by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro © 2014
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6 NIV)
Beginning with the gift of rain, the morning of October 15th had been as amazing and filled with “kisses” from the Lord, showing us His presence as the afternoon before. This is the way of a life dedicated to being followers of Christ as directed by the Holy Spirit. I returned to our home in awe, extoling the Lord for His incredible ways.
Back at the house the Lord was very specific in having me prepare early for departure. Normally I departed from El Dorado County in the evening after dinner, but this afternoon the Lord had me set most everything together to move into the car as soon as I got back from the special tea time in Coloma. “Pack your overnight bag now and move it to the door.” “Close the windows and lock the other doors now.” It was still hours before I expected to go run my errands. This meant when it was time to leave, I would not to have to pack up, but merely set the last items in the car and be on my way. This was unusual, but the Lord always knows what He is doing, so I obeyed.
On my mind that afternoon was when He wanted me to go to town to make the donation of the other items now in the back of my car to the hospice thrift shop. I also needed to get gas and I really wanted to get some packages in the mail. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure yet if going to the post office was on His list for me. I knew the packages needed to be mailed, but as usual my “to-do” list was greater than the time available, so I needed Him to put His order to it. His will was always better than my plan. I wanted His.
Too many times in the past I had been delayed from mailing packages when I wanted and had ended mailing them when I thought I was late only to discover when the packages arrived that the Lord had known the exact moment the recipient needed to receive them and had orchestrated my schedule to set up His timing. Thus already before lunch as I sat on the front porch working on some writing, I was asking, “Lord, am I going to the post office today? When do I need to leave for town Lord?” The questions repeated in my mind to Him over and over. He had given me as yet no sense of His answer.
Initially I had hoped perhaps October 15th would be the day I get to visit my dear friend, Grace, for the first time in a while. Since August’s cancer surgery I had been keeping more or less to myself, minimizing the need to speak while my vocal area healed. Ability to speak had improved somewhat so it sounded a bit more like me, but there was still pain while speaking and an accompanying hoarseness. Speaking was not fun. However, I missed my time with Grace. Whenever we spent time together we both left encouraged and touched by the marvelous Spirit of God. Was it the Lord’s will to spend time with her that afternoon? A quick text would prompt a response that might hold my answer.
Yes, Grace was available, but the window was brief and put me on an even tighter timeframe. Since surgery I had been too weary to ramp myself up to speed to meet time targets like that. And as the afternoon progressed and I continued to work on the writing, I felt the Lord’s certain nudge that today was not the day to meet with Grace. Today had been the day to begin the back and forth which would lead to getting together, but it would not be today. In obedience, though disappointed, I sent the text we should re-schedule another day. Sigh! Okay, Lord, You know best…
No sooner had I sent the text to Grace, my phone rang and Lori, another close, close friend who had been moved by the Lord to Florida a few years ago was calling. Family obligations made it difficult for us to have phone time, so when I saw her number coming through I picked up the phone to answer, even though in general I was still avoiding phone calls until my voice healed fully.
Oh, my goodness we only get one or two good phone calls per year!!! This was a gift which I could not have received had I been on the schedule to try to see Grace. I felt like it was a reward for obeying. I felt as if God had known. (Duh!) Lori and I were able to talk, share and pray for about an hour. Pure bliss!
After our conversation I continued writing. The afternoon had been kissed with seemingly slow moving time and gentle breezes while I worked on a document for my French exchange sister, Hope, to help her in her quest to draw closer to God. It was already over 20 pages in length. I had been working on it for well over a week. However, by mid-afternoon it was clear I would not be able to finish writing her all that was on my heart. She was leaving the next morning (Paris time) for 3 weeks away from her farm wife responsibilities at a special program for healing for her back. While there she might have more focused time pursuing God. I had wanted to complete this for her. But now it looked like I would simply have to email her what I had and trust God it would be enough. (He had never failed to provide enough to meet the need that He knew was there. What He knew was needed, often differed from what I thought was needed. I had to let it go.)
