Drowning

I never learned to swim properly. I mean, I can swim… Just not well. I probably look like I’m trying to swim through mud rather than water. (I can’t say for sure, because I’ve never seen myself swim!) Let’s just say it’s a struggle and leave it at that. I look pretty goofy, too, because I have to wear nose plugs, goggles, and ear plugs. Without them, I feel as though I’m trying to save myself from drowning rather than swimming and enjoying the water. Not. Pretty.

I woke up this morning with a lyric singing through my head from Casting Crowns. “Here I am, Lord, and I’m drowning in your sea of forgetfulness.” It’s got me thinking about drowning… That awful feeling I get in the water when I’m trying to swim. Panic. Fighting for air. Hyper-alertness and stressed out! See, the thing is that I only feel comfortable in the water if I have my feet on the ground and my head above water. If my feet can’t reach the ground, I want to be hanging onto the side of the pool… For dear life!!

Thank God that He doesn’t operate that way!!! If I’m going to drown in anything, I want it to be in God’s sea of forgetfulness. I want to be out in the middle of it with nothing to hold onto. In so deep that my feet could never hit bottom. Over my head, pulling me under, enveloping me in God’s everlasting love and mercy. The trouble is that most of the time, I end up just wading at the shoreline of God’s grace and forgiveness. I get my feet wet, maybe even up to my knees. I want to see it, feel it, know it’s there, but I don’t want to lose myself in it. I don’t want to let myself be swept out into the sea of His forgetfulness where I have no control and my life is in HIS hands.

Psalms 103:12 says that God has removed our sin from us “as far as the east is from the west.”

Here I am, Lord, and I’m drowning in your sea of forgetfulness

The chains of yesterday surround me

I yearn for peace and rest

I don’t want to end up where You found me

And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight

I know You’ve cast my sin as far as the east is from the west

And I stand before You now as though I’ve never sinned

But today I feel like I’m just one mistake away from You leaving me this way

Chorus:
Jesus can You show me just how far the east is from the west

‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been come rising up in me again

In the arms of Your mercy I find rest

‘Cause You know just how far the east is from the west

From one scarred hand to the other

Thank you, Lord, for not letting me stay in the shallow end of your forgiveness and grace!! Thank you for Your beautiful scarred hands that draw me out into the deep end.

Click here to listen to East to West from Casting Crowns.

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He. Is. RISEN!!

Easter overwhelms me. More than birthdays or summer vacation or fireworks on the Fourth of July or even Christmas, Easter gets to me. Every time. This year was no exception, and it’s taken me a couple of days to process it (partly because I’ve been sick through it all and the fog in my head is just now clearing.) The sheer JOY of Easter Day is uncontainable. Just like the grave could not keep Him from rising again, this mortal body of mine cannot contain the joy in my heart that Easter brings!

As a church musician, we go through it all. We Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence as we Go to Dark Gethsemane. We play and sing the songs of Lent, which are necessary, and because music is my worship, they drain me physically. I sing the words in my head as I play through the Lenten season, working my way to the cross. By the time I get to the JOY of HE IS RISEN and the songs that go with it, my heart is a wrung-out, dry sponge just waiting to soak up all that Christ died to give me.

And maybe that’s the point. How could I ever know and appreciate all that Christ did for me if I live only in the Easter days of my life? I must experience the grief and shame weighed-down of Christ’s Sacred Head, Now Wounded before I can truly appreciate the victory that came when Up From the Grave He Arose to conquer sin and death! Christ, The Lord, Is Risen Today so that I could have LIFE and have it abundantly!! “The head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now.”

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, OH GLORIOUS DAY!!!!

Click here to listen to Casting Crowns Glorious Day.

Featured image by my daughter in law, Emily Price. May your heart’s Easter basket be filled with the goodness of our glorious God!!

 

 

Shine

This blog is supposed to be about the songs in my head, the songs that God sings over me as I sleep, the songs that my spirit sings as praise to God while I sleep. Sometimes, the song in my head when I wake doesn’t match the way I feel, the heaviness in my heart, the sadness in my soul. But I think the bottom line is to live my purpose in life regardless of my feelings or my heavy heart.

The line in my head this morning is from a Casting Crowns song called Thrive. “To know you and to make you known. We lift your name on high. Shine like the sun. Make darkness run and hide.” Maybe this song is to remind me of what my purpose in life is about… To know and love God. To make him known to others. To bring a little bit of light into my world and push back the dark, even if for just a little while. Even in the middle of a heavy heart. Even when I don’t “feel” like it.

Matthew 5:16… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

It’s not about me. So no matter what is going on in my life or my world, my job is to love and care for others. To shine a light. Be the hands and feet of Jesus in this dark world so others can see a tiny bit of God’s glory. The funny thing is that, when I do shine a light, when I do love on other people, when I do stop thinking about myself and start thinking about others, my heavy heart gets lighter! My darkness takes a step back to make room for fullness of God’s glory.

