Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Shepherd, the Psalmist's Son and My Daddy's daughter

In a rare scheduling occurrence, I knew two weeks ahead of time when I would be attending what I consider my "home" church, where I spent most of my growing up years and where my mom and other family members still attend.

So, I did what I do, which was to ask if it would be OK for me to do a solo. My request was granted, and I began trying to choose a song.

I love to sing, but I am not a confident or trained vocalist. My heart says sing, but my mind often tries to talk me out of it. And that can make song selection difficult. For the most part, through the years, singing special music at church has become a spiritual adventure. The processes of song selection, practice, second guessing, finally singing it and trying not to keep doubting typically provide many lessons and insights. This time was no different.

I think the first song that came to mind was Mark Altrogge's "I Stand in Awe of You" (Ecclesiastes 5:7), a relatively new one to me that has words and a melody I love. "You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words; too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard. Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom? Who can fathom the depth of Your love? You are ... majesty, enthroned above. And I stand in awe of you ..." I have at least two hymnals with the song, but searched in vain to find either. At the same time, I wasn't convinced this was the song I would sing. I continued to pray.

Somewhere along the way, the thought of singing "Blessed Assurance" came to mind. I don't remember if this was before or after I realized it would be the Sunday before the anniversary of my Daddy's death (what is it now? three years ago?). But that song, which i sang at the celebration of Daddy's life, didn't seem right for now, either.

On Friday, as I read my favorite Jesus Calling devotional, one of the referenced Scriptures was the 23rd Psalm. And I became pretty sure that's what I wanted to sing. So I started looking for my sheet music of my favorite version. I could not find it, either.

Most of the time, along this journey, I end up finding my copies of the music, and that becomes a confirmation of my song choice. This time I did not. But I found ways to practice both songs without the music. When Sunday came, I wasn't sure which song I would sing. But I ended up singing "The New 23rd" by Ralph Carmichael. And it was the right choice.

I could beat myself up, wondering, when will I ever truly learn to just trust that God is going to work everything out -- and therefore I can skip all this stress? But I think it's possible what seems like stress I go through is maybe a refining process. I do know God works it for good.

I was grateful to be reminded of, and to share in music, the message of Our Lord as a gentle shepherd, as described by the Psalmist David, the man after God's own heart, and with whom I feel a special kinship through the name of my father, Charles Davidson, making me a daughter of the Psalmist's son.

"With blessing overflowing, His goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life. And afterward, I will live with Him forever in His home." ("The New 23rd" by Ralph Carmichael)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


One of the things I looked forward to on a leisurely trip to  San Antonio was shopping for artsy Aggie clothing and accessories. To my surprise and confusion, about all I could find was the burnt orange of Texas Longhorns. 

I finally figured out why. (And my deduction was confirmed in my mind when I found lots of Texas Aggie gear in suburban north Dallas on the trip back to Oklahoma.)

Longhorns are iconic Texan. Longhorns go beyond the University of Texas the same way Sooners transcend OU. So, in touristy areas, of course people are selling and buying - banking on -- the icon. 

Texas A&M and Okie State are more specific to universities. I get that. And it also helps me understand, as someone who still considers myself 100 percent Texan despite having spent 32 of my 55 years in Oklahoma, why I relate more to longhorns than Sooners. 

It's just the way it is. 

Fortunately, sports team gear in North  Texas (except for Gainesville, which seems to market more toward the Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and tu) is fan-driven, so I was finally able to add the desired couple of pieces to my Aggie gear. 

Meanwhile, I'm especially glad that  bluebonnets also are iconic in Texas. I supported a few local artists by picking up some small pieces of work. 

What I didn't find  but would have had to buy was artwork that beautifully showed  bluebonnets, a windmill, a cat and maybe a mailbox and-or a barn. Oh, and toss in the Lone Star flag for good measure. 

Maybe next time. Even with all that burnt orange, I'll be glad to make a return trip to San Antonio, hopefully to again spend time on the River Walk, not far from the iconic Alamo. It does my heart good. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If not for fear ....

If not for fear:

-- I would pledge $40 a month to K-Love, the listener-supported Christian music radio station I tune into every day in my car. (But maybe it's wisdom: How do I know someone isn't getting rich off of the donations? Or maybe it's love: I'm not sure my husband would want me to give that, and I don't want to rock the boat by asking.)

If not for fear:

-- I would express to more than my husband and a few very close friends and family members how troubled I am about certain cultural/spiritual issues .... But I am fearful, and I am now deleting the heart of what I had written about what I honestly wanted to express ... editing it in vague terms, to say, in my heart and soul, I am so FEARFUL for our nation. To me, it looks as if Americans -- including lots of Christians -- are defying the word of God that supposedly is our blueprint for life and relationships.  I know I do and have done some things that I think God clearly disapproves of, based on my understanding of God and the Bible. I can get myself to think God understands why I do what I do, but I can't get myself to think he approves. And so I strive for something better. I think the message is clear on selfishness, gluttony, greed, laziness, caring for those in need and other issues I struggle with, including fear. I can't fathom deciding that what I perceive as my weaknesses in those areas are just who or how I am and that I should accept them. I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ ... (Philippians 3:14)

On that note, if not for fear:

-- I would put people first (visit and help the homebound, grieving, sick and those in need -- my list is so long). Instead, I keep thinking I have to get my own house in order first. That's wise, really, isn't it? And it's showing commitment to my husband, who would love for my house to be orderly! But when I see how little progress I am making toward getting my house in order, I have to wonder.

-- I would eat more healthily.

-- I would take on freelance writing projects.

-- I would pursue more music.

-- I would have cats.

-- I would trust health care providers. What's with my skepticism of doctors? The latest has to do with blood work that shows a deficiency for which my doctor sells the supplement. Sigh. Is the skepticism based on fear, wisdom or something else?

That was 9 a.m. Oct. 9. At 11 pm or so, I pledged $40 a month to K-Love. I am totally trusting that God will make this OK. I listen to K-Love every time I am in my car, which includes a 25-mile commute to and from work and five miles to church. The music and messages help me stay focused on God. And it does sound like the ministry helps carry the gospel and hope to others. I want to be part of that. This seems like a positive step.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." 1 John 4:18

I want to be perfected in God's love.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
(Hebrews 12:1–2)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The way it is

The following excerpt and the Scriptures are from the Oct. 5 Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young. This morning I thought they would inspire a blog post to help me meet with my self-imposed weekly deadline, but nine hours later, I'm not so sure.

"Accept each day just as it comes to you, remembering that I am sovereign over your life. Rejoice in this day that I have made, trusting that I am abundantly present in it. Instead of regretting or resenting the way things are, thank Me in all circumstances. Trust Me and don’t be fearful; thank Me and rest in My sovereignty."

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:6–7)

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Actually, the excerpt and Scriptures did shape my day and help me refocus on God as needed rather than just keep trying to figure things out in my head.

Some aspects of fear, resentment and regret have been sidetracking me recently, but today I had a greater sense of acceptance and peace, for which I am grateful.

Other themes for the day involved simplicity and truth.

Craig Denison's First 15 devotional series finished up a week on the simplicity of love. I think this may be one of those times where the cumulative effect of the week of focus on those Scriptures was more powerful than any given day.

Among the takeaways: 

 -- may you discover today a wonderful life rooted in love-based simplicity;

-- love-based obedience to God;

-- the joy of a love-based life ("You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11; "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13);

-- all God asks of us is love;

-- His love has set us free. (Romans 7:4, "Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God." Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.";

-- God's love has redeemed me;

-- God's love pursues us.