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I love words. I love the Word. I love to read. I love to teach. I love to write. I love to listen to others words. I love the stories we tell in the songs we sing. One thing that sets a singer apart from other instruments is the lyrics, the words of the song bring the message and tell the story.
Yesterday my husband and I drove back from a wonderful, but exhausting week with family in South Carolina and as I made the eleven hour drive home, I began to think about words that I especially like. I simply jotted them down in my phone as they came to my mind. They are in no particular order and the list is not comprehensive of words I love, but it was a fun way to pass the time on the long drive home. I think the words we love are significant. Who knows, maybe I’ll blog some more about some of these words in the future. In fact, I think I’ve already written about a lot of them! Here's my list.
God the Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Bible, family, beauty, hope, dream, create, love, cherish, breathe, blessed, grateful, grace, joy, inspire, passion, Christ, light, limitless, delight, vision, adventure, faithfulness, soul, spirit, goodness, kindness, nesting, extraordinary, pray, extravagant, sleep, gentle, lavish, lovely, imagine, vacation, refine, integrity, treasure, music, resonate, pure, visualize, candles, fountains, life, serenity, simple, pleasure, life, giving, generous, embrace, fabulous, content, glistening, artistic, snuggle, purposeful, peace, awed, wonder, still, rekindle, restore, renew, home, cultivate,
discover, unleash, learn, authentic, worship, emotion, unstoppable, reading, shine, peonies, flowers, feasts, redeem, fire, dancing, holding hands, tea, community, abundance, connecting, welcome, friendship, silence, solitude, gathering, celebrate, journey, lavender, time, thankfulness, worthy, travel, quiet, seasons, oceans, waves, heartfelt, intentional, mountains, beach, letters, spontaneous, sparkle, appreciate, bare feet, soft, nourish, different, moments, hugs, significant, daughters, sisters, mom, dad, husband, sing, reflect, ponder, windows, gardens, chocolate, handwritten, belonging, resurrect, rare, whimsical, wisdom, see, touch, memories, healing, smiles, laughter,
forgiveness, gardens, intimate, strength, glory, courage, abundance, giving, curiosity, picnics, butterflies, hummingbirds, view, books, cozy, embrace, bride, pottery, story, scent, encourage, contemplate, savor, pursue, understanding, naps, sunsets, romance, ideas, fresh, fulfill, tablescapes, serenity, babies, puppies, captivate, bath, children, relationships, orchids, conversations, together, enchanting, illuminate, roses, unique, compelling, engaging, believe, original, landscapes, flourish, miracle, explore, devoted, texture, color, whole, broken, imperfect, deep, reflection, perseverance, meditate, beloved, abide, rest, blessed, bloom, harmony, teach, reach, character, cross, sacrifice...
I love these words not necessarily because of the way they sound when you speak them, but because of the meaning that they have brought to my life, my relationships, and my faith journey. I suppose the words we love give us a window into the life we have lived and choose to pursue.
This past week I experienced Christ presence in unique and amazing ways as we celebrated with family my granddaughter‘s birthdays, and the art show of my oldest daughter Maggie. Many of the words I listed above describe my week.
The morning after we arrived Evelyn had an art party for her fourth birthday with fifteen little girls. Maggie had planned a precious party for her. They painted canvases with their initials, had lots of art themed treats, made crowns and played games. I was so proud of my daughter and the wonderful, creative party she had planned and worked so hard to give her little girl. I saw wonder in their eyes as imaginations took off and they created their masterpieces.
When they had finished all the food, games, art and presents the parents weren’t coming for 45 more minutes! So Auntie M. (my daughter Mary Elizabeth) came to the rescue and entertained them with her gift of contagious joy and love for children. She was like the pied piper as they followed her every move dancing and singing until the parents showed up. Everyone had so much fun! Especially little Evelyn.
The next day, Sunday, we celebrated Audrey turning one with family. It was a rainy day so grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of the family, eighteen of us all gathered in their little home. We laughed and sang and feasted again as Spencer, my son-in-law grilled burgers and hot dogs. As I looked around the room I was overwhelmed with joy. My oldest daughter has moved to the area of the country where my husband grew up and now his family can join in the major life events of my grandchildren! Little Audrey even decided to take her first steps at her birthday party! What a blessing!
During our week there we also suffered some trials along with the joys and celebrations of life.
The next day, in the middle of the night on the day Mary Elizabeth was to fly back to New York City she became violently ill. By late afternoon we took her to urgent care and they sent us immediately to the hospital. She had lost all body fluids, her heart rate and fever were dangerously high with intense abdominal pain. They were drawing lots of blood, giving her meds and fluids through an IV and feared she possibly had appendicitis. Scans were ordered and we held on to the promises of the Healer, the Comforter, the Prince of Peace. We held on to Jesus and He held on to us.
And we waited…and we prayed, and we surrendered to His plan.
