I don't go for my walk with noise being pumped into my ears any more. I used to listen to talk radio or a praise tape, but I am trying to practice being quiet these days (at least for some portion of the day). It is a good thing, this quiet. It gives the Lord a chance to get a word in edge-wise.
There is another benefit to walking without artificial noise. All the while I have been absorbed in listening to other things there has been a praise choir singing, and I haven't heard it until now. It isn't a perfect song, in fact it's comprised of lots of different melodies and rhythms. But it is beautiful. Sometimes I can't even see the "singers". I just hear them - a variety of little birds singing their hearts out.
Other animals make noise with purpose - a dog barking in alarm, a cat meowing for dinner - but it seems to me that the birds are singing just for the sheer joy of it. It may be a beautiful sunny day or a day like today - muggy and overcast - and still they sing. I wonder if it they know a little secret.
Some time ago I was faced with a very difficult circumstance. I was so overwhelmed I didn't even know how to pray. I opened my Bible to the place where I had left off, asking the Lord to show me how to pray in this situation, and verse after verse talked of praising the Lord. With a heavy heart I began, and in time I felt that peace that passes understanding filling my soul.
Praise - singing to the Creator for the sheer joy of it. How it ministers to the heart and blesses the heart of the One who loves us so very much.
"Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious. Say to God, 'How awesome are Thy works!...' All the earth will worshp Thee and will sing praises to Thy name." Psalm 66: 1-4
The Alamo. I love to visit this little Mission. No matter how many times we come I always get inspired by the story.
Jane and the tour guide. He gave a really wonderfully inspired talk about the battle of the Alamo.
The garden behind the Alamo. It is a lovely, tranquil place.
I have, of course, done this post completely backwards. I meant to write first and add pictures later. However..... I don't want to mess with it because the minute I do I will lose all the pictures (I speak from bitter experience). So please bear with me. One of these days I will acutally become skilled at this.
Just a brief post to share a bit of what we've been doing the past couple of days. My Mom and Dad have a friend visiting from Huddersfield, England. We went to pick her up at the airport tuesday night, and as my Dad is still recovering from his slight stroke, my husband and I have been designated "official tour guides".
Today we visited the Alamo and the Riverwalk. Then Jane wanted to buy a pair of real Texas cowboy (or cowgirl as the case may be) boots and a cowgirl hat. So after lunch at the Riverwalk (Texas bar-b-que) we headed to the "World's Largest Western Store" - Sheppler's. She found a beautiful pair of boots, a stunning hat and various other Texas accoutrements.
Tomorrow we're taking her to ride a horse! She is so excited. I plan on cheering her on from the fence.
As the saying goes, I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as quickly as I could. I have a deep love for this place. There is a warmth and sense of something very special here. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it just feels like home.
Father, I am so thankful for:
- answered prayer. You have been so faithful to hear the cry of our hearts and answer with such lovingkindness.
- for Your living word. When I needed to know You were there, You gave me a verse that spoke so perfectly to my situation. How I thank You.
- for the joy of singing during the Easter services at our church. The power of the message and the music was simply life-changing.
- for the return of spring - a confimation of your faithfulness. I love to see the flowers poking their heads out of the ground and the fresh green color of new leaves on the trees. The birds are singing their little hearts out and all things are being made new.
- for family; for the love we share and the memories and experiences that bind us together.
You will find many more grateful hearts at Sting My Heart - Iris' blog.
We have just arrived at our team tent. That's Todd on the left, our daughter Lisa, and my husband Steve.
We all wore bandanas that Todd had signed. Lisa is getting Dad all "tied up" and ready to go.
And we're off!! That's Todd in the middle pushing the stroller. He set a very brisk pace!
Three miles later we are approaching the finish line. There were people lined up on either side cheering us on. It was somehow very emotional.
Here is Todd with his youngest daughter Hannah. She actually walked for a little while but decided the stroller was a much better way to go.
Our local grocery store chain HEB provided nourishment for us at the end of the walk - delicious sausage tacos. Todd, Lisa, Steve and Sarah (Todd's wife) all chowing down.
It was a really good experience. The love and support our family received from Todd's co-workers was just heart-warming. They are a sweet group of people. As are all of you - thank you again from all of us.
On this day, over two thousand years ago, the perfect Son of God hung on a cross suspended between heaven and earth. Darkness covered the earth that day from noon until three o’clock in the afternoon. All the forces of hell were gathered there in a vain attempt to thwart heaven’s plan.
