Finding My Song Again

song-final
My heart pounded a little as I walked into the music room that Wednesday night, and there was really no reason for it. I mean, these were my friends, and singing with them was definitely nothing new or scary.

The normal, pre-practice chatter happened, and that was good, but then the singing started and it was a good thing that we were all sitting in a row and I was on the end because I couldn’t believe how fast the tears sprang to my eyes.

I made myself hold them back and sing the words, but it was hard, and I wondered that night if maybe…this season was over.

And I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it because how does a season that has lasted 36 years just end like that?

How could a single event take such a big piece of me?

I thought it over during the next days as I half-dreaded Sunday morning. I didn’t want to say to anyone, I haven’t sung since before…

The truth is that in my mind, life is defined right now in two ways…Before. and After.

It’s not a conscious choice…it’s just how my brain thinks right now. :)

Certain things bring pain, and I’ve had to find where to draw the line so I can avoid what I need to…I’m not necessarily avoiding everything that’s difficult, but I’m not just throwing myself into all-things-painful, either. Does that make sense?Β 

I know it sounds crazy, but the night I started spotting, I was wearing this silly, sweet tank top with a giraffe on it. I haven’t worn it since.Β I can’t.

I also rarely go to Target. It’s too painful, especially walking by the baby section, which is much-too-conveniently located, smack dab, in the middle of the store. Our bank account is doing better thanks to this, but my heart aches over it. I’ve been back twice…once with a friend, once with my hubby. I didn’t make them hold my hand, but I was close. πŸ˜‰

Same with Chipotle…which I craved up and down during those weeks. I just can’t go.

And there are other things that make the list, too…like the book I was reading that I haven’t picked up again, the song Blessings…and the list can go on and on.

And Sunday morning came because that’s just what happens when days pass…and while I was ok, I couldn’t fight back the tears as I walked into church, wondering what I was even doing.

I really felt like my song was gone. Maybe forever.

And even as I picked up a microphone for the first time in weeks, I had the sudden urge to run…I seem to be good at that, and it was what felt right at the moment, but I stayed.

And I sang.

And while it was no big deal, really, the morning was a scream of Hope that my heart desperately needed.

I needed to know that my song was still there. Somewhere.

And it was. IS.

He’s finding my song for me again.

He’s healing my heart, one little piece at a time.

He’s Good…and I’m so thankful.

Sig

Coffee For Your Heart: Rest

Happy Wednesday, friends!

I’m joining my friend, Holley, today for her new link-up…Coffee For Your Heart.

Really, she had me at coffee…and, maybe, at the first prompt, too. πŸ˜‰

What encouraging words do you want the people you care about to hear as they begin a new year?

I tossed this question around for a week and almost even titled this Why It’s OK to Wear Two Pairs of Slippers and Legwarmers While Drinking Coffee and Sitting Under an Electric Blanket on a Sunday Morning…but that’s really not what this is about. I promise.

πŸ˜‰

slipperloveI took this photo this past Sunday morning, around 9:30 a.m. When I should have been leaving for church.

I really love my church…as in, REALLY love it. God brought our family there at a time when we needed people to be Jesus to us, needed a place where Sunday mornings felt like home, needed to be embraced and loved on. And we found it there, and it’s become home.

And so on Sunday morning, missing church is never really a thought. We just know we’ll go and that we’ll love it.

Plus, we really want to be there. :)

Hubby and I went out on a date the night before. We hired a sitter and braved the really-not-salted-or-even-plowed-at-ALL roads around here to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. (Side note: such a fun movie! And bonus? A friend of ours from Indo was in it! :)) We stopped for dinner after the movie, and I wasn’t feeling the greatest…I have an issue that flares up occasionally and pretty much makes me miserable. I’ll leave the details out here and just celebrate the joys of being female. πŸ˜‰

By the time we drove through more icy-snowy goodness than my heart rate could handle and arrived home, I had barely paid the babysitter before I was doubled over in pain. When this stuff happens to me, it’s truly brutal for about two or three hours. But it always, always passes.

I curled up on the couch and cried it out for awhile before finally dozing a little. But the pain just didn’t go away. It didn’t pass at all, it was a l.o.n.g. night, and by Sunday morning, I was still hurting.

