March 25, 2014

Just as I am

<< the hymn and its history >>

"You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fightings and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame."

With such words the author of this poet gave in to the Love of Christ. Charlotte Elliott was older at the time and very much embittered due to the circumstances in life. She railed against God, her family, and anyone within ear shot on a regular basis. She was completely unhappy. But through a conversation with Dr. Cesar Malan these words were spoken to her and she began to live life differently.

Charlotte wrote about 150 hymns in her 82 years, and this one was originally written as a poem which raised money for a school for the children of poor clergymen. It became one of the most famous invitational hymns in history.

<< the hymn and me >>

We don't sing invitational hymns as often anymore, do we? Or maybe it depends on the church service you attend. The one we currently go to is much more contemporary, and there is no invitational hymn. A time of prayer while the pastor continues to speak occurs instead.

I remember growing up this hymn was sung so very often at the end of the service. The number of verses sang depended on how much time the pastor asked for up front. I always loved singing this hymn and I truly meant it as I sang it. I'm pretty sure I went through a period of self-righteousness where I didn't think I needed this song, but I am wiser now and know that more than ever what I need to believe is that I can come to Jesus just as I am, with all my "fightings and fears within, without."

<< the hymn >>



Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot;
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears withing, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, Though wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.
Because they promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

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March 24, 2014

Words

I have a... different relationship with words than most people who write. So many have upheld their English teacher (parent, professor, etc) for praising their work and supporting them on their path with words. My path was always much more private. I don't remember anyone who held authority, legitimacy, and therefor weight spurring me forward into this world of words while I was a young girl.

But would you like to know what I do remember? I remember journaling full notebooks of thoughts, ideas, and words. I remember conversing with God through pen and paper. I remember the love of each paper which was assigned to me through school. I remember the excitement of finishing each piece easily, and looking forward to the red letter on the page when it returned.

I remember typing one night long into the dark under the light of a desk lamp as my roommate slept on the other side of the room. I remember my thoughts, research, and heart as the words poured out of me and I embraced them on the page. I remember it being a sociology paper.

Not everyone can see the passion which dwells within you if no one has told you it is okay to show the passion. And I have been a bit of a rule follower for much of my life. So why would I ever think someone should support me in the words, or tell me to "never stop writing", when it was something I kept hidden?

passion

Last week a girl in Story Sessions, whom I am getting to know, renewed her passion for writing fiction. I was and still am so excited for her. I don't know her past with words or how many people did or didn't tell her to never stop writing, but what I have seen is an amazing group of women who have come around her and supported her and told her to write and keep writing. I told her it was so important for her to write, and I meant that so much.

You see, she's not just writing for herself. She's writing for me as well, though she doesn't know it. Somewhere between hearing her speak of her dream, and thinking about names I realized something about my writing. I had pigeon-holed it.

My writing MUST be private OR helpful WHICH MEANS nonfiction. I have a heart for fiction, but outside of putting myself in other people's shoes and writing that way, I have not written fiction. Oh, I wanted to, but that didn't fit my box.

And it struck me, as she set out on this course for herself, that maybe I could dip my toes in the world of fiction words as well. So, I'm considering. And I'm thinking. And maybe soon, I'll be writing those words out in public.

And if you never received support for something you have passion for, I encourage you to find a group to whom you can speak that dream out loud. I haven't quite done that yet, but I sort of am right now. You can do it, friend!

This post was written in response to a Story Sessions prompt. Consider joining us? They are a wonderful supporting group, and not just writers as well!

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March 21, 2014

22

hefner

We headed up to the lake to celebrate. It was windy enough to not want to eat on the porch, but it didn't matter because we were one of the few who thought that way. As we walked into the restaurant we hit a barrier of noise which enveloped us and welcomed us in. We sat close so we could hear each other talk. Or maybe because we just wanted to be close. The sun shone through the windows and the lake had small white caps across it. We were able to enjoy the view, the food, and each other.

bn

We headed towards the book store and wandered the aisles together and apart. So many books from other bloggers I have read, or heard about, and books I have on my kindle waiting to be opened. I strolled leisurely allowing my eyes to run across the covers, my favorite type of eye candy. The magazines called to me as well. So many options. So many styles. I decided they are all tangible blogs. He found a book to keep, and I found thoughts to consider.

gifts

When we got home we gave each other gifts. I have no idea what the official gift for 22 years is or if there even is one, but the books were perfect. His he had waited for too long. Mine I just mentioned. Joy.

us

We began celebrating 22 years last night, and will celebrate it all year long. Did the waitress ask if it was one check or two because we behaved as if we were dating? Sure, let's go with that! But it doesn't matter.

