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Monday, December 10, 2012

Redemption...

     Beauty from ashes.
     Only a Father who loves beyond measure can perform a miracle such as this, but my husbands life is the proof of God's redemption promise. At the passing of Paul's Nana, people gathered from California, Texas, Virginia, Utah, and Washington DC to celebrate a life of suffering, sacrifice, laughter and love.
     Hard memories were spoken aloud to children who once were small and now are not. The shelter and protection of God's presence was identified, known and praised in these places beyond our imagining.
     My Paul was one of three brothers. He lost them both, as well as his parents, in a series of tragic deaths. And when our oldest daughter told us the baby in her womb would be another boy, my husband wept.
     As we settled into bed that night, Paul squeezed my hand as his eyes filled with tears. "Do you see what God has done?" It was a moment before he could speak again. "Jude and Reed and Gideon. Three brothers. Just like Charles, and me and David. God is redeeming everything."
     I weep as I write this knowing it is true. God takes ugly things and makes them beautiful for his good purpose when we love him.  

Charles, David and Paul Payne
Jude and Reed Higerd

Jude Paul


Charles. Wonzell, Charles B. and Paul


Jude Paul Higerd


Charles, David, and Paul Payne, Ruth (Nana) Irby 


Charles Brockton Payne


Wonzell Irby Payne


Charles, David and Paul


Gideon Garrett Higerd


Paul, Charles, David, and Charles B.


Reed Philip 


Reed


Paul, Wonzell and Charles




Reed

Reed, Jude and Garrett Higerd

Reed

Jude


Gideon

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mary and Elmer, Wonzell and Charles, Pam and Paul and a Nana

     I woke up this morning at 2:15. On my mind was a certainty of of how God knits families together.  Paul's Nana will soon take her last breath and go home. She is 98. 
     Now, at 4:27 a.m., I sit in the dark in front of a fire with thoughts and memories that will not stop and so I write...
     
     Mary, my mother, is writing down her story. She is being strong and brave and she sends me pages that make me weep. My tears are of joy and of sadness. She tells of truths that have not been spoken to me before. She is doing it for me because I asked her to. I love her for it. 
     Everyone looked at my mother as if she was a movie star. I didn't know that she was broken, but, "Fragile...Handle with care" was stamped across her spirit even then. My Dad knew it, and a part of me did too. 
     God gave her four babies to love and care for and we were her life. We played, listened to records, read stories, sang, and Mother sewed. She made clothes for herself like the ones Jackie Kennedy wore, and she made Easter dresses and school clothes for my sisters and me. Ron was her first. Her only son. I was born 11 months later. Lori followed two years after me, and two years after Lori, came our baby, Kaylynn. 
     I love to dance and sing because my mother showed me the joy she got from them. I love stories because Mom didn't just read, she made books come alive. I love the way I love because my mother showed me how. 
    
      Elmer, my father, made me feel safe. I learned to trust because he was trust worthy. He left the house in a suit every morning and came home every night at 5:30 as Mom put dinner on the table. He was gentle. He was funny. He fixed skates, light switches, dryers, bikes and cars. He rescued kittens from inside walls, killed opossums, and saved feather-dyed baby chicks that had caught on fire. He showed me how to catch fireflies and he took scary out of thunderstorms. 
     He taught me to play. I played harder with my Dad than I have ever played with anyone else, and I can still feel the velvety grass he put under my feet ever summer of my childhood if I close my eyes. And boy...could my Dad laugh. It was the infectious kind. I know all little girls think their Daddy is the most handsome man on earth, but mine...Oh...mine was! His smile would light up whole room.
     
     Wonzell, Paul's mother, was born and bread a Texas beauty, but her father left their family to be with someone else and broke her heart. At sixteen she had a secret wedding to Paul's father, and Paul's brother, Charles B., was growing in her belly when she received her high school diploma. At seventeen, Wonzell was a wife and a mother. The next year Paul was born. Four years later, she had David and eight years after that, she had a baby girl who they named Charla, and their family was complete. 
     I will never know what it feels like to be in the skin of Paul's mother on that fateful day, but the decision she made changed the lives of her children forever. I grieve for all that was lost inside her room in the dark that terrible morning, and I must trust God for the things I will never know. I think about her often because she gave life to baby boy that I have shared a life with. I wonder, "Would she love me?" I never got to look into her eyes. I never got to ask her what Paul was like at three. She never got to hold our children. Paul's children. She never smelled them. She never got to know their hearts. 
     
