Posted in character study, faith stages, music, Promises, responsibility, Weary encouragement hope, Work

“This Old House”

 

old house

 

If you are a DIY TV addict like me you will more than likely remember, first a magazine, called “This Old House” which in more recent years is better know by the TV show of the same name.

Having a large family and a pretty small income our family lived most of our years in two story fixer uppers. I attribute the start of my DIY addiction to those years. However it didn’t start during those years. All that time I had been hoping to have a new home one day that didn’t need any work done. After all the kids left home I finally got my wish  and we were able to build a new home with everything on one floor, functionality, comfort and all new, just the way I wanted it!

Yet something was missing ?

After several years the new house began to show some wear and the realization of how much work it was going to be to keep it looking new hit me. I thought back to the old fixer uppers. Once they were new, functional for their day and comfortable for large families. But over years of wear and tear they needed to be taken care of and updated in order to keep them that way for the generations who would come to make a home there later. Some of the work we tried to do by ourselves but when we were in over our heads we had to call in the experts.

The stress of many seasons of wind and weather were evident on the outside of each house but the foundations were still strong.  The old houses had a lot of character but also needed a lot of care and updating to return them to at least some of their former beauty. But a closer look revealed that it was in the aging of the house and the wear and tear it carried that it’s  character was built. And I realized it was the character of the house I was missing most in that new house.

Although, in the process, the houses sometimes changed in their form and function  they remained faithful in their purpose, to provide a safe and comfortable home for our family.  We put a lot of time and energy in those old houses in order to keep them functioning to meet our growing needs and though they continued to creek and groan at times they remained true to their purpose.

As we moved from one house to the next, only to start the work of fixing and updating again, the house we left behind would be taken up by another who would continue to care for and update to meet their own needs. But as long as the house was cared for it remained stable,with it’s foundation strong and ready to continue in its purpose for yet another season, another generation.        Related image

I turned 70 this year and I was awakened to the similarities between myself and those old houses. As I have moved from one season in my life to the next the wind and storms of this life have left this old house weary and worn at times, but along the way they were, unknown to me, building  character in me. As I moved from one season to the next another generation would come and build on, repair and update the foundations I had left behind.

This old house was once new as well, created by God in my mother’s womb with a purpose. The care and maintenance of this house was taken up by my parents from infancy through adolescence. Their care began to mold me and shape me, sometimes in positive ways and sometimes not so much. But, as a young adult the care of this house and the work of maintaining it fell to me.  At first it was exciting. I had it all youth, energy and freedom to make my own choices, There were those times of struggles and uncertainty but after 19 years of marriage, having 5 children and having a good job, I had arrived, I had all I wanted.

But something was still missing!

The house and all that was in it began to deteriorate and life and maintenance as usual was no longer able to keep it together. I needed help. I needed the expert builder and restorer of broken things to come in and do a complete “gut job” and remodel  on this house.

Since that day when I surrendered this house and all of it’s rooms to Jesus Christ, He has been doing an amazing repair, and update on me. He is making me new inside and outside. He has assured me that what will change on the outside is actions and reactions that come from what He is changing on the inside in my heart and mind. He is using all the bumps and bruises and all the wear and tear over the years to build His character in me. Though my body is wasting away my spirit is renewed day by day!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  (2 Corinthians 4:16)

My foundation has remained strong because it is built on Jesus Christ. Over the years my form and functions have changed (especially my form) as daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and now great grandmother. But my purpose has not. From the day I was born it is to love the Lord God with all my heart, soul, body and strength and love my neighbor as myself. I have not always been faithful to that purpose but the purpose was always the same and God has remained faithful to me.

I still like to watch “This Old House” on occasion but now I live in a nice mobile home that needs little maintenance. Now I am looking forward to that new body and a mansion in heaven, neither of which will ever see decay from the cares of this life.

What an amazing journey living in this house is and I wouldn’t trade one day of it because of where it has brought me and where it is yet to take me. I have been changed in times of blessing and even more in those times of struggle. And the character that is being produced in me is the very character of Jesus.

By faith, like Abraham,  I dwell in this land, an heir with past, present and future believers who have the same promises from God, the same promises that are available to all who will trust Christ. I am now waiting for my purpose to be fulfilled and to go to my home in that city “which has foundations whose builder and maker are God! ”   (see Hebrews 11:8-10) But until it is His time for me I will continue the work in and through this old house for God’s glory and praise!

Posted in faith stages, music, Weary encouragement hope

Connecting the Dots

 

connect_the_dots

In the process of learning it is the analogies and object lessons that help me learn the most, for they put a principle into simple practical pictures that I can see and relate to.

My favorite analogy of all time is found in the book, Hind’s Feet On High Places, by Hannah Hurnard. It pictures a young girl named “Much Afraid” and her spiritual journey through the difficulties of life with her companions “Sorrow” and “Suffering”. With the Shepherd’s help she overcomes her fears and facing danger and discouragements, Much Afraid, is ultimately united with the loving Shepherd in the “High Places” where she is given a new name and a ministry to those who remain in “The Valley of Suffering”.

You’ll have to read the book to know the rest!

In my meditations today, reading from Streams In The Desert (compiled by L.B. Cowman and edited by James Reimann) I found an object lesson that also helped me to relate to the evils and/or struggles that confront us.

