3.26.2014

WLWL: When the Going Gets Tough


Being a worship leader is hard sometimes. I know I am called to it. I know I am skilled in it. I know the Lord has and will continue to use me in the the place of musical worship for the rest of my life. Even if it's just in small groups or for my mediate family. Singing praises to God is ingrained in the deepest part of my soul. 

But every now and then this place of leadership in congregational worship is hard. So hard it makes me question if I should just give it a rest for a season. Let someone else take over for a while. Throw in the towel and see what it's like to saunter in 10 minutes late to service, Starbucks in hand, well rested, and grab a seat in the last row. Maybe even leaving on my sunglasses.

The reason behind these passing desires nine times out of ten can be summed up in one word. Insecurity.

I start to second guess the identity that I am a daughter of the King. I second guess that I'm called. That I'm any good. I begin to feel inadequate and unskilled. And being in Music City I can easily conjure up excuses in my head that there are others out there who are better.

It gets pretty dark from there. 

Well a few weeks ago I started down one of these paths in my head and I was moments from calling up my pastor and telling him I was going to step down for a season (blame it on motherhood busyness). I actually told God - "Why is this so hard right now? You need to encourage me! Where are you?" 

Then I grabbed my phone and lo and behold...a text message from my pastor. Essentially it said that he was preaching on being a people that say "yes" to God. And I immediately knew it was the Lord telling me - you aren't going to quit. And even though this isn't the back stroking encouragement you wanted right now...you need to know that I am calling you to this and you need to say yes.

It felt like a direct order from the Lord on high. It was bizarre. I was actually a little peeved, because I didn't want an order...i wanted someone to tell me how awesome of a worship leader how God used me to change their life, etc, etc. 

But the message was received.

So I continue to press on. Even when I am exhausted. Even when I struggle to find time and energy to create a set. When my fingers are too sore to play through the ministry time songs. When rehearsals fall apart and leave me on the verge of tears. When the devil tries to lie his way into crushing my call.

And in pushing through I find Jesus closer than before. Speaking encouragement. I'm only at the beginning of journey. He is just getting started with how he will uses me in the ways of musical worship. And I'm so glad that even in my weakness he pursues and calls after my heart once again.

3.25.2014

11/52


“A portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Week 11: In the freezing cold in late March, but still in love with the outdoors.

3.24.2014

10/52


“A portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Week 10: Outside playing with his yellow bucket. Happy as a clam.

3.13.2014

9/52


“A portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Week 9: Reading one of his birthday books from Nana.

Lullaby


I grew up with a very elaborate and wonderful bedtime routine. My mom would tell us to "Go up the golden stairs" (which she was told as a child because of the carpet color, but the command worked just the same even with our blue carpet.) We would put on our PJs - which for me was usually just an oversized big t-shirt, brush our teeth and then we were allowed to pick out a "little stack of books" to read before the lights went out.

Oftentimes our stacks involved Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, The Little Mouse and the Red Ripe Strawberry, and a collection of the books we picked out at the library. And usually the stack was too big and we would have to "put two back". But then she would read. My mom is an excellent out-loud reader. She actually does professional voice over work now, so you can imagine how amazing this was as a child. Every book had drama, special voices, accents and even dull narrative was captivating.

Then while stroking our hair and scratching our back with her perfectly rounded long adult fingernails - our heads would hit the pillow. And in the dark of the room she would sing to us. Lullaby after lullaby as we drifted off to sleep in our warm cozy rooms.

It was a dream. Pun intended.

 Felix has a similar routine. He is still young, but for consistency and to help regulate his nighttime sleep (Which we had such a hard time with for soo long) we followed it to a tee. Bathtime (long or short depending on how sleepy Felix is. A fresh diaper and slathered in lotion/coconut oil. Cozy PJs and then a quick read through Time for Bed book. Finally, family prayer time and then lights out for nursing and of course, lullabies.

Here is a list of the Lullabies I sing. I mix up the order and repeat each song a few times or sing multlpe verses of each song. Sometimes I add a few extra songs that have been playing in my heart to sing over my wee-one, but this is the standard list.

Down In the Valley
Amazing Grace
Irish Blessing
Godspeed Little Man
Baby Mine
Rain Drops on Roses

Actually - better than a list, here is a video of me singing a bit of each song. Unedited, and spontaneously done this morning with no planning and no makeup - eek! Of course, since they are lullabies, they aren't sung full voice.  Hope you find a good song in here that you can sing to your baby as you rock them to sleep while they are still small enough to want you to.

