The Life Not My Own

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Exciting News…

No, I’m not preggo…but someone else is!  I’m going to be an aunt again!  Andy’s brother and his wife are expecting their first little one sometime in early Spring. 

In other news, Miles will have another Baker cousin.  Due to the very strange coincidence of my sister marrying a guy with the same first and last name as my hubby (no relation, though), all of Miles’ cousins have the last name Baker.  I sure hope my sisters and sister-in-laws get married soon and have babies, or Miles will be liable to think that everybody in the world has the same last name. :P
Here’s a pic of the latest Baker baby:

We can’t wait to meet him/her!

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Of Hymns, Drums, and True Worship

Music is something very near and dear to my heart.  As a musician, music worship is one of the single greatest ways I connect with God.  I love and crave the times when I get to sing songs of praise to the Great Lover of my soul, and I’ve experienced the whole gamut of music worship types.

Before getting married and moving to Arkansas, I attended a Conservative Southern Baptist church with my family.  We still sang mostly hymns, the choir still wore big, shoulder-padded choir robes, and quarterly business meeting/potluck were known to last for hours. 

I played my violin and sang in the choir almost every Sunday.  I even accompanied the choir on the piano for some of our bigger performances.  The music was traditional, beautiful, and very much like a performance. 
I’ve also been at churches where the music was all contemporary, loud, and emotion-driven.  I appreciate aspects of both.  I like both.

However, in the past few years, my view of what worship should be like has been shifting.  I’ve come to realize that, in truth, music worship is not about what we like or what makes us feel good or comfortable.  Music worship is about worshiping God.  Plain and simple.

Those that lead us in this area should be focused on worshiping God themselves and leading everyone else into true genuine worship.  It’s not about how great the choir is, or how well the musicians play.  All too easily, “good” music can turn into a show instead of a time of worship.  While it’s important that music be pleasant and sound good (otherwise it’s distracting in and of itself), that’s not the most important thing.  The real question should be, “Am I truly worshiping?” 

I’ve been in many “traditional” services where the hymn singing is rote and completely unemotional.  No one is truly worshiping…they are merely going through the motions and enjoying music the way it “should” be. 
Conversely, I’ve been in many “contemporary” services where the music worship is nothing more than an emotional high.  There is no true substance…no true, genuine worship.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Thankfully, I’ve also had the privilege of seeing this first hand.  I’ve watched a congregation of mostly senior adults, moved by the spirit while singing “How Great Thou Art”, stand to their feet, one older woman with her hands raised high.  You could just feel God there.  I’ve also watched as 40,000 college students worshiped honestly and genuinely to the tune of loud, beat-heavy music. 

I believe that we can worship anywhere, in any place.  We don’t have to have “contemporary” music or “traditional” hymns.  We don’t have to have a choir or select instruments.  We don’t even have to have the type of music we prefer.  All we have to have is a pure, open heart that is focused on worshiping our God, simply and fully.     

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you worship:

-Where is my heart?  Is it on adoring and thanking my King, or is it on the girl wearing the mini skirt in front of me?  Am I having a moment with just God and me, or am I thinking about how off-key someone in the choir is?

-Am I listening to the words and truly meaning them? When I’m singing “Holy, Holy, Holy”, am I thinking about every word and truly standing in awe of my God?  When I’m singing “with arms lifted high”, are my arms actually lifted high?  Am I just going through the motions, singing familiar songs?

-Does this music make me say, “Wow, that was awesome!” or “Wow, God is awesome!”?  Is the music so showy or polished that it distracts me from the meaning?  Is this music a performance or a worship experience?

-Does this music speak to my head, my emotions, or my heart?  Is this music a mere emotional experience?  Is this music pure rote memory and nothing more?  Am I actually worshiping from my heart?

While you can learn to worship anywhere, to any music, sometimes (okay, many times, sadly), you will find yourself in a church where the music is either all for show or all about tradition.  These factors may simply be too distracting to your worship experience.  I would encourage you to pray fervently about where God would have you.  While we need to follow God’s leading regardless of our personal preferences, I don’t believe that God would put you in a church where you can’t truly worship Him.  Sometimes distractions are a sign that God is leading you elsewhere.

Whatever the case, remember that the style, setting, and volume level of the music is not important.  What matters is that you can worship there.  Personally, I would rather be in a church where the music is boring, simple, and flawed with a worship leader whose goal is to lead us into worship, than in a church that’s missing the point of worship.  True music worship is not a performance…it’s a time of praising, adoring, and thanking God together with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 

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Friday, August 16, 2013

One Year

Well, my sweet little man is a whole year old.  I still have to pinch myself when I say that.  It just doesn’t seem real. 

