Even So Come

I freed a butterfly yesterday. The poor thing was trapped in a spider’s web outside the kitchen window. Its wing had been caught at the top edge, just enough to keep it trapped but not enough to stop it altogether, so that it was more tethered than trapped. This beautiful creature would take off as if to fly away from its bonds only to struggle and flap its wings to no avail, rest a while, and then repeat the agonizing process again and again.

I couldn’t stand it. I pulled a pair of scissors out of the drawer and carefully opened the window. The butterfly continued its “take off-struggle-rest” cycle so that it was difficult to get the scissors in the right place. During a brief rest period, I was able to snip the strand of web that was keeping the butterfly stuck in the spider’s snare. In an instant, it was soaring high and fast, farther and farther away from its earthly trappings, finally free to be the creature God made it to be.

As I opened my eyes this morning, a line from Kristian Stanfill’s song, Even So Come, was singing over me and through me.

Every heart longing for her King

We sing

Even so, come

Lord Jesus, come

Come, Lord Jesus, and free me from this web that is keeping me from being the woman You created me to be.

Come, Lord Jesus, and free me from the tethers that hold me to my old life, my earthly life, my selfish and sinful life… Chains that bind me to what I can’t even see, yet they keep me from soaring toward all that you have waiting for me. 

I cannot free myself. You’ve watched me struggle to break free, and You’ve seen me worn out with the trying. 

You’ve welcomed me when I came to You for rest from the fight, only to see me return to the restraints and constrictions of my own choosing. 

Come, Lord Jesus, and sever the tie. Help me to rest in Your goodness and grace, Your mercy and unfailing love. Already, I give You the praise and the glory for it. There is none like You. Amen.

Click here to listen to Even So Come from Kristian Stanfill.

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

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.

Broken Hallelujah

It’s hard to concentrate this morning. Coffee isn’t helping. I was up late talking with my son who is home from college, and then texting with my soon-to-be-a-mommy daughter through the night getting status updates. Her baby is on its way today!!!! I’m so excited for her and her husband, and I can’t wait to know whether I have a grandson or granddaughter. They chose to be surprised, but I don’t think any of us thought the surprise would take this long to arrive!

Babies take their sweet time, don’t they? I know that mine were all very late to arrive. Very reluctant infants… And absolutely completely and totally worth the wait!!!! It’s funny how we can wait and plan for nine months for the arrival of a new baby in the family, but ultimately God is the only one who knows when that baby will come. I have this line in my head from a song called Broken Hallelujah by the Afters.

Even though I don’t know what your plan is
I know You’re making beauty from these ashes

When I look back at the births of my own children, I can see how God had a perfect plan for their arrival. At the time, I was way overdue, exhausted, and ready to hold my baby in my arms instead of carrying around all that weight in my belly. And, believe me, there was a lot of it because my babies were all about 10 pounds except one.

But God knew better. When they finally arrived, all with different stories and different circumstances, all the waiting anxiousness and stress was gone in an instant. All the pain and discomfort receded into the background and there was nothing more beautiful or magical in my world than that precious new life in my arms. God brought this beautiful new life into my heart and my world for me to love and nurture. Beauty. God took away the pain and discomfort of pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. Ashes. Gods promise from Isaiah 61:3:

to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair;

There are so many times in my life when I thought I would never make it through. They say hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, I can see how God made beauty from the ashes in my life so many times. He took what I thought was not worth saving, and turned it into something wonderful and useful for His glory and honor. And for that, I can only give him my Broken Hallelujah.

I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain
On my knees, I call Your name
Here’s my broken hallelujah
With nothing left to hold onto
I raise these empty hands to You
Here’s my broken hallelujah

Click here to listen to Broken Hallelujah by the Afters.

Featured image courtesy shoutitforlife.com

Just breathe

Breathing. It’s the one thing every human on earth does every day, all day long. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathing is intrinsic to human existence. Without the ability to breathe, we die.

A few interesting facts about breathing…

The lungs are enormous. The right lung is larger than the left lung to accommodate the heart. The left lung is made up of two lobes while right is made up of three lobes.

If you laid out the lungs flat, they would cover a tennis court ( about 70 square meters!)

When we breathe, we are either right nostril dominated or left nostril.

Breathing more slowly and taking longer breaths can reduce your appetite.

We naturally change sides in our sleep approximately every 30 minutes, mostly due to the balancing of the breath through each of the nostrils.

An average person breathes in the equivalent of 13 pints of air every minute.

