Sunday, September 29, 2013


I love Sundays.  I love going to church and being with my church family.  I love praising God.  Today, Bro. Billy kept saying over and over again, "Shine for Jesus."  I love those words.  I always have.   I always try to stress that with my kids at church because it sounds so simple.  Seems doable. That's the name of my blog- Just Shine. Such simplicity, but this world makes it full of complexity. I want to just shine.  I want people to see Jesus when they see me.  I've got a lot of work to do, that's for sure.  Sounds so simple, yet Satan is always lurking in the shadows trying to dim the light.  
If I had to narrow it down to my favorite things about Sunday, it would be listening to the words of the hymns as I play them and playing the offertory.  I love hymns.  The words are amazing.  Uplifting.  So true.  They always make worship real to me. The one that I really loved today was "This Is My Father's World."  The last stanza was perfect.  It was our offertory hymn, so the congregation was standing while singing, and during this time, I try to tune the piano out and just listen to the people sing and lift their voices to God.  It's truly beautiful, and it sets my heart right to play the offertory.  Their voices echoed in the church today,
 "This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one."
When I listen to them sing, it gives me chills.  I feel God in our presence.  And that's what it is all about. 
When I started playing the piano in the fourth grade, I never dreamed I'd be the church pianist one day.  I always loved playing church music best, and I'm so grateful to my mom and dad for making sure I kept my lessons up and stuck with it.  I'm even grateful to my  brother for those rides he used to give me to lessons.  He hated taking me, and some of those rides are quite unforgettable. 
I've said it before in other posts- when I play, I pray.  I pray for my sweet childhood best friend Lindsay.  As I play, I think back on all of our old times together, and I just pour out my heart to God that He will bless her.  She's the best friend a girl could ever ask for.  I pray for my brother.  I pray that God will give him the strength to be the man He wants him to be.  I pray for my mom and I thank God for her.  I pray for whomever is on my mind that day- these are just a few. 
 But since my dad died, I mostly pray for peace.  Almost everything I play is a big vision in my mind of when my dad died- how he was feeling as his heart began to hurt, when he was leaving this earth, how he was feeling upon entering Heaven, how he is feeling there now.  And I honestly have no idea- I'm just envisioning.  As the visions play in my head, they unravel as my fingers hit the keys. I never knew as a 9 year old girl starting to play the piano that one day as a 32 year old woman, God would use that to give me the greatest peace imaginable.  It's been the greatest comfort to me.  Sometimes when I play, I feel like my heart is going to stop because it's that real to me- the visions I have in my head.  I thank God for giving me this way to grieve and for giving me this way to heal. 
No one else knows or cares what is going on with me while I play; to the people, I'm just playing another song during the offertory.  But it's our time, mine and God's.  And I cherish it.  And if in the process it can help someone else out, then that's even better. 
To be who God wants me to be is challenging to say the least.  Like I said earlier, there's a lot of work to be done, that's for sure.  But He's still working on me.
"He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.
       There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,
Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part.
But I'll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad (A Few Days Late)

I wrote the post below last Tuesday night, the night before my dad's birthday.  I cried until 2 in the morning.  The grief I feel over my dad's death hasn't diminished.  I've not dealt with death very much at all.  So this death, the death of one who was so vital in my life, is hitting me hard.  I just didn't see it coming.  I know it will get better with time, but my sensitive, emotional soul has a hard time with it.  After I wrote it,  I couldn't post it right away.  To most, these are just words on a page, but to me, it's what's in my heart.  I decided to post it now because his birthday became a day of God revealing His promises to me. Wednesday, my dad's birthday, was a day of peace.  I did all my crying Tuesday, and I could just feel prayers on Wednesday.  I could feel the love of God, with His peace that surpasses all understanding.

The words that kept popping in my head all day long were, "He's sustaining me."  And He was.  Through the funny things my students kept saying, through the good conversations with my coworkers, through my friends at church, through my sweet little kids at church, through my family- through it all, He sustained me. Psalm 54:4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

I thank God for His infinite love.  His boundless love.  His unconditional love.  How blessed I am to have Him.  May I be a blessing to Him.  That's the real challenge.  Let my life be a blessing to you, Lord Jesus. 

Well, Dad, it's your day.  And I'm just going to go ahead and put it all out there.  So hang on.  I just don't know where else to start but with the truth.

Truth #1:  I'm so mad you aren't here.  So stinking mad.  I just don't understand how you could go so fast from our lives.  I miss you, Dad.  I miss you so very very much.  I'm still in absolute shock that you died.  I mean it- absolute, unbelievable shock.  I just can't believe it.  It hurts me physically to think that I can never talk to you again.  It. hurts. my. soul.

Truth #2:  I'm so sad you aren't here.  So stinking sad.  It's been almost 7 months, and I still cry about you all the time.  I can't even talk about you without crying, so I usually just don't go there.  I'm so upset about all of this.  That's why I blog.  It's a ton of bricks lifted off of me every time I blog.  I think you would like that I write about all of this.  You were a writer, and I can see you and hear you telling me to just go write about it. 

Truth 3:  You were the best dad this girl could ever ask for.  I swell up with pride when I think of you.  There could never be another that loves me the way you did.  And what a great dad you were to my brother.  What a rock you were to us.  A listener.  A protector.  A leader.  You did a good job, Dad.  We are so proud to call you ours. 

Of course, the greatest truth I'm saving for last. 

Truth #4:  You're having the best birthday of your life right now.  1 Corinthians 2:9 says, "However, as it is written:  What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived- the things God prepared for those who love Him."  You are seeing it all now, Dad. You're living it. And while my hurt hearts, yours no longer does.  Thank God for that- you're free.  You're hanging out with all the saints and angels, walking the streets of gold.  I wonder if you've made it to Noah yet.  Cohen seems to think you have.  He told me on the way home the other day that you and Noah were together in Heaven. 

I love you, Dad.  I was reading your old texts to me, and I came across one from you that says, "You know you will always own my heart."  Thank you for always sharing your words with me.  I cherish those words.

Happy birthday, Dad.  I love you.  You'll always be in my heart.

 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:  not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  John 14:27