What’s Different?

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. August 1st was the one-year anniversary of my retirement, which got me to thinking about the last year and how things are the same and different from then to now… About everything that has happened in the last year, and everything that hasn’t. I even made a list, which I’m prone to do, and it looks so different in writing than it does in my mind. In fact, my list for what is different, and for things that have happened since last year, is so very much longer than my list for what is the same and for things that haven’t happened.

I think this is a good thing. I’m not a person who accepts change very quickly or well. I’m a “Who moved my cheese?” kinda gal. But now that I see it in writing, I’m thinking maybe one of the biggest differences since last year is ME!! I’m healthier and stronger. I’m using my creativity and gifts more than ever. I have more and stronger relationships and friendships. And when I look at everything God has done in the last year to GET me here, I am overwhelmed by His blessing.

It’s amazing what can happen when I say YES to God. When I open myself fully to what He has in store for me. When I spend more time in His presence getting to know Him more and more. New opportunities to stretch myself with my art and music. Travel. A new church home where we are working and serving together and where we are seeing the Holy Spirit move. A new business. My new bike that gets me out there and loving life. New grandchildren!

There are a couple of things that I wish had changed in the last year, like the number on my bathroom scale or my pants size. But some things may never change. And I am eternally grateful that one of those things is that God loves me. And how God sings over me. That Jesus saves… He still does!! And that I can take anything and everything to The Lord in prayer and know without a doubt that He hears me.

The song in my head as I opened my eyes this morning was a piece of the third verse from What a Friend We Have in Jesus. 

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee.

Thou wilt find a solace there.

That’s another thing that I’m so glad will never change… I will always find solace in the arms of my Savior.

Can I get an AMEN??

I love you all.

Featured image: my lovely daughter-in-law dancing on the beach. A beautiful expression of God’s unchanging love in motion. ❤️ Photo credit: Emily Price

The Loudest Voice

I’m not so sure it was a silent night. Anybody who has given birth knows that it is NOT a quiet process. When Jesus was born in that manger, was his newborn cry tiny and frail? Could Mary and Joseph hear it over the sounds of the animals in the nearby stalls? Or was His the loudest voice of all?

When my babies were born, I saw nothing in that delivery room except that baby. Did he have hair? “How small she looks!” I counted all the fingers and toes… 40 fingers and 40 toes altogether over the years. “She has so much hair and its sticking straight up!!” “Look at his back… It’s covered in fuzz and there are rolls of fat.” I was so grateful and thankful to finally get that baby here, my focus was only on him. On her. And when I heard that first cry, I laughed and cried at the same time. Every time. It’s the most beautiful sound in the world!!

I think that Jesus’ voice was all his mother, Mary, heard that night. I think the sound of cattle and sheep, chickens and donkeys, and anything else in that stable receded into the background so far that Jesus’ voice is all she heard. She was listening for it at His birth, waiting to hear that first cry. And she was grateful and thankful to God for that sweet beautiful sound!

Jesus’ love is still the loudest voice. It reaches us in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. If we listen for His voice, everything else recedes into the background and HIS will be the only voice we hear. The world would have us believe otherwise. So many other voices are thrown at us all day every day, and if we aren’t paying attention, we could miss the sweet precious voice of Jesus and His love… His love that washes us in peace at Christmas time and every other time.

I only thought I was lost…

I was lost for a while yesterday. Lost in the sense that I didn’t know where I was nor how to find my way back. I haven’t been lost or disoriented like that for a long time. It was very… uncomfortable. Disconcerting. Mild adjectives, I know, but I really didn’t feel a sense of panic. I did, however, imagine that my daughter was getting worried about me. I had been walking for well over an hour, and it was starting to rain again. In another hour it would be dark.

Yesterday was our last day at this beautiful summer house by the fjord. I went for a walk… By myself. I think it’s the first time I’d been out alone since arriving in Denmark over two weeks ago! (New babies keep you busy!!) I headed down the road toward the fjord where we have walked several times. It’s so beautiful, stark, vast, peaceful, quiet… I digress. I took a couple of pictures at the water’s edge and then went on with my walk, going a direction we had gone the first day we arrived. It’s a perfect walk to just clear your head, listen to the sea birds and the breeze in the sea grass, and talk to God.IMG_0896.JPG

I took a wrong turn, except that I didn’t know it was a wrong turn until I got to the end of the road – it was a very long dead-end. So, I backtracked and went the other way. I was praying all along for God to keep his promise from Isaiah 30:21.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

I kept walking and made the turns that I remembered. But, again, I missed one and found myself in a completely different place. Nothing looked familiar! At one point I just stopped in the middle of the road and stood there, looking in all directions. By this time I was getting very wet. I still wasn’t panicky… I have a pretty good sense of direction and was using dead reckoning, always aware of the location of the Fjord. As I stood in the road just wondering and trying to get my bearings, I prayed again. I turned on my GPS, but the maps app on my phone wouldn’t work because I had no network. I laughed at myself, thinking, “Do you trust God to get you there or not??”

I prayed this scripture back to God and just set off in a forward direction. About 100 yards later I was at our corner and could see the house!! I had been standing in the road, wondering which way to go, and all the time the house was right around the corner!!! I wasn’t lost at all. I just hadn’t gone far enough.

I wonder… What would have happened If I had given up and just sat down until someone came to look for me? If I had tried to backtrack all the way? If I had spent a fortune on roaming charges for my American phone to try to call for help? And home was right there. For once, I prayed first. I didn’t panic or stress. We can do the same thing spiritually and emotionally. Panic. Sit down and wait for rescue. Backtrack. Spend a fortune on self-help. And our way home is right in front of us if we only listen to His voice. His word.

