Sandra Turley » Inspirational Singer, Speaker, Wife and Mom

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Writing Your Psalm

My brain simply does not retain scripture. I can sing hymns to you, but ask me to recite a favorite scripture and I suddenly lose all confidence and wish I could hide behind a curtain. Our brains are wired differently when it comes to retention of God’s scripture. Regardless of our ability, I take comfort that our hearts have profound capacity to feel God’s love when we purposefully engage with His word.

One place I do feel comfortable in the scriptures is in the book of Psalms — and not surprisingly, because Psalm means “a sacred song or hymn.” The poetic words of the Psalms have a musical rhythm that sings to my soul. I love that the Psalms are generally used in scripture to praise God!

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. —Psalms 30:12

The same type of musical phrasing is found in Luke 1:46,

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior

This section of scripture, verses 46-55 inclusive, is often referred to as “Mary’s Psalm.” At the time of this sacred song of praise, Mary had conversed with angels — real angels! — Surely this was a time for Mary to sing praises to heaven!

As I studied Mary’s Psalm earlier this year, I wondered what my Psalm would look like. What would “Sandra’s Psalm” sound like? So I took pen to paper to draft my Psalm. Here’s how I started…

FIRST — GRATITUDE: I followed Mary’s example in pouring out my gratitude for this omniscient Father that she and I have in common. I thought of how I know Him and then I thought of how He knows me. Despite any struggles in our home, it is always simple to see the ways God is present in my life. He is everywhere. That is undeniable. He is in my children, in my wandering thoughts, in my talents, in all creation. IDEA: Write your list of gratitude to God and see how this quickly generates content for your own Psalm.

SECOND – STRUCTURE: It felt comfortable to phrase my Psalm in lines of four, in a sort of free verse poem. It has been many-a-year since my high school poetry class, but I remember the power of using our senses to describe our feelings. And thus my Psalm took shape as I started to explore how I sense God in my life. “I see You…” “I hear You…” “I feel You…” “I sense You…” Then I took the gratitude list and started filling in the lines of each stanza. IDEA: Find a writing structure that feels natural to you. Like a rhyming or non-rhyming poem, a short story, a stream of thought, an acrostic, a love letter, a prayer, etc. It need not be polished or perfect, just words of praise coming straight from your heart and pieced together in a way only you can fully understand.

THIRD – GETTING OVER FEAR: Does the exercise of writing a Psalm sound a little silly to you? Would you feel funny actually putting pen to paper and giving it a try? This is not a high school writing assignment. You won’t get a grade. But maybe you could gain something far greater — deeper respect, connection and love for your Father. Sometimes we feel that we have nothing to offer the Lord in words, but if we jump over that fear for even a moment, He has much more to offer us. CHALLENGE: Write your Psalm. Feel your heart engage with God. Will you give it a try? Share your Psalm with us if you wish, or keep it locked away in your heart. Just sing your Psalm to God.

“Sandra’s Psalm”

I see You in my home ~
In my children’s eyes: In his dimple, In their golden hair.
You are clearly in my husband’s goodness and strength.
You lead our family forward and we follow.

I hear You in my thoughts ~
Ever wandering but always returning back to You
And the greatness of Your plan – Your eternity.
All thoughts circle back to Heaven and perspective clears.

I feel You in my soul ~
Even a celestial part of my mortal being
Knows that I am Yours and will forever be
Important to You, though I am one of so many.

I sense You in my song –
You gift me a voice when no other sound will do
Consecrating a talent to share your love seems nary enough
And yet, ’tis all You ask ~ I will give ~ I will sing.

Omnipotent and omniscient ~
I am a minute part of Your grand creation,
Yet I know the worth of my soul is everything to You.
Heavenly, My Father ~ You are Heavenly indeed.

This Psalm is different than the Psalm I would have written 10 years ago and is different than what I will write 10 years hence. But the love I felt for my Heavenly Father as I poured my words onto paper and spent time crafting a poem of love for Him was immeasurable. It was an exercise of praise. An exercise of giving. An exercise of honoring and exploring my understanding of God in my life. We can and should boldly sing praise to our God, whether it be in poetic writing, in oral testimony, or in every day being. For just like Mary, our souls “magnify the Lord” and we must sing of Him forevermore.

But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.  —Psalm 59:16