     Charles Brockton Payne, Paul's father,  is a man I would have loved deeply. I know this just as I know that he too, would have loved me. Sometimes knowledge just comes and you know.  I see something in the eyes of the handsome man who fathered my husband when I look at pictures of him. I can't explain it better than this, but I long to sit beside him and hold his hand. I want to feel him hug me. I picture him weepy in love, just like his Paul, with anything concerning our children. He got so much taken from him that morning. So very very much. Did he see it coming? 
     
     I have spent more of my life with Paul than without him. Thirty-seven of fifty-five years. He is the most beautiful picture of a life redeemed I will ever see. And that is my gift. Paul was fifteen when his Nana gave up her life for theirs and moved from Cleburne, Texas to Oklahoma City to care for four broken children left behind. Life went on.
     At 17, Paul met a free-spirited, guitar playing, Maxi-dress wearing girl with long white hair bleached as white as snow. He thought she was beautiful. She was me. 
     We dated. We fell in love. We made plans for a life. 
     Weeks before our wedding, Charles B., Paul's older brother by one year, committed suicide. Paul's life stopped again. He was 20. This time, we planned a funeral together and after it, we married with broken hearts and began a grown up life with a 15-year old. David, Paul's younger brother, moved in with us and Nana, now full of grief and 63, took eleven-year-old Charla back to her home in Cleburne to give her the only life she knew how to give.  A few months later,  I found David locked inside his bedroom and Paul had no more brothers.  
     
     There is nothing especially unique about these peoples lives. They could be your family, but they aren't. They are mine. All of them, however, had an end to their life before it ever started because God knew every detail and breath of every single one of their days.   
     The Pam and Paul story continues to thrive with struggles and laughter and love. We began our family five years later with a beautiful precocious daughter named ReAnnon who was in charge immediately. 
     Our handsome son, Michael, too smart, too cute, and oh so charming was born to negotiate and stole my heart four years after. He still charms like no one else and always makes me laugh out loud. 
     Chandler, our stunning, free-spirited, photogenic and fiery red-head, surprised us three years later and brought new life back into Father. This one is so much like me that it that it takes my breath away.
     ReAnnon's story continues now at the leading (thank you Lord) of her husband Garrett and three precious boys. Jude is 4. Reed is a 2. And Gideon is 3 months. I have never been so much in love.  
     Gideon cooed at giggled at me this week...
     Jude and Reed happily took a spot beside me in the Higerd family Hillbilly band, but I know this will not last much longer...
     Michael is coming home for the holidays...his first trip home in almost two years. He's bringing his girlfriend Kim...
     Chandler moved back to the area from San Diego so I get to have her light and beauty much more often as she sings and dances and cuts my hair...
     And Paul? He recently came across a shoe box of love letters written between his parents while Charles was in New York City studying to be a stock broker and Wonzell was back in Cleburne with Nana.  Charles B. was four, Paul was three, and David was growing inside her belly as this shoebox became his gift.  
     Nana's body is old and tired and she is ready to go see Jesus and Paul is preparing to speak about the woman who sacrificed her life to four grandchildren...
     Life...it simply happens. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Behemoth and Leviathan... Excerpt from the Glory Road"


       In Job chapter 40, God reminds Job of his power over a creature He calls Behemoth.  I was so fascinated by this that I dug a little deeper.  After reading several commentaries on the subject of this creature, I was even more intrigued.         Some believe God was referring to what we now know as a hippo or elephant.  However, as I read God’s description carefully, I found that neither of these animals fit God’s description and so the mystery began. 
     I think God’s description sounds more like a dinosaur than anything else. Here’s another fact I found interesting.  The word, or term, “dinosaur” wasn’t invented until 200 years after the King James Bible was translated.  I think this could be significant. 
     Now in Job chapter 41 God speaks of nothing except a great creature He calls “Leviathan,” and God goes into very great details in describing it to Job.
     In Psalm 104, this mystery creature is spoken of again. 
     A whale?  A giant crocodile?  Some Bible scholars think so, but I want you to be the judge.  Here are the passages of God’s words to Job in a few different versions.
Job 41:18-22
     KJV   By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.  Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.  Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.  His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
      NLT   “When it sneezes, it flashes light!  It’s eyes are like the red of dawn.  Lightning leaps from its mouth; flames of fire flash out.  Smoke streams from its nostrils like steam from a pot heated over burning rushes.  Its breath would kindle coals, for flames shoot from its mouth.
     NIV    “Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn.  Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.  Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.  Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth.”
      ESV   “His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.  Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth.  Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.  His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth.”
Job 41:31-32
     KJV  “He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.  He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.”
      NLT  “It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.  It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair.
        NIV   “He makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of  ointment.
 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.  
        ESV     “He makes the deep boil like a pot; he makes the sea like a pot of ointment.  Behind him he leaves a
shining wake; one would think the deep to be white-haired.”

