Lord, make us truly thankful all your blessings,
and bless those who sip tea with me today.
Today’s tune is a surprise, even to me. It’s been a tough week, and this old hymn, first published in 1918 by Helen Lemell, has been an anchor. I can remember singing it as a kid and being confused by the line “and the things of earth will grow strangely dim”. How could the things around me, the trees, my house, my toys, just fade? I knew it wasn’t by magic; I knew about miracles and Jesus’ power. Was it like drifting off to sleep?
As I’ve grown older, I have understood the deeper meaning. That when I take my eyes off Jesus and focus instead on the things the world values, I lose intimacy in my relationship with Christ. I become proud and arrogant, going my own way, being swayed by “fine-sounding arguments”. I get beaten up and overwhelmed. I lose sight of Who I am to follow and to Whom I belong. I become no longer who I was made to be, and to serve as I’ve been called to serve.
But if I focus on Jesus only, the opinions, the conspiracies, the craziness of the world will fade away. I can have lasting peace and joy. Don’t get the wrong impression. I’m not a naive, “airy-fairy, ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away” person. I am not living in fear. I am not afraid to speak up, in love. I hope I am wise enough to know when to shut up. I have a choice in Who and what I listen to, and I choose Jesus.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal. 6:14
I haven’t shared a Friday’s tune in a few weeks, but it isn’t because I haven’t been singing! Sometimes it’s better to take a break from writing, than to force it and lose joy in the process. 🙂
I hesitated to write today. Sharing something you wrote requires a degree of vulnerability and this song is one I wrote. It’s so easy to let the opinions of others steal your joy or crush your soul. But I have been singing this all week.
I have been frustrated by the on-going opinions and “theories” related to Covid-19. In particular, those restrictions that are viewed as restriction of rights. I believe some of the restrictions are necessary to protect one another in love, and are for a season. I get tired of “entitled” people spewing poison and creating conflict. Some just for the sick pleasure of doing so.
Worship, especially music through worship, is important to me. I can’t imagine attending a church service without singing because that is one of the greatest forms of expression, for me. But if I’m asked to refrain for a season, then I will. I will sing in my heart when I’m in public, and I will sing with all the breath in my lungs when I’m at home (or in the car)! You’ve been warned! 🙂
It might have been on my mind Saturday night as I slept. I had my frequent Saturday night nightmare. I am panicking!! I’m late for church, I’m leading, and my sheet music has vanished. I’m supposed to provide the offertory as well. Just me. So as we rushed out the door to get to the church (this time I wasn’t even in the building yet), I started to write a song…and I woke up with the first 2 lines still in head.
I’m not a morning person. It was 6 a.m. and my eyes were still heavy with sleep. But I rolled out and foraged in the dark for a notepad and pen…
If there’s no music, then I will worship in the silence
I will soak in the reverence of Your majesty
And in the silence, I will glory in Your splendour
I will wonder at Your depths of love for me.
If there’s no music, then I will worship in the silence
I will whisper the name of Jesus, He is King
And in the silence, I will praise You for Your goodness,
I will marvel at Your depths of grace to me.
In the quiet, when I’m trusting You
You are my strength, my joy
In the quiet, I hear You calling me
I know Your voice
My heart and soul will always sing to You
If there’s no music, I will worship in the silence
I will wonder at Your mercy, how You lifted me to stand
In the silence, I will tell You how I love You
How much I need You in the silence, make me whole
I am Yours
I listened to this song when I was a senior in public school. It made me feel less lonely. I was (stupidly) desperate to have a boyfriend and be like the other girls in my class. I was a shy wallflower, so most of the guys didn’t notice me. And the smart ones who might of noticed me, were too afraid to say anything.
Smile, make them think you’re happy
Lie, and say that things are fine
And hide that empty longing that you feel
Don’t ever show it, just keep your heart concealed
Like most prepubescent girls, I had a warped sense of love and romance. There was pressure to conform and FOMO, the fear of missing out, something that’s existed long before the concept gained popularity! I suspect that even though girls are educated from a young age to dream big and pursue those dreams, from astronomy to zoology, from running marathons to running multi-million dollar corporations, the longing is still tucked away in there. We were built for relationship. Unfortunately, thirteen year olds aren’t built with the maturity to build serious relationships.
I don’t think the pressure to have someone really lessens with age. The ability to sidestep those awkward conversations get easier. And one learns to take joy in other types of relationships, including with one’s self. As we all should. After all, no one person can ever truly make us happy. Only Jesus.