He loves me deeply and gives me a safe place to be myself. 
I try to do the same for him. 
I am so glad we get to do this things called life together.


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March 20, 2014

I Love to Tell the Story

<< the hymn and history >>

She wrote. Words were set down and she wrote.

Katherine Hankey was thirty when she became ill. The doctors during that time sent her to bed for a full year. Her life had been full of activity up to this point. She organized and taught a bible study for girls, traveled to Africa to help her sick brother home, and devoted her proceeds from her writing to missionary work. And then she became ill and was told to remain in bed for a year.

"To occupy her time, Kate wrote a poem of one hundred stanzas entitled 'The Old, Old Story.'" Parts of this poem have been quoted in sermons, and turned into hymns. Both "The Old, Old Story" and "I Love to Tell the Story" came from this poem.

<< the hymn and me >>

I had no idea these two hymns were connected in such a way. It amazes me, because I can't imagine writing such a piece. It is inspirational in so many ways. From her heart, to when she wrote it, to how it was used.

I remember singing this hymn in church when I was a young girl. Always a story lover this song was close to my heart. I must admit to knowing it with the chorus as the video plays it. I couldn't find a video that played all four verses straight.

<< the hymn >>



I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story because I know 'tis true,
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story, more wonderful it seems
thank all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

I love to tell the story, 'tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
the message of salvation from God's own holy Word.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song
'Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.
Words: A Katherine Hankey, Music: William G. Fischer

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March 19, 2014

Daya's story.

When I first read Daya's story it seemed unreal.  She was abandoned by her parents, and the parent's of the school wanted to push her out as well.  How could people who knew the kindness of others want to turn away another who was in the need of the same kindness? So thankful for her grandmother and Gospel for Asia who refused to give up on her.

Why Are You Exploiting This Girl?

Daya: A young girl who lost her parents but was given hope.

A beggar woman stood with a child in her arms, asking for something to eat. The cook demanded she answer the question. The man, a cook for a Gospel for Asia Bridge of Hope center, knew many beggars carry small children to entice larger handouts. They use this tactic only to pocket most of the money for themselves. But to his surprise, the elderly woman broke down in tears and began pouring out her heart.

Child Abandoned by Her Parents

The child in her arms was her granddaughter Daya. The little girl was once happy, but strife tore her family apart.
Daya’s father began to beat her mother badly. He had no love for his wife, and neither parent had any love for Daya.

It wasn’t long before he abandoned the family and married another woman. Sadly, even Daya’s mother deserted her, so her grandmother was the only one left to care for the abandoned girl.


With no income, they began begging at bus stops, train stations and shops. Now, they stood eye to eye with a cook who was hesitant to give a handout to another adult he thought was exploiting a helpless child.
The cook was moved with compassion when he saw truth welling up in the eyes of the grandmother. He invited her to enroll Daya in the Bridge of Hope center, where he could cook the young girl meals for many years to come.

Daya joined the Bridge of Hope center wedged between a railway station and a slum. Even there, she stuck out as the poorest of the poor. Having lived much of her life in the slums, she knew little of hygiene and came to class in the same dirty clothes each day. On the rare occasion when she did bathe, she didn’t use soap.

New Student Faces Opposition

Although Daya was opposed for knowing little about hygiene, the staff committed themselves to her growth in the Lord and in practical matters like cleanliness.

Some parents began pressuring the Bridge of Hope staff to drop Daya from the program. They didn’t want this dirty child around their sons and daughters.

