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Day Two: The Gift of Vision

Advent, 2017
Day Two

musings of edwina

 

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets; that he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 (NKJV)

Another translation of this verse says it this way: “Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others.”(The Message)

This verse makes it very plain that God has a vision, not just for the Body of Christ, but also for you and me.  If this verse is not proof enough to persuade you, here’s another one that is more specific in meaning: “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.” (Jer. 29:11) If there has ever been any doubt in your mind as to whether or not God has a plan…

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Thanksgiving Memory

One of my fondest memories of Thanksgivings past started on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving morning. Members of the church where my family attended would cover shoe boxes in colorful paper and bring them on Wednesday night. After Bible study, the boxes would be filled with fruit, nuts, and perhaps a piece or two of soft peppermint sticks. The name of a elderly member of the church, or a member who was a “shut-in” (the modern term is “homebound”) would be written on a card and tucked inside the box.

Bright and early the next morning, volunteers would go back to the church to pick up the boxes and distribute them. Many boxes were loaded into cars headed for various locations in the county where we lived. My daddy was one of the volunteers that distributed the boxes and every year he would bundle me up in my coat, hat and gloves (this was before global warming) and take me with him. My family and I lived less than a block from the church. In the surrounding two blocks there were at least six, maybe seven, widows living in that neighborhood, including both of my grandmothers. This neighborhood was where my daddy always distributed the Thanksgiving boxes. Even though I was young, I understood what it meant to those senior citizens to receive the basket. Each one of the  “widow women,” as my grandmother called them, was always glad to see us. It wasn’t so much the fruit and nuts, although I’m sure they appreciated that. Rather, it was that someone remembered them. Someone thought about them and cared enough about them that they took the time out of their holiday to come by and visit for just a few minutes. . . to listen to them share about their Thanksgivings past, and about what they were thankful for that year.

All of those “widow women” have been gone for years now, and my parents have been gone for several years, as well. But the lesson I learned every year at Thanksgiving remains today “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

May your Thanksgiving  be filled with blessings from above!

Edwina

 

 

 

Book Reviews, faith, Family, God's love, grace, love

Book Review: Between Heaven and the Real World

“Oh taste and SEE that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8)

This is the theme verse of Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman. 

In all my years of reading, whether for pleasure, for school, or for work, I’ve never read a book written with such raw vulnerability, painful hurts, deep faith, total surrender and intense trust. That is, until I read this book.

Between Heaven and the Real World begins when Steven was a young boy and brings the reader through his life up until 2013. He shares of the struggles he had as a young boy, a teenager. He writes of meeting his bride, Mary Beth, of the struggles she experienced, and the struggles they experienced together. He tells the reader of the unwavering commitment he and Mary Beth had to one another and how, through the darkest, bleakest times, that commitment held them together. 

He shares stories of all of his children – biological and adopted. Maria, adopted from China, brought an effervescent joy to the Chapman home. Her happiness, her love of life brightened up the lives of everyone around her. Steven is at his most vulnerable as he writes of life after Maria. All of the family suffered greatly, and yet, through their suffering, the roots of their faith grew deeper and today, around the world, Maria’s legacy can be found everywhere. “Oh, taste and SEE that the Lord is good!”

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the many times Steven shared how he got the inspiration for the various hit singles he’s had through the years, many of them becoming part of the “48 career number one radio singles.” After reading this book, you will hear one of those songs and remember just where Steven was, who he was with, and how God revealed to him the lyrics to the song. Knowing the background of the song gives the song a deeper meaning and makes the song even more special than when you heard it before.

This is a book that will minister to everyone who reads it. But for those who are in the midst of a crisis of faith, it is a “must” read. Your faith will grow stronger, your heart will be encouraged and your life changed. 

                                                                                 

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Book Review: “Pursuit” by JoAnn Durgin

Pursuit: A Christian Romance Novel (The Lewis Legacy Series Book 8) by [Durgin, JoAnn]

 

Pursuit is JoAnn Durgin’s latest book in the Lewis Legacy Series and is my favorite of all the books in the series.

Pursuit stars Will Lewis, the next to the youngest child of the Lewis clan. As a toddler, Will was fascinated with outer space. As he grew older, he never wanted to be anything else but an astronaut and completely focused on, worked and studied towards that goal and he has finally made it. In just a few short months, he will command his own crew on a thirty-day mission to the International Space Station. Nothing will interfere with this, his ultimate goal. Nothing and no one will distract him.

Enter Dalton Smith. The girl next door with the unusual name. Dalton is a Christian singer/songwriter who has gained popularity among Christian music-lovers. With her wit, charm, beauty, not to mention curiosity about NASA and the space program, she is just the distraction that Will does not need. But distract she does! It was so much fun to read how Dalton helped Will get his head out of the clouds and his feet back on the ground.

Ms. Durgin obviously did her research as Pursuit is filled with interesting facts about NASA and the space program, which in my opinion, made the book all the more captivating.

In Pursuit, there is suspense, a beautiful love story, a reunion with the rest of the Lewis family (which is why I encourage you to read the other books in the series, although each book can be read on its own) and the Christian message that Ms. Durgin includes in each of her books.

If I had to rate this book on a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 15. It’s well-written, fun to read, and has a wonderful message.

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Book Review: “Transform Your Life: 7 Steps to a Better Life”

 

In preparing to write “Transform Your Life: 7 Steps to a Better Life,” Dr. Nella Ann Roberts spent months reading, researching and interviewing people who have transformed their lives. From this, she developed the seven steps that will help every reader to transform his/her life. The steps are easy to understand, however, those who want to transform their life must 1) know what in their life they want to transform; 2) plan the steps of their transformation; 3) be committed and disciplined in their body and mind to have a successful transformation. The beauty of the program is that the steps can apply to all areas of one’s life: weight loss, improved relationships, obtaining a new job, buying a new home—the list is endless.

