Don’t Leave Him There

I tried to read the Christmas story yesterday. Not the one about the BB gun. The one about Jesus being born in a manger. From Luke chapter two.  I say “tried” because it took three attempts for me to get through it.

It’s such a beautiful story to me, and I wanted to hear it old-school, King James, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger” because that’s how I learned it so many years ago. And maybe it’s because I know the ending, but I just got overcome with emotion at the thought that God Himself would leave the safety and beauty of heaven to come in such a low and meager way. For me.

After several tissues and raised-eyebrow looks from my husband, I finished reading. Y’all, I felt like I’d been to church!! My heart was full, and I felt cleansed and new. And a little raw.

Still this morning, I am overcome with the joy of the Lord after a blessed Christmas Day with some of my family. I’ve read the story again this morning, sans tears and snot, and I am struck by the thought that the sweet baby in a manger is where a lot of people keep Jesus. They love the Virgin Mary kneeling over the manger of hay, full of Emmanuel, God With Us, Christmas-card perfect halo glowing around His head… But they never let the Prince of Peace grow up!

As I write, I’m hearing music in my head. New words. New music. I need to get this written down, but for now I hear a chorus that goes something like:

Don’t leave Him there, tender and small!

Don’t keep Him stuck in a manger, tiny and helpless and new.

Let Him grow up into your heart

and bring all the Love that His Father sent Him to bring for you.

Jesus did not die on a cross so that we could drink egg nog, watch movies, and spend ourselves into bankruptcy. True, our Lord loved a party and even turned water into wine at a wedding reception! But that tiny Baby in a manger came that we might have LIFE, and have it more abundantly.

The beautiful thing about our Savior is that, just like the wise men, we can bring him our gifts… The best that we have, whatever it may be… And it’s enough. And if all we have is water, He will turn it into the best wine imaginable.

He is born!!!

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.

The Dove’s Cry

Is there anything more sad and mournful than the cry of a dove? I love listening to the birds wake up in the mornings, like it’s just me and them, alone and awake. Bird songs are beautiful and bright, each variety of bird having a unique song to sing. But doves? Theirs is different. More of a melancholy cry… Not really a song at all.

20140531-072905-26945199.jpgAll spring long we have watched a dove in the star magnolia outside the kitchen window build her nest and take diligent care of her eggs. Through snow and rain, she was there, even tolerating me as I tried to take pictures through the window… A peak into her private life.

20140531-073710-27430794.jpgLater in the spring we lost the ability to see her through the window. The leaves on the magnolia got too large and thick, obscuring our vision. But isn’t that why she picked that spot for her nest? About the time for the eggs to hatch, we could no longer see her. I know this precious dove is grateful for the privacy and security coming in the nick of time, but I felt a little sad that I couldn’t get any more pictures and be sure she was okay.

I still watch out the window for a glimpse of her or the babies. Of course, I never see them… They’re too well hidden, too well protected. But I do hear them and their mournful cry. I listen for them! When I sit in my porch swing, I hear their cry underneath the songs of all the finches, wrens, mockingbirds, jays, robins, blackbirds, and so many others. It stands out to me. I know their coo and cry so well, I hear it before I hear the others.

I imaging that’s how God is with us. He has watched over us and loved us with an everlasting love. And even if we don’t know He is there, He sees how we are building our home, taking care of our families, feeding our kids, weathering the storms of our lives. He knows us, He knows our voice. He listens for us… Waiting to hear us when we cry to Him.

I will never hear the doves cry again without thanking God for watching over me, loving me, caring for me, listening for my voice.

Consumed

It’s a tough morning! One of those wish-I-could-stay-in-bed-don’t-want-to-go-work-today-need-another-cup-of-coffee-already kind of mornings!! I can’t seem to get my mind moving in one direction this morning, but the song in my head is a one-liner that points me there. “Consume me from the inside out, Lord.”

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately. (Birthdays make me do that somehow.) What have I done in my life that truly matters? How will my children remember me in years to come, or rather what will they remember that I taught them, good or bad? What could I have done differently? Better? We all want to make a mark, leave a legacy, but I never have thought about my life in those terms. I was too busy living it.

Raising kids, working full time, serving my church all while trying to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. It consumes a person. Granted in all those things I tried to keep focused on God, study my Bible, take my kids to church, teach them right from wrong. But I think that my life consumed me… Used up my time, my energy, my focus, my attention, my self. But was I used up for God?

This reminds me of a very old song that I used to do… Broken and Spilled Out. It tells the story of the woman with the alabaster jar of valuable perfume which she recklessly lavished on the feet of Jesus. The first chorus goes…

Broken and spilled out just for love of You Jesus
My own precious treasure lavished on thee
Broken and spilled out and poured at Your feet
In sweet abandon, let me be spilled out and used up for Thee

I have to say that this song pointed me to God many times in my life when I just felt like I had nothing to give, when I felt like my life was so consumed with living it that I wasn’t serving the God who gave it to me. But God is good and faithful, and He whispers to me through His Holy Spirit that serving Him in the living of my life is right where I needed to be.

He sent His Son to pay the penalty for my sin. My precious Jesus was broken for me, his blood was spilled out, he was used up, consumed, for ME. A second chorus of this old song goes…

Broken and spilled out just for love of me, Jesus
Your own precious treasure lavished on me
Broken and spilled out and poured at my feet
In sweet abandon, Lord You were spilled out and used up for me

In sweet abandon. When was the last time I did anything with abandon? When have I lavished anything on anyone? Consume me from the inside out, Lord. Use me for Your glory!

A Holy Hug

I hear Rascal Flatts’ “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to You” running through my mind this morning. Please have a listen and when you hear the word “you,” think “You, Jesus.”

I love this song. I just have to sit and let it wash over me, because I always think Jesus when I hear it. All the hurt in my life, all the wrong turns and obstacles, all the times I listened to the lies of others who did not have my best interest at heart… They were all part of something bigger than myself. All part of God’s plan to draw me back to Himself.

I always imagine Jesus standing, always with a grin, with His arms outstretched, waiting for me to walk into them for a holy bear hug. I know that will happen one day. When I get to heaven and meet my Jesus face to face, I know that He will be standing there waiting for me. On that day, every lost dream and heartache will melt away and every tear will be dry.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Rev. 21:4

So until that day, whenever it is, I will keep listening to this song and the many others that sing through my head every morning. And I’ll continue to thank Him for them, and for what they teach me. And I’ll continue the work He has set for me to do here, whatever that may be. I will live this life with Jesus right here with me… Just living the life I’ve been given the best way I can.

Until then.