     So what do you think?  Does this creature sound like a hippo or elephant to you?  
    Not me. I'd call it a powerful, glistening, fire breathing, dawn-eyed dragon.  
     Still not convinced?  
     Earlier, I asked you to write down the animals God mentioned by name to Job in these Scriptures.  God named twelve and all twelve are real animals that walk on the earth today.  Do you think it is significant that God also mentions by name the Behemoth and Leviathan?  It is certainly a mystery why they no longer exist on earth today, but the fact that God names them along with the others, and goes into great detail describing them is significant in my book.  It sure puts a damper on the idea of these creatures being mythical or metaphor.  Can we really believe they are anything other than what God says they are?
     As for me, I’’ll be looking for the glowing white wakes of the Leviathan in the oceans of heaven because I really, really, wanna see that guy.  I just love this stuff!
     

Let me take you somewhere...Excerpt from the, "Glory Road."

     Psalm 51:6 NIV and Jeremiah 1:5. These Scriptures tell us that our spirits knew God before He knitted us inside our Mothers womb? 
    So now, knowing this fascinating fact, I ask you to indulge me and let me take you somewhere.  My imagination often tries to fill in the blanks of the great stories told  in Scripture.  So come with me for a moment and imagine what it might have been like right before God breathed life into your human spirit. 
     Imagine Him placing you, a preciously loved and perfectly made child, at the beginning of a road.  It’s not at all familiar and it’s full of things you’ve never seen and don’t understand.  God tells you that it is the road leading through your life on earth and that it ends in eternity where you’ll be back with Him forever.  
     Then you watch, as your Father, the creator of all living things, sends someone down the road ahead of you in the greatest of love.  “This is my Son,” He tells you, “of whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3: 1 Mark 1:11, 2 Peter 1:17, Luke 3:22.  “His name is Jesus.”
    You watch as this Jesus clears your path and lights your way.  He gathers up everything dark and ugly and takes it upon his back.  The pain of this is unbearable, the terrible weight of it brings the Son to his knees before the Father.
     “But I love her,” the Father says as He helps the Son back to his feet.  “Go on to the cross now.  This child is worth it.” 
     So Jesus does what his Father tells him.  A bit further down the road you see him sit and break bread at a table with twelve He loves.  Luke 22:19, Just after that, you hear his cries to the Father from a garden, Luke 22:42, Mark 14:36, and then you see his hands get hammered into a board with nails.  His blood is shed.  Your Father cries.
     The Son cries out again to the Father from the cross, Mark 15:24 and then utters, “It is finished.” John 19:28-30 Jesus had taken his last breath.     
     “Go on now.”  Your Father says as He gives you a pat.  “I have chosen your family.  They are waiting.  Your life on earth is about to begin.”
     You place your foot onto the terribly stain road and notice it is full of dark and deep ruts.  “I don’t like this road, Daddy.”  You tell him.  “These stains are ugly and those ruts will swallow me.”