The rest of this post is here today - at Laced With Grace. Please join me there on this very holy day.
I want to wish all of you a Blessed and Happy Easter. Easter services begin at our church tomorrow evening - and we will be busy from then until sunday. I am so excited to take part in the Easter program. I'll see you on monday.
It is a gloomy day today. Dark clouds are moving swiftly across the sky with occasional breaks of sunshine. Periodically the rain pours down and the wind whips through the branches of the live oak trees, scattering leaves across the lawn. It seems, to me, appropriate weather for the days leading up to Good Friday.
I think often about Jesus – about what He must have been feeling in those days – but for some reason this year I have been thinking more about The Father and what He must have been feeling. Perhaps it is because of the difficult diagnosis my son has had recently and knowing how my own heart aches for him. Whatever the reason, I find my thoughts going to the Father who would soon watch His Son suffer untold agony.
I remember another father who must also have suffered similar feelings hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Abraham, a giant of the faith, one day heard the Lord say, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” As I read the words I cannot help but notice how the description of Isaac becomes more and more intimate – “…your son, your ONLY son, WHOM YOU LOVE….” (Emphasis mine). God knew how deeply Abraham loved his son, and in the end He spared that precious boy providing a ram to be sacrificed in his place.
From before the foundation of the world God knew the day would come when His son, His only son, whom He loved, would become the sacrifice for the sin of the world. I wonder what their conversations must have been like as the time approached for Jesus to step into history. Did the Father’s heart ache as He watched His Son, knowing what the future held? We aren’t privileged to know those things. There are times, though, when the Father gives us a glimpse of His heart. At Jesus’ baptism He says: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” - A Father looking with such love on His only Son that He couldn’t keep silent. And then on the Mount of Transfiguration once again: “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!”
My thoughts take me to the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus’ agonized prayer, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.” It is difficult to comprehend the depth of love God has for us that He would not spare this beloved, perfect Son. There are no recorded words in reply to Jesus’ plea, just as we don’t know what Abraham said to Isaac as he tied him to the altar. We can know, however, how the hearts of both fathers must have cried out in pain.
I can never adequately thank Jesus for what He has done for me. He has taken the punishment I rightly deserve. He has made a way back to the Father for me – clothed me in His righteousness – and given me a hope for eternity. And I can truly never thank a Holy God who loved me, and you, enough to send His son, His beloved Son whom He loves, to save us from our sins. We have a Father who loves us more than we can comprehend. He spared not His own Son, so that you and I might have eternal life. What love.
"He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name."
Instead of making a New Year's resolution this year, I felt the Lord pressing this verse into my heart. He has also emphasized the word "path". He has a specific way He wants me to walk. For a long time He has been teaching me, ever so gently and patiently, about surrender and trust. It has been a life-long lesson that suddenly became the focus of my life when I found myself in the midst of circumstances I could never have imagined. I knew in those moments that my struggle to always keep my life (and the lives of my loved ones) under my control was absolutely futile. I had to make a decision to either surrender to despair or surrender to the Lord. Little by little I released my clenched fists and gingerly placed my hands in His. The resulting peace was both surprising and life-changing.
Now I find that the Father is asking me to not only surrender my circumstances to Him but to follow Him on the path that He has chosen for my life - with no assurances of what I may encounter along the way. Since the beginning of the year when that verse just burned into my heart, He has confirmed His plan over and over again. Just the other day, in my Bible Study book I'm using ("Walking by Faith") the author, Jennifer Rothschild had written:
"On our journey of faith, we struggle with the same tension. It's hard to let go of our desire to be in charge, but the life of faith requires us to trust the Lord completely and not our own clever convictions. Learning to release control and willingly follow is essential for traveling the path (There's my word!)God has chosen for us."
I don't know where this path of my life is leading. I do, however, finally understand that I am not the one in the lead. I have dreams and desires I want so much to see fulfilled. My Father has dreams and desires for me as well. I pray that mine will begin to align with His so that the plan He has for my life (a plan to prosper me) will come to fruition. He knows me even better than I know myself; He knows my heart; He knows the way in which I should go. I'm trying, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to follow.
The approaching Easter season always makes me more mindful of the huge debt of thanks I owe to Jesus. It seems so inadequate when I write the words. He gave His life that I might have eternal life. He bore the punishment of my sins so that I would never have to. He clothes me in His righteousness, for I have none of my own. He gives me hope - no matter what my circumstances. He bears my burdens. He sends His spirit to fill me - bringing comfort, peace, joy, love, gentlenes, goodness, kindness,patience, self-control. He has made possible the forgiveness of sins I commit in spite of all He has done for me - those willful, rebellious, selfish acts that make me cringe when I see them for what they are.
