Wednesday, April 3, 2013

She Sings Along

Happy Easter!

My best friend told me her pastor talked about how we give up and sacrifice for 40 days before Easter with the practice of Lent and then we spend one day celebrating.  What if we celebrated a little bit longer...like everyday?!

I want to invite you, friend, to a new place where I will continue to write about my journey and the ways Jesus shows himself in the everyday messiness of our lives.

In the beginning of the year the verse Psalm 104:33 was illuminated for me.  It says this:

"I will sing to the Lord all of my days, I will sing praise to the Lord while I have my being."

For me, it painted a picture of a living musical.  I felt God begin to reveal to me that the reason he gave me a love for music, theater, even musical theater, is because of the power it has to tell a story.  Over the last four months I have been seeking and praying for what God has called me to next.

This is what I believe He has shown me:


Take care of those babies.  Love them.  Raise them up.  Teach them.  Give them loving discipline.  Pray for them.  Sing to them.

Love your husband.  Find ways to "wash his feet."  Pray for him without ceasing.   Sing with Him.

Surrender it all to The Lord.  Every last thing, surrender it.  Trust.  Pray.  Soak in His Word.  And, choose to sing along.  Choose to sing in the heights and choose to sing in the depths.  Choose to sing when the tears are choking the words and it is all I can do to only hum.  Choose to sing when my heart is bursting forth with the glad and the thank you's.

So, my friend, will you join me in this next chapter as,

She Sings Along. (Click the link and see the new thing!)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Requiem for a Dream

The Little Man and I went for a walk last night.  The Bug needed a Daddy Date so she and The Fly went for ice cream.  I needed fresh air.  So we went for a walk.

I ran into Rosalyn.  She is a neighbor a few blocks up.  Her daughter was in a class I taught.  We chatted.  She called me, “passionate.”  She said I seemed to be, “passionate,” about what I was doing.

I was passionate.  A long time ago.  But it’s taken a long time to let myself feel passionate again in certain areas. 


My 21 year old self playing a 12 year old Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden.

I started singing show tunes again. 

For a long time I had a hard time listening to them, let alone, singing along.  They reminded me of a dream I once had, a dream that seemed to dissipate or evaporate as the years went by.

I told you a few posts ago that I wanted to be a country singer when I grew up.  Well, that was the first of my performance and fame based careers I had my sights set upon. I was going to be famous and in my Homecoming Court article I so eloquently told the interviewer that I wanted to, “bring a touch of humanity to Hollywood.”  I had no idea what I was talking about.  I was always a fan of alliteration so it had a nice ring to it.  Humanity to Hollywood...I’m pretty sure Hollywood is already made up of enough Humanity, human nature...perhaps, I should have said, bring a touch of humility to Hollywood.  Now that would have been something to pursue.

My High School Comedy Sportz Team.  I am middle row, dark brown hair, making kissy face.

I had big dreams.

I doodled about them everyday in class.  I was an excellent student.  (Enter Sarcasm Here.)

My senior quote was,

High diddlee-dee
An actor’s life for me
And as they say in Hollywood,
‘I’ll see you in the movies!’

Touching.  I know.  Inspiring?  Certainly.  Ambitious?  You could say that.  A bit self-centered?  Well, I was 17.

So I went to pursue my dream.  And, before I could even get started it felt like the door was slammed shut, dead-bolted and cemented in.

However, another door flew wide open.  It was one He had been knocking on for a while.  My heart opened.  I let it be captured.  And everything changed.

But it came with a cost.  I could have continued on my own course using anything I had control over to get me what I wanted.  He would have still loved me the same.  But, after feeling what I felt, after being rescued from so much I could do nothing but lay my motives down, lay my dreams down, lay myself down and say...I want what You have for me, Lord.

So one day at a time took a step farther away from Hollywood Hopes and Stages and Songs and one step closer to young people, kids and students.  I began teaching rather than singing.  I began preparing experiences rather than performing musical numbers.

