A Song for Sunday–Beyond Me

Beyond Me — Toby Mac

Oh, this song was timely for me when it came on the radio a few days ago. Some of my goals really do seem too big some days, and it was another of those days. So often, I feel like can’t keep up to the everyday stuff that needs to get done, let alone invest time and energy in what I really want to do.

Call it a reason to retreat
I got some dreams that are bigger than me
I might be outmatched, outsized, the underdog in the fight of my life
Is it so crazy to believe

That You gave me the stars, put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
Yeah, it’s out of my league
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond

But every one of us has something to contribute, something that no one else can bring to the world. If I remember to rely on God, the one who gave me my own mix of talents and opportunities, I can take another step in the direction I’m supposed to go.

concert on the commons 2015 2You take me to the place where I know I need You
 Straight to the depths that I can’t handle on my own
And Lord I know, I know I need You
So take me to Your great
Take me to Your great unknown

What’s your dream? What have you been contemplating, but maybe afraid to attempt? Do you talk yourself out of it, telling yourself that it’s too much to take on, or maybe even silly? (I do, more often than I would like to admit!!) The world would be a much better place if everyone put their dreams into action, even if only a little bit at a time.

“The challenge life presents to each of us is to become truly ourselves–not the self we have imagined or fantasized about, not the self that our friends want us to be, not the self our ego would have us be, but the self God has ordained us to be from before we were in our mother’s womb.” —Matthew Kelly

Photo courtesy of my friend Lois. Yes, we look a bit like bugs with our sunglasses on, but we were thankful for the beautiful summer weather and the happy crowd of listeners. 🙂

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A Song for Sunday–Live Like You Were Dying

Live Like You Were Dying–Tim McGraw

He said “I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Blue Manchu
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said “Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

As I drove to a nearby city with my mom, my aunt and my uncle on Friday, I contemplated the fact that we were heading to yet another funeral for an older relative. Aunt Therese was 95, a tiny, beautiful lady that I will miss, even though I didn’t see her often. She was constantly tossing out self-deprecating jokes, making me laugh, but beneath that humour was a strong woman with a big heart. I thought about how many funerals we’ve been to in the last couple of years, and I remarked to my mom, “I’m not in wedding season anymore.” If you’ve been through wedding season, you know exactly what I mean. I don’t spend every day contemplating death, and what to do with the years I hope I have left, but funerals definitely bring the topic up, if only for as long as it takes to squash it back down again.

I was a bit hesitant about choosing this song, at first. It was overplayed on radio when it was a hit, and for a while, it almost felt like one long cliché from start to finish. I haven’t heard it so much lately, though, and I was able to listen to it with a different ear. The message still hits home. I remember when I used to spend too much energy worrying about things I couldn’t control, or what I wanted to be doing when the kids got bigger, or when I had some time off work, and so on. I’ve let go of this way of thinking (mostly). I am working at letting the journey be part of the adventure, instead of having a head so full of worries that I was practically missing my own life on the way through.

 He said
“I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn’t
And I became a friend a friend would like to have
And all of a sudden going fishin’
Wasn’t such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad
I finally read the Good Book, and I
Took a good, long, hard look
At what I’d do if I could do it all again

That being said, I do need to make one thing clear (since you all have the chorus stuck in your head now): I am NOT planning to go sky diving. Ever. My dad wants to go. So does one of my sisters. The two of them were discussing plans about it one day, not too long ago. My husband overhead and said, “I want to go, too!” I told all of them to go ahead and do it, if they really felt the need, but to call me AFTER it was all over, and they were safely back on the ground. I do not want to watch.  I do not want to be there. I do not even want to know it’s happening.

So, sky diving is not on my list. I don’t like adventure that much. I will focus on being the best person (mom, wife, teacher, daughter, sister, friend…) I can be, and I am going to add this song to my set list with my new band. I had to think about it for a bit, because I certainly don’t sound like Tim McGraw. But maybe hearing it sung by a woman will make people hear it in a new way. I don’t take myself too seriously, but little things like this keep me alive inside, beyond work, laundry, dishes, housework and running kids around. My CD project keeps hitting technical challenges (gotta love computers). In the meantime, forming a new band, getting practiced up and working at lining up our first few gigs has been a great motivator to keep going with the music. My list of goals isn’t complicated, but without that list, I would feel like I’m missing the point somewhere. I don’t think God put us here just to wander our way through the time we get. It’s important to have a focus, find our purpose, and enrich the lives of others as we go through this life.

And now, I’m curious… what’s on your list?

Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tomorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity
To think about
What you’d do with it
What could you do with it?

A Song for Sunday–Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)–Chris Tomlin

After one of my concerts last year, my mother-in-law suggested that I add Amazing Grace to the line-up. “Everybody knows it, so they could sing along!” It sounded like a great idea…and almost immediately, in songwriter fashion, my brain started rolling around phrases for what became a new version, my own. Now I include “Amazing Grace (How Sweet the Love)” in my lineup as often as I can. I love feeling the energy as people relate to it. If I ever do a second album–still working on finishing album number one–it’s definitely on the list.