They even threatened to remove their children from the center if she didn’t leave.
Daya’s future hung in the balance. If rejected from the Bridge of Hope center, she would return to the streets as one of the 300,000 child beggars in India. At some point, she would likely join the 20 to 30 million other boys and girls there who are exploited as child laborers.

With only her grandmother to protect her from predators in the slums, she would be at risk of becoming one of the 1.2 million Indian children abused as prostitutes. Worse yet, if her grandmother died, all hope would be lost for her future.

But even if Daya did escape these evils, where else would she learn about Jesus?

Cook and Bridge of Hope Staff Remain Committed

Because the staff knew God had brought Daya to them, they made the decision to keep her in the program—no matter what the consequences would be.

The staff members tackled her hygiene problem head on. They scrubbed the 8-year-old down and gave her new clothes; by the time they were finished, she was almost unrecognizable. The staff continued to teach her and her classmates proper hygiene, along with other practical life skills.


Six Years of Compassion

Daya, now 15 years old, knows the Lord and has escaped the social evils that plague young girls in South Asia.

It’s been more than six years since Daya joined the Bridge of Hope center. Today, Daya wears the beautiful dresses she and the other girls are given as their uniforms.

She’s not begging on the streets. She’s not in bonded labor. She’s not enslaved in a brothel. She’s not helpless.

Daya has hope for her future. With the education she receives at the Bridge of Hope center, she has done well academically and wants to become a teacher.

But most importantly, today, Daya knows Jesus.

Bridge of Hope Changes Communities

GFA Bridge of Hope changes entire communities, not just students. The care given to the children and their families brings many to an understanding of the Savior.
Daya’s grandmother has seen the kindness shown to her granddaughter, and now they both live in God’s love.

More than 60,000 children like Daya are finding hope in Christ through Bridge of Hope centers, but millions of others still live in despair. Reach into their world by sponsoring a child.



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March 18, 2014

Life is a fine balance of shrewd and pure

The other day we talked about living as shrewd as serpents. In other translations the adjective used is wise, prudent, smart, clever, cautious, wary, cunning, clever, and intelligent. Today I want to talk about the other half of the equation.

March 17, 2014

It is Well with my Soul

<< history >>

Between 1871 and 1874 Horatio Spafford lost nearly everything. His son and four daughters died, his city suffered the Chicago fire, his business suffered, and he almost lost his wife. It's a difficult time to imagine. On the way to Europe his daughters died when the ship sank, but his wife survived. As he traveled to Europe to meet his wife the Captain of the ship he was on let him know when they crossed the point where his daughter's died. It is said this is when he was inspired to write this hymn.

<< the hymn and me >>

I have always loved this song. The melody is haunting but the words speak of such suffering and peace. My favorite quote, while not connected, shares the same theme. All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of all thing shall be well. ~ Julian of Norwich

This song changed for me in 2007. I lost a dear friend that year. An internet friend. It sucked not being able to go to the funeral, even though a representative (several) were there for those of us who loved her. I'll never forget the following Sunday at church they sang two songs which are now forever seared into my brain as Nattie songs. This one, which was done as a special, and the other one which escapes me when I try to name it but calls to me whenever I hear it. Similar in theme but contemporary. It turns out they were both played at her memorial service as well. It made me feel as if I was there, in some weird way.

I realized last night there may be a reason Horatio chose the word soul. When hard things happen it isn't well with my mind. My mind can be crippled by the horror and pain. My mind doesn't always understand why hard things happen. I may not ever have that "why" regardless of how many times I ask the question. When hard things happen it isn't well with my body. My body can be the source of the hard. I can be in pain, or my heart can feel as if it is breaking in two. When hard things happen it isn't well with my strength. Sometimes it fails me. Sometimes the failure of our strength is the source of pain and sorrow. No, the only way it can be well is with our soul.

Why is there sorrow in this world? Because life is full of sorrow and pain. I can not explain. But I am grateful that I do know God will carry me through the hard times, and give me hope for the future.

<< the hymn >>



When peace like a river, Attendeth my way, When sorrows, like seas billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, "It is well, It is well, with my soul."

(chorus) it is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, O the bliss of this glorious tho't, My sin not to part But the whole
Is nailed to the cross And I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul!

