Music to Soothe the Soul

The song “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong comforts me much like a warm and fuzzy coat on a cold winter day. I am refreshed by the calmness and stillness that the song  brings forth, like the sound of soft bubbling waters in a brook. It feels inviting and soulful. The song opens with a majestic sound from the trombone accompanied by the piano and clarinet. The audience is overjoyed  which is apparent from the overwhelming  applause. After just a few breathtaking notes, they  know that they are about to hear something truly special. It is pure joy. Life is so sweet through the voice of Louis Armstrong. His depiction sends a message of hope, love, and friendship. It truly resonates with ones heart, mind, and soul.

 What Wonderful World

by: Louis Armstrong

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world. I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.

I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I wish I  could say that I had this vision for the world. I don’t always see people and places in this genuinely lovely light.  As he sings “The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky/ Are also on the faces of people going by …” we get a picture of his loving nature towards others.

I love his analogy comparing the colors of the rainbow  to people in the world. It’s  truly astonishing.  To me it means that just like each color has its own strength and personality, he feels that same warmth and expectation in the people that he meets in passing everyday. His lyrics put me to shame, because I don’t see people in shades of color.( Or, in other words, as unique individuals that I am eager to greet and  meet).

 I admit that I often see people stereotypically…or in “black and white.” They are one-dimensional at best.  And I don’t intend to meet their acquaintance.  On a good day, I could say that I see others in gray, which means I am not stereotyping–but I am not operating in love either.

In Matthew 22: 37 -39 God calls us as believers to “Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind.” And to “Love are neighbor as our self.” This was Jesus’s response when asked what the greatest commandment was to fulfill the law. It’s amazing to think that “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

As I listen to the lyrics in this song, I have a better understanding of how to love God and love others. I can appreciate what God has given me, as Louis does describing  “trees of green, red roses too,”  “skies of blue and clouds of white, ” and ” dark sacred nights.” And I can look for opportunities to show goodness to my neighbor even if it just means showing love by passing by  and simple saying  a genuine “hello” and” how are you.” Just as it is  suggested in the lyrics, “I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do/ They’re really saying I love you.”

Love is often spoken of but not demonstrated, articulated well, or understood.  Yet, in this song, I know what love should look like. The message of love is so crystal clear.

But  the best description of love is described in  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

I hope and pray that I can learn to love like this. “Love never fails” because it is necessary for heaven. In heaven our lives will be without suffering and hurting, and we will no longer in need of things such as knowledge, faith, and hope. But we will need love. Because heaven is a real place and we need to be a people of love when we reside past heaven’s gate. The song “What a Wonderful World” shows me a glimmer of what love looks like and through these lyrics I see a small slice of heaven.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13:13

Are you in tune with God?

Piano

 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

(Psalm 100)

 Are you in tune with God? Just as a piano, guitar, or any other instrument needs to be in tune for the sound to be pleasant to the ear, so do  our hearts need to be mended and  binded together with God so that we are in tune to what he would have us do or say.

When I  am going through the storms and trials of life I try to remember to, “make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” and to ” praise the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100). Worship is such a big part of what it is to be a Christian. I believe when we truly just worship him with our voices and instruments there is power in the praises of his people. For example: When Paul was beaten and imprisoned he was praying and singing praises and then there was a  sudden  earthquake and the doors of the prison were open and his chains fell off.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed (Acts 16:26).

There is nothing impossible for God (Luke 1:37). He is a God of miracles.  He delights in the praises of his people and if can speak the universe into existence then he can surly save the righteous from harm. The story of Paul and Silas in prison speaks volumes to me. If it were me, I am sure I would be questioning my faith but Peter and Silas were singing and rejoicing. They felt compassion for the jailor who tried to kill himself thinking they had escaped so they assured him they were still there. Wow. This means they  were overflowing with God’s goodness in there present circumstance. I am astonished that they would not be running out of that jail cell, but instead showed mercy to their jailor and the jailor immediately believed and asked what he needed to do to become saved. “Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16: 30).  In the mist of this victory for Paul and Silas God’s grace is poured out on this jailor who believed after these events unfolded and not only did he believe, but his whole family believed.

