Friends, I’ve just done something outrageous that can’t be undone, mainly because it involved a substantial debit card payment, but beyond that craziness, this feels like a big defining moment for me. Absolutely no backsies!!
You won’t see me flashing a rowdy tattoo. I’m not driving a midlife crisis on wheels, and it has nothing to do with another furry four-legged family member.
You might see me flaunting a little extra confidence, I am driven to succeed, even at my age, and it has everything to do with a better version of myself, the wife, the mom, the daughter/sister/aunt/niece/friend, Glory…
…I started a fitness/weight-loss challenge.
I’ll repeat what I told my sweet friend who is also my challenge partner: “GAAaaaHHhhh!!!” (just louder, in the gym parking lot, in fact)
Sitting in my trainer’s office, going over diet restrictions (which I don’t like), dietary supplements (which I also dislike), and meal requirements (which I unliked, unfollowed, and unfriended long ago) I could feel my heart racing like a cardio WOD (which I always thought was World Of Death, actually)
Honestly, it didn’t even scare me a little to step on the scale, figuring I would just see a number that could be better and worse. You’re crazier than me if you think I’ll tell it here, though! But, I have a number in mind of where I want to be, a nice even 160. When I finally reach that it will be my pre-ALL THE BABIES weight, something I haven’t seen in 25 years.
Maybe I should have a really deep spiritual reason for doing this, like, “If Jesus isn’t Lord of all, He isn’t Lord at all” mind-body-soul-spirit. That is true, but it isn’t even so I can lengthen my years on Earth because, let’s be realistic, God is basically the only One Who decides that. Period. No, I’ve known for a long time that I always put taking care of myself dead last after taking care of everyone else, which always sounds so noble, womanly, and pure hearted. The nasty truth is that I’ve been selfish in this way, and it has cost me years that I won’t ever get back. Hear me out, indulging my need to be needed, my preference to be liked, and my addiction to approval has a price, not just in physical health, but also in godliness. Denying myself and taking up my cross means taking myself off the throne of everyone else’s lives, and taking up the calling and responsibilities that He has given me, needed, liked, and approved or not!
Yes, Jesus is Lord of all of me, and this is a great place to apply and practice this truth!
This past Monday we experienced the rare wonder of a solar eclipse! Did you see It? If not, that kind of really upsets me. Why not? Because, unless you were under anesthesia getting surgery, underground mining coal, or under a deadline that needed to be completed exactly one half of a second past the phase of totality, there really aren’t any good excuses. Not one, except, of course, my excuse that I had to work. And, since my dear husband got to spend the morning with the kids, while I scrubbed a toilet or mopped a floor during the eclipse, I get both your sympathy AND respect! You’re really too kind!
Before I knew when my album would be released I had no idea just how busy our Summer was about to become. Just because one major project never seems to be enough for us, now we’re nearing the end of remodeling our house to put on the market. But wait, there’s more! Not only did I have novasureendometrialablationsurgeryIdon’twanttoelaborateon I won the Shingles lottery just to make life even more exciting. Yay me!
Maybe we’re naturally wired to focus on things that are out of place or flawed even in the middle of undeserved blessings and good things. It’s like trying to see the moon, a one-trick pony that only reflects the sun and just happens to affect Earth’s gravity during its tethered orbit. But it sure attracts rapt interest when, once in a great while, it assertively passes between us and the sun, just for a moment, the only light the dark side of the moon receives, before it resumes the fixed tedious path of perpetuity.
It’s probably selfish of me but I asked/told Bill to not plan anything else the next time I release an album. Not to be rude but I don’t want to share the attention of something I’ve worked hard for with anything else. It’s MY jam! Thank God I know better, because He is faithful to remind me that all I have and will be given is from His hands, forever and ever Amen! What a miserable soul I would be if I couldn’t see the Giver for His gifts! He is the sum of the sun and all the other stars rolled into One, the center of my existence. Everything else is just a little pale moon...you know what I mean.
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
I wish you could meet Melanie. She is our real estate agent who’s selling our house. She came in, saw the potential, and took control of getting our house ready to sell. That happened a few months ago, but she has visited several times since to see the progress, listen to our concerns, and encourage us that it’s going to get better. We believe that it will, and it has. But every now and then, as issues surface or problems reveal themselves, it’s really hard to visualize an end. We put a lot of trust in Melanie and still anticipate a good outcome, and we’re committed to seeing this through.
