Moments of Pause

Several years ago, I learned to pause. I would intentionally stop and do nothing, even if just for a minute or two. Over the years, this time has proven to be an amazing reset and reprieve as there’s always something to do in a house of 7.

During these moments, I rarely actually pray. I simply turn my heart and mind towards God and am open to hearing from Him in these moments. One of the things I have noticed is that it has caused me to be far more in tune with Him. At the busiest points of my day, in the midst of all the noise, I can still hear Him clearly. It’s as if, in the intentional moments, I am tuning in more pointedly and as I leave that moment, the tuning that I have gained remains, only to be improved with the following intentional pauses.

I love and appreciate that in the midst of anxiety ridden moments, I can still hear Him. I love it when He asks me, “What are you looking at?” in those moments, jarring me from sinking further into despair. I am able to shift my focus and look at Him because He is just so beautiful. It feels like such an amazing cheat to have in life. We never have to wallow in despair and anguish. What a gift!

My time of pausing typically includes me just listening to whatever sounds are around me. Right now, my children are asleep and I hear my cockatiel Birdie, singing and chirping beautifully. I hear planes flying overhead, cars whizzing by, birds outside, the hum of the refrigerator and the clicking of my fingers as I type this. I really enjoy the simple beauty in just being.

God is changing my pauses now in an interesting way (for me). My pause now includes worship music at times. Being a classically trained coloratura soprano who has sung in church for most of my life, one would surmise (incorrectly) that I listen to music all the time. Music is a sore spot for me. Oftentimes, it is very triggering, especially now. It takes me back to times that I had forgotten about, feelings I’d buried because I couldn’t deal with them at the time. It brings too much to the forefront, too fast and too intensely and I hate it. Most of the time, I don’t mind when my husband and children play music around me. We have fun singing during road trips and have frequent dance parties in our living room, but sometimes, depending on the type of music being played, I can’t handle it and seek to escape. On my own, I am far more prone to listen to books or lectures than music. Now, God has me actually wanting to hear music at times during my pauses and it is quite glorious.

I would like to share one of my current favorite pause songs by Rick Pino called Pour My Love On You. Click here for the link. I hope you enjoy it. It really blesses me every time I listen.

I’m still not listening to music in the car as I drive, though. Don’t want to. Love you…

Sacrificial Praise (& Worship)

God bless those who deal with pain day in and day out, with no definitive end in sight. I must say first, that I don’t believe this is God’s will for anyone. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world but he also said he has overcome the world. He didn’t say he, Holy Spirit and the Father were conspiring together, figuring who they would dole out what ailment to for this amazing “opportunity for growth” or something else that we like to make up when we don’t understand another’s suffering. If sickness and death were God’s pleasure, he’d be downright crazy to have sent Jesus to take care of it all. No, God is not crazy, and I don’t pretend to understand much beyond His being a good God and giving us the ability to heal.

That said, today marks 16 days of dealing with pain from back spasms. I’m not sure how I managed this, but I did and boy does it hurt.

At first it was a pain that I ignored. Then I took notice of it but still kept going as normal until the pain jolted me to respect its presence and had me crying because I couldn’t do much without feeling it.

Once I was in bed, I began to feel sorry for myself and even got angry. I am not good at sitting still, and frankly, I didn’t. I still managed to make a sourdough cake, sourdough pumpkin bread, apple cinnamon bread, lasagna, hummus, tuna dip, sourdough crackers and more. Again, I am not a good patient.

Thankfully, a friend introduced me to a Christian talk show called Better Together. One of the women on the show reminded me of how, when we get to Heaven, there will be no more pain and suffering. The type of praise and worship we are able to give here on earth, the sacrificial, sweet smelling aroma, born of pain, trials and tribulation, will no longer be something we can offer our Heavenly Father once we are gone from this earth. That gave me another jolt, albeit a nicer jolt than the back spasms provided.

I suddenly had an opportunity! Instead of wallowing and being angry about the pain and having to be still, I could offer a sacrifice of praise to my dear Abba. No, I wasn’t thanking Him for the pain, that’s stupid and weird, plus He didn’t cause it. I could spend that time however, praising Him and loving on Him in spite of it all. It reminded me of the last miscarriage I had before giving birth to my youngest son, Jonathan.

I was literally contracting, and could feel when my baby left my body. In that moment, something changed as I stood before a crowd, leading worship with my daughter and my dad Russ, singing Great Are You Lord to my Abba. It felt amazing. By the time I got home, I had bled through everything and found the remains of my child. Thankfully, my pants were black so no one noticed.

That memory is bittersweet, obviously because I miscarried again, but it is a very sweet memory because I was making a statement and taking a stance that all of hell likely shuddered to witness. Yes, I was hurting, both physically and emotionally, but I was still worshiping my God right in the midst of it all and receiving a healing that I can’t begin to describe. And it was no coincidence that the son God named and promised me I would have, is called, Jonathan, “Yahweh has given”.

