Blessed Be Your Name

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du0il6d-DAk

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

The lyrics above are from a praise song written by Matt Redman, with a link to a video with the music and lyrics. I first heard it when two friends sang it together in church a few years ago;  later, I added to my iPod. The words are based in Scripture, with the idea that we are to praise God in all things. I am reminded of this passage from Ephesians:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always ; again I will say, rejoice ! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Most mornings when I walk with Sandy, I listen to Christian praise songs. Whenever I would hear this song, I would think, “Well Lord, I am not in a desert place, and I am not walking through the wilderness. Thank you that my world is all as it should be.”  And I see now that God was preparing me for this time, when life is not so easy. He is teaching me to praise Him in all circumstances. This is a list of some of the things for which I thank Him.

1. Although it is difficult to thank God for the flood, I do thank Him for what I am learning and especially that I know He is close and that He is providing for us. And I know that I am most ready to learn from Him and walk closely with Him when I am in need.

2. I thank Him for my parents. We will be spending Thanksgiving with them for the first time in many years. I can’t say enough about what wonderful parents they have always been and continue to be. All the years of love, sacrifice, and hard work are beginning to take their toll; I hope to get the house back in order soon so I can spare more time away from home to visit with and help them.

3. I thank Him for my siblings and siblings-in-law. My sister and her husband came up from Maryland the weekend after the flood to help, and Frank’s brother Dan, his wife and one of their sons traveled from southern Pennsylvania that weekend as well. It was such a comfort to be with family at such a time, especially since we share the same faith and I know our family members are praying for us.

4. We have been embraced by a new church family that has been ministering to us in so many ways. God has used this denomination to send us financial help and volunteer workers from near and far.

5. All three of our sons are walking with the Lord and “all is as it should be” with their lives. When one of them is going through something difficult, I find myself wishing that I could take on that burden or trial instead of him. Well, now I am the one with the burden, and knowing that my kids are in a good place is one of the many things that helps to lighten the load. They have all been a tremendous comfort during this time to recovery, and have all helped with many aspects of clean-up and rebuilding.

6. We have new family members! It is almost the one-year anniversary of JJ and Kate’s wedding, and now they have added Noah to the Meredith clan. Christopher and Rashell have moved into a beautiful new home, Robert and Alex have a back yard to play in, and, Lord willing, Benjamin William will make an appearance around Christmas. Four grandsons in three years!

7. I am so grateful for my husband. He holds me when I cry, and he has taken on every task regarding finances and rebuilding. He is doing everything possible to take away stress and worry from me. He is usually exhausted and in pain, but keeps a sense of humor and a cheerful attitude.

8. The community I live in has been an incredible example of strength of character. I have written in past posts about the way people are working together and helping others. People are helping in so many ways: cleaning, demolishing, building, organizing, networking, cooking, serving, donating expertise, driving, loaning equipment, giving money, donating goods and services, and the list goes on. Needs are being matched with those who can help meet that need, and the result is beautiful.

9. I am thankful for my job and my students. These days I really need the paycheck, but I really love going to school everyday. My colleagues are very supportive, and I love spending time and making music with my students. Many of our students have suffered loss and are displaced; many helped to clean up the school after the flood. The school community is facing many challenges together.

10. I am thankful for the technology available to communicate and keep in touch with far away loved ones and to learn more about so many things. The internet and Face Book have been very valuable resources during the flood and recovery. I plan to write more about it in another post.

He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” Job 1:21

It is true that God provided everything I owned and lost in the flood. As my pastor pointed out, I was going to lose those things at some point in time anyway. So, at Thanksgiving and every day, I will praise Him for who He is and that I belong to Him.