So no matter HOW we breathe… through our nose or mouth, our right or left nostril, deeply or very shallow… WE BREATHE. My question is WHAT are we breathing in? What are we breathing out?

All these thoughts are brought to you by the song in my head this morning. Never Once by One Sonic Society.

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

One of my “coping strategies” has been to breathe deeply and imagine that I am breathing in the Holy Spirit with the good fresh air and breathing out all the negativity and bad feelings when I exhale. Breathing in God’s constant grace and mercy. Breathing out praise to God for his unfailing love. It never fails to turn my mood, my situation, my day completely around a full 180 degrees!

Click to listen to Never Once by One Sonic Society.

Featured image: Central Kentucky, first morning of Fall, taken by my friend, Dennis Wheeler.

Fuzzy Faith?

“Not that one… It’s blurly.” My three-year-old granddaughter has been using my phone to snap pictures early this morning. I told her that it was okay… “I’m kinda blurly myself this morning.” A little out of focus. A little fuzzy around the edges.IMG_0758.JPGI think that’s how our faith can get sometimes. Blurry. Out of focus. Fuzzy around the edges. We know we believe in God. We go to church. We pray. But maybe we’re on autopilot, just going through the motions. Maybe that’s why it’s called “practicing” our faith. Like this picture, we know what our faith is supposed to look like, but we have to squint to try to see it clearly. We fear that some of it is our imagination.

The Bible says otherwise!! Hebrews 4:12:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Romans 8:29 says that God’s children are “conformed to the image of his Son.” Somehow, I don’t think our faith can be “blurly” if we are made in HIS image. Jesus is not a fuzzy, out-of-focus, ethereal concept floating out there somewhere. He is real. He lived! He died, and He rose again. He will come back and bring us to himself!

Until that day, we must keep the lens of our minds focused and sharpened on God’s word. Live out our faith every day in the words we say and the things we do. Love above all things, so that our edges don’t have time to get soft and fuzzy. “Blurly, Grandmomma!”

The song in my head this morning is a very old choir anthem called With a Voice of Singing. “Declare ye this, and let it be heard, Hallelujah!!”

Make His praise glorious!!!

Every Day

Every day.  Every morning that I am blessed to wake up again, I have a song in my head.  Sometimes it’s a well-known, popular song, sometimes its an oldie, sometimes it’s a song I remember from my childhood.  And sometimes it’s a brand new song… complete with orchestration and voices… just like I’m listening to the radio.  These are the times I want to skip my regular morning stuff and just go write it all down… words, music, harmonies.  Sometimes I wish I had a recorder in my head that would just do it all for me because I can’t seem to capture it all before it dissipates.  But almost always, its a song of praise to the Lord.

I have a theory about this music in my head every morning, and I’ve shared it with a few people.  But the more I think about it, the more I believe it to be true.  So here goes…

God created us with a love for music.  And some people have a gift with music… they sing or play an instrument or write music.  Music touches all areas of our brain, and has been known to reach people in the dark places of their minds when nothing else would.  But I don’t think God just created us to love music because HE loves music (though I do believe this to be true.)  I believe he gave us this gift so we would praise Him.

Think about it.  Any time you want to remember something, set it to music!  The media capitalizes on this all the time… commercial jingles, TV theme songs.  So when I take my heart and put it into a song as a gift back to God, I’m giving Him myself, and I’m giving it to Him through a gift He gave me for that express purpose.  Whether it’s a Psalm of David or a little ditty I learned ‘way back when’ makes no difference, as long as I offer it with my whole heart.

And when I wake up in the morning with these songs in my head, I feel as though my spirit has been praising God even while I sleep!!  My whole day goes better.  And that’s what this blog is about.  Posting the song in my head every day, words if I can find them, how they make me feel, a thought or two for the day in hopes that maybe YOUR day could go a little better.

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

Among The Thirsty

I woke up with words from a song called Completely in my head. “Lord complete me cause I’m yours completely.” I love this line! It steps right up and speaks for itself. The band is called Among The Thirsty.

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

This is my prayer of worship this morning. It’s Sunday and The Lord’s Day. It’s also a work day for me. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the music, the rehearsing, the planning, the order of worship and forget TO worship. I AM among the thirsty of this world, and I need my spiritual cup filled the same as everybody else!

Among The Thirsty (which is a great name for a band, by the way) 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 speaks right to my heart.

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.

I captured this shot of the featured image while traveling in Rabat, Morocco. I love this beautiful watercolor mural!