Finding yourself weak and weary? Disheartened, fearful, or forgotten? Condemned, falsely accused, or persecuted?
I want to encourage you with a new song released today called Rest, based on Matthew 11:28-30.
Rest is a worshipful, contemporary hymn straight out of the Scripture with a creative twist reminiscent of the 70’s. It is a collaboration between myself, and veteran Nashville songwriters, Joe Beck & Chaz Bosarge, inviting you to come and find the rest you need.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
We are sons and daughters of the King, holy vessels that are set apart. And even though the darkness deepens and casts it shadows…trust in Him. Come. Take His yoke upon you and learn from Him. He is gentle and lowly in heart. His yoke is easy and His burden light.
Find comfort and rest.
Rest is available on iTunes and CD Baby, and will soon be out on all other digital distribution sites.
I always loved Christmas, and we enjoyed each one every year when I was growing up by going to my grandparents and having a wonderful dinner cooked by my grandma (MeMe), listening to my grandfather (PaPa) recite poetry, stories and bad jokes…Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha,
“On the shores of Gitche Gumi, of the shining big sea water…”
football on the t.v. in the den, listening to the Christmas music in the background,
“Come, they told me, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum…a newborn King to see…pa-rum-pum-pum-pum”
and opening presents under the tree with dessert and coffee afterwards. My grandparent’s home was the typical “Leave it to Beaver” home, and my MeMe was June Cleaver. Things were always consistent, predictable and orderly. I thrived in this setting.
I loved listening to the banter at the dining room table, staring and listening to my PaPa who was larger than life. The hutch behind him that held my MeMe’s beautiful china, wrapping paper, and the decks of cards that would get pulled out later by us grandkids. MeMe would always get after PaPa when he would start picking at the food in the main dishes and eating just a little more, instead of adding it to his plate first.
I also loved walking around in the den, looking at the magical nativity scene in the darkness with the Christmas lights highlighting it. It sat above the t.v. I loved the story of Baby Jesus.
What if there was a drummer boy? I mean…maybe there was a poor shepherd boy that used to get bored out in the field as he helped his daddy, and for fun he would tap out rhythms and sing to God while watching the sheep? What boy doesn’t like tapping out beats? The Shepherds didn’t have a gift for the newborn Jesus…would make sense that the drummer boy didn’t have one either. But they brought their hearts. They adored and worshiped the newborn King. Their future Savior.
I have always loved the the little drummer boy and that song. I identified with him. I felt bankrupt emotionally in my heart as a little girl. My parents divorced when I was almost 4.
My sweet, sensitive spirit just ached so much and longed for an intact family. That’s why I always adored being at my grandparents and experiencing those memories. The abuse I later grew up with made those memories even bigger and more cherished.
But that drummer boy…it was just him before Jesus. He was alone. He felt like he had nothing to give, but what was in his heart (through his drum). That’s how I felt. I had nothing to give Jesus. But I was present, before him. I could offer him my heart and that was all. Yet, that was all that He wanted. It was more than enough. And his grace was sufficient to carry the rest of the brokenness.
2 years ago, this January I lost my PaPa on this side of heaven. And 2 weeks ago, my MeMe went to join him. I rejoice that there is now no more pain for my MeMe. Even though we lived so far apart in our latter years, I always made a point to go spend time with her (and my grandpa) and help be respite care with my older aunt as my youngest aunt and her husband would go on vacation. As my grandmother went into a care facility this last year, my last 2 visits were the hardest ever, as I watched her decline quickly. I have some very sad memories of those visits. But I also have happy moments in them, too.
I couldn’t understand why God would let her suffer and remain, when she was so depressed and wanted to be with my PaPa. I believe it was because of one more thing she had to do. It was to write a Christmas greeting to a veteran somewhere in the world who needed a message of hope. On December 12, my grandmother breathed her last breath with loved ones around her and then took her first breath and opened her eyes in Heaven with Jesus and her loving husband, my PaPa. She is free of her pain and suffering. She is free of her Alzheimer’s. She can see and think clearly and rejoice! She is humming in heaven and I can hear her now.
