Not What I Would Have Planned

Last weekend we had plans to go to Lake Geneva for a race Jeff was running (as I wrote about yesterday). We were going to leave at noon on Friday and spend the afternoon introducing Jack to the swimming pool. However, no one seems to have created an app to sync my iPhone calendar with our home paper calendar, and thus we had a conflict.

My sister-in-law had given me tickets at Christmas to a concert Friday night. So Jeff and I decided we would go to the concert, come home, wake Jack up, and drive up to Lake Geneva late Friday night. We assumed Jack would just go back to sleep in the car. Instead, Jeff slept in the car and Jack talked to me while I drove.

It ended up working out though because the wake for my friend Heidi who died earlier in the week was Friday afternoon. Jeff had an appointment to get his car worked on, so I took Jack and met my mom and sister at the funeral home. We knew there would be quite a crowd so we got there almost when it began.

I’ve never seen anything quite like it… hundreds of people waiting in a line that weaved through the large funeral home, looking at pictures of Heidi with her family and friends as some of her favorite Fernando Ortega songs played. The vast crowd was surely a testimony to her life: friendly, caring, compassionate, joyful.

If it was any other concert, I would have skipped it. But it was Chris Tomlin. I have all of his albums and have never seen him in concert. He’s one of the best contemporary Christian song writers and worship leaders. So I rushed home after the wake and Jeff and I rushed to make it to the concert on time.

Going from a wake to a concert isn’t what I would have planned. But this wasn’t just a concert, it was truly focused on Jesus, worshipping him with thousands of people around. As the first song played, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. Kari Jobe singing We Are“Make the most of the time we have left, We are the light of the world… We gotta let the light shine”

Well Done – For Heidi

I was working on my Bible study homework and the card from Heidi’s funeral service was next to me. I read the poem on the card again and immediately started to think of words for a new song. I felt like God gave me the words and music for this song to remember Heidi, to picture her passing from earth to heaven and the joy she experiences there. It makes me long for heaven even more.

I wanted to share it with you so here’s a rough video of me singing and playing. The lyrics are below. I hope it’s a blessing to you.

Well Done – For Heidi Walsh
Standing on the beaches as the ship sails in the sea
Waving goodbye as long as she waves back at me
As she fades into the distance my heart is sad for me
Goodbye, my friend, goodbye

Across the sea stands another shore waiting to welcome her
She waves goodbye to me and turns to look forward
The One standing on the shoreline has His arms spread open wide
“Welcome home, My friend, welcome home!”

“Well done good and faithful servant!
Well done good and faithful friend!
You’ve been My hands and feet to a lost world
You have shined so bright for Me”

All the faces look familiar, they’re all instantly known
And the One who she has followed now welcomes her home
She sings “Holy Holy, I knew You were the One!
You have been my joy. You’ve been everything to me”

Bless the Lord O My Soul

I’ve been singing this song since yesterday morning at Bible study. It was chosen before we knew about Heidi’s death but it fit the day so perfectly. Matt Redman wrote 10,000 Reasons as the chorus says Bless the Lord o my soul, worship His holy name, Sing like never before, o my soul, worship His holy name.

Why is it called 10,000 Reasons… because no matter the pain, the sickness, the heartache, the trials and challenges in our lives, still there are 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord and worship His holy name.

You can sing along by watching the video. I hope its not just words and music for you, but that your heart sings in worship to the Lord.

Tis So Sweet

Almost two years ago I stood in the church I grew up in. The church where I played Mary in the Christmas pageant. Where I taught Sunday school to children. Where I played guitar. But this day I stood in the front row with a small shoebox-size coffin in front of me. It was my son’s funeral.

Caleb passed from my womb to heaven. I held his body in my arms, but his soul was already with Jesus.

Now in the church we stand to sing the hymns I have chosen: Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus and Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus / Just to take Him at His word. My heart sings but my lips are silent as my tears pour forth. Oh for grace to trust You more. Even as the words are sung I know this will be my anthem. My prayer.

Today, how things have changed… or have they? I stand, not in church, but in the baby’s room, holding my second son Jack, singing him to sleep. Jesus, Jesus how I trust You, how I’ve proved You o’er and o’er. My heart sings, my lips sing. Sometimes my eyes water as I remember. It’s not an easy journey to trust God. But it’s a journey of blessings with a faithful, loving God. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, oh for grace to trust You more.


Your Love Is Deep

With the combination of being pregnant and having missed three months of church, I seem to be more emotional at church than normal. This weekend at church we sang “Your Love Is Deep,” a song I’ve only sung at Young Life activities and haven’t heard in years. I opened my mouth to sing and immediately had tears in my eyes. I was remembering my Wisconsin Young Lifers, picturing sitting around the campfire singing with them, or hiking through the mountains in Colorado. I pictured their faces from freshman year, so young and full of excitement.

We probably sang that song 200 times during their four years of high school. But of all songs we could have sung that many times, Your Love Is Deep is a good one. Now those high schoolers are out of college! Some are married, some have children, they’re starting their own careers in the real world. I wonder, was spending four years of high school with them enough? When they were in high school I wanted them to know they aren’t alone. Yes, I’ll walk with them and try to be an example they can follow. But more importantly I wanted them to know the One who loves them so deeply, He gave His Son for them. The One who is always with them, and will never move to Illinois to get married. The One whose grace covers every mistake they’ve made. The One who will meet them where they’re at, wipe away their sins, and give them a fresh start.

Your love is deep
Your love is high
Your love is long
Your love is wide

Deeper than my view of grace
Higher than this worldly place
Longer than the road I travel
Wider than the gap You filled

Thank You Lord that Your love is greater than we could ever imagine. When we are struggling, or lonely, or afraid, help us turn to You and remember Your love is deep.


