Posts Tagged ‘God’

Despite the craziness, there was always music…

For as much as the home I grew up in was full of its own type of craziness and dysfunction (see previous post), our saving grace was music.  My parents were great music lovers, and I can barely remember a time that some kind of music was not playing in our house.  Both of my siblings played the piano beautifully (me, not so muClassical Musicch), and even though our old upright grand converted player piano was out-of-tune and permanently on sustain, the music that came out of it still rings in my heart.  My sister played everything from Chopin to show tunes.  My brother favored Beethoven. especially “Moonlight Sonata.”

One Christmas, we gave my dad a ukulele.  We all sat around, my sister on the flute, me playing maracas, and my brother on some goofy kazoo, playing Christmas carols.  Ah, family togetherness!  See what the music world missed?

I’ll never forget the year my sister bought a stereo record player for our family.  This was not a little “suitcase” record player: this was a piece of furniture, with a record player on one side, and an FM radio on the other.  It was always playing, especially at Christmas.

My dad purchased every “50 Great Classics” and  “25 Enduring Favorites” album that was sold on television, along  with the Firestone Christmas Albums that came out each year.  He loved the Mills Brothers, and the famous barbershop quartet, The Buffalo Bills.  We sang along with Mitch Miller and watched every musical variety show on TV.  Only recently did I learn that my dad conducted a community choir in the town where they lived before moving to my hometown.  He had a deep voice, similar to that of Bing Crosby…  I can’t hear “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” without thinking of my dad.

Now, my mom, while a lover of music, couldn’t carry a tune if it had handles.  I think her problem was that most songs were out of range for her low voice.  She was the victim of our teasing, but she laughed right along with us, and was ever-present at our choir concerts.

Stereo I would come home on Friday night with my latest purchase — a “45” of a top song that week — put it on the stereo and sing into the mirror holding my hairbrush as a mic.  Oh yes, I was that girl.

In my bedroom, I had an AM radio with a slim “pillow speaker” connected by a jack.  It could pickup clear-channel stations from as far away as Indiana (WOWO, Fort Wayne).  The music coming from under my pillow drowned out the arguments from downstairs.

Looking back, I believe that music was God’s gift to our family.  It brought peace, joy, and unity amidst fractured times. It brought solace and comfort.  It echos still with pleasant memories.

Surely music is one of God’s purest gifts of creation.  We use it to express our love to Him.  That’s because He first used music to express His love for us, and He has placed it deep within us.  In the book of Job, God tells us that He laid the cornerstone of the earth’s foundation, “…while the morning stars sang together.” (Job 38:7)  What would we give to hear that tune?  Do you suppose Adam and Eve did?

And in Zephaniah 3: 17, we see these beautiful words:

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (NIV)

I didn’t always know it was you singing.  But thank you, God, for the music.

(c) Copyright 2015 by Mary E. Egidio.  Permission is given to share, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.  

Dressed to Be Blessed

I have a ‘vacation shirt’.  It’s a black sleeveless polo that is as thin and soft as a well-worn hanky.  Most of the year, it lives quietly tucked away in my dresser drawer.  But my family knows I’m officially on vacation when they see Mom in that shirt.  It’s comfortable for hanging around the house or walking along the beach.

We all have certain clothes for various occasions.  They’re our church clothes, wedding attire, gardening grubbies, our favorite torn T-shirt for washing the car or the sports team sweats for watching the game.  We have that special outfit that we wear when we want to feel confident, professional, even powerful.  Don’t believe me?  Next time the President of the United States gives his State of the Union address, just count how many women in the audience are wearing a red suit!  Even the president’s tie choice is scrutinized that night.  Leaders understand the importance of dressing for success.

The prophet Isaiah had something to say about clothing, but he wasn’t talking about power suits:  “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God.  For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness…” Isaiah 61:10 a (NIV- emphasis mine)

Righteousness is a word that appears in almost every book in the Bible.  It describes both the nature of God and His desire for His children.  The Lord is described as a righteous judge.  Jesus encourages us to “seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and everything else will fall into place.”  Matthew 6:33 (paraphrase  mine)

The thought of trying to achieve that righteousness in our own power is overwhelming.  But Jeremiah, when prophesying about the coming of the Messiah, proclaims, “This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness”  Jeremiah 23:6 b (NIV)

Not only is God the Righteous, Almighty, Eternal — but because of His love for us, He sent Jesus to become Our Righteousness.  He gives us — yes, clothes us, in that same righteousness.  It’s something we can’t earn or strive for or manipulate.  Whether in my sinfulness, or when I’m struggling to achieve religious perfection, He reaches out His hand, gently wraps me in His love, and whispers, “Here, I’ve got this.”  At that point, I have only to let go and surrender to Him, and  find myself arrayed in a “robe of righteousness.”    It is both freeing and humbling to realize it is nothing I have done, but only God’s love and mercy.