(chorus)

O, Lord haste the day When my faith shal be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound And the Lord shall descend, "Even so" it is well With my soul.

(chorus)
Words: Horatio G. Spafford, Music: Philip P. Bliss

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March 15, 2014

One fear being faced today.

Why is it within hours of writing down goals all I want to do is shut my computer and never open it up again? I mean, just the process of writing those goals down was difficult. After scribbling, crossing out, redefining, rewording, and stepping away from them I figured I had some basic and specific goals I could live with. But here I am, THREE hours later and I'm hiding in my corner of the couch.

Oh my word.

I'm actually a little mad, if I were to tell you the truth. Mad at myself, at the goals, at the fear: just mad.

I want to be excited! I want to be so excited that I can't wait to start on the next step. I want to be so excited that I can't help but tell you all what I want to do! I want to be scream it from the mountain tops EXCITED!

But instead I'm nauseous. I'm actually considering taking up residency in the bathroom.

Oh friends, fear is everywhere. And living bravely and courageously is not about not having fear. And having fear is not about failing. I know this. I have written about it a thousand times before, and here I am {yet again} frozen in place because of fear. I refuse to stay here though. I refuse to let any fear keep me in the corner. {cuz baby doesn't belong there}

Today it's the wheredoievenbeginiamsooverwhelmedbytheconceptofwhatihavewrittendown type of fear that I will conquer. Oh yes, yes I will.

fear says

So, this is what I am doing about it:
  • I am making a schedule (albeit flexible) and sticking to it. The schedule will be realistic and smart. It will leave room for margin and listening. 
  • I need to get back to my daily writing. Whether it ends up here or never leaves the light of my notebook shouldn't matter. Words need to go down into the compost.
  • I need to listen closely to me and God. I need to be sure that I am hearing and acting after I listen. I need to believe in what I know to be true.
There are a multitude of ways to deal with the multitude of fears we will face. Today I am making a plan of action. Three steps. I can do three steps. And then, when they are done I will move to the next three. And one day those goals which I cannot even name right now will come true. 

What goal has you frozen in place? Go ahead, decide on three steps you know you can do right now. You know you want to.


These goals and the steps were first written in my notebook during the last call-in of Story 101 with Elora. The last thing I wrote in my notebook on this call-in after listening? "don't live your life in fear. that's not living. God wants us to live abundantly. do that."


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March 14, 2014

I'm learning! Well, I needed to anyway. It's all good.

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to skype with two different awesome women. One conversation was because I signed up for am exit coaching spot in Story 101, and the other was because I joined Story Sessions and they have an intro conversation. I looked forward to both calls tremendously and am so grateful to have had them.

The Story 101 coaching spot helped me a lot. For someone who still doesn't know exactly where she is going, to end the call feeling there is a path I just need to find it is huge. And how do you do it? You just keep going. Just keep writing. Change things. Play with ideas. *Move forward.* She gave me so much to think about and consider, but mostly it centered on simply being me.

The Story Sessions intro conversation was also full of information. It centered more on Story Sessions, how I came by it, and what, if any, questions I had about it. But there was also discussion about seasons of life, future plans, and being okay with not knowing where I am right now.

I was on a high last night, and felt hopeful and promising and confident. Then....

I woke up.

Have you ever heard of a vulnerability hangover? I really feel as if I have one of those today. The funny part was that I don't think I revealed any big secrets about myself, though simply telling people what I do, why I do it, and where my focus is can sometimes feel like a secret. In fact, as I am writing I realize that a few weeks ago I had two conversations about my writing, but instead of being confident and sure I was almost embarrassed about those things. Crazy, right? But I guess it's a good sign that I was able to talk about it all without the embarrassment this time. Or without complete embarrassment.

I should say, the reason for my embarrassment is that I fear I'm not good enough for what I want to do so the reason why I do it is null and void. I'm learning that while I do still have lots to learn that is NOT a bad thing. These opportunities are widening who I am because I am learning about others as well as myself.

But when my eyes opened this morning I did not want to get out of bed. Now, I haven't made it that far, considering I simply got some coffee, and grabbed my spot on the couch with my computer, but I'm moving. And I'm planning for today. And I'm not shutting the door.

