Tuesday, June 29

Me, Myself, and I

I have a running conversation going... with myself.

I don't know if it's just me, but I find myself constantly conversing with myself... either with little reminders, comments about my current activities, venting, rejoicing...

I guess I consider myself good company. Better than being annoyed with or trying to avoid me.

I was telling Jonathan about this habit of mine, and he was curious, and kept asking what kind of things would I say? And I couldn't really describe it, as it's more of a stream of consciousness kind of thing.

I find it to be reassuring, calming, and even a little satisfactory. I can tell myself the things that I could never voice aloud to another soul, whether from embarrassment or fear of being judged. I can be honest with myself (for the most part).

Am I alone in this? I hope not. If you can't talk to yourself, how can you honestly expect other people to enjoy your company?

It doesn't help that for the majority of my day, I'm at home with a 13 month year old, who  compensates for his lack of vocabulary with volume, enthusiasm, and gesture.

And so I take comfort in the one adult voice and presence that I can depend on 24/7: me. I may not be the most unique, enthralling, or challenging of conversationalists, but I'm all I've got to work with.

Thanks, Lord, for the gift of my own good company. And thanks, too, for always being there Yourself, listening to my crazy ramblings with good humor, and entering so often into my self-conversation.

Friday, June 25

New Song: Come (A Prayer of Hope)

Yes, dear readers. You get not one, but two posts today... basically because I'm super excited to announce that I've finally finished a new song!

Wow, has it been a long time since I was able to announce that! The last song I completely finished was back in 2008. Graduation from the university, getting married, having a baby, life just somehow happens in the blink of an eye.

But I knew that in His time, another one would come. I have to admit, I do have 6 or 7 sheets of paper with lyrical works in progress on them... a verse or two here, a chorus and bridge there. Works in progress that I will someday return to, when the winds change and inspiration beckons.

The back story for this new song is unlike any of my others. I wrote it specifically for a funeral. Not for a specific funeral, mind you, but specifically for a funeral.

That has lately been a large part of how I contribute to my little family's financial stability. I play piano and sing for funerals. Dreary, you say? Somber and altogether unpleasant? Ah, but I beg to differ.

I have the distinct and unique privilege of being a fly on the wall on two of the most momentous days in a person's life: their wedding and the funeral of a loved one, be it husband, wife, mother, father. I am very humbled to offer what I can to make these days as beautiful and appropriate as possible.

I in a small way contribute to their joy on their wedding day, and I hope I alleviate a small portion of their sorrow on that funeral day, when they say their earthly farewell to someone well loved.

And so I got to thinking that I would like to write a song of hope, of comfort, and of compassion specifically intended for people in mourning. The Lord knows our every sorrow, and carries our cross with us. He holds every tear in his Hand, and counts them precious. We must give to Him our sorrow, our heavy burdens. We must come to Him with our weariness. Coming into His presence, feeling His tender love, our crosses become a bit easier to shoulder, knowing that we do not walk alone.

For His joy is our strength; His peace is our shelter; His love is our guide. He lifts us from the threatening flood and shields us from the weapons of our foe. His tender touch floods us with mercy and healing. He loves us more than we could ever know.

So we must always come to Him.

I hope to have a recording of this new song done soon. Jonathan always tells me that it's so good to get things done while they are fresh, while you are still riding the wave of excitement and adrenaline that inspiration provides. Thank you all for your love and support.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.


Who Am I, Lord?

I have been meditating, really ruminating, on the Gospel reading from last Sunday. I wrote a bit on my thoughts on the question the Lord presents to us all, asking "Who do you say that I am?"

And then it struck me yesterday that the question must necessarily be reversed, that we must daily come to Jesus and say, "Lord, who do YOU say that I am?"

We cannot look to the world, to our peers, to secular media to define who we are. These means of definition will either fall radically short of the beauty and dignity we possess, or will present us with lies regarding our identities.

Jesus alone can reveal to us who we are, if we are patient and humble enough to endure the revelation. For we are all far from perfect, and must be open to seeing the truth of our weakness and shortcomings, if we would embark with the Lord on the journey of our growing in holiness. Acceptance is the first step, but only the first step of many.