Instead, it seems every television show promotes relationships as one-night stands or something that can be tossed aside when something better comes along. Not every relationship is healthy but the casualness is disconcerting. Not just because I’m an old fart! It’s just a style with which I couldn’t be comfortable if I were single.
I’m proud of my oldest son. It’s a sore point for him. I know he’d like settle down with someone special. I’ve watched him sidestep the awkward questions. I know he gets pressured by the guys at work. But I’m proud of him for waiting, for respecting himself and the girls out there enough not to run around. He’s looking for a lasting relationship, built on friendship and trust, not sex. I believe he’ll blessed one day, and though it’s painful in the waiting, he will share a love that runs deep and can weather any storm.
We have all been wounded by love, in the lack of it, the distortion of it, or the loss of it. We were built for relationship. But what we don’t realize is the first and most important relationship were supposed to have, the One who should be our first and forever love, is Jesus. I don’t think I got that at thirteen. I realized it much later in life, after a lot of wounding. And yes, sometimes I still have to be reminded Who loves me most. That all the longing to love and be loved can be satisfied in that one relationship. That when it is, I have love that overflows into the other relationships I hold dear – my family, my church family, even the stupid man in the grocery store who didn’t care that he was going the wrong way!
Perhaps that’s why this long-forgotten song has been playing in my head. I needed the reminder again. Maybe someone who persevered through this very long post needed it too. 😉
The sun was shining this morning. It had rained through the night and broken the oppressive heat. A gentle breeze was blowing, and the birds were all singing their glorious songs. But I was sitting there in a bit of a funk. I felt guilty because I knew I shouldn’t be feeling this way. My unwelcome and long-time companion, insecurity, was hanging around too.
I had participated in an exciting venture this week, but it felt like no one noticed. Of course, they did! I had worked hard to make sure other players were acknowledged. But wasn’t I also part of the team? Like a person on fire, when a pity-party threatens, I need to stop, drop and roll before the Lord. I need to remind myself why I did what I did, why we all did. It was to honour Him with our gifts and talents, with the creativity and the opportunity He gave us. It was an honour, and each of us had an important part to play.
As I confessed my insecure heart and my ungrateful, selfish attitude, a song started to play in my heart. A hymn I have I loved for a very long time. There is nothing more that I need.
Sometimes we just gotta’ wake up and count our blessings. Widen our focus. Put on some music and dance. Each day is a gift. Even the hard ones.
When we “count our blessings”, we shift the focus from our circumstances or the 4 walls of our minds. It helps us appreciate what have, or who we have, in our lives. It encourages us to say “thank you”, thereby spreading the blessing. Renewed gratitude renews relationship, even the one you have with your own soul.
Like a conversation with someone else, we are forced to rethink our perceptions, talk through what is holding us back, or holding us down. We can see where we have been and where we are going, and where we are growing. If we don’t like the direction, we can start to make choices to change it.
This life could almost kill ya’ when you’re trying to survive
When all your energy goes into just surviving, ask God to show you the blessings in your life. Share the pain, the guilt or whatever it is that is threatening to overwhelm you. He can handle it. He can handle your anger, your disappointment, and your sorrow. He can fill your loneliness, restore your peace, and strengthen your resolve.
Each day is a new beginning, a little resurrection. A chance to start over. A reason to find joy.
Today I am celebrating my 24th wedding anniversary! I have lived more years with Hubby than without him. It feels like a long time ago, and not so long ago.
A few years ago, I shared how my grandparents met and some memories of their wedding in 1948. I thought I had some of her memories about her honeymoon in the book she started to write for me, but she didn’t make it to the ’30s. Still, precious memories. I do remember that on their honeymoon, they spent a night in a little cabin and in the morning, woke to a cow peeking in the window. This was her nightgown, saved all these years, with tiny stitching, in a stiff, satiny fabric. The waist is ridiculously tiny!! 🙂
I know their marriage wasn’t always “bliss” but they weathered the storms together and were still very much in love over 60 years later. I wish I could ask them for the secret of a long marriage, if one even exists.
I saved my own nightgown, which was special because my Mom made it for me, sewing at my Grandmother’s house so it would be a surprise! It’s made of a semi-sheer fabric with wide lace, with a matching robe.
I entered marriage with dreams of a whole and happy family, the white picket fence, etc. As anyone who has been in a serious relationship will understand that the honeymoon doesn’t last. I joke that the first 15 years of our marriage was the hardest 🙂
I planned to pack it next year when we celebrate our 25th. I had hoped to wear it and kiss my sweetheart under the Italian stars. Now I’m not sure we’ll even make it, but I will content to just be together.