Maybe, this is the reason that God allowed them to be in jail and beaten. Through their trial God was working a far greater purpose–to save the jailor and  his family. When we are going through a trial we do not know the reason or the outcome but God does! Isaiah 55:8 explains, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord .We never know why we may be going through such trails. Often times when we are ministering to others and being used by God the enemy will attack. The reason Paul and Silas were imprisoned was because of spiritual warfare. For the bible tells us that…

  We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

Paul cast out  a demon from a slave girl that was being used by her masters to gain money because she was “possessed by the spirit of divination.”  In other words she was able to know the future and was a fortune teller for money. Whenever God’s work is being done the “principalities, powers, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places,” are at work trying to devise a plan to shut us down, discourage, block, or harm us. Although we never see this battle being fought, we often see the effects and can be at peace to know that the fight is not ours because “The Battle belongs to the Lord”    (1 Samuel 17:47). You may be going through a hard time. You may have lost your job, suffered medical problems, have martial problems, or something else. But God, who is rich in mercy, who sent his only son to die on the cross for our sins, knows the beginning and the end of our story.

I am writing this for myself because I need to hear this, read this, and  study this. I need hope because in the midst of my messy life and overwhelming circumstances I need to know there is a Savior that loves me and would break the prison doors open for me too, if I needed them to be broken.While I wait for this season of trial to end, I know this “All things work together for the good for those that are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), so I can let my burdens rest in his Hands by ” casting all my cares upon Him” because he cares for me and you too (1 Peter 5:7).

 And remembering Peter’s and Silas story I will try my best to lift my head up to Heaven knowing that He is my Redeemer.

And  my ever present help in times of trouble.

 

The Blank Canvas

A New Beginning…

Home Inspirational words

Retrieved from (http://www.photoswithquotes.com/bloom_where_you_are_planted_333.htm)

Home. What comes to mind when you hear this word? Right now, for me, it means redecorating; My husband and I are redecorating the living room. Now that we have lived in the house for five years, it’s time to do a little remodeling. My house hasn’t been painted or richly decorated since we moved in.  Replacing old and borrowed items with newly chosen decorations and fresh paint is like a dream come true. I am so excited to begin this summer  journey…

Presently, my living room is filled with a dark chocolate paint from the previous owners. We have made the most of it, but it has always darkened the mood of the room. We brighten it with our decorations and laughter, but what it really needs is a fresh coat of  paint  that is a cheerful color. We chose a blue color called Colorado Springs. Our inspiration came from beautiful photos we came across of different Cape Cod décor. We liked the feeling of those living rooms filled with different shades of  blue and white accents with beach themed attire and decorations. We wanted to bring that calm and serene feeling into our home.

The first few days of painting we were both rejuvenated.  Especially when the primer fully covered the brown walls and all you could see was white. After five years of dark brown, I was estatic to say the least. And then I begin to think…

Although, we have been married for eight years my husband and I were  beginning a new chapter in our life. We both are starting different teaching positions in the Fall. I as a 2nd grade teacher; he as a middle school teacher. Reflecting on this passage from Ecclesiastes 3:3-8, there is “… A time to weepAnd a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance…” reminds me of both my past and present seasons. I  have felt great grief in the past few years. And lately, I am experiencing a time of blessings and I am truly grateful for God’s goodness. As a new season unfolds, I am hoping to see  blooms of love, joy, and peace…

I am embracing the present and letting go of the past. Ecclesiastes 3:3 (NIV) reads, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaves” which reminds me of this truth.

Whatever the season, for good or bad, I pray that I can learn to be content and at peace knowing that God is ultimately in control. I am not there yet, but I know I am a work in progress; God is continuing to shape me, “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…” Jeremiah 18:6 (NIV).  Likewise, Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)  further explains, “Yet you, Lord, are our Father we are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  

Bebo Norman’s song ” The Hammer Holds,” illustrates this in a somber and eloquent way: God is constantly shaping us. And when we endure hardships and trials in our life, it is part ot the Maker’s plan. By purifying our hearts, just as gold is refined in fire ,the songwriter expresses the pain of being purified. Yet knows, God is good; this pain is necessary. This  song  comforts me knowing when I am going through a difficult time that it is an intricate  process as God is handcrafting  me for His purpose. The first verse to the song, “A shapeless piece of clay… that’s all I came to be… but this hammer pounds…”

“The Hammer Holds” by: Bebo Norman

As the  smell of  freshly scented paint filled the air, and I  looked at my white newly primed walls, waiting to be splashed with color. I realized my life is a canvas. I can paint on it anything that I so chose. Just as a painter selects a new scene to draw and new colors to paint with I draw on the blank canvas of my life, each day, and make a beautiful piece of art.

The blank canvas before me…

white canvas

                                                                      and the blank canvas  in front of you…

Dreams

Dreams

Susan Boyle, sings "I Dream a Dream” auditioning for the chance to fulfill her dream of becoming a well-known singing. This is a modern-day story of a fairy tale come true. And it happened overnight!