We are eternal beings. We have a choice. God sent Himself in the form of man, a lowly babe…Jesus, Emmanuel (God with us), so that we might have life…and have it abundantly. Will you come before him, this Christmas, with nothing but yourself? You and Jesus, alone…and give Him your heart? Sing a song, rejoice. Your suffering and pain here on this earth is only temporary in light of the eternal joy and happiness you will experience in eternity as a result of this Gift of Life.
I will miss my grandparents here on earth this Christmas as a chapter of the greatest generation has come to a close in our family. But I will rejoice in knowing I will get to see them again one day soon. The same dining room table and hutch now sits in my Great Room. The same nativity scene is now sitting above the hutch each Christmas. And now we have just added the last of MeMe’s Christmas ornaments (which us grandchildren selected one by one the day of the funeral), to our Christmas tree. Life is but a vapor on earth: a mist. But where it goes…is someplace incredible and yet to behold. I can’t wait…
Maybe Christmas is a hard time for you? I know this is a hard Christmas for me and my family as we all wrestle with our loss here on earth. Yet I also know, that if I can keep an eternal perspective of what is yet to come, I will rejoice in God’s goodness all my life, regardless of my circumstances.
Thank you God for your gift of life this Christmas to me, to my grandma and all my family and friends. Thank you Jesus for coming.
Receive the gift of life.
God’s peace to you this Christmas 2015!
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
One of the biggest (and I think), most difficult places to show the love of Christ is to our spouse: in which we have many opportunities to practice grace, allowing iron to sharpen iron to mature and prepare us for future glory.
In marriage, many couples face an unintentional drift as they prepare for the Empty Nest. For many years the focus of the union has been on the children and as they prepare to leave, and once the children are out the door husbands and wives have to rediscover each other once more. There may have been preconceived ideas of what the latter years were going to look like and once we are there, we find it is nothing like we had dreamed out. We may question, who is this person I live with? And sadly, over 50% become divorced. They even have a term for this kind of divorce in these latter years: Gray Divorce.
But there are ways to be intentional to try and close the gap as you transition into the next phase of your marriage relationship and to inoculate it against the “D word”. It is an intentional turning into one another, finding things in common, appreciating new direction for one another, etc. A Still and Quiet Night is not only a song of memories of the way things were when the children were little and growing up at home, but also an acknowledgement of the loss of our grown babies. Christmas seems to be the time, as it comes at the end of a calendar year, where we take more account of our lives. Where are we in life? What happened? Where did the years go? We miss our kids! Now it’s just us and we aren’t sure we like each other right now!
Questions like these, can take us on a journey at Christmas to learn how to create new memories of what love is about. Times change, children leave, traditions change, we are older, it’s quieter in the house, we are more gray, balding or wrinkled, finding ourselves more lonely…but love always remains if we invite it in.
What greater time than at Christmas to reflect on the love that God has for us by sending Himself to us in the form of a baby, Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, reconciling us to Himself. Christ reminds us of what love is and He brings His peace into our hearts through His Holy Spirit, giving us the ministry of reconciliation. It is the interpretation of this love, lived out in real life that finds us rediscovering each other in a new light; and therefore, making new memories for our future.
My producer Eric Copeland (Creative Soul Records) and I worked on this song as a co-write this last Summer of July 2014, as I was touring across the country with my new album project, Where I Am. We met up at Word Entertainment in one of the writing rooms and I shared my ideas of the first verse with him. He started to town on a melody idea for the arrangement and came up with a beautiful interlude of Silent Night, Holy Night in the middle of the song.