There was a time when I feared we wouldn’t make it. I seriously considered separating at one point, but I would stay married. I sought counsel from a pastor who, though I didn’t know well, I knew I could trust.
After I spilled my heart, she asked me one question: “Do you still love him?. “Yes,” I whispered through my tears. She smiled and replied, “then there is hope”.
I can’t imagine anything simpler or more profound to encourage me that day. I began to pray with a renewed spirit, for my family and husband, but most of all for me. I asked God to help me see my husband as God saw him. I prayed for love. I prayed for wisdom to be a good wife – to know how to communicate with him, to build him up, to show him I loved him in ways he’d understand. And I prayed for a new heart and attitude.
Little by little, we both changed. God is good!
He still makes me laugh and has taught me to laugh at myself. I still catch myself watching him sometimes, the way he chews his lip when he’s concentrating, the way his eyes twinkle just before he smiles. And I could go on. I am certainly not quite the same girl he married, but perhaps a better version of the one who captured his heart. I have learned to hope.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
This week, while resting with a cup of tea between jobs, I perused Instagram. I don’t normally check out the “suggested for you” page, but I did and there were wedding photos. I’m a sucker for ball gowns. Actress, Busy Philips, celebrated her 13th anniversary this week and she posted pics from her nuptials, including her dress, her invitations, and her “mix tape”, a gift to was given to her guests. My guests received homemade chocolate truffles. I think I’d prefer the truffles.
Anyway, it got me thinking, since this Monday is my 24th wedding anniversary! I’ve lived more years with Hubby than without.
There were certain things about my special day that were extra important, the groom and my family aside. The dress (as Princess Diana as I could afford). The flowers (red roses like my grandmother). And the music. I selected every piece, from the processional (Praise My Soul the King of Heaven) and recessional (Trumpet Voluntary), to the hymn and 2 solos. I also selected the first 3 songs for our small dance. I danced with my father to Matthew Ward’s, My Little Ones. It made us both cry. Our wedding party danced to All the Way My Saviour Leads Me by Rich Mullins. But it was our first dance that is today’s tune: Perfect Union by Matthew Ward.
My sister-in-law introduced me to this song when she had it sung at her wedding. I loved the imagery that despite the “storms of life”, if we chose to seek God first in our marriage, we would be strengthened and love would endure. We would be joined in “three part harmony”.
During some very difficult years, I would look at our wedding photos and I was encouraged by the light reflecting on the cross on the altar in front of us. I took that as a special message from God that He was still part of this relationship and if we looked to Him, we would endure.
Hand and hand we’ll seek the Father.
I went grocery shopping yesterday and it wasn’t long until I became an angry shopper.
I met a woman coming the wrong way down the well-marked aisle. I kindly pointed it out to her and she walked right and muttered, “I don’t think so”. It immediately sparked something primal in me. I replied, “no, really. There are arrows on the floor”. She replied without stopping or looking back, “I don’t see anything”. “Really?” I barked, and turned to go. That’s when she muttered something rude. I won’t repeat it.
It made me angry: her sense of entitlement to break the rules, her assumptions about me, and overall, the complete lack of respect.
Anger is a natural response. In some cases, it’s an appropriate response. Even Jesus got angry. But he didn’t live angry. He didn’t feel angry. Not all the time. It was one of the reasons that I quit my job. I felt angry all the time, and I don’t want to be that person.
I don’t want to drive angry. I don’t want to work angry. I don’t want to live angry.
On the way home from the store, Skillet’s song, Legendary, was playing.
Every day I fight to be…Legendary
What does that mean? I know for some it means building an empire, getting noticed, having a following. As a Christ Follower, I am not called to build my kingdom but God’s.
Somewhere along the way, God started to connect the dots. To be legendary means to live every day as Jesus did. Jesus spoke out against injustice. He built up the poor and the weak. He loved the outcast. The very things we let divide us never mattered to Him. Instead of skin colour or cultural backgrounds, He saw people who struggled and hurt.
Legends made when faith is strong.
It sounds simplistic, but if we all adopted the attitudes of Jesus, wouldn’t it stand to reason that our actions would become an outpouring from a place of love. Our own sense of importance and entitlement would dissipate. We would have the energy to focus on fighting for the things that matter – “breaking down the wall of hostility” – instead of fighting each other.
I’m not naive nor do I belong on a soapbox. I know the problems in our world are greater than any one person. Or any one group of people. But it doesn’t mean I stop trying. I can choose to be angry, or I can choose to live another way.
"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan
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