He Knows My Name

Here’s a quick, low-production video I put together. We have so many ultrasound pictures I thought it’d be nice to put them in a video to see how Baby has progressed.  The majority of the pictures are just of his face.  For many of them, his face was pressed up against the placenta so you only see his profile or his nose and an eye.  He wasn’t always cooperative for pictures. Hopefully that changes when he exits the womb.

Song is He Knows My Name by Tommy Walker (c) 1996 Doulos Publishing


We Are Waiting

I’m struggling a bit to fall asleep tonight but it got me thinking that I haven’t written a song in awhile. I haven’t been able to play my guitar so that could be part of it. But also because I created this blog and write my thoughts here, I think that has taken away my need to write songs to process what is happening in my life. The baby is kicking tonight and it’s hard to believe he will be here in 6-9 weeks! Here’s a little song I wrote thinking about him:

We Are Waiting
Tonight I dream about the boy you’ll be
Running, jumping, full of energy
Your little laugh and silly ways
Sweet smile and carefree play
We are waiting
We are waiting

Waiting to hold you in our arms
Waiting to cradle you in our love
Waiting to be with you

God has knit you together in my womb
Formed your body and made you anew
He has numbered your days and He’ll count your hairs
We will show you His love and His care
We are waiting
We are waiting

Waiting to hold you in our arms
Waiting to cradle you in our love
Waiting to be with you
Waiting for our dreams to come true
Waiting to see God’s promise fulfilled
Waiting to show you to the world
Our miracle from God


1,000 Sleepless Nights

What if Your blessings come through rain drops,
What if Your healing comes through tears,
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near,
What if my greatest disappointment
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy
What if trials in this life are Your mercies in disguise

This is the chorus to Laura Story’s song Blessings. I first heard it about a year ago after having Caleb. It became like a theme song for me, expressing what I believed but wasn’t able to put into words.

Whenever I can’t sleep I think of that line: what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near. Tonight is one of my sleepless nights. Not because I’m worried or anxious. I just seem to be wide awake. I ate a small chocolate chip cookie bar at 10:30 but that doesn’t seem like the culprit.

Many of my sleepless nights have been filled with anxieties or sadness. After having Caleb I often emailed friends in the middle of the night with my thoughts and emotions. Writing usually helped me recognize my feelings and release them to God.

I hate not sleeping. But if it takes 1,000 sleepless nights to understand the nearness of God, then sign me up. Maybe insomnia is the Lord’s way of subtly getting our attention and hoping we call out to Him. Maybe in the stillness and silence of the night our hearts and minds can hear what God is trying to tell us. It might not be an intricate earth-shattering message, but just a time to feel the loving arms of our Savior wrapped around us as He sings over us, reminding us that He is always near.

“I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17


Is Worry Your Only Friend?

You’ve probably heard the song Trouble by Ray LaMontagne, a popular song choice on American Idol. It’s also been in this Travelers’ Insurance commerical. Watch the commercial before reading on.

The poor dog can’t find a safe place to hide his bone. My new nephew-dog Tucker knows how he feels. Every time Tucker hides his bone, my four year old neice takes the bone out of it’s hiding spot. It’s a fun game to her… but I’m not sure Tucker feels the same way.

Do you ever feel like there’s no safe place to leave your prized possession? Or no safe place to leave your concerns about your family, your job, what people think of you? Do you feel like your trouble has been “dogging your soul since the day you were born” or like “worry won’t leave your mind alone“? Has it gotten to the point where “worry feels like you’re only friend“? Maybe you think worry is just part of your nature, it’s who you are, it’s what people expect of you. If you didn’t worry, who would?

I think intertwined with worry is control, maybe a fear of losing control. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly in control of my life. Everything works out exactly how I’ve planned… yeah right! The truth is I’m not in control and, hate to break it to you, but you’re not in control either. Sure there are some things we can control, like our attitudes and actions. But what happens in our lives is, for the most part, not in our ability to control even if we wanted to.

People worry about their jobs – what if I lose my job, then how will I provide for my family? People worry about their families – what if my kids get sick? what if my husbdand dies suddenly? what if my kids get bullied? what if my kid is the bully? People can worry about anything and everything, from what seems like a big issue to what seems like nothing at all. It’s a slippery slope, once you start to worry, and before you know it fear controls your life.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?… But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34

It’s not our job to worry. It’s our job to realize God has everything under control. Next time you’re tempted to worry about work or family or if you’ll find a parking spot at the mall, pray. Turn your worry and your fear into faith by choosing to believe God and trust Him.

This is the day

“This is they day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Most of the time when we hear this verse it’s a happy, cheerful time. You say it with excitement as you think of the great things God has done. But what if it’s the worst day of your life?

On a day of tragedy, death of a loved one, diagnosis from a doctor that you weren’t expecting, natural disasters … the verse is still true. Do you rejoice in those days? The Lord still made them and we still have reason to be glad.

It’s not easy to rejoice and be glad on the worst day of our lives. But it’s a choice. Often when we choose to do something our feelings follow. Rejoicing may not make your worst day turn into a happy cheerful time, but it will bring you peace and a reassurance that no matter what is happening in your life God is still in control and worthy of our praise.

In May I started working on a song that would express this. A song that as you sing it would help you choose to praise even in challenging times. I haven’t completed verses but here’s the chorus:

This is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
This is the day You have made
I will rejoice, I will rejoice
For You’ve shown me love
You’ve shown me grace
You’ve guided me in Your ways
I will rejoice, this is Your day