Meanwhile, I had continued to ask the Lord, which errands I was to run and when I was to depart. Running errands at some point was not optional. The bags of clothes and little household items left in the back of my car after giving away the chair definitely had to be dropped off at the donation center before it closed at 6pm. There remained the question of the post office. With me ready to ship were the belated birthday gift for our German exchange daughter, Sonja, and a gift for Hope’s daughter in France who was expecting. I really wanted to get these on their way! The post office closed at 5pm and had no automated after-hours shipping option. The document for Hope needed to be emailed before 7pm in order to have a chance for it to arrive for her in France in time for her to print it off to take with her while she was gone. I had no internet connectivity where I was, so needed to drive into town where I could send the email. I continued to bask in the late autumn afternoon warmth and press in to write for as long as the Lord allowed.
All of a sudden the prompt from the Lord came. “Now. Move now.”
All day He had been getting me ready so I could leave quickly. I thought the prompt was to get to the post office before they closed at 5pm prior to running to the donation center, send the email to Hope and get on the road. I did not want to get caught in any remnant of the evening Valley commute, but I also did not want to get arrive where I was going too late. I wanted to get there in time to spend time online chatting (typing since my voice is not yet up to par) with one of our daughters.
Immediately I hopped up, pulled together my computer and other tools to assist with writing and loaded them into the car. Next I put in the overnight bag. The only items left to load were two canvas bags in which I carry work in progress. They seem to go everywhere with me because there is always plenty which remains undone yet for me personally (and not always to God) has an urgency to be completed. One held binders of old journals and emails to review for possible incorporation into the book manuscript I am also working on. The other held items I intended to ship to others as gifts from Eagles Nest Foundation, but first I needed to write the individual cards which would go with each. I hauled the bags back and forth each week with me wherever I went in the hopes the Lord would provide the time and words to take care of these. The contents of the gift bag constantly changed as some items got shipped and new requests for Eagles Nest shipments came in and waited to be fulfilled.
I grabbed the first canvas bag filled with journals, reached for the second and stopped. There on the top of the second bag covering the gifts to be sent was an all-too-familiar roll of night sky fabric which made up the current top layer in the canvas bag. It was broad and loosely rolled in order to provide padding so that the beautiful china Christmas angel clad in a blue dress studded with golden stars and carrying a bell would not break.
On my, really? Was I really going to put the bag with this fabric, angel and all the little accompanying Christmas ornaments which went with it back in the car yet again? Was the task related to them to remain once again undone? My heart felt a little sick. But I didn’t know what else to do. I had no idea where to start.
The Lord had blessed me richly during this time of vocal healing where it hurt to speak and I could not sing at all by setting up circumstances so that there was still a CD project of His new worship songs which would be released during this time. The previous year in August, I had begun working with once again with Mike at The Creation Lab, Mark and Brandon to produce a second album of Christmas songs. Like CHRISTMAS WORSHIP released November 2010, this was to be an album focused on releasing new songs with which to worship the Lord in light of Jesus’ birth at Christmas (and what this means to us today).
I have always loved the Christmas season. I have always loved singing Christmas carols. As a child after Thanksgiving dinner with my family at my aunt and uncle’s, I would sometimes forgo the special movie running in the living room to stay in the kitchen with my mother, uncle and several others to sing the first Christmas carols of the season using the little music books of songs given away at that time by the Texaco gas station where we usually filled our tank.
