Choose Your Song

My husband and I were as people in Missouri say,¨dirt poor¨when we first got married. Our honeymoon consisted of going back to the apartment I lived at in Columbia and staying there for 2 nights while my roommates found other places to stay. Then it was off to our new lives in another town and a new job for me. This year marked our 30th Anniversary. When we started talking about what we should do, I told my husband, ¨Let’s go big!¨ So we contemplated what it would take for us to swing a trip to Hawaii. Finally it was in our plans.

One of the whales at play

That´s where this week begins. For the past six days my husband and I have been living our Hawaiian dreams: walks during the sunrise and sunset on the beach, driving around seeing all the sights, a luau… It has been fun! Yesterday was an excursion on a catamaran around the island watching dolphins, turtles, and even a manta ray swim up next to the boat. But the star of the show was the humpback whales. Every year they migrate from Alaska to Hawaii for their mating season. We have been blessed to be here for the prime time of their activity. They were jumping, splashing their tail fins, and even breaching! It was breathtaking! Our Captain stopped the boat for awhile to allow for time snorkeling. Which was awesome! Just before we embarqued on our return back to the pier the Captain set up a waterproof microphone on an extra long cord and for a brief moment we were able to hear something amazing, the singing of the whales. What more could a Missouri girl ask for in a tour!

What struck me the most about the whales’ song was how it goes on and on yet it is often unheard. We can miss it!

This morning I woke up thinking about the ¨songs¨ we listen to and the most important ¨songs¨we miss. Zephaniah‬ ‭3‬:‭17‬ ‭says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” I have spent much of my life not really hearing the sweet song of Lord as He has sung it over me. Instead I have let the sounds of wind and waves drown it out with noise of fear and anxiety. Or I have missed the Lord’s song as the angry and bitter noises of loud commotion the enemy has echoed near me over and over. I have often missed the Lord’s song. I have chosen to focus on all the noise around me when He has called me away to sit with Him and hear Him sing.

When I woke up this morning I kept seeing the words, ¨choose your song.¨ They ran through my mind over and over and over. Then I remembered the whales’ song. We had to choose to listen to the whales singing yesterday as we sat anchored on the ocean. I have to choose as well. Our minds have been rightly called ¨a battlefield.¨ They are where we listen to the spiritual voices and they are where we decide. For years I have taken the lazy approach to my thought life, thinking I had no control over where my mind took me, or what ¨song¨ I listened to. The fruit of that kind of living was miserable. We must ¨Choose our song.¨ We must choose to listen to the song the Heavenly Father as He sings over us. His song is a song of love, joy, peace, and mercy. He sings it over us all the time! He is patiently waiting for us to listen and to respond to His singing. He longs for us to focus on His song and to reject all the noise the enemy tries to distract us with.

Lately, Ive been tempted to listen to all the distorted noises of the enemy. It’s so easy to find yourself tuning into His lies. It takes no effort to hear him… But my loving Heavenly Father reminded me by a moment miles away from my home, that He wants me to ¨listen intently¨to Him. Keep my focus on His voice. If I don’t I will miss His singing. Just like I could have totally missed the singing of the whales, had I not took the opportunity to stop and hear.

Our God is such a good, good God. May we listen to Him sing His song of love over us each and every hour of each and every day!

My Mom

I am a writer. It’s kind of an outlet for me. Sometimes the things I feel come out better written in a journal with pen or pecked out on a laptop keyboard. I woke up this morning, 4:36 am to be exact, thinking about my mom. My mom has suffered for 22 years with poor health and chronic pain. A couple of weeks ago she took a turn for the worse and has now been released to hospice care at home. I spent the past couple of days at my parent’s house helping out as our family has begun to navigate what hospice has indicated are the last one to two weeks, she is with us here on earth. So, forgive me as I sort through it all in this Blog entry today.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen this picture of us until this week. Mom and me camping. She made camping look like fun when I’m sure she had to work hard. Thanks mom!

Mom probably doesn’t know this, but some of my best parenting hacks I could attribute to her. When I was little, she made me and my brothers and my Dad the center of her world, with the exception that God truly was first. My earliest memories are hot summer days sitting on the concrete back porch of our home eating homemade popsicles she had in abundant supply. (I got the recipe and made them for my kids.) They were always soooo good especially my favorite, the grape. Summers were spent going to the Current River to play, Sinking Creek to be exact. Mom took us there frequently during the hottest of the summer days. She wanted to make sure I could swim. If we didn’t go to the river, she would set up a sprinkler for us to run through in our back yard. While I played outside, she canned fresh vegetables and made the best homemade jellies ever. I was so spoiled with the taste of them, I struggled when I moved out and went to college to eat store bought jelly. It wasn’t the same as my mom’s.