Teachin' and Preachin'


I was angry deep down.  It hurt so bad.  I didn’t understand.  Every time I would let those feelings surface for a moment the tears would flood and I would push it all back down.  “What I am doing now is so much more fulfilling,” I would say to my brain and then to my heart.  “This is where God has me in this season,” a sure way to turn the heat down so the contents of my heart would not boil over.

Then babies came.  You can’t pursue dreams when you have babies, right?  They are dreams come true in of themselves.  It would be so selfish of me to want what I used to want...I told myself.

Time goes on and priorities change.  New ones take center stage.  Those who can’t do, teach, they say.  So I found myself singing and dancing with 6 year olds, and 8 year olds and 12 year olds...teaching them so they can go and do and entertain.

I love it.  I love picking out the songs.  I love choreographing the numbers.  Dance was my number 3 (Actor/Singer/Dancer) but I have managed to retain my box steps, pivots and jazz hands...the foundations for any good Broadway number.

I find joy in all of it.  I find joy in being with little people, who, honestly aren’t that much littler than my 5’ frame.  I love on them.  I love teaching them.  I love seeing them get it.  I love their costumes and smiles on recital night.  I fall in love with each of them as they sing and dance their little hearts out...so full of hope and ambition.  I love it.

But every time I am with them I feel like a little more of me is dying inside.  I hate to say that.  I hate to admit that it hurts.  Not because I don’t want to share that I hurt but because I don’t want anyone to think that I am disappointed.  I have a beautiful life.  I am so very grateful for it.  It is vibrant and I thrive most days...but there is a place, deep down, that doesn’t understand.

Why God, did you give me the love for a stage?  Why God, did you give me a Broadway voice?  Why God, did you let me sing and dance and act only to strip me of it all just as I was getting me feet wet?  Why, God did I dream big dreams just to see them slowly fade away?

I never talk about this.  But for some reason it is all welling up.  And as I type I can’t stop the waters from rising and pouring out. 

These verses I have been chewing on take center stage in my mind as the emotions take center stage in my chest:  

John 12:23-25
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

He also says, “whoever finds His life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

One more from Secret Garden.  This is with dear, talented friends.  I miss them.


I feel like it all had to die.  The dreams, the goals, the aspirations...they all had to die.  I had to let go.  I wanted them all for all the wrong reasons.  Had I not “lost,” them I might die searching for my worth in them.

Sometimes something has to die...we have to let go so we can move forward to what God is calling us to.  I think this is what happened to me.  And, for the first time, I am letting myself grieve the loss.  And, I think that is a good thing.

It’s time for a Requiem, a funeral song.  It’s time to just let the tears fall.  It’s time to surrender the questions and the disappointment.  It’s okay.  My God can handle it.

I do this.  I “ugly cry” to my God.  I let the feelings surface.  I experience the disappointment.  I sit in it.  It is raw.  I thank God the kids are napping and I sob some more. 

Deep breath.  I remember.  He is for me.  He created me.  He gave me my gifts, my talents.  I have purpose.  He wants to use those things for His good...and I want that too.

I remember Easter is coming.  We celebrate the fact that Jesus died for us.  He had to.  “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”  He died for me so I may have a new life...one where a crop can be produced if I choose to follow Him.

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."


The cross.


Jesus died and was raised so that when I lose my earthly life I too am raised with Him.  Victory over our sin.  Victory over death.  Grace so undeserved.  Love so generously poured out.

The least I can do is offer him all of me.  Every last toe-tapping, jazz-handing, show tune signing bit. 

So today I mourn and offer up my disappointment.  But then I remember what someone once told me, “A disappointment means it just wasn’t your appointment.”

As the grief subsides the joy sinks in.  I remember that He is not done with me yet and I look forward as I let go.

I will keep singing.  Loudly and brightly, belting out so the world can hear me.  I have good reason to sing.




Monday, March 11, 2013

Seeds

Time to prepare the ground for something new.


I have this empty patch of dirt in my front yard.  Last year I planted some flowers there.  They were the kind that eventually die as the seasons change.  In Southern California that takes a while but, alas, they are gone, and the soil is ready for something new.