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Welcome, Noah!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
My entry today is about a different kind of construction. Yesterday morning, our son JJ and his beautiful and strong wife Kate welcomed their first born child, Noah Roger, into the world. Whenever a child is born, there are so many thoughts and emotions, but the contrast of this happy occasion with the recent flood  gives me much to ponder.
  • A year ago at this time, plans were being made for a beautiful candlelight ceremony in the Reformed Church in Middleburgh. Kate is from a large extended family whose farm and loving ways are very well know in our area. The reception would be in the church hall, and her mother, sisters, cousins, and aunts decorated it so beautifully we all thought we were in a very stylish banquet hall. On August 28, Irene brought rushing muddy water into that stately old building and scattered the pews like so many toothpicks before leaving mud everywhere. Here is a photo of JJ and Kate exchanging vows at the altar, and then the same spot on August 29th.
  • Both JJ and Kate’s childhood homes were invaded by floodwaters, and are now being repaired and rebuilt by God’s grace and lots of people He has sent to help. In the months nearing the birth, the joy of the anticipated birth was overshadowed by concerns for their parents’ homes and welfare. Kate and helpers cleaned and saved countless precious photographs and other keepsakes, and JJ helped demolish the walls of his own home and donned mask and other apparel for fighting mold in the basement.
  • They have known for a long time that Kate was carrying a boy, and they had decided on the name Noah. They know that their son will be raised in a generation that scoffs at God, and so wanted to give him a namesake who followed God despite what those around him thought or said. They did not share the name with anyone. Then came the flood. Kate wondered if it would seem like a sick joke to name him Noah now, after the flood, but JJ was more convinced than ever that it was appropriate. On Labor Day weekend, some of the many volunteers who traveled to come to our aid were Abe and three of his children. One was named Noah, and he was such a delightful person it just confirmed for them that this was the right name for their son. None of us knew before yesterday he would be named Noah, and JJ pointed me to this verse:Genesis 5:29:  He named him Noah and said “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.”This little boy is another way that God is restoring our community. Homes and businesses are being rebuilt, and this child will learn to love this valley as his parents and many relatives do.
  • Noah was born at the hospital where Christopher and JJ were born, and those events are so vivid in my memory that I can’t believe my babies are now daddies. How can it be that I am a grandmother? The changes were gradual, day by day, but looking back it seems to have happened so quickly. Yet, one of the many lessons I have learned from the flood is that life can be forever altered in a moment. I need to be walking close to God so He can guide me through those changes.
  • As I write this, our first born grandchild, Robert Joseph Meredith, is celebrating his third birthday. He needed heart surgery when he was born, and again this past January. Every day we thank God for His perfect timing and provision for giving the right doctors, hospitals, and resources so that today he is truly having a happy birthday.
  • First and foremost in my mind as we rebuild and remodel our home is to provide a place that is grandchild-friendly. I am envisioning spaces for play and storage of playthings as well as lots of room for family gatherings and sleepovers.  And we will tell our grandchildren of the many wonderful times their daddies had in this house, and have many more wonderful times in the new-and -improved house.

Jeremiah 29:11–For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Tuesday, October 18

Every day when I come home, there is something new to see.  Stewart’s,  the convenience store and gas station that is on the corner only two doors away, is set to open tomorrow at 4:30 AM. I am so excited about it, I might just go there at that time to be their first customer and personally thank them for caring enough about our little community to rebuild so quickly after the flood. It has been like a huge vote of confidence to see and hear the workers there every day during the very uncertain and difficult time following Irene.

Yesterday when I got home, the washer I have been using was on the back porch and is no longer needed because the new top-loading High Efficiency washer is now hooked up and ready to use. I did the first trial load a little while ago, and now the first official load is washing as I write this. Today, there are two big developments: there is now a wall and door at the bottom of the back stairs. This is the area where the laundry room used to be, so we needed a little wall. In the photo below, you will see a dryer. It is an old electric one that we are using until the new gas one is hooked up. When it is gone, the former laundry room area will become a “breakfast nook”. Second, in addition to most of the downstairs being insulated, there is now new ceiling in the living room! We are so thankful for the faithful volunteers who have adopted our house and come to work on it every day even though they are “retired”. We owe a debt we can never repay.

We are still waiting, some more patiently than others, for JJ and Kate’s little boy to arrive. Please pray for a safe delivery and healthy baby and momma. We know he will arrive at just the right time. I am reminded of the joke about someone praying: “Dear God, Please grant me patience, and please grant it NOW!” Instead, I am praying, “Dear Lord, please help me trust you, even though I should know by now that You always know what is best.”

