Predawn darkness. Sound of perking coffee. Fresh air from an opened window.
The new day begins. I sit in the stillness, Bible open in my lap and prayer list in my hand. I read, pray, listen.
God was awake before I heard the alarm. He kept watch through the night. He waited in expectation for me to come. He desires fellowship with me.
I stand amazed.
Before the sun crests the tree tops, birds begin their chorus. First one, then others join. The little woods becomes a symphony of song.
The words I pray are no surprise to my Father. He knows the needs before I ask. He understands my feeble effort to express my requests, remembering that I am dust. He determines the times and seasons and works His plan to bring about His will.
What more could I ask?
I journal and pour out my heart on paper. God comprehends more than the words I try to write, the longings so tangible that I ache, the storm brewing that needs a calming.
As near as my breath, He speaks peace. “Fear not. I am with you.”
I rest in Him, a Sabbath rest that incompasses every day of the week. It is the choice I make as I rise to face the day. Whatever it brings, I know God loves me. He hears my prayers. He answers according to His perfect will, accomplishing His purpose in me and those I love.
Exhaustion seeped into my bones after a week of busy tasks, one after the other checked off the list, my effort to keep myself on track.
Recitals, piano students, celebration, music that thrills me proves holy in the deep part of my soul. And how is it that I get to be part of these young growing musicians? It is too wonderful to express.
Remembering almost twenty years ago to the position that was eliminated due to budget cuts, how the shock of loosing my job, my career, sent me packing boxes from the nice office and title on the door. My staff and I were numb as I tried to keep smiling for morale sake.
Holding back the tears, the sounds I heard were dissonant and without reason or rhythm.
Yet, I see it was good for me to be released, set free to fly and sing a new song.
The desire of my heart, surely put there by my Creator, began small. I put up a poster and paid for an ad in the local paper: “Piano lessons.”
Today, this weekend, these many years later, my students flourish, and I rejoice in what God has done.
What was meant to hinder my progress became a new path, and I found a calling I had faintly heard as a whisper.
God takes the difficult, the painful, the broken and remakes, reforms, and restores to bring forth beauty from the heap.
It’s what He does most excellently. And He does it beautifully in perfect timing, creating a song of praise.
April is perhaps my favorite month of the year. It offers a beauty not easily compared. Shades of green, abundance of color, redbud trees, Bradford pear and azaleas glowing at the front of the house. Rabbits hop and birds sing and build nests. New life flourishes, and it is my time of year.
There was heartache this month. Friends suffer, and we hurt too, not in the same way, not to the depth of their grief, but we feel a measure of pain.
Prayers Sweet William and I prayed were answered, but not how we wanted. I struggle to understand and find myself saying, “I don’t understand Your ways,” to the God who’s providence is certain, who’s sovereignty is sure.
At those times, once again, I make a choice to believe that He is good, that He is strong, and that He is kind. I choose to trust through tears, bending my knee in surrender, letting go of my desire to make sense of how life happens to us all.
I read Scripture and know there is truth in the ancient words. They point me in the right direction, even when I cannot see the end of the journey or fathom what God is about.
Obviously it is the month of yard work. The hum of lawn mowers pairs with the smell of newly sheared grass. After days of kneeling then struggling to get up, pulling weeds, and generally hard work, the front yard is presentable, almost charming. Let’s don’t even talk about the back yard. It waits for another day.
A friend and I went to the movies to see Unplanned. I thought it was well done and presented a side of the abortion industry we don’t see on nightly news. Let me brag a little by saying our son worked on Unplanned, and I’m a proud momma. Seeing his name on the credits at the end is thrilling. Just sayin’.
It’s been so Springy around here. Along with flower kaleidoscopes and the greening of the little woods, bird nests abounded. A dove built in the clematis outside the bedroom window, and I spied a robin’s young in a metal structure in the front garden. On walks I watched geese sit through rain, heat and cold, and a neighbor said a wood duck nest was hidden in his wood pile.
This month I saw the baby goslings hatch, from a distance of course. Of all the years of geese at the lake across the road, this was the first time I witnessed new babies bob and sway, learning to stand for the first time. I called for my little neighbor, four-years old, to come see, because this needed to be experienced with a child.
The same day we saw the mother wood duck hurry across the field toward the little woods with seven or eight little ones following behind. Springtide was delightful.
I read two books written by people whose lifestyles are very different than mine. I wanted to understand. Too many times, I’ve made judgments based on what I think I know instead of learning about the experiences of others.
As I study the life of Jesus, I see how He loved people right where they were, knowing all of the paths that brought them to that place. His compassion reached out with an understanding heart, a crystal-clear awareness of their hurts and how He could offer healing. He tenderly offered a better way.
I want to love like that.