I feel like that is happening inside of me.

I am ready for something new.  The kiddos turn four and two as soon as strawberries are ready to be picked.  I remember craving fresh strawberries while waiting to birth them and bring them into this world.  I sent the fly to the local strawberry farm over and over again.  They were as sweet as candy.  I won’t ever forget.

My little Strawberry Shortcake at her 3rd Birthday Party
Little Man at his 1st Birthday...look at all that hair...He doesn't look like this anymore.  Tear.


And, as it was with my real-life babies, I feel like this strawberry season is bringing...perhaps, birthing...a new season for me.  New adventures with my family and new opportunities to tell them and the world about my greatest love...Jesus.

Waiting for The Bug.  (Picture take by April at April Smith Photography)

Waiting for the Little Man.  (Picture taken by April at April Smith Photography)




I’m certain I would not be able to if I were still a captive of fear.  I feel like it was a slow deliverance of so many things and so many years.  But, for the past few weeks I feel like I have been thinking new thoughts about the things that once held such a tight grip.  I feel free.

It didn’t come easy.  Most great liberations take much effort, sacrifice...travail...to bring forth a change.  It’s true when they say, people don’t change.  What they forget to say after that, however, is that people can be transformed.

And, there is only One who can transform a heart.  There is only One who can remove a root of fear, bitterness, rejection and in its place plant seeds of trust, hope, and restoration.

God is in the business of planting seeds.  When a seed is placed in the ground it has an opportunity to become rooted and spring up.  It transforms from a hard shell to a vibrant life.

But, for a seed to grow it has to fall on good soil. 

Jesus tells a parable about seeds.  They fall on a path; the birds snatch them up.  They fall on rocky soil; they take root but not deep enough.  They are scorched by the sun.  They fall among thorns; they are choked out.  They fall on good soil; they take root...deep...and produce a crop.

Unlike most parables, He explains this one. 

The birds are the evil one who snatches away the message sown in their hearts from those who hear it and don’t understand it.

The rocky soil is one who hears and receives with great joy but the root does not go down deep and when trouble, temptation or persecution come they quickly forget.

The seed falling among the thorns is the one who hears it but worries, “deceitfulness of wealth,” pursuit of the pleasures of this life, choke it out.  It is unfruitful.

The good soil produces a crop.  It is the one who hears and understands.  A greater crop is produced...even more than what was sown.

I chewed on this parable all day.  I thought about people.  I thought about my family.  I thought about my children.  I thought about myself.

I want us all to be that good soil.  I want to see fruitfulness, joy, abundance and great things to come out of the lives of those I care so much about.

But I can’t change people.  Only God can transform a heart. 

Only God can take a captive of fear and transform her heart and mind to walk in courage.

So I prayed.  I wrestled with God all day.  Can the soil change? 

Then God did what only He can do.

We went to Saturday night church service...after a long day of discipline with the Bug...we almost didn’t go. 

I sat in my seat and asked God to help me hear a word for my own heart...I am so very good at listening for everyone but myself...I’m sure I’m the only one who struggles with that.  Smile.

Sitting in my chair, hoping for words to sink from my ears, to my mind, to my heart, He reminded me.

God reminded me that He will never stop pursuing us.  He is madly in love with each of us and “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

It didn’t stop there.

“Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him [Jesus], since He [Jesus] always lives to make intercession for them.”  (Hebrews 7:25)

Intercession.  So much of my heart aches for people to know the gift it is to be interceded for and to intercede for others.

“I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people...” (2 Timothy 2:1)

Interceding is simply acting on another’s behalf.  To intervene.  Four friends intercede by their actions when they lower their paralyzed friend through the roof so Jesus can heal Him.

I have been lowered in front of Jesus by others.  I think that is why I get so high-pitched, squeaky and teary-eyed when the topic comes around.