Eric didn’t know it, but Silent Night was one of the very first songs that my brother and I learned to sing in German for our German grandparents. We recorded it on a little tape recorder for our Oma and Opa when we were very young (possibly around 6 and 4) and when they received the cassette tape, they were overjoyed to hear their American grandchildren singing in their native tongue. So that is a very special part in the song for me, that holds wonderful memories of my own childhood and heritage.
We started the lyrics on the 2nd verse trying to be mindful of what it might look like to revive a marriage by bringing a little romance back into it at Christmastime. We finished up the second verse long distance and then sent it off for production. I love the creativity that all the players brought to this project and one of my most favorite parts in the song, is a bass part in “not a creature stirs or makes another sound”.
Last week I had an enjoyable Skype interview with Joe Brookhouse of Frequency.FM to talk about my new Christmas single, A Still and Quiet Night. I like to think of the meaning of Christmas as being an outpouring of God’s heart and love to us by sending us His Son, Jesus, God incarnate: to reconcile us to Himself and to one another by showing us what it means to love one another well, while we are here on this earth.
Here is the link to the podcast, article and additional links. Please share it with as many people as you can! You just never know when someone really needs to hear something that will really touch them. We also thought we were just a little funny in the interview…you might chuckle once or twice. Maybe. 😉
It is tempting at the least to want to live your life for yourself, but the truth is the exact opposite. The praise of man is not where it is at. Please God and not yourself. Live a life that will glorify Him and then one day He will lift you up and you will be glorified as well when you see Him face to face. Praise God…do good things…lay up your treasures in Heaven.
“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18 ESV)
In the intensity of the “not knowing” waiting for test results on your health to come back can be so stressful. Even when you try to turn the anxious thoughts over every day, every moment. Like I mentioned in the previous post, Part I, worrying about it doesn’t add a single hour to your life, in fact it does just the opposite, robs you of enjoying the moment, being in the present, is physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting, and weighs you down.
I didn’t realize how much my worry over what was going on in my body was weighing me down, until I received the phone call from the Hematologist/Oncologist to reassure me right after my CT scans on a Tuesday afternoon, that no other blood clots or major concerns showed up in them. The things that did show up were “unremarkable”. I was so relieved. I like being unremarkable in this instance. So grateful to the doctor for calling me. He wanted to reassure me so I wouldn’t worry until my follow-up appointment that Friday. Is that not the grace of God in a moment of need?
I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. As much as I thought I had been turning things over and letting go and trusting God, the worries were still heavy enough that I felt the release of them after the phone call. The tension in my body left and I breathed a big sigh of thankfulness.
On Friday the answers were vague. All the blood tests were with in normal ranges and negative for the things I was concerned about. Another huge relief, but yet no answers to why I clot except that I have a genetic predisposition for it. This in a sense is an answer. Ok, that’s it. I need to live with it. I was born with it. Accept it. Be diligent with my medication and my testing. Take my testing equipment with me whenever I travel. Doctor’s orders while on long road trips, especially as I was leaving for my tour, to get out of the car every two hours and move around for a few minutes. Inconvenient, since I like to get in the car and just drive, drive, drive…but I have to do it.
I am grateful to know that there are no more major concerns. I am content to know that I just clot and that is the worst of it (although I wish I didn’t). I am blessed with good doctors and medical care so that I can manage this medical condition and still do most the things I like to do, except play with sharp objects and do dangerous, adventurous activities (sometimes I still do, I’m just a little more cautious). 🙂
I honestly don’t think we will ever be immune to worry or anxieties in this world. But God has given us a remedy for it, to manage it well:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:4-7, NIV)
1. He is near. That is reassuring.
2. Bring your worry to Him – pray and petition Him with it.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for what you need. He longs to hear from you.
4. Rejoice that no matter what, He holds all your answers, hears your prayers, wants you to trust Him with whatever He thinks you can go through, because He is near and He will be with you.
5. Be thankful. You have a place to go to for everything you need, because of your salvation in Christ Jesus.
6. He will give you His perfect peace when nothing makes sense. His peace will keep you and help you to stay focused when the storms swirl around you.
