Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days of Hymns I Love

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Welcome! If you are visiting from the 31 Days Writing Challenge, I'm glad you're here. I will be simply be sharing some of my favorite hymns, hoping to encourage myself and others to praise God daily.

I will update this page daily to track my 31 Days series. I try to schedule the posts for 12:00 a.m. CST, but will sometimes update this page prior to that, so just check back later if the link doesn't work yet.

Day 1: Intro and I Know Whom I Have Believed
Day 2: And Can It Be
Day 3: Blessed Be the Tie That Binds
Day 4: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Day 5: From Every Stormy Wind That Blows
Day 6: I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
Day 7: I've Found the Pearl of Greatest Price
Day 8: I Am His, and He is Mine (Loved With Everlasting Love)
Day 9: May the Mind of Christ My Savior
Day 10: All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
Day 11: Lift High the Cross
Day 12: Fairest Lord Jesus
Day 13: God Himself is With Us
Day 14: Trust and Obey
Day 15: Take My Life and Let It Be
Day 16: Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Day 17: I Sing the Almighty Power of God
Day 18: Wonderful Words of Life
Day 19: How Shall the Young Direct Their Way?
Day 20: O, The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!
Day 21: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah
Day 22: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord (Grace Greater Than Our Sin)
Day 23: Holy, Holy, Holy
Day 24: In Christ Alone
Day 25: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul
Day 26: It Is Well With My Soul (When Peace Like a River)
Day 27: Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Day 28: More Love to Thee, O Christ
Day 29: Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
Day 30: God, Be Merciful to Me
Day 31: A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A 31 Day Challenge

For over a week now I've felt like the little kid on the playground being dragged through the dirt as she tries to get on a merry-go-round already in motion. I came back from a week in Denver, spent with my dad who has Alzheimer's, and have been hanging on for dear life to a jam-packed schedule of school carnivals, meetings, cross country meets, a funeral, and trying to catch up on the laundry and stay on course with my son's homeschooling. I just kept hoping to make it to the end of the week, but then I realized this week (and the next and the next) look just the same, and then I'll be making another trip to Denver to start the whole process over again. I admit I've had a few meltdowns and tears have flowed plenty.

Sadly, when life gets this crazy, my natural reaction is to cling to the merry-go-round rather than God. I wasn't completely out of the Word, because I had a Bible study lesson to finish, and anything last week that had a set deadline was accomplished. But those times where I just quiet myself and meditate on His Word? Didn't happen.

So yesterday when I opened one of the devotionals I read, Jesus Calling, it wasn't surprising that the bookmark was set to September 22. Let me share part of the day's reading:

Trust Me and refuse to worry, for I am your Strength and Song. You are feeling wobbly this morning, looking at difficult times looming ahead, measuring them against your own strength. However, they are not today's tasks -- or even tomorrow's. So leave them in the future and come home to the present, where you will find Me waiting for you. Since, I am your Strength, I can empower you to handle each task as it comes. Because I am your Song, I can give you joy as you work alongside of Me. 
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. ~ Exodus 15:2

Oh, how encouraging and instructive a reminder I missed a week ago! Even if I had only read it on Wednesday or Friday it might have settled my spirit and encouraged me to turn to God instead of my own failing strength.

Amidst the craziness last week I shelved an idea I had been mulling over. For the first time I had planned on participating in the 31 Days Writing Challenge offered for the last several years. It was going to be a challenge, that's for sure. I am an inconsistent blogger at best and for the last two years I haven't even managed 31 posts in either year. But I had an idea, and was strongly considering it, until last week. No way! I can't justify spending the time. Everything is falling apart.

Trust Me and refuse to worry, for I am your Strength and Song.

Reading those words reminded me that because everything is falling apart is exactly why I should take on this challenge.

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I'm simply going to spend 31 days sharing my favorite hymns. I'm not a singer nor a musician, unless you count being a high school band dropout, but I love the great hymns of the church. I like them so much that when I created my initial list I came up with 79 different hymns, not including seasonal hymns. Those were just my top favorites -- I love the classic hymn Amazing Grace, but it didn't make the top 79!

If hymns aren't your thing, you won't hurt my feelings, but hopefully you'll still find some encouragement in this series. Sometimes I will post a youtube video* with the song, but sometimes I'll just let the lyrics speak for themselves. Sometimes I'll share why the hymn is special to me. And if there is a day where you just find the name of the hymn and the lyrics, pray for me. It probably means I'm tempted to cling to that merry-go-round again instead of trusting in my Strength and Song. 

