Be Still, My Soul

I went to a funeral today. I didn’t know the man who died very well, but one of his daughters goes to my church. She is close to my age, and her dad was close to my parents’ age. I know from hearing about him from others that he was a very sweet and wonderful Christian man, and I know he is happy in the arms of Jesus right now. Yet as I sat there at the funeral, tears were streaming down my face. I could not stop thinking of my friend and how she must miss her daddy already…how much I would miss my own dad if he were suddenly gone from this earth… My thoughts were filled with the faces of people I love who have gone already, as well as those who are still here but may meet Jesus any day. And then I thought of those in my family who I am uncertain about in regards to their relationship with Christ….more tears came then.

I cannot take one day forgranted. I cannot let my loved ones pass from this life to the next without telling them of my love, and even more importantly, of Christ’s love for them. I CAN rest in the comfort of God’s Spirit within me, whispering hope and peace to my aching heart. I CAN know that Jesus sympathizes with the pain of everyone who has lost someone dear to them, because he, too, wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. And I CAN be assured of great joy in the life to come, because my Jesus conquered death and is alive. I serve a risen Savior, and all who trust in Him will one day be with Him in heaven. So, even in the midst of tears and pain, I can say, “Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side.”

“Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.”

Ka­tha­ri­na A. von Schle­gel, in Neue Samm­lung Geist­lich­er Lied­er, 1752 (Stille, meine Wille, dein Je­sus hilft sie­gen); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Jane L. Borth­wick in Hymns from the Land of Lu­ther, 1855.

Bless The Lord

Our choir at church is singing several new songs this spring, and I am so glad my husband (our music minister) chose a certain one of my new favorites, “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman. It reminds me of God’s immeasurable grace and goodness every time we sing it, no matter what kind of day I have had, and gets stuck in my head for days so that I keep being reminded again and again!

10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
By Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin

Bless the Lord, oh my soul,
Oh my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
I worship your holy name.

The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning.
It’s time to sing Your song again.
What ever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul,
Oh my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
I worship Your holy name.

You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger.
Your name is great and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
10,000 reasons for my heart to find.

Bless the Lord oh my soul,
Oh my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
I worship Your holy name.

And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come,
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
10,000 years and then forever more.

Bless The Lord oh my soul,
Oh my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
I worship Your holy name.

If you have never heard it, here’s a link to a YouTube video of the song.

I also found an article from Worship Leader magazine with an interview of Matt Redman about the writing of 10,000 Reasons that I found interesting. He sites Psalm 103 as the scripture background for this text, and that is also one of my go-to passages when I am down. It contains wonderful promises of God’s healing, protection and provision. If you need encouraged, read Psalm 103 today!

I Heart Fall!

Yes, it’s true…autumn must be my favorite season, although I love each of them in their own way. I’ve always had this nostalgic,romantic sort of feeling about fall that I cannot explain. There is something about the crisp morning air with a hint of wood smoke and dried leaves that majically transports me back to my childhood….and suddenly I am standing at the old creaky screen door, lunchbox in hand, feeling the misty morning breeze against my cheeks as I wait for my ride to school. And then I recall one of my favorite fall events growing up–the Harvest of Harmony Parade. I grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska, a true railroad town in the heart of cornhusker country. Neither a small town, nor a big city, Grand Island had its own special blend of time-honored traditions. The Parade was one of those great old traditions that I will never forget. We lived only blocks from the center of downtown, within easy walking distance of the parade route. My family and I often joined thousands of other eager parade-goers lining the sidewalks downtown, huddled in old quilts and wool blankets, sipping hot cocoa or piping apple ciider from a nearby street vendor. I can see it all now–marching bands, Shriners on tiny motorcycles, horse-drawn carriages, local beauty queens, and rosy-cheeked younsters chasing candy tossed into the  crowd. Yup, I loved it all! But even now, so many years since my last parade, I am still in love with the harvest season. And perhaps now, in the quietness and serenity of the country, I appreciate it all even more. Ripe red apples, crunching brown leaves, honking geese overhead…you just can’t beat the sights, sounds and scents of autumn! As I took my morning walk today, I was in awe of the amazing changes happening all around me. I was practically bursting with praise to our Great Creator by the time I arrived back at the house. He is so Good!