During the winter, on snow days, Mom let my brothers, my cousin Ted and I build forts out of blankets between our rooms so we could have rubber band gun wars. As a kid they seemed to go on forever. She didn’t seem to mind us sliding down the hallway in our socks on the hard wood floor of our little 1200 sq ft home. We loved to pretend to ice skate. I’m sure we were loud, rambunctious, and a little crazy, but she let us play.

Birthday party for my daughter with my Mom and Mom in love

Mom took us to the public library frequently and would read us book after book. She also, sat us down and read us Bible stories from the Egermeier’s Bible Story Book, which is one of my personal favorites. Her mom read it to her, she read it to me, I repeated this with my kids and hope to pass this tradition to my grandkids as they grow up too. Thanks, Mom, for giving me the idea.

Mom, my son, grandson, and me

Mom was the church pianist, so she made sure piano lessons were available to each of us kids. She loved music. It was always playing in our home. She passed this love on to me, my kids, and now to my grandkids. What a heritage!

Mom playing at church

My mom was a seamstress. She spent hours sewing me the most complicated of dresses that I would request. They fit perfectly and were beautiful. Although occasionally she would forget a sewing pin in them, and I would find it while trying it on. i teased her a lot about that. She made several quilts for wedding gifts or baby blankets as well. She painted paintings, worked on cabinets and other projects with my grandma in Grandma’s woodshop. She was brave enough to take us kids to that woodshop and let us make Christmas Ornaments with the bandsaw one year. That instilled in me a love for woodworking inspiring me to take shop in High School so I could make a cedar chest as a project. Maybe someday I’ll take up woodworking again it sure sounds fun.

Mom and me at my wedding. Mom did all the flowers.

Fishing trip to Texas she went with my dad on

Probably one of my favorite things my mom passed down to me is the love of fishing. My favorite summer memories are of her and my dad taking us fishing at Grandma’s pond. It was such a happy and peaceful place to go. Mom loved to fish. If she got a big one on the line, she would get so excited making my dad and the rest of us laugh as she reeled in her catch.

A not so successful trout fishing trip

Mom tried to pass down her skills to me working with me to learn to crochet, embroidery, sew, cook (I was pretty resistant when it came to that), and even tried to get me to learn to bake pies. When I was around five, she would be making dough for her own pies, but give me a little of hers, put it in my little toy pie tin, let me dip a spoonful or two of her pie filling in the crust and help me to seal it up with a small piece of dough on top. She would bake my little pie right next to hers so I could give it to my dad when he got home from his long day of work at the mines. I would “work” right next to her wearing a little apron she had made for me. to wear. This is one of my happiest memories growing up.

When I was nine, Mom and Dad felt like God was leading our family to become a foster family and help children who were in need. The second child my parents fostered was a special needs child that they adopted almost 9 years later. Mom tried very hard to help my sister, and keep our home what it should be, but those years proved to be very hard years for us all. Things were not easy at home as they once were. When I graduated high school, I left home a day or two after graduation. I let a lot of hurt and bitterness fester for several years in my heart. Things were not what Mom and I had wanted between us.

A couple of years ago, I took a trip home to talk to Mom about it all, for years she had been trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. We laid it all out there and forgiveness came. We talked about how we did not have what we both had wanted all those years, but we had what we had now, and we would try to go forward from there. But her illness, kept us from really getting to do the things we wanted to and to be what we wanted to be.

While I was at home the past couple of days, mom told me how much she had always wanted me. I was a “pleasant surprise” to my parents when I was born. She hadn’t planned another baby, and she never dreamed she would get a little girl. She proceded to tell me how she wished things had been different.

Things may not have been all we wanted here, but we have a hope, His name is Jesus. I know very soon she will leave behind the pain she has walked through and step into the beauty of His glory! Although by earth’s years, (I hope to have at least another 40 years left in me), it may seem to be a long time. In heaven, time is no more. It will only be a short time for her, and we will be back together once again. Everything that kept us apart will be no more. What we missed here will be there. Yes, we have this Hope. I told Mom as I kissed her goodbye, “If Jesus comes to get you, go ahead and go. I will see you again very soon. We will all be together again, and it will be beautiful.”

I love you Mom, don’t worry about me. As we talked about in the hospital a week ago, “God has worked all things out for the good of us (me and her) who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) If I don’t get to see you before Jesus comes to call you on, I will see you again when my race is done.

The Day That You Were Born

As I look out my window
On this beautiful morn
I think of what it was like
The day that You were born.

Was the air a little crisper?
Did the sky seem more blue?
Was the beauty in the sunrise more intense
As it rose in honor of You?

