In His Time

August 26, 2015

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. It was fall of 2013, and I prayed fervently for a child. It had been my heart’s longing for months. Another year would pass before the Lord answered this prayer. By then, I had learned to wait… and my faith was strengthened.

Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. It was May of 2015, and my pregnancy had continued past my due date. Each day I wondered when our child would come, and whether it would be a boy or a girl. When our baby arrived, she was worth the wait… and I knew that her little form had been strengthened.

Today, I find inspiration from the familiar words of Isaiah 40. In those last few days of pregnancy, however, the verse I claimed was Ecclesiastes 3:11: He hath made everything beautiful in His time…. The song “In His Time,” so special to my parents, became my song, too. I played the notes, sang the words, and found the story of a busy conference speaker who wrote the lyrics decades ago. May these words bless you as you pause to listen, right where you are today.

In His time, in His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me ev’ry day,
As You’re teaching me Your way,
That You do just what You say in Your time.

In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing, in Your time.

Music Box Reverie

November 11, 2013

Music boxes remind us that there are many seasons in life, each with its own sweet song to play.

Some seasons in life overflow with bright-eyed, breathless moments. I mean those moments they write songs about, and books about, and “live, laugh, love” quotes about.

Other seasons are full of… waiting. Some days the thing I’m waiting for seems just out of reach, just around the bend. So I wind up a music box and listen expectantly. I rush to rewind the spring before the melody reaches its end. If the music box will only keep on playing, perhaps I’ll finally hear the next phrase, the next movement, the imagined crescendo.

But some days, the thing you wait for feels distant and undefined. A music box plays, but the melody is cut short. The song, like a memory, fades away.

There have been music boxes in every season of my life. A teddy bear who played Jesus Loves Me watched over my sleep when I was just a wee lass. A poised ballerina in a pink jewelry box taught me to dance to the tune of Once Upon a Dream. When I was eight years old, a soft doll with golden curls reassured me that loved ones were ever near with her rendition of It’s a Small World. (There is just one moon, and one golden sun.)

My girlhood impressions of romance were tied up in music boxes that did not belong to me. I admired a Gone with the Wind box that played Tara’s Theme. Before the San Francisco Music Box Company left our favorite mall, I would often gaze at The Phantom of the Opera musical figurines. Illusions of the human heart–and sacrifices made by noble souls–were things that mystified and intrigued me, things I did not yet understand.

In our teen years, my brother and I didn’t always have words ready at hand when the other wanted to talk. But we could always listen to the music. So we wound up the boxes that dotted my bedroom: a snowglobe with a grand piano that played Fur Elise; a school girl at her desk declaring I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing; a hand-painted wooden candy store invoking its hero The Candy Man; and later, a Tinker Bell tiptoeing across a mirror with the key to Peter Pan’s magic: You can fly, you can fly, you can fly!

One music box is still with me and out on display–a silver-colored jewelry case with its Fascination Waltz. My mom found this for me when I was newly engaged. It’s the perfect home for cherished trinkets from the last several years.

Today, I’m waiting. Perhaps you are too. You don’t know what song will enter your life tomorrow or next year. I don’t know how long this song (or the next one) will last. But I know they’ll be beautiful–your songs and mine, the loud and the soft ones, present and future. I hope we can share a few in person, but if not, write me about them. I’ll be here, listening.

Photo credit: Michael Kumm, courtesy of Creative Commons.

April Child

April 27, 2012

Have you heard the dream-like song called “April Child”? The words and melody were written for Rigoletto, part of the Feature Films for Families collection.

            Dear April child, are you dreaming of June?

            Like a tender young flower awaiting summer’s bloom.

            Sweet April child in the springtime of youth.

            What a glorious season, it is yours, let it shine through….

            Sweet April child, it’s the spring of your youth.

            Cherish these precious days, summer comes all too soon….

Like peach blossoms in springtime, childhood seems almost ethereal. We try to capture the fleeting moments, as we celebrate the bittersweet changes through cultural rites of passage. Yet, in America, so many rites of passage have been lost, and the stages of childhood have become blurred. Many families expect children to talk and dress like teenagers, whether or not the youngsters have reached a thirteenth birthday.

By the time my hair was long enough to cut and style, my family had rejected the term “teenager.” Knowing this word was a product of the mid-twentieth century, I wondered. What had our forefathers recognized as the stages of childhood?

A compelling idea took hold of my young mind when I read Hawthorne’s short story, “The Great Stone Face.” In the story, a child is raised under the shadow of a mountain that has been carved by nature with human features. Studying this noble face, the sunny child grows into a gentle boy, who in turn becomes an upright, diligent young man. I noticed the progression, recalling the title of another nineteenth century book, Elsie’s Girlhood. Perhaps, “Beautiful Girlhood” and “All American Boyhood” were not just names of Vision Forum catalogs. Perhaps they were the answers I sought.

There is much in old books to confirm my suspicions. Once upon a time, “child,” “girl” and “boy” were not interchangeable, generic terms. Children referred to infants, toddlers, and grade school sons and daughters. Fashion history and art museums reveal that ruffles and dresses were appropriate for children of both genders, for a simple reason. Childhood was the time we learned speech, reading, writing, politeness, and religion – qualities that define our humanity. The fine-tuned qualities of manliness or womanliness, and the donning of distinctive apparel, came later in life.

Admission to boyhood or girlhood marked a turning point. Do you remember how Wendy is pressed to leave the nursery before her adventure with Peter Pan? No longer numbered among the children of the house, she must follow in her mother’s footsteps to learn the arts and expectations of womanhood. For a Scriptural analogy, we need only examine Luke 2:39-52. Searching for their child, Mary and Joseph are surprised to find the boy Jesus in the temple. There Jesus sits, earnestly listening and inquiring at the feet of his elders. The time has come for the boy to go about his Father’s business.

After many years, with a well-trained mind and strength of heart, a boy may take his final step toward adulthood. He may claim the hard-earned title of young man. A girl likewise, after years of preparation, may step into her role of young woman. Youthful confidence and mature prudence characterize this stage of life. Now of marriageable age, the young man and young woman may take the solemn vow with a nod of approval from their community.

This life, today, tomorrow, next year, is a gift. I’m not nostalgic for another era, but I do believe we have much to learn from the past. Shall we resurrect customs that imprison children in nurseries and bedeck small boys in ruffled coats? Certainly not. Might we, however, reclaim a few principles about growing up, about becoming a man, about when to marry? What if our culture measured maturity by selfless behavior instead of age… what if every man had a mentor before he braved the seas of life… what if faithfulness and diligence, not college degrees and loans, were the marks of young people considering marriage? We all desire to see great men and women rise up in this land. With that worthy end in sight, we must first restore a right view of childhood.