I was thinking about this specifically in regards to the gifts the Lord in His infinite wisdom chooses to bestow. I have been unbelievably blessed with a gift in music. I know others who are blessed with gifts of relating well to others, of communication, of prayer, of wisdom, of knowledge... There is no end to the myriad of gifts the Lord bestows to us His warriors.

And then I fell prey to the temptation to compare myself, and I thought, Lord, I will never be able to do what she does. I will never speak like he does. I could never accomplish...

And then the Lord allowed me to realize something. Firstly, He does not create us empty-handed. Secondly, He creates us with a purpose and a mission.

He does not create us empty-handed. What an encouraging thought, especially in this time of confusion. The Lord has given each and every one of us a powerful and beautiful gift to use for His greater glory and the spreading of His name. That is not a wistful thought or a possibility, but a certainty.

The certainty of our gift results in the responsibility to come to the Lord and discern what our gift is. Then we have not the choice, but the challenge and the call to use that gift we've been generously given to do mighty works for His glory. With great power comes great responsibility.

We must never for a second doubt that we have been given a tremendous gift to be used for His glory. If you question it, you simply have not yet discovered what you have been given. As the priest from my church so succinctly put it, "Have you asked Him yet? No? Why don't you just ask?"

I don't know why I don't ask simple questions of the Lord more often. "Who are You, Lord? Who am I? What have You given me so that I might glorify You?" These simple questions produce simple answers, that in turn find a place in the magnificent tapestry of a life lived in union with the Lord.

You too have a tremendous gift waiting in your arsenal. Don't doubt that, not for a second. Let no one cause you to doubt, or to fear that you have nothing to contribute, nothing to offer. For you are fearfully, wonderfully, perfectly made. He has not created you empty-handed, but sends you into this world armed and ready for battle, prepared to give glory to His name.

Discover what is your gift, then use it without fear. Allow the Lord to guide you, and you cannot go astray.

He has not created us empty-handed. He gives us good gifts, and sends us forth to do His mighty work, to be His light to a world full of darkness.


Wednesday, June 23

New Lease on Life

I'm excited to launch a new template for this lovely blog. It had to be done.

I feel as though every few months, I get this urge to change. Usually it bursts forth in a crazier-than-normal cleaning frenzy, that usually lasts late into the night and produces bags of garbage and/or donations for Goodwill. I call it my need to de-clutter. Definitely not a bad thing (although Jonathan sometimes runs for cover as I break out the 409, Windex, and my hardcore cleaning gloves...).

Well, this time that urge evinces itself in the need for renevatio, or rebirth of this blog into a new creation. So Behold... THE NEW TEMPLATE FOR 3M (that is, Music, Ministry, and Motherhood)!

So refreshing to have something new to look at. Amazing how a simple change can launch a whole new spurt of creativity... still waiting for the spurt... ok, I'll just have to make do with what I've got.

But I do have some creative progress to report: a MUSIC UPDATE at long last!

For the past few weeks, I've been hard at work with a previous un-tackled musical challenge. A gentleman contacted me and asked if I'd consider putting music to some words he'd written. The song was about the Sign of the Cross, and he wanted a light and catchy melody for 5th/6th graders to learn and be able to sing along.

I rose to the occasion and accepted the challenge. I thought to myself, I'm fun, I can do light and catchy... and thus the St. Andrew's project began.

I must say, I'm pleased with the outcome, and as I sat in the St. Andrew's parish office yesterday, observing 3 cute ladies tapping their feet and humming along, I knew that I'd hit a musical home run. The gentleman too was pleased with the musical adaptation of his words (and being a lyrical composer myself, I know that lyrics are like children - you want to give them the best appearance possibility to present to the world). I was grateful that he was happy.

But it was a new and challenging experience to work with someone else's words. I have an organic process for writing music: it involves a flash of divine inspiration, furious scribbling down of lyrics, humming melodies in my head as I write, and then sitting at the piano for a few hours banging out the finished product. It's quite another thing entirely to put a melody to someone else's creation.