     “You must go down it.”  He tells you with love.  “It is simply the way it must be.  Know too that you will leave your own ugly stain behind on this road because you have become a daughter of Eve and it is your sin nature now.  Soon, a time will come and you will turn away from me.”
     “No Daddy! Please?  Don’t make me go. I want to stay here with you?”
     “You cannot. ”  He says firmly.  “You must walk in faith and trust me.  My Glory will be everywhere so if you look for me, you will see me.  When my Son Jesus died, He saved you from death and left with you a helper, the Holy Spirit, who I sent in His name.  It will teach you and help you remember the things I have said.  John 14:16-17, John 14:26.  Study my word and ask the Holy Spirit for revelation.  Do this, and all truth you know will return.  Then you will remember know my plans for you.  Jeremiah 29:11 These are the things that will lead you back to me.”
     As you take your first small step, your Father engraves your name into the palm of His hand.  Isaiah 49:16  “I know every hair on your head,” Matthew 10:30, Luke 12:7,  “and every sparrow that falls.”  Matthew 10:29  
“So you run along now.”
  You turn around for one last look and plead.  “I’m not ready?” 
     “You are ready, sweet child.  I know every breath you take and the exact number of your days. You’ll see me at the other end of this road.”  He points to something very far away.  “It is a glorious place called eternity.”
     As you turn away.  God knits you together inside your mother’s womb.  Psalm 139:13, where you will form and grow.  Then, your Father in heaven picks up the Book of Life and places it on a table shining with gold and emeralds.  He opens it to your special chapter and looks at the topography of the road you are now on.  He records every twist and turn, your every sin and every praise.  Rev. 3:5, Rev. 20:12, Rev. 21:27  Where He finds you on a mountaintop in communion with Him, he draws a heart.  Your every thought and word has been recorded, so with his palms open and laid upon the pages of your life, He sits, and closes his eyes. 
     A tear rolls down his face.
    It is then that the Son comes alongside him and places his hand on the Fathers shoulder.  “She will find her way back to us, Father.”  He tells him.
     The Father nods his head, “I know she will.”  He pats the hand of His Son and then wipes the tear from His cheek.  “But she gets lost for quite some time and the enemy’s strongholds against this little one are great.  Her life gets very dark.”  The Father pauses and another tear falls from his eye.  “I miss her so much while she’s away.”
     “It is because your love is so great, Father.”  The Son says.  Romans 8:38-39, Lamentations 3:22-23, Psalm 103:11-12
     “And she finds her way back because of your sacrifice and grace from the cross.”  Says the Father.  Ephesians 2:8, Romans 5:8, 1John 4:16
     “I only do what I see you do.”  Jesus adds.  John 5:19
     “Yes.”  The Father stands. “I know.”   
    He embraces the Son and closes the Book of Life.  Together they walk to the doorway.  The Father smiles.  “Now my Son, what are the Angels going to sing with me today?” Zephaniah 3:17
               





