Tuesday, April 12, 2016


"He placed me in a little cage,
Away from gardens fair;
But I must sing the sweetest song,
Because He placed me there.
Not beat my wings against the cage,
If it's my Maker's will;
But raise my voice to heaven's gates,
and sing the louder still."

Last Christmas, Mom gave me this beautiful image, painted by our talented cousin Lisa Wilkes. I was still a shut-in when Lisa finished it, but she refused to paint the bird in a cage. She wanted me free. What a lovely, prophetic gift.

Today, this little bird is free indeed, which was her Maker's will all along. Mysteriously...paradoxically, my cage was the key to my freedom. (Think Hosea 2.)

Therefore, behold,
I will hedge up your way with thorns,
And wall her in,
So that she cannot find her paths.
She will chase her lovers,
But not overtake them;
Yes, she will seek them, but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go and return to my first husband,
For then it was better for me than now.'

My heart was a harlot if there ever was one. But--thanks be--God is a determined lover. And His crazy, stubborn love is freedom. 

Hessed love taught me to fly. 

So, if you were wondering--no, I wasn't frightened away. You don't survive what I have to turn tail and hide in a corner when people don't like what you say. I've just been...busy.

Busy living life. 
Having fun. 
Eating in restaurants. 

That's right. I'm eating corn chips. 
With high-histamine, nightshady salsa.

Vacationing with the fam.
 We saw Moses at the Sight and Sound Theater. Great show!
I ate the roasted almonds. Mostly because I could. 
But also because of the smell. Mmmmm.....

Shopping. Check my $2.40 find from Banana Republic. That's right--two dollars and forty cents. *drops mic*
(That duck head sticking out of mine...*snort*)

*picks mic back up*
Dating my Superman. 
Doing fun stuff with the kids and crying like a baby because I can. 
Girls' night. (Who am I?)
Prayer group. 
Daily adventures with Jesus. 

I'll share one of my recent favorites. But first, a little backstory...

During my illness, pain was a significant problem for me. I had arthritis, fibromyalgia, and carpal tunnel, which stole any joy I took in playing the piano. So I stopped. My piano has stood mostly silent for the past few years, serving as little more than a fixture to remind me of times gone by.

Lately, quiet calls summon me back to music, most of which I've been able to muffle with practiced excuses--
"That's something I used to do."
"That was my old life."
"It's been four years, and I wasn't all that great to begin with."
"I've lost my dexterity."
"I want to focus on writing now." 

Which, of course, translates into, "I'm scared to death I'll fail." 

But when Mom came to me on behalf of a friend whose mother had just died, a friend who'd prayed for me over the years, my excuses didn't matter. Besides, if I didn't step in, my sick dad and has-never-sung-for-a-crowd-in-her-life mother would be left to sing a duet to canned music, and I couldn't have that. 

So I dusted off the keys. Opened a hymnal. And lo and behold, my brain recalled the old language. My hands remembered what to do. What's more, I managed to sing and play at the same time. 

Miracles happen every day, folks.

On the ride to Winnsboro, I tried not to think of past funeral performance debacles. The words of a former professor echoed in my mind--"Music is a service profession."  

This is service, not performance. It's an expression of love, not a reflection on myself.

We arrived 15 minutes before go time, which in music world is the same thing as arriving late, and were ushered into a small, enclosed room, invisible to the attendees. I sighed relief. 

Two reasons:
1) Singing in the face of grief is hard for me. I just...can't. I'm too empathetic to keep it together.
2) I prefer invisible service. Nothing says, "I love you" quite like doing something for someone that no one else knows about. Which I suppose I'm ruining now...

Oh, well. I have a point.

We all served above our abilities. I hadn't accompanied anyone since 2011 and I played...well. Not perfect, but well. Mom has never sung so beautifully in her life. Dad's cold? Helped him sing the strongest bass line he's managed since his neck surgery several years ago. And God surprised us with a gift. The funeral director who oversaw the music is an outstanding tenor. He sang along with us.

Y'all, God isn't looking for professionals; He's looking for people to say "yes." In our weakness, He shows Himself strong.

On the way home, I felt God smile, pat my head, and say, "Good job, Baby Girl." 
I live for that, just so you know.

An update:


These days I eat what I want and do what I want. I'm medication free. My pain's gone. My energy's back. Most nights, I sleep like a baby. And I *ahem* use the bathroom like a normal person now.  

Brandon's in a fun season. I love watching him grow and exercise his faith. Second to being God's child, being Brandon's wife is the highest honor I enjoy on earth. 

I plan to get back to writing--the dollar-earning variety--soon. I'm still trying to figure out where it fits with the rest of my responsibilities. But I'm determined to give this writing career thing a real shot before I agree to head back to the classroom. Which means I have to sell a few books by this time next year. So yeah...feel free to peer pressure me back into the habit. I'm still debating whether I should work on my short story collection or my novel. I don't feel there's a wrong choice, but there might be a more strategic one.

Pretty soon, I'll move my blog to my own domain. You can support me by subscribing and sharing when I do. 

For the month of April, I'm teaching a journaling class for Project 41's Esther's Academy. Enjoying that. Love the awesome women in the program. After the class ends, I'll focus on developing the prayer ministry for P41 and nurturing my friendships with the women. 

I fall more in love with my new family all the time. When I think of the gift God has given me in them, I get weepy. Every time. Two of the women have become good friends of mine. I'll travel to Brazil with one of them in September. The Lord has called me to short term international mission work for the first time in 16 years. I'm thrilled and terrified. 

But ya know...that's life with Jesus. In or out of the cage.


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