But I was excited to try something new, something different. I have my own style of playing the piano and of writing lyrics, and working with Dr. Macedonio's words gave me insight into a different lyrical style. I enjoyed it tremendously.

He was so pleased, he gave me a second set of lyrics to start working on, a Christmas lullaby!

I feel as though I've ascended to a new level of artist - one that involves paid commission work not unlike Michelangelo or Raphael... ah, but I have still so far to climb to reach those heights!

But it's an honor just the same, to be asked to give new life to words, to give them rhythm and movement.

Feel free to listen here, on my music website. On the right side, there's a music player titled "Let It Be Done To Me," and the track is titled "We Love To Sing."

God bless you all, and thank you for your support!


Tuesday, June 22

Why Can't You Just Take A Nap????

Ah, the days when the cub is sick... 

It used to be that nothing could ever slow me down. Not sleeplessness, not sickness, not homework, not anything. I was a machine! 

And now, God has chosen in His infinite wisdom to bestow upon an automatic "take-a-breather" mechanism: my one year old and his occasionally malfunctioning immune system. 

Behold, the days of runny noses and watery eyes and moaning and groaning and gnashing of teeth are upon me! And I'm forced to step outside myself and once again learn to put the needs of another WAY FAR before my own. 

I've discovered that it's easy to put the needs of another before your own when you feel the cause is noble and honorable and commendable. I found that I would gladly get up in the middle of the night to feed my baby, because he needed me, because it was fulfilling, because it was good and right. I was proud to serve. 

But I've also discovered that when my baby is sniffly and germy and wet and whiny, giving up my own plans and schedule to tend to his needs becomes an heroic effort as opposed to an honor. He's less apt to entertain himself, and more likely to sit at my feet and cry, content only with 100% of my attention. 

It's frustrating, when I have a to-do list the length of my arm, schedules to keep to, things to get done... 

But I'm coming to see that the Lord is calling me to a change in perspective and in purpose. There will always be things to do. But my little one will be little for such a short time. Soon enough, he won't need me anymore. And then I will look back longingly at this beautiful time when all he wants to do is cuddle his mama, and wonder why I didn't take advantage. 

And that applies to life in general. Sometimes, we are so caught up in the tasks, the business, that we lose sight of the present moment, the loveliness of life right now. The Lord is good in giving me reminders to slow down and bask in His goodness now, even if that goodness comes in the form of Matthew fighting off disease like a champion. 

All he needs to be happy is my attention. There's really nothing so important, that needs to be done right this second, that justifies my refusal to spend that time with my best guy. 

Lord, help me to be patient when it counts. Help me to love when it's hard. Help me to put myself aside when no one is watching. Help me be less of me and more of You. Amen.

Sunday, June 20

A Father is a Wonderful Thing...

Happy Father's Day! My prayer is that you all are blessed with good and godly men in your lives that are a true example of Christian manliness.

Our fathers can and ought be the first example of bravery, of honor, of trustworthiness. They ought teach their sons how to be men, how to love women properly. They ought inspire their daughters to value themselves and wait patiently for the man who will show them the honor and respect that they deserve.

Our fathers can and ought be a reflection of God our Father. They ought bear witness to Him in their every word and deed. In honoring and loving our fathers, we are better able to enter into relationship with God.

I have been blessed with two wonderful men in my life, whom I celebrate today.

My father is a man of few words, a man of honor and courage, who fights for life daily and gives me a clear example of what it means to trust in the Lord with all my heart.
My husband is a wonderful, godly, and loving man, who never fails to show me how very much I am cherished. He has jumped headfirst into the role of father, at first hesitant and now confident, and makes our son laugh like no one else. I am honored to be his wife and to have the opportunity to love him and be loved by him a little more each day.

These men are an example to me of our Heavenly Father's love. I have truly been blessed by their testimony. I know that some are not so fortunate. Regardless, find that man in your life, whether it be a father, a grandfather, a husband, boyfriend, priest, friend, or even a stranger showing you a random act of kindness, and thank them today. For today is a day to remember those men who have loved us, some with great sacrifice to themselves.

And never forget that even if you have no one to celebrate this Father's Day, you have a loving Father in Heaven that sees your every accomplishment and is proud, catches your every tear in His hand and counts it precious, and longs for the day He will welcome you home with wide open arms.