       

Every picture tells a story, dont it?

I remember...

Monday, September 3, 2012

The oldest living things on earth...

     Yesterday my husband and I hiked around the Ancient Bristlecone Forest and it blew my mind.  We stood among the oldest living things on earth. The oldest living things on earth.   As I contemplated why, in my 23 years I had never had the inkling to go before now, (it's only a two hour drive from my house) I knew that it was all about God's timing. I wouldn't have seen what stood in front of me 20 years ago, or even ten.  There truly is a purpose for every season under heaven, and this was mine for these ancient trees. 
     There was something amazing about standing at the foot of something 4000 years old as Paul and I celebrated the brand new life of our third grandson Gideon just two days before.  I love how God uses things like this to reveal himself and how he uses us in each other's lives because if not for some precious friends, I would have missed this entirely.  A few weeks ago, our friend David went to finish a job at the visitor center and his wife Lisa went along for the ride.  David is a  master woodworker and put in all the counter tops and cabinetry in the new building. The next day, when Lisa posted a picture of an ancient tree, I couldn't stop thinking about it and asked Paul if he would take me so we made a date. 
      The new forest visitor center was still running on the adrenaline of the re-grand opening from the day before, (the old visitor center burned down in a fire several years ago) and the woman who greeted us sang the praises of DK Wordworks and his artistic cabinetry. After asking a few questions about the trails and the timing of the hike, Paul and I headed off.  We were told that the 4 1/2 mile loop around the Methuselah trail usually took about 3 hours if you stopped to take pictures. I saw Paul look at his watch when she said this and make new calculations.  I knew what he was thinking. These people had never put anything like me into that mathematical photo taking equation before. 
     So picture this. Me, who can't even drive home from Mammoth without stopping to photograph something, on a very narrow trail full of roots and rocks among the oldest trees on earth. This was not a trail that you could walk along and casually take pictures. The trail required my full attention, so it was one or the other. The reflection of the afternoon light on these trees captivated me and had me turning in circles and stopping at every bend in the road.  Paul was recalculating the time it would take us to get to the end before the first quarter mile. 
     I think it was right about the one mile marker that my camera froze. I'm not kidding. My brand new Iphone wouldn't close or shoot another picture. I thought perhaps the forty-seven pictures in a row or the jostling from the trail had killed it. I couldn't close the app, or turn it off.  My words, "Are you kidding me?!" brought my husband from the forty feet in front of me back to my side.  He was sympathetic and patient. I think he even felt my pain as we hadn't even entered the oldest part of the forest where Methuselah lived.  After a few minutes of panic, it finally shut down so I zipped it into my jacket pocket and moved forward behind the footsteps of my husband. In the quiet that followed, God reminded me that this ancient forest was not about me and the pictures I was taking, but about His creation and glory. Once I settled there, I somehow knew my Iphone would come back on. It did.
     We arrived in the grove of 4000 year old trees about an hour later and as we sat among them we read the amazing story of their survival. I will share some of that with you now. 
      Bristlecone Pines grow very slowly because of limited resources and short growing season. Only a thin layer of tissue (a growth ring) is added to the truck branches and roots each year. A one inch thickness of growth may take a century to accomplish. It may take 300 years to reach a height of 50 feet and they keep their needles for 30 to 40 years. This lack of forest floor litter prevents the spread of fire. These trees have been sculpted by wind, ice and extreme exposure to the elements. Their contorted shapes seem to defy nature and the exposed dead wood of these ancient trees seems to have their own color palette.  Sunshine, wind and aging all have their effect. The polished surfaces are the result of wind and ice blasting the surface for thousands of years. They may be famous because of their age, because of their ability to record climate trends. Their sensitive nature gives scientists a record of the past. Climates, droughts, severe frost, fires,and volcanic eruptions can all be recorded in these ancient pieces of wood. 
The amazing Great Basin Bristlecone Pine will continue to thrive in this harsh environment. Dolomite, climate, and dense wood all play roles in its secrets to longevity, yet there are many mysteries to solve. These oldest trees survive in the most difficult situations.  Perhaps there is a lesson in this for all of us. A lesson as old as these ancient trees.
I love this stuff! 










   



      




Saturday, July 14, 2012

Please pray for Dan Parkins!

This life of faith simply brings me to my knees. My soul cries out!
Please read about the Parkins family journey and join me in intercessory prayer. Their trials go beyond any human understanding, but Dan's story is the most beautiful testimony of God being glorified through trials that I have ever seen. Go onto his blog and read it in his own words. You don't want to miss out on what God is doing in this place. You really dont!

http://danielparkins.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/a-dark-tunnel/

www.facebook.com/Daydreams.Dan.Parkins

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mom, me, a new Mac Book, and old email, and Praise!

     I have been blessed in my own precious time with the Lord lately, but to see Him show himself to my Mom simply fills me with joy. Her life is the stuff of movies. The hard and sad, yet beautiful and redemptive kind. It is a picture of God's protection over her and His plans for her life. She is finally writing it down for me. She is telling me her story. 
     We've talked three times in the last hour and I have her permission to share her words from an email. 
     But to clarify, An email I sent to her in Nov. 2006 simply appeared in her new Mac Book. It was in a file called "Pages" where she is transferring her story. 
     Her Mac Book is new, a gift from my sister, and although Mom is probably the most techno-savvy great-grandmother around, the transition getting her story from PC to Mac has had it's challenges. I hope you are blessed and encouraged by what happened next...


  • My Mom is giving me the most amazing gift of her life story. 


  • Wow Mom! I so love this. You are a natural writer. Truth is, I'm a little jealous. I worked long and hard to learn a little of what comes so easily to some. ❤. Thank you for doing this for me.