Did all of creation’s groaning stop
As it welcomed You that day?
A precious little baby
Who came to show us the way.

You came to look through human eyes
And touched with human hands
To feel the pain that we all feel
To be God and yet a man.

You came to give the sacrifice.
The one that covers them all
From the largest of all my sins
Down to the very small.

What can I give you?
How can I ever repay?
I have nothing but my life.
Take it all I pray

As I look out my window
On this beautiful morn.
I worship Emmanuel, God with us,
And thank Him that He was born.

Happy Birthday Jesus!!!!

Christmas in Luke (Day 24)

Today’s reading is Luke 24.

Hope seemed lost after the crucifixion. Even though Jesus had plainly told His disciples He would have to suffer and be crucified, but He would rise again, they did not understand.
The women who followed Jesus had went to tomb with spices for Jesus’ body, but instead they found two angels there proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection.

On the First Christmas, Angels proclaimed Jesus’s birth. On Resurrection Sunday, the Angels proclaimed Jesus alive forevermore! He was not there among the dead but He is risen just as He said!

The reign of darkness has been broken The King of Kings came to our world. When life seems to be at it’s darkest hour, remember God’s light has come! May it shine in our world as we celebrate Jesus Birth!

Christmas in Luke (Day 23)

Today’s reading is Luke 23.
This is the reason!
As we are getting close to Christmas Eve and Christmas may we remember this truth. Jesus came with a purpose. He came to give Himself away on our behalf. The betrayal, the unjust judgement, the accusations, the pain, the crucifixion: all of this was why His arrival lit up the skies with worshipful angels declaring God’s favor to us the night of Jesus’ Birth. Christmas is not really Christmas without Jesus and it means nothing without remembering He had come to die for us.
Thank you Jesus!

Christmas in Luke (Day 22)

Today’s reading is Luke 22.
As I read today’s chapter, tears came to my eyes. Jesus said in verse 14 “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…”

Jesus knew…

It was no surprise to Him the events that unfolded throughout the rest of this chapter: the betrayal of Judas, the arrest, the denial of Peter, the accusations of the religious leaders. Jesus knew. In fact when they arrested Him, He said, “…this is your hour— when darkness reigns.” (Verse 53) Jesus knew what was coming. This was all part of His plan.
Before the first announcement of His conception 33 years prior; before a single angel began a song of worship in the skies over Bethlehem the night He was born; before His first cry as a baby in a small stable as He was held in Mary’s hands: He knew.

He knew He had come to a world that would reject Him and He knew He would suffer and die for us, but He came to us anyway. He came because He “eagerly desired” to eat with us as well. He wanted to make the way for us to come to Him.

He still eagerly desires our communion with Him today. As we celebrate His coming to us, the First Christmas, in the days ahead, may we not forget how much He eagerly desired to be with us. So He came.

Christmas in Luke (Day21)

To be honest when I skimmed over the text this morning, I was having a hard time finding Christmas in this chapter. Much of it is a description Jesus gave of future events that included hardships, persecution, and death. He encouraged His disciples to stay faithful, to “stand firm” (Verse 19), to “stand up and lift up your heads…” (Verse 28)

But I looked once more at the first four verses of the chapter. Jesus was at the temple and watched as a poor widow came and “out of her poverty put in all she had to live on,” (Verse 4) into the offering box. She came and worshipped God with all she had.

In the account of the first Christmas there were several ordinary people who willingly laid aside their plans and gave all they had in order to be instruments of worship. Joseph obeyed the angels instruction to take Mary as his wife when he had found out she was pregnant and the baby wasn’t his. Mary was willing to go through the humility of becoming pregnant with God’s Son when those around her would not believe. The shepherds came to worship a King when they were not affluent or royal.

Today I find myself poor in spirit as well. Life’s circumstances and my mother’s sickness weigh heavily on my heart. But if I look at the widow as an example, I find myself wanting to give out of my poverty in my heart. I haven’t got much to give, but I can give my gratitude. I have a hope that no matter what my day, my week, my month may bring my God is bigger. His love sustains me.

Yes the worship of the first Christmas was the same as the poor widow. It was worship given out of lack to the one who supplies all our needs. May that be the worship of my heart as well. If all that I have is a hallelujah may I give it because He is worthy.

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“I could sing these songs
As I often do
But every song must end
And You never do
So I throw up my hands
And praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah
Hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a King
Except for a heart singing hallelujah
Hallelujah”

Christmas in Luke (Day 20)

Today’s reading is Luke 20.

