amazing love! how can it be?

On Memorial Day weekend, we attended the baptism of sweet Kenna. I was moved to tears – so many tears! – of gratitude that she has believing parents who are part of a joyful, loving church family. She will always hear about Jesus and the gospel. One of the hymns we sang that morning was a favorite of mine, and Kenna couldn’t help dancing to it, either.

I grew up with the original version by Charles Wesley, but I love the Indelible Grace arrangement. So much joy!

Amazing Love

1. And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me who caused His pain!
For me who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be That
Thou, my God, should die for me?

Chorus: Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!

2. He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace!
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

3. Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

4. No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own

 

90 minutes

010414If you’ve hung around my blog long enough, you’ve heard me mention that I’m a fan of Dennis Prager, and I often listen to his podcasts on my commute. Recently, he asked the audience to call in and share their 90 minutes of happiness. He limited it what gave you joy to do alone. As always, his audience provided some interesting and varied responses.

Because I listen via podcast, I never get to call in, but if I had the opportunity, I’d have several things to share. Any of these scenarios would bring me joy:

~ Settled in at a coffee shop, preferably on a rainy day, with my laptop and a good book.

~ Poolside at a nice resort, in the shade of an umbrella, with a stack of magazines and a good beach read, beverage service, and plenty of sunscreen.

~ Propped up in my bed on a weekend morning, coffee or tea on the nightstand, my laptop, Bible, a Moleskin journal, Sharpies, and a pencil.

~ Curled up on my sofa, watching an Auburn football game with a bowl of popcorn on my lap.

What about you? What’s your 90 minutes of happiness? Remember — it’s alone time.

 

God’s faithfulness

On January 1, 2012, I began to read through the Bible using the 3650 plan. I had no idea on that first day of that year just how full of suffering 2012 would be. (Isn’t God good not to overwhelm us with future knowledge?) I used a brand new ESV Bible, and I marked it up, sometimes jotting a date beside a Psalm. Oh, what a treasure that Bible is to me! Immersing myself in Scripture was truly a means of grace that terrible year, and now I have such reminders of God’s faithfulness jotted in margins. It’s almost like a journal.

This particular Bible is fairly compact, so while I’m using a different one in my daily reading, I take this one to church. Last Sunday as I was flipping to the Psalm we were reading, I passed Psalm 57 and saw the note:

psalm57

Psalm 57 was the one I “happened” to read on that dark day as I worked my way through the 3650 plan. And how appropriate it was! Just look at God’s encouragement to me on that saddest of days:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.

I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!

My soul is in the midst of lions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts–
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!

Awake my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.

For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

Oh, how good God is to us with His Word! This Psalm was true for David in the cave as he fled from Saul thousands of years ago, and it was true for a brokenhearted, grieving, and weak woman in southwest Georgia on a hot summer day in 2012. And it’s been true for countless believers in between and since.

I knew, even in the depths, that God was with me and for me, and I had to take every step in faith because I just couldn’t see how He would work out His plan for me. And, of course, I have no idea what’s coming, what other valleys He will lead me through.

That year I marked every reference to God’s steadfastness and faithfulness I came across because I clung to that aspect of His character. And He proved Himself over and over. He still does, even as He reminds me in this joyful season of life that He has been with me all the way — comforting me, strengthening me, and preparing me to meet Paul. It is good to look back and see how God fulfills His purpose for me.

I begin this Sunday full of joy and gratitude at how good my God has been to me. He was good to me in that valley, and He is good to me today. He is good all the time.

With a joyful heart,

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fall

I love fall. As we near the end of September here in southwest Georgia, we’re finally getting a tiny taste of it. I have mums on my front porch, but I have to wait on the pumpkins or they’ll rot and mildew well before the end of October. Today was much cooler than it has been for months, and as I sat out on my front porch this evening, there was a pleasant nip in the air that made me appreciate my coffee even more.

frontporch

I love cooler temperatures, football, mums, caramel spice lattes, scented candles that smell like maple syrup and cinnamon, red and orange leaves, apples, pumpkins, and the way the light looks different. I love sitting on my front porch, reading as the light fades, sipping on a cup of coffee. I love fall clothes — the browns and other earth tones. I love school supplies even when I’m not in school — the pencils, fresh notebooks, and all the neat organizing tools.

fallflower

sky

watercolor

pinecones

Happy fall, y’all!
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“Thou art preparing joy for me and me for joy…”

valleyofvision

From The Valley of Vision:

Joy

O CHRIST,

All thy ways of mercy tend to and end in
my delight.
Thou didst weep, sorrow, suffer that I might rejoice.

For my joy thou hast sent the Comforter,
multiplied thy promises,
shown me my future happiness,
given me a living fountain.

Thou art preparing joy for me and me for joy;
I pray for joy, wait for joy, long for joy;
give me more than I can hold, desire, or think of.

Measure out to me my times and degrees of joy,
at my work, business, duties.
If I weep at night, give me joy in the morning.

Let me rest in the thought of thy love,
pardon for sin, my title to heaven,
my future unspotted state.

I am an unworthy recipient of thy grace.

I often disesteem thy blood and slight thy love,
but can in repentance draw water
from the wells of thy joyous forgiveness.

Let my heart leap towards the eternal sabbath,
where the work of redemption, sanctification,
preservation, glorification is finished
and perfected for ever,
where thou wilt rejoice over me with joy.

There is no joy like the joy of heaven,
for in that state are no sad divisions,
unchristian quarrels,
contentions, evil designs,
weariness, hunger, cold,
sadness, sin, suffering,
persecutions, toils of duty.

O healthful place where none are sick!
O happy land where all are kings!
O holy assembly where all are priests!

How free a state where none are servants
except to thee!

Bring me speedily to the land of joy.

Amen.