I also wish you could meet Kelvin. He is the one who produced my album. He believed in this project as much as I did from the very beginning and I really wanted him to take ownership of the creative side. It all began more than two years ago and he has kept in touch with me regularly to report on how things were developing, explain the editing process, and answer EACH and EVERY question I had. It was a much longer and more complex process than I expected, and the unknowns were intimidating and embarrassingly frustrating. But Kelvin never faltered in his word that he would pour his heart and soul into every song, and the final product is sufficient evidence of this fact!
More than I can express, I hope and pray that you meet and know Jesus, my Savior. He saw the dire condition of my soul even before I was aware of my need of Him, and opened my eyes to the truth of His love and grace so many years ago. Since then He has been faithful to remind me of His sovereign hand and undeserved blessings. Throughout life, and even now, I struggle with matters of faith and trust in God’s will and plan for my future, and I get anxious about things I can’t control. But I know that God is always present and working everything together for my good and His glory, and I can surrender to Him with full assurance that He has begun a good work in me and will be faithful to complete it!
The feedback to my album has been encouraging, honest, unexpected, and humbling! Every song has been written, not merely with my own experiences and life lessons in mind, but also taking into consideration the experience and life lessons of others. I didn't want to come across as condescending in the least, but I did try to meet everyone wherever they were at. Here have been some of my favorite responses so far:
"Gospel music isn't my thing, but I have many Christian friends so I am sharing this for those who like Gospel music. Glory has a beautiful voice!"
" I just downloaded the album and have listened to the whole thing. This genre of music is one of my least favorites (hey, I'm a metal head LOL), but you hit a home run. I look forward to listening to it again and again, and am excited to see where God leads you from here on. Thank you for sharing your God-given talent and the love of Jesus. God bless."
"I just picked up your CD in the mail this morning...I don't quite know how to express how much I loved it! Every song is beautiful and so well-written! Of course, I have my favorites already like, Oh My Heart Rejoice, You are Mine, When I Meet You There, So Loved but I really loved all of them. The best part is (as usual) how you exalted Christ and brought me into His presence. I just enjoyed worshiping God for his goodness as I listened. I'm reminded again of how grateful I am for the gifts He's given you and your obedience to use those and beautiful heart toward God. I just wanted to let you know how much the music ministered to me! Blessings and I hope lots of people get to hear and enjoy this!"
Thank you so much for such kind and gracious words!
The other morning was spent cleaning a house that the owners are getting prepared to sell. It’s a charming little manufactured home with breezy windows, freshly-cleaned carpets, and a spacious kitchen. As we set to work starting with the window tracks and bathrooms, something was amiss.
In the past 8 months that I have been working this job I have learned that things aren’t always as straightforward as they appear. Occasionally homes are not as simple to clean as they seem and we have encountered several challenges in performing our tasks. Truthfully, we have pretty much rocked it at nearly every house we’ve cleaned. So there was no doubt that we could even accomplish this cleaning blindfolded with our hands tied around our backs!
Our competence wasn’t the issue. We have a great arsenal of products, supplies, and equipment. But all the best and most effective cleaning strategies are not remotely effective without one very simple, common, and basic component: water.
There was no water in the house. Not even just cold water. No water at all.
We could clean countertops, cabinets, and such with a combination of surface sprays, disinfecting wipes, and cleaning cloths. But water is essential for cleaning tubs, showers, refrigerators, and mopping floors.
Not to be deterred our boss decided to see if the neighbors would allow us to use their water to fill three buckets. They were elderly, charming, and from a time when the front door was left open and they simply answered, “Come in!” without seeing who we were after we knocked on the door. We used their water from the outdoor spigot, finished our job, and continued on our way.
A year ago I had a very well thought through idea of how, when, and where my album project would be released. Several methods of generating interest and building support made sense on paper and on screen but, honestly, I hadn’t anticipated or foreseen the obstacles and hurdles that were ahead. It was not to be as simple as setting up crowdfunding or publishing social networking posts. In fact, even as I write this, nearing the final stage of mixing and mastering, I’m open to ideas of how to get the songs heard.
In other words, I’m learning to wait on God to show me where to go, perhaps a seasoned recording artist whose passion is the success of independent songwriters, a kindly music minister who believes in the voices of worship leaders who don’t merely restate and repeat the words of popular Christian radio, or even a writer who delves into music reviews and wants to review my album. Honestly, this is still such new and uncharted territory, for me, but I know and wholeheartedly trust that, where there is God’s will, there is a way. I am sure of that!
Most of the time I love writing. Songwriting will always be my primary form of literary expression, but crafting more than a few lines in a social media post into a poem, a blog (like this), or even a short story can put across thoughts, ideas, experiences, and dreams through engaging words and captivating imagery. The writer of such pieces has a purpose in mind, a path of sorts to follow, and a destination to arrive at. Some journeys are more painful or more delightful than others but the reader is the ever welcome companion to share in all that the writer desires to offer.