As I battled the grip fear had on me many people came alongside me on that journey.  People prayed for me, people helped me, people were courageous for me.  And, finally people asked God to break the chain that bound me, and He did.

Can I say something to you today, friend?

I don’t just write these things because I think I know what everyone else needs.  I write these things because I needed this knowledge and will continue to need it until Glory comes.

I was stolen from.  The birds of the air, the evil one, stole God’s Word before it took any root.

I was rocky.  The temptations and tribulations caused me to forget.

I was choked by the thorns.  I wanted the pleasures this life had to offer more than I wanted Jesus.

The truth is this still happens.  Thankfully, less than before, because God is in the process of transforming my heart.  Because I can say, He has done great things for me, I can walk in victory and not chained to what stole, tempted and choked.

And, with tears, I cry out, wanting this for everyone...the people I love...and even the people I don’t know.

So, what do I do?  I sow seeds.

“Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.”  Psalm 126:5-6


God is in the seed business.  He plants things.  And, perhaps, today you read this and wonder what has been planted in you...and whether it is being impeded by the birds, rocks and thorns.

A word for you today, “He’s not done with you.”  A word for me today, “He’s not done with me.”  He is ready to do something new.

Hallelujah.

He is chasing your heart, friend.  Stop running.  Be still and let His Word be planted.  Ask someone to intercede for you...so you may break free of the cycle and chains of birds, rocks and thorns.  May you be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

And,  as the sun breaks through the clouds and the seedlings spring up, as the season turns, may we hear and understand.  May the knowledge of the LORD take our roots down deep.  May we then produce a crop immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.

The strawberries are almost ready.  The crop is yielding fruit. 

May this new season upon me do the same in me and through me.

I look forward to sharing it with you.

One more from waiting for Little Man.  I love how the Bug is holding her belly like mommy.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

All The World's a Stage

Music will always sink straight into my soul.  I don’t know exactly what it is.  Songs have a way of bringing what is going on deep down to the tip, top, front of my thoughts.  The words and melody pour in and as the flood rises I feel things...it resonates...I connect my life and thoughts to the music.


We saw Carrie Underwood in concert on Sunday night.  Hunter Hayes opened.  Those two can sing.  Not only do they sing but they perform.  They put on a show. 

We got to go at the last minute.  A friend had extra tickets she was selling.  I looked at the Fly with puppy-dog, pleading eyes and even after utterly spoiling me earlier in the weekend, he said, “See if you can find a babysitter.” 

I did.  We went.  And it was so good.



Amidst the panting and screaming sixteen year olds and co-eds, the Fly and I and some good friends that do life with us sat in our seats and watched this young 21 year-old invigorate and inspire his audience.

“I want to make you feel wanted.”

What young girl doesn’t want that sung to her?  What “not so young girl” doesn’t want that sung to her?  What “I’m starting to feel old,” girl doesn’t want that sung to her?  And, what “I am old, there is no denying it,” girl doesn’t want that sung to her?

I pictured my high school and young, college self in the crowd that night.  I thought about how those words would make me desperate for somebody to love me.  It was what I was searching for...for so long. 

But it wasn’t my high school self or college self standing there Sunday night drinking in the words of that song.  It was my 31 year-old self, a wife, a mommy, a person who wants to see Jesus in everything...because I need to.  So I heard those words with a very different heart.  I thanked God for my husband and I thanked God. 

The show continued and Carrie took the stage.




Talk about finding a voice.  That girl found hers and let it rip. 

At one point she got on to a small stage, a platform, that was rigged to float out to the center of the stadium.  We were right beneath her when it came to its stopping point.  I waved at her and she waved back...we had a moment!



She floated back to the main stage and went on with the rest of show. 

And, boy, did she own that stage.  From the beginning to end she belted and worked it.  At one point she introduced a couple of songs that she said meant so much to her.  She sang  Temporary Home and Jesus Take the Wheel into How Great thou Art

I had noticed hands in the air all around us as she had been singing since she stepped on stage, but, in the moment she transitioned to How Great thou Art, I saw more hands fly up into the air.  It was hard not to get to your feet or respond somehow.  The lyrics coupled with the power in her voice created an undeniable Holy Moment in my opinion. 