Enjoy!



)

3.11.2014

Outside (Warning: This Post May Contain References to Dog Poo)

The sunshine finally decided to come out and play! Vitamin D is good for my mental stability so we have spent the good part of two days outside. Plus, Felix is obsessed with the outdoors. Anytime someone comes in our out the back door he runs over and tries to escape and then spends a couple minutes looking longingly outside and then back and me pointing outside over and over with the occasional blood curdling scream thrown in for good measure. 

Oh the screaming. One of the more recent and less adorable traits of toddlerhood. His way of testing his lungs, trying to communicate and/or throwing a tantrum. I've read a lot about toddler screaming and it turns out it's a phase a lot of kids go through. So I have hope and a short bit of patience-rope left to get me through.

But I digress...

Felix has the most adorable toddler run you will ever see. He runs with little tiny steps - almost running in place - and puts his arms up in the air or out to the side and jiggles his booty. My sister-in-law has coined it the "jolly bear run" and I think that is the perfect description. 

Give the boy and open field and the freedom to go where he wants and he is happier than I would be if someone handed me a coupon for a spa day. Well...maybe not. You would probably see my ass do a jolly bear run if someone handed me a coupon for a spa day.

So today, we went to the park. Been feeling guilty willow has been left out of the outdoor fun recently so I let her come along. Also, I thought bringing a bucket for Felix to collect things in could also be fun. 

Oh na├»vety. 



I quickly realized I was in over my head when I had the dog leash, my phone, my keys and the bucket in one hand and a a toddler all but hanging from the other. Of course I'm wearing a maxi skirt - cause you know...warm weather and all, but zero pockets. Before I could get to the doggy bags to take care of any messes Willow might make, she dropped a big one. Right. by. the playground.

So I drag willow and a now screaming felix (who wanted to play on the playground) about 100 yards further to grab a couple bags and go back to clean up. But then willow drops another and since I had let go of Felix to grab the bag he instantly stepped in it. 

Of course.

I pick him up. Put my phone, keys and doggy bag in the bucket. Scream, scream, scream Felix screeeeeeeam...100 yards back to the crap. And pick it up. 

A guy slack lining nearby shouts over the screams..."cute dog."

"Thanks" i reply deadpan and toss the bag into the trash.

The rest of the trip was just as disastrous. Felix screaming, insisting on holding the leash, getting caught in the leash, lots of teenage on lookers, anther run in with felix touching poop and I'm pretty sure my ginger child ended up sun burnt because I'm mother-of-the-year and forgot sun screen or a hat during peek sun hours.

However, even a crappy visit to the park in the sunshine is WAAAAAYYY better than another day cooped up inside with ice and freezing temps outside. Am I right Stay-At-home-Moms or am I right?

Bring on summer!

3.10.2014

8/52


“A portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Week 8: Climbing at the park.

3.06.2014

I Will Not Be Shaken


The windows rattled and the wind howled as lightening lit up and sky and flashed though wooden slats of the nursery blinds. The strobe light effect and a hot muggy house kept Felix restless during his usually peaceful nighttime routine

I nursed my wiggly little boy and his sweaty skin stuck to my arm and eyes struggled to find sleep in the midst of the storm. He could sense my tension. He could feel my body stiffen every time the windows shook and his hand wandered up to my cheek pulling my gaze back down to his wide open eyes instead of trying to sneak a peak at the weather alerts on my phone or out the window at the swirling trees.

He was worried because I was worried. I did my best to relax. I closed my eyes and rested my head on the back of the rocker. A deep breath in and I began to sing a tried and true lullaby over him.

Down in the valley; the valley so low
hang your head over; hear the wind blow

He calmed and his eyes closed. I felt his breathing slow to a steady and slow rhythm and I let my mind wander gently stoking the back of his hand and letting my fingers dance around his still bald head, cheek and ear. He calmed as I calmed. He mimicked me. He followed my lead. In the eye of the storm his heart posture was reflecting mine. As his mother, care taker, the one he trusts most - if she is OK, I'm OK.

I thought about how nice that must be. How nice it would be to have someone leading you. Someone from whom you could take cues and be put at ease because they have it under control. You have that in loving parents as a child, but children grow up. Move away. Have lives of their own. And along with those lives comes decisions, questions, adversity, storms. It's hard.

The past few days I have had this heavy feeling looming over me. I can't shake it. I feel hopeless, useless, worthless and bored. It's taken a toll on my family and altered the peaceful home we usually have. I hate it. Sometimes I can see the bad mood from a distance drift like a dark storm cloud looming and other times it hits so quickly no one has the chance to prepare. The wreckage of a blow-out fight leaving days of me picking through wreckage.

