Aware

As the cows come through the gate into the neighbor’s pasture outside my studio window, I can barely see their dark bulk against the gray sky. Slowly, heads hung low, they move out into the field. I watch through the rain-pocked window, thankful to be in here and not out there.

And then I think that, often, the presence of God is much like what I’ve just observed through my window.

My world is dark and gray, it’s raining in my heart, and God comes in… slow and steady. Massive and silent. Impervious to whatever storm is going on my life, the Lord moves into the field of my pain or heartache or sickness and settles there. Quietly. No fanfare.

Its just that, sometimes, I haven’t noticed that He’s there, because I’m too focused on the rain. Or the pain. Or both.

Let us become more aware of your presence

Let us experience the glory of your goodness

I woke up this morning with Francesca Battistelli singing this bit of lyric in my head from her song, Holy Spirit. And I know that this is what I want… To be more aware of God’s presence. To feel his warmth and BIGness in the middle of my pain. And maybe sit down beside Him, so that He shelters me from the wind and rain of doubt or fear.

Click here to listen to Holy Spirit from Francesca Battistelli.

Click here to read an earlier post about this song… Appetizers.

Still water

We came out early, McDonald’s in hand, to have breakfast on the beach. The water and sky are the same color. The Gulf is calm this morning. No waves to speak of, so the water is clear and smooth. As I wade out to my knees, I can see all sorts of life taking place right at my feet that I couldn’t yesterday because the surf was too high. Schools of fish skitter past, momma fish in the lead. Too many star fish to count. The sand in the shallow water perfectly formed into ripples that match the ones on the water’s surface. A dolphin meanders down the coast, relaxed and beautiful. Pelicans fly across the water’s surface, lazy and slow.

This is the kind of morning that can put your heart at peace, no matter what’s going on in your world. I love my quiet time in the morning anyway, so this is right up my alley. I wade knee-deep down the beach, coffee in hand, thinking how blessed I am to be here. Praying for whoever the Lord places on my heart. Listening to the water and the birds. Loving the feel of the breeze on my skin and the sand in my toes.

I think sometimes that the surf gets too high in my life. All the day-to-day stuff, the fires that have to be put out, the tyranny of the urgent, gets to be too much for me to see the life taking place right under my feet. My husband’s humming in the morning as he gets ready for work… A happy sound. Watering my flowers and appreciating their beauty. The smell of my coffee in the morning. Painting in my studio, no clock to watch. Practicing the piano. Cooking, reading a book… All these and more get set aside when the winds kick up and the surf gets high.

“Be still and know that I am God.” “Be still my soul. The Lord is on your side.” Both of these are running through my head. There’s a reason we are admonished to be still. To stop and listen to what God is saying to us, even if his voice sounds like my husband’s humming or the birds outside my studio window in the morning. Peace and contentment don’t come naturally in our world. We have to be still and look for it… Wait for it… Wade out into the water and see it underneath our feet. It was there all the time.  And if we are lucky enough to find a morning like this, hang on to it with every fiber of our being.

Pray

God called me in my sleep last night. Or this morning. I’m never sure which it is when I wake up so early with a very specific song lyric in my head and my heart. Was it the wee small hours of the night when all the house is quiet and dark and I’m in a deep restful sleep? Or was it those few moments before waking, when it seems that there is just the thinnest veil between this world and the next?

Though I’m silent, my heart is crying
‘Cause I was made to come to You

This line from Sanctus Real was singing through my mind as I opened my eyes this morning. Pray. That’s the name of the song. Even in my sleep when I am the most silent and still I ever get, my heart cries out to God, because that’s how it’s designed to work by the very God to Whom my heart cries out! His beautiful design is for me to love Him all day long, and in return God gives me a song in the night.

By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
– Psalm 42:8

I must have read this verse a hundred times in my life, but this is the first time I ever really understood it! The song my precious Lord sings over me in my sleep is The Holy Spirit teaching me how to pray (Luke 12:12, John 14:26)… A prayer to the God of my life. And all God asks is for me to love him when I’m awake.

So, this morning I’m going to pray, just like the chorus to the song says, even if it’s just to speak the name of Jesus.

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

Love Him all day. Listen for your song in the night.

Click here to listen to Pray from Sanctus Real.

Sing Your Song

As I write this morning, we are in the middle of a major thunderstorm. All night, lightning bright as day came in through the cracks in the bedroom window blinds, and thunder rolled across the sky. It’s still dark outside and the rain cries sad tears down my studio window. And still the thunder rolls.

Birds are beginning to sing outside my window, oblivious to the rain or the dark or the lightning and thunder. There, in the middle of dark and gray, rain and dreariness, comes a bright song. It’s so hopeful and routine, just another day in the life of a songbird. This bird can do nothing BUT sing as daylight approaches because that’s its nature. It would never “skip the song today because I don’t feel like it.” Good weather or bad, this bird must sing the song God gave it because that’s how God designed it.

So why not me? God created me in His image, and as a believer and Christ-follower, I have the mind of Christ. Shouldn’t I be singing in spite of the storm around me? Regardless of the rain in my life, crying those sad tears down the window of my heart, shouldn’t I be singing my song… the song God gave me?

Psalms 40:3 says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” If I sing the song God created me to sing, others will see and hear and know that God is good!

Psalm 98:1 says, “Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things!”

Whatever your “song” is, sing it. Dance if you’re a dancer. Play your flute or piano or drum. Paint as to the Lord if you’re an artist. Are you a cook? Let the Lord smell the fragrant offering coming from your kitchen! However God designed you, give it back to Him no matter how dark or dreary… even in the middle of a thunderstorm.