In 2006 Grace and I had been invited to lead December worship at a property in Elk Grove, CA, which the owners dedicated to events which honored the Lord and helped bring hope and healing to others. We decided to use Christmas carols with which to worship. However, as I rummaged through my favorite book at home of over 150 carols from around the world, it struck me how few had lyrics which actually worshiped the Lord in light of His birth. Oh, make no mistake, the songs were beautiful! And oh how beautifully many of them told the story of Jesus! The lyrics were evangelizing! If we really listened to what we were singing, we were singing the good news of Jesus! However, few if any of the songs actually adored the Lord, addressing Him personally. A few called to adore such as, “Oh, come all ye faithful….oh, come let us adore Him.” But there were not many which actually worshiped. That year I heard the Lord whisper to my heart He wanted to be worshiped at Christmas. I was to listen for new songs. I had already composed and recorded one, “A Baby’s Cry” as the final song on the ASCEND IN WORSHIP album. Yet, the Lord was letting me know He was not done. He wanted more.
In autumn 2009, He nudged me strongly that the time was “now” and indeed it worked out that in the days before Christmas we were able to gather at The Creation Lab in Turlock and begin the recording process for CHRISTMAS WORSHIP. The recording experience was truly out of this world. As we worked there were actually times I saw angels dancing in the studio with joy that the project to honor our Lord was underway. The presence of His Spirit so overwhelming at times I almost could not keep singing and indeed the sense of joy, at least for me, was profound. CHRISTMAS WORSHIP contained 7 new Christmas worship songs for those who wanted to adore Him at Christmas (and go deeper in their relationship with Him contemplating the true meaning of Christmas), along with 4 traditional carols with newly inspired arrangements done by Mike and Mark so that the album had a traditional Christmas “feel”. (New songs don’t cause us to “feel” like Christmas until they are no longer new but known and used regularly during the Christmas season.)
In May 2013 after the RESURRECTION JOY album of new worship songs for the season of the Lord’s resurrection, spanning through the week of His passion and death, to the resurrection and on to Pentecost was out, the Lord nudged me strongly to book The Creation Lab with Michael Everett to begin a second Christmas worship project in August. In May, during a June trip to Europe for the wedding of Hope’s daughter in France and throughout the month of July when our exchange daughter, Sonja, from Germany was here, I listened for the new songs He wanted released. One was written in the attic of Hope’s French farmhouse several mornings after the wedding. Another dropped into my mind while lying down for a nap upstairs in the Mannheim bedroom of Annemarie, the daughter of my German exchange sister Ingeborg. Several of these were written in El Dorado County.
One of these seemed to be only part of a song. Perhaps a chorus? I had woken up with the lyrics and catchy melody:
Christmas bells call to worship You, to leave all behind for You’re worthy
Bells declare and celebrate You came and Jesus You are coming again.
I liked it. I knew it was from the Lord. I knew it was for this album. However, no matter how long I sat with it, the Lord did not provide anything close to what could be considered a melody for the verses. I took it to the studio anyway, along with a series of chords the musicians might use to create music for verses which I would then write later. (God was always faithful to provide what I eventually needed.)
When we gathered at The Creation Lab in Turlock in August to begin, the recording process was beautiful. As usual before arranging or recording there was prayer and the presence of the Lord palpably with us. The songs came together as usual far more beautifully than I could ever imagine. The Spirit kept whispering to me to savor the sweetness of every moment. I did. It was three very special days!
On the third day as I brought forward “Christmas Bells Call To Worship”, Mike proposed an arrangement where what the Lord had given me become the whole song, by repeating what I had but escalating the music higher and higher each time it was sung, resting in an instrumental section then bringing the song back down to the key where it started. The lyrics could stay the same or change somewhat. What Mike “heard” felt right. It sounded right, so we proceeded to begin recording it in this way.
On August 14th—the third day at the studio as Mike created the “Christmas Bells Call To Worship” arrangement and interiorly I celebrated what the Lord was allowing me to be part of at the studio, I simultaneously was remembering and thanking God for my dear friend and long-time prayer partner Andrea. It was so cool that on that particular day we were both walking out our separate God assignments. She had been the one who had led Lori and Nicole at our Bible study that February day in 2004 to lay hands on me and pray I would begin “hearing” new worship songs from heaven, which the Lord wanted released on the earth. Andrea had a call on her life to function in governmental circles for the Lord. Thus on August 14, 2013 while I was in the studio beginning the recording process for new Christmas worship songs and she was at the California state capitol doing her God assignment lawfully speaking out against an ungodly bill proposed for passage in the California state legislature, it was something to celebrate and for which to thank God.
That night, the Lord visited Andrea and gave her an assignment to worship Him at Christmas at the California state capitol. Similar to Psalm 100 which says we enter His courts with praise, the Lord told her to enter the highest “courts” in California (the courts of the seat of government) with Christmas carol worship. In response He would bring a righteous leader. It was the most profound encounter with the Lord she had ever had.
She called me the next morning, August 15th when we were both local to each other again so we could meet. As we talked, prayed, worshiped to some of my brand new Christmas songs and prayed some more, the Lord gave us a picture of what Carols At The Capitol was to be. Not just for California, we could “see” Christmas carol sing-a-long gatherings all around the country every second Saturday in December. Eventually it would be in all 50 states with a large event at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. and perhaps in other countries as well. It would be a national or even international day of worship, not unlike the National Day of Prayer in the USA which since it was signed into being by President Truman in 1952 was held on the first Thursday every May and participated in by millions annually across the United States. It would begin with California, God-willing in December 2013. How our hearts soared! Our Lord had the best ideas! –welcoming Him into our society and government by singing Christmas carols in unity. Praise You, Lord!
As planning for the inaugural 2013 ensued, Andrea felt led for the first event to be opened by a sign of unity between different streams of Christianity. At her request both the Roman Catholic Blessed Sacrament Cathedral and Presbyterian Church adjacent to the state capitol in Sacramento agreed to toll their bells, calling the people to worship in unison exactly as the event began. Yes, Carols At The Capitol was about calling the people to worship with Christmas carol sing-a-longs. I remembered the unique song we had begun to record in the studio the same day Andrea had been at the state capitol: “Christmas Bells Call To Worship”. Andrea listened to it, too. This would be the Carols At The Capitol theme song.
Now, the seeming press was on. Originally Mike and I had planned to have over a year to complete the recording process of the 12 songs for the second Christmas worship CD. In light of the establishment of Carols At The Capitol it seemed it would be ideal not only to complete the song “Christmas Bells Call To Worship” for the inaugural event, but the remainder of the album as well. How wonderful it would be to have this CD to hand out that day! Mike and I worked and worked on it as much as possible all September and the beginning of October, however, we were unable to finish. Only the song for “Christmas Bells Call To Worship” for Carols At The Capitol was completed.
As usual what God enabled turned out to be enough. The song was premiered at the beginning and end of the inaugural Carols At The Capitol, held Saturday, December 14, 2013 on the western steps of the California state capitol in Sacramento.
In the months of preparation for this momentous occasion, the Lord brought many alongside to help and to pray and added one member to the core team, Maryal Boumann, Director of Pray California. In November 2013 we prepared for our single all-day planning session. The Lord led me to acquire a special gift for Andrea, Maryal and myself to commemorate the inaugural 2013 California event. I scanned the internet seeking what the Lord had in mind. He led me to angel Christmas tree ornaments, which were actually bells under their skirts. The two for Andrea and me had blue star-studded dresses and carried bells and the one for Maryal carried a trumpet to honor Maryal’s active, broad involvement in shofar ministry.
This year in 2014 Carols At The Capitol was quickly spreading to other states with the first international event to be held in Australia. Both Andrea and I were diagnosed with different types of cancer (she on January 14th and I on July 14th). Recovery from surgery to treat my cancer unexpectedly made it so I could not sing. However, in the week before surgery because Mike and I had already done so much of the work the fall 2013 on the upcoming Christmas worship album, all I had to do was record 20 or so harmonies and my part on the project was done.