And in the pit of this self-loathing and lashing out I was reminded of a verse I recently read that spoke to my heart and I read it again.

Psalm 16:5-11 
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
 
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    
even at night my heart instructs me. 
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
    
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

I DO have someone leading me. Someone who I can rest in. I can grab his face and pull his eye to mine and listen to his lullaby over me. His singing over me. I will find Joy and a path of life in his presence!

Jesus.

It is always him. He is the ONLY thing I can boast in. He is my leader. My Peace. My lover. My friend. My comfort. My redeemer. My Everything.

3.04.2014

Restoration

Columbus was cold. We visited last weekend and stayed in the guest room at Rebecca and Teddy's house. Falling asleep to the flickering light of big white candles in large vases and the noises on the street below. They live in an area of town named Franklinton. Similar name to our cozy and quaint hometown in Franklin, TN but it couldn't be more different.

Franklinton is an area wrecked by drug use, prostitution, violence and poverty. Most middle class Americans would avoid living in such an area. But for Becca and Teddy, daily living and challenging the status quo to positive change is part of their calling. I know they might not say those exact words, but  their peaceful approach to community and spreading the gospel played out in small acts of love is changing the community from within. Watching the neighbors children. Offering a cup of tea to people needing warmth. A strong yet loving word to those in need of truth. It's amazing to watch unfold and see their humility and practical approach to all of it.

Within 24 hours of being in Franklinton I was propositioned as a prostitute and our car was broken into resulting in my purse being stolen. It was unsettling.

I was walking from Emily's to Becca's house with Felix on my hip and a man rolled down his window and asked if I needed a ride. I felt incredibly uneasy about him even stopping, but naively, I also thought "what a nice guy." I turned him down because I only had a block to go. As he drove away, I noticed his gas tank was open and almost chased him down to tell him, but he was gone before I had the chance. When I retold the story to Rebecca, her face dropped and she began apologizing.

"I'm so sorry, Katie. He thought you were a prostitute. Asking for a ride, asking if your going to work, or just stopping and rolling down the window is code for that in this part of town. Thirty percent of all prostitution arrests in columbus take place two blocks from here. I'm so sorry."

The next morning Josh and I woke early to go grab some coffee before breakfast. When we arrived at our car and as we approached the car I noticed that Felix's car seat had been tossed over the center console. When we opened the doors our trunk had been accessed by the back seat and everything in the car was scattered in disarray. And my purse was missing.

We spent the morning canceling credit cards and talking about what was missing.There wasn't much of value that was taken except for my new purse. I spent all my christmas money to buy it from Banana Republic. Shallow, i know, but I cried. I cried for my silly little purse that was taken. I cried for the inconvenience of it all. I cried thinking about someone rummaging through Felix's diaper bag and touching all the stuff in our car. I cried because it made me feel helpless. I cried because I felt violated. I felt abandoned and unprotected.

I know there are people, including some who are incredibly close to me, who have been through much, MUCH worse and this gave me a minuscule glimpse at the injustice of it all. I prayed that the purse would be found. I prayed that the Lord would meet the person who felt so desperate to tear through a middle-class car looking for anything of value. And I prayed for redemption of the situation. For a follow through on his promise of working all things together for my good.

About 6 hours later Josh got a phone call. A man found my purse by his truck and got our phone number off of a checkbook. Celebration ensued! Josh, Rebecca and Teddy went together to pick up the purse. Just a two block walk away my purse was found in tact and everything was still there except for a target giftcard, my iPhone charger, a box of golden grahams, and loose change.

I was sweeping in a quiet house while they were gone. Giving thanks for the Lord for what was lost being found and I was hit out of the blue with His voice speaking to my heart. "It's March 1st. This is the start of a new month and it's the beginning of restoration."

I cried. I cried tears of joy because so much as been stolen. So much as been taken from my family in recent months. We have felt abandoned by God. We have felt attacked - metaphorically and literally - without defense.  And seeing his Hand move in even the stolen purse situation has softened my heart towards him again. He is good. He does have a plan. He will pull all the pieces of this messed up world together and write a beautiful story. He will restore.


3.03.2014

7/52


“A portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2014.”

Week 7: Visiting Aunt Rebecca's house Felix spend 30 minutes playing with this tea canister. Taking the lid on and off. Rolling the canister across the floor. I love seeing him discover and learn.