It’s Time to Wake Up!

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Do you ever get a wake-up call from God? I just did last night. Sometimes I try to ignore them…just hit the snooze alarm and go back to life as usual. But this time I have to wake up and listen to Him. See, for the past few months I’ve been praying for revival, not so much in my church or in the world around me, but actual revival in my own life. I need refreshed. I need to remember the joy of salvation. I need to refocus on the Lord. So now, when He speaks, I know I need to listen. Otherwise, revival will not come.

I’m learning that to be renewed I have to get rid of alot of old junk. If, for example, I want to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe, I would have to throw out all my old, faded, out-of-fashion clothes to make room for the new ones. I wouldn’t go buy new things only to put them in storage and keep on wearing my old grubbies! My spiritual life is the same way. If I want to go somewhere new with God, I can’t keep relying on the same old habits and daily rituals to get me there. This is tough for me. I don’t like change. I like routine. I like what’s comfortable. I like my faded jeans from college and that comfy old t-shirt. But the Lord knows that I would be much more beautiful if I put on a fresh change of clothes. And I would have to agree.

So, He’s asking me to set aside some serious “make-over” time with Him, which means that some other very time consuming things must go…like facebook, Crochetville, Ravelry, and TCS. Oh, I won’t cancel my membership or anything, and I may check in once a week just to make sure noone is trying to reach me and can’t. But I have spent too much time on unimportant activities and shallow relationships, and I’m wasting “kingdom time.” I will still occasionally blog here, but I hope my entries will be more meaningful and uplifting and not so self-promoting and lacking depth. I will still craft, but I’m not sure what direction that will take yet, whether I will keep selling or just make gifts. God and I are still talking about this issue.

Thanks, Lord, for the wake-up call. I know I needed it.

“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix out eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:1b-2a

God’s Wild World

As I write this I have all three of my precious kittens sleeping in my lap. It seems I am their favorite bed of all! If I am sitting down, they want to be in my lap or to climb up on my shoulders (which can prove rather painful at times). If I am standing up working on something, they climb up and down my legs, meowing constantly. You’d think the poor things were starved for attention or something! But at least today has been better for them than yesterday. I had to take them to the vet Monday because two were having bad diarrhea. He gave me some medicine to help, but he said not to feed them all day so it would have a chance to take effect. Then when I started them back on food yesterday, I had to feed them just a little at a time. Needless to say, the kitties were no happy with me at all. Finally, my DH came home and decided we should go ahead and feed them a full meal since they’d been diarrhea-free all day. That sure helped quiet them down for a while! So today we are back on our regular helpings of food, and everybody (including me) is much happier!

favorite bed

On a more random note, I had forgotten just how much wildlife you experience when living in the country. I have seen so many critters since we moved here! Of course we have many species of songbirds, which are lovely to watch and hear singing in the trees. Then there are the little lizards and frogs here and there, if you are lucky enough to see them. One afternoon DH and I came home to a slender green snake slithering down the rail of the deck. I was rather surprised by it, just because it’s a snake…but green snakes are perfectly harmless and eat lots of big bugs and spiders, so he is welcome here. We have seen a luna moth, which was a neat experience. They are such spectacular looking insects. They must also be tasty, because whatever creature keeps feasting on bugs on our deck at night ate it, too! (I know because the wings were left in the morning.) But this morning I got another interesting surprise when I walked past the patio doors and saw this:

Stag Beetle

It is just a large Stag Beetle, fairly common as far as I can tell, but I had never seen one in real life before. I am not a fan of big bugs, but I decided to be brave and go out to get a photo anyway. They are just another remarkable part of God’s wonderful creation, after all! It certainly reminded me what a wonderful and creative God I serve. He made something so odd looking as a stag beetle, as well as these sweet little kittens of mine. What an amazing Creator!