Because I am your Song, I can give you joy as you work alongside of Me.

My prayer is that we will all take joy in whatever October brings, singing a song of praise.

And now, for my absolute tied-for-first-place {grin} favorite hymn: I Know Whom I Have Believed

I've already written so much for today, so I won't go on and on about why I love this hymn so much, but I will tell you that the last verse followed by the refrain gives me so much comfort and joy. Sadly, that verse isn't included in the video I share below, but I loved the singing so much I included it anyway. : ) Until tomorrow!

I Know Whom I Have Believed
Daniel W. Whittle, 1883

I know not why God's wondrous grace to me he hath made known,
nor why, unworthy, Christ in love redeemed me for his own.


But "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able

to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day."

I know not how this saving faith to me he did impart,

nor how believing in his Word wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin, revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in him.

I know not what of good or ill may be reserved for me,

of weary ways or golden days, before his face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come, at night or noon-day fair,

nor if I'll walk the vale with him, or "meet him in the air."

* When I share a video, I am not endorsing any of the groups or individuals behind the videos or performances. I'm simply sharing the videos to encourage us to worship our Heavenly Father.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Cookie-Baking Mom

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Ahhhh, fresh-baked cookies, greeting the kids after a long day of school. That's the epitome of a good mother, right? It's what I dreamed of when I was pregnant -- making cookies and doing art projects all. the. time. A picture is worth a thousand words.

And here's what my picture is really saying:
  1. Yes, those are fresh-baked cookies. And they really are in my kitchen. Or at least they were a week and a half ago, because that's about how long it takes me to write a blog post these days.
  2. I didn't actually bake them for my family. The real purpose was to bring a treat for a school House meeting (the Harry Potterish version of student government). I'm the House Mother, so I figured I should probably do something nice like that for the first meeting of the year. Bonus that this particular recipe makes a billion cookies, so my family would get some too. 
  3. I didn't even bake them myself. We got home around 8:30 p.m. from cross country practice, and my kitchen, which has had no air conditioning for 18 months, was 100 degrees. Baking cookies was the last thing I wanted to do. Anna, on the other hand, decided she would rather bake cookies in a 100-degree kitchen than cut out foam letters for the House bulletin board that she needed to decorate. So we traded tasks and the next day at school everyone told Anna she did a great job on the board and thanked me profusely for the cookies, and it never really occurred to either of us to set the record straight. After all, I did plan on baking the cookies, even making a special trip to buy chocolate chips. She planned on making the sign, even sketching out her idea and picking out all the materials at Hobby Lobby. It all evens out, right?
  4. I had to shove aside a bunch of stuff on the counter to even take this picture. 
  5. Back-to-school has near about killed me this year. One meeting and event after another! And any time I thought I would have gained by sending Grace to school this year has been filled with signing fourteen thousand permission slips, pizza forms, homework assignment sheets, and writing at least a dozen checks for the aforementioned items. Well, no, we don't have to pay to do homework at her school. I'm pretty sure that's part of our tuition. The stress has caused me to eat about half the cookies in that picture.
  6. When I haven't been attending meetings, signing forms, and writing checks, I've been traveling or have been sick. Unfortunately, at the same time. We went to Denver for Labor Day Weekend to celebrate my mother-in-law's 75th birthday, but I caught an awful head cold from the girls who got (mildly) sick the first week of school, and so I spent the entire weekend on the couch in my mother-in-law's basement. I've been feeling sorry for myself ever since, which is why I ate another half of the cookies in that picture.
  7. If you can do the math, that means I ate way too many cookies. So I just spent all my spending money on fitness videos and a Weight Watchers membership.
  8. The good news is that there was a whole other container of cookies, so everyone in our family got to eat way too many cookies. And school is going wonderfully for the girls. Ryne and I are getting lots done at home, but I do have some time to do things like attend Bible Study Fellowship, which just started this week and I'm so excited to be back! I get a do-over on the Denver trip this weekend -- this time to spend some time with my dad who has Alzheimer's. Ryne and I will stay there for a week, while Marc and the girls hold down the fort. Who gets the dog for the week is still under negotiation (both sides want him). My new sister-in-law is graciously offering her time to help Marc out while I'm gone. God has worked out so many details!
My picture doesn't lie. I'm a cookie-baking mom, just not the June Cleaver type. But life is so good and I am thankful.