I enjoyed time with my people, both young and older. I spent a day each week with women in Bible study who challenged me. We bonded afresh. They probably don’t know how much joy they bring to my heart.
I fixed quiche for a young woman my granddaughter’s age and heard her perspective on growing into adulthood. I was refreshed by another who is young enough to be my daughter. Among the things we share are music, teaching, quilting, and theology. Over brunch and coffee, we didn’t lack for conversation and laughter. We occupied the table until the lunch crowd began to gather.
I am a rich woman and Queen of Quite-a-Lot as a result of these extravagant relationships.
Sweet William and I are coming upon our one-year anniversary of having smart phones. I hesitated getting one because I didn’t want it to become an appendage, a thing I have constantly at my fingertips.
That has been challenging, and I’ve caught myself texting while trying to listen to Sweet William at the same time. My focus is divided sometimes. I’ve made good use of GPS and enjoy the convenience of apps, yet I still must guard against letting this piece of digital material direct my moments, let alone my life. Sometimes it feels like a noose around my neck with it’s nagging insistence to pay attention to it instead of people in front of me.
A favorite quote this month by Manisha Thakor: “The internet is both a lifeline and a plastic bag over my head.” Yes, that is it. The internet is convenient, gives me access to the world’s information, answers my questions, shows me the way to my destination, makes shopping simple, lets me communicate quickly, and in many ways makes my life easier.
But, it can become suffocating trying to keep up with all that it offers. I’m not on Twitter or Linkdin, and I’ve decided I can’t do Instagram. I thought I could add it to my online stash, but I found myself thinking how I needed to take a picture of the baby goslings wandering my yard and post an appropriate saying for the world to see instead of simply enjoying their cuteness.
I don’t judge the way others use the internet, social media and the world wide web for jobs and communication, to connect and post beautiful photos. I enjoy looking at other people’s pictures. I keep up with my family through Facebook. I use the web to interact, send messages, and post this blog, hoping someone out there is reading it.
As I read and learn, work and play, I want to live an authentic life, my own and not someone else’s. Every person has gifts, strengths, talents. Sometimes I’ve tried to be like someone else, and it has proven false and unfulfilling. I recognize my skills and aptitudes and where I am most fruitful. I also know my weaknesses, areas where I am less than.
It’s an ongoing quest to live the life I’m called to live. It has taken me years to discover this truth, and I continue to learn.
At the end of March, I said April was the new January. It has been that for me. Stretching and growing, working and loving, resting and refreshing, and choosing to be happy. This is my one wonderful life.
I heard someone say joy and sorrow run together like train tracks. We experience both at the same time. And so it has been this beautiful month of April. The glory of new life bursting forth, the celebration of Resurrection and Christ’s victory over the cross have been reasons to rejoice.
At the same time we have wept with those who weep, grappling with death and what it leaves in its wake. Sadly the grave is still part of this life. Because this is not the end of it all. Heaven is real and one day we will greet those we struggled to let go before we were ready to say good-bye.
Waiting. It’s not what I usually choose. I like a plan and the action that follows.
Yet, we all share time in the waiting room.
Waiting for Christmas as a tender child seemed interminable.
Waiting my turn to give an oral report in high school was pure torture, wanting to get it over with while dreading it at the same time.
Waiting in the dentists office for the needle and the drill leaves me anxiously wringing my hands.
Waiting for the doctor to see me when I’ve already been there long is frustrating.
Waiting for the red light to change because I’m running late, I endure by counting the minutes.
We all wait for something. A phone call, a visit, a letter, a promotion, or a confirmation. We wait for a biopsy report, a positive on a pregnancy test, a return of strength after surgery, a healing of a broken heart. In the waiting, we wonder why it is taking so long.
After unexpected and unimaginable turn of events, a crucifixion that was mind boggling, Jesus’ disciples, friends and family huddled in fearful waiting, not knowing what they were waiting for.
All they knew for sure was that Jesus was dead. Some saw it happen. Some walked to the tomb where his linen-wrapped body was placed. Some heard the horrific details and could not comprehend how or why it happened.
They waited in their stupor of questions, uncertain of what lay ahead.
They were much like me when things don’t turn out the way I expected or planned or hoped they would. I am left wondering and waiting.
From my perspective I see the tomorrow that will come for Jesus’ followers, the empty tomb, the glory of His resurrection. If I could tell them anything, it would be this: It’s going to be alright. Just you wait and see.
And the message is the same for me. No matter my circumstances, as God’s beloved child, it’s going to be alright. I won’t necessarily understand at the moment. I may not fully know on this earth. But one day, things that hurt me will reveal their purpose. What I couldn’t understand will be made clear. I will see that the trials, the tears, and the pain had an objective and a goal, all in the mind of a sovereign and good Father, and all of it to conform me into the image of His dear Son.
