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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

He is risen.

He is risen, indeed.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I was overwhelmed. With anxiety about the future and some decisions my husband and I will face in the coming months. With sadness for the tragedy in Connecticut. With a grief I couldn’t put a finger on. Sometimes, life just feels heavy.

So I did something I don’t do often enough. I dusted off my guitar — an acoustic that’s older than I am; I “inherited” it from an uncle I never met — and thumbed through my song books and strummed and sang until my fingertips, throat and shoulder hurt.

I’m no musician. I can’t read music. I’m not sure what notes are supposed to sound like. With the help of a friend, I learned how to play some basic chords, and I’ve added a few since then. All I know is: sometimes I don’t have any words to soothe the ache and I just have to sing. To make music. To communicate in a language I don’t really understand. And even that doesn’t fully describe what happens to me with music.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, here are some others’ words about music:

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  –Berthold Auerbach

I love this. Music is cleansing and soul-lifting. Along those same thoughts:

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons.  You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.  –Oliver Wendell Holmes

I used to sing to my kids when they were babies. I’d sing my way through the day with them: while changing diapers and getting them dressed and changing more diapers and cooking and rocking them to sleep and bathing them and getting them ready for bed. I don’t know when I stopped doing that, but I know that hard things are sometimes easier when I’m singing my way through them.

He who sings scares away his woes.  –Cervantes

And this:

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done

I need to rediscover poets. Poetry, like music, is a soul-language.

Music is an outburst of the soul.  –Frederick Delius

I think that’s why I’m drawn to the Psalms. Poetry, music, sorrow, joy. We lose something in the expression of the words because we so rarely sing the Psalms. And yet they touch on deep emotions and the heights of elation. When I read the Psalms, I feel like someone understands. I read these words this weekend, from Psalm 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.

This particular verse always speaks to me when life is troubling. When I don’t feel like blessing or praising or singing. I think the psalmist David understood that we won’t always feel like honoring God or praising Him, but that sometimes we would need to pep-talk our souls until the feelings caught up the words. Sometimes when I’m singing, I don’t feel the words, but I sing them anyway. Sometimes I can’t sing and have to just let the music and the words and the sound of others singing wash over me.

Maybe music and singing and psalms don’t affect you in the same way. What soothes your soul when your world, the world at large, is troubled? How do you express what you feel when you don’t have the words?

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I had a rough day today. Stress is in plentiful supply and today, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

It’s hard to smile through those times, but hope is not gone.

I read the following in the first of Andrew Peterson’s The Wingfeather Saga, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: “And the thing before us is to wait in this old cottage without giving up hope. Even if hope is just a low ember at night, in the morning you can still start a fire.”

There is always hope. Tomorrow is another day.

And these words, a portion of 2 Chronicles 20:12, that have been ringing in my mind: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

September brings with it a whole lot of challenges. Even in those challenges, we have hope. God, the unchanging, unresting, even now works for our good.

And when the future seems hopeless, as it seemed to me today, it’s good to remind your soul of what’s true, even if you don’t feel it.

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We sang this in church on Sunday. It’s been in my head all week. I need its message. And hope.

 

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I’ve been thinking about this classic Andrew Peterson song today. Wondering what I’m chasing and if it’s the right thing.

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We just finished a week of VBS at our church. Yes, I’m exhausted. Yes, the kids aren’t back on a normal sleep schedule. Yes, I’m still singing the songs. (“It’s gonna be a cool, cool summer ….”) Yes, it’s worth it.

The kids performed one of the songs in church yesterday, complete with hand motions and dancing. I have to admit, this is one of my favorite parts of VBS: the music and the motions.

It’s so much fun to see adults and kids dancing and doing hand motions along with the songs all week at VBS. There’s a freedom I feel in praising God through song during VBS, and with kids in general, that I don’t always feel when everyone gathers on Sundays. Sundays, it seems to me, are serious and I’m to be serious about worship. I refrain from (or at least tone down) the joy I feel from the music. Dancing in my kitchen to uplifting songs — I don’t think twice about it. Dancing in church to uplifting songs — I’m afraid I would horrify someone.

I recently re-read the story of David dancing before the Lord. After being confronted about his behavior by his wife, he says this:

“It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”

When I read this passage, I always think of this song.

David had great joy before the Lord. He had reason to celebrate. And he didn’t care what it looked like to anyone else. Beth Moore says of this passage in her book A Heart Like His: “Completely abandoned worship is often misunderstood.” Oh, how I fear being misunderstood. Sometimes I just want to dance because God has been so good!

It’s so easy … well, easier, anyway … when kids’ songs or camp songs are involved. Everyone thinks it’s cute or sweet and people often join in.

Maybe we need hand motions for EVERY worship song.

I even found one to get us started with the previous song I mentioned.

I know this is mostly a personal and insecurity issue. I’m not sure how to overcome it except to let God continue to change me and draw me out of the “what will people think?” shell.

Anyone else have this problem? How “undignified” are you willing to be in church? How do you praise God with complete abandonment? And how do you react to those who misunderstand your actions?

Just for fun, I’ve gotta end with this. When in doubt, laugh it out.

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I love rediscovering music in our shared collection that I haven’t listened to in a while. This song by Matthew West fits into that category and this week, it was the cry of my heart.

What’s your anthem this week?

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New video by Sandra McCracken for her song “Can’t Help Myself.” Watching the video was the first time I’d heard the song, and I love it. I’m in a season where the challenges ahead are too big for me to help myself. I need Someone a whole lot bigger. What a beautiful reminder in this song.

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I heard this song at McDonald’s last night. It’s not new, but I felt like I was hearing it for the first time. There’s a lot of truth in it. And a lot of what I’m feeling right now.

Looking over the lyrics encouraged me. Maybe the song will encourage you, too.

Hands

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I heard this song years ago. Its message still hits me, especially this week, which officially ushers in a season of transition and waiting. And I love Sara Groves’ music.

What’s Egypt look like for you?

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