I enjoyed my journey regardless of the fact that I had no clue where I was. I think The Lord kept me from being afraid. I was, and still am, so very thankful and so very grateful to God for getting me home. He will ALWAYS get me home.

Along the ride

Yesterday, I wrote about happiness being a byproduct of gratitude. (Read HAPPY here.) After writing that post, I hopped on my brand new bike to take it out for its maiden ride. I thought I’d just ride up the road a little, check it out, see how it feels, make sure the seat height is right… Nothing too radical. After all, I hadn’t ridden for several years because of spine issues and surgeries.

IT FELT SO GOOD!!!!! I rode a little way up the road, then a little further, then I conquered a long hill. I set myself a boundary and, when I reached it, I sent up a bullet prayer of thanks to God. I rode for an hour! It was HARD. We live on a little country road with lots of hills and curves. A challenging course for most accomplished riders. Granted, I stayed in the lowest gear while conquering those hills, but conquer I did! And all along the way I was sending up prayers of thanks and gratitude.

Gorgeous blue skies
Wispy clouds
Perfect temperature
Birds
Made it to the end of our road
Crickets
Cicadas
Cows
NO dogs
Made it up that hill
Only one car
My new bike
Time to ride
Got up that long hill without having to walk my bike
My healed back so I can ride
Strong legs
My husbands encouragement
Danville Bike & Fitness for fitting me with the perfect bike

You get the picture. Overcome with gratitude!! And I have to tell you, I am a happy girl!!! It stayed with me all day as I washed furniture and put my living room back in order. The paint job looks fabulous, the furniture is rearranged and clean, the excess “stuff” is boxed up and ready to take someplace else… Any place else!

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, invigorated, grateful, thankful, and happy. I fell asleep thanking God for every little bit of it. And this morning, I have hope that my strength and health will return.

Attitude of gratitude = happy heart = hopeful spirit. And Hope can change everything!

Go here to listen to Hope Can Change Everything by the K-LOVE Fan Awards Artists

Butterfly Kisses

My little ones used to love getting and giving butterfly kisses. So sweet. Like the breath of God. I have Butterfly Kisses floating through my mind this morning…

She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and
I thank God for all the joy in my life

I am a blessed woman. Yes, I have issues and health problems and not everything is exactly what I wish it was, but I am blessed. I DO have joy in my life. Joy unspeakable and full of glory. Joy that can only come from trusting The Lord to care for me and provide what I need… Whether I know it or not.

To open my eyes this morning hearing these words makes me realize all this. Life gets in the way sometimes, and we forget to be thankful for the joy in our lives. Right now I feel blessed, thankful and joyful that

I was able to share one of my original songs on Sunday morning.

Even though I was nervous, it was well received.

Last night at rehearsal I was able to consistently sing F#. I was literally overcome with joy as I sang thinking, “I’m singing F#!!!!”

My doctor visit this morning was a good one.

I get to see my grandkids this evening.

These and so many other things that make me feel happy and blessed by God.

I love butterfly kisses :-).

Everything

God has a sense of humor. He must have! It’s Sunday morning and I’m getting geared up for a full morning at church, but the song in my head is Michael Buble singing Everything. These words are on repeat in my brain…

And in this crazy life, and through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you, You make me sing.
You’re every line, you’re every word, you’re everything

This just makes me smile. Proof to me that God can use anything… any song, any lyric… any and everything at His disposal to show us His love. Because when I hear these words in my head this morning, I’m thinking ‘GOD’.

God makes me sing. In this crazy life (and these times are certainly crazy) it’s God that will bring us through. It’s Christ that brings us hope and gets us through. I don’t know if Michael Buble ever thought of his song in these terms or if he ever thought anybody else would… But I do. Maybe that’s the Holy Spirit? Either way, I’m thankful that He makes me sing, that I see Him in my everyday life and hear Him in the music in my head. He IS my everything.

EVERYTHING by Michael Buble

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.

Until Then…

I am one of those people who can’t wait until the day I get to heaven and meet Jesus face-to-face. I love my life… and I love the people God has placed in my life, but I cannot wait until the day I finally get home! So I was excited to wake up this morning with these new words and melody in my head. So excited that I jumped out of bed, grabbed my phone and (bleary-eyed) wrote down the words before I lost them. After an hour with my iPad and piano here’s what I got.
20140523-085256-31976027.jpgcopyright 2014

I am beyond thankful for my day off today to flesh this out a little. I feel so blessed and honored to hear this in my head, to worship with these words this morning. And it’s just plain fun!! There are lots of songs about heaven and going there in every genre from spirituals to contemporary. Maybe one more can’t hurt?

Worn

“I’m tired. I’m worn. My heart is heavy from the work it takes to just keep breathing.” These words from Tenth Avenue North are rolling around in my mind this morning.

I AM tired and worn… It’s early in the morning, and it’s allergy season, so these words fit perfectly for me at this moment. But this song is also my “go to” song when I’m just worn out with living life every day. Listen to Worn by Tenth Avenue North.

Sometimes it just gets too hard to put one foot in front of the other, to go to work one more day. Sometimes I would give anything to just go back to bed and wait until tomorrow. But I know I can’t. Like the song says, I know that You, Lord, can give me rest. I know that only God can show me that redemption wins, that the struggle ends. Only God can mend a heart that is frail and torn.

Redemption wins. Redemption WINS!!! And that thought, right there, is enough to help me “lift my eyes up” and keep at this thing called my life. To keep at the work that God has ordained for me to do. So I will go get ready for work. And I will thank God for another day of life, and for the good night’s sleep I had. For another day to serve Him in whatever way He plans for me. I have another day to love Him, to love and serve my family, to see this beautiful earth He created through fresh eyes.

See the full lyrics Continue reading