Job Interview in Texas

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

The interview for a new assignment went well for my husband Dan.

Now, they want him to come again and bring his wife for a second interview.  This was new territory for me and not a very comfortable one.  He had always done very well on his own with job interviews up until now.  What if I messed it up for him by saying the wrong thing or doing something stupid?

I began to mull over what to wear, how to think about this, and saying, Dear Lord, I need your help.  Very soon the day came when we headed for the airport, suitcases in hand, and were on our way to the second interview.

As we found our seats on the plane and got settled in, there was nothing else to prepare, only get quiet now, sit back, and enjoy the ride.  I was still hesitant about my role in this trip, but I noticed as my mind relaxed that there was a little tune repeating itself there without my taking notice.  What was the song playing about in my head, I thought.  Maybe this song had some significance for me for this moment.  To my great amazement, it was “Go Now in Peace,” the choir’s favorite benediction where I served as organist.

A Hymn to Help

My heart skipped a beat with the realization that my caring Father in heaven was bringing these words to my remembrance to help me now.  So I went over them slowly in my mind, taking a deep breath, closing my eyes and drinking them in.

       Go now in peace…never be afraid

       God will go with you each hour of every day

       Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true

       Know He will guide you in all you do

       Go now in love, and show you believe

       Reach out to others so all the world can see

       God will be there, watching from above

       Go now in peace, in faith, and in love.

       Amen, amen, amen.*

A new peace settled around me at that moment.  Maybe I can do this!  Yes, it gave me confidence for the days ahead.  As it turned out, the whole experience was somewhat effortless and quite enjoyable, supported by the realization that God would go with me and guide me in all that I was to do.

When the time was right and we knew we would be leaving Richmond, Virginia, and going on to Denton, Texas, I shared briefly in the choir room rehearsal before we went in for the service about how their favorite benediction had helped me.   During the weeks ahead, we shed tears, especially me, for I had really become bonded with the people at the church.

When my last Sunday there arrived, I had special satisfaction when I saw the sheet cake with the words “Go Now in Peace” because it meant that they remembered my small sharing moment that day in the choir room.  They also prepared a beautiful framed caligraphy of the words to the song, topped off with a bouquet of red roses on the organ.

The framed caligraphy of the words has hung on our wall ever since, right at our front door, so that everyone who goes from our home can see the words….Go now in peace.

Image

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.

*by Don Besig

Advertisements

HymnServe.com – Saturday at the White Castle

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

What a welcome the weekend was. 

We were both exhausted and weary from the past week.  What made us go downtown by the capitol in Richmond so early on a Saturday morning, I don’t remember.  But there we were, having parked and walking around with some welcome free time to do whatever we wanted.   Then we saw the White Castle and said, “Let’s get some breakfast.”

We went in and sat on stools at two of the few counter places in the little cafe.  Nobody else was in there.  An older African American woman took our order.  She has gotten up so early this morning and is running the place by herself, I thought.   As she fried the bacon and carefully put the eggs on the griddle, we sat quietly and watched.

Above the sound of the blower above the griddle, I could faintly hear her humming.  I believe it was a hymn that was very familiar to me.  Whatever it was about the moment, it got my full attention, and she spoke to me a sermon that rivaled any Sunday sermon I ever heard.  It got right into my heart.  I marveled at her peace and contentment at her work.  It pointed up my own attitude so many times about ‘work.‘  It was compared to my lack of enthusiasm about the common everyday tasks of a mother and wife that were part of my life.   As she placed the plates in front of us and we began to eat, I felt humbled by her kind service to me.

That has been years ago now, but it is stamped in the memory, because it made me want to be more like her.  Lord, make me to be more thankful, grateful, content, and kinder in the work that you have given me to do.

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.

 

HymnServe.com – That Day, 9-11

That day, 9-11, we drove to Columbus for one of Dan’s meetings.

As President of University of Toledo, he had to go to Columbus periodically to meet with the other state presidents in Ohio.  I was to drop him off and then do my own thing.  I was out at the parking meter, preparing to get in the car and drive away from the building he had entered for his meeting when the cell phone rang.  It was our son who called and said, “Have you heard?”  No, because we had traveled from Toledo to Columbus without the radio on.

He said, “We are at war!”

So I just walked to the nearest place where I could see a TV–a hotel lobby where a little group of people were gathered to watch.  It wasn’t long before Dan and all the others came back down without continuing the meeting and headed back to Toledo to deal with any campus issues that might threaten.