Equally, most of the time I dislike revising. While studying English and Education at University I was tasked with writing multiple essays and other papers which would be submitted for evaluation and grading. Only one of my professors was kind enough to use a pencil instead of a red pen to mark my paper because she hated “bleeding all over” anyone’s words. I truly appreciated that! Quite often I would allow other students to look over my papers and suggest changes or improvements, which was always helpful. I needed to have other eyes besides my own to see any errors, inconsistencies, or unclear explanations.
Dictionary.com gives the origin of the word “revision”:
revision. 1610s, "act of revising," from French révision, from Late Latin revisionem (nominative revisio) "a seeing again,"
This year Bill and I have been reading My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers each morning before we start our day. Three days ago we read “Look Again, And Think.” Which referenced Matthew 6:25 to 34. I have read this passage many times but haven’t connected its meaning to my relationship to God quite like Mr. Chambers:
“Our Lord says to be careful only about one thing— our relationship to Him…Whenever there are competing concerns in your life, be sure you always put your relationship to God first.”
In Matthew 6, Jesus urges his disciples to reconsider ordinary things such as the birds and the lilies. He gently reminds us that they give no thought to the concerns of this life, yet both are well tended and cared for by the Father. We see birds and other living things around us every day, but rarely do I catch myself really looking again to observe anything. This area of the Pacific Northwest is abundant in marine, wetland, forest, and migratory wildlife. Just a short drive between towns can result in spotting a bald eagle perched high in a tree guarding broad fields at rest before the Spring planting season resumes. It’s always breathtaking yet recently we mistakenly thought we were seeing only hawks but later realized that they were juvenile bald eagles, likely getting schooled on the necessary skills of hunting prey!
For six months Bill and I have been praying about a profound change in our church involvement and ultimately, leaving our church and attending elsewhere. We wrestled with this decision relentlessly and sprinted to God’s Word with every step! This couldn’t be resolved easily or settled carelessly. Throughout this time our greatest concern was that we wouldn’t cease corporate worship and fellowship and remain obedient to God’s call. We are overjoyed to see how God has provided for us but it has required a deconstruction of our previously held perspectives of the church. We have had to look again to God’s Word and understand His guidance and direction. With more gratitude than I can express, we are learning once more to trust His sovereign hand over our lives, being mindful to glorify Him in all things!
Last month I was quite unexpectedly contacted by a very dear, and I would definitely say ambitious, friend about working for her. So cool, huh!? Well, yeah, originally, she was considering asking our oldest daughter if she would be interested. As it turned out, happily for me, she had just been hired for seasonal employment at, what she considers, her dream job in a craft and hobby store. Really, it’s better for her. So, true to my nature, I generously offered to work for my friend. She was excited and welcomed me into her crew, cleaning houses. Now, during this same time I knew God was prompting me to talk to my pastor and those who have been leading worship in my absence about rejoining the team, playing keys and singing in the background. They were all very happy to agree with me, we got the band back together, and, so far, the transition has been seamless. So, things have been pretty good, for me, lately, which brings me to this blog’s ponderings and reflection, as I often do at times like this.
Merriam- Webster defines the word RETURN as intransitive verb 1. a : to go back or come back again <return home> b : to go back in thought, practice, or condition : revert and 2. to pass back to an earlier possessor
Going back to a previously regular activity is hard after several months or, in the case of my employment, years of absence. Resuming a position of leadership can actually be quite difficult as adjustments need to be made in time management and responsibilities, especially where a full and busy household like ours in concerned. Believe it! In fact, I truly struggled with the way I would rejoin worship ministry in our church and felt greatly comforted and relieved when I sensed God’s direction to reenter gradually. Honestly, the thought of leaping back onto center stage was greatly appalling, not to mention how presumptive and arrogant that would appear. Yuck, seriously!
Of the changes I’ve observed in taking this approach, the most notable is my mindset. There weren’t really any glaring flaws in my thinking to begin with, before I began my sabbatical. Still, God has used His Word and the genuine encouragement of others to nurture a healthier perspective of my relationships with those He has given me to serve, and of the work He has provided for me to do. The most important improvement is deeper than how I act or what I say as I sincerely believe that God has been, is, and always will be more interested in who I am than what I do. This is pretty huge, for me, a former approval-addict.
Just resting in the knowledge, understanding, and conviction of who I am in Christ is very much like re-gifting my heart back to Him, often and repeatedly. The definition “to pass back to an earlier possessor” resonates beautifully with me in this regard! As God’s beloved, I am not my own and should never attempt to take control over my life whether in how I occupy my time, how I manage my resources, or how I delegate tasks to those around me. Nothing on earth nor in Heaven gives me the right to dictate the lives of any one of God’s tenderly formed people. This is crucial stuff, friends! I am so grateful to be learning this and, prayerfully, helping others to learn this too.