A shower helped a little, but really, I knew what I needed to do…andΒ that meant staying home.

I have to admit it didn’t help that I was freezing (Helloooooo, Polar Vortex. And goodbye, too. Please go.) and so I bundled up as much as possible and snuggled down under my two favorite blankets. (I may or may not have been sweating slightly by this point, but hey…for picture purposes, ya know. ;))

But I was mostly just bummed.

It was a depressing feeling to be left behind by my hubby and Mae, who got to go where I wanted to be.

You see, it had been a heavy week. A good one, but also one full of words and heart-spills…and sometimes those words you read on a blog take a lot out of the writer.

I was so looking forward to singing and worshiping and just being…sitting in a pew, soaking up the gift of a chance to be in the presence of my Father.

Instead, I sat on the couch with a mug of coffee and stared out the window at the STILL-falling-but-at-least-pretty, snow.

And I reluctantly picked up my Bible.

Read a few verses.

And I realized that I could sit on my couch and do exactly what I’d been longing to do…Worship Him.

I read a few pages of a devotional after those verses, spent some time in prayer, and I just kept hearing Him say it.

Rest.

Rest.

Rest.

It’s ok, Mel…to just rest. You need it sometimes.

It’s not something that I do well…and yet it was necessary. Needed, in order for me to be a wife and a mommy that afternoon and into the week.

Sometimes it feels like it’s easier to just push through those things in life that are harder, to keep going through the pain…and, yet, there are times He calls us to rest…sometimes from writing, sometimes from doing so much, and sometimes in the literal form of just crawling under a blanket and sneaking in a nap. :)

Maybe not an earth-shattering reminder, but it was definitely one I needed on this snowy, Sunday morning…one I need to remember throughout the year…and probably forever. And maybe it’s one you need, too…no matter what’s going on in your life, not matter how crazy the days or weeks…

Friend, it’s ok to take that time…to rest and just be.

And I hope you will. Happy Wednesday! :)

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I love my sweet friend, Holley‘s, new link-up! Her Coffee For Your Heart: 2014 Encouragement Challenge is just what it sounds like. Think of Wednesdays as that day where I just share some encouragement…and you can pretend that we’re sitting at a table over coffee, just sharing life. Sounds like a great way to spend Wednesdays in this space. :) I hope you’ll hop over and join us!

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

Sig

Five-Minute Friday: True

Today I’m linking up withΒ Lisa-JoΒ for Five-Minute Friday.

Join me!

The rules:Β Write for five minutes. No editing, revising, overthinking, or backtracking. Just write.

Today’s prompt: True

True confession?

I have a little obsession with making the top row of this linkup.

It didn’t start out that way, and it’s not necessarily ok or admirable or something I’m proud of…it’s just a confession.

And another one?

Tonight I sat there, singing songs and writing forms, marking changes and how many times we were singing the tag…and checking Twitter.

Missing out on #fmfparty, trying to follow along with random glances down at the pew between verse and chorus, not daring to actually tweet along…

But following.

And somewhere in the middle of Your Love Never Fails, the prompt went out, and I had to fight the urge to race into the hallway and figure out how to somehow blog this prompt from my iPhone, which I know is done all the time, but not by Mel. The girl who always writes everything from her computer.

And then I caught myself.

And since we’re talking true tonight, this might sound a little harsh.

Why is it that I feel the need to be first?

Oh, don’t get me wrong…it’s fun to tweet with my friends and then dash off our five minutes and spend an hour or so encouraging each other. That’s such the heart of this community and something I absolutely love about it. :)

But the truth is that competition doesn’t really help anyone. And, does it really hurt me to be mixed up in the middle somewhere, surrounded by beautiful sisters who love Jesus just as much as the lovely ladies in the top row do?

So, tonight? I’m going to spend some time loving on them…reading their words and their hearts.

And being thankful…for praise team practice, for the fact that I didn’t get home in time for the prompt, for the fact that I get to hang out somewhere new and fun.

I’m also making a promise to never, ever open Twitter during praise team again. :)

True story.

