Bekah's Heart, Music, transition

Follow You Anywhere

It was a Monday night. I was at a young adult worship night at a local church when I first heard the words of this song, a prayer to God:

“You make it easy to love You
You are good and You are kind
You bring joy into my life
You make it easy to trust You
You have never left my side
You’ve been faithful every time”

I was singing along but the prayer in my brain was not quite on board. The situation I was in forced me to wrestle more than agree:

“God you don’t really make it easy to love and trust you. Actually, it’s really hard. Yes, you bring joy and are trustworthy, but ‘easy’??? Definitely not the word I would have chosen if I was writing this song.”

What annoyed me more was that a lot of the rest of song was truly the cry of my heart that night:

“All I want is You
Jesus, all I want is You

You are the refuge I run to
You are the fire that leads me through the night
I’ll follow You anywhere
There’s a million reasons to trust You
Nothing to fear for You are by my side
I’ll follow You anywhere”

I awoke at 4am with these words on my heart, praying through a situation I had brought before God a million times before, but yet again was burdened by. There WERE a million reasons to trust God (and that’s not hyperbole!) So I placed this situation back in God’s hands and chose trust, honestly crying out that I’d follow His lead wherever that took me.

Little did I know that God about 12 hours later I would get a phone call that would dramatically change my life. God was indeed preparing my heart to trust and follow and it had nothing to do with what I was praying about.


Fast forward nearly 6 months. I now live in a different state, learning a new career, sitting in an unfamiliar church pew wondering when and where and how I’ll find the kind of community and connection I left behind in Buffalo. This “church-shopping-as-a-church-worker” thing is still a bit foreign, yet I’m thankful for opportunities to rest and be renewed on Sunday mornings soaking in God’s Word without distraction. As the first lyrics of the first song came out of the speakers and then my mouth, the tears fell instantly from my eyes:

“You make it easy to love You
You are good and You are kind
You bring joy into my life
You make it easy to trust You
You have never left my side
You’ve been faithful every time

I’ll follow you anywhere”

It feels like this song has become an anthem in this season. An anthem I never really wanted. A prayer I still am not 100% sure about. A cry of trust and dependence on the faithfulness of God. Literally 6 months ago the life I get up and live each day now wasn’t even on my radar. Who knew that “anywhere” would mean the cornfields of Nebraska?

God. God knew.

I’m not sure it will ever be “easy” to trust God, but what I found comforting on this Sunday morning in looking back is that there are no regrets. I’m realizing that there never are when we’re following God. God knows exactly where “anywhere” for each of us is and has a million blessings in that place. Making the decision to say “yes” when God asks us to follow Him actually IS of the easiest decisions of life. (Despite the many hard things that come along with those decisions.) It’s easy because His track record is 100%. It’s easy because He is faithful, always. It’s easy because of the way He protects and provides along the journey.

And so I guess my prayer remains:

“Wherever You lead me
Whatever it costs me
All I want is You
Jesus, all I want is You

I’ll follow You anywhere.”

I’ll follow You into this week to love on the people you put in my path.

I’ll follow You when it’s lonely and I miss my friends and family in NY.

I’ll follow You into interactions with my teammates.

I’ll follow You into tough conversations or joyful celebrations with my students.

I’ll follow You with my eyes wide open for the joys and blessings You have waiting along the way.

“There’s a million reasons to trust You
Nothing to fear for You are by my side
I’ll follow You anywhere
Follow You anywhere”

Lent, Music

Blissfully Unaware – Giving Up Worry

I recently joined the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and have truly enjoyed singing in an ensemble regularly again. One of the pieces we’re doing at our concert this Sunday is a 3-movement piece by Bernstein featuring a collection of Psalms sung in Hebrew. No matter what order we rehearse the movements in, the second one is the one that always plays over and over in my head for days after a rehearsal.  

A soloist and the women start by singing the well-known Psalm 23, when suddenly they are interrupted by the men singing Psalm 2.  We go from peaceful sheep in green pastures by still waters to “why do the nations rage?!?” with quite a different tone. Part of the way into the men’s psalm, the women come back in recounting the Lord as their Shepherd again over the top of the chaos described in Psalm 2.  While the words are powerful (especially when you look at them in English together), it suddenly meant so much more when I saw the musical markings as the women come back in. Typically the music may say something like “fast and crisp” or “bright sound.”  In this section we are instructed by the composer to come in singing “blissfully unaware of threat“. (You can listen to this movement here performed by the Taipei City Symphony.)