Then something interesting happened.  She couldn’t hit the high notes.  We all know she can...we’ve heard it before...but in that moment her vocal chords had hit their limit and she brought it down to a safer place.  She didn’t let herself crack...She humbly did what she needed to do so the show could go on. 

It was beautiful.  No one cared.  The moment was not about how great she is...it was about how great He is.  With a smile she headed to the back of the stage to be lowered for a costume change.

I said a quick prayer for her.  I don’t know if she was upset about the moment...she handled it so graciously, it did not seem to bother her. 

If it were me I would have been beating myself up...I’m sure of it.  But as I watched her I learned something from her whether she intended to teach or not. 

The show must go on.

I have heard and said these words many times.  It is common vernacular for the theater crowd.  But Sunday night gave me a new freedom to tie to this phrase.

I am human.  Carrie is human.  The things I am able to do I am only able to do because the God who created the universe gave me the ability to do them.  And, as long as I am using those abilities properly to glorify Him he will take what may look like error, failure or mistakes and bring glory to Himself. 

I just need to take the stage He has given me and do what He is asking me to do.

I believe God has given Carrie her gifts and talents.  I believe God has given Carrie a stage and a platform and she is using it well.  She even used it that night to sing about the greatness of our God.  And, as I watched her I thought about how when I was a little girl I wanted to be a country singer.  She sang I Told You So originally by Randy Travis and talked about how she wore out her sister’s cassette tape listening to it.  I remember wearing my mom’s same cassette tape out!  Another moment.

Obviously, I am not a country singer today, although, in my car I am.  However, I do believe that there is still a stage for me to take, today.  And, that my friends, make me so happy to say.  I’ve missed a stage for a long time now.  I’ve missed performing, acting, singing, dancing.  I’ve missed my character shoes and costumes and lights.  But, Sunday night, as the music washed over my soul I was confident that God had given me a stage as well.

Right now, it is mainly for the little people in my life.  I sing from it.  I dance on it.  I teach, guide and discipline.  I speak words that hopefully bring life and encouragement to those who listen. 

Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It,

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts...


Shakespeare goes on to talk about the stages of life and how we eventually end up as infantile as we entered this world.

When I think about this quote, one I’ve held on to and savored, I am reminded that my love for a stage was wired in me by my creator.  And although at 7 and 17 I thought my stage would look one way and bring much glory to me, I am so thankful that God interfered.  My prayer is that every stage I find myself on, whether it be in a family room, a theater ,or a stadium would bring glory to Him.

So, thank you, Fly, for the night out.  It did more in heart than I can express.

Thank you, Hunter Hayes, for reminding me where I came from and where I am today.

Thank you, Carrie Underwood, for bringing glory to God and teaching me a most valuable lesson.

Thank you, dear Lord, for the stage I am on now and the part you have given me to play, today.

And as new exits and entrances come may I be humble and gracious with every part I am given....

...because the show must go on.



Me and the Fly guy.  He makes me feel wanted.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Whom Shall I fear?

She’s learning to ride her bike without training wheels. 

It's hard to believe this was only 3 1/2 years ago.  (Photo taken by Amanda at April Smith Photography)


She can get her own snacks out of the refrigerator now.

My favorite thing is when she sings along in the car…at the top of her lungs.

Honestly, the child has been singing along with songs for a while.  I don’t mean to be that mom on the popular talents competition shows that says, “She’s been singing since birth!”  But, that’s exactly what I’m saying. 

Now singing and...dancing.

When she had just turned two, right around the time the Little Man was born, she had a favorite song on the Veggie Tales Oh, Brother Where are Thou? CD.  She would sing along with the chorus and everyone that heard her do it would melt as she sang, “Ba Ba Ba…I’m a little sheep!”  Adorable.

But as her little legs have grown a little longer and her baby face has leaned out a little more and her little fingers have stretched further, her little voice has become clearer and louder.  And, when she sings, she is passionate, committed and full of life.