Again, I’m not saying this is a good thing to be able to be in pain to praise God. I know how to praise Him when I am not in any pain too. But now, when I feel the pain from these muscle spasms (which has greatly diminished, thank you Jesus), I will use it as an opportunity to worship. I won’t be able to worship this way when I get to Heaven, so for now, I am taking advantage of it.

A New Flow Is Here

Today is my sweet sister Karina’s birthday.  She is an amazing gift to me in so many ways.  Just before my (biological) sister and friend Kerina went home to be with the Lord at 40 years old, the Lord gave me another sister with a very similar name and gifting.  Karina is a constant reminder that God loves me dearly.

Karina was talking to a few of us today about how God has instilled a greater amount of patience in us over this last season, and she declared no more delays over us.  I feel wholeheartedly that she is on to something as I sit and consider various circumstances in my life that seemed to be put on pause, some at what felt like, the worst moments.

You know how, when difficult situations arise and then pass, once you’re on the other side, you see clearly how you could have done things differently?  This is one time where I can say that I did a lot better than ever before.  In the midst of my “great pause”, I did some lamenting, but primarily, it was out to God.  The lamenting I did to the few people that I did, proved to be amazing choices too, as I became surrounded and engulfed in prayer and godly counsel.

The most important thing I believe I did right this go ’round, is that I although I felt circumstances in my life were on pause at horrible moments, I kept moving forward, sometimes crying, but praising and worshiping God the whole way through.

When and where there was something I could do to help, I did it, and continued on, even seeing little to no changes. When I wasn’t seeing much progress in my post partum weightloss journey,  I kept right on running- literally.  When I couldn’t seem to write, when my ability to flow with my writing seemed to have packed up and moved away, I would write just a word.  I literally have a document with a list of words. When I experienced marital issues, I did my part and pressed onward, in love, because ultimately, I love my husband and want to stay married to him for the rest of my life.

Now, I am seeing steady, small changes for the better in my marriage and weight loss journey.  Today, I did not write mere words, I wrote paragraphs.  I flowed with Holy Spirit and wrote what the Lord gave me to write.  I finally feel like I am truly working on one of my books!

My prayer for you is that you would experience this flow of movement in a wonderful direction.  I declare that what was stopped up and blocked off, is now open. My prayer is that you don’t despise the difficulties you have experienced.  I pray that you see how they have helped you to grow. I speak a holy release over you.  May you always flow with the Lord and be productive, producing a harvest far greater than anything in your wildest imagination!



Church Music- Worship vs. Performance

Recently, a friend, two actually, posted two different videos on Facebook. They were of two different women singing in Black churches.

The women’s voices were fantastic. Absolutely wonderful talent, that in the end, left me with a horrific sense of lack. Of course, people in both churches whooped and hollered and all, but there was absolutely no substance other than the magnificence of the voices.

I admit, I have a love/hate relationship with music, especially in predominantly Black churches.  I find a lot of Gospel music to be un-biblical but performed well enough that the fact that the words are horrible, the songs go largely unnoticed and are wholeheartedly accepted simply because of the delivery.

Then, there are the five minute songs where, in the end, they equate to two sentences that don’t even convey a complete or substantial thought, but again, the delivery wins them over every time. It’s more of a performance than anything, not at all pointing to the Lord. It’s pointing more to the person singing and what acrobatics they can do with their voice. I find it a waste and a shame. We have too much to do in the Body of Christ than to settle for putting on shows.

Contemporary Christian music sometimes has better quality lyrics. Because of the lack of vocal acrobatics, one is able to hear and take in the words, and although the delivery may feel lacking to some, the words take you right to the throne of God. Then (sigh) there’s the ones that are just plain ole dry. This is such an unfortunate disparity.

This is something I’ve only discussed with my daughter. I used to think I was crazy but the closer I get to the Lord, the less impressed I am with talent and the more I truly listen to the lyrics in songs before getting caught up in it all.  I hope I’m not the only one who notices this. The acrobatic vocals are fine but I just think it should be tempered with solid Biblical lyrics that point to Jesus, not putting the singer in the spotlight.

Ironically, this is all coming from a classically trained, coloratura soprano who by definition, has a voice distinguished by agile runs, leaps and trills.  Here’s the thing though, when I sing, I want it to be an encounter that is bathed in the glory of God. I want the intimacy that I share with Him, to come through, touch and change the hearts of all hearing it. I don’t want to merely entertain, anyone can entertain. Church is not the place for that. I want to have a corporate encounter with Holy Spirit and my brothers and sisters in Christ. Isn’t that what the point is? Aren’t we to be worshiping God together? Is there a way then that we can move away from performance based worship that’s truly only worshiping the musicians? I think there is, in fact, I know there is because I’ve seen it, and it is glorious. My prayer is that it catches and spreads throughout the Church like wildfire. Holy Ghost Wildfire.