For those who have ever asked “Why me?”, Why now?”, “Why again?” (for I have asked those questions many times) and especially for those who know God and understand that nothing comes to one of His own that doesn’t pass by Him first,  I am posting  portions of that selection from Streams In The Desert for July 23rd, and they follow:

I once saw a man draw some black dots on a piece of paper. Several of us looked at it yet saw nothing but an irregular arrangement of dots. Then he also drew a few lines, put in a few rests, and added a treble clef at the beginning. Suddenly we realized that the dots were musical notes, and as we began to sound them out, we were singing,

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below.”

It is difficult for us to understand, at times, why God allows those “black dots or spots” in the lives of His children. They often seem to come at the worst times, unexpected times and we ask “Why me?”, “Why now?”, Why again?”, and “Why did He permit them?”

But when we allow Him into our life to adjust the dots in the proper way, to draw the lines He desires, and to put rests at the proper places to separate us from certain things, then from the black dots and spots He will compose a glorious harmony. C. H. P

When an organist presses the black keys of a great organ, the notes are just as beautiful as when he presses the white ones. Yet to fully demonstrate the capabilities of the instrument, he must press them all. ” (selected)

Many people owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” Charles H. Spurgeon

As we look back over time and begin to “connect the dots” we will begin to see a picture of God’s hand at work in our lives as He creates a beautiful harmony from the events in our lives. A picture of the loving Shepherd, and His grand purpose for us and we can sing, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”, in spite of what is going on in our lives.

I challenge you to look for the dots, the lines, the rests. Look for God’s hand at work in it all and praise Him for the work He is doing in your life to help you fulfill His purpose and plans for your life and His kingdom and glory!

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in assignment, forgiveness, music, peace, Uncategorized, Word Press

“Music For the Soul”

This is my story 9 21 14Writing 101

Each piece of music tells a story. Even if there are no lyrics the melody, crescendo and tempo tell a story. The stories may be about an emotion or and experience; about the person writing the music or the person listening to it, one connecting with the other. We all have a story,  more than likely we have many stories. Songs often help us express our experiences in life situations in ways we are not able to otherwise. When I listen to a song that speaks to my soul I find myself saying, “Yes, Yes, that’s my story!”

The three songs most important to me tell the story of my journey from isolation, fear and rejection to forgiveness, peace and joy.

The first song, Amazing Grace by John Newton,  is a well known song among both the secular and Christian communities. The song is well know but, not as well known is the history, the “story”, of the writer.

Newton had a very painful childhood when at age 7 his mother, who had nurtured him in the Christian faith, died. He became bitter and angry and by age 11 boarded a ship to become a sailor.  After years of hard drinking, moral abandon and struggles of many kinds  he became a slave trader.  “I sinned with a high hand,” he later wrote, “and I made it my study to tempt and seduce others.” Finding himself on a ship during a sever storm, that threatened to destroy the ship and those aboard, Newton recalled the teachings of his mother and. believing his life was ending cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness. After finding himself safe at the end of it all he committed his life to Christ. After  his conversion he wrote the words to many hymns and not the least of which was Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

His story, like mine, is that forgiveness and redemption are possible no matter how far one has journeyed into the depth of depravity. It was my story in 1978. I was in the midst of a storm in my soul. I  was in the middle of a spiritual storm of regret and guilt of the past. There was a heaviness of heart and I cried out to the God I heard about as a child. In His grace and mercy, he rescued me and from the storm and lifted a heavy burden of guilt as I committed my life to Him.

The second song, It Is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford, is another well known song but, again, not many know “the story” of the author of the song.

Spafford’s story is much different than Newton’s, although both their stories took place on a ship. This man had lived out his faith and was blessed with a family and a successful career. However over a period of about 3 years he lost his only son from scarlet fever, his 4 daughters in a ship wreck and his business. Spafford’s wife was spared and not long after losing his 4 daughters while on his way to meet his wife, as he passed over the area where his daughters were lost he wrote this song, his story.

It Is Well With My Soul

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

His words describe in a way I never could my story after my commitment to follow Christ. Life didn’t suddenly get and stay wonderful. There have been many blessings but there have also been many challenges over the past 36 years. Some of those challenges carried heartaches, frustration, pain and anxiety but as I leaned into the one who loved me and changed me it was and still is “well with my soul.”

The third song, I Love To Tell The Story was taken from the second half of a poem written by Arabella Katherine Hankey, daughter of a London banker and set to music by by William G. Fischer, the son of a german immigrant.

Hankey had a place in her heart for the poor and hungry people in the poorest parts of London. She and her father were devout Christians. She organized Sunday School classes through out London and taught each week while also publishing poems, and tracts to hand out in her classes. Her hear for missions prompted her to volunteer to go to Africa as a nurse to assist her invalid brother who was a missionary there.

Fischer had his own story. Because of his love for music he practiced, played and eventually taught music at the university level. And eventually started his own music store, featuring the best made pianos in the world. He built his business up to become one of the most properous piano stores in the country.

Verse 1 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. Verse 2 I love to tell the story, More wonderful it seems Than 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. Verse 3 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. Verse 4 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. REFRAIN: I love to tell the story, ‘Twill be my theme in glory To tell the old,old story of Jesus and His love.

This is my story, about His glory and the wonder of His love!