Singing to Eloise has become so much more than simply singing my baby girl to sleep. When I first started singing to her I could hardly finish a song without getting choked up by the words and the love I felt for this new little person who now belonged to me. Gratefulness would well up inside, overwhelming me and I would pause, swallow, and whisper the words until my voice returned. As time passed, however, I got to where I could finish most of the songs, although I still get choked up from time to time even now.
When I ran out of songs I could remember in my head, I asked Mom if she had any old hymnals. She had two and she brought them to me. I had so much fun looking through them and singing bits and pieces of several old favorites to Eloise. I was so excited to remember them all, I could hardly settle on one before I was drawn to another old favorite and then another and another. Not only were the words of these precious songs a balm for my tired and sometimes worried mind, turning the event of rocking Eloise to sleep into a time of devotion, but they brought so many sweet memories to the surface as well.
One minute I would be sitting in my home church, Jenks Avenue Church of Christ in Panama City, FL, the place that will always be dearest to my heart as it was the place I first REALLY believed and wanted to spend my life following Christ. I have so many dear people and sweet memories of that place and so many songs to remind me of it.
The next moment I am at Camp Wiregrass in Enterprise, AL. I was a camper and then a counselor from the 2nd grade through my college years and the songs I sing to Eloise take me to the chapel there surrounded by woods, sitting shoulder to shoulder on a hot summer morning with some of the best people in this world.
Another moment I am at the Auburn Christian Student Center sitting among 200 or so of my college peers and fellow Christians, singing at the top of our lungs to the Lord we loved. The two years I spent there were two of my all time favorite and as I sing the songs of that time, I smile down at my baby girl hoping the same wonderful college experience for her.
I even spend a few minutes in China where, to combat loneliness and culture shock I would sit in the floor of my apartment, open my "borrowed" devotional book from the Auburn Christian Student Center, and sing and sing and sing until my soul felt closer to home even as I was so far away. When my Chinese students asked me to sing, those were the songs I chose.
The words to these sweet songs make me smile because many of them are very old fashioned, but that just makes them all the more dear. Like sitting and talking with my grandfather who loved old poetry, they make me feel safe, loved, and watched over. "And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own..."
"Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all."
"Who knows your disappointments? Who hears each time you cry? Who understands your heartache? Who dries the tears from your eyes? Do you know my Jesus? Do you know my friend? Have you heard He loves you and that He will abide 'till the end?"
"How sweet to hold a newborn baby and feel the pride and joy (s)he gives, but greater still that calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because He lives. Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives."
"Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling."
"Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness: Take it to the Lord in prayer."
"Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, t'was grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home."
"Never let me wander from thee, never leave the God I love; here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above."
"My God and I go in the field together, we walk and talk as good friends should and do; we clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter, my God and I walk through the meadow's hue..."
"Love one another for love is of God, he who loves is born of God and knows God, he who does not love does not know God, for God is Love. God is Love."
And the list goes on and on and on as the words speak to my soul, warm my heart and become a prayer for the little girl in my arms. I hope she learns some of these older songs along with the the new. I hope she has so many wonderful memories with friends who love God as much as she hopefully will. I hope she chooses to follow Him all of her life, and I hope I will teach her in the way God would have me. I hope she sees how much I love Him and try to be like Christ in all I do. I fail all the time, but I won't stop trying all the same. As I sing I pray for my baby girl, this land in which she will grow, her safety. I say thank you again and again and again because I want my God to KNOW, really know how much I love this gift He has given me.
I love singing to Eloise. I don't have the best voice and I can't reach the high notes and I mix up the first and second verses of many of the songs, and I'm sure I sing off key as well. But sing on I shall because singing to Eloise is really so much more than simply singing to Eloise.