We were driving to church one Saturday night and her current “favorite” song shuffled to the top of my playlist.  She began to sing at the top of her lungs…every word of the song…she knew them and she sang those words like she believed them.

I pulled out my phone to record the moment.  I had heard her do it before.  She learned it fast and asked for it every time we got in the car but in that particular moment I knew that I needed to remember it…for both of us.

I played it for good friends…friends that love her and know her Ba Ba Ba phase.  I played it for our small group.  I played it for myself over and over.

A few weeks ago I watched it up on the big screens in our main church service. I stood there and she stood on the chair next to me…excited to see herself but more excited they were going to sing her favorite song.

I know who goes before me,
I know who stands behind,
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

Whom shall I fear?

When I think about my sweet babies the last thing I want for them is to fight that battle.  I don’t want them to be afraid like I have been.




I have felt that way for a while now…so I began praying about it…a while ago.

It’s no secret to those that are close to me and maybe even those that don’t know me but read what I write, that I am a huge advocate of the power of prayer.  I have seen it move mountains in people’s lives.

This weekend I experienced God demolish a mountain in my own life.

As with most things spiritual, it’s hard to explain, but I will do my best with the words that tumble out of my very full heart. 

I have found when something happens in a heart it’s hard to articulate.  It often takes time to show itself in a life, in a way of living a life, I should say.

But this is what I can tell you with certainty:

  • God awakened my heart to prayer, again, at this time last year while I was awake at night with my Little Man.

  • I began to dream again.

  • I began to pray for people that would come to my mind.  And when I didn’t know what to pray anymore I asked the Holy Spirit to pray through me, and He did, just as the Scriptures says He does.

  • I committed certain people to prayer for seasons at a time.  I asked God to lead me to scripture to pray for them.  He did.

  • I tried fasting.  It was hard but it changed my prayer life.  It stretched me and took me deeper.

  • I wrote things down…not just here…but in a journal.  (When I die, whoever finds these journals may think I was certifiably insane…oh, well!  My best friend, who journals also, told her husband to never read hers…just burn them…perhaps I should have that conversation with my Fly.)

  • I prayed with other people.  This was HUGE.  When doubt crept in, when I sensed His face was hidden from me, when I was unsure and needed wise counsel…others came alongside and joined me in pursuit of what God was doing.

So when Friday came, and some ladies joined together to pray for me, for our church, for The Church, it was not unthinkable or unimaginable that God might show up and move a mountain.  It wasn’t unthinkable or unimaginable but I did not expect it.  I did not expect it to be so simple and so powerful all at the same time.

In the course of 3 days, prayers I have been praying for at least 10 years, and probably longer, have been answered.

10 years for 3 days.

It was worth it.

Our Pastor talked about three days this weekend. A Friday, A Saturday, A Sunday That Changed The World.  Those days that Lent prepares us for.   I mentioned three days on Friday.  The past three days have been transformational…ushering in new things…new hope…new life.

It never ceases to amaze me how God lines things up and comes to a person from all sides.  Some call it Providence.

Yesterday morning I looked at the mountains above our house.  They were so clear.  Later that morning I was reminded,

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
                                    Psalm 125:1

Tonight I go to bed, trusting in a new way.  Holding to promises I saw Him keep.  Peace and courage now residing in the deep places.  Believing with the conviction of child like faith, 

I know who goes before me,
I know who stands behind,
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

Whom shall I fear?


So, what does my tumbling of words mean for you tonight, friend?  I don’t  know that they make much sense but I can tell you sometimes sense is over-rated.

My truth-telling for the night:

Not only does He love you just because.  But He cares.  He cares so much that He listens to your cries.  He knows what keeps you up at night.  And, if you engage it, if you are willing to walk the days of pain, the days of waiting…you will experience the transformation.

The third day always comes.

video


Friday, February 15, 2013

My Lent Project

Getting ready for Valentine's Day.
 

