Thursday, July 26, 2007

Greenbelt is Now Waterway

Monday we had a crazy storm! Husband came home and declared that there was a dust storm (which is usually followed by rain) coming in from the North. I looked out the window and asked, "Are you sure? From the North?" Because as I saw it there was one coming in from the SOUTH. Well, sure enough there was one coming in from BOTH directions and they would precisely converge over our house. To say the least it produced some phenomenal rain, thunder, and lightning for most of the night. In the morning we woke up with this as our view from the fence in our backyard. There is a sidewalk under there somewhere where people daily walk their pets and traverse the area to get to the pool and the fitness area. Not so much for the last few days. Now, I think it is just muddy back there with more rains in the forecast. It did absorb pretty fast and I need to go to see just how much is still back there.

On Tuesday morning I discovered that it was still ever so slightly raining. Well, I decided that this would be the perfect time to go pull those few weeds out in the front yard. Seriously there were probably three in all but they are those funky ground cover ones that just drive me crazy. I could pull weeds all day when the ground is wet... so simple. I even pondered pulling my neighbor's weeds. But I refrained considering I don't know them very well... they may have taken offense. However, although I didn't mind pulling our few weeds and took delight in keeping our home lovely in front, I was thankful that Husband had opted to pull out his store of "pre-emergent" early this spring and spray all of our rocks with the stuff. It basically keeps most of the weeds from seeding and then somehow doesn't allow the seeds to grow back. Pretty plant friendly and less work for us throughout the year by spraying everything about twice a year. Good stuff. I wish we had used this stuff when I was a kid!

So, that's the word from us here in rainy Arizona... that just sounds and looks funny. It's cooling off a bit... but its still reaching into the 100's from time to time... which isn't so fun with humidity. Oh well... we will survive!

Monday, July 16, 2007

How Sweet and Awful Is the Place

How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
"Lord, why was I a guest?

Why was I made to hear the voice,
And enter while there's room,
When thousands make the wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?"

'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

- Isaac Watts, Hymns and Sacred Songs, 1707 (Old Irish hymn melody)

I remember the first time that I really sang this song and the power behind the words met my heart and the Spirit really moved to show me what a gift God has given me through being included in His covenant and His kingdom...His Church. We first sang this, or when I really remembered it, when Husband and I came back from Ireland. We had just been in a beautiful country where church and Christ are not highly looked upon. They, like the U.S., are removing religion from their schools. Churches are having to close their doors and sell their buildings, which are then being turned into offices or others things of that nature. For example, St. Andrew's in Dublin now houses the Office of Tourism rather than gathered worshippers. And the churches that are open are reduced to opening the doors to tourists and charging them a fee to come in so that they can stay afloat.

Lord, "We long to see Thy churches full..."

I cry every time we sing this song in church. Maybe it's in some part that it is an Irish melody, but mostly it's because it is filled to the brim with the richness of who God is and His love for His bride, the Church. It is quickly becoming one of my favorites because of its potency. I think it may be taken from the book of Acts, but I need to look into that more. It moves me with the vastness of my sin and the need for a Savior in a fallen world. It speaks of unity and the Gospel going forth... there's so much here in these six little verses!

You can hear a midi file version of the hymn here - it's pretty much how we sing it at church (minus their noted second verse). I found some other versions online that just kind of scared me. :) But, I guess each to their own musical interpretation and arrangement. I will take our traditional piano any time, thanks.
Photo is of a small little chapel in Ireland, used only on holidays.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Psalm Singing

This quote was found on Doug Wilson's blog and I thought it bared repeating...

"Without a restoration of the psalms to an honored place in worship, our musical worship of the Lord will continue to have the gravitas of a glad bag full of styrofoam packing peanuts"(Mother Kirk, p. 138)

So true. In the word we see the admonition to be singing hymns and pslams at the very least. What could be better than singing the psalms, the very WORD of God. Yes, many of them are set to music and are in a "hymnal" type form. Makes one think about what one is singing in church, yes?

I'm not saying that other songs are bad... but when we really think about worship what are we really singing about? Ourselves and our worship or about the character of God? How could it be any better than to sing the Word of God back to the One who wrote it?

This is some of what I have been learning and I find that I am singing these things when I am around the house, driving, and even in the waking hours of the morning. There are times that I find myself in tears in church at the sheer magnitude of God through the gift of song and of the singing of hymns and psalms.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Life and a Class Remembered...

It's interesting how things in life can take a person down "memory lane".... things like the passing of a beloved family friend or a class reunion. Both of these are present in life right now and it has been fun and quite sad in both regards.
On July 4th, much to my unknowing heart, would be the last day that a dear friend breathed her last here on this earth (three days after her 73rd birthday). Shirley Quillin passed into another life free from her ailing body here on earth. Shirley was the wife of Norm... Norm the hunting buddy and dear friend of my Dad (They reminded me of Fred and Barney from the Flintstones at times). As I think back on childhood it brings fondness with great sadness and a lump in my throat. Norm was there for my Dad when my Mom passed away - just in that they have been friends for over 28 years. Now my Dad is here for Norm. Norm and Shirley were always at our house on Sunday afternoons if Norm and my Dad were not out on some hunting trip. Although, I remember a couple of times that we joined them on their excursions to the woods. Shirley would read until I came and asked her to play games with me... we would play for hours. I remember the hours spent at our house where she would watch Disney films with me and when I was older she taught me how to play Canasta and Dirty Canasta. (Oh what I wouldn't do for a refresher course from her now) I remember how she and my late Aunt Dee would sit and talk and laugh for hours. There are more memories than I can really recount. She was loved dearly and I wish that I had made more time to visit her over the last few years. What I am most sad about now is that she never met Matt. But through the grapevine, she knew that he made me happy. Shirley will be deeply missed by her friend, her grandchildren, children, and I am sure she will be missed most by Norm.
Ten years ago I graduated from Los Lunas High School... big deal, right? Many will say what's the big deal... well, I had fun in high school (much more in college) but high school was a good thing for me. Granted, I really only keep in touch with a hand full of people anymore it was fun to think about people I hadn't thought about since high school and finally to hear from people that had poked their way through my memory over the last 10 years. One of my classmates decided to put bios together of those who thought to send them in so those of us unable to attend, like me, could still catch up with some people. It was great to see what some people have done since those four short years in high school and to see how they have changed. Unfortunately, there were a few that... well... haven't changed at all and it came shining through in their bio. Many thought they were in better places than they could have imagined back then... many said they were still working on figuring out who they were... and others thought (in a negative sense) they were in a place they never thought of when we were just 18. People are married and have children, some are divorced, some have advanced degrees, others do not. Some are following Christ... others are running away. Some have even passed away... what a thought.
It has been a week of remembrance...however, I am so very blessed by the present and I look to the future with excited anticipation of all that the Lord holds for our household.