Tag Archives: God’s guidance

A Sacred Moment at the Shoe Store

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com  Va_State_Capitol

My last day of work at the Virginia House of Delegates, it was.  Yes, I had been coming up here to the capital in Richmond for 6 years. . . before, during and after the legislative sessions.  It was a ‘part of the year’ position, 4 to 6 months.  You had to be recommended by someone who already worked there in order to be invited to work there.  It was such a quirk that I ended up doing this since I am really almost apolitical.

As a volunteer patient representative wearing the characteristic pink jacket, I walked into a hospital room one day and nobody was in the bed.  A young woman was sitting at the table writing.  She looked up and identified herself as the patient.  We quickly had a nice conversation.

Then she said, “I think you could do my job, over at the House of Delegates.”  She explained a bit about it and said I could use her name as a recommendation if I wanted to go over there and inquire about it.  I was at the University Hospital which was very close to the capital.  Why not, I thought.  It wouldn’t hurt to check into it.

After I was hired, I was trained to do indexing.  One had to quickly read the bill and compose a summary for it after which it would be added to the index of all the bills that were in the pipeline.  Then, any citizen could look up any bill and see what it is about.

It was feast or famine.  During times of heavy work or ‘feast’ we were asked to agree at the outset that we would stay late into the night if necessary to get everything done before session the next day.  During famines we would have to be on hand and had to keep busy on our own.  I always brought my check book to balance, bills to pay or a book to read.   I have to laugh when I think that I learned to knit during one of these lulls at the Virginia House of Delegates.  There were about 7 or 8 of us in the indexing area, and we would discuss all kinds of things and got to know each other pretty well.   Sometimes I was invited to offer prayer before our special pot lucks or other little celebrations in the indexing room.

Then I moved down the hall and did enrolling and engrossing, that is, work the new amendment wording into the bills and then enroll it into law.  We proofread a lot with a partner, reading out loud long passages to each other to make sure it was exact, as passed by the House.

Then for a few years I went over and had my work area right inside the chamber.  We would make sure the bills were placed on the desks of the delegates, run back and forth, carrying bills, quite a long list of duties.  At the end of the session, I told my immediate superior that I wanted to stay long enough to finish a handbook of all the forms I had learned to use, and just in what sequence each of them should be used, so it would be easier for the next person who would follow me.  I finished it early in the afternoon of my last day, and my supervisor gave me a nice going away gift.

It was kind of a let down and I decided to go down the street a while where all the stores were before I retrieved the car and went on home.  It was kind of a subdued feeling I had, a little blue.  I felt a little out of my element there on the Clerk’s staff.  I had much more trust in God than I did in politics.  Most of the staff people and interns were totally turned on by the environment, the fact that we were invited to huge events sponsored by lobbyists, invited to the governor’s mansion, and met different well known politicians in the elevator.  I remember when I had my work spot right there in the House chamber, one of the women delegates slipped in there and shed a few tears out of sight of the other legislators when one of her encounters on the ‘floor’ was more than she could take.  There was still a lot of racial tension and stories that made the rounds for the gossip networks.  What did I accomplish being there, I thought.  What good did I do for eternal values?  I couldn’t point to much.

I passed the big shoe store with long aisles up and down.  So I stopped in.  In mid-afternoon nobody was in there.  The young African American clerk was at the front by the cash register and a friend apparently had stopped by and they were talking.  I lost myself looking at the hundreds of shoes displayed on the long aisles.

I was toward the back and all of a sudden I heard the words to a Psalm I had learned in grade school.  Our teacher had helped us memorize several of the Psalms and we spoke them for the PTA meeting as a speaking choir.  (Yes, this was a public school, but even then the teacher was very courageous in finding a way to instill valuable truths in her students.)  The shoe store clerk was quoting one of those songs as written by David the shepherd who composed many of the Psalms.  The young man wasn’t singing it, because we have no record of the ancient tunes.  He was almost preaching the words to his friend, very animated and inspired with his voice raised.

He didn’t know it but it was for me too that he was quoting this special passage that I had memorized long ago.  I stopped in my tracks and listened intently, the words rolling over me like a cool shower bringing comfort and a deep breath as I stood among the shoe boxes.  I knew it was a poignant reminder from Jesus himself, given to me as a gift that afternoon.

Here is what I heard.

        Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

(Father God, this is the kind of person I have tried to be.)

        But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

(Do you remember, Jesus, the verse I typed up and put on the bulletin board above my desk? “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord.”   And then one day someone had taken it down?)

        And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;  

(Lord, you are saying to me that maybe I don’t see any fruit from my life now, but in the right season, it will be there.) 

        his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 

(What a marvelous promise, Lord!  Thank you!)

       The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

(Thank you Father, God, that you have planted me on solid ground and my life won’t be waste material that would blow away in the wind.)

       Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

(Thank you for cleaning me up and allowing me a place in your congregation; that is where I most want to be.) 

       For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.  

(Thank you, God, that you loved the world so much that you gave your only begotten son and caused me to believe in Him and not perish but have everlasting life.)

Psalm 1

King James Version (KJV)

Here is a beautiful and contemporary rendition of Psalm 1:

Elaine@hymnserve.com

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

Advertisements

When the Sparrow Sang at Church

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com

Mother was always busy on Saturdays getting her Sunday School opening service ready.   This occurred about the first 20 minutes on Sunday Morning for the whole congregation but especially the children.  Afterward, everyone would proceed to their individual classes.  She would be highly focused, making posters with art pens and paints or something else to help illustrate the point she wanted to make.

One time she discovered a woman in the church who whistled beautifully and could make lovely bird calls.  A plan developed.  Next Sunday a soloist would sing the song “His Eye is On the Sparrow,” and the whistler would add beautiful bird sounds above her singing voice.   The whistler would be at a microphone back behind the platform out of sight.   A ‘sparrow’ created by Mother would be brought in to sit beside the soloist and appear to be the one whistling.

When the time came, Mother explained to the congregation that the sparrow itself was going to be heard from this morning at church.   While the soloist would sing, the sparrow would be accompanying her.

Mother covered me in a costume of crepe paper and dressed me up as a sparrow with wings and a bill and everything.  I could see out where they cut holes for my eyes.  I was perched on a little dolly.  Someone pulled me out across the platform beside the soloist.  When the whistling behind stage began, I moved my head as if the sparrow itself was doing the whistling.

The children were spellbound.  The adults already knew the words to that song and were were smiling at this unusual demonstration.  But they were also very moved at this beautiful musical reminder that, yes, our God is the one who sees us and knows us intimately. . . and loves us more than we can really comprehend, and we can rest assured he will take care of us at all times.

People outside of our area noted Mother’s opening services on Sunday mornings, because some years later, she was asked to repeat the sparrow event for the national Sunday School Convention in Springfield, Missouri.  Again I was dressed up as the sparrow, and again people responded, as they were reassured that we have a God who sees us, loves us, and watches over us.

A Hymn to Help

This song has helped so many people so many times.  It has been sung by the famous Ethel Waters and George Beverly Shea.  No doubt it has been hummed in many homes and remembered tearfully through many struggles.  It has backing in the scriptures and is stated so beautifully in Matthew 10 and Matthew 6.

     Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside     your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

     Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  

Mississippi Children’s Choir link below, singing “His Eye is On the Sparrow.”

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uatCU8QzdyA

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n 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.

 Refrain:

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.

Image

 Here is a picture of our Mother today.

Elaine@hymnserve.com

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

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.

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

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.