeling… To be pointed straight toward something, feeling the push of the Holy Spirit from behind, knowing God is steering me toward an inevitable end but still praying and wanting to be sure it is God’s will and not my own.

But here are five things I know.
🎶My gift comes from God. He can do with it what he chooses.
🎶God will use me wherever I go. My job is to be obedient.
🎶His plan is so much greater than my own. Trust!!
🎶Change can be painful, even good change.
🎶I have to let go of what I’m holding so tightly in order to receive the goodness God has waiting for me.

So I will go where He sends me, and thank Him for the privilege of serving a new congregation… For the joy of serving that congregation with my husband. And I will thank Him for the many friends and church family who go with me in my heart… who will always be in my heart.

The wind chime in my heart is struggling to keep up with all the change. But God is good, and He alone can and WILL set it ringing once again with a sweet song of His own choosing.

Zephaniah 3:17
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

Choose Gratitude

I’ve been reading about gratitude, which is appropriate for this time of year, I suppose. It’s interesting to see the contrast between those with a grateful, humble spirit and those with a sense of entitlement and a proud heart. The difference truly is an attitude of gratitude! Don’t get me wrong. I have been, and still can be, the biggest complainer of anybody! But I’m working on it, and believe me… It’s a process!!!

The song in my head this morning is Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman. I don’t know if it’s there because I’m grateful and thankful, or if all the reading and thinking about gratitude made me think of the song. Either way, it speaks to the heart of what I believe to be true. God is good, all the time! And I am so very grateful for every good and perfect gift that He sends from above.

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord

I love that phrase… “Every blessing you pour out I’ll turn back to praise.” Giving it all back to God is the one thing we can do to be a worshipper instead of a whiner… other-conscious instead of self-conscious. It’s the difference between being satisfied and discontent. It means having a full heart instead of a leaky heart that always needs more.

I much prefer to count (and re-count!) my blessings instead of my problems. We have all been around negative people, and wished that we weren’t! See, that’s the thing. Gratitude is contagious. Negativity is toxic.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Practice gratitude. Just like practicing the piano or the violin or baseball or yoga, it’s the practicing that makes it better. Stronger. Let your heart choose to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

CHOOSE GRATITUDE!!

Click here to listen to Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman.

Check out Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. http://www.ReviveOurHearts.com

There Is A Fountain

It’s not Thursday, but I have a throwback song in my head this morning… An old hymn that I grew up singing and playing called There Is A Fountain. It’s still one of my favorites to this day. I love contemporary music and expressing myself through it, but old hymns like this one are rich and forever embedded in my memory.

Hymns are so strong, so well written. They have lasted for hundreds of years for a reason. A lot of them were written out of places of pain and sorrow, yet there’s so much hope in them, and that resonates with people. – Allan Hall

So many people through the generations learned the basic tenants of theology through singing and hearing the old hymns. Personally, I’m excited that there’s a huge trend toward contemporary artists putting out new music based in existing hymnology… Bringing back old standards set to new tunes or in new arrangements. The one I’m hearing this morning was recorded by a group called Selah, and they’ve done many of the older hymns in a new way.

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains

The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away

There, since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supplied,
Redeeming love has been my theme
And shall be till I die

Click here to listen to Selah sing this wonderful song. I just listened again, and ended up in tears of gratitude for our Saviors precious gift.

Click here to read about Selah and the way God has been with them through their struggles and tragedies in the middle of serving Him with their music.

You’re Invited

Remember when people had “come as you are” parties? They were just a casual gathering of people for food and fun, and you were supposed to come “as you are” with no special effort. Did anybody ever really do that? Just… show up?? Or maybe that was why people went… Because they could just show up!

Good news!!! God is hosting a Come As You Are party, and we are ALL invited!! Here are a few lyrics from the song in my head this morning… Come As You Are by Crowder.

Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner, come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal

So, lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer, come home
You’re not too far
So, lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There is nothing in this life that can’t be healed in heaven! That’s good news to me. And even better news is that we don’t have “fix” everything first. We don’t have to wait until we have cleaned up our act, or stopped that nasty habit, or forgiven all the wrong in our lives. God wants us just as we are, with all our fears and failures, all our ugliness. Because God will clean us up and set us up on our feet. God is the one who will give us the strength we need to kick a bad habit or forgive those who’ve hurt us… No matter how bad or how long ago.