7. Not knowing keeps you trusting in Him and challenges you to let go of your control issues of wanting to know and to accept His control and will for your life.
8. When you are anxious, you can be irritable with life and with others. If you practice continual turning over of your worry to Him, His peace that He gives to you will allow you to have more grace and to be gentle with others.
And don’t forget…you are here for a purpose, even to be a testimony through your trials. Don’t let them take you off course when you are anxious and afraid. He has conquered death. He holds you in the palm of His hand. He will never leave or forsake you!
I am not chasing my answers right now. I am accepting the unknown. I’ll journey with you in your unknowns as we keep plugging along! Don’t give up!
I can’t believe I’m doing this! I must be crazy!? I am just a semi-retired counselor and a mom and a worship leader and older and … who am I? My family says, “Just a little bit crazy!” (pun intended, but it’s true, that’s what they are saying). Why am I so compelled to go out there and do this? To take these songs I have written out on the road and share them? In one sense it’s frightening. In another sense, exhilarating. I liken it to when I did my first triathalon. Once I finished it, the sense of accomplishment was so overwhelming in a good way. At that moment I felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do, if I put my mind to it and God’s will is in it. I am a child of God and I love Him. I want to BE His will in my life. I find my salvation in Christ alone. This is what my blog ministry stands for: “No Longer Opposed”.
Paul said these words to Timothy as he started his ministry and it is this scripture that I will cling to as I am now embarking on this journey with my official Where I Am Tour. I am compelled to follow God’s will in my life for everything He has done for me, including creating me for His good pleasure. I would rather fear Him due to His awesomeness and greatness than to ever look around me and fear what others may think of me. I am on earth for God’s purposes, not my own. Please pray for me to keep this front and center and pray for me while I am on the road ’til I return home.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:6-14 ESV)
God has entrusted a calling to my heart. I don’t know why He has chosen me to go forward with this, in my fear of facing the giant world out there I say, “Lord, I am too small!” but I know he has equipped me. Therefore I say, “here I am God, send me!” I somehow find His favor by His grace… “Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to serve you and your kingdom. I know you go with me…before me, behind me and beside me. The battle is Yours and I will stand. I will be strong and courageous because Your Spirit lives in me and makes me strong and courageous. I will share the hope that is within me with others. May Your love abound more and more in my heart, so that I will learn to love your people the way You love them.” Amen
The Great Adventure has begun! I am so excited to see what God will have in store for me. I will be traveling for nearly 6 weeks without my family, but will be seeing many friends and extended family along the journey! Please, if you think of me, pray for my safety and for God to do His will through me at every stop I make! See you on the the road! And if I don’t see you, be sure to pick up the new CD “Where I Am” through my store here on the website and be refreshed and inspired!
Released my new music video today with Creative Soul Records for Deep Into You. It was a fun and mellow acoustic set with Dave Cleveland and Mark Burchfield at Mark’s Watershed Recording Studio, Nashville, TN. I was so honored to have the two of them play for me. Dave was instrumental (ha, no pun intended) in pulling the whole thing off! Thanks Dave! This is the first video of a series of 3. Two more will be released in the near future! 😉
It’s a good thing you can’t see me right now, because I am starting to cry as I write about this one. I am not sure if it’s because I know my CD is releasing in less the 48 hours or because of this song that I am going to tell you about.
I hope my son doesn’t read this…(jk)
Actually, this song was inspired by my wonderful son, Nathanael. He, like you and me, was born wonderful in God’s image. I always longed for a son and God gave us one on our last try! We call him our love child! We didn’t know it when he was born or when he was younger, but Nate is on the Autism Spectrum and was diagnosed later in life (6th grade) with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, NOS. Basically, Asperger’s type.