Featured image: the sky over the Gulf of Mexico last year on vacation. I love how it looks like the darkness is in retreat.

Go here to listen to Thrive by Casting Crowns

Drowning

I am a terrible swimmer. I never learned to breathe properly in the water, and I sink like a rock! I don’t swim so much as flail about, hoping nobody is watching. I have to wear ear plugs and nose plugs. It’s quite comical actually… Like a long, extended drowning rather than swimming. That’s the worst part. The sense that I’m one breath away from drowning every minute I’m lumbering from one end of the pool to the other.

The song in my head this morning is Casting Crowns East to West. The minute my brain was aware this morning, I was hearing these lines from the beginning of this song:

Here I am, Lord, and I’m drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest

And right here is where the difference in swimming and drowning meet. If I’m swimming in God’s sea of forgetfulness, then I’m there by choice for however long I choose. I decide to jump into the sea of His grace and mercy and let it wash over me for a while. But eventually I’ll climb out and dry off and think how refreshing that was, but I’ll go back to my regular life thank you very much.

If I’m drowning in His sea of forgetfulness, then I have no control. God does. His love and mercy and grace wash over me and all around me and take my breath away. God is the only one who can keep me alive, because I couldn’t get out of that pool if I tried! I sink into the depths of His love, never to return to my old life.

The first time I heard the chorus to this song, I wept. I played this song over and over again.

Jesus can You show me just how far the east is from the west
‘Cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
‘Cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

Please listen to this song HERE, and bask in the grace and mercy of God’s love and in His sea of forgetfulness. Drown in it.

Anything is possible.

When I wake up every morning with this music in my head, I feel excited and awed at the same time. Excited about the music and writing my thoughts on it, but mostly awed by the fact that, while I sleep, God is singing these words over me. Today is no exception. At 3:00 in the morning for a nature call and again, when my clock went off, I was hearing Casting Crowns singing this bit from their song “Thrive!”

Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable
Love unstoppable, anything is possible

I’ve written about this song before, (read previous post, THRIVE!, here) but this morning, I’m hearing a different piece of the lyric.

Joy unspeakable. What does unspeakable joy look like? How much joy must be in my heart for me to not be able to articulate how joyful I feel? When was the last time I felt that much joy?? How long since I was speechless with joy, overcome with emotion at how much joy I felt? I always imagine the joy of a little child when they’re so happy and excited they just scream and jump up and down.

Faith unsinkable. I’m a chef wanna-be, so my visual on this is olive oil in a pot of water. You CANNOT make it sink. It floats on the top of the water. Even after it’s been stirred to a frenzy, it separates itself out and rises to the top again, coming together and floating, unsinkable. That’s the kind of faith I want! Even when the devil stirs me to a frenzy, I want to have the kind of faith that pulls itself together and rises to the top, unsinkable in its resolve to follow Christ.

Love unstoppable. There have been people in my life that I thought loved me. They didn’t. They stopped. So was it really love they felt for me? Or something else? If we truly love, can we stop? Love unstoppable makes me think of my children. Nothing could make me stop loving my children. Period. And if I am a child of God, nothing can separate me from his perfect love. Romans 8:38-39.

Anything is possible. ANYTHING is possible. Anything IS possible. Anything is POSSIBLE. If I have this kind of joy, faith, and love in my life, then anything is possible. God already does. He expresses his joy as he sings over us, He has faith in us as His own, and His love is perfect… Poured into us.

Anything is possible with God.

THRIVE!

Great things about vacation… No schedule, no makeup, good food, dress down comfy clothes, sleep late. I’m pretty sure that list could be endless, but I’m still up early! Though I did sleep a little later, I’m the only one awake at the B&B in these beautiful surroundings. I can’t help it. I can’t miss my morning appointment with God… He waits for me.

I love these quiet hours in the morning before anybody else is stirring. I get to have time alone with God and His Word… Time to dig deep into the scripture… Time to listen to what He has to say to me. And time for God to mold me and make me into someone useful for the work He has planned for me to do. It’s refreshing to me… Like a little mini vacation! I leave my studio ready to face whatever comes today.

As I write this, Casting Crowns is singing through my head…

Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun, make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to Thrive

“To know You and to make You known.” How can I know God if I don’t spend time with Him? And how can I make Him known to others if I don’t know Him myself? For me, that means keeping these early morning appointments with God. It means digging into the Word with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and so many others with my precious friends in Bible study.

For me, it means doing more than just surviving each day. Casting Crowns has it right when they sing that we were made to THRIVE! Because others are watching, do we want to show them that we are merely surviving? Or that we are thriving??