~ Blessings! Glory
verb re·fo·cus \(ˌ)rē-ˈfō-kəs\
Children are both wonderfully and irritatingly curious about everything around them. And who can blame them? Even when it’s something they shouldn’t touch, much less put into their mouth, parents often need to divert their interest to shift their gaze or even protect them from harm. It’s a constant struggle! They are instinctively attracted to bright, shiny, loud, and tasty things, which doesn’t change all that much as they develop, grow, and mature into adulthood. Just glance at the shelves in the checkout line at any store and you are instantly drawn to things you presumably didn’t intent to buy but, within seconds, you suddenly have this intense need to purchase Torani Salted Caramel coffee syrup…at least I did! In that very brief moment, even a simple shopping trip to buy jeans for the boys strayed from the original purpose of just picking up a few things, to grabbing things that I had no idea would be absolutely necessary for my happiness. Perhaps this is why Bill prefers to let me shop alone, or why I really should keep him along so he can help me to resist buying additional items.
Recently we held a family meeting due to some common family issues that we needed to address, specifically, showing appreciation. In the process of our discussion we talked about things we can control and things we can’t. It all came down to two very simple categories: self and others. We all learned that we all struggle with our emotions, but we have control over our attitudes, our responses, and our actions. One very important obstacle to showing appreciation was talked about and agreed upon, which is distraction. Sometimes important things can take our attention away from showing others how we value them, but in all things we discovered that we can use affirming words, invite others along in our activities, or just give a warm hug to each other. If we all, parents included, can identify how we become distracted, we can more easily and quickly adjust our efforts into more meaningful and positive interactions with each other.
These past few months I have spent more time studying God’s Word and thinking about Biblical truths than I have in a very long time. That’s my humble confession and joyful statement! It has opened my eyes, my mind, and my heart in ways that I have long neglected. Just being a wife and mom keeps me busy and short on time, as it is, but I’ll admit that it has still been difficult to avoid distraction even when I don’t have any pressing tasks or errands. While maintaining a clean home, washing laundry, and preparing meals are necessary and kind of sacredly mundane (builds character), I have to set aside time to set my attention on the Lord and seek Him in all that I do. We have tried to teach our kids the importance of this, using Psalms chapter 119 verses 9 to 16. Verse 15 sums up my whole point in writing this: “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” Placing all that we know to be true about who God is by reading His story and discovering the ways He reveals Himself to us keeps our sightline properly directed and steady.
“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36 (ESV)
My Sunday after-church routine was quite predictable: make lunch, watch “something” (code for anything the kids want to watch), then take a nap. Curling up under to covers was absolute bliss, listening the hum of the fan or relaxing instrumental music, and eventually drifting off to sleep. As harsh as it always felt to wake up a few hours later, groggy and disoriented, I was so very thankful for the blessing of unwinding from serving in ministry and simply resting.
We all need rest; athletes, professionals, even kids need to sleep more than grown-ups. Getting a full night of sleep, which is roughly 8 hours, gives the body time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. We are able to wake up prepared to concentrate, make decisions, and engage fully in all work and social activities. But getting proper rest isn’t all that our bodies need to thrive as we need to be mindful to receive adequate nourishment and hydration to aid in the restorative process of sleep. Being purposeful about what we put into our bodies is equally important. In like manner, what we feed our spirit is essential to our growth and development as children of God.
It really isn’t hard to remember to eat food. Even before the hunger pangs set in, our appetites are tantalized with images, smells, conversations about food, and memories of simple or celebratory meals. On average, 6 years of our lifespan is spent in meal preparation and eating. Similarly, we have a spiritual hunger for truth and godly wisdom, which is primarily found in God’s Word. As essential as a balanced diet is to our bodies, so a steady intake of scriptural guidance, through personal study, engagement in Christian fellowship, and ministry service is absolutely necessary for our spiritual health. During this time of having taken a step back from worship ministry involvement, I have recognized a kind of undernourishment in my heart, regrettably! Spending time studying God’s truths and learning more about Him is feeding the hunger that has been neglected and improperly fed for longer than I care to admit.
There is a desire to resume work in ministry service, which I am assured will happen eventually, but I am now aware more than ever that positioning myself to receive from God is just as important if not more so then what I do for Him. And I’m learning to be content with that.
I am passionate about Jesus, madly in love with my husband, and crazy about my kids! And, I can't help but write songs about all of it. Join me in the journey of a lifetime!