Editor’s Note: I had forgotten I had written this back in June 2013. I never posted it, and I found myself encouraged as I read it. So, this day prior to Anna’s birthday, I am going to post it. Hopefully it will be an encouragement to someone today. I will post tomorrow regarding Anna’s birthday and an update on our family. Thank you for your love and prayers!
June 14, 2013
Let me tell you about my Abby.
Abby dances around our house, singing songs she makes up on the whim. She always has. The songs may be about baby chicks (we have ten living in a cage on our back porch), delicious treats she’d like to enjoy, or how to properly wash your hands–basically whatever she is actively doing or thinking about in the moment. But usually her songs are about Jesus. They are spontaneous songs of praise. Sometimes they are light-hearted; sometimes they are deep. Sometimes they make me laugh; sometimes I am in awe.
One Sunday about three weeks ago, I was standing in the choir loft, watching Abby sing one of her favorite church songs, “Ten Thousand Reasons.” She didn’t know I was watching; for that matter, she didn’t care. I watched her close her eyes and lift her chin, remembering her audience.
I fought to keep it together. Abby hasn’t seen me sing the way she was singing–at least, not at church and not in a long time. I can get pretty emotional when I sing; I often have to fight back tears when singing a song that touches me. But I typically fight them back, not giving in to them. I’m also not one to close my eyes or lift my hands. It feels uncomfortable and unnatural for me to do that.
So that’s why I was so surprised this past Sunday, when Abby went a step further. I couldn’t see Abby from the choir loft as I had the Sunday she had her eyes closed, but after the worship service, she told me that she just felt like her arms wanted to go up while we were singing. She kept holding them down until she looked up in the choir and saw Ms. Cory, raising her hands in worship. Then she knew it was okay to do that. So up her hands went.
Innocent. Pure. Precious. Fragrant. What kind of offering must that have been as it rose to our Lord Jesus? And why can’t I worship so freely, disregarding the thoughts and opinions of others?
A couple of months ago, our minister of music asked me about singing a particular song with our choir. My voice was not in its best shape. I have terrible acid reflux–especially when I’m drinking coffee every day. And because coffee is just about the most wonderful thing to come from a bean (or any plant for that matter), and because I’m addicted, I had been drinking coffee daily. I love coffee. And I loved it before it was cool. I get off it and then I go back on. I have this love-hate relationship with it. I love it; it hates me. The acid in coffee seems to be the worst thing for my vocal chords. It weakens my voice and reduces my range. To sing that song, I knew I’d have to quit drinking coffee. So, in an effort to get my voice back, I gave up coffee (again).
My vocal chords are slowly healing. I had thought they might not because I had gone quite a while without babying my voice. It’s not one-hundred percent, but it’s better. I didn’t have a recording-contract quality voice to begin with, but I do love to sing. And if I’m going to sing a song to my Lord, I feel that I should do the best I can. The problem over the past year is that I’ve really had no song. Why give up coffee, which is the most enjoyable thing I ingest all day long, if I don’t even enjoy singing anymore?
Before Anna, I sing-songed my way through most activities with Abby and Josiah. Time to wake up? There’s a song for that. Time to eat breakfast? Let’s sing a prayer. On the way to school? There’s a song for that, too. But losing Anna just took my song away. For my children’s sake, I continued to sing many of the songs that had become tradition for them, a familiar part of their days. But my heart was rarely in it. My grief was always there, wrapping itself around that joyful core and hushing the songs that came from it.
But I believe something about seeing Abby with her eyes closed, worshiping, awakened my soul to sing. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back over the past few weeks, I realize that’s what God has been using. I have recently felt a desire to sing, teaching the kids new songs I sang as a child; they particularly like “Peace Like a River.” I sang “You Are My Sunshine” to Josiah just the other night, which I regularly sing to him. But I found myself enjoying changing the way I sang it, speeding it up, slowing it down, adding soul. Giving up the coffee definitely helped, too. Without the constant barrage of acid, my voice can once again lilt, the pitch and tone rising and falling as I direct it. Not perfectly. But it’s fun to try again–to want to try. To want to sing. To feel a song begin in my heart and flow out into my home.
I decided to post this today to speak to those of you who are in the midst of grief–grief so horrible that it steals your song. Grief so heavy that you feel that you will never sing again. Sure, you’re still experiencing moments of joy, moments of laughter and warmth. But you wonder if joy will ever again trounce through those dusty corners of your heart, throwing open windows and letting “heavenly sunlight” flood your soul. Thank God, I say yes. I say it will. I didn’t think it was possible. I didn’t think I would ever feel joy the way I had before. It’s not that the sadness is gone, or even the grief. But it seems to be losing its grip. I think God will do everything He can to help you experience that joy again. I pray you will be open to whatever He chooses to use.
For me, He used my 7-year-old daughter. Her lack of inhibition, her use of her made-for-worship body, and her awareness that Her audience is so much greater than those visible–somehow God used her worship to release the grasp grief held on my spirit. My little girl, unafraid to lift her hands in worship, reminded me that I still have something to sing about. So for today, I’m lifting my hands, too. I’m throwing open the windows and saying, “Welcome, Lord.” And who knows? Maybe Abby and I will write a song about that one day. And then maybe I’ll give up coffee (again) so that I can hit the high notes with her. Love that girl of mine!