Saturday, August 31, 2013

No More Night (Strength in Hymn)

“No More Night”
by Walt Harrah

The timeless theme, 
Earth and Heaven will pass away. 
It's not a dream, 

God will make all things new that day. 
Gone is the curse from which I stumbled and fell.

Evil is banished to eternal hell.

No more night. 
No more pain.
No more tears. 
Never crying again. 

Praises to the great "I AM." 

We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

See all around, now the nations bow down to sing.
The only sound is the praises to Christ, our King. 

Slowly the names from the book are read. 

I know the King, so there's no need to dread.

No more night. 
No more pain.
No more tears. 
Never crying again. 

Praises to the great "I AM." 

We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

See over there, 
it's a mansion, prepared for me,
Where I will live with my Savior eternally.

No more night. 
No more pain.

No more tears. 
Never crying again. 

Praises to the great I AM. 
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
Hallelujah to the risen Lamb!

This week, my sweet Aunt Nancy sent a note to my sister and brother and I while she was going through some of my mother's things after her death.

"Today I was doing a little cleaning and found a CD of the National Christian Choir. It has a song with a chorus that your mom told me helped her out when she thought about Adrienne’s death.  You probably did not know this.  The first two lines in particular were what she was referring to, "No more night.  No more pain.  No more tears. Never crying again…" Here they are, sung beautifully by the choir, probably including your mom’s voice."

Mom and I and Aunt Nancy
Yes, my mother recorded this CD (Tenth Anniversary Recording) with the NCC, a mass choir based near Washington, D.C.  She sang with them for many many years, even 20 years ago when my sister-in-law Adrienne passed away.  When Mom died last month, these words were running through my head as a comfort. I can almost hear her own voice singing it to me.  I just found the CD and transferred the song to my laptop and iPod.

The sunrise pictures in this post are from earlier posts on my main blog. I started a new job about two weeks ago and haven't had time to be taking lovely nature photos.  I'll have to get back to that!  I miss it keenly!  Even more, I miss my mother!  I can almost feel her kiss on my lips the last time I saw her.

Right now it is night in  more ways than one. There is much to mourn. And yet daily life goes on here.  My youngest daughters have both fallen asleep in my bedroom and it is time to send them to their own beds.  Morning will be here soon; hopefully in more ways than one. Until then, it is good to cry.

This post is part of my Strength in Hymn and In Memoriam series, as are the following posts:

Virginia Knowles

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

His Eye is on the Sparrow (Strength in Hymn)

"His Eye is on the Sparrow"
by Civilla D. Martin

Why should I feel discouraged?
Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely,
and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion
My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

"Let not your heart be troubled,” 
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears.
Though by the path He leadeth,
But one step I may see:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, 
Whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, 
When hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, 
From care He sets me free.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me. 

My mother loved birds.  She had well-stocked feeders outside her front and back windows, and she kept her camera close by. Her dining room was also adorned with at least three dozen bird figurines on the shelves and hung from the wall and above the window. I gave her the two birds at the top of the post. After she passed away about two weeks ago, my sister encouraged me and my children to choose some of the birds to take home. We did.  My favorites are the cardinals.

Knowing how much my mother loved birds and music, my sweet cousin, Dr. Mary Lynne Bennett, offered to play a piano solo of "His Eye is on the Sparrow" as a tribute to my mother.

After several weeks traveling back and forth to Maryland three times, I've been home for almost a week. In the middle of grieving for my mother, which sometimes washes over me in waves, I knew I would have to hit the ground running to get everything ready for school. School clothes, school supplies, forms to fill out, orientations to attend...  Most of my school age children are changing schools this year and I am starting a new part-time job as a paid teacher in a private / home school hybrid program. Understandably, we are anxious at the same time that we are excited. There are so many other changes in our lives right now. We know we're going to have to make major schedule adjustments and stretch ourselves in self-discipline and professionalism.  

It would be easy for me to be troubled and fearful right now. I am troubled and fearful right now. I need to remind myself constantly that his eye is on the sparrow and that he watches me.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:
they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory 
was not arrayed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,
will he not much more clothe you, 
O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:25-33

You might also like these related posts:

Virginia Knowles

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Let There Be Peace on Earth (Strength in Hymn)

"Let There Be Peace on Earth"
by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

We sang this beautiful song at my mother’s memorial service last weekend.  My sister Barb chose it, remembering that my mother had sung it often when we were children.  We decided to recruit whomever would sing it with us, even at the last minute, and ended up with eight of us.

I appreciate the sentiment of this song for its encouragement for each of us to take the initiative to work for peace in our own spheres of influence, instead of waiting for someone else “out there” to take the first step.

At the same time, I remember that true peace begins with God, and that in a world which often rejects him and chooses the way of sin, we will never see complete “peace on earth” or “perfect harmony.”  As a Christian, I am looking forward to a full and lasting peace in Heaven.  But that does not exempt me from working toward peace and justice here. You’ve heard the saying, “He was so heavenly minded that he was no earthly good.”  We should be both.  Christians should not ignore social justice issues.  Christians should work for peace.  We serve a God of peace and justice.  We pray as Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Working for peace with people does not mean that we will always agree with others or accept what they do.  Sometimes, working for peace means limiting our exposure to people who have a pattern of hurting others.   It means being like Jesus and having the courage to confront and curtail those whose actions run contrary to the cause of peace and justice, even in churches and other Christian organizations.  Here is a tiny bit of what the Bible has to say about peacemaking.

Love must be sincere. 
Hate what is evil; 
cling to what is good. 
Be devoted to one another in love. 
Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, 
but keep your spiritual fervor, 
serving the Lord. 
Be joyful in hope, 
patient in affliction, 
faithful in prayer. 
Share with the Lord’s people 
who are in need. 
Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; 
bless and do not curse. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; 
mourn with those who mourn. 
Live in harmony with one another. 
Do not be proud, 
but be willing to associate 
with people of low position. 
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. 
Be careful to do what is right 
in the eyes of everyone. 
If it is possible, 
as far as it depends on you, 
live at peace with everyone.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, 
but leave room for God’s wrath, 
for it is written: 
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” 
says the Lord. On the contrary: 
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; 
if he is thirsty, 
give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap 
burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, 
but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-21

Virginia Knowles

P.S. #1: This post is part of my Strength in Hymn series.  My most recent entry is also from the memorial service: "Be Thou My Vision" and includes a video of my daughters singing it.  Two other hymns from the service appeared in the series before her death: "In the Garden" and a slightly different version of "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah." 

P.S. #2: The history behind the song: "Let There Be Peace on Earth"

P.S. #3: A helpful article I found while trying to look up the above Scripture: Is Reconciliation the True Test of Forgiveness?

P.S. #4: The photos above were all taken with my iPod in my mother's garden shortly before we left for home.  The floral knob on the broken down garden gate is a visual metaphor or making beauty in a place of imperfection.  

P.S. #5: The stunning photo below, also from my mother's garden, is by my daughter Joanna Knowles of By Jo Photography.  The day after the memorial service, she flew off to Australia for a semester, so stay tuned for some more awesome photos.