There are some times where the hangover needs a day home with movies, or down time, and rest to rejuvenate. I'm learning that is taking care of me, and it is important. When I don't do that then I get frustrated, anxious, and that is when I truly want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Now I know when I take care of me, more things actually do get done, and these feelings of quitting life do pass.

I learned this through these amazing women as well.



Cost of Story 101 - $165
Cost of Story Sessions - $13 a month
Cost of getting to know amazing women - priceless
The ability to know myself better - priceless



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March 13, 2014

In the Garden

<< the history >>

I have always loved this song, but I never knew the story behind it. Understanding that it is about Mary's encounter with Jesus in the garden after the resurrection make all the verses make more sense to me now. I love that C. Austin. Miles was meditating on John 20 when this vision came to him which caused him to write this hymn.

<< the hymn and me >>

I recall singing this song so many times with my maw maw, at church with my family, and just on my own. It is one that I have nearly memorized, or at least the first verse and chorus. I love the idea of meeting with God and talking with him. Of Him claiming me as His own. I often wished for a full garden with flowers, plants, bushes of all sorts, and wandering paths so that I could live out this hymn.

I never fully understood why he would send me away, as the third verse states. I think for a long time this song, as much as I dearly loved it, separated life for me into two camps. Being with God and doing work. It seemed we would have our "quiet time" and then we would live our day, but the two didn't cross. My understanding was flawed, but often I would simply leave off the third verse and not worry about it.  Understanding the circumstances and history of the poem now I get it. Mary had to go tell the others, but of course she would want to stay with Him. I'm grateful to know now that as I go He goes with me.

<< the hymn >>



I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, The Son of God discloses.

(Chorus)
And He walks with me, And He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet, the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me, With-in my heart is ringing.

(chorus)

I'd stay in the garden with Him, Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe, His voice to me is calling.
(C. Austin Miles - word and music)


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March 12, 2014

Five defenses against trolls.

Most people online know about internet trolls, but this article a dear friend shared with me was really eye opening. Let's face it, we all want to give the benefit of the doubt to people. We want to believe that their heart isn't out to hurt and be vicious, but they believe in their point and they just don't realize how they come off.

The article I linked to says otherwise.

We all know there are hateful people in this world who do NOT hurt because they were hurt but because they truly enjoy seeing people hurt. It's a hard concept to internalize and it seems unreal. But the truth of the matter is we don't ever really know someone's motivation unless they tell us. I have only had one experience with a troll, a very long time ago, and I didn't handle it well. I actually believe it was a family member, which really is a whole other ball of yarn, but what should we do when someone comes out of the woodwork?  How do we live with them peaceably? After a little bit of research on the different types of personalities the article mentions I have a few ideas.

trolls

(1) Have a support system in place. I used to think I was a lone blogger as well, but now I know if I need reassurance about a post there are a multitude of people I could ask. Have that in place before a troll ever decides to drop in. Then when they do you can rely on these people to help you through the situation.

(2) Believe in your writing. No, not everything we put out here on the web is awesomeness, but it is still us. We have good and bad writing days, and that is okay! But know without a doubt that you have a right to share your thoughts, your writing, your ideas, and your story. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and decent individuals will dialogue not attack.

(3) Don't react. When a troll leaves a comment on your site try not to become defensive. What if it's not a troll? What if it is someone with a point, and they just stated it badly. Compare what they said against what the other comments said about the post. And if you need to ask a friend to read through and see if there is any valid points you need to be aware of.

(4) Don't respond. This was a hard one for me. I wanted to DO something about these trolls, but the truth of the matter is they enjoy seeing you hurt. They want you to respond so they can hurt you some more. They do not want to understand your point of view, and they are not interested in finding an amicable middle ground. They want the control, they want you to hurt, and they are going to be happy about it. Depending on what they originally commented you may want to delete their words completely. If you do leave the comment there, remind your friends not to respond, as well.

(5) Don't remember. When people say hateful things it is not in the spirit to help. Do not allow those words to take a foothold in your life. Let them go and move on. Do not allow them to question who you are, or what you do in any way. Release them to God and let Him take care of them.