God is handing us an engraved invitation to His party. See it there in the scars on Jesus hands and feet? Take it and just show up, because I guarantee you’ve never seen a party like the one waiting for you in heaven!!!

“I tell you, there is more rejoicing before the angels of God over one sinner who repents than there is over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15:7

Click here to listen to Come As You Are.

Click here to read Come As You Are from another perspective.

He Knows My Name

Applause. There’s nothing like finishing a performance and hearing the applause, seeing the appreciation of the audience, feeling their delight with your finished product. When you’ve been up there and given your whole self to a show, or put your heart and soul into the music, the applause is doubly special. Validation that you DO have a gift, or know your stuff, or have followed the right path. I do love applause, but do I truly need it??

The song in my head this morning says, “no.” It’s Francesca Battistelli singing He Knows My Name.

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name
He knows my name

I’ve never had my name in lights, and I probably won’t in this lifetime. I am a showman, though, and I’ve done lots of stage work including comedy and musicals, a little drama. I’m constantly “on stage” with music… Constantly performing. I’m comfortable in front of people, which came in handy during my career in HR. I use it now with teaching music and art. It’s part of who I am, and I guess I’d shrivel up like a raisin if I were suddenly put out to pasture.

Do I NEED applause? No. Is it nice to get? Yes! But this life I live is not my own. Like the song says, “it’s all His stage.” My life is a stage for God to perform His will and His plan. It is enough that HE knows me, that HE knows who I am, that He knows my name. No matter what character I’m currently playing on stage, or what role I’m playing to those I love (wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend) God knows me better than anyone, and He knows who I am in the deepest part of me.

There is a short bridge in this song that says, “He calls me Chosen, Free, Forgiven, Wanted, Child of the King, His Forever, Held and Treasured. I am loved.” I’ll take All of the Above for the jackpot, please, Alex!

Click here to listen to He Knows My Name from Francesca Battistelli.

Completely!

I am completely surrendering
Finally giving You everything
You’re my redeemer, I run to the cross
Because You are more than enough
Lord complete me
Cause I’m Yours completely

These lyrics to the new song, Completely, by Among The Thirsty (which is a great name for a band, by the way) speak right to my heart!!! This song makes me stop and raise my hands and give it up one more time. Give up the struggles and the hurt in my heart. Give up my need for control. Surrender myself to God, yet again… Because, for me, it’s a daily process. And every time I do this, I can feel God shaping me more and more into His image… Into the woman He created me to be.

Among The Thirsty has another song, one of my all-time favorites, called I’d Need a Savior. These guys don’t put out a lot of music, but when they do, it’s the most worshipful and prayerful music I’ve heard anyplace.

How many names can I use to explain the love of my Jesus,
the life that he gave and so many times will I praise you today.
I lift up my life ‘cause you’re always the same
And my offering to you I bring

Your name is Jesus. Your name is Jesus.
You’re the Wonderful, Counselor, my Friend.
You’re what I hold on to; I know that you brought me through
All the days of loss, to the cross you knew I’d need a Savior

Father God, thank you for the gift of your son Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made for me. You knew I’d need a savior. Lord, take me and use me. I’m yours completely.

Go here to listen to Completely.

Go here to listen to I’d Need a Savior.

Love Take Me Over

🎶Love, take these words that I’m speaking
Love, take these thoughts that I’m thinking
Love, take me over
Love, fill up all of my space and
Love, stand right here in my place
Love, hear this prayer that I’m praying
Love, take me, Love, take me over
Love, take me over

If you haven’t heard this song from Stephen Curtis Chapman, click here to listen to Love Take Me Over. It’s running through my head early this morning, lifting my spirits. I love the lyrics for the second verse…

This is what I’m sure of, I can only show love
When I really know how loved I am
When it over takes me, then it animates me
Flowing from my heart into my hands

So I’m praying, Father, help my heart believe
That right now You’re singing over me
And fill me up with Your love 🎵

What a simple truth! I can only show love when I really know how loved I am. Romans 5:8 says that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I don’t think any scripture more beautifully describes love than 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

Here’s what I think. God cannot go against His own character and His own word. God is perfect love (1 John 4). By loving ourselves and loving others, we abide in God. I saw one definition of abide that said “continue without fading or being lost.” So if I love myself, and I love others, then I will continue in God’s perfect love… It won’t fade… I won’t be lost in the cracks. If it’s not a loving thing to do, then don’t do it. Period. Because every time we do something UNloving, I think Satan scores another point for his team.

Love above all things. Love take me over!!