This book is based on Biblical principles, sharing the wisdom of the ages on transformation of our lives.

Dr. Roberts shares stories of people who, for various reasons, needed transformation in their lives. She also shares from her own personal experiences, helping the reader to understand they are not alone in their need for transformation.

At the end of each chapter, Dr. Roberts has included a section titled “What About You?” wherein she motivates the reader by asking questions based on the chapter. She then offers Exercises to help the reader begin and carry through on their personal transformation.

If I could only recommend one book for 2017, “Transform Your Life: 7 Steps to a Better Life” would be the book. It is a must read for anyone who wants to live a better life.

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It is Well With My Soul

George Spafford wrote the lyrics to this beloved and enduring hymn. Spafford suffered several traumatic events in his life that led up to the penning of this hymn. His son died at age 2. Spafford suffered financial ruin in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. His business sustained more hits by the economic failure in 1873. Spafford had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre. Due to business, he sent his wife and daughters ahead while he remained in Chicago. As the ship crossed the Atlantic, it was struck by a sea vessel and sank rapidly. All four of Spafford’s daughters died while his wife, Anna, survived. On his way to meet his wife, Spafford wrote the words to this hymn as his ship passed near the place where his daughters died.

Here are the original lyrics:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

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!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!

There are a couple of verses here that I do not remember singing as a child. But the words are wonderful – verse four – “No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life, Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.” Verse five – “Oh the trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord! Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.”

In Genesis 50:20, we are told that what the enemy meant for evil, God turned it to good. (My paraphrase) The enemy meant to destroy Spafford but even in the midst of this tragedy, Spafford clung to God and was inspired to write the words of this song. And because of that, millions of people, down through the years, have been able to sing and say, It Is Well With My Soul.”

Here is a beautiful rendition of this hymn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FexGqNDBK3g

As you go forth into this week, my prayer is you will be able to state unequivocally that it is well with your soul!

Blessings to all!

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Great is Thy Faithfulness

If there is anyone who still follows my blog and actually reads my posts, please don’t faint! I’m actually posting here for the first time in over three months. Sad, isn’t it?

If you’ve read even a small portion of the 600+ blogs I’ve written through the years, you know that I love music, especially praise and worship music. The church that I belong to sings wonderful praise and worship songs that can move us to raise our hands, to bow before the King, to shout, to cry, to proclaim our love for the One who created us.

But I love the old hymns, too. And I miss them. A few weeks ago, I visited the Baptist church where I serve on staff. And oh, my, it was like going home. We sang hymns that I’ve not heard, much less sung, in probably thirty years. It brought back such great memories of being in the youth choir, accompanying the youth choir, and moving up to the adult choir and playing the piano for church services.

The pastor preached an excellent sermon and with almost every other sentence the pastor said, there was this wonderful older gentleman (who I found out later was blind) who gave a hearty “Amen!” What a blessing it was to hear his voice and in his voice I heard the faith that had carried him through many “dangers, toils and snares.” Hearing his “Amen” reminded me of the “Amen  Corner” as we called it in the Baptist church that I attended from an infant until I married. On each side of the pulpit were two rows of pews. If you were facing the pulpit, the “Amen Corner” was on the left side and the children sat on the right side. Most of the deacons, including my daddy and grandaddy, and a few of the other men of the church, were found sitting in the Amen Corner every Sunday. Many “amens” were heard as the pastor preached.

Don’t be fooled. My daddy never got so caught up in the sermon that his eagle eyes didn’t catch me talking and cutting up or passing notes on the children’s side, across from the Amen Corner. When we would get home from church, I was reminded in no uncertain terms that my behavior would not be tolerated. It was a crime that was punishable by being banned from sitting with my friends for a few weeks and having to sit with my grandmothers. Oh, how I wish I could sit with them today. How I would love to see my daddy one more time in the “Amen Corner” and my mother in the choir.

But I digress.  Singing those hymns a few weeks ago has spurred me to the piano (sometimes on my lunch break to the grand piano in the sanctuary) to play the old hymns that I remember. Hymns like, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “It is Well With My Soul,” “Just As I Am,” “Amazing Grace,” and the list could go on for pages. So, I’ve decided to share my love of these hymns with you–perhaps a little history behind the song, the scripture that maybe inspired the song, and hopefully, a recording of the song by someone who can sing much better than I.

Today’s song is “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

“Thomas Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life.  Born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky, Chisholm became a Christian when he was twenty-seven and entered the ministry when he was thirty-six, though poor health forced him to retire after just one year. During the rest of his life, Chisholm spent many years living in New Jersey and working as a life insurance agent.  Still, even with a desk job, he wrote nearly 1,200 poems throughout his life, including several published hymns.

Chisholm explained toward the end of his life, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.” ” (1)

Chisholm based his song from the scripture found in Lamentations 3:23. I enjoy reading and studying the various translations of the Bible so I’ve included the verse from the New International Version and from The Message.

Lamentations 3:22-24 New International Version (NIV)

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24The Message (MSG)

22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

My prayer is that as you read this blog, and you listen to the wonderful version of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Jordan Smith, you will be reminded, as I have been, of the faithfulness of God to you and your family through the years. Of how He has never let you down,  and no matter how dark the circumstances you face, He will never leave you nor forsake you. Great is His Faithfulness.

Blessings, my friends!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm-KsLytcW0&index=1&list=RDdm-KsLytcW0