I know when trolls leave comments that are nasty it can hurt. I hope if it happens you will remember these few things. You may not be able to stop them from being on your blog, but you can put defenses up to keep them from getting to you. Bless you, friend.


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March 11, 2014

Be Thou My Vision

As I read through this hymn, would you like to know my first thought? I wondered how this would read in  The Message translation. Yes, it has a lot of thou's and thee's, and sometimes I can get flustered with the old english and just stop paying attention to what it says. I chose this hymn because I opened the book up to it. Ah, the irony.

<< a history >>

This hymn is an Irish hymn written by an unknown poet in the 18th century. The author says, "It is one of our oldest and most moving hymns." A good place to start if one has to be chosen, yes? Since there is no author of the song, the author of the book chose St. Patrick's history to share for this hymn. If you aren't familiar with this saint of old, the nutshell story is he was born in Scotland, learned about Christ while a slave in Ireland, escaped, returned home, became a priest, and then returned to Ireland where he "became one of the most fruitful evangelists of all time."

<< the hymn and me >>

I love that this is the hymn I opened the book up to on this day. I don't necessarily have any memories that go with this song, but I know it. The tune came back to me as I read the first words.

I just finished a call-in with my online class, and we were talking about letting go and starting new. We spoke about editing our work and our lives. And then I read this hymn, and I thought to myself, "Yes. This is what I need." I need God to direct my paths, my choices, my letting go, and my starting anew. One of the girls at the call-in said "editing is a listening." Who else should I listen to when it comes to my life? Who else should I run to when making decisions? I've chosen badly before, and now it's time for me to choose God.

I know. Sometimes it seems all our listening is a vain attempt. We hear nothing. Our hearts long for direction and purpose and everything seems still and quiet. I know because I have been there. But you know what else? When I really listen deep, and find the important silence to open up to, I know within that I know the answers I am searching for. I have no idea if things seem silent because God is giving me that freedom to choose for myself, or because where I am headed is hard and He is letting me get there in my own time, or because what I know to be true is so counter to everything everyone else is saying I need time to understand it is not my rebellion that is leading me. And I don't think it matters anymore. But even when I feel I am not being led, when I feel He isn't giving me a vision, He still is with me as I choose.

<< the hymn >>



Be thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my Wisdom, and thou my true Word;
I ever with thee and though with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son,
Thou in my dwelling, and I with thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise;
Thou min inheritance, now and always;
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
(Irish Hymn, c. 8th centry, Irish Folk Melody)


March 8, 2014

the girl He created her to be

He created her to be a beautiful creation in the middle of His masterpiece. He created her with a soul set on protecting others, and then set her free in the world to choose.

girl

The little girl was quiet yet loud, fierce yet timid, obedient yet testing. She wanted to protect the entire world, and didn't understand she couldn't. She didn't understand everyone didn't want to do the same.

As she grew into a woman she learned a lot of hard lessons. She learned some people aim to hurt and cause pain. She learned some people see others as objects for their entertainment. She learned some people turn their backs and pretend not to see. She fought between falling into these ways herself and being who she was meant to be; and the struggle was fierce. She learned love can look a lot like control if she wasn't careful. She lost her voice at times. She lost her heart at times. And sometimes she disappeared altogether. But the little girl with the big dreams and the big love always lived deep within her heart.

The woman realized she couldn't save the world, so she decided to save herself. She built walls around the little girl and told her to stay quiet. She put thorn bushes around the walls and told the girl to stay put. She surrounded the bushes with clouds of cotton and told her to hush. She knew the little girl didn't understand. The little girl would get hurt. The little girl could never survive in the world as it was. She had to protect the little girl.

She made the little girl disappear as best she could and began to live her life in ways she would later regret. Not fully, and not always, and her extremes may have been other's testing the waters, but He created her with choice and she chose.

The woman thought she had control. She thought she was grown up. She believed protecting really didn't matter anymore. But it did, and the little girl knew. So she would push up against the walls, yell through the cloud, and stomp her little feet when she could do nothing else.

