Tag Archives: forgiveness

Aunt Virginia’s Favorite Hymns

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com  photo

Aunt Virginia–so stylish and cool.

When I saw her shoes, I sure wanted some just like hers with the white straps coming up around the ankles.  When we managed to find a pair of shoes as much like hers as possible, Mother went along with it and got them for me.   Virginia had a refined sense of humor.  Very funny.  She used words that fired the imagination and the funny bone like when we were in a tiny town in Nebraska and couldn’t find the family reunion.  “We come all the way from Oregon, and now here we are ‘hurtling’ up and down Main Street trying to find it,” was the way she described it.

After I grew up, we would go by Portland any time we were close and would visit with her and Uncle Warren.  First we would peruse her exquisite antique shop attached to the house.  Her taste and knowledge was notable.  Uncle would work on the antiques in the room at the back of the elongated shop.  He could be a bit gruff with the customers–kind of the John Wayne type only much more handsome.  Therefore, Aunt Virginia stated that he is President of the Back Room and she is President of the Front.

One day when I was there with her, I saw a darling curved leg writing desk in the shop.   They were getting older, I mused.  How much longer would they have the shop?  Maybe I should buy a piece that Warren had worked on and Virginia had selected herself.  It would be memorable for me.  So, now as I write, I can look at the small desk and still love it as much as when I first saw it as I think of her.

It had always concerned me down through the years that Virginia didn’t declare that she knew the Lord.  They didn’t attend church, didn’t speak about the Christian life.  I knew she idolized her older brother, Elmond, a dedicated minister and servant of Jesus.  She was raised by an alcoholic father, who at age 50 had a miraculous turnaround when he accepted Jesus and served as a minister until in his 80’s.  That was my Granddad Clark.

When our families would get together, we would always sing around the piano, and I noticed in those later years it became a habit that Aunt Virginia would request us to sing two songs.  The Wonder of It All, sung so well by George Beverly Shea, and I Believe in Miracles.  Cousin Loren had sung both of them many times in the past as solos.  So we would always sing those for her.  Now that I am writing this, I notice that the theme of both of them is the saving grace of Jesus.  This speaks to me even now.

When I heard that she was diagnosed with a life threatening illness, I hated it.  I didn’t want to face it, so I waited months without contacting her.  Then one day I knew I must call her and tell her how much she had meant to me.  I explained that why I didn’t call sooner was that I didn’t want to confront the fact that her life was threatened.  It was a good conversation.

After the two of them moved into assisted living, I flew out once again to Portland.   What a happy surprise when it turned out to be a mini-reunion with a little group of us cousins coming together to see her.  Very shortly after I got there, Aunt Virginia asked me something about being ready to go…regarding her last journey.  We had a short conversation.   Did she ask God for forgiveness for the wrongs she had committed in her life?  “Oh hundreds of times!” she responded.  Then I assured her that was all she needed to do.   It is so comforting to me now that we talked about this.

We had a wonderful time all of us together.  We had to go down to the large reception area by the piano and have our group sing.  Other residents gathered around and began to request hymns or other songs they would like to sing.  One more time we sang Aunt Virginia’s favorites for her.

Hymns That Help

The Wonder of It All   

There’s the wonder of sunset at evening,
The wonder as sunrise I see;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that God loves me.

Refrain
O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.
O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.

There’s the wonder of springtime and harvest,
The sky, the stars, the sun;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is a wonder that’s only begun.

I Believe in Miracles

Creation shows the power of God
There’s glory all around
And those who see Him stand in awe
For miracles abound

Refrain
I believe in miracles
I’ve seen a soul set free
Miraculous the change in one
Redeemed through Calvary
I’ve seen the lily push its way
Up through the stubborn sod
I believe in miracles
For I believe in God.

I cannot doubt the work of God
It’s plain for all to see
The miracles that He has wrought
Should lead to Calvary

The love of God, oh power divine
‘Tis wonderful to see
The miracle of grace performed
Within the heart of me

At the funeral, we sang them again. . . for her and for ourselves, as we celebrated Aunt Virginia’s life.   I am reassured that Aunt Virginia made her last journey well, and we will see her again in our heavenly home.

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHHbzPS6Hb8

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

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The Christian Athiest

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

Yes, I was in a tiff.

These things happen in life.  But very soon,  I realized that I was holding on to this perceived indignity and not wanting to give it up.

Ah. . . but then, the next morning was Sunday.   In the sermon the minister mentions the book The Christian Atheist and recommends it.  According to the author, Craig Groeschel, there are people who are Christians but act as atheists…ones who don’t believe the teachings of Jesus.  (I recognize myself there at times.)  We don’t live up to our own standards, and all of us Christians are hypocrites at some time or another.  This causes severe damage to others when they see our failures and they had expected so much more of us.

Lord please help me, help me.  I feel hopelessly unable to drop this resentment.

A Hymn to Help

Then the song came crowding into my mind, “Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace” by Olive Dungan  That is the prayer of Saint Francis.  I realize the huge block that I have at this time in being any kind of instrument of peace.  So I continued through the words in my mind:

Where there is hatred, let me sow Love,. . .  But I really don’t want to, Lord.

Where there is injury, pardon,. . . I need to pardon. You pardon Me constantly, Jesus.

Where there is doubt, faith,. . . Where is my faith in your Way, Lord?

Where there is distress, hope,. . . Hope.  This needs to be in my thinking.

Where there is darkness, light. . .  It’s heaviness and darkness now.

Where there is sadness, joy,. . . I am sad.

Oh divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console, . . .Yes, Lord, all I am thinking is me me me and my need to be consoled.

To be understood as to understand, . . . It is my ego, my pride, and my desire to control certain things that make me angry.  Shall I now put myself in the other person’s place and try to understand another point of view?  OK.  Think back.  This person is capable of a lot of thoughtful actions — remember? 

To be loved as to love,. . .  Shall I love right now rather than focusing on Me? 

For it is in giving that we receive, . . .  Well, I know that is true.  (I feel my heart softening.)

It is is pardoning that we are pardoned,. . . Oh Yes, important point!

It is in dying that we are BORN to eternal life! . . . Big sigh, uh huh.  

So it was this song that helped so much.  The words of the song served to remind me of what I wanted to say as I confessed my wrongs, along with points from the sermon I heard.  I don’t live up to my own standards, even though I want to.

It is easy to confess my wrongs to God, but what about the person with whom I had the disagreement.  That was surprisingly easy as well, after I had gotten myself turned around.  One couldn’t help but notice the fragile but subdued peace that settled down after my sorrowful confession.  It felt good.

out0123

If you want to listen to the song, there is an absolutely heavenly interpretation of it that I bought on iTunes some time ago sung by Annet Nakamoto.  It is worth far more than the 99 cents, but I don’t know how one would share it on a blog like this.    If you want to listen to a bit of it, the title is “Eternal Life” by Olive Dungan sung by Annet Nakamoto.

http://www.amazon.com/1-Pearls-Sacred-Music-Annet-Nakamoto/dp/B000FTKRYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1368110652&sr=1-1

This rendition I can share is excellent and sung by a guest of Diane Bish, the organist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo3mm7jPsLk

By the way, I have now read The Christian Atheist and it is a great read.  It is available on Amazon, but I got it from the public library.  The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn’t Exist by Craig Groeschel (Author).

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

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