In my mind, this musical note isn’t suggesting being naive about the danger, but rather, of remembering in Whose arms you rest as the “nations rage”. A sheep doesn’t spend all of it’s days freaking out about the potential dangers around them, and even if they do, there is absolutely nothing they could do on their own to protect themselves from the things that might attack them.  They have to depend on their shepherd.  

The same is true for us. 

  
So today in my Lenten journey, I give up worry. I give up freaking out about things over which I have no control. I give up wondering when things will happen in my life.  I give up worrying about our own “raging nations” in the world today. I give up unproductive concern for loved ones.  Worrying about things doesn’t make any potential threat go away. 

Instead as the troubles come, I pray that I can simply rest content in my Shepherd’s arms… that I find myself blissfully unaware… abiding in His love. 

Adonai r-oi, (The Lord, My Shepherd), even when I walk through the valleys of life, may I do so without fear, because I can trust that You are with me.  Help me today, give up my worry and replace it with trust. No matter what is going on around me or what happens in this life, may I rest secure knowing that I will dwell in Your house, forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

  

31 Days to Just Write, Music, Prayer

Forever Faithful {just write – day 11}

Some of my favorite prayers come in the form of songs. Here’s a new one I recently discovered on a run (thanks Spotify radio!)

Forever Faithful

I see the battle raging
waging war against my soul
My heart and flesh are weary Jesus
So here’s my prayer, oh Lord

I wanna be faithful no matter what
I wanna be stronger not giving up
and even in the fire let me be found
forever faithful

When darkness comes against me I won’t run
I will stand upon the rock of Your great love
Though thousands fall around me I will hold my head up high
cause the promise of Your presence is enough, is enough

Create in me a brand new heart
God give me faith to overcome
Fill me with strength when I have none

Words and music written by: Travis Ryan, Holly Starr, Scott Cash
Holly Starr Publishing (admin by Fun Attic Music) (SESAC)
McTyeire Music (Admin by Music Services) (BMI)
© Integrity Worship Music/Travis Ryan Music/ASCAP (adm worldwide at CaptiolCMGPublishing.com excluding the UK which is adm by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family)
First Trinity, Music, Prayer

God’s Word is AMAZING! – Week 2 Memory Verse Song

God’s Word is truly AMAZING!  As I shared in the children’s sermon this morning, there are many things that amaze me about God’s Word, but the thing that amazes me the most is its power to change our lives.  I loved Pastor’s sermon today that outlined just 7 of the MANY ways God’s Word changes us.

Our memory verse for this week is a simple but POWERFUL prayer in which we ask God to show us those wonderful things in His Word.

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. (Psalm 119:18)

To help us memorize this verse, I bring you week 2’s memory verse song.  In addition to a normal recording below, you’ll find a recording of First Trinity’s choir leading the congregation in singing this beautiful verse in today’s traditional worship service.  I pray these songs help us all hide God’s Word in our hearts.

You can find and/or downloard all the songs throughout the series here.

First Trinity, God-Sighting Saturday, Music

Scripture and Song… So Beautiful Together! [God Sighting Saturday]

I am so excited for the 40 Days in the Word study that’s starting THIS week at First Trinity!  Our first sermon in the series was last weekend and the first of the classes started about 20 minutes ago in another part of the building.  I am already seeing God doing amazing things in this for our congregation and can’t wait to see all the ways He shows up in the next 40 days.

One aspect of the study is memorizing a Bible passage each week.  It’s important for us to hide God’s Word in our heart so that it’s there when we need it.  However, some people feel as if they don’t have the skill to do that.  While they are short verses and it would be easy to just tell people to get over the fear and just DO it, I thought of ways that may help people.  I love music and one of my favorite ways (and one of the easiest ways for me) to hide God’s Word in my heart is when it’s put to music.  So, I decided to compose a song with each week’s memory verse so that I could hide it in my heart and if I’m already doing that much, why not share it with others?  So here it is!  Week 1’s memory verse put to music:

(If you’re viewing this in a blog reader of some kind, you may have to actually go to my blog website to listen to the song.)

