Thursday, May 29, 2008


I grew up singing hymns. No, I'm not that old, I was just raised in traditional churches. I actually like singing hymns. They teach great theology, and besides being in keys that are a bit too high to sing, they are great music.

I have quite a few favorites--Great is Thy Faithfulness, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, May the Mind of Christ My Savior, It Is Well with My Soul, and the list goes on...another favorite is Come Thou Fount.

The words were written in the 18th Century by the Methodist Pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson:

1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

2. Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I'll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

3. Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

4. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

5. O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

The thing about hymns is that sometimes they contain words that we don't use any more like "prone" and "thou" and even "Ebenezer". Makes it hard to understand sometimes.

When I was a kid, my dad often used hymns and their stories in the sermons he gave. He used stories about the circumstances in which hymns were written--like It Is Well With My Soul--to illustrate a point he was giving. (You can read about the origin of this great hymn here.) Or, he spoke about phrases or verse from hymns that teach good theology or bible lessons.

I clearly remember learning about Come Thou Fount from him in a sermon--and that funny word "Ebenezer". And, no, there isn't a Scrooge involved in this story.

The word "Ebenezer" actually means "a stone of help" or "memorial stone". It refers to the stone set by Samuel because God had rescued the Israelites from the Philistines. As he named the stones Ebenezer Samuel said "Thus far has the Lord helped us". You can read the complete story in 1 Samuel 7.

I've never forgotten the word "Ebenezer" or the importance of raising one. To me, it's not as much about raising an actual physical altar, such as one of stone, like Samuel, as it is to raise up praise to our God who has "helped us thus far". To mark that at this point in my life, I could not have made it without the help of the Lord. Samuel's statement implies that we can expect this same help in the future. Talk about good theology.

Today is Joel & my fourth anniversary. Although we won't do much to celebrate today--we have plans for this summer--I do hope to "raise an Ebenezer" to our faithful God who has "helped us thus far"--and we have needed it. Raising an Ebenezer helps me remember to thank him for his help and to pray for that same help in the future. I'm sure we will have many "helping stone" markers to place along the way.

When was the last time you "raised an Ebenezer"? Today's a good day to raise one.

(And, no, "Ebenezer" is not on our short list of names for Baby J, in case you were worried.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

LM's & NLM's

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who make lists (LM's)and those who do not--non-list makers (NLM's).

If there were a club for LM's, I would be President, CEO, CFO & of course, secretary--I would have to make the lists, duh!

There are many types of list makers--those who do it for work, those who do it for home projects, school, fun--top 10 movie lists, for example. There are those who have special paper for making lists or a specific pen. Some type them on the computer so they can be updated immediately and cleanly. Others who like to scratch the entire item out until it can't be seen. Or, I do have a friend who makes neat little boxes to check off when the item is completed.

There are some who like to keep the list until every item on it has been scratched out. Others like to re-write the list on a new sheet after a few items have been completed to keep the list looking fresh and neat.

I could be categorized in the following sections:
--Lists for home and work
--No special paper, but I do own a plethora of pads and pens--see picture for proof. Notice Haiku wanted to get herself into the picture. Her nails are really long. Don't worry, it's on my list of things to do.

--Upon completion, scratch it out until the item can't be seen
--Re-write the list to keep it looking updated and fresh

In fact, I just did all of these things this morning.

One mistake NLM's (non-list makers) make about LM's (list makers) is that we keep numerous lists. This is not true, at least for me. I keep two lists at home--one for short term (to be done this week) items and one for longer term items. I also keep two lists at school of the same variety.

I thrive on making lists and crossing off items as I complete them. There is a high sense of satisfaction in completing an item. I have even been known to write an item down (even after I completed it) just to cross it off. Most of the time, I already know what's on my list. Once I've written it down, I already know I need to do it and I don't really need my list to remember. The list is like a comfort blanket, really.

However, here lately--I'm not quite sure what it is--I can't remember anything. If I were to lose my list--even for the few things I need to do this afternoon--I wouldn't know what needed to be done. My mind has turned into a wasteland. If it's not written down on one of my lists, I simply can't remember! It's a horrible feeling. I've taken to calling my voice mail at work and leaving myself a message to remember to do something.

I really don't know how NLM's survive. It makes me want to write a list for them. How do they remember anything? What satisfaction do they have in completing any project?

Over the last 4 years, I have learned how NLM's survive. I'm married to one. He would be President, CEO and CFO of the NLM Club (notice he would not be secretary. NLM clubs do not have a need for a secretary). He doesn't need lists and survives just fine without them. Sometimes I ask him what things he has left to do (school is finishing up in the next two weeks and there is a lot to be done). I really do want to know how much work he has left to do, but secretly I'm making a list in my head for him.

This world needs both LM's and NLM's. Both groups serve a purpose. And in the end, it doesn't really matter which you are. Just know it and accept it.

There's nothing worse than an NLM pretending to like lists.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is my Grandmother's birthday. She would have been 85 today.

I have lots of fond memories of her, just like a granddaughter should. She was all the things a grandmother should be--loving, thoughtful and lots of fun. I remember her strong personality that was fiercely devoted to her family-- including her husband, Andrew, of 50+ years. She had 6 kids--my dad being the oldest. I have 4 aunts and 1 uncle. And now, years later, I have 11 cousins, plus my sister and me make 13. 3 of us are married so that makes 3 more "grandchildren-in-laws", I guess. She loved each and every one of us. I know, because she told me.

As Joel & I spend time picking out the name for our child, we've been told over and over that people often live up to their name--strong-willed people named Kelly or cheerful Isaac's. (Puts a bit of pressure on us to pick the right name). Her name was Gladys, but most people called her "Glad". I think it suited her personality.

She was part of "The Greatest Generation" that seems to be dwindling rapidly. I think it's a great name for this group of people that came from the Great Depression and lived without during WWII. She never really knew how to use the internet or understand how to work all the electronic equipment of my generation. But, she did know how to whip up a dessert on a moments notice or how to slip you some cash when you needed a little "treat".

My grandmother died 2 months before her 81st birthday and 2 months before my wedding. Unbeknownst to me, my grandmother had been putting together a book of wisdom for each of us grandchildren. My sister received the first one on her wedding day in June of 1998. I received the second one on my wedding day. It is the last one of its kind. Although my aunt carefully copied down all of the wisdom and will carry on the tradition for the rest of my cousins, my copy is the last one her handwriting. What a gift.

Some of her wisdom includes:
Never complain about your day while eating dinner. It causes indigestion.

You can't turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.

Hearing the words of God, plus Keeping the words of God equals Happiness.

Maturity is the stage of life when you don't see eye to eye but you can walk arm in arm.


At the end of the book are blank pages. I guess I'm supposed to add my own wisdom. What do I have to add after a woman who lived past 80 and was married over 50 years?

I know that some of my family members or friends of the family might have different memories of my grandmother. And that's OK. That's part of her legacy too. I just choose to remember the best parts. It just seems like the right thing to do.

Just like my other grandparents, I loved her dearly and wish she could be here to celebrate another birthday with me like we did on the rare occasion we were together. My birthday is tomorrow.

One last piece of advice. The best is yet to be.

I sure hope so.