Some Worship Music for the Kitchen

My daughters and I always enjoy listening to music in the kitchen. We shuffle songs by Frank Sinatra, and we love singing along as we make dinner. We also, of course, regularly enjoy 80’s music and anything by Taylor Swift.

But lately I’ve been returning to worship music, especially in the mornings. I recently discovered Caleb + Kelsey, and I love their medleys of worship songs. I can hear the music from the bedroom right now as my husband listens to them from his work spot at the kitchen table.

Enjoy! Here’s a youtube video compilation:

I love the way worship music impacts the mood of the home and helps me fix my eyes upon Jesus.


Blooming in the Desert

This morning, I read all about deserts in the Bible. The desert becomes a grand metaphor for our own hearts and lives. When you think of desert living, you think of a dry, uninhabitable, lonely, and languishing kind of image. And nothing good seems to happen in the desert. People starve and die in the desert.

But when God enters in with His power and presence, the desert changes.

The desert blooms! Rivers flow!

Hannah Whitall Smith writes about how to bloom in the desert. She asks her readers if they feel like they are in “desert soil” where nothing can grow. I think of desert places in our relationships, our work life, our communities, or in our families. I think of where we cannot see any fruit or refreshing water flowing. The desert offers no peace, joy, or hope.

What can we do? I read how when we put ourselves into God’s hands, He can turn the desert into a place of joy and abundance. We take on a radical posture of abandonment, surrender, and deep faith. Consider the desert imagery in scripture and what God can do in the desert places of our lives:

  • In Psalm 107:35, we read how “He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs.”
  • In Isaiah 32:15 we read about the Holy Spirit: “The Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest.”
  • Isaiah 35:1-2,6 we learn that God’s presence does something great: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. . . Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
  • Isaiah 41:17-19, we read, “But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys, I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together.”

The Lord loves to turn deserts into fertile places. And I know to read symbolically because of Jesus’ words: When Jesus says that He offers “streams of living water” that flow from within in John 7, the people would feel the desert in their own hearts. They would know. They needed to bloom. They needed water. They were desert-level thirsty. 

And now the Holy Spirit comes to transform the desert within. What happens without that presence?

When the Lord removes His power and presence, we read often of desert wastelands in scripture. The desert represents places of wandering, of judgment, suffering, and longing. The desert grows in our hearts as we complain, rebel, live independently of God, and choose to sin. The desert within our hearts becomes a wasteland when we live in greed, bitterness, anger, and fear. But when we trust in the Lord and give up our lives to Him?

Remember: The desert blooms! Rivers flow!

We don’t have to fight or crawl our way out of the desert. God can do everything. Hannah Whitall Smith writes, “He is able to turn any soil, whatever it may be like, into the soil of grace the moment we put our growing into His hands. He does not need to transplant us into a different field, but right where we are, with just the circumstances that surround us, He makes His sun to shine and His dew to fall on us, and transforms the very things that were our greatest hindrances into the chiefest and most blessed means of our growth.”

I pray our desert places bloom.


A Double Post: Happy Mother’s Day

I still remember the first Mother’s Day post I wrote at Live with Flair. On May 9th 2010, I wrote about “getting to the greenhouse.” I wrote this:

“A Gift for Every Mother You Know.”

Today was chilly, windy (hair in my face no matter which way I pushed it around), and gloomy. We drove out into the country to a far-off nursery to buy some berry bushes for my latest gardening adventure. And when I say country, I mean country. The roads were unmarked, narrow, and tumbling over the landscape like an afterthought. A creek skipped by on the right, and cows fed in fields on the left.  They were so close to my window I thought I might reach out and pat a nose.

Eventually, we arrived at huge nursery. We left the car, met the wind and cold, and, hunching down and running, we slipped into the first greenhouse. Immediately, warmth. My daughters sighed with pleasure and stretched their arms. Everything here seemed abundant: the moist air, the fragrance of blooming things, the tangle of vines and hanging plants overhead. I looked at all the gorgeous flowers and thought of the ripping winds outside. They’d have never made it without this greenhouse. Standing there, seeing that little Eden of beauty set against the gloom and fierce wind, I thought of—not flowers—but people. More specifically, I thought of mothers.

I think of the moms I see that remind me of myself back then. I see the vacant stare, the lifeless smile, the numb conversation of a mom who is just trying to get a warm shower and go to the bathroom without somebody crying. Beneath the exhaustion, the stained t-shirt, and the post-pregnancy figure, there’s a woman in there–vibrant, sassy, powerful.  There’s something in her that wants to bloom.

If only she had a greenhouse–a little paradise to keep her safe and warm so she could grow too. If only we could create the conditions that help her put down strong roots, stretch high out, and bloom, bloom, bloom.

What does a mom need? She needs to be protected and nourished so she can fully develop into the woman she’s supposed to be.  She needs friends who ask her about her ideas and her dreams; she needs a community who will spur her on and enable her to take risks in any direction she chooses. A mom needs people who don’t limit her scope, who don’t assume anything about her, and who recognize that she is a growing thing–like a tender vine in a greenhouse. Our children aren’t the only people that need to grow in our homes. Babies aren’t the only people that need swaddling.

If a mom doesn’t grow and ripen, she shrivels. Moms need communities that value her spiritual, physical, social, emotional, and (if she wishes) her professional growth. As I stood in the greenhouse today, I thought of how much I want moms everywhere to live with flair. A great Mother’s Day gift (that we might give all year to every mom we know) is the mindset that the mother you see wants to grow too. The roads are unmarked for her; she’s out in a far country. Motherhood can be her time to shrivel or bloom. Get her to the greenhouse!

