Category Archive: Music

I Listen Best in the Quiet …

“I speak to you continually. My nature is to communicate, though not always in words. I fling glorious sunsets across the sky, day after day after day. I speak in the faces and voices of loved ones. I caress you with a gentle breeze that refreshes and delights you. I speak softly in the depths of your spirit, where I have taken up residence. …

Practice looking and listening for Me during quiet intervals. Gradually you will find Me in more and more of your moments. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me above all else.”

These words from Sarah Young’s JESUS CALLING touched my heart. They resonated with my thoughts about rest these last weeks. God speaks to me in  many ways. Some, like a soft breeze, are tender and enveloping, like a sweet whisper on the air. Others, like a thunder and lightning storm, are an awesome display of His creativity and power. And a radiant, coral-colored sunset speaks to me of His glory.

Don and I traveled a lot this Spring. Six trips in the last six months. Each has been meaningful: opportunities to walk and talk and bask in the beauty of God’s creation and man’s creativity in other parts of the world; to serve staff and children in Mexico whom we’ve learned to love over the past eight years; to learn and share and deepen writing skills at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference; and to travel to Canada with my mother to reconnect with many extended family members we haven’t seen for years.

We are grateful for these opportunities God gave us to travel, meet new friends, serve others, and meet family again. But our delight in travel caused us to plan a little too much in too compressed a time this Spring. Don felt he had to accomplish three times the amount of work between trips in order to prepare for our next absence. I tried to do laundry, schedule transportation, and prepare for the next trip while writing and keeping in touch with family and friends here. We felt unable to catch up at home between jaunts. Don’t misunderstand–I’m very grateful for these blessings; but scripture also tells us to rest, to plan wisely. Don and I agreed we didn’t do that this year and have committed to more time at home next Spring.

Since being home these past two weeks without another trip in the wind, we both feel more relaxed. We’ve been able to work at a reasonable pace. We’ve taken time to sit on our glider swing and enjoy the gentle breeze while eating a light lunch and catching up with each other, or planning for changes in the garden, or just laughing with each other over some little tickle to our funny bone. Yesterday I sat at the piano and played, a time of personal worship, something I haven’t done for a long time.

So, I am enjoying taking more naps, putting my feet up, playing “grab the stick” with Paigey, being with people we love, and sitting with my guy. And I’m thankful for this particular season of refreshing.

If God doesn’t build the house,
    the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
    the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
    and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
    giving rest to those he loves?” Psalm 127:1-2 MSG

My prayer is that you will experience God’s rest this week in a meaningful way.

QUESTION: How do you best experience rest? Are you in need of it right now? I’d love to hear.

 

post by carolnl | | 2

Drawn to Worship

Don and I stepped onto the walk-on ferry from Cannes, France, and found our seats. Motoring through the cerulean waters, we passed St. Marguerite Island, which held a stone fortress which used to be a large prison. Cannes, and its busy, over-the-top multi-million dollar yachts, its Cannes Film Festival red carpet (coming two weeks after our visit), its high-rise hotels and spectacular villas, receded into the distance. The water’s various blue hues inspired wonder as we approached the dock at Isle St. Honorat. Sailboats of various sizes and styles dotted the water surrounding this small piece of land which has been home to a community of monks since the fifth century.

Tradition says that Honoratus settled on the island, intending to live the life of a hermit. However, disciples followed him and formed a monastic community.  Their life on the island was often interrupted by raids, primarily by Saracens. The monks were expelled when the island was captured by the Spanish in 1635; however, they returned two years later when France retook Isle St. Honorat.

Continuing attacks on the monastery by Spanish and Genoese reduced the number of monks to four, and the monastery was disestablished in 1787.

In 1859, the Bishop of Frejus bought the island with the intent of reestablishing a religious community there. Ten years later, a Cistercian community was established, which has remained there since.

We were not allowed to enter the monastery; however, we could walk up to enter the church and visit the tower. The walk was beautiful. Vineyards lined both sides of the dirt road, and the monastery’s tower was clearly visible against an azure sky.

As we walked past the shops where the monks sell wine and honey made from local produce, we also saw the effect of loving care for the property. Red, pink, periwinkle flowers grew up against stuccoed walls, reaching toward the sun. I took photos and delighted in the beauty of the scene, when I heard music coming from the church. Yes, we had arrived while the monks were singing their daily mass. The acoustics in the high-ceilinged, beautiful-without-being-ornate church, bounced the monks’ antiphonal sounds into the courtyard and thrilled my being. Quietly entering the church, many of us sat to listen and worship as the monks sang “Hallelujah.”

Here we were, on another side of the world, enjoying worship with monks we’d never met, with different languages yet united in “hallelujah” to our God. That will remain a treasured moment in my soul.

When has your spirit been drawn to worship because of music, a kind word, or a loving touch?

 

“‘Til the Storm Passes By”

Runoff from our hill 

Bills must be paid, despite stormy weather, mudslides, downed trees. Driving to the post office yesterday to mail those payments, Don and I saw four waterfalls, not there before, cascading down the hills on our right.

