In the opening verse of Psalm 103, we find these words:
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
I can recall my first Sunday as worship leader after finding out that I was with child. It was Sunday, September 4, 2011. I was standing at the lectern in the pulpit, with tears welling up in my eyes as I sang, Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Unbeknownst to anyone in the congregation, except my husband and my mother, there was something new within me—someone new within me.
Fast forward twenty-odd weeks...
This Scripture, and the refrain that we sing, still moves me. When I sing it, it is an invitation to our daughter to praise God. And praise God, she does. There are times when she is still and then there are the times when she is quite active in my womb. She wakes early and goes to bed late (daytime napping is surely the cause). She gets happy about three minutes after I take a bite of food. Sometimes she plays just because. And she praises God. I know, you're wondering how I know this; On Christmas morning, during our second worship service, she had been still until one of our ministers of music began to sing Richard Smallwood's "Total Praise." As he sweetly sang, Lord, I will lift mine eyes to the hills... she began to move. By the time he got to You are the Source of my strength... I could tell I was experiencing/witnessing/feeling an all out praise party. As he sang, I lift my hand in total praise to You... I knew that she was lifting her tiny hands in praise to Almighty God. Her movement was so intense that I could not stand. And if you know me, you know that I am a worshipper and rarely do you catch me sitting down during service. But I sat, and gave her room to praise God in her own way. Some weeks later, at a home going service for one of our former members, just before the eulogy was preached, a woman sang "Total Praise" and little lady—who had been still for at least two hours—began to worship God.
Though we have progressed, there are still thoughts that a woman's rightful place is to be barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen. And though we have progressed, there are still those who do not believe that women are called to preach. What joy it brings me to know that I am not leading worship alone. How awesome is it that our little girl has not only informed my creative process in preaching, but also that she is present when I stand to declare, What thus saith the Lord. I count it a privilege to be barefoot and preaching and in the pulpit. More than that, I am humbled and excited and anxious to raise a daughter who knows God, loves God, and trusts God as the Source of her strength and the Strength of her life.
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