For my May 8th post:

With a frost warning, I cover my ground cherries, my plumcot, my beans, and my tomatoes. I haven’t planted all my basil and cherry tomatoes (these will go in at the end of May), but I had to plant the others because they’d grown too big. And they were blossoming, so I wanted to expose them to pollinators.

But sometimes, the environment is too much for them. The warning sounds: They need a covering. They need protection. They need warmth and extra love. I think about that for moms this weekend. Sometimes, they sound a warning that life feels like too much. So the rest of us must cover, protect, and warm them back to life.


Another Nest to Watch

I found this beautiful Canada goose on her nest as my daughter and I walked along Spring Creek this morning. Soon, we’ll see all the darling little goslings!


Overflowing: Now Two

Our winterberry bush now overflows with nests. Not one. Oh, no. TWO!

The sparrow nest warmed my heart and brought enough joy for the season. I prayed for this nest; I always ask God to help me find at least one nest to watch and worry over for the season.

But this morning, I see a robin chose to lodge in the winterberry bush on the other side. I watch the robin’s search for the twine and twigs I’ve scattered, and soon, a full nest takes shape.

Two nests in the same bush? Never before have I had this blessing. And strangely, the birds peacefully coexist. There’s no squawking or rustling with irritation. It’s almost as if the mother sparrow has welcomed the presence of this large robin on that big, muddy robin nest. I’ve somehow managed to invite this duplex living in my backyard. (I’d choose the same bush; after all, it’s near the birdbath and a steady supply of birdseed!)

But here’s the beauty of it: I asked for one nest, and God brought two. And I remember how God regularly gives more than we ask for and more than we even need out of the abundance of His love. Of course, I had to learn to wait and watch and to prepare for the possibility of blessing with my scraps of twine (just as I send out scraps of words).

I’m learning that just when I think God is done with His goodness in my life, there’s always more.

There’s always more to Him. There’s always something He’s building, something He’s incubating, and something He’s doing in our lives that will one day hatch and fly. 


During Transitions

My friends and family joke that I never do well during times of transition. I’m predictably more moody and more unsettled at the beginning of a semester and at the end of a semester. I can also experience this unsettled, depressed feeling when seasons change, when I travel, or if anything changes in my environment. I just don’t like transitions or change.

My husband always says, “Remember that you always feel this way at the beginning of May.”

I thrive on keeping a tidy little schedule. I thrive on routine. When my routine changes, I can hardly bear it!

But today I realized how thankful I am for these times of disruption because they reveal deeper things about where I put my hope, what I trust in for a sense of stability, and who I really am apart from all the scaffolding around my life. Without our schedules, who are we really? Without our safe routines and predictable environments, who are we?

My counselor told me these questions reflect the reason why personal retreats matter so much. You need to strip away your routine and all your normal coping mechanisms to really become alone with the real, authentic you. That’s the person who will then connect deeply with God (because God doesn’t connect with a fake person; there’s nobody there).

Times of transition–when everything feels unsettled– reflect invitations to think and pray and learn. They are times to depend upon God, to wait, and to receive His unconditional love more and more.


Big Dill

This year, I never planted dill. A gardener told me that if I let last year’s dill go to seed and totally ignore it, I’d enjoy a fresh garden of dill the next year.

Basically, do nothing. Let things dry up. Let all the seeds fall into the earth. Don’t worry about them. Don’t even think about them. 

This morning, I find a dozen dill plants popping out of the ignored soil.

I remember the work of God in hidden, ignored places. I remember how sometimes, it’s good to stop tending something, to let it be, wait, and see what happens in another season.


The Whole Secret

I loved reading Hannah Whitall Smith’s words this morning about “the whole secret.” She writes, “Those, therefore, who know Him as their Father, know the whole secret. They are their Father’s heirs and may now enter into possession of all that is necessary for their present needs. They will therefore be very simple in their prayers. ‘Lord,’ they will say, ‘I am your child, and I need such and such things.’ ‘My child,’ He will answer, ‘all things are yours in Christ; come and take just what you need’.”

The older I grow, the simpler faith becomes. Rather than growing in complexity or theological profundity, I find I’m more childlike.

What do I need? I come and take just what I need from a loving Father.


Your Summer Audiobooks

Hello there! If you are already planning your summer audiobooks for driving or for just listening as you go about your days, you can find these titles in audiobook form. Thank you for being such great readers, listeners, and friends. (Click on the title to find the book on Audible.)

Sent: Living a Life that Invites Others to Jesus (read Anne Cloud and Brian Conover).

Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us (read by Sarah Zimmerman)

Seated with Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison (read by me!)

That’s all for now!



Lifter of My Head

Back during my youth group days, we sang a worship song I just loved. It went like this:

Thou, O Lord, are a shield about me. You’re my glory; you’re the lifter of my head.

I loved that soothing song, and I often sang it as I went about my day. This morning, as I read Psalm 3 (because it’s now May 1st–you can start reading a few a psalms a day with me!), I noted the verse inspiring the song: Psalm 3:3. I take note of the odd biblical expression that God is the lifter of my head

What a powerful image to consider right now. God lifts our heads. He raises our heads up to live differently today.

I think of five things:

  • God lifts our head so we enter back into community; He takes away our shame which makes us hide and put our face down.
  • God gives us honor and helps us hold our heads high in a posture of confidence, boldness, gratitude, and celebration.
  • God lifts our head and delivers us from discouragement and hopelessness. 
  • God lifts our head so we can see new possibilities.
  • God lifts our head to worship Him in every circumstance.

I love thinking about God as the lifter of my head when I’m tempted to hold my head low in defeat or discouragement. Why is your head hanging low today? God, thank You that You are the lifter of our heads right now.