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.

A Lullaby

The baby relaxes into me and his breathing evens out, slow and steady, soft as a whisper. His head is tucked up under my chin in the hollow of my neck, snuggled close. As I stand at the window and gaze out at the gray Copenhagen morning, treasuring the warm softness of this sweet baby in my arms, I am humming. Low and soft, the humming takes shape and I realize I have been humming, then singing, an old hymn that I haven’t thought about or sung in years.

Pass me not, oh gentle Savior
Hear my humble cry
While on others thou art calling
Do not pass me by.

Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry
While on others thou art calling
Do not pass me by.

As I stand at the window, swaying and humming, rocking and singing, all so very slow and quiet, tears well in my eyes, and I realize… I’m singing over this baby the way God sings over me. When I’m sleeping, relaxed in His keeping, unaware, safe in His arms. Quieted by His love.

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.

I’m no longer singing to the baby. My song has become my prayer to God. A prayer that He will stay close and never let me go.

Several years ago, I had a Fernando Ortega CD, which included this song. It’s my favorite arrangement. His lyric changed only in one place… “While on others thou art smiling.” Click here to listen to this worshipful arrangement.

Quiet Reflections

I’m out of my routine. And I love having a routine. I’m in this vastly beautiful and different environment, yet I’ve developed a routine of a sort. My body isn’t exactly on Denmark time, and it’s not exactly on Home time either, which may make it easier to transition when I return next week. I’m staying up too late (reading) and sleeping later than I normally would at home. I have coffee with my newborn grandson while his mom and dad try to catch another hour of sleep. I cook breakfast for us all while he eats again. Try to beat the time difference (6 hours) and catch my husband at his breakfast time before he heads off to work at home. Text a few minutes. Take a walk. Plan dinner. Nothing earth shattering. But quiet… Peaceful… Restful.

Despite a newborn in the house, this is one of the quietest and most peaceful weeks I’ve ever had. I’m a quiet-loving person, and everyday life just… Isn’t. Quiet, that is. I’ve actually been able to turn off my brain a little, turn down the noise in my head, and just listen. Yes, there are birds and the breeze in the trees, soft rain falling, quiet house noises, clocks ticking and quiet new baby sounds. Let me just state categorically that there is NOTHING more precious in this world than the soft sound of a newborn sleeping in your arms.

Even the music in my head has quieted some. It’s always there, but for over a week now I’ve had just a couple of different lyrics running on a loop in the background. Soft and sure, but always there.

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

It’s very comforting and reassuring to think that God sings over me no matter where I am in this wide world. His grace and mercy find me. I can hear it in the music he gives me. Sometimes I feel him with me when I’m painting, just… present. Sometimes, like this morning, I see God’s grace and mercy, his lovingkindness, in my new grandsons sweet face and chubby cheeks, fresh with Grandmomma kisses on them. And I am overcome with emotion that this great God would love me so very much. That His son, Jesus, would die for me… For this precious baby right here with me. And I am grateful.

Featured image: again, the fjord in Kisserup where we are staying for a few days. I love the way the sky is reflected in the water. A wonderful place to be still and quiet and reflect on the goodness of God.

One Thing Remains

Rule number one in a house with a newborn: If the baby ain’t sleepin’, ain’t nobody sleepin’! Especially not his momma. I watched her all night with her baby boy, up and down, nursing, changing, rocking, burping, quieting, changing, feeding, on an endless loop. She’s a natural. Born to be a momma, though her younger brothers may have a different opinion about that, she has a naturally quiet way with her son. Quiet whispers, gentle soothing sounds, confident hands-on nurturing and loving and caring for her baby until he can care for himself someday. (And it won’t stop there!)

“Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” I woke up with these words in my head from Kristian Stanfill’s song, One Thing Remains.

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me

In death, in life
I’m confident and covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid
There’s nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love

God’s love never fails us. Ever. Like a new mother, God has a naturally quiet way with his children. He speaks in quiet whispers, gentle soothing sounds, confident hands-on nurturing and loving. His Holy Spirit guides us in the way we should go. When we are stressed, in pain, struggling to hang on, God is there in the middle of it, carrying us through until we can stand on our own. In the middle of it all, one thing remains. God’s perfect love.

Click here to listen to One Thing Remains by Kristian Stanfill.

Featured image: I love baby hands!! This is Samuel’s hand in mine. And as precious as it is to hold his sweet perfect hand in mine, it cannot compare to how God holds my hand, my life, in his hands.

Silent

Sometimes I’m speechless. I know that’s hard to believe, but I am a quiet person. Soft spoken, given to long periods of quiet, thought-full. My brain is running all the time, and my personal challenge is to channel all that brain activity.