There are days that it doesn’t even seem real that I am a mama…that I have a son. 

I never thought I’d have a son that would look so much like me.  I mean, he looks like a little boy—and he certainly acts like one—but his face, his build, his head, even many of his looks are so very like me. 

It seems fitting, really, that this little man child that came from my womb would be such a mirror for me.  It makes me think of the flaws I have that I don’t want to pass on to him.  It makes me worry that I will never know how to parent such a child.  I certainly would never have known how to parent myself.  Add to that the fact that he is very definitively all-boy, and I feel utterly lost and helpless. 

Thankfully, my God is not.  Daily I pray and ask God for wisdom.  I ask Him to show me how to raise up this little man right.  I ask Him to show me how to best lead him on the path God has for him. 

I don’t have all the answers.  Heck, I don’t have any of the answers.  But that’s okay.  My loving, gracious, amazing God does.  And that’s all I need to know.

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Being Mama

I talk about my son a lot.  He is, after all, pretty much my life.  Sometimes, however, I feel a hesitancy to talk too much about him, or about the blessing that being a mom is.
I have so many friends and relatives who have struggled with infertility or losing babies.  I know women whose hearts ache everyday for the child they were never blessed with.  In a way, I am hesitant to talk freely about motherhood because I don’t want to make their pain or their loss worse.  I don’t want to rub it in their faces that I have a beautiful, healthy son when they don’t. 
I cannot imagine the heartache that these women go through.  Losing my son is one of the greatest fears I’ve ever experienced.  Yet, at the same time, it does these beautiful, hurting women no service to not talk about my son, or portray motherhood in a negative light.  Complaining about our children or not appreciating the incredible blessing that each child is only deepens their pain.  They cannot help but wonder why a woman who is so negative on children and motherhood was blessed with a child and they were not. 
So, today, I’m sharing about the blessings of motherhood. 
It’s hard to believe that tomorrow my beautiful Miles Patrick will be one year old.  You’ve heard it before, but time really does fly…and they grow so very fast.  Each morning they seem to wake up older and smarter and more capable. 
This past year has been quite the change for me.  My days now revolve around diaper changes and nursing, nap times and story times, bouncing and holding and rocking.  Simple things, really.  And yet my days are so full and rich and deep
To be needed is to feel purpose, and that is something that I feel every moment of the day.  I feel it every time he wakes up from a nap, rubs his sleepy eyes, smiles, and reaches for me.  I feel it every time I nurse him with the wholesome, fatty milk that God provided just for him.  I feel it when he lays his head on my shoulder and picks at the mole on my chest.  I feel it when I’m going to the bathroom and he bangs on the door yelling “Ma Ma Ma” until I finally emerge.  I feel it every minute and every second.  I am needed.  I am wanted.  I am cherished.  I am loved.
And the love I feel for my little man child?  It’s hard to even describe.  It’s like there’s a hole in my heart that I never knew I had, made perfectly for him to fit into.  I would do anything for him.  I would lay my own life down for him in a heartbeat. 
Isn’t that the miracle of being a parent?  Your life was perfect and complete before this demanding little person came into your life, and now you cannot imagine your life without them.  You wouldn’t want to.  Because, as much as they need you, you need them.  You need their love and admiration.  You need the purpose they give you.  You need to feel the responsibility of this helpless little child being wholly depend on you. 
Having a child of your very own completely changes how you view and relate to God.  The despair and agony of giving up your only son is real and unthinkable.  You are all the more grateful and thankful for God’s great love and mercy unto you.  
Being Miles’ mother has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.  I cherish each moment that I get to spend with him.  I watch in wonder and awe as he grows and explores and learns.  Each time he wraps his little arms around my neck, or gives me a big open mouth “kiss”, I feel the distinct longing to stop time.  If only there was a way to capture each moment and bottle it up…to always have with me.  But there isn’t.  The moment passes and becomes a mere memory.  Yet, no sweeter memories have I ever known than those involving my son. 
I love being a mother, but most of all I love being Miles’ mother.  May I never take the incredible miracle and blessing that he is for granted.  May I never get so caught up in the day-to-day tasks and chores of life that I miss out on time spent with him.  May I never forget to be thankful for the simple, little gifts that make being a mama such an amazing blessing. 
Every day that I wake up I am thankful…because every day that I wake up I get to be Miles’ mama.       

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