  • Dear Pam,
  •      Just read your recent On The Glory Road post about the hymn books you found.  Beautiful, simply from God that He would show this to you now.  I enjoyed it so much.  I have been struggling with my story and spent all day yesterday and today working on it.  Thank goodness for the pages you kept sent me back, for I had no recollection of writing them.  I finally discovered  how to merge it into the original document.  
  •      A very interesting thing happened  while I was in a twit trying to figure out the MacBook way,  when suddenly, an old email from you popped up in my "Pages" which is a MacBook Doc.  
  •      I opened it, and it was dated 2006.  There were many Bible references in the email. I was stunned. Where in the world did that come from? Did you send it to me?  And if you did how did it end up in Pages?   When I came back to it later it was gone.  Was this a message from the Lord?  I have been struggling with some issues lately and when that appeared I felt peaceful, and then it disappeared.  I love you,  Mother 

     After I got this email, I called her and we talked and I wept. After two more phone conversations within that hour, she located the original 2006 email, and forwarded it back to me. 
     Mom,
     So much has happened since I Ieft. Such good news about Bill. What a blessing for you to be able to have that new hope as a birthday gift and to spend that special time with him.  God' loves you so much, Mom, and wants to give you all the desires of your heart. He wants you to walk in the joy and peace that comes with being in his presence. I will be praying for you as you begin this new journey of faith, and I am proud of your decision to take this step.  I  know that God is going to meet you there. He will bless you in your obedience, and give you all that you need. All you have to do is give him your heart and humbly ask. He created you perfectly and has great plans for you. He has given you awesome gifts, Mom, and so much life experience and wisdom that you can share with others. Just continue to listen to what God lays on your heart and He will show you what is next. I am so proud of you.  After we hung up the phone today I prayed for you and Jim and all that is going on with Lori and the kids. And appropriately, because this is what God does, the lesson in my Bible study today was a teaching about the power of praying for people using Scripture. I have done this before, and have seen God work in amazing ways. I want to leave these with you. 
  
   3 John 2 and Isaiah 41:10   I pray that Mom and Jim will enjoy good health and that all will go well with them.  Do not let Mom and Jim have fear for you are with them. Let them not be dismayed for you are their God. According to your word, Give then strength and help and hold them up in your righteous hand.

     Ephesians 1:17,18, and 19 and Phillipians 4:6-7  According to your word Lord, I ask that you give my mother the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that she may know you better and that her heart be enlightened to your calling and your glorious inheritance as your believer.  Let her not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, and with Thanksgiving, always remember to present her requests to you. And let your peace, which transcends all understanding guard her heart and mind in Christ Jesus.


     After reading my old email I sent her this one.

Mom...Wow!
     So funny....that I don't remember writing this.  I think that God want us both to know that sometimes,  when the Holy Spirit is at work, our flesh simply disappears in His presence.  But I went into my email file labeled "Mom" to find it.  There are 138 emails between us that I have saved. They start in April 2006.  This one was not there. How precious it is for me to have it back.  I am weeping. 
     God must have wanted to remind us both what He is doing. In us, with us, and through us. 
     He wants us to remember that He is the same God that parted the Red Sea and placed every star in the sky. To put a piece of paper on the floor by my bed and bless me, or place an old email into your Mac to bless you,  is nothing for our God.  
     Funny how these things still astound us though, huh? 
     I think He knew that you needed a little reminder that He is trustworthy. 
     I just love what God did today.  It is such a beautiful example of God's presence and promises.  I hope it encourages you and builds your faith. It certainly does mine. Thank you for sharing this! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"Then Sings my soul." part Two

     I knew God would have some gems for me and he did not disappoint. As I went through the index of songs, (300 total), I searched for the ones I grew up singing. My excitement grew as I found them one by one.
     Paul listened to me sing a few more stanzas of my favorites, and let me share some stories. This one made me laugh.
    The song, "A mighty fortress is our God," was written by Martin Luther. This surprised me, (not really sure why), but my smile came in the knowledge that this song was a staple in the Catholic church I grew up in. (Still smiling.) He based it on the 46th Psalm and reflects Luther's awareness of our intense struggle with Satan.  As I sang the next line to my audience of one, it carried all the passion I'd had as a child. "A bulwark never failing." Then I laughed as I realized I had absolutely no idea was a bulwark was. I don't think I ever asked anyone, maybe I did. If I did, I don't remember, so I looked it up. ("Bulwark: a wall of earth built for defense) Makes perfect sense now, right?     
     The next song that struck a deep chord in me, "Now Thank We All Our God," is based on 1Thessalonians 5:18 and Colossians 3:17. The next line says, "With heart and hands and voices." Wow, Lord. This was written by a Lutheran Pastor in 1636, and is considered one of the few but rich hymns devoted exclusively to thanking God.
     The song, "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty," was written 1826 and based on Revelation 4:8. "Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee."
     "Crown Him with many Crowns, the lamb upon his throne. Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own. Awake my soul and sing, of Him who died for thee. And hail him as thy matchless King, Through all eternity." This was written in 1851 and based on Rev. 19:12.
     "Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ the royal master, Leads against the foe, Forward into battle, See his banners go." Written in 1865 and based on 2 Chronicles 20:17.
     I will end with the song that makes me weep. I can't remember getting through it without tears. The story behind this song is great and long, so I will leave you with just one thing. In the New York Crusade of 1957, (this is the year I was born) it was sung by Bev Shea ninety-nine times, with the choir joining in the majestic refrain. "Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art! How Great thou art!
     