California has been inundated with storms recently. Two hundred thousand residents were temporarily evacuated when breaks in the Oroville Dam spillways threatened enormous floods. Flooding has overwhelmed parts of Southern California. Mudslides, power outages, and traffic tie-ups have resulted in several deaths.

Trees have fallen across roads, onto houses and cars, and slid down hillsides. Unsafe. Highway 17 has only two lanes open. Our road, a main alternative to Highway 17, is closed indefinitely north of us. The road has already sunk at least eighteen inches in one area, while a sinkhole took out a fourth of the road in another. Unstable.

The storm offers some gifts. Staying home. Burrowing in with hubby and dogs, writing, reading, cleaning, napping.

It also offers challenges. Don has created a good drainage system under the house, and along the road, so the water will not threaten our foundation. He’s checking it and refining it again today. Early this afternoon, Safeway was quite full, people filling their carts in preparation for the next storm, starting later today.

Storms enter our lives in different ways. Years ago I was seriously depressed. No strength remained in my mind or heart. But I had a cassette (I know – almost prehistoric!) of a melodious male quartet. “My” song talked about the storms of life. Every night for three weeks I crawled into bed, depressed, fearful, sometimes crying, and played that song. My prayer was brief. “Lord, I have nothing with which to hold onto you right now. Please hold me.”

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence.
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

‘Til the storm passes over,
‘Til the thunder sounds no more;
‘Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

Hold me fast, Let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe ’til the storm passes by.

And He kept me. Storms came, and went, and still do. But my hope is in the God who will hold me fast “’til the storm passes by.”

If you’re discouraged, caught in a storm you don’t know how to get out of, I pray this song will minister to you as it did to me. That it will give you hope, and truth to hold onto until your storm passes over. God be with you.

Save

Save

Save

Praise His Holy Name

Choir 1My throat was raw. Sound coming out was NOT pretty, by any standard. I tried to hold a tune but couldn’t even hit some of the lower notes. Would I have to drop out of the Christmas choir?

Two years ago I dropped out because of a throat infection. I didn’t want a repeat of that. Singing under the direction of Dr. Tony Dehner was challenging, fun, God-focused. Don and I began to pray that I would be able to sing through the eight Christmas concerts.

And I did. Despite some remaining soreness, I was able to lift up our Lord with the rest of the choir members.

The wonder of Christmas was expressed through James Durbin’s interpretation of “Mary did you Know?” “Mary, did you know the child that you delivered will soon deliver you?”

And our hope, in the midst of the world’s suffering, that ultimately, in Christ, “All Is (or will be) Well.”

There were many Christmases when my mother’s soaring soprano voice rang out in one of my favorite Christmas songs:

        O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

        Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.

We still live in a world, weary with struggle, pain, death, loss, loneliness, and evil. But the Christ-child who was born on that holy night, lived in our fallen world, died on a cruel cross, and was raised to life again. And because He lives, we who believe have great hope, hope for life with Him that begins here and will continue–forever! Hope that one day His justice will reign throughout the earth, and peace will rule. Let us indeed praise Him, for His coming, His peace, His presence … and His promise for eternity.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Where do you need peace this Christmas?

 

Creativity, and the Master Creator

celtic woman 2The violinist danced onto the stage, tossing her long, straight blond hair from side to side as she maintained a continuous, lilting melody on the strings of her instrument–a seemingly impossible combination of music and movement.

Backing her were drums, guitars, a piano, and bagpipe. The sounds of Ireland were pure and strong.

Don and I had traveled to Fresno, three hours from home, to hear Celtic Woman, a group I’ve long wanted to see in person. Here we were in the William Saroyan Theater, Row H, Seats 37-38, anticipating the joy of the evening’s music.

celtic woman 3Then, through the darkness and mist at the back of the stage, entered three lovely women clad in elegant, jeweled gowns. As they sang, their harmonies danced around and over each other, making it difficult to know who was singing which part at any one time. The blend and cross-over of their voices, along with the music of the instruments, was sublime. The melodies, costumes, and dance drew me into a mythical world of fairies and woodland nymphs and minor tunes and joy and yearning and passion.

mairead-susan-lynn-mairead celtic womanWe heard the sounds of pain and hunger suffered throughout Irish history and famines. And out of that pain has come incredible creativity which emanates from our Master Creator, the God of the universe, the One who promised to

    • “provide for those who grieve in Zion—
    • to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
    • the oil of joy instead of mourning,
    • and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3a, NIV)

All good things come from God. The Master Creator, He weaves our lives in and out of situations where we don’t always know whether we’re carrying the melody or a harmony–or if we’re in tune at all. He brings beauty from ashes, joy rather than mourning.

Chills filled me as I heard a bagpipe coming from our left. The air moved through the pipes as he soloed, walking toward the stage. Just as he climbed the stairs, the other instruments joined his, filling the auditorium with quiet strength. Then the women entered, singing these meaningful words:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound bagpipe
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

Voices and instruments crescendoed, reaching a climax of praise to God.  And one day every created thing will give Him praise and honor as we fall on our knees before His majesty, glory, and grace.