 

For Glenda

Friends. What would we do without them? It makes me sad to even think of the possibility of losing people I love and who I know love me. People who care about my welfare and make a difference in my life. But sometimes we do. And it hurts. Sometimes she walks away and I never know why. Sometimes she’s too busy or absorbed in her own life to have time for me. Sometimes one or the other of us had to move, but we are still friends forever because The Lord is the Lord of us both. And, sometimes, God calls her home to be with Him before I’m ready to let go.

And right there is where I get stuck. Nothing else comes to mind, because I get stuck thinking about my friend who went home to be with The Lord this week. About her sharp tongue and beautiful heart. About the intense way she loved others. About her teapots. She must have had a thousand of them! And about the roses. She grew little tea roses and, while they were blooming, she would bring me (and many others) one every week and say, “I love you.” I believe she showed up in heaven with a perfect rose in her hand, and an “I love You!” ready to give to the Rose of Sharon when she met Him face to face.

She was a friend of Jesus. And so am I. The song in my head as I woke up this morning was Friend of God by Phillips Craig & Dean. And wow, did it ever get my mind thinking about my friend, about friends in general and what it means to be a friend.

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How You love me
It’s amazing
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Jesus calls us His friends. It’s right there in John 15:15…”No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus knows us, He loves us, He trusts us. And if we are Christians, true believers, we know Him. We love Him. We trust Him. He is always there when I call. He’s never too busy for me. He never moves away. He never walks away leaving me to wonder what happened. Friends. Forever.

Click here to listen to Friend of God.

I painted the featured image on paper and mailed it to my friend to cheer her up. I’m glad I did.

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.

Start a Fire

We left the city of Copenhagen today for a few days visit north at the shore of a fjord. Aside from being stunningly beautiful, it is windy and chilly. After days and days of rain, we finally have a hint of sunshine, but the chilly wind cuts through. Back at the house after a long walk, my son-in-law lays a fire in the stove in the corner of the living room. After just a few minutes, the cold and chill of rainy damp days is gone. Warmth fills the room, and suddenly we are cozy and drowsy.

Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me

This song, Start A Fire from Unspoken, has been in my head for days now, singing out a prayer for a God to start a fire in MY soul. I’ve started this same post three or four times and only after our adventures today does it become clear to me.

No matter how far we go outside our own territory, no matter how beautiful or stunning the scenery before us, no matter how tempting the world and all it has to offer, it can be cold. And bitter. And chilly, windy, damp, and downright insufferable at times. Only when we come home to The Lord, home to the truth of God’s word and permit God to “start a fire” in our souls are we able to get warm and dry. To feel the warmth of the Holy Spirit and relax into the coziness of Jesus arms. To crawl up in His lap and be renewed and restored.

But we aren’t meant to stay there – all cozy and warm. We come in from the cold, bitter world to get warm by the fire of God’s love, and then head back out into the World again so that others will see Jesus in us and want to come and stand by the fire of the love of God.

Click here to listen to Start a Fire by Unspoken.

Featured image: the fjord in north Denmark. We don’t have these in Kentucky, y’all.

 

Instincts

Copenhagen is a beautiful city and seems to be fairly easy to navigate by foot. We’ve walked all over the city in different directions, but (so far) I have managed to find my way back to the apartment. And if I do happen to get turned around or lose my bearings, I don’t have to wander aimlessly hoping for rescue… I can ask for directions or look at my map. Or I can trust my traveling companion. If I’m walking with my husband or my daughter, I can trust that they know where they’re going and how to get there.

These were my thoughts this morning when I woke up to Unspoken singing Who You Are in my head. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:

You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far
That you can’t get back. When you’re lost,
Where you are is never too late, so bad, so much
That you can’t change Who you are.

The Holy Spirit is my traveling companion in this life until I find my way Home. It doesn’t matter where I walk or how far I go, I can always get back. It’s never too late. What I’ve done or said is never so bad or so much that I can’t change who I am and be what God wants me to be. I’m never alone in this life as long as I’m walking with and trusting The Lord to guide me. I can ask for directions from His holy word… I have the Bible as my guidebook. It’s all mapped out for me, if I’ll take the time to look.

My newborn grandson is snoozing close by while I write this morning. I’m watching closely and listening for his precious newborn noises, ready to pick him up and hold him close at the first sign of distress. He isn’t aware that I’m here, but he instinctively knows that I will care for his every need and he trusts me. I believe God is right here with us as we walk through this life, watching and listening for any opportunity to pick us up, hold us close, and comfort us. We just have to trust… From the deepest, most instinctive part of us.

Click here to listen to Who You Are by Unspoken.

I posted about this song in early June from a different perspective. Just like music you love to listen to, God sometimes lets me hear a song more than once, and teaches me new things. Click here to read Who You Are.

Who Do You Think You Are??

Did anybody ever ask you that question? It’s so confrontational! “Who do you think you are??” Sometimes I know exactly who I am. Other times, I wonder about that myself. “Who are we that You would be mindful of us? What do You see that’s worth looking our way?” Sometimes I ask the exact same questions as this first line from a MercyMe song, God With Us. They’re the lyrics in my head this morning.

Lord You know
Our hearts don’t deserve Your glory
Still You show
A love we cannot afford

All that is within me cries
For You alone be glorified
Emmanuel
God with us

My heart sings a brand new song
The debt is paid these chains are gone
Emmanuel
God with us

The Psalmist asked the same questions, though much more eloquently.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him? Psalms 8:3-4

Who am I? I’m a tiny insignificant nobody in the grand scheme of this world. I’m just a woman in love with The Lord. I’m the crazy lady who hears music in her head and feels called to share it with anybody willing to listen. My heart and my spirit sing songs to The Lord… Sleeping, awake, working, resting, painting, sewing, cooking… Doesn’t matter. All for the One who paid my debt, and broke the chains.

Click here to listen to God With Us by MercyMe.