It’s been three days since lent began. 

I remember, clearly, for four years of high school, walking the giant flight of stairs to the gym.  In dress uniform, the girls climbed to what felt as far as heaven, to gather for Mass.  One at a time we would be marked.  A cross on our foreheads.  Ashes. A sign of repentance.  A reminder to turn toward Jesus.

I wish I would have understood that then. 

God has reminded me today what He can do with a repentant heart.  What if I knew then what I know now?  Would I chase the same dreams?


A dreaming boy after a hard time falling asleep.

I need to focus on what I do know now.  I know that Lent has begun and this girl who grew up going through the motions of it but not fully understanding it, is ready to embrace it and be transformed by it.

Hallelujah. 

So I searched my heart.  Truth be known, I have been searching for a while.  Desperate to know what the next step is.  Hungry for more.  And Tuesday, it hit me.  Like a tidal wave that had been building for months, years, perhaps my lifetime, it hit me. 

Fear.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore.  Afraid of people’s opinions.  Afraid of parking lots.  Afraid of not being accepted.  Afraid of being rejected.  

Afraid I might leave.  No more fear, sweet boy.


It is time.  Yes, it is time.  I know in my head that I don’t want to live this way.  I don’t want to blow away with the winds of compromise because I am scared to say what I know or what I believe. I want my words to hold weight of wisdom and conviction.  I want to speak truth…in love…but always truth.

I want to say, surely, my trust is in the Lord.  I have placed my confidence in Him.  And when I say it, I want to mean it.

So, I’m giving up a few things.  For the next six weeks, from now until the sun rises on Easter Sunday, I will be asking God to break things, break me, break through.  I am creating space and removing the things I numbingly go to for acceptance, “community”, inspiration, and affirmation. 

So, for Lent, I am giving up social media.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. 

I realize that I am not the first to fast from social media.  It is always healthy to take a break from the screens in our lives.  But more importantly, for me, I want space to trust in God alone for ALL my needs. 

I will also not be reading any BLOGS! I'm in pursuit of my own voice.


This kids got a voice...but now he doesn't have a guitar!


I want to keep writing.  I want to share my stories.  I want to bless others and encourage people.  I want people to know that they are not alone and there is great hope in the One we can call our Savior.  He binds up the broken hearted.  He sets captives free. 

But first, I need to be set free so I can tell the truth…the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  So help me, God.

I will keep writing.  Starting this third day of the Lenten season and culminating on the third day that changed the world.

It changed me.

I’m praying that through this I will discover my voice.  As I sing along through the next 40-some days I will speak afresh and anew.

I know it’s there.  I’m ready for it to be unlocked so I can tell the world, without fear, how fearfully and wonderfully made each creature is by a creator who loves them.

You are loved.  Not because of anything you ever did.  Just because.

I will leave it there for now.  Let it sink in.

Blessings this Lent and looking forward to The Third Day. 

The Mommy and The Bug.  I pray she knows how fearfully and wonderfully made she is.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Memorize



 I am memorizing more this year.  I was inspired by three best friends and the “Siestas” over at the LPM blog.  (Um, I love Beth Moore.  I have learned so much from her.  Sometimes I think we are really friends.  I also think that Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross and Joey are my friends too.  Sometimes I have a problem identifying reality…topic for another post, I guess.)

Back to reality…

I have always had a knack for memorizing.  However, when it comes to memorizing scripture I often find myself making silent excuses.  The idea floats by and I pretend that I have more important things to do.

The truth is that if I really made it a discipline I know I could do it well.  I am a trained memorizer.  I basically majored in memorizing.  (I was a theater major…well, technically a communications major with a theater emphasis but it’s a long story…again, perhaps another post.)

My heart began to feel convicted as I could easily recall my very first memorized line from my debut performance as a three year old playing the Shoemaker’s wife in the classic tale of The Elves and The Shoemaker.  I can recite monologues from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet, however, my Scripture memory bank consists of verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and John 3:16.  Both are powerful, both are living and active, breathed words from the mouth of God, but there is so much more.