Friends? I have this rule, one that I’m seriously considering tossing out after the last two weeks, but not tonight. I always write the first thing that comes to mind with Five-Minute Friday…and this was it. Please know that I love each of you…regardless of whether you link up at #1 or #527. We each have a voice, one that should be heard…and I’m going to spend some time listening tonight.Β 

Five Minute Friday

Sig

For When It’s Hard to Feel

I sat in the pew while he preached yesterday.

Tears brimmed on my lower lids the entire time. The only reason I wouldn’t let them fall is because I didn’t want my eyes to get all streaky before communion.

You know, when someone might notice the black streaks as I made my way back to my seat.

Stupid pride.

He preached about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the donkey and how the onlookers spread their cloaks and branches, shouting,

Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

We all know the story…while it was a celebration, the darkest day in history was well on its way.

And the problem was…I knew the story. I’ve heard it a hundred times, more than a hundred.

I keep hoping that this will be the year I feel something.

I’m waiting to feel.

Stupid feelings.

Just about anything can usually make me cry.

I sob buckets at movies.

If I ever argue with T, I’m almost always in tears at some point.

Frustrations make me cry.

Sad makes me cry.

Heck, happy makes me cry, too.

I feel…it’s how He wired me, and I accept that and always make sure I have a tissue.

I usually don’t. πŸ˜‰

But I have a hard time with being able to accept that when it comes to my faith, it’s so hard for me to feel anything.

I get that a relationship with my Father is not about feelings. It’s not about emotions that pour all over the red carpet of ILC. It’s not about tears that stream down my face as I sing about all He’s done for me.

It is, in fact, about knowing Truth and trusting it even when I don’t feel it.

Yes, there have been times when I’ve cried out to God, literally…and many of them.

Yes, there have been days when I’ve heard a sermon preached and it’s moved me to tears.

There have been life-changing days when I’ve witnessed, firsthand, the power of my Father in transforming a life.

But then there are days like today…days like Palm Sunday when the church is gearing up for Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday and everyone around me seems to be so in awe and emotional…and I sit there.

Oh, the tears were brimming, but it wasn’t because I felt.

It was because I didn’t. And I wanted to. So badly.

In a raw moment, I’m going to say something, in hopes that maybe some of you can relate.

I don’t have an amazing conversion story.

What I have are pieces of ugly and unsure, steps that are hesitant and and taken in fear…that my Father has somehow woven together into a becoming-beautiful journey of trust and acceptance and assurance and surrender.

It’s not perfect, and I know what it’s like to fail.

But I do know…That I’m a sinner. That my Jesus died to forgive my sins. That my Father in Heaven loves me. That He has an eternal home for me in heaven. That I should tell the world.

And I believe it with all my heart.

It’s almost a little too simple, but it’s what He wrote for me, as only He can, and it’s what I desperately cling to on mornings like yesterday when the feelings are absent and it’s too easy to let the guilt become shameful.

It’s Holy Week.

And I know I’ll spend a lot of it reflecting, but while I reflect and regardless of what I feel, I know I need to remind myself that it’s not about feelings…

But about knowing the beauty of what came from that dark Friday so many years ago and trusting that He did it for me.

And you.

Sig

The Art of Real

I love those days.

The kind when I’m up front singing with praise team and a blog post idea comes to me, mid-song.

Really. I even somewhat processed it out as I sang, but really that’s not a good idea for more than one reason. πŸ˜‰

It was one of those days that actually started Saturday.

Wake up with monster headache.

Take ibuprofen, drink coffee, take time getting ready.

Go out to get a few things done.

Come home and get ready for commitment that night.

Monster headache still there…more ibuprofen.

Go to said commitment. Come home around 10:30, don’t get to sleep until 12:30. (with the time change thrown in there)

Sleep for six, too-short, hours.

Wake up, and lo and behold, headache? Yep, we’re good buddies now…apparently inseparable ones at that.

Get ready for church, get girlie ready for church, all of us leave at 9:20. (But, really, it’s 8:20. You know, with that awful time change.)

Look in the mirror when I get to church. Not good. I chose yesterday to wear those pants…you know, those. The ones that are a strange, shiny, shade of blue-almost-black that go with everything and, really, go with absolutely nothing.

