I love this quote by Mary Oliver: “I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.” There is something about the unlikely combination of kindness, mischief and singing that just makes me smile. Literally, I'm smiling as I'm writing these words.
It's probably mostly the singing. I'm a sucker for singing - all kinds of singing. I love singing by myself, singing while I play the piano, singing with my family, singing along with music I'm listening to, singing in choirs, hearing other people sing in choirs, and let's be honest - hearing kids sing is just about one of my favorite things ever.
For me, imagining a life without singing would be about as strange as imagining the world without the wind. There would be nothing to move sailboats across the water or keep hot air balloons afloat. It would feel like a huge chunk of my life is missing.
Working for many years as a music teacher, I often led groups of students in activities in which singing WAS necessarily prescribed. I would like to hope that many of those experiences were meaningful or enjoyable, but I also have personally experienced other wonderful times of singing that were more spontaneous or outside of what one might consider a "prescribed" time for singing.
For example, one time when I was maybe about 12 years old, I was on a hike up a mountain with a group of people my age (along with a couple of older leaders) when we got stuck in a pretty heavy rainstorm. I think maybe we were originally planning to camp out near the top of the mountain, but I don't believe we ever quite made it to our destination. I'm pretty sure we ended up coming back down the mountain, bringing our soaking wet supplies along with us. Before we came back down, though, there must have been a period of time when we were trying to just wait it out and see if the storm would pass. We didn't really have any way to find shelter - I think we might have tried holding our sleeping bags over our heads for some semblance of protection - and it was pretty scary. But the most powerful part of this whole experience was when we started to sing the song Awesome God together.
Our God is an awesome God He reigns
From heaven above with wisdom, power and love
Our God is an awesome God
I had sung that song many times but never while being surrounded by thunder and lightning and pouring rain on the side of a mountain. In some ways it should have been terrifying but as we were singing, instead I felt a sense of incredible awe and even peace. I was experiencing God's power like never before. I'm not sure who had the idea to sing, and it definitely wasn't necessarily prescribed in that moment, but it also definitely made a mark on me.
There are so many times in life when powerful moments happen at times when they haven't been "prescribed". I recently heard one of my favorite authors, Emily P. Freeman, talk about how she believes that "books come to us when we need them the most". She went on to share that because she believes so deeply in this concept, she never takes offense when people tell her they haven't read her book yet. She figures maybe they'll read it in 10 years and that's when they'll need it.
Proverbs 25:11 says, "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken at the right time." As we walk through life, there are going to be times when we hear something or experience something and suddenly a light bulb comes on. We realize something is true in a profoundly new way. And we might wonder, how did we miss this before?
But I don't think we necessarily missed it before. Maybe it just wasn't time for us to fully get it yet.
This year our ACSD students are going to discover new things, truths that become real to them in new ways. Let's ask God to provide the right word, the right book, or even the right song, to come to them and that their hearts would be open to receiving it when it does. Let's pray too that we would be open to letting God use us to bring these things to someone else, whether it's a student, a friend, a neighbor, or maybe even someone in our own family.
Oh and the next time you find yourself inspired, don't be afraid to give singing a try, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.
Pray with me...
... Father, let the right lessons be learned at the right time in the right way for our ACSD students this year
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
... God, give each one of us - students and adults alike - hearts that are open to receiving what new things You have for us each day
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
... Lord, may ACSD be used in many ways to bring the right thing at the right time to whoever may need it
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at email@example.com.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria
To God alone be the glory