Now in mid-October I was waiting for the call from Mike that this project called, CHRISTMAS BELLS CALL TO WORSHIP, was ready to go to manufacture. As a part of this process I would have to turn in the exact text I wanted printed on the CD case, within the lyric booklet and on the CD itself. In addition, I would need to give any input I had regarding graphic design to the designer at the manufacturer. Well, already in August or so the Lord had begun to give me pictures of what the CD case was supposed to look like. There was to be a starlit night sky background with the ceramic angel bell holding the golden bell featured on the front. The angel was not supposed to be either at the bottom or the top of the image, but somewhere in the middle.
This meant I was going to have to create these photos! How much easier it seemed it would be to get full value for the flat fee charged for graphic design by just instructing the designer to do something with angels, bells and stars. But the image the Lord kept placing in my mind was quite specific. I had even gone to our local Hobby Lobby the middle of September on a morning when I felt the Holy Spirit nudge and He had led me to purchase very specific Christmas ornaments which would make up additional artwork for lyric booklet. Added to this had been a trip to the local fabric shop, where He had led me to pick up several different fabrics which could serve as a potential background to the angel and ornaments in the photographs. Included in these was a Van Gogh like night sky fabric covered with swirls and twinkling stars.
But this is where my abilities stopped. I had no idea how to create these photographs. For weeks I carried the ornaments and the ceramic angel wrapped in the night sky fabric (praying it would not break!) back and forth in the canvas bags everywhere I went. I was waiting on the Lord’s timing to shoot these photographs. I was waiting for the Lord to tell me how to do it!
I had no clue. I pondered how to set the photos up. How was I supposed to get the angel to look like she was in the middle? If I hung her in some way as the ornament that she was, it wasn’t going to look the way I saw in my mind. If I hung the fabric as background and set her in front of it then she would be on the ground. Unless….well maybe if I set up the fabric to hang on a wall and then set a basket or box upside down and draped the remaining fabric over it in front of it, then I could set the angel on top of the covered basket. But that seemed like it would leave a line where the fabric had been folded to bring it out from the wall to cover the basket bottom and drape over the basket side, trying to create that image of the angel in the center. Oh, I could not figure it out! I asked and asked the Lord how to do it. Even more overwhelming was the idea of lighting. How was I supposed to handle that?!? I didn’t know the first thing about setting up lighting (and I had no lights to set up!) Back and forth I carried everything in the canvas bag, hoping and hoping for His answer.
Time was running out—actually to me it seemed it had run out. If the CD was to be ready by Christmas, I was going to hear from Mike shortly. I had reached a point where either these photos needed to be taken as I thought the Lord wanted them to be or I needed to acquiesce and simply let the graphic designer do whatever he or she thought best for the project.
Now here again was that canvas bag with the carefully wrapped angel bell on top and ornaments underneath. Everything was ready except I didn’t know how to do it. Oh, Lord, am I really going to haul this bag back the other direction again one more time without completing the task. Really???
Then came the unexpected prompt. “Take the pictures now.”
What, Lord? What? But how? I don’t…..
There was not even time to get out my complaint. He drew my eyes to the counter in the kitchen next to where I was standing which included the stove. The kitchen had been designed so that one looked at the small back garden while cooking. Directly to the cook’s back was the sink in the middle of additional counters. The entire wall behind the sink was a broad window which faced west. The late afternoon sun was shining through this window in an unusual way. The sunlight was indirect instead of piercingly direct because of the remaining light cloud cover from the morning’s rainstorm. The Lord had me notice for the first time how perfect the counter next to the stove was for trying to set up these pictures. Behind this counter was a second raised counter so people could sit on barstools chat and eat. This raised back was the perfect place over which to drape the fabric. The fabric could then fold forward to cover the counter and the angel could set upon it. Maybe, just maybe this would give the illusion that the angel was not on the ground, but somehow suspended in the middle like the picture the Lord had given me in my mind for the cover. But what about the lighting?