Monday, September 27th Update

Instead of an entry on one topic, I am going to give a few shorter updates in this one.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hurricane+irene+cabaret+concert+meredithmusic&nfpr=1&suggested_categories=10%2C24

This is a link to a performance from the Cabaret Concert this past Saturday night. It was a wonderful concert  given by very talented theater musicians, most of whom are friends with our family because we have all been involved with many shows, either as pit musicians, directors, or on-stage performers. There were many light, humorous songs and moments, but this one was very touching. JJ thought he was singing about the many people who have come to the aid of his family and other flood victims, but he doesn’t realize what a source of comfort and strength he has been to his dad and me since the flood. When I see the loving and sensitive man he has become despite the imperfections of his parents, I know God has answered our prayers for him. He also answered prayer by giving him Kate to be his wife. Any day now, we will be meeting their son–her due date is October 8th! He sang and played his own improvised version–I hope it blesses you, too.

Nathan played piano for most of the other performers. There was so much music to learn in such a short amount of time, and most of it was extremely difficult to play. I have mentioned before that I am both envious and humbled by his ability to play so well. He, too, has been such a blessing to us at this time, taking time from work to come help at the house, and meeting us for dinner in the city.

I am sharing some photos of the side of our house where my garden is/was. I took the first photo a day or two after the flood because it so clearly shows the high water mark. I took the second photo after the tan vinyl siding was removed, the chimney was taken down and shrubs pulled out of the front.  The third is a photo of the house at present, almost ready for the new blue siding.

My plan or Thy plan?

We had a plan. It sounded really great to us. This past spring, my prayers sounded something like this:
Dear God,
Please give Christopher a great job offer in June or July. He now has a job, but it is only for a year, and he started last September. So, if he gets a new job lined up, then he can give notice at his present job, and he, his wonderful wife Rashell, and their two little boys Robert and Alex can all come up to the Northeast and visit family at the end of August. Thanks and Amen.
Well, God did not make it happen. All summer, Christopher was job-hunting. Several companies were interested in him, but no offers were forthcoming. He even got to the point where he began making plans to start his own business. I worried about his finances, and his emotions, and whether we were going to have the family together this summer. I kept asking God to make this plan happen. Why wouldn’t He want our family to be together?! Why wouldn’t He want Christopher to get a job?! And yet, every time I asked God these things, I knew He was saying, “Betsy, I can see what’s ahead and you can’t. You will see why I am saying ‘no’.”
Finally, around the middle of August, Frank and I made plans to fly to see the Mississippi branch of the Meredith family. JJ and his wife Kate decided not fly as she was in her third trimester of pregnancy; Nathan could not take time away from work at their busiest time of year. But at least we would get to see our grandsons and their parents.
We traveled on Wednesday, August 24th. Christopher picked us up at the airport and told us that he had a job interview for the next day. During the next few days, it became apparent that Irene was going to cause quite a bit of trouble in the Northeast. My parents have a house at the Jersey shore, as well as one closer to Philadelphia. My brother and his family live on the other side of Philadelphia; my sister’s family lives in Maryland. All seemed to be in jeopardy based on the meteorologists’ predictions. Ironically, Frank and I were safe in Mississippi from the threat of hurricane.
We anxiously watched weather reports, consulted the internet, and touched base with loved ones. Sunday morning, as church service was ending, I began receiving text messages that flood warnings were being issued in the Schoharie Valley. As JJ and Kate were heading to higher ground, a friend texted me suggesting that JJ go to my house to put valuables upstairs. I told her that their safety was more important. Of course, she agreed. Kate asked me to have the people at church pray, and I asked several to do just that.
All afternoon, we used smart phones and computers to keep in touch with those in the Schoharie Valley. It was sounding very serious, like the historic flood of 1996. In that flood, we were evacuated, but our home was not damaged.
Sometime during that afternoon, I realized why God had not agreed to our plan. I know He was keeping Christopher’s family safe, as well as Frank and me. He was sheltering us from fear and danger.
In the days following the flood, when someone expresses surprise that we are not depressed, we can tell them that it was only things that we lost. We are so grateful that our kids and grandkids were unharmed, and we know that this flood did not take God by surprise. He is still on His throne, and He is also the Shepherd that will lead us through this time of loss and confusion.
Oh, and by the way, Christopher got TWO job offers in the two days following Irene, and has happily begun his new job.
Yes, He is still on the throne, and I hope I have learned to stop trying to push Him off of it to make room for me.