Hours later, all the tests came back that she had a severe gastric intestinal virus…no appendicitis, not septic as they had suspected, no need for surgery and they were not sure if it was viral or bacterial. We finally arrived back home after midnight with medications to try and calm her body down and keep down fluids. The family went into nursing mode. She was set up, basically under quarantine, in the attic room where Audrey and Evelyn were sleeping and the girls moved downstairs with us. Six of us in two small bedrooms. But family sacrifices and rises to meet the need because that’s what love does. And we prayed, and family and friends prayed. It was so hard to watch her suffer in so much pain, eating almost nothing for days and barely able to move.
It was a long, exhausting week with Maggie's art show coming in the middle of it all on Thursday night. Fortunately, Mary Elizabeth was well enough on the day of the art show so that we were able to attend and see her beautiful work. I remember my little girl painting as a small child, as a teenager, and then going off to college to study art. Such promise, such a beautiful gift. And we were so grateful that we could be there to celebrate with her and share in the beauty she had captured on canvas. Her aunts and uncles came to share in the joy, too! What a blessing to get to experience your children’s dreams coming true.
When I came home from the show my heart was full, but also heavy. I couldn’t sleep for hours. Tears began to flow as I thought of my dear friend Melissa who went to live with Jesus in heaven after a long battle with cancer last July. It was her birthday that day and I miss her so much. I had worn her coat to the show in memory of her. I had written to her children and husband that night and sent them a picture of me in their mom’s coat telling them I felt wrapped up in her love and presence wearing it. It was as if she was there with me somehow. She would have loved seeing my daughter shine in her beautiful work. It’s strange how you can feel such joy and brokenness all at the same time. I let the tears flow and Christ held me in His intimate presence with little Audrey sleeping in her crib beside me.
Finally, after canceling two flights, four days later Mary Elizabeth was able to fly home, weak but able to make the trip. I was so glad when she was safely back in her little apartment, but my mama heart wanted to be there to take care of her.
God in His grace gave us a glorious last day. We treated ourselves to lunch in beautiful downtown Greenville overlooking the river…more feasting! That evening we drove out toward the mountains and went to a strawberry festival with the girls. It was such a sweet ending to our week together.
The next morning, Saturday, we started the long drive home and arrived back into Baton Rouge about 8 pm. On our way in we picked up our favorite Lebanese salad, unloaded the car and ate a bite before I went upstairs to take a long, hot bath. We unlocked the doors to our home, unloaded the car and immediately the routine of our lives took over. My precious Ken went to the piano to prepare to lead worship for Sunday’s service the next morning. Weary after the long drive, his heart is always faithful to serve and bring excellence in music with life giving words of truth. I sang along upstairs praising the Father for his traveling mercies, for his love and faithfulness in our lives and our family stories.
I heard him singing the beautiful old hymn “I Love to Tell the Story.”
I love to tell the story, Because I know 'tis true. It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do. I love to tell the story, ‘twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
I remember singing that hymn with my mom and sister at the piano growing up and in church. I thought of my Meemaw playing those old hymns for me as we gathered around her piano. I learned Words of life and faith in the lyrics that we sang together as a family throughout the generations.
Then Ken moved into the beautiful chorus - “Hosanna in the Highest”
The words of the last verse - I see a generation, rising up to take their place, with selfless faith ...
Family gathered together last week and shared love
and the faith passed down through the generations has risen up.
And I thought of my mom - how she would have loved these celebrations if she could have been there.
And my father- in heaven almost 30 years now- a man of few words, but he would have loved seeing his grand daughters and the great grandchildren he never knew. I had a vision from my childhood of him watching his daughters sing around the piano as I listened to Ken sing and play.
The “Hosanna” song continued...
Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
Ken closed out his preparation for Sunday worship with “Take my Life and Let it be Consecrated Lord to Thee” and then I heard him singing another verse - “Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee." And from our upstairs bedroom I joined in with him on those powerful words.
Before we went to sleep we texted the girls that we arrived safely home and they wrote back-
Maggie - Love y’all! Get some good rest tonight!😘
Mary Elizabeth -Yay!!! Have a good night! Love my family!!
Yes…. I too am full of love for my family. That would be my favorite word for this week.
It was a week where we were blessed, broken and given. It was a week of joy and sacrifice… a week of beauty and grace... a week of abundance. And I look at my list and see so many of the words I had listed on our drive home have made their way into my writing today. Words I love because they have shaped my life and the lives of those I love.
Through the experiences with my family this week, through the loving, the celebrating, and the sacrifice, Christ was holding on to me, teaching me, loving me. In the hospital with my baby girl, in the laughter, in the tears, in the feasts, the birthday parties, the artistic offerings and in the memories of loved ones gone to heaven.… in all of those moments He was intimately present in our lives.
Once again Jesus has woven His love and words of truth into the story of our lives and into the heart of our family.
Maybe this week you could try making a list of some of your favorite words and reflect on how their meanings have shaped your story or your family.
"Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Your feet its treasure store."
Grateful and blessed by the love of family,
Resources: Maggie Grace Design @maggiegracedesign, Flora and Form Art Show at Vino and Van Gogh, Greenville, SC; I Love to tell the Story, Katherine Hankey; Hosanna, Shane and Shane; Take My Life and Let it Be, Havergal, Chris Tomlin
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