I had a lot of fun with this first one.  I especially found myself thinking about this week’s method of studying Scripture which is the “pronounce it” method.  In this practice you emphasize and then reflect on each major word in the passage to ponder what that specific word tells you about the passage as a whole.  Through repetition, dynamics, and melody, this emphasis on each word is easy to do through music and I had fun trying to bring out each word in a different way throughout the song. Obviously these songs are going to be short and repetitive because I want to stick with what’s written, but I hope that in the long run, that helps… that these songs get stuck in our heads and we find ourselves singing them throughout the day reminding us of God’s Word and it’s place in our life.  I am also excited about the fact that I may have gotten a few others to join in the composing process for the 6 weeks ahead!  (If you want in, let me know!)

Enjoy and keep your eyes open… God’s going to do great things in the next 40 days! Feel free to share what you’re learning about this verse or God’s Word in general in the comments section.

31 Days of Imperfection, Music

“As Is” {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 10}

What a great reminder… God takes us ‘as is’!

AS IS

by Peder Eide
Moses was a stutterer
David was a murderer
Jeremiah suicidal
Naked in the street
Paul, he had a problem
The specifics left unsaid
Timothy had stomach-aches
And Lazarus was dead

Samson was a long-haired
Arrogant womanizer
Rahab was scarlet corded
Lady of the street
John the baptist eatin’
bugs and honey on his bread
Gideon a scaredy cat
And Lazarus was dead

 

As is
As is
He chooses us as is
As His
As His
Infuses us as His
With never ending
Love transcending
All our weakness
No excuses
He uses us as is

 

Noah was a drunk man
Abraham an old man
Jacob was a liar man
Leah second best
Jonah should have followed God
But ran away instead
Martha was a worrywart
And Lazarus was dead

(chorus)

Jesus said to stay awake
They went to bed instead
Peter turned and ran away
Jesus hung and bled

As is
As is
He chooses us as is
As His
As His
Infuses us as His

With never ending
Love transcending
All our weaknesses

No excuses
He uses us
No excuses
He chooses us
No excuses
He uses us
As is

31 Days of Imperfection, Music

What if? {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 7}

I found myself at the kitchen sink last night, finally giving in and doing the dishes that had been staring at me all night long.

Music always makes cleaning more exciting, but in breaking out itunes for a little inspiration, I never expected it might break me. Not in a bad way, but more in the “I think God just punched me in the gut” kind of way. If it hadn’t been for that “revelation” earlier in the day the one about fake imperfection and living in God’s dreams for us rather than the expectations of the world (yea, this one) I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought.  itunes confirmed that I had heard the song before, but as these words came out of the computer, I think they bypassed my ears and went straight to my heart:

What if you lived like you were loved?

What if you did all the things Your heart’s dreaming of?

What if you sang your song at the top of your lungs?

What if you lived…

Like you were loved?

It struck me…  that’s all I’ve been called to do:

To live loved.

And yet, I complicate each day with so many other things.  The question never was, never is, and never will be, “What if I were loved?”  Because WE ARE LOVED.

Yet, we make it the question as we compare ourselves to others…”What if I were like her? then would I be loved?”
We make it the question when we seek approval, we long to be noticed, “What if I wear this outfit or do my hair that way? Then would I be loved?” 
We make it the question when we long for more, “What if I got that new toy or what if I made a little more money?  Maybe THEN I’d feel loved.”

And we forget that WE ARE LOVED! In forgetting that, we struggle to live out the dreams God has for us, we struggle to sing the unique song he’s created our lives to sing.

Dream for a minute, just what might life look like if we truly lived loved?

What kind of chances would you be taking?

What sort of difference could you make?

Would you let go of the secrets that you’ve been keeping,

If love was your shield and strength?

What are you waiting for?

There’ll never be, never be a better time.

No one could love you more than He who gave His life

Join me today in answering these questions.  In the comments below, in conversations with your family and friends, in your journal… wherever… answer the questions and then ask God to give you grace to understand YOU ARE LOVED and strength to live like it!

What if you lived like you were loved?

What if you did all the things Your heart’s dreaming of?

What if you sang your song at the top of your lungs?

What if you lived…

Like you were loved?

(What If? by Scott Krippayne)