Sunday, October 23, 2011

Safe in His Arms

I wrote this poem about a month ago and shared it at a Ladies Retreat a couple of weeks ago. I'd like to share it with you as well. My poems almost always have a story behind them.

I am in constant pain from osteo-arthritis and when I go to bed it takes a few minutes for my body to relax and the pain to ease up. But sometimes, when I wake up, I am so comfortable and on some days, before I move the pain is better and I just don't want to get up. I blame it on being a night person because I'd rather stay in bed in the morning rather than go to bed at night.

So I woke up one morning and as I lay in bed my customary 20 minutes (or more), I spent some time talking to God before I got up. I was peaceful and literally felt like I was wrapped in God's arms as we had our morning chat. I had a visual of trees blowing in a hurricane and how they bend to the ground but after the storm is over, some limbs are broken and laying on the ground but some trees pop back up, standing tall. And how without Jesus we are like the limbs on the ground broken, but with Him we make it through the storm.

The words began to come to me so after I jumped up and raced to work, I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote some of them down before I forgot. Then of course, edited and revised and edited some more. Later of course because, well, writing doesn't pay the bills and I was at work. In fact, I just edited it again.

I am praying for my friends going through storms right now which includes most of us. I have an endoscopic ultra sound on Friday for my pancreatic cyst to be checked out again. So far it's been dormant, and I am praying it still is but even better, that God decides to do a supernatural healing and it's gone! I'm not worried though, it's just a nuisance. Tuesday I had a pre-skin cancer on my face removed so now I have these giant red spots where the dermatologist burned it and some other keratosis off my face, neck and back. I have so many it's a lost cause to try to burn them all off. Although I wish he'd try even though it's painful. Now we just have to make sure the two he is concerned about are gone in a month. But you know what, still not worried because I am . . .

Safe in His Arms
By Karen Arthur

Lord, hold me tight in your loving arms,
Please keep me close, calm all my storms.
I hear your heart, as it touches mine,
Filled with your Spirit, I know all is fine.

I shout for joy, free from the pain,
The fragrance of flowers after the rain.
The darkness is past as I taste the dew,
The Lord then declares this morning is new.

Caress now the sunshine, say goodbye to the storm,
The Son of God saves and protects me from harm.
Sensing His presence, I bask in His light,
Then rest in His peace, all through the night.

Feeling God’s closeness, faithful always,
I know that He’s with me all of my days.
Like trees in a hurricane whipped by the wind,
Without Him I break, but with Him I bend.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

To Sing or Not to Sing, To Bless or Be Blessed

Sometimes, I think too much. I call it brain overload.

I sat in church the other Sunday thinking about how much I miss the choir. We no longer have a choir so only one or two people sing on the praise team. I’m not one of them. I love to sing, I’m not horrendous, but since I’ve been at our current church I’ve only sang a solo a couple of times in 11 years. Both times I was not asked, I nervously volunteered. I discovered in the past that when I don’t sing solos often, I lose confidence. My knee starts to shake so I leaned on that leg and the other starts to shake. Pretty soon, I look more like an Elvis impersonator than a solo artist. Maybe that's where he got his moves, stagefright. Nah.
I know I don’t sing as good as some people so I think maybe no one wants to hear me sing.  It probably comes from as a kid when I would attempt a song, someone always thought it funny to say, oh, please spare us. For shy insecure me, it wasn’t funny, it hurt. So I developed stage fright or an inferiority complex. Or both.
In seventh grade, my teacher gave me a nice confidence boost. I tried out for the talent show mimicking a song. She asked me to sing for her and said, you’re not bad, go ask a couple of your friends and we’ll work up an act. I became a shining star. Actually, I was a saloon girl channeling Debbie Reynolds in How the West Was Won. The memory stayed with me. It really was the most fun I ever had in grade school. Most of the time the kids teased me for being too skinny. Someone actually said I'm good enough, not bad, or maybe felt sorry for me.  Probably the latter but I prefer to pretend I'm not that bad. Our trio even tied for third place. What I lack in musical ability, I make up in drama. I love acting. I can pretend to be outgoing saloon girl that belts out a tune.

Occasionally, as I sing in church, I wonder if anyone hears me. I know my voice is okay, I hear every off key note. Mine or someone else's. Maybe that's why I'm so critical of myself.  As I sing to the Lord, thoughts run through my mind. I confess I am a little crazy. Do I sound good, is someone being blessed? Or cursed? And even if there is no choir, I should sing as if we’re one big choir. But I have to adjust my thinking many times. Because, instead of singing to God, I am too busy thinking about singing and being heard. Or not heard. And I wonder if the people around enjoy my voice, or hate it. I know, it’s such a fine line between being a blessing, annoying, or conceited. Why would I be conceited when I’m not great? So I think about these things. Stupid, I know when I should just enjoy worshipping God.

So, this particular Sunday, as my mind is distracted by thinking and (this is an ongoing process) I work on my attitude. I choose to sing to God, instead of trying to sing perfect and better or louder, I try to blend with the congregation like we're the choir. I think to myself, we may not be in the choir loft but I can sing like we are. And I want to sing to You Lord. Not whether man thinks I’m good or perfect or awful. But, I really want to praise and worship God in my imperfection. And that’s what I try do. I blend my voice with the voices behind me, beside me and I don’t sing for praise but to praise.  
When church is over, out of the blue, this sweet man in front of me turns around and says, “You have a beautiful voice.”  What a blessing I receive that day. My deepest desire is to have a beautiful voice to bless others, but instead, I sing my blessings to God with the voice I have, and then what does He do? He blesses me.

My conclusion is this, my attitude must be in line with God's will, His perfect purpose for me, so that whatever I do, I do it for the Lord, whatever my  talent, I use it for God’s glory. God can bless others through me when God is the heart of my worship.

If you want to be a blessing, bless God, and if your heart is pure and your intentions right, others will be blessed as well. And so will you.