The 2nd morning after 9-11, there was an all campus memorial gathering outdoors for students and any and everyone who wanted to come.  As I parked and walked toward the large quad in the middle of the campus, I began to hear choral music wafting out over the sunshiny air.

A Hymn to Help

The music was breathtaking, and as I got closer the scene became surreal.  So many people had quietly gathered, but the University’s male chorus was truly inspired in singing an ancient modal hymn that had been selected by the director.  I thought I knew almost any hymn they could have sung, but not this one.

God be in my head…and in my understanding,

God be in mine eyes…and in my looking,

God be in my mouth…and in my speaking,

God be in my heart…and in my thinking,

God be at mine end…and in my departing.

If ever there was a moment when God’s Spirit settled down on a place, this was one of them.  I will never forget it.

Since that time, I have gone back periodically to listen to this hymn and learn it myself.  If you want to hear it as sung by Kings College, Cambridge, you can use this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qif2rfBmcTA

As a postscript to this story, it was the students of the University that held the day.  Administrators and faculty spoke during the convocation.  Then, the student body president and vice president came to the podium together to represent the students of the University.  They who had never experienced an attack by a foreign power on our homeland were crushed and frightened.

So the student body president, a devout young Catholic student, began his remarks.  Half way through he broke down so that he couldn’t continue.  The lovely young woman vice president began without a break to read his script for him.  Then when he regained his composure he began again.

He said, “I asked her beforehand to take over for me if I couldn’t finish.”  So he ended his speech.

Toledo has a high Arab population as does Detroit which is only over the border into Michigan from us.  When it came time for the Muslim student association president to make remarks, I could feel the tension rise in my own heart.  What would he say?  Would it be right?  He was a wonderfully handsome young student, and by the time he finished, he had said exactly all the things that I would have wanted him to say.

But here is the heart stopper.  Halfway through his speaking, the student body president stepped up beside him, put his hands on each of his shoulders and stood there until he finished the speech.  It signaled to all of us such an eloquent moment,. . . we are united, and we are standing together in this time of crisis.

Image

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.

 

HymnServe.com – Grandma’s Singing

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

Grandma Burry would really sing. photo

During hymn singing at church, I can still hear her voice.   She participated wholeheartedly, not especially loud though, and sometimes her hand would move up and down in rhythm to the music and she might bounce a little up and down.  I can’t say her style was “Cool.”   No it was unpolished, unpretentious, unselfconscious,…..and sincere…real worship to her Lord and Savior.  Her singing is now a lovely memory for me.

She almost always had an apron on at home.  And she would sing and hum while she was working.  These songs undoubtedly strengthened her.  You see, she had been a widow with 7 children to raise alone and ran a restaurant in a tiny crossroads of a town in order to make enough to get by.

A Hymn to Help

Now as a grandmother myself, I can remember Grandma’s favorite hymn.  As I peruse the words and put myself into her mind, I can see why she loved it.  Contained in it was a lesson for all of us, her children, grandchildren and everyone else.   ‘Ere you left your room this morning, Did you think to pray? In the name of Christ our Savior, Did you sue for loving favor, As a shield today? 

O how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day
So when life seems dark and dreary
Don’t forget to pray.

When you met with great temptation
Did you think to pray?
By His dying love and merit
Did you claim the Holy Spirit
As your guide and stay?

O how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day
So when life seems dark and dreary
Don’t forget to pray.

When your heart was filled with anger
Did you think to pray?
Did you plead for grace, my brother
That you might forgive another
Who had crossed your way?

O how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day
So when life seems dark and dreary
Don’t forget to pray.

When sore trials came upon you
Did you think to pray?
When your soul was bowed in sorrow
Balm of Gilead did you borrow
At the gates of day?

O how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day
So when life seems dark and dreary
Don’t forget to pray.

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.

 

HymnServe.com – Life and Work

Time spent alone, brought unexpected rewards.hs-home-01

Down inside, I always knew I could do everything–have it all and do it all– if I just worked hard enough and longer than others if necessary.  This served me well enough through high school, then college.  I kept this philosophy after marriage and children.

But then the day came when I began to break down under the load.   The struggle was getting more intense.  Things were difficult at work.  Our boys were having to do too much on their own.  My husband was extremely busy too.  We were both climbing. . .climbing up on our separate poles of life.  Things finally came to a head and I felt that I needed to stop my too busy life.  I would give up my college teaching, my main work for 9 years of the past.  Leaving the bulk of it all behind I knew I was simply ‘going home.’  Back to the home to pay attention to my family and my husband.