Hair a mess…yay for day #2 and the new jar of hair putty I was experimenting with that gives me bedhead all day long. Still contemplating whether the slightly spiky, messy look is really a good thing or not.

Tired eyes…teenage skin. (Yep, it was one of those weeks.)

Belly pooching over pants…six pounds since Christmas, and my sixes don’t fit so well anymore.

I kind of wanted to crawl into the back pew and away from the world. But, noooo…not an option yesterday morning.

And as the morning continued on and I stood in up front of the congregation, the question I asked over and over…

Why am I so afraid of real?

Why does it bother me so much if my hair is less than perfect, and if my clothes aren’t equally perfect? If someone sees me without makeup? Or catches me at the end of a week that’s been full of editing and short nights from the girl and even less sleep for the mama?

Without realizing it, I’ve made it too easy to hide behind the makeup and as-perfect-as-I-can-manage hair, behind an outfit that helps me hide at least some of those extra pounds.

We have this image of perfect…and often forget that He loves imperfect. Anyway and in spite of.

But I still try to cover those imperfections…the ones He sees and knows and, yet, unconditionally loves.

I don’t have a pretty ending for this post. I just know what my heart looks like.

I also know that tomorrow morning, I’ll wake up, throw in some type of workout, shower, putty up my hair, put on some makeup, and wear clothes that (mostly) hide the hopefully-now-only five extra pounds.

But I’ll try…to be a little more content and see something beautiful when I see my reflection…instead of seeing all the flaws.

Because He loves flawed and imperfect.

He loves real.

And, this is cool…I wrote most of this post before I read what one of my favorite bloggers, Lisa-Jo, wrote today. I love her perspective…hop over and read her heart. It’s beautiful.

Sig

Monday Talk

Hi friends…happy Monday!

The day of the week that I used to not love, but gotta be honest…it’s growing on me. But that could also be because coffee tends to make any day look a little better.

πŸ˜‰

I am incredibly blessed.

For so many reasons, but in the past few days, it has been almost overwhelming (but the good kind of that) to see how God is speaking Truth into my life.

Amazing concept that if I will be still and listen, I might actually hear! πŸ˜‰

It humbles and amazes me that He knows this heart…the one that can beat with a hundred different emotions at once, and He can still decipher those and know exactly what I need.

…hurt=peace

...confusion=assurance

…doubt=Truth

…loneliness=enough

emptiness=encouragement

Just a few of the ways He has met me since Thursday. You know, that day when I truly vowed to find bloggy-balance. (Hee hee…do you think they would coin that term and give me credit?!) πŸ˜‰

And for those of you who read that post, I thought you might be interested to know that God brought up that verse Saturday AND Sunday, in separate contexts from different people.

He speaks. Loudly…and it’s amazing what happens when we turn off the noise.Β 

So on Friday’s I participate in Lisa-Jo‘s Five-Minute Friday. It’s become sort of a tradition for me in ending my week, one that I truly love. It’s also given me the chance to connect with some beautiful, amazing friends out there who heart-write, just like I do. :)

Last week, as I mentioned in my post, her topic scared the begeebies out of me. I may or may not have mentioned wanting to run away from the computer?! πŸ˜‰

And then, this past Friday’s word did the same thing to me.

I wrestled with those topics on the days I wrote of them and the days following.

And then I realized that half of that was the fact that He’s stretching me…growing me. He tends to do that, I guess, when we grow tired of complacency and desire to, instead, be what He’s called us to be.

Thanks to my (mostly) non-TV Lent, too, I’ve been doing a lot more reading.

I’ve just started Angie Smith’s book, Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole. Angie speaks such truth in a way that anyone can relate to…and I am (intentionally) slowly soaking in each sentence. I have been somewhat guarded with the topic of this book, but within the first few sentences, I knew that God had brought a group of women (and the study they are doing on this particular book) into my life for a reason. Will you pray I will find the courage to connect with them this week? :)

My Bible study at church is also starting a new book. I’m looking forward to going through it in-real-life with some of the sweetest friends ever and praying that God will show me Truth…and with this particular topic, I’m expecting some of that Truth to be tough. I’m praying He’ll keep my heart open.