Susan Boyle’s first audition in Britain’s Got Talent

Do others laugh and are cynical about your dream? If not, I would say your dream is not big enough! How far are you willing to go to see your dream come to pass? It’s never to late to succeed Susan Boyle’s story illustrates just that! Langston Hughes, wrote a wonderful poem about dreams called “A Dream Deferred.” Don’t let others laugh at your dreams. Instead you be the one smiling and having a heart full of laughter as you see your dream come to pass!

Harlem [Dream Deferred]
What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Langston Hughes

“A Dream Deferred,” by Langston Hughes, illustrates what happens when are dreams are put on hold – in a silly and sweet way. This poem is powerful. The idea of our dreams disappearing is represented in the line “Does it dry up.” Sometimes this happens, they  get soaked up because life leads on and takes us down paths that we can never venture back too. Some dreams are so embedded in us that they hurt “Or fester like a sore.” It is as though when we postpone what we are called to do we suffer in our heart, mind, and soul. But, the best line of the poem is the last -“Or does it explode.” I hope our dreams do just that. They take root deep in our heart and manifest themselves in our lives in extraordinary ways.

Sarah Boyle, is a modern-day example of a dream deferred. She waited until her 40’s to actively pursue an opportunity to become a successful singer. Or may I suggest, that this was the time for her dream to manifest? Sometimes are dreams come to pass at a time different from imagined but they do eventually explode as illustrated in Sarah Boyle’s case. She became a success over night…

What happens to our dreams? ( Inspired by A Dream Deferred, by Langston Hughes)

Do we forget,
Or do we regret,
Does it become something fresh or never manifest
Does it float way like a cloud and then eventually
rain down from…
Heaven gates?
High Above in the Sky
It rains it pours
and we can no longer ignore…
Then we float away
and met our dreams
at heaven’s doors
where we then see clearly
the vision of our self
what we were always meant to be! Quiet possible?
Or maybe it dies in our sleep and we become all the more
relieved that it was never really meant to be a dream.

My thoughts are best represented by this quote,: “Sometimes on a way to a dream it gets lost and we find another one.”

Reflect and Respond

What happens to a dream postpone…is it always put on hold… or does it eventually unfold? What is keeping you from actively pursuing your dreams? Is it worth postponing another day? Or,is there a way to see your dreams come to pass today? My prayers are that God will always guide and lead the way…

” Your word is a lamp to my feet; And a light to my path” (Psalms 119:105)

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Rainbow
“A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It’s far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain…” (Dorothy, Wizard of OZ)

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland (1939)

Home is where the heart lies… Where does your heart lie…?

I find my heart in two places- in my home and my desire for some adventure. I hope to have both! I wrote this to describe a place that was very much like home to me. It is my version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

The Lighthouse

The rustic, chestnut cabin was surrounded by dirt trails that paved the way through endless dark green pine trees . One trail led to a small, quaint picturesque beach front on the lake which had small paddle boats and a restaurant filled with exquisite seafood, where you could smell the fresh fish as you walked a short ways away from the shore.

Camping was also permitted and tents engulfed the beach, with small campfires and the smell of marshmallows at night roasting on the crackling fire. There was a pier, that led out past the shallow, shore of the beach into the deeper, blue waters of the lakefront . The lighthouse was white, with red and navy blue accents, it had one square window, and a spiral, wooden staircase. It stood on a firm foundation of granite rock and lighted the lake for the villagers boats the circled the water.

The light continued to glisten off the water when everything was dark in the camp at night. The light permeated across the town and provided a constant guide to navigate ones way in the dark depending upon how bright the light was.

This rustic, chestnut cabin had nothing grand inside. It had dirt floors, two metal bunk beds, and a small white dresser table. The bathroom had an oval tub and a sink with no counter, which left little space to prep ones hair and make up for the day.

Yet, it provided a home a space to lie my head at night as I breathed in the mountain air and as I bask in the sun with a book, lying in a beach chair close to the serene lake. The mountain trails where my escape, where I rode a bike to town while the wind would run through my hair. The candy store sold homemade ice cream, gourmet coffee, and chocolate truffles. The clothing store sold seashell necklaces, flip flop sandals, and tank tops with beach print.

While some may feel their homes need to be filled with several bedrooms, dining room, family room, a grand kitchen, and backyard with a white picket fence. My favorite home had only room to lay my head, as I roamed around a town, a lake, and the forest. Exploring the beauty of the outdoors, as I watched the glistening light from the lighthouse that beamed across the trees, mountains, and paths at night.

Reflect and Respond

How would you describe your home? Does it have a white picket fence, family room, kitchen etc., or is your home in some special place- like I described above? Maybe, your heart is in two places- between home and adventure? We would love to hear about your special place you call home. Home is where the heart is…