The videos I’ve included here are just two of the many great songs out there inspired by the old hymn. It’s easy to understand why so many songwriters gravitate to this concept of God’s “amazing grace”. To one degree or another, we are all in need of love, forgiveness and healing. At some point in our lives, every one of us needs to cast our cares on God, because the burden has become too much. Maybe your version of the higher power in the universe is different than the one I’ve accepted, but the bottom line is, I don’t believe that anyone can get through this life completely on their own. I’ve been on this earth for more than a couple of years, and in that time, I’ve had to learn to forgive myself for my mistakes. Dragging around a long list of past wrongs I’ve committed would amount to a huge weight, and I’ve had to learn to give it up. If God has forgiven me, then I should just let it go and stop dwelling on it. Likewise for those who have wronged me:  let it go–which is not necessarily the same as forgetting–and move on.

Being able to trust in that “amazing grace”, that healing, helping power, is freedom to me. If God is in charge, I don’t have to solve everything on my own. The pressure’s not on me. I can leave it to God. I don’t have to know all of the answers. They will present themselves in time, if I can stand to wait.

God is out for our good, and his “amazing grace” is there for any one of us. All we have to do is ask, and be willing to receive.

This is Amazing Grace–Phil Wickham

Winter Point of View

Earlier this week, spring came by for a visit. It was a few degrees above zero, the sun was out, and the snow that has been here since late December finally started to melt, to the point where it seemed like maybe it would actually all be gone. Not so. Today, winter gave us another giant wallop. Yesterday, driving around our neighbouring county, I was happy to catch a glimpse of red-winged blackbirds (my favourite sign of spring) flying above the reeds bordering the lake. Closer to home, I spotted tundra swans settling down for the night in a flooded field. This morning, I watched several sombre Canada geese standing in a field as they got pelted with driving snow.

How quickly things can change.

This winter has been colder and snowier than any I remember. If I don’t have a really compelling reason to go out, I’m pretty much inclined to stay indoors, but I found a few photos to prove that I actually did venture outside.

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I don’t often visit the little pond at one corner of our property. It’s a bit tricky to get to it, as you have to find a safe way to climb through the thorns and tangled branches to get close to the water. We also believe that at least one family of skunks lives there, so it seems wise to avoid their territory.

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Luckily, my son and I did not see a single skunk while we were out there.

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That same afternoon, I decided to go uptown and wash our minivan at the self-serve car wash. I discovered that it’s not a great idea to do this when temperatures are below freezing! (Can you guess that I don’t do this job very often?) It wasn’t easy to get the job done, as the soap was clumping up in big, slushy chunks, but  somehow I still managed to get the vehicle cleaner than it had been. It led to some interesting views, afterwards.

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This week’s spring weather was a nice break from the seemingly relentless pounding we’ve had this season, but after about 12 solid weeks, it seems it wasn’t enough to completely interrupt my winter frame of mind. If I just accept that it’s still winter, I think I can make it through to spring, whenever it decides to come to stay.

It would seem I’m not alone in these thoughts. Some related articles:

The Cold Desolate Road

Favorite Things of Winter

Shoveling Snow

Polar Vortex

I May Strongly Dislike Winter…

 

A Song for Sunday: How Great Thou Art

How Great Thou Art–Paul Baloche

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

After six months of posting a song every Sunday, I decided to take a break and wait for the urge to post one again. Here we are! I love this rocked-up version of the traditional version. THIS is how I feel How Great Thou Art when I sing it! It hits the spot for me this morning, just like it did when I tagged it with Shazam a few days ago. Singing along in harmony with it reminds me of how much fun it was to perform with the band I used to belong to. They were awesome at multi-part harmony–there are no words for what it felt like to be part of that sound!

Yesterday was an awesome day. I was alone in the house for much of the day, AND I had energy and motivation at the same time–these don’t always coincide. I got so much accomplished. In the morning, I made a to-do list on a lined pad of paper, and spent the day happily crossing things off. Some of them were mundane–clean kitchen, fold laundry, sweep floors–but others were more momentous. I checked in with the two new musicians I’ve hired to help finish the recording of the CD. Things are looking pretty good, and there is now a plan in place for the next few weeks. I’m not holding my breath for a bump-free ride, because that never seems to happen, but hopefully it will go as smoothly as it can. I made arrangements with a friend to buy some stage gear that he needs to unload, so now I won’t need to borrow or rent that kind of equipment in the future. I contacted members of the new band I am putting together and lined up our very first practice later in the month. It’s been close to three years since I was in a band, so this could be very exciting!! I’m still in need of more musicians, but things seem to be heading in the right direction. I’m hoping they will bring along their vocal skills, too–I’m dreaming of some big harmonies!

After such a great day yesterday, it’s hard to explain why I have a big knot of anxiety in my chest this morning about these very same things. Unfortunately, this is a fairly regular struggle for me–who am I to think I can take on these things? Instead of focusing on the worries, I’m trying to cast off them off, focus on the knowns and tell the unknowns to wait till another day. God is in charge, and I know that one way or another, things will get sorted out. I’m looking forward to some great music along the way!

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!