That’s some wardrobe!  It’s what the “well-blessed” folk are wearing these days.  How about you?

Copyright 2011 Mary Egidio — Permission is granted to share this work, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.

Thanks for Nothing!

“Mommy, look!  Can I try it?”

My daughter was pointing at the ‘crane’ vending machine, just in sight of the check-out line.  You know the kind — filled with stuffed animals and other prizes.  For only 75 cents a try, you work the controllers that maneuver the crane to the prize you want, grab it, and toss it into the chute.   With my skill level, I could blow a whole roll of quarters and still come up empty.

“No, sweetie.  It’s doesn’t really work that easily.  We’d end up wasting a lot of money and not get anything.”

Although disappointed, she seemed to be satisfied with my answer.  That was until he showed up. He headed straight for the machine, with two kids in tow who excitedly bounced along beside him.

Good, I thought.  Thank you, God.  Now she can see firsthand what a rip-off it is, and I don’t have to spend any money.

The coins clunk into the machine, and within 5 seconds– no exaggeration –he’s dropped not one, but two toys into the chute.  I’m sure he was a professional crane operator.   As I’m dragging my daughter out of the store, I’m hearing  her saying, “But Mom, you said it was hard to do!”  At the same time, I’m looking toward the heavens, saying, “Thanks, God.  Thanks a lot!”

I laugh about the scenario now, but I also think there’s a lesson here, and it’s not about vending machines.

I can’t expect someone I don’t know to teach my child a valuable life lesson.  I can’t expect the secular world to demonstrate the values that are at the core of my Christian beliefs.  My disappointment at the outcome was the result of my own misplaced expectations — that God would use this stranger to instruct my child.  That’s my responsibility. I can’t forget that. If the lesson is that important to me, I have to teach it myself.

God, Himself, instructed the children of Israel: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)

Even though they are now adults, I can still teach my children about God’s commandments and precepts.  The lessons are too valuable to leave to chance.

Copyright 2010 Mary E. Egidio   Permission is granted to share this post, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes. (you can share it, but please tell where you found it, who wrote it, and don’t try to sell it)

What I’ve Learned from an Owl

Lately I’ve been watching the adventures of Molly, a barn owl, via live video streaming on the Internet. (see  Two warnings before you check it out… 1.  Owls are carnivores.  I’ve watched her feed a rat to her babies…not for the squeamish.  2.  It’s addictive!  Some viewers have spent months watching these owls.

A California couple erected an ‘owl box’ in their backyard and installed a number of video cameras inside and outside.  Within two weeks, a pair of barn owls, nicknamed Molly and McGee, took ownership of the new ‘digs’.  They have already hatched one set of eggs (called a clutch), and are working on the second.  Their adventures are streamed online, and their popularity has spawned songs, books, videos, and a line of assorted gifts.

At this writing, three of Molly’s most recent eggs have hatched, and we’re waiting for the fourth.  I say ‘we’ because Molly has attracted thousands of fans (called MODs — Molly Obsessive Disorder) from all over the world, who chat while watching the live stream. It was quite a celebration recently when we watched hatchling #3, named Kelly, make her way out of the egg.

Every evening Molly (and her audience) waits for a visit from McGee, who is living out of the box with the first clutch, teaching them to hunt.  She places her food order with loud squawks, and sooner or later (usually later) he shows up with some tasty treat — a rat or mole or gopher — to feed his family.  Molly shares the meal with her new hatchlings, then returns to the work of sitting on the remaining egg.

This is real life, not scripted or contrived.  God created these beautiful creatures.  It is enthralling to watch the simplicity and complexity of their lives.  The fact that thousands of people are attracted to this site speaks of its appeal. It’s pretty simple.  Their needs are basic. They hunt, they eat, they sleep, they care for their young.  Molly is a devoted mother who is dependent on her mate to provide food for the family. (Owls are monogamous) McGee is a devoted father, who is training his young brood and taking care of his spouse.  Like us, they depend on God, and He provides them with all they need to survive and thrive. Watching the owls is a good reminder of that fact.

I can’t help but think of the time Jesus was teaching his disciples while the crowds overheard: “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?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  Matthew 6: 26-27 (NIV)

Okay, God.  I’m trusting You for all I need. But I’m glad I don’t have to eat rats.

Copyright 2010 Mary E. Egidio  — You can share this with others, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes. (you can share it, but tell who wrote it, where you found it, and don’t sell it!)

Are You Growing?

When my children were little, I would sometimes eye them suspiciously and ask, in a teasing voice, “Are you growing again?”  To which my daughter would often reply, “Mommy! I’m supposed to do that!” 

It seemed that my teen-age son would go to bed at night and wake up a few inches taller in the morning.  This actually didn’t stop until after his first year in college, when he reached 6 ft 5 inches.  As he rested his chin on my head, I announced that I was going to have a ‘growth spurt’ and would be as tall as he was soon.  Obviously, that didn’t happen.  The only growing I seem to do anymore is around my waistline.

In Paul’s letters to the New Testament churches, he encourages the new Christians to grow.  He tells the Colossians, “… we pray… that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good word, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:10-12 (NIV)

Growing in the knowledge of God.   It doesn’t matter how old I am, or how long I’ve been a Christian, I always seem to have something else to learn in the God department.  And as my pastor mentioned lately, most of that growing and learning has come during the most dark and difficult days of my life.  Those are the days that I’ve had to dig deeply into His Word and learn to trust in His truth.  In uncertain times, I’ve experienced the richness of fully surrendering my will and my life into His everlasting arms.  I can point back to those days and say that was a growing time.

Hard as it might seem some days, I want to continue growing in the knowledge of God.  After all, like my daughter said, I’m supposed to do that!

Copyright 2010  Mary E. Egidio   – Permission is granted to share this writing, but only with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.  (You can share this, but tell who wrote it, where you found it, and please don’t sell it)

Hold Your Nose and Jump!

As a young teenager, I remember hot summer days when we would load up my dad’s Pontiac Catalina with friends and my brother would drive us over to Youngsville (‘Biggest Little Town on the Map!’) to go swimming.  Now, in my family, swimming usually meant driving out to Chapman Dam State Park and swimming in the lake.  But Youngsville had recently acquired something Warren didn’t have yet — a municipal pool!  And this pool had diving boards — two of them.  A diving board beat trying to dive off of Dad’s shoulders at the lake, any day.

One of the diving boards was the standard size, but the other was a ‘high dive’ — well, we all called it that.  By Olympic standards I’m sure it wasn’t the big platform dive from which competitors perform twisting, two-and-a-half whatevers.  Thinking back now, I’m guessing it was 14 feet or so.  Regardless of the height, it was a thrill to pad out to the end of that board, stare down at the water below, and jump.  Hitting the water was enough force to, shall we say, re-arrange your swimwear.  It was just fun, in a scary sort of way.

I’ve had times in my life that have felt a lot like diving off that board in Youngsville on a hot summer day.  They’ve been times of transition, times when the Lord opens a door for a new direction.  It happened when my husband was called to ministry and we moved to the mid-west to attend seminary, without seeing where we would be living.  It happened when we accepted a call to another church, after serving eleven years in our first assignment.  After we said ‘yes’ to God, and before the moving van pulled up to the new house, in between there, it felt like jumping off a high dive.  It’s an experience of faith.

You see, as long as I’m standing on the board with my toes hanging over the edge, I’m safe… because, as embarrassing as it might be, I can always go back and make my way down the ladder.  It’s not until I hold my nose and spring off with my leg muscles and become airborne that I truly exercise my faith.  I  have to believe that there is enough water in the pool for me to land safely (will God provide — be there for me in this new challenge?) and, that I will  know how to swim once I get down there (can God use and empower me to do what He’s asking?).  Because of my previous experiences with pools and swimming (faith and following God),  I know deep down that the answer to both of those questions is YES!  But I can’t learn that, I don’t fully experience it, until I let go and jump.

Hebrews chapter 11 shares lots of ‘diving board’ stories.  They’re worth reading.  Here’s one:  “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”  Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)

That’s quite a high-dive!  How about you? Are you ready to jump in?

Copyright Mary E. Egidio 2010 – Permission is granted to share this work, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.  (You can share it, but tell who wrote it, where you found it, and don’t try to sell it)

Running on Empty

It happens almost every week.  I reach into my food pantry or refrigerator for an item I plan to use in a meal, only to find that the container is empty.  Someone in my family has used the last of its contents but failed to throw it away.  What had appeared as a well-stocked cupboard was only useless packaging.

I wonder, does God ever reach for me, planning to use me in a situation, only to find that I’m an empty package?  My outward appearance may convey a promise of spirituality, but inwardly I am hollow and unusable.

In 2 Peter 1:5-8, Peter lists qualities we should be adding to our faith:  goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.  He concludes, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive.” (NIV)

How do I develop these qualities?  Unfortunately, James reminds us that many times, they are developed in us as we experience trials.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-3 (NIV)

Don’t be discouraged.  That recent temptation you overcame has increased your measure of self-control.  Dealing with that difficult family member taught you the meaning of brotherly kindness.  Rejoice!  You’re being refilled and prepared for God’s service.

Copyright 2010  Mary E. Egidio – Permission is granted to share this article, but with attribution, and not for commercial purposes.  (you can share it, but tell who wrote it and where you found it, and please don’t sell it!)