Thursday, July 25, 2013

Timing Is Everything

For those of you who read my posts on Facebook lately, I apologize for all the (obnoxious) updating about my life I've been doing lately.  I know that I can go a little overboard when I get excited.  However, when God works in the ways He has been working, I can't help but get excited.  I have been so completely overwhelmed and humbled by every single moment of the past couple of months.  Things have happened that have been beyond my wildest dreams, but right in line with His.  And one thing I've learned is that timing is everything.  And His timing is perfect!

Nicole and I have had two meetings in the past week.  Meetings we were prepared for, but, as newbies to this private practice and business ownership thing, not completely sure of some things.  I will say that through this whole process neither of us has really been nervous or worried.  We've just had a peace and calm...knowing that this is what we are meant to do.  So last Friday we had a meeting with an amazing music school that truly "gets" what we do and would love to partner with us to offer Kindermusik classes.  They had a teacher that had been doing a first steps music program for the past year.  However, she has taken a full time job elsewhere and is leaving...which leaves a need for music classes for young children at the school.  Enter Nicole and I.  We went and did a cold call drop in a few weeks ago to introduce ourselves and explain what we were doing.  Long story short, we ended up scheduling a meeting with the owners.  The meeting went very well...beyond our expectations.  The owners are amazing people who not only love music and love teaching kids but also have a heart for kids with disabilities and understand their need to have opportunities to actively engage in music.  All involved believe that our partnership will be a good fit and will provide more music opportunities to more children in the area and fulfill a need for services.  So that was last Friday, and we are working on getting the details worked out.  We left that meeting on cloud 9 and feeling like we had been given a huge gift.

So this past Tuesday we had another meeting.  This one with a center that provides therapy for children with Autism and related developmental disabilities and their families.  We went into the meeting not sure what to expect but assuming we would have to do some educating on what music therapy is and how we can benefit their clients.  However, we were wrong.  When we got there, we noticed that several people started coming in...people we recognized from their website and being members of the Board of Directors.  So here we are, expecting to just meet with the director and have a little meeting...and we end up in a full blown meeting with board members!  Talk about overwhelmed!  The meeting was amazing!  Again, more people who get what music therapy is all about and are excited about what we can provide.  We went in the meeting expecting to make some contacts and set up another formal meeting once they had time to discuss it.  We came out with an offer for partnering with the clinic, a request to meet with their builder to discuss where we want our office and treatment rooms and an invitation to dinner tonight to meet with the full board and all the "important" people involved in the center!  This was HUGE!  It was all Nicole and I could do to get to the car in a dignified manner before breaking into a happy dance!  

And before either of these meetings, God has opened doors that have provided us studio space in Gulfport for music therapy services and Kindermusik classes and that have brought some wonderful, supportive people in our lives to help guide us through this process.  This stuff doesn't just happen!  Ever...  And there is nothing that I have done that made any of this happen...other than following God's leading to make a phone call or send an email.  But I have found that when I am obedient to do even those simple things, He will open the floodgates.

Nicole and I were talking on the ride back Tuesday about how timing is everything.  Had any one moment of the past six months been different in our lives, none of this would have happened!  Moments that were difficult.  Moments that brought tough decisions.  Moments that brought joy.  Moments that brought tears.  Each moment was a part of the bigger picture.  Every single moment...from people that I've met to decisions about when to quit a job to those phone calls and emails.  I truly believe God had a hand in each and every moment.

I often question God's timing.  I'm not a patient person by nature.  I've had people tell me I am...that I'm patient because I'll wait for things to work out in certain situations or because of the work that I do or whatever.  But I know me, and I am the farthest thing from least in my own mind.  I want what I want now.  I want my prayers to be answered immediately.  And if God doesn't answer them immediately, I want to know why and what is going to happen when.  But God doesn't work that way.  He takes His time, molding our lives in a way that brings Him glory.  And He has definitely taken His time in my life.  It used to frustrate me and depress me...why does He make me wait for things He knows I want so deeply?  Why won't He hurry up and give me the deepest desires of my heart?  Desires that I know have been placed there by Him.  But I forget...His promises are true, He is faithful and He can see what I can't.

Last night at church, we read several scriptures that spoke to these facts and that confirmed His timing is perfect.  Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways...As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  Proverbs 16:9 says, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps."  Wow.  

See, I struggle with God a lot.  I question and doubt and wonder what is taking so long.  But then I have moments like the past few weeks and months, and I can see the answers. He longs to give us good things.  This doesn't mean life is always roses and butterflies and rainbows.  Sometimes the path to those good things is filled with struggle and pain.  I've seen that in my own life and in the lives of people that I love.  Life is still life, and it's not meant to be one big joy ride.  But I have seen how God has taken each and every moment of my 39 years to shape me and mold me into the woman He created me to be.  It's a work in progress...a hard work.  But God has never left me...even in the darkest moments when I thought He had, He never did.  There are things I've prayed for that He chose not to give me...and to this day, I don't understand why.  I may never understand this side of heaven.  But my faith allows me to trust Him and His faithfulness in spite of the things I don't understand.  And I have to remember that this life isn't's His.  