I set up the fabric and placed the angel bell upon it and snapped a few sample photos with my inexpensive camera. I was stunned at the result. The lighting coming through the window was such that it caused both the angel and fabric to be aglow in such a way that the stars literally sparkled. It was as if the scene came alive! Tears of joy, amazement and thanksgiving slipped down my cheeks as I snapped photo after photo of the angel, then one by one of the various ornaments exactly as the Spirit led. Within forty minutes I was done, the sun had faded and the moment was over. Oh My Lord and My God. I am stunned and in awe!!! You made it so simple, so easy. All that needless thinking about how to take care of this! There are no words, just bowed-down, reverential praise. Thank You, Lord. Thank You. Thank You, Lord. Oh Lord, how I love these photos You have enabled! They will make this album so beautiful!!! T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U!!!
I re-packed the second canvas bag and re-grabbed the first and dashed for the car. It was about 5:30pm. The post office was obviously now out of the question. Clearly it had not been His plan for the day, though it had been my desire. The reason He had had me get ready early and the reason He had told me to “move now” had been for the sake of the photos. Oh, Lord, what a gift!!!
All goods were dropped off at the donation center around 5:50pm–just in time. Next I drove to where there would be internet connectivity. However, before I could open my computer and set up to send the email to Hope, I received a text from Mike at The Creation Lab letting me know the songs should be ready to go by the middle of the next week. By then I would need all graphics, instructions and text ready to go, too. Well, now it would be ready, wouldn’t it? Wow, God, wow! Really??? Again, You amaze me with Your amazing timing!!! A texting conversation ensued regarding getting a copy of the songs to me once completed, so I could review for final sound and song order.
Another text arrived. It was from my sister. We were working on arranging a birthday lunch with our mother for two days later. We communicated back and forth a bit, too.
I opened my computer and sent the email to Hope. In France it would be about an hour before she was getting up to go.
I turned off the computer and readied for my drive. It was not too late, but it was later than I would have wanted. Yet, I had not known the Lord was going to provide the magnificent photos, which was soooo worth the time! A miraculous gift! It was late enough there would be no traffic. That was past. And besides the miracle of the photos, there was the blessing of not being on the road yet when Mike and my sister’s texts arrived so I could respond.
I put on worship music and began my 2 hour drive. There should still be time to chat via typing on Skype with my daughter online tonight, too. As the almost finished versions of the CHRISTMAS BELLS CALL TO WORSHIP songs played while I drove, suddenly Scripture verses for each song began dropping into my head. Except for the intro and acknowledgements, this was the last piece needed to completion of the text to accompany the CD. On every CD album in the booklet, the Lord had me place a Scripture with each song. This project was to be no different, but for months whenever I asked the Lord to show which Scripture He wanted my mind had stayed a blank. Once again, here in His perfect timing—rarely early, but never late—He was providing the perfect Scripture. In His perfect timing, it was suddenly easy—the answers simply there.
Thanksgiving burst forth from my heart the for entire drive. What an extraordinary day! It was one more day where what could be considered ordinary was made extraordinary by the care and perfect, perfect provision of our supernatural, loving God, who is ALWAYS in the details.
NUGGETS OF GOD’s WISDOMGod’s Wisdom is more precious than gold. This blog by Elizabeth Fulgaro helps readers discover God’s way versus the world’s one “nugget” at a time. http://www.ascendinworship.wordpress.com www.eaglesnestfoundation.org
Christmas is coming. For new original worship music with which to usher in this blessed season and stay focused on Christ, visit the CDBaby link below. “Christmas Worship” is available now. “Christmas Bells Call to Worship” will be available the beginning of December. For more information about Carols At The Capitol and attending or hosting an event in your area visit http://www.carolsatthecapitol.com
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org Worship music audio clips can be found at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro and on itunes.
Elizabeth is the Founder of Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support & encouragement to military and military families as well as those in physical and emotional battles (such as cancer, long-term illness) as well as those grieving a loss. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org