The little girl helped the woman, even in this condition. The little girl reminded her of the kind person she really wanted to be. The little girl reminded her how to love her husband fully. The little girl reminded her how to care for the little boys in her charge. The little girl reminded her of who she was. The little girl helped her to grow to be the woman she was meant to be, even if only in their own little world.

The woman walked away from disastrous choices, because the little girl wouldn't let her do otherwise. The woman learned to love deeply, because the little girl refused to let the hate stay. The woman learned to forgive, and the little girl danced. The woman learned to be content, and the little girl had joy and peace. And each time the woman got through another situation she realized she wasn't saving the little girl, but the little girl was in fact saving her. She realized the only way she could get through this world intact was with the help of the little girl.

The little girl is still deep inside the woman, but the walls have been torn down, the thorn bushes have big roses, and the cotton is now her bed. The little girl helped the woman to become who she is, and together they will become who He designed her to be.

He created her to be a beautiful creation in the middle of His masterpiece. He created her with a soul set on protecting others, and then set her free in the world to choose.

This post is part of  The Girls We Once Were linkup from Story Sessions. 
It marks International Women’s Day.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
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March 6, 2014

My Lenten plan

<< Me and Lent: a history >>

I was not raised with a Lenten tradition, that was a "Catholic thing" and we were Southern Baptists, and well if you know anything about how divisions worked then I am sure you can see why we didn't mix. That was a different time when the lines were hard in rock, not soft sand. Now, we did enjoy a good Mardi Gras parade, coming from the Gulf Coast region, but that was the extent of it and never really religious.

As a grown woman I have seen many Baptist Churches take on the traditions of the Catholic church and it took me a while to embrace the ideas. Prejudices die hard, even ones you didn't think you had. I have explored the Lenten season, and I have since celebrated it on occasion. In one hand this year's Lent snuck up on on me, but on the other hand I didn't know how to embrace it this year. So now it has started, and I find myself sitting here thinking about traditions, and where we all come from, and where we are going.

<< A Startling Realization >>

Two days ago someone in the christian music industry posted how they were just introduced to a new verse of a hymn. It's probably a good thing I can't remember what hymn it was, I just remember feeling shocked. Yes, it was the fourth stanza which many churches left off long before they left hymns, but I felt they should have known. Shouldn't someone in the music industry know the beauty and tradition of the hymns, especially the fourth verses?

Since then I have seen several people talking about hymns. Actually, not several, but a couple. One in particular was a link on Pinterest, though I laughed to see it went to a post from 2012. Still, it was recently pinned so that counts, yes? I know there are people in this world who still love hymns, with no hatred towards the contemporary music most churches sing now. I don't want to talk about that little conflict. That's not my purpose here today. My purpose, much like those others I have seen as well, is to uplift the hymns, remember the hymns, and celebrate the hymns.


hymns

<< Me and the Hymns: a history >>

I know not everyone has hymns deep in their heart, but what I do know is that there is much tradition for me in the hymns. I remember my maw maw singing with her choir every Sunday morning, when robes still covered the outer garments chosen early before the sun rose. I remember her sitting at the piano in her home as her fingers ran across the ivories and she let me sing along with her. I remember tears coming to my eyes as we sang different hymns in church. I remember learning to read music and trying to sing the alto part. I remember reading through the hymns as a child not always fully understanding their meaning nor their depth.

I used to have a hymnal I accidentally carried away from church along with the stack of Bibles, children's paraphernalia, and announcements I had piled in my hands. Through the many declutterings, however, I released it out into the world. I hope to find a new one at Half-Price Books soon. But I do have a book on the hymns. It contains 150 hymns along with their stories. Obviously I am not going to simply share what the book says, but here is my plan through the Lenten season of 2014.

<< My Lenten Plan >>

I will be sharing some hymns which are a tradition for me. Not all of them. And not every day. But I will be sharing my stories around them. I will be sharing the words of the songs. I will be sharing a video if I can locate one. The Lenten season is one full of tradition and amazing stories. So are the hymns. It seems natural for me to combine them. I hope you will join me.

I would love for you to join the conversation through 
Facebook, Twitter, my email, or in the comment section.

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