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Then Sings my Soul."


     I have a story to tell in spite of the fact that I owe a friend a phone call. I probably should have done that first but I know she'll understand.  The story comes about from my love of Hymns. I grew up singing them and many of them go deep in me. So deep in fact, that a few make me weep just hearing them.
     Sometimes a particular song will come into my mind and I spend the whole day singing the words I remember and them humming the tune over hoping to remember more.
     On Thurs. I walked into work and found a sack in the office with my name handwritten on the front. I grabbed it, smiling. I love surprises. Inside it were two books of old Hymns. Oh my Gosh, I love this, I thought as I opened one of the books and looked inside. It got better when I saw the what else was inside. The left side pages held the music and lyrics, on the right were the stories of how the songs came to be. Wow, I thought.  It doesn't get much better than this. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love a good story. I love reading them and I love telling them. I had just hit pay dirt. This was the most amazing gift. I couldn't stop smiling.
     There wasn't a card but I was pretty sure I recognized the writing on the bag. It was a friend that I hadn't seen in quite awhile. I knew she was back in the area and I had been thinking about her. We had talked about getting together for lunch, so I picked up the phone to call. When she didn't answer, I decided to take a chance and thank her for the books, so I left a message. In it, I went on about how much I loved Hymns and stories and what a great gift it was. I said I'd been thinking about her and hoped to get together with her soon. Before I hung up, I laughed and said something about if the books were not from her than at least I got to tell her she'd been on my heart, or something like that. Then I said goodbye.
     All afternoon I thought about the moment I'd be able to dig into the books searching for all the songs that I couldn't quite remember. I couldn't wait to read the stories. I knew God was going to have something for me in there.  When I got to my car I laid the books on the front passenger seat and glanced at them, as I began to head home.  
     Here's the crazy part. Sometime during the 40 minute drive home as I glanced at the books on the seat, I had a flashback of picking the books up in a bookstore.  I remembered seeing the piano music in them and buying them for my friend, Vernita. She is a gifted piano player and has a sing-a-long Carol party every Christmas.  I remember grabbing them at the last minute as a second thought.  Almost selfish on my part because I know I pictured a great Hymn sing-a-long, (starring me ) with Vernita behind the piano bringing the songs back to life. 
     I suddenly felt embarrassed and foolish remembering the phone message I had just left her about this great gift and remembered that she was preparing to move. I pictured her going through things and making the decision to give me back the books.  Oh Boy.
      Before I got home though, God reminded me that my excitement in receiving them was genuine and that nothing had changed other than I was feeling embarrassed and forgetful.
     God also reminded me that Vernita was a precious friend and that she would most likely laugh about this with me later.   
    I don't think I ever noticed or realized the songs stories were in the books when I gave them to her. At that moment in the gift store it had been all about the sing-a-long. At this point, God reminded me of my other friend Lisa who, like me, is a lover of old Hymns. She sings worship at church and in our small group.  I also knew that she would love reading the stories behind them. 
     I decided that I would give Lisa the books at small group on Wed. night even though one of my hands might still be clutching the pages. I told Paul to be prepared to pry it loose if necessary. 
     At home, I took the books upstairs and found all those old songs that were buried in my spirit.  I squawked with joy and sang with gusto while my gracious husband lied beside me in bed.  He smiled during the first few renditions, began to frown a bit around number seven, and then somehow, managed to fall asleep. 
     I'm still reading the stories, but God did have something very sweet for me.
     I'll share it with you tomorrow...and Vernita...I owe you another call.