I love taking the month of December and focusing on the most blessed event of human history, Jesus’ Birth and reading Luke. All the warmth and tenderness of the moment in the Bethlehem stable has been remembered over and over as we have focused on all the details surrounding His arrival and shortly after.
Then there have been each account of all the miracles Jesus performed while here walking the earth, and the truth He spoke in all the parables, as we have been reading a chapter a day.

With each miracle and each word, we have read how He was being closely watched by a group who wanted for Him to go away- to kill Him. Today’s reading includes a parable Jesus told to expose the hearts of those people. The parable of the evil farmers, tenants who wanted nothing to do with the landowner. The landowner tried desperately to receive some fruit from the vineyard He had planted. His tenants beat the servants the landowner had sent to communicate with them. Finally the landowner appealed to them by sending his son, who he loved. These tenants threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him. Jesus finished this parable with the words,”The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Verse 17)

With all that Jesus did that was good, kind, and miraculous, He was still rejected. But the very person they rejected, Jesus, was the person that God had sent to save.

We also have a choice when faced with the person Jesus. We can accept Him and His lordship over our lives, or we can reject Him.
May we examine our hearts this Christmas season. As we celebrate the tenderness of our God who has come to us as a baby to be with us, Jesus- Emmanuel, may we not reject His desire to become God within us. He longs to do good and to fill our lives with Himself. May our hearts be opened to receive Him!

Christmas in Luke (Day 17)

Today’s reading is Luke 17.
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when He encountered ten men with leprosy. These men stood at a distance crying out for Jesus to have mercy on them. So Jesus told them to “Go and show” themselves to the priest. This was the law regarding someone who had been cured of the disease. As they went they were cleansed.

One however came back to Jesus praising God, throwing himself at Jesus feet thanking Him.
So many people have an encounter with Jesus. They see His life changing miracles in their lives. Yet the neglect to do one thing, turn to Him and thank Him.

I have been there. I have sat in blessings beyond my ability to number, yet I have neglected at times to thank God or worship Him.

Once again I would venture to say this is nothing new. At the time of Jesus birth there were crowds all around. The town where Jesus was born was so full of people. It was impossible for Joseph and Mary to find room at an inn the night Jesus was born. How many people missed the most important event of human history, Jesus birth? How many failed to worship Him along with the Angel choirs that night?

At Christmas, we see decorations all around that point to Jesus once again: nativity scenes, stars, angels, wisemen, and shepherds. Yet how often do we pass by and fail to thank Jesus for coming? How often do we fail to worship Him?

May our hearts be as the one man who had received a life changing healing from Leprosy all those years ago. May we turn to Jesus, falling at His feet in thanksgiving for the salvation Jesus has brought to us, the freedom, the healing! May we never forget to give thanks for all He has done! May we never miss our opportunity to worship our King!

Christmas in Luke (Day 15)

Today’s reading is Luke 15.

Jesus drew crowds of people. The Pharisees watched Him closely looking for a reason to accuse Him. They did not like the people’s response to Jesus, and they especially disliked Jesus’ response to the people. They did not want Jesus to “welcome sinners and eat with them.” (Verse 2)

So Jesus told these parables, recorded in this chapter, to give them a glimpse of the loving heart of God: the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. Jesus cared about those lost and in the dangerous grip of Satan. Like the shepherd of the lost sheep, He would go out of His way to bring them back to safety.

Jesus values us so much in our lost condition. Like the woman searching her house diligently for the one lost coin rejoicing when she found it, He pursues us. He rejoices greatly when we are found and safe in relationship with Him.

Our Heavenly Father is much like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal son. The son willfully, with no regard for the broken heart of His father, chose to rebel. He chose to leave the safety and provision of his father’s house. He chose to make bad decision after bad decision, partying and squandering his inheritance. He reaped the consequences of all the wrong he had done living lost, alone, hungry and eating pig slop. Then the thought enters his mind to go back to his dad in hopes of mercy, possibly being accepted back as hired hand. This father, however, welcomed him back as a son. He threw a feast. He rejoiced because his son he thought was dead, was alive.

This is God’s heart towards us! This is the heart behind Christmas! I have been the lost sheep, alone and scared. I have been the lost coin, searched for and pursued by my loving God. I have most definitely been the prodigal son. I have made bad choice after bad choice. Only to find myself far from my Heavenly Father, eating pig slop, the fruit of my choices, trying to survive. But God set into motion, long before all the bad choices I have made, a plan. On Christmas night the plan arrived. He worked through the ages to bring the arrival of Jesus into our world. He went to great lengths to come to us so we could come to Him. He desired to “Welcome sinners and eat with them.” Jesus is still desiring to welcome and to eat with sinners today.

In Revelations 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” May we open the door of our hearts and let Him come in! There is no better time to do this than Christmas when we celebrate our God who came to us so we could come to Him!