I am a planner.  I plan, and I plan, and I make plans for the plans.  I'm a little OCD and definitely Type A.  But life over the past few months has taught me to be more live life outside the fly freely in God's grace.  Proverbs 16:9 reminds me that my plans don't amount to much when God has something so much bigger in store.  And I'm so thankful for that!

See God doesn't want us to settle for less than His best for us.  I've heard that so often but never really understood it.  I could settle for less, but why would I when He has so much more!  I've seen in my own life how, If would have settled for certain things and situations...things that I knew were not the best for me and were not God's plan for me...I would have missed out on some pretty awesome blessings He did have in store for me.  Now, I understand that I have been very blessed to be in the position I am to do what I'm doing.  I get that not everyone has the opportunity to take this big of a risk.  However, God can work wonders right where you are if you will only let go of holding on to your plans and let Him work out His plans for your life.  I've shared this before on a previous blog, but I was told by someone who has encouraged me along this journey that sometimes it's not about our plans.  Isaiah 55:8-9 says as much.  His ways and thoughts and plans are so far beyond our wildest imagination!  One of the men we met with also made the comment that his father had told him that we have to "let go of the dock."  We have to let go of what we are holding onto...things that weigh us down or keep us back from the blessings God has in store for us.  I've spent most of my life hanging on.  Hanging on to fear and doubt.  Hanging on to comfort.  Hanging on to my thought of "what if this goes wrong or I get hurt."  Hanging on to my thoughts of how things should go.  Hanging on to negative thoughts and allowing the enemy to flood my mind with irrational thoughts.  It's time to let go...  To let go and allow God to do what only He can do.  To dismiss the thoughts that say things aren't possible and trust the One who can do the impossible.

As the past few months have proven in my life, timing is everything and God knows what He is doing.  Even when it is taking longer than I think it should.  Even when I feel I'm getting too old to see a dream come to fruition.  Even when I don't see how something could be humanly possible.  Even when I have no idea where the next paycheck is going to come from.  God is bigger than all of that!  His timing is perfect and in His plan, everything happens right on time.  Age is just a number...God is not bound by my age...He can still give me those desires of my heart I think I need to give up on because I'm too old for them.  Even when things are humanly impossible, God can do the impossible...and, I've found, delights in doing those things we can't do ourselves.  And God's provision is always there.  Maybe not in the way or amount I want, but in a way that provides for my needs.  It doesn't mean that He gives us everything we want.  But if we will learn to align our hearts with His and seek His will, He will make our paths straight, show us where to go and will provide for all we need to fulfill HIS dreams for our lives.

The things He has shown me throughout my life, and especially over the past six months, have blown me away.  I'm still so far from the woman I need to be and still have a lot of growing to do.  And I still have moments of doubt and failure and questions and just bad days.  But God is faithful through it all and is composing each and every moment into a beautiful melody.  

If you are in a dry place, a place of waiting, a place of questioning if He is working out His plan in your life...hang on!  I know it's me.  I've spent many nights crying out to Him and asking Him if He had forgotten me.  This world throws so many images at us of what is "normal" and where we should be by what stage in life.  Forget those things!  God's plan is way better than anything this world can offer!  Yes, I am still waiting on some of those deep desires, and I wonder almost daily what the hold up is.  But I've also realized that if God gave me everything all at once it would be too much for me to handle.  There are also things He may still need to work on before granting those desires...things in my life, things in someone else's life, things in the situation, whatever it may be.  And I have come to trust that it's in the quiet moments, those moments where it seems nothing is happening to move a situation forward, that He is doing some of His best work.  And He is working out things that are so far beyond my wildest dreams I can't even begin to comprehend it.  Because, let me tell you, when He started moving a couple of months ago, He moved!  And hasn't let up yet!  We can't see the full picture, but He can.  And He IS working out each and every His a way that will bring Him glory and us joy.  

So trust Him and know that His timing is perfect...

I couldn't find a video for this song, but I love the lyrics!  He definitely has exceeded my expectations!

"Never Loved You More" by Nichole Nordeman
Well, you could take a cup and fill it up
And just keep on filling til it all comes
spilling down the sides
That's what You do in my life

Or you could watch the sky at sunrise
And see the clouds turn shades I never
knew could make me want to cry
That's what You do in my life
Never mind moderation
You exceed my expectations

I have never loved You more
'Cause You have never loved me less
Than the day before, or the day before
I have never loved You more

Have you ever tried to count the stars way up past Mars?
It will blow your mind
Don't even try to think about infinity
But that's how You love me

Much more than I can contain
A balloon once tethered to the ground,
But could not stick around to stay
Free to fly away
Never mind moderation
You exceed my expectations

I have never loved You more
'Cause You have never loved me less
Than the day before, or the day before
I have never loved You more

I have never dared to dream
Beyond what I've already seen
The day before, or the day before
I have never loved You more

Exceedingly, abundantly more

I have never loved You more
'Cause You have never loved me less
Than the day before, or the day before
I have never loved You more

I have never dared to dream
beyond what I've already see
The day before, or the day before
I have never loved you more 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Faithful Love

"Why should I gain from His reward,
I cannot give an answer.
But, this, I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom."