And I’ve been reading through Holley Gerth’s book, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You.

Friends, just WOW…the good kind. So Holley has the gift of writing to begin with, but Truth and beauty just ooze from her grace-filled words. It’s a book that is hard to put down because I just can’t wait for what she’s going to say next, but once again, I am intentionally soaking in the words and praying God will use them in the journey to be more like His Son.

Oh, and guess what?!

Her book officially releases on Friday, and I’m giving away a copy. :)

So, a hint for y’all…stop back by here on Wednesday or Thursday to enter for a chance to win the book and some other fun stuff. Chocolate may or may not be included. And by may-or-may-not, I mean most definitely. Just in case you weren’t sure. πŸ˜‰

Hope you all had a fantastic Monday. :)

Sig

How Quiet It Is…

It’s a quiet night.

Really quiet.

I’m sitting in our family room, snuggled under my favorite blanket, pounding on the laptop keys…and the only sound I’m hearing is the keys.

I am such a noise girl. I thrive best when surrounded by it; I often intentionally create it; heck, I even sleep better when there’s some. :)

And most nights when there’s writing happening, that writing coexists with noise, and we’re not talking about the toddler kind. I can’t tell you how often I’ll flip on the TV or put a in a DVD just to fill what I term as empty space. I am always convinced that this helps me be more productive.

But guess what?

In thinking about what to give up for Lent, I landed on two options. Coffee. Or TV.

IΒ  could have chosen coffee, but if we’re being real, I am a much more pleasant person to be around when I’ve had my six cups of coffee. (Kidding. That was a joke…I promise.) I was truly thinking of others…and maybe a teeny-tiny bit about my love for this beverage. πŸ˜‰

Maybe it sounds like a cop-out, but I chose TV. (And my hubby is enthusiastically(?) going along for the ride with me.) We do have one amendment to it…we’re allowed to watch movies on weekend nights.

We began the non-watching yesterday, and I barely noticed it. (By the way, Maelie is not participating. It isn’t as if my daughter watches hours a day, but with a non-napping sweetheart of a two year-old, mama needs a bit of down time.)

However, last night I went to work out, and immediately realized I couldn’t flip Netflix on and find something to occupy my brain while I crunched and planked and burpeed (that word just seems wrong) and squatted (even more wrong). πŸ˜‰ I had to settle for some music instead.

You know what? It wasn’t bad. And I might argue that singing along burns a few extra calories. πŸ˜‰

But here I sit, tonight, heading to the rough draft for an hour or so after this, and I’m more-than-well aware that the familiar sounds of Little House will not be the soundtrack to my writing moments for quite awhile.

It’s a new kind of focus, a reminder that sometimes He just asks me to be Still.

To throw away the noise and rest in Him…in His goodness, in His grace, in His love.

Thank you, God, for quiet…for still. Please teach me to thrive in it.

Sig

What She Treasured

I have to admit that often, especially around this time of year, the passage from Luke 2 tends to become habitual routine.

I hear it read and will mentally recite the words along with the speaker, allowing them to scatter to the far corners of my brain rather than collect in the center of my heart.

You know, where I could ponder them. Treasure them. Let them fully sink in as they were, and still are, intended.

As I heard the oh-so-familiar but no-less-beautiful account of the birth of my Savior recited once again last week, I was reminded of that girl.

You know, Mary.

Though her circumstances deemed her a woman by all accounts, she was a girl. A girl handed some things that I’m not sure anyone else on the planet would have handled so graciously or obediently.

And so I had to go back and read about her again.

Mary listened. She obeyed. She did those with a heart for her Father with complete trust. That amazes me.

But I also think about how she experienced so much that was completely out of the ordinary. Not only was she a virgin giving birth, but she gave birth to a King. How overwhelmed, awestruck, in disbelief, and inadequate…she must have felt sometimes.

Yet she cradled the King in her arms and continued her faithful obedience to the path God had planned for her.

And in all of that, she took time to ponder those things and treasure them in her heart.

So I was thinking about all of this during the sermon this morning, and it stayed with me throughout the day.

I think about what God asks of me. Some days, it’s easy to be joyful and obedient. Other days not so much…because what He’s asking me to do, I don’t want to take and TREASURE or PONDER.

At times I would rather pitch them out the window.

And I’ll argue with Him.

God, I’m not the one who’s wrong! Why should I be the one to apologize?

Ok, God…I’m not really understanding this latest medical issue. Why me?

God, no. This wasn’t what I’d planned. My timing is better.

Instead of just taking my situations and what they bring…and pondering them and treasuring them as what He’s planned for me.

When I thought back to Mary again, I was pretty much blown away. (again ;)) She took it all…trusting that God had His very best for her…and treasured it.

Wow.

Father, forgive the many times I don’t trust. Lack faith. Refuse to believe You are good. I have so much to learn. May each mountaintop, valley, circumstance, and situation bring an opportunity to praise You…and may I take each one and ponder it. Treasure it.

Sig

The Funny Things She Says

Maelie is always full of words…and she says some pretty hilarious things. Today was especially funny.

Here are a few memorable scenes from our day…humor me. :)

So Mae woke up pretty early this morning, and it was still dark out. I moved her downstairs and put her on the couch with her “special pillow” and her purple blanket. As I was tucking her in, she looked up at me, smiled, and whispered, You’re so kind to me.

Oh, melt my heart and make me laugh my head off all at the same time! πŸ˜€

After church today, Maelie and I stayed to eat lunch there. (Octoberfest…bring on the brats and kraut! :)) Since Tobin was home sick, we sat with our friends, Jonny and Kris. At one point toward the end of the music (read: live, German, pretty stinkin’ cool music), Kris got up and left. Maelie didn’t notice that she was gone right away, and a few minutes later, looked at me. Do you know where Aunt Kris went?

I told her I didn’t.

Completely dissatisfied with my answer, she ran over to the next table, got Pastor Y’s attention, and said, again, Do you know where Aunt Kris went? I can’t find her!

Good golly…complete sentences like that already…she doesn’t miss a thing! πŸ˜‰

Perhaps my favorite…and, thus, worthy of being properly documented on the blog was later this afternoon. Tobin went to pick up dinner, and while he was gone, Mae and I were playing upstairs in her room.

Her pretend phone rang. (Ok, ok, so I made it ring. ;)) I answered it, handed it to her, and said, Maelie, who do you think is calling?

She looked at me, gave me that I-know-exactly-who-it-is look, and answered, It’s Jesus! Hi, Jesus!

She then proceeded to have an entire conversation with him, Disney Princesses included.

Oh, I love my girl.

And she will completely love me back one day for this post. HA!

πŸ˜€

Sig

Just What’s Up

Gonna be short-ish tonight.

I can’t believe how tired I’ve been this week, and I have the best of intentions to actually get up and run tomorrow morning. 6:30ish early because if I go any later, then I see too many people. And though I’m sure I impress people with my astounding speed and form?

HA. HA. (Just clarifying.) πŸ˜‰

Pretty during my morning run, I am not. :)

But I really need to get myself up and do a few miles. Because of this.

Yeah, it’s a whopping two weeks away, and I’ve slacked so much lately that I’m only pulling about a 28/29 5k. Would really like to run this one in the 27’s or even the 26’s, so we shall see. I’ll be bonding with early mornings until then. (And downing copious amounts of caffeine to make up for the lost sleep.) πŸ˜‰

My awesome Bible study group…I seriously love these women. And I finally have a picture of us, so here y’all go. (Well, it’s most of us…the group has changed some.) And I don’t own the picture but pretty sure no one’s going to care if I post it here. Anyway, we started a new book today, Unglued. I love it…the author is just so good. So REAL…which I need right now. Plus, she writes like a blogger and tells funny stories that make me say, Hey, I’m totally there with you. (Admits the girl who had an “unglued” moment right before she walked out the door for Bible study this morning. Oy…)

All that to say, I’m really looking forward to it. :)

So Maelie watches Veggie Tales before she goes to bed. She loves them, and I still find them entertaining. (A few, I even really love.) This particular silly song is SO me and Mae…already. Cracks me up every time. πŸ˜€

Enjoy! And, g’nite, all! (No pun intended.) πŸ˜‰

Sig