The waiting room may not be the place I voluntarily go, but it is the place I will return to again and again. Perhaps I need to tell myself this right now.
Rising earlier than usual, the stillness envelopes me. The house is warm with the season of spring, needing no furnace or gas logs. I open the window next to my chair, and the distant sound of birdsong filters in. It’s too soon for the winged creatures to begin their pre-dawn chorus. And yet, there is one, out in the little woods, and he sings to me.
Sweet William breathes the heaviness of sleep in the back bedroom. Maisie checks that I am OK, then trots back to bed, her sleep-in habit.
The morning quiet is mine alone.
After awhile, I hear a sound, in the wind, in the trees. It’s the sound of rain in the distance. Did I miss that weather prediction? I listen carefully because I know the music of raindrops.
Memory takes me to decades before when I sat on the upper deck of my parents’ house, us facing the west, watching as the dark clouds hung low and rain moved toward us, over the hills into the field beyond until the spattered drops were heard on the tin roof above us.
It’s a sweet remembrance, me a young mom sitting with my mother and dad talking about whatever was on our minds. I shared a lot with them in those days, but I still kept a certain part of me hidden. Things that seemed unsolvable were closed off from everyone, kept under lock and key lest anyone might know what really troubled my heart.
Those hidden parts would be the death of me.
Another memory invades my thoughts. This time in a room other than my own, displaced and fearful of the future. An open window near a borrowed bed and somewhere a bird sang through the night. Its melody brought comfort to a weary mind, me with the uncertain days ahead, with a taunting fear rearing its ugly head.
In the middle of that torment, my Heavenly Father sent a bird to sing me to sleep.
Eventually, the doors of my secrets were pried open. Brought into the light, a gentle Savior would reach for all of it with a promise of restoration. “Believe and see the glory of God,” He whispered into my tears.
It took time for healing, for broken things to be repaired, for beauty to come from ashes. It took hard work, confession and forgiveness, a path turned in a different direction.
The sound of bird and patter of rain remind me that God is always near, always working, always has a plan.
And His glory is revealed in the song of a bird and the sound of the rain.
Maisie and I walk a half lap of the lane. The temperature is cool, the sky overcast.
The make-shift wooden bench, salvaged from the neighbor’s garbage last year, sits at the edge of the yard. Maisie wants to wander still, but I stop, not needing to rest, but needing to be still.
I gaze at the lake across the road, the geese as they swim and waddle ashore. The gander follows her goose as he leads her to the nibbles in the grass.
I begin to breathe deeper, something I don’t do enough. More often my breaths come in quick succession, enough to keep oxygen flowing through lungs and heart, blood carrying it where it is needed.
The deep breaths are cleansing and I feel myself relax in the quiet. Birds sing their evening song, a last hallelujah for this day, to the Creator who has provided for their needs.
As I turn loose of responsibilities and things on my list for tomorrow, my head clears and I listen for the voice of God. He speaks in the still, smallness of my awakened sense to Him.
He plants a question, His way of turning my awareness to my heart, to search out the deep recesses of my soul, to open doors that I often close and latch from the seeing world.
As I rise from my bench, Maisie restless to move on, the question lingers. I will ponder it in days ahead. I will come again to this place and sit to rest from my weariness, to hear and discern the voice of God, to gain understanding and insight.
For this is my Father’s desire: to draw me away from bustling to the place of quiet rest; to speak tender words of love to the tenderest parts of me; to reveal Himself once more so I can know Him even more.
Waiting rooms are on my list of least favorite places. I always bring something, a book, a magazine. I can update my planner or return text messages. Don’t waste the minutes. Never let it be said that I sat with nothing but my thoughts.
And perhaps herein lies my issue, listening to my own internal talk.
Waiting is a necessary part of life, common to all humanity. I waited for Christmas as a child, waited for the birthday when I’d turn 16, then 20. I waited to get married, to get pregnant. Then waited nine months for that sweet baby boy to be born.
I wait for the cake to bake, the soup to simmer, them needing time for flavors to mingle and textures to form that please the taste. In the waiting, the recipe becomes what it was meant to be.
Soul, are you listening? In the waiting, you become who you were meant to be.
In the quieting of my frantic soul and the calming of my fretful mind, I learn to wait with hope. I remember I am not alone on this journey.
The Psalmist breaks into his own song as he waits:
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (27:13-14)
Waiting in confident faith, waiting to see the good things of God, here is where my endurance increases and courage rises for the days before me. I learn to trust the One who knows the end from the beginning, who patiently waits for me to become who He meant me to be.
Waiting can be a good thing. Maybe I could even become a fan of it.