When Evie was a newborn, tired and crying and less than pleased with the new world she had entered, I sang to her.
I would wrap her up snug and secure in the baby wrap, do a goofy looking combination of walking and bouncing all around our tiny garage apartment and sing my heart out with my terrible, terrible voice.
I sang Ella Fitzgerald's "Summertime" and Michael Bublé's rendition of "Sway" and made-up songs that usually consisted of Evie's name repeated over and over again in different melodies.
But my most favorite song to sing to her was "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman. I love the first few lines the most:
"The sun comes up. It's a new day dawning. It's time to sing Your song again.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes."
Back then I was doing a lot of singing. I like to think that it soothed my very unhappy little Evie at least a little bit, and I know that it definitely helped me fend off insanity.
With my new little one, things are a little different. She's more content, so the need to soothe with song doesn't always cross my mind. Life is more hectic, so the desire to calm with sweet lyrics gets a bit suffocated by the constant wrangling of a toddler and the never finished to-do list.
I'm finding it harder to want to sing- with my voice to my children but also with my soul to my God.
I've been thinking about these Matt Redman lyrics for a bit the past couple days, and I've honestly been wondering how one goes about successfully waking up singing God's song and wondering even more how one goes about carrying the tune throughout the day until night comes and the song breaks only when it's time to sleep.
How is this possible when life contains so much static and white noise and off beats and wrong notes? When there are too little hours of sleep and temper tantrums and wet Cheerios that have dried out and adhered themselves to the floor under the table. When there are dreams that have yet to come true and too short naps and the same thing every day.
What does it even mean to be singing to God all day?
When the Bible mentions singing or songs, which it does (a lot), joy is right there with all the tunage that is going down.
"My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed." -Psalm 71:23
"For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song." -Isaiah 51:3
So I think the secret to managing to still be singing by 10:30pm (my supposed bedtime) after the littles are finally all asleep, is to manage to hold onto joy throughout the day. But joy is pesky sometimes and likes to hide from me.
I also noticed that this singing joyously is often done aloud, with a shout, with a voice. Maybe as I strive keep my song of joy going, I need to verbalize all there is in my day to be joyful for, to be thankful for. When Evie is using her imagination and having her Peppa Pig figurine family hug one another, I can praise and encourage her in that love she is spreading. When I notice something beautiful as we go about our day, such as the sun shining brilliantly through a rainstorm, I can say a quick thank you to God and tell Evie, "Look! Look how beautiful it is outside! Come and see!" When my husband does something sweet without me having to ask, such as waking up earlier than he is used to to take care of the girls when he knows I've had a rough night of sleep, I can tell him how much that meant to me. I can carry the chords and notes of His song through the words I speak out into my days.
Sometimes certain songs are not appropriate for certain times. Somehow, it doesn't seem quite appropriate to bust out Pharrell Williams' "Happy" when perhaps you are at your wit's end with your toddler who just ran her free little spirit out into the parking lot. Again. And so I believe that the song God has for us to sing may change throughout the day, as well. It seems daunting to be singing "Ode to Joy" boisterously nonstop on into the night. That seems pretty much impossible.
But maybe the song we sing to God is actually soft in some parts and only contains a few simple words in others. Maybe it's choppy in the morning and a bit sharp in the afternoon and maybe it comes out sounding a bit desperate while we hold our breath and try not to react in anger. Maybe it calms us when we sing grace over the shortcomings of those we love. Or when we sing forgiveness over yet another spill of a non-water beverage on the couch. Or when we sing thankfulness, whether it's over the swing set outside or the sweet words of an encouraging friend.
"But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress." -Psalm 59:16
In the days of our distress and our joy and our success and our failure, God is there with us and so is His song. And so it may sound extremely ridiculous but I think in order to keep singing until evening comes, we need to keep singing. No matter how similar to a hot mess our song might sound, we keep belting it out in our terrible voices or our scratchy voices or our too high voices or our too low voices. We keep trusting and digging for that joy and learning to be thankful.
And I have faith that over time, our weak and broken song will begin to sound like something new.
It will begin to sound a lot like His.
"He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." -Psalm 40:3