I’ve always liked the oft-repeated quote attributed to St. Augustine, “He who sings, prays twice.” I recently learned that it is even referenced in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1156, after this Scripture passage:
When I get goosebumps, I know I should pay attention.
This morning, I was brainstorming ideas for the 31 days of posts I’ll be writing in October and listening to music on YouTube when this video popped up. I hadn’t even selected it, it was just in a Christian music queue, but my hair stood on end as soon as I heard the tune. I listened to the words, and then felt that someone who visits my blog was supposed to see this today.
Whoever you are, this is for you. Though I don’t know what’s on your heart, He does.
I was making chicken salad for school lunches at 10:15 p.m. when Grandpa called to tell me something that, as he told it, struck both of us as funny. These days, his voice often chokes with emotion as he speaks to people he loves, and I cherish this. As a result, our conversations have a depth that goes far, far beyond the words spoken.
Ever since I was two, I’ve always lived at least three time zones away from him, but time and distance don’t stop love. His unconditional concern and care has been a steadfast light shining from afar. He’s a pillar of strength, solidity, and resilience in a family that has spread out through geography, marriage, and experience. And in that way, he bears likeness to another Father who is always present.
I can look back now and see that all the twists and turns of my life, some of them known to my family, some of them just aches within my soul, have been overseen by the guiding and ever-loving presence of God. He has been right there alongside me, however far the distance between us might have seemed.
I heard this song today and it prompted me to write. There must be some connection.
My daughter is sitting next to me….writing a song. She does this from time to time. This one is about listening to her own heart, making good choices, guided by Jesus, instead of by following what everyone else is saying. Oh how I pray she stays on this path.
Today her vision is clear, and therefore her words are too. I’ve been wanting to write as well. But the words haven’t come easily for me. I tell my daughter this, and she reminds me that a blog piece doesn’t have to be long. I smile because she knows me well. Usually, I am rather verbose.
‘Nevermind,’ I think. My only point is this. The Lord hears me – however I try to express myself. However I come to Him.
I was reminded of this just this morning as I fumbled my way through prayer time, scribbling in my journal what felt like nonsense. But before closing my Bible my eyes fell on 1 Corinthians 12:31 and there was a message for me:
“Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. The Way of Love. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.”
So I kept my eyes open as the hours passed by. Awaiting His Word. Looking for His Way. And David Crowder’s music kept popping up in my day. This song reminds me that I can approach God as I am. Anytime. Anywhere. To lay it all down. Because I am Beloved.
I went into my son’s room just now to get this picture. My focus was really going to be on those two albums to the right – by TobyMac and Skillet. But one of our dogs followed me in and the picture turned out this way, which I think is kind of cute.
See how her right ear is flipped out? She’s a dog in motion, about to leave the frame to go sniff the pile of dirty clothes behind her and then settle in on that pillowy blue chair on the left side of the photo – all because these things are comfortable smells that remind her of my son. She likes to be around him. So do I.
And that’s a great thing. I’m savoring it because he’s 12 and I’m not sure what the teen years will bring. But I can tell you what he and I share right now. Music.
I was taking him to Tae Kwon Do practice last week, when “We Won’t Be Shaken” by Building 429 came on the radio. My son absentmindedly began singing. Strangely, the car was quiet. His siblings were both lost in their own thoughts. My son didn’t realize I was listening to him. Singing. Every. Word. Right. To. The. End.
When you finish reading here, click on the YouTube link below and listen. Perhaps you’ll understand why I was hiding my eyes, filled with tears of joy, when he hopped out of the car a minute or so later.
When my kids are in the car, I listen to either Christian or classical music, with few exceptions. Yes, I enjoy other genres of music and need my daily dose of news (when young ears aren’t listening), but I like the atmosphere that this music creates as we go about our activities together. And I also believe that the media we consume has an effect on what we feel, think, and become.
Scripture confirms this.
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.” (Matthew 6:22)
The things we look at, read, and examine closely make their way into the fabric of our being and either work for good, or not. The books we read, shows we watch, music we hear, people we spend time with, matter. We need to choose wisely.
When I was about my son’s age, my dad gave me some Christian music that I listened to frequently. He had taken some time to figure out what was popular with young people in the 80s, and made selections that he thought I might like. He did a good job. The words of those songs made their way into my heart. I didn’t stay with the faith through my tumultuous teen and college years, but the lyrics I had learned and the Truth they spoke of, never left me. And when I was finally ready to turn toward the loving whisper that was gently beckoning me, I knew those songs had played an important role in my faith formation. To this day, “El Shaddai” by Amy Grant is still one of my favorites.
So, I’m listening to the radio, and to my kids, paying attention to which artists, both secular and Christian, they are responding to. And I’ve gone out on a limb and bought my son, and my daughter, CDs I think they’d enjoy with messages I’d like them to hear. I’ve been blessed for my efforts, because they are playing those CDs, singing along, engraving Truth on their hearts without even realizing it. Some of this music isn’t exactly my taste, but it’s definitely grace in action.
I don’t know why I feel compelled to post this. I don’t have much to say. Just…
I see beautiful faces everywhere, every single day. Each one is absolutely unique.
And every day, I am dazzled by some natural phenomena – weather, animals, plants. Most still carry on in mysterious patterns, independent of human control.
My own heart has a pattern – a rhythm set before I gained consciousness, a rhythm not started by me.
I find these things awe-inspiring, and humbling, and my soul wants to celebrate the Only One who deserves the high praise that should be accorded the most Glorious Being who could create these things and set them in motion.
That’s how I feel every time I hear this song – my current favorite. My heart and soul leap with praise to God. Maybe you’ll feel the same way.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for my stepsister, Claudia, earlier this year. As you know, she went home to the Father, and will be rejoicing in Heaven this Christmas. But her family remains. And oh, how they ache. If you would, please pray with me again – for them – this season.
And if YOU are mourning someone this Christmas, it would be my privilege to pray for you. Please don’t hesitate to ask me.
Dear Lord, King of Kings,
You are Immanuel – God With Us.
Thank you for creating this Christmas season by sending your son, Jesus Christ – the Very Word of God, wrapped in human flesh.
In His life, he knew every possible kind of suffering – so that we would know,
We are never alone.
We thank you for His triumphant resurrection over death, and for His eternal grace.
Lord, you have promised to be with us always and everywhere, and your Word is Truth – for there is no impurity within you.
Please come and be with Claudia’s family.
Make your peace known to them.
Enfold them in your loving arms and touch their hearts with the expectation of joy to come.
Assure them of your never-ending faithfulness, and remind them of the ways you have already blessed them, so they can be renewed with hope for your goodness in the time ahead.
Strengthen their spirits and increase their faith.
Please hold them up and bind them together, so that they may find solace, and You, in the eyes of one another.
And Lord, bless Claudia’s children – Cata, Nick, and baby Matias – in a special way.
May their mother’s love be forever imprinted upon their hearts and souls.
In the name of our Saviour, Jesus, we pray,