My father on earth has sacrificed so much that I might become a happy, well-rounded, intelligent, and loving woman of God. My Heavenly Father sent His only Son to die so that I might live. I have so very much to be grateful for.

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father! ~Romans 8:15

Saturday, June 19

Who Are You, Lord?

This Sunday's Gospel asks such a significant question: "Who do you say that I am?"

Not "Who do your parents, or your peers, or your friends say that I am, but Who do YOU say that I am?"

I feel like this Gospel is a terrific confirmation of my post from yesterday. Not only do I have the inner conviction that I must be ready to proclaim my love and devotion to my Jesus, but now He Himself is asking me who I say He is.

Do I know? Can I answer?

The priest from my church today in his homily said that when people wonder what Jesus is like, he tells them, "Well, have you asked Him?" 

And it struck me as profound. The answer to knowing Who Jesus Christ is comes from having that deep and personal relationship with Him. Asking the question, "Who are You, Lord" marks the beginning of a journey walking together. If we ask, He begins to reveal Himself. The more we wonder, the more we come to know.

And the incredible grace is that He longs to reveal Himself. He desires us to know Him. He wants us to fall so deeply in love with Him, so that He can purify that love and make it more like His.

Lord, I want to know You, so that I can answer with confidence when asked Who You are.

"Lord, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Amen.

Friday, June 18

Passion and Hope

Ah, life. How you unceasingly fill up with things that take me away from writing. 

No matter. Here I am, where I've been all along, pondering, meditating, learning, and growing.

Update: Jonathan, Matthew, and I had a lovely trip to California, celebrated Matthew's 1st birthday in true fashion with family, and really have enjoyed a beautiful couple of months. I will have an update soon on all the music stuff that has developed and been keeping me busy. God is good!

I was at my prayer group last night, and heard a talk that has left me wanting more from my life in regards to spiritual growth. This talk, among other nuggets of gold, emphasized the need to live a life with single-minded purpose and passion, fixated on the Lord and the path He has set before us.

Especially in these turbulent times, we must above all know who we are and what we believe. We will be tested. We might be persecuted. We will be called upon to give testament to the truth. And we must be ready.

I for one have renewed my resolve to be ready. I have renewed my desire to study, to immerse myself in His Word, to run hard after Him. I want to be able to lead others both through my actions and through my words. I want to be able to defend him with faith and with reason. Our faith is at the same time wondrous and sound.

Another nugget of gold from this beautiful talk has stayed with me. I apologize if this post seems somewhat scattered, but I decided better to share a few things that appear unconnected, than not to write at all. This second truth that struck me was the difference between natural hope and supernatural hope.

I have a tendency to expect good things. I think to myself, I am a good person, I strive to do the right thing, I make good choices... ergo I ought be rewarded with goodness in my life! It makes perfect sense in my mind.

And yet, good things don't always happen to good people. Often, terrible things happen to good people, and no reason for them can be found. In these circumstances, we think to ourselves, how could that possibly have happened to such a good person? It's easy to equate bad things happening with bad things done. If I am good enough, this will all turn right again.

But that's unfortunately not how it works. Back to that distinction in hopes: natural hope is the hope that believes, if I do good, good will be done to me. If I believe strongly enough for long enough, my prayer will be answered a resounding yes! If we rely only on this hope, we can often be disappointed and disillusioned, asking, God, why didn't You come through for me? I prayed and I believed and I trusted, but the bad still occurred.

This is where supernatural hope comes in. This is the type of hope that does not disappoint, according to Romans 5. This type of hope is the one that proclaims unceasingly, His will be done above all else. With this hope in our hearts, we can pray and trust and ask, but at the end of the day, we cling to the assurance that what comes to pass is in our best interest according to His will. And that assurance can never disappoint.

With this hope in our hearts, we can only ever be at peace, sweetly surrendered at all times to His will, confident in His provision for all our needs. Oh, how I long for that peace, that trust, that hope.

I want to live my life focused on Him. I want to hope and never be disappointed.

Will you join me?
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