As most of you know, I am now in private practice with a fellow music therapist in Gulfport, MS.  I haven't yet moved (hopefully that will take place early next year, or whenever God has it in the plans...I'm learning my plans don't mean much these days, which is completely fine), so that means I get to spend a few days a week driving either down to the coast or back home.  I say "get to" because I am one of those people who actually enjoys driving.  I guess after years and years of driving at least 40 minutes one way to and from work, I have come to cherish my travel time.  I often spend this time listening to music...usually a mix of songs that I have put together.  I have a ton of playlists with music varying from rock to Christian to folk to blues to pop.  I usually end up putting songs together that are a favorite at the time or that speak to me in some way or that are pertinent to something I'm dealing with.  I develop new playlists every couple of months or so, and it is always interesting to go back a couple of years and look at the songs I was listening to.  I can pretty much tell you what was going on in my life based on the music I was listening to.  

Well, a couple of months ago I was listening to some music and came across some older songs that I had by Nichole Nordeman.  Her lyrics are so, so good.  She truly has a gift for writing.  So after finding these songs, I decided to download a couple of her albums.  I'm sure I have the CD (or possibly even cassette tape - yep, I know, I'm old) somewhere, but trying to find it between my house here and my dad's house would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.  So I decided to just download them again.  

So back to my drive to the coast this past week.  I normally select one of my playlists and then hit shuffle.  This means that I don't always get to hear all the songs in the list.  But I like the "randomness" of this because I never know what song is coming on next.  But as I have come to find in life, nothing is ever really random.  At least not when you look at it from God's perspective.  So as I was driving down Highway 49, a song came on that I had never heard before.  It's an arrangement of a modern hymn written by Stuart Townend that Nichole Nordeman did on one of her albums.  The words are beautiful and haunting and spoke so clearly to me in that moment.  Each and every lyric is powerful (I'll post them at the end), but the last verse was what struck me...

Why should I gain from His reward,
I cannot give an answer.
But, this, I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Why should I gain from HIS reward?  The past couple of months have brought many good things into my life.  Things I could never have imagined.  God took my prayers, my deepest desires and then amplified them by a million and answered in a way I still cannot explain or comprehend.  And He is STILL working!  I have been so humbled by His goodness and provision.  There are things I cannot humanly explain that have fallen into place and that continue to happen.  There are people who have been placed in my life that have brought so much joy and goodness.  There has been provision that my human mind could never have seen.  And I have done NOTHING to deserve any of it.  

But God's love is like that.  He is faithful even when I am not.  He sent His only Son to die for me, to do what I could never do for myself, to pay my ransom.  Why?  It surely isn't because I've done anything for Him.  It's not that I could ever pay enough for my soul.  It's not that I love Him faithfully.  It's not that I'm good.  Because I haven't, I can't, I don't and I'm not.  But He is and has and can and does.

People come into our life with promises of love.  Parents, friends, spouses, significant others.  And we all mean well when we promise to love someone.  And we do our best.  But it's hard.  We are selfish at times.  We get frustrated.  We choose to only see one side of a situation.  We don't listen completely.  We get tired.  And things build and build and build until there is resentment or anger or we just give up.  But we are human, and the Bible says that God remembers we are dust.  He knows that we can't fulfill any promise of unconditional least not without Him.  And we can't seek to find in another human being what can only be found in Him.  This isn't to say that our human relationships can't work and can't be successful.  But not in our own strength.  He has to be a part of it, the main part, for it to be possible.  I can't seek to find this kind of love in anyone or anything else.  That's a burden to big for any of us to bear in our frail, human frames. This kind of love can only be found in Him for He has promised, and He is faithful to His promises (Hebrews 10:23).  

See, it's nothing that I've done to earn His love.  He loves simply because He is love.  He loves because we are His children, and no matter what we could ever do, His love will never go away.  We can rest in that promise.  Isaiah 32:17-18 says, "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.  My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest."  

Undisturbed places of rest.  This doesn't mean that life will be easy.  That everyone we love will love us in return.  That life won't be hard.  That nothing bad will ever happen.  What it is saying is that God is faithful and will give us undisturbed places of rest.  This means that even when life is raging about us, we can have peace.  Undisturbed peace.  Peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).  Because we know that whatever life brings, whatever attitude we have, whatever right or wrong we do...God's love is unchanging.  It is faithful.  HE is faithful.

I have no idea what this life will bring.  I know so far it has brought loss, heartache, grief, anger, love, friendship, goodness, bad times, prosperity, lean times, favor, not being favored and everything in between.  But the constant in it all is God's faithful love.  If He loved each of us enough to send His only Son to die and suffer hell so we wouldn't have to, undeserved on our part, what will He not do for us, His children whom He has ransomed and loves?  My hope isn't in my own ability to do well or in another human being or in a circumstance or in money or in anything this life brings. We have to realize this love can only be found in Him.  My hope is in Him and Him alone.  

My prayer is that you will experience His faithful love.  I promise you that even if life gets hard, He will still be there.  I promise you He will never leave.  I promise you He will never stop loving you.  You can have love that is faithful and true.  How deep the Father's love for us...

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom