Hymns of Grace #4: It Is Well With My Soul

“…any God worth believing in is the God not only of the immensities of the galaxies I rejoice in at night when I walk the dogs, but also the God who cares about the sufferings of us human beings and is here, with us, for us, in our pain and in our joy… I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights.” -Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle

This song has taken on new meaning for me this year. In peace and in sorrow, He is there. He is here.

It is providential that it was the hymn I read this past Sunday afternoon, still going through Aunt Marie’s hymnal. The story of this hymn was briefly mentioned that morning at church. You can read about it HERE.

Last year, my dear friend, Jeannie, gave me a necklace inscribed with this song title. It has become precious to me. I thank God for people like Horatio Spafford and Jeannie.

One Year Ago

Savannah, Georgia – early 2000s

One year ago Chuck posted this on facebook:

As some of you are aware, I put in for retirement effective June 1 and we placed our home on the market. The house went under contract immediately and we close on 5/19/20.

Unfortunately a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. We have consulted with UAB oncologists and decided to return to Jax, FL as planned and I have an appointment at Mayo Clinic this Thursday.
I wish all of you the very best in all life as to offer. Angie and I covet your prayers for strength, wisdom and that the Lord be glorified in our circumstances.

According to the Scripture all 'our days are numbered' so whether mine are few or many "I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for my sins..."

Please forgive me if I ever offended you in anyway, it is never intentional but still there is no excuse.

I pray his blessings upon each of you.

Just a little over a month after this Chuck was gone.

I just finished reading Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle. I didn’t realize when I started it that it was not only a memoir of her marriage but a very detailed telling of her husband’s death. They were married forty years and their relationship was so very much like Chuck’s and mine, though our lives and careers couldn’t have been more different.

She tells of their first date: “But we had talked for ten hours without noticing the time passing.” This is very much what happened with us – maybe not ten hours in one setting, but we talked and talked on each date. I miss those talks.

The Valley of vision #4: Strength

I’ve read statements from unbelievers that think Christians are weak. That believing in God is a sign of weakness. That is so very far from the truth. This line I read today from The Valley of Vision struck me so profoundly:

“Strengthen me that I may cling to Thee and not let Thee go.”

Juliette, summer, 2019

Think about that. It takes strength to hang on. Physically speaking, if I had to hang on to a building or a mountainside or even the monkey bars, I would not make it. My arms are like jelly. (Unlike my granddaughter who has muscles I don’t even dream of). Thank God I have not been left stranded in that way.

But, spiritually speaking, I have felt helpless and sidelined. I could not have held onto God on my own, but He strengthened me and held onto me. He made me to hang onto Him.

What a comfort.


He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29

Photographs and Memories

September, 2012

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal – Love leaves a memory none can steal.”  –  from a headstone in Ireland

If I didn’t have photos, I’d still have memories, but I am so thankful for all the pictures I have to look back on and smile, even though sometimes the smile is between tears sliding down my cheeks. I may have too many photos, but that’s in large part because I am the keeper of the bulk of the pictures that were left behind by Mom and my mother-in-law.

Now in the digital age nearly everyone takes multiple photos on a daily basis. Back as a young teen when I first had a camera, I never knew until I got my developed film just what images I had captured. It was always a thrill to drive up to the Photo Bug to pick up my envelope of photographs.

photo via columbuscoasterco.com

I look forward to making more memories, taking more pictures, and one day passing them on for others to treasure.

Ordeal or Adventure?

on an adventure…

Elderly Cindy takes it all in stride. “My daddy was a farmer. He used to say the only difference between an adventure and an ordeal is how you look at it.” – from Sean of the South‘s blog

Moving can be an ordeal or an adventure. Or both. For me, it’s both this time. The ordeal part is no more than anyone else experiences in moving. After what I’ve been through the past eight months it seems it’s actually going to be a piece of cake.

This is my third move in less than a year. The first two were far from being an adventure. They were an apartment and a house chosen for convenience. This next one has been chosen for a home. The adventure will be in turning it into a home. The adventure will be being with my grandkids. I’m ready.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. – Psalm 23:6

The Valley of Vision #3: My happy place

target.com

I hear the phrase “My happy place” fairly often. There are signs galore with this slogan, shops and even a deli with this name. But, yesterday’s reading in The Valley of Vision puts a whole different spin on “my happy place”,

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. The writings were gathered and edited by Arthur Bennett, Canon of St. Albans Cathedral, England. 

From yesterday’s reading:

“…Cause me to be a mirror of Thy grace, to show others the joy of thy service, may my lips be well-tuned cymbals sounding Thy praise…Teach me the happy art of attending to things temporal with a mind intent of things eternal…”

“…Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit, my delight the gentle ranks of the meek. Let me always esteem others better than myself, and find in true humility an heirloom to two worlds.”


Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God. Psalm 146:5

Homesickness

“But to mourn, that’s different. To mourn is to be eaten alive with homesickness for the person.   -Will, from Cold Sassy Tree by  Olive Ann Burns

I’d never thought before about being homesick for a person, but it is an excellent description. That ache in your belly when you feel you are in a strange place. The rootlessness of feeling alone. The longing for something you can’t quite put your finger on, yet it’s everything.

“Homesickness has to do with attachment,” says Dr. Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “We’re longing for something that in our minds is known, predictable, consistent and stable.” The same for grieving – I am longing for that person I knew, that person who was consistent in my life.

Tamar Chansky, a psychologist and author talks about homesickness in a way that is very similar to much I’ve read about grieving. “…it’s about not yet feeling comfortable where you are… at first we feel like the discomfort we’re experiencing is a forever thing…tell yourself it’s OK and normal to feel this way…”

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be Still, My Soul by Katharina A. von Schlegel, 1752, such a lovely hymn. Take a listen.

Texts from the past #9: Julie

Juliette Marie Bell is eight years old today. Her Grandpa liked to call her Julie.

I’m thankful for the years he had with her. The snuggles, the jokes, the laughs, the sweet times. Last year on her birthday her dad sent Chuck a picture of Julie via text. Chuck’s response was: “Time is flying by. Bee-U-ti-ful”.

We never dreamed this would be his last year with her.

““Misfortunes will happen to the wisest and best of men. Death will come, always out of season.” -Big Elk, Omaha Chief

Not so minor characters

“The minor characters in your life will step into the foreground and shine.” – Sheryl Sandberg

There have been some women who have stepped into the foreground for me. They are not minor characters, but they have been in the background of my life for a while.

Like Lee, my sorority Big Sister in college, who I had not seen for over 40 years. She stepped right back into my life by coming to Chuck’s funeral, all the way from Georgia. We’ve met for lunch and spent the day together catching up on all the years gone by.

Lee and me – Fernandina, 2020

Like Jeannie, who I also met over 40 years ago when Chuck and I were dating. She has been so very kind to me, meeting for lunch and giving me books and gifts to show her love and sympathy.

Jeannie and me – 1980

Like Judy, who calls and writes and lets me know I am always in her prayers. Our friendship doesn’t go back so far, but she is a Christian sister who cares. She doesn’t just post “praying” on social media, but when she says she’s praying I know she really is.

Judy – at Melt in Bham

Like Crystal, another newer friend, who writes nice chatty letters to let me know all the big and little things going on with her family. She shares her life with me and shows her concern for me.

Christmas at Crystal’s – 2019

Like Peggy, who lives in Auburndale but stays connected and checks on me. She sometimes brings along her husband, Tom, who is also a dear friend. They were great friends to Chuck and I and I’m so thankful for them still.

Peggy, St. Augustine, 2013

Like Debbie, who was in my Brownie troop when we were in 2nd/3rd grades. We went to church together through our teens and were in each others weddings. Then, time and miles kept us apart. But, we have reconnected, from Ohio to Florida, and had supper after 20 years and fell right into our friendship again.

Debbie, second from left

Like Darla, who I bonded with when we taught school together. She has made it a point to keep in touch. Her life is full to the brim with grandchildren, but she has made time for me.

Darla at Wild Adventures

That’s the thing – time. It’s not always easy or convenient, but it’s important to make time for the ones we love. For the ones who need our love.

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” – Romans 1:8

hymns of grace #3: in the cross of christ I glory

When the woes of life o’er take me, hopes deceive and fears annoy, Never shall the cross forsake me: Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

This song is unfamiliar to me, so when I thought about how to sing it a song popped into my mind from recesses of my musical memories. It can be sung very well to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine”.

I like the last verse, “Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure, by the cross are sanctified…” It serves to remind us that all the pleasant and all the dreadful that we encounter are all ordained by God for our good.