This last fall I read a book called The Heavenly Man.  It changed my mind, no, it changed my heart, about memorizing scripture.  It made me crave it…like carbs.  The book is about a man named Brother Yun and his story of spreading the Gospel in China through the 80’s and 90’s.  His story is inspiring.  It taught me and gave me knew and fresh perspective.  But one of the greatest things I took away was how God ministered to him and others because of the Word that was written on his heart…in a place that no one could destroy or take from him. 

I wanted that.  I wanted more of His Word to well up in me in the hours of my greatest joys and greatest despair.  It is “sharper than a double-edged sword, splitting bone and marrow.”  It fights.  It gives hope.  It brings healing.  It creates…love, beauty, clean hearts.  It is powerful and when spoken, it gives life.

So, I started here.  This is the first one.  I found it.  No, I was brought to it.

January 1st

Psalm 104:33
I will sing to the LORD all the days of my life.  I will sing praise to the LORD while I have my being.

It is a gem.  I have turned it and chewed on it and savored it. I have been inspired.  I have been transformed.  I am singing again…at the top of my lungs.  Really. ask my neighbors.

As I began to sing loudly, everyday, I began to feel free and something wonderful happened.  God used this verse to plant a new thing in my heart.  Right now it is a seed, but it’s growing.  I hope to share it with you soon.

More music makers in my home.


The middle of the month came fast.  I memorized this one next.

January 15th

Psalm 27:8
When you said, “Seek my face,” my heart said, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

This one was reminiscent and a driving force simultaneously.  Last February, I felt God say this to me…not in these exact words then but this is the exact Word to describe the scene now.  Through promptings, miracles and visions of His over-arching, never-ceasing love in the day but mostly in the night hours awake with my Little Man, God told me to seek His face.  

I saw the sky like this one night right after my heart was set to seek His face.  I couldn't help but see His Glory.  Looking at it again tonight it looks like a horse pulling a chariot...that's on fire...wow.


I sought it out through worship in prayer.  On my knees, rocking in a big blue chair, scrubbing Johnson & Johnson in baby fine hair and curly locks…I sought…it was either that or drown in exhaustion and believe the lies that I wasn’t doing anything of any importance.

Remember when He said, “Seek me and you will find me…”  It’s true.  I did and I did.  And, I’m not the same. 

My heart, my will, everything in me, knew I needed more.  I didn’t have anything left to give.  So I sought the one who gave it all for me.  In real weakness I experienced His real strength.  And, I’m not done.  That’s the beautiful thing.  We get to seek and continue to seek.  Don’t ever stop.  There is so much more.

Tomorrow is February 1st.  Here is my number 3.

Psalm 119:103
 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

The Bible is always equating its words to my greatest cravings.   Sweets and Bread.  Sugar and Carbs.  

Left overs from a night of good food, good friends and good laughs.  If you leave sweets at my house I WILL eat them.  All of them.  You have been warned.


 So, here I am.  Three verses in and 21 to go.  I write them out by hand every day.  That’s how I would memorize my lines in a play.  When the muscles in my hands worked the words to the paper I would see them and read them in my own handwriting, learning the part, the person I would play.  I would identify as I began to make-believe they were words from my very own heart.

When I write His Words in my own hand-writ, I see them, and do-believe them and receive them into my very own heart.  And, I start to remember. 

I said I would write more this year…not just my own words, though.  I want to write His Words on my heart so that The Word will be the overflow pouring out of my mouth as I speak and my fingers as I type.  I’m praying, this year, I will sing more, and sing louder.  I’m praying I will not stop seeking.  I’m praying I will crave His Word like never before.

The Bug said, "Smell it, Mommy.  It smells like sunshine."  Oh, that we may be child-like!!!


And, I desperately want others to experience this too.

So. Why not join me?  

One more...since it is #throwbackthursday, after all.  Me, singing As Long As He Needs Me, as Nancy in Oliver.  I will never forget this moment.  I was loud.


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