When we didn’t know for sure what was going on with him, he struggled to find his meaning and purpose in his identity. He LOVED Jesus at a very early age and accepted him when he was only 4 years old and baptized soon after. He loves to have deep theological discussions about his faith and God. But he also knew there was something different about himself. He thought he was stupid. He couldn’t have been further from the truth. He started being bullied in elementary school and middle school. In first grade we took him to Children’s Hospital in Seattle and they knew he had some type of cognitive impairment but they just
couldn’t put their finger on it. Nate also struggled with a developmental vision issue where he couldn’t see things in stereo if his eyes or brain were fatigued, and was also diagnosed with strabismus. He had balance and coordination issues and just wasn’t your athletic kiddo, no matter how much we had hoped. He was very down on himself and would get very depressed and angry.
I missed it as a therapist when he was little, but had started putting all the pieces together and by the time he was in 6th grade, we pursued the evaluation. Sure enough, the diagnosis was confirmed. It was hard to diagnose it though, because with our parenting abilities, we were able to extinguish some of the behaviors he had that would have been more identifiable in assessment (the eye contact, biting on the arm, banging of the head on the wall, rocking, etc.). It wasn’t until we had the firm diagnosis that he began to understand more about himself and actually how intelligent he really was! And it was at this time that we were able to help affirm him even more about who he was (and is) in Christ.
One day Nate and I were driving home from my picking him up from school. The leaves were turning their fall colors and he said something really profound. It was at that moment, I was inspired with these words. I said to him, “Nate, do you know that God made you intentionally and that He has a purpose for your life? He knew you were going to have Autism and that you needed parents like your dad and I to help you get everything you need to be successful in this world.”
Nate had been resentful from some of the ABA tutoring we had put him through the couple of years earlier, but at this time he told me how much he had appreciated all that we were doing. He spoke of insights he had about himself and how he noticed similar behaviors in other kids that he met, that were like him. I was so amazed at what he was learning. He was finally getting it. He was learning that he was just fine the way he was. He was becoming resilient in his identity.
After finishing the song (Nate had heard portions of it with me writing it here at home) and getting the ruff track back from Nashville, I asked him if he was ready to hear it. Of course, he was. We laid on the floor in the Great Room here and stared up at the ceiling while I played the track on the Bose speakers for him. After we listened to the song, he said, “Mom, that’s me!” I looked over at him and said, “Yes, Nate, that is you! And God made you so wonderful!”
This song is general enough in the lyrics to speak to anyone who has a developmental, mental, emotional or physical disability. For those who are broken-hearted, who feel worthless and believe that no one loves them. God loves you so VERY much! He gave you His Son, Jesus, so that you can become whole in Him. No one can take away who you are in Christ. He loves you just as you are. You have meaning and purpose and He wants to reveal that to you. Don’t ever give up. Don’t throw your life away or try to end it. You are a great treasure! Do not seek the praise of man or let others determine your worth, instead, believe what God says about who you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! He knew you before He knitted you in your mother’s womb. He created you in His image and of all of His creations in nature (which He said were GOOD), He said you are VERY GOOD! Read about yourself in Psalm 139!
Ask Him into your heart today, by asking for forgiveness. Let Him show you how much He loves you. You are not your disability or your past. You are beautiful…a precious child of God.
What’s the matter on your heart
A little trouble in your soul?
I’d like to draw it out of you
And be there to help you sort it out
I know He loves you so and I’m hoping you will know
Nothing ever happens by chance
For you were made so intentionally
There’s purpose in your life, ev’ry detail’s in His hands
With all the beauty of your intricacies
Nothing’s ever wasted, I know He understands
Because He made you so intentionally
If you could step outside yourself
And get another point of view
See the precious child of God
That I see in you
I know He loves you so and I’m hoping you will know
Nothing ever happens by chance
Every hurt that you have been through, all the things you know you did were wrong
Can bring you one step closer to where you belong
Mark Baldwin (guitar)
Gary Lunn (bass)
Blair Masters (keys)
Ken Lewis (drums)
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