“Though I’m silent, my heart is crying ’cause I was made to come to You.” These words from Sanctus Real were in my head when I came awake in the pre-dawn morning, and they’ve stuck. The song is called simply Pray. More lyrics…

So I pray
God I need you more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray

I’m going to take this song at its face value today. I have several people on my heart this morning, and it can get heavy. But God knows my heart, he knows my need. He knows every situation and person I’m thinking about, and I know that he is already working in those situations. Hebrews 4:16 says we can “then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

For me, “draw near” sometimes means just be still, be quiet, stop. And, in that quiet, I can be confident because the Holy Spirit has it all under control. Romans 8:26 says, “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” So even if it’s just to speak the precious name of Jesus, I’m going to pray. And speaking his name is enough.

Click here to listen to Pray by Sanctus Real

I posted about this song from an Easter perspective back in April. Read Pray here.

The featured image is a shot I got in early March at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. A very quiet place.

Listen!

Listening. It’s a lost art. Our minds and ears are assaulted from the minute we wake up until we go to sleep (and sometimes even while we are asleep) with sound. We wake to music on our alarms, or in our heads as I do, we watch the morning news, listen to the radio in the car on the way to work, deal with noise at work all day, more radio or iPod in the car on the way home, kids, dogs, spouses, phones ringing, television, and sometimes we even go to sleep to the sound of the TV or radio.

We hear noise every waking moment, but when do we listen? Where is the silence in our lives? I remind my piano students all the time that the rests are as valuable as the notes in their music. Literally and otherwise. The rests in music are like the punctuation in our speech, giving room for pauses and breaks; Emphasis. Expression!

This past Spring, I used the following acronym for the word LISTEN when engaged in conversation…

L… Let the other person finish, Look at them
I… Invest time, Invite conversation
S… Speak the truth, Sit forward
T… Think before speaking, Try to understand
E… Engage brain, Ears open?
N… Never assume you know what they’re going to say, Notice!

I love the thought that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we talk. Listen to others, to ourselves, and to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us. Only when we are quiet, can we hear what someone else has to say. Only when we still our active, busy lives can we listen to our true selves. It is only in our silence that we can hear the true heart of God.

My favorite place to get still and listen is in my front porch swing. Where’s yours?

How my heart gets

I was never one to keep a journal of any kind. I’ve made repeated half-hearted attempts over the years, and the end result is lots of pretty journaling notebooks with a few pages of notes and poetry written in them… All collecting dust on a shelf or tucked away in a box or a drawer. When I started writing this blog, I was really concerned that it would go the way of those old journals, collecting cyber-dust someplace. Or that I wouldn’t REALLY have a song in my head every day… That somehow writing it down would stop the songs from coming.

But it hasn’t. Just like all the months and years before, I still wake up every morning with music in my head. The difference now is that I’m analyzing and critiquing the music. Was it there when I woke up? Did it wake me up or start after I was awake? Did I hear this song sometime yesterday and it’s still there? Why do I have three or four songs at one time this morning? Which one do I write about?

It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’ve had lots of sleep or very little sleep. Whether I ate right before going to bed, or not at all. My wake-up time is usually very early – about 5:15 in the morning, but later doesn’t seem to make a difference… Weekends, days off, holidays, sick days… Still there. When I started writing about them, I couldn’t say with certainty what kind of songs they were, what genre, nothing really except that they were there. Only through the blogging process have I come to realize that every one of the songs without exception has pointed me to God.

So then I think, “He has been there all this time. All these years. Every day, every night, while I sleep, He has been right there… Singing over me, just like the scripture promised.” I always heard that sleep is healing. That our bodies need sleep to build cells, to revive and rejuvenate. That our minds need sleep to rest and that sleeping long enough to dream is essential for healthy living. I think we need sleep so God can come close. Only when we are asleep are we still and quiet enough that God can come right next to us and sing in our ears the words He wants us to hear.

We do this with our own kids. I remember singing and whispering to my children when they were sleeping. Making up songs while the sun rose after being up all night with a sick baby boy. Up in the middle of the night with my baby girl and not wanting to put her back to bed… Just hold her a little longer. Standing and rocking my babies (that mother-rock we all do instinctively even just watching someone else do it) and singing them to sleep, getting softer and softer, then to a hum, until they are breathing quietly, deeply, and the whole house is perfectly silent and still.

That’s how my heart gets when I hear these songs in my head and write it all down. Quiet, still, peaceful. My stress level and anxiety disappear and I’m in my happy place. I don’t have to write it all down. I GET to write it all down. I absolutely cannot wait to get to my studio in the morning and write this blog. Sort of a gift back to God for the song in the night. An offering.

This morning, I had one line in my head that I can’t recall ever hearing in a song. “Jesus, when I speak Your name, You speak life to me.” It’s not my voice singing this line in my head. I think this morning that I will take it as a reminder.