Control… Or lack of it.

I can, on occasion, be a control freak. I know that my husband and my children may have an opinion on that, as in… “On occasion?” BUT it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. The older I get, the less and less I need to control the world around me.

Unfortunately, the one area that I’ve always struggled is with self-control. I’ve never been very good at that, even though I’ve tried. I’ve read books. I’ve done Bible studies. I’ve prayed. Food is my drug of choice. I’ve fought that battle my whole life, and I have done much better in the last 15 years or so but I’m paying for it now with Type 2 diabetes. And the battle rages on.

The song in my head this morning is really just one line on repeat… “All you’ve ever wanted was my heart.” I blogged about this song a month ago, but it’s back. (Listen here.) As I sit here writing, it occurs to me how pointless the struggle has been all these years. Struggle for control, struggle with food, struggle with weight control, with exercise, with priorities. “All You wanted was my heart.”

If I give You my heart, everything else falls into place. Only You can take my heart and shape it into what You want it to be. If my heart’s desire is to know You, to love You, to serve You, then nothing else matters. I can try to control my life, my appetite, my surroundings, my thoughts… But at the end of the day, only You are in control.

This reminds me of a line from a Michael W. Smith song… “Lord, I give You my heart, I give You my soul. I live for You alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord have Your way in me.” This is my prayer today. I’ve written it on a post-it note and will keep it in front of me all day.

The Voice of Truth

I woke up late this morning. It was one of those nights when I didn’t feel well, didn’t sleep well, and every time I woke up I had a different song in my head. Maybe the songs were keeping me awake! Regardless, this morning when I finally did get up, these lyrics were constant and on repeat in my brain.

But I listen to the sound of Jesus singing over me.
And the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I would choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

This is an older Casting Crowns song, and it begins with

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
On to the crashing waves

That’s where I am right now. In a boat that feels like it’s supporting me, but it’s taken on leaks and I’m faced with bailing and hoping for the best until things change. OR climbing out of the boat onto the waves and taking that step of faith “out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is.” But the “waves” in my world, the obstacles that get between me and Jesus sometimes, “call out my name and they laugh at me.”

Sometimes I just have this feeling deep down that I won’t ever win, that I’ve tried before and failed so many times. So, what makes me think this time will be any different? It depends. Who am I going to listen to?? I like to think I’m an intelligent person, but scripture warns against someone who is “wise in her own eyes.”

But the great thing is (to quote Pooh) that I get to choose whether I will listen to the gremlins in my life tell me that I will fail, that it will never work, that we can’t afford it, that the sky will fall IF. Or whether I will choose to listen to the voice of Truth… The One that tells me not to be afraid, the voice that sings over me while I sleep and tells me of His love and mercy. The same voice that prays for me even when I don’t know how to pray for myself. The same voice that raised the dead can raise me out of that boat so that I can walk toward Him in the middle of my storm.

He never promised that it would be easy, but He did promise that He would be with me. And if I keep my eyes on Him, I can step out of that boat and walk on the waves of fear and doubt, rejection and illness, toward the life He has called me to live.

listen to Casting Crowns, The Voice of Truth

All You’ve Ever Wanted

There are two lines running through my mind as I sit here with my coffee. Casting Crowns singing “All You’ve ever wanted was my heart” and “but between the altar and the door, I bought the lies that promised more…” Both from the same song. My first thought? “But, Lord, you DO have my heart.”

And now I’m wondering, does He really? I like to think so, but do I live like that? I’ve been walking with Jesus since I was 10 years old. I still remember the minute I took that step out into the aisle and how compelled I felt to do so, like there was a hand in my back urging me forward. And I remember how different I felt… Fresh, new, clean, alive. I was only a child and had very little to confess compared to this stage in my life. But I was a new child of the living God.

I love the line “between the altar and the door” because I wonder what happens in that time. Not just back then when I was little. I’ve carried Jesus with me ever since then, but I have visited that altar many times in my life. I’ve laid it all down again, and somehow between the altar and the door, I pick it back up and carry it with me. Again. Why don’t I leave it there at the altar? At the foot of the cross?

Because I “bought the lies that promised more.” I sold out to what the world has to offer. The American dream? Maybe. The house and the kids. The career and the car, and the me-ism that comes with it all. But it’s a lot of work keeping up with it all, though you’d think just taking care of me would be easier. It’s not. It gets to be labor intensive, because I’m trying to do it all myself.

So how do I get back to just me and You? You already have my heart. It’s got Your name written all over it. But this morning, I want to put a bow on it, and give it back to You. Go on… Take it. It’s Yours. You can do whatever You like with it. And I know that whatever that may be, You will be with me and give me the strength and grace I need to do it.