I realize anew what He suffered that I might have all of those things. My sins alone were enough to cause Him great anguish as He hung on that cross, and He loves me any way. Those things that I so easily dismiss as "little" sins, those habits that don't seem so terribly bad - all adding to the weight of the burden He bore. How can I ever thank Him enough?
Thank You, Father, for sending Your beloved Son to die for my sins. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for choosing to come - knowing the path You would have to walk. I wonder if You didn't sometimes look at the mess humanity had created and struggle with whether it was worth it all. I don't think You did. You saw, You knew, and You chose to come. There is no greater love - and I thank You with all my heart.
For many more Thankful Thursday posts please visit Iris' blog - Sting My Heart.
We arrived home sunday night as much needed raindrops began to fall. They are fell in abundance yesterday, and we are so thankful. We have prayed for rain, and the Lord has sent water to our thirsty land.
The sun is shining today; it is a "diamond" of a day - clear blue skies,everything looking clean, fresh an sparkling. The little rose bush I thought might not come back is sporting a new garment of tiny green leaves - fulfilling the promise of spring. It is a glorious time of year.
We had a wonderful weekend. It is a joy to spend time with our family. We rode bikes, went to our grandson's first little league game, played games, went to church together - and just generally enjoyed being together. I never take for granted the blessing of God's grace in our family. It is like a precious thread that runs through our lives, drawing us together and to Him. I am so thankful Father.
Only one more piano lesson before we take a bit of a break (a couple of weeks off for Easter and Spring Break). Choir rehersals in abundance as we prepare for the Easter services. There is an air of expectancy.
Today my Dad has his appointment with the neurologist. He is hoping to get all his questions answered. He still has the numbness on his left side and is hoping it will eventually subside. His spirits are a bit low these days. It is difficult to adjust to dramatic changes in our lives. My Mom's bronchitis is about gone. Several days ago she could barely talk, but she sounds so much better now.
So....that about brings you up to date on the goings on in my little world. One little "funny" for you. In church this sunday we sang "Days of Elijah". There is a part in the middle of the song that repeats the wonderful refrain "There's no God like Jehovah." When we got home from church, my husband was outside with our little granddaughter Grace. She began singing in her loudest voice, "There's no job like Behovah!" Papa tried to gently correct her, but she just looked at him in a way that said "It really is too bad you don't have it right Papa." and continued singing - "THERE'S NO JOB LIKE BEHOVAH!" She's a hoot.
Speaking of time going too quickly...I simply don't know where the hours in my day go. One would think that with an empty next I would have more time on my hands than I know what to do with. It just isn't so. I find myself apologizing once again for my lack of leaving comments. I really am trying to read and keep up as best I can. I don't know what the answer is, but family needs and other things are rather pressing right now.
On monday you will find me here - at Laced With Grace. I would be humbly honored if you would join me there. I send each of you much love, prayers, and wishes for a blessed weekend.
We walked together (for the most part)- with Todd leading the way. He set a brisk pace, pushing little Hannah in the stroller as he went. We all managed to finish the entire walk. It was encouraging to see how many people were there to support those suffering from this dibilitating disease. There were people carrying little babies, pushing toddlers in strollers, and so many people with dogs. I loved the dogs - made me long to have one again. As we approached the finish line they announced each group by name, and there were people lined up on either side of the road yelling and cheering and applauding. It was so heart-warming.
The best part is they raised quite a bit of money for research. It is our prayer that very soon they will find something to cure this disease - and so many others that devestate people's lives. Thank you all so much for your support with prayers and gifts. I love you guys.
Now....I took lots and lots of pictures, none of which I can post right now. My sweet daughter-in-law's camera battery died after about two pictures - so we sort of shared. She has my memory stick right now because she wanted to use some of the pictures for my grandaughter's school project. I promise that as soon as I get it back I will post lots of pictures - because, really, I think I got some pretty good shots for a change.
The "Phantom of the Opera" was all I dreamed it would be. The music, the sets, the actors.....absolutely fantastic!! I could see it over and over again.
I must run. Time to practice (piano lessons today), and we must get to the polls and cast our votes. Exciting times here in Texas! We're praying for God's best for our country (hard to know just what that is this time around).
Thank you again for your love and concern and prayers for Todd and for us.