It was surprising how the three of them kind of ‘came home’ too when I did.  Somehow there was a core there again, in our home.  This was a whole new page to my life, a very quiet page, and one where I had more time to read the scriptures and pray again.  So I found a listening ear during those quiet times.  It would be an audience of one, Jesus would hear.  Definitely I felt I was ‘put on the shelf.’  There was no need to follow a strict schedule, such a change from before.

Those devotional times became very special.  I would sing the Psalms.  Did you ever do that, just select a Psalm that spoke to you and begin making up a melody and singing it?  With music and teaching as the focus of my up until then, now I began to sit at the piano and sing little melodies and make up the words during my devotions.

One day, I was singing from the scripture the words “my times are in thy hands.”  These are words of comfort and oh how I needed comfort.  This time when I was singing, the most lovely words came out of my mouth.  I had the distinct feeling that I hadn’t formed them myself.  They just came out.  And they were beautiful.  Here they are:

      Consider the lily, does it toil or spin, or strain over clothes and food, Oh father you see even the sparrow that falls, and you know my name too.

 My times are in Thy hands, Lord, My times are in Thy hands, Thou wilt establish my work, Father, My times are in Thy hands.

When I heard the words, I burst into tears and lay my head down on the piano and wept.  The message in the words was a great comfort and I knew it was a gift to me from the Father above for that day and time in my life.  I gave up very meaningful work, but Jesus would establish my work for me now, a great promise for the future.   I said, “Lord, I hope my singing is acceptable to you, because You will be the only one hearing it.”  Then an unusual thing happened.  In my mind I heard immediately a sentence that was dropped there without the usual thought patterns that lead up to the next thought.  It was,  “You are becoming acceptable to me, and you’ll always be singing just for me.”

That was a long time ago, but I have held that in my heart ever since.  There have been various opportunities to sing when other people were around, but always I knew that my real audience was my Father in heaven.  Yes, I know He likes my singing.  He likes it when it is heartfelt and real.  If it pleases him, then everything else falls into place.

My CD was recorded a few years ago.  “There’s a New Song in the Morning” is the name of it and it is made up mainly of songs that I have written.  I never aspired to compose songs and even now I don’t think of myself as a song writer.  No, they were given to me by a loving Father above at a time when I needed them the most.  I intend to live life this way, allowing Him to ‘establish my work’ always, because. . . my times are in His hands.

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.

HymnServe.com – When Dad Died

100_0804by Elaine@hymnserve.com

The songs we sang around his bed helped us to see him off.

We were there, Mom, my husband Dan and I, my brother Vern and his wife Connie, and Betty, our hospice minister, an long time friend of ours.  I had spent the night in the room keeping watch for Dad.  The nurse would come in periodically during the night and hoist him up on her shoulder and turn him over.  He couldn’t help, just lay limp over her.  This was a man of 98 leaving behind many years of faithful giving of his life to Christian ministry and to God to use in any way possible.  Vernon and Connie went down the hall to run an errand around 11 am.

It was then that I saw what the hospice people had alerted us to, Dad missing some breaths, a kind of apnea.  I told Betty.  She glanced at him and darted out of the room calling loudly for Vernon and Connie to come back.  I had been very brave all along, keeping my hand on Dad’s shoulder, telling him he would soon be seeing his Mom, Dad, Sister, old friends.  But then as we all stood around the bed I crumbled and cried out in such a way I had not heard before, such heavy weeping clutching my Mom and my husband.  Then in a moment of clarity, I stopped and said to my brother, “We can’t do it this way can we?  He shook his head, no. I said, “Let’s sing.”

A HYMN TO HELP

So through tears we sang the first thing that came to mind.  It was for Dad’s sake to comfort him and give him courage, this old, old song:

     Won’t it be wonderful there! Having no burdens to bear, Joyously singing with heart bells all ringing, Oh won’t it be wonderful there!

Then for our own sake and Dad’s too, we sang:

‘Tis So Sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at his word, Just to rest upon his promise, Just to know thus saith the Lord.

     Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er, Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust Him more.

And the second verse.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him, Precious Jesus, Savior Friend, And I know that Thou art with me, Will be with me to the end.

Not realizing how fitting that last line would be now, we had started the song just because it came to mind.  How poignant those words were in that sacred moment when Dad was getting ready to go away from us!

Then Vern said, “Do you suppose we could remember the words to The King is Coming?”  This is the song that Dad sang with such anointing and authority until he became known all around for singing it.  People would say, “Oh, could Brother Clark sing The King is Coming?”  And Mother always played the piano.

We started off,

The King is Coming in Glory to catch His bride away, It may be in the morning, it may be at midday, At the even, or midnight the trump will sound so clear, The dead in Christ and we who live His voice shall hear!

     The King is coming, hallelujah, He’s coming in the air, The fig tree is budding, the signs are everywhere, The saints are looking, ever upward, as they journey on their way, He’s coming, hallelujah! to catch his bride away.

It was during this song that so many times people would ask him to sing, that he went away from us.

I  never really had to grieve like that again.  He was ready to go, his life spoke so eloquently to everyone, it was a celebration of a life well lived.  And the last song we sang put everything in proper order and served a reminder to us.  We will see him again.

I love you, Dad.

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.

HymnServe.com – Moving from Texas to Alaska

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

We were moving from Texas to Alaska and our house had to sell.  An exciting time but also scary.  Other people we knew had houses in their former cities of employment that they were having to maintain because they hadn’t sold.  So we got the house beautifully clean and delightful to look at. After all, that was not difficult, because this was such a fantastic house that I made calls to find the builder and already had a copy of the house plans in case we would want to build it someplace else.  So as the weeks went by we kept our hopes up and waited.

The time came when there indeed was a buyer.  We were ready for the inspection phase.  What follows is like a nightmare.  He came and placed red dots on almost all of the small panes of the lovely windows declaring that they were leaking. They were not cloudy like one would expect leaking windows to be.   He immediately shut down the furnace because of possible danger!  There were pages of problems around the house that he listed.  We were incredulous.  Now it was up to us to disprove these things or take the consequences, drastic reduction in price, if we were to keep the sale viable.  How would we ever be able to do this?

A Hymn to Help

There were sleepless nights for me.  One night I got up quietly so as not to disturb my husband and went out to sleep on the couch so my tossing and turning wouldn’t wake him.  As I lay there, I realized that a song was playing in the background of my mind and I didn’t pay much attention…the tune just going over and over.  Maybe I should bring the words of this song into focus, was my thought.  Could there be something there to help me feel better?  It was that old hymn “I’m a Child of the King.”  I remembered it well.  My heart leaped a bit when in my thoughts I say the first phrase.

My Father is rich in  houses  and  lands,   He holdeth the wealth of the  world  in  His  hands!       Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, His coffers are full, He has riches untold!

I’m a child of the King, a child of the King.  With Jesus, my Savior, I’m a child of the King.

I could feel the tension in my body relax as I was reminded that I’m not in this alone.  My own Father above is more than adequate to handle where I will live and the finances connected with it.  I was so excited by this direct encouragement that I bounded off the couch and ran to my hymnal collection to look up the words of the other hymn verses to see if there is even more encouragement there.  Sure enough.  Excitedly I read,

A  tent  or  a  cottage,  why  should  I  care?    He’s  building   a   palace   for   me   over   there.  An exile from home, but still I can sing, Oh Glory to God, I’m a child of the King.

My relief was palpable.  Yes, Jesus was telling me now that I must not worry, that I will be okay.  A more humble abode than this one would be fine as the phrase a tent or a cottage explains.  We have health, we have family, and so many other blessings.  Yes, I will be an exile from home in that I am going to a place where I am a stranger, but the promise is that still I can sing and things will work out for us.  Blessed sleep follows.

Summers are hot in Texas and I needed to solve the furnace problem so we could use the air conditioner.  So I went to our file drawer and began to hunt for the furnace maintenance receipts.  After a tedious search,  I found a fairly recent receipt that showed a furnace maintenance.  Before my unbelieving eyes, our furnace man had uncharacteristically left a handwritten not on the receipt, Furnace is fine!

We slugged our way through all the other “problems” with our house through the weeks ahead.  The new buyers finally spoke to us with some kind of conciliatory statement to the effect that it was  somewhat embarrassing for them the way that inspector behaved.  We came out the other side of this trial breathing easier and with a clear vision for our next assignment in Alaska, thanks to our Lord, who is ever faithful in the crisis times.

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.