Testimony

Woodland Hollow – A Memoire of Our Life and Years at Seminary

I remember the exact spot along the main street of our town where my husband mentioned to me that he was thinking of going back to school to get his Master of Divinity degree. My eyes widened and I took a deep breath. It was 2014 and we had just had our fourth born child. My husband was already seasoned in church ministry and as a worship and missions pastor, and we were just starting to feel settled two years into our new life in Eastern Washington. The idea of a monumental move to seminary life was both exhilarating and overwhelming. We kept talking and dreaming, researching and praying. A year of preparation later, we were on the interstate driving to our new home, a place I had never been, in St Louis, Missouri. (This post here reflects on many of my thoughts and process as we prepared for this new adventure and what God did in my heart throughout that time.)

Three years later, this May, my husband graduated with his Mdiv from Covenant Theological Seminary with honors. He did it! We did it! God did it! These three years are so full of life, provision, friendship and growth… and Hebrew translations! I told someone that I could write a book on our time at seminary, because God did so much!

IMG_7940Our little apartment on campus has been such a blessing. At only about 900 square feet of livable space, our family of 6 has lived life to the full. Birthday parties, holiday potlucks, men’s campfire nights, prayer nights with the ladies, and coffee with friends, our small kitchen and dining area has hosted over 15-20 children and 12 plus adults at once. We don’t believe in letting the size of our home dictate how many people we welcome into our home. The Lord provides the space and the food fills the tummies.

Surrounded by a Viburnum “Korean Spice” flowering bush, we found delight in our  patio, a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of community life. A place to be still and quiet before the Lord and a place to watch the sun rise just over the hill as rays of light streamed in through the windows in the morning. The Lord knew exactly what we needed for our family of six. My husband constructed 5 garden boxes where we did a little gardening, although Ferdinand the Squirrel was caught red-handed with a cucumber in his mouth!

We grew flowers, and grew our imaginations as little woodland friends (pet substitutes) joined us on our patio every day. Perhaps the critters felt that we needed to share the space, after all, Edith Schaeffer would have welcomed them with her hospitality! I remember one bold chipmunk running between my feet to scale the wall as I watched the birds and hummingbirds one summer afternoon! Lizzie the Lizard hasn’t been seen for ages, but she made a comeback in our lives when my Kindergartner made a toilet paper roll replica of her reptile-likeness.

The natural surroundings on campus have been a place of great imagination for the kids, making tree forts and pretending to be wolf children in the snow with their friends! One December turned out to be a lovely warmish day and the seminary kids congregated on our hill and played in the sprinkler like it was summer! At other times, it wasn’t unusual to see a seminary dad and his kids sledding past my window on an early winter morning.

IMG_7824God has provided for us in so many ways, financially, with our health, and in relationships. There were an abundance of trials that went along with this very sweet season of life for our family. We had to continue day by day in faith that God would provide the work and finances that we needed to get by. We were at times inundated with health issues and at other times, completely illness free for months. We watched the Lord provide as checks would come in the mail at just the right time, and we watched God work through our circumstances to push and prod us in certain directions.

There were times where we felt strong spiritual attacks and several times when I would wake up in the middle of the night speaking the name of Jesus aloud as I woke up and bolted upright. I would pray through the night and speak the Word of God aloud.

There were other times I felt the Lord’s presence so strongly. And there were days I didn’t know how I would make it through with all the responsibilities that were on my plate each day and the various needs of our young family. But like a gentle shepherd, Jesus cares for those with young and He carried me through this season that He called us to.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11

IMG_7872When we first set out for seminary, there were many who had concerns if this was good for our family. What we found was, there were many families just like us who were doing just what we were doing, living by faith because of God’s call, taking up our crosses to follow Him into the unknown and trusting that He would sustain and provide. We are so grateful that this season of life is a part of our story.

Woodland Hollow is what I named our little patio and home on the beautiful sprawling campus of Covenant Seminary. There was beauty and friendship, kindness and compassion, prayer and healing. There was sidewalk chalk and “science experiments”, mud pits and basil-snatchers, fresh sweet tea and read alouds by the campfire, and conversations with expectant mothers as a birth doula. The ebb and flow of life, changing seasons, tornado warnings, summer storms, fireflies and spilled birdseed.

When I think about my favorite places in St Louis, I immediately come up with three:  the Missouri Botanical Gardens, my bedroom desk corner that looked out towards the pine tree along the path behind our building, and our living room couch where I gazed out the window to watch our children, the flowers and the birds as they grew from season to season and year to year in our special corner of St Louis.

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Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all You have done!

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Books · Discipleship · Motherhood · Rooted in Christ · Testimony

Finding God’s Speed – Living Slow

Siestas in Mexico, teatime in the Swiss Alps, or foamed milk with honey in the Northwest. Taking time out of our days, to savor the flavors and relationships in our lives has taught me to slow down in different seasons of life. When my husband suggested I watch a recent short documentary called “Godspeed: The Pace of Being Known”, I found myself retreating into the rolling green fields and woodlands of Scotland as I listened to the story of a preacher who had to relearn what it meant to know and be known.

This film reminded me of the joys I experience when I intentionally live slowly, to sit in and smell the fresh cut green grass as winter fades into spring, to lay down in the middle of a mountain stream and immerse myself in its refreshing currents, to watch the birds bounce from branch to branch outside my window. Years ago, I was living in Scotland working at a church. It was common for me to walk down the main street of the village to the train station, jump on a train to visit a town just a few villages away along the west coast of Ayrshire. I didn’t have a phone to look at and scroll through, so I looked out the window and took in the beauty of the woodlands and the old stone flats. Perhaps I would listen in on the conversations of other passengers. Arriving into one of my favorite villages, I ordered a latte at the cozy coffee and gift shop, and wrote in my journal for a couple hours, took walks through the town’s shops or took a ferry to a nearby island. Life was slow.

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And in the years of starting a family, it was the walks in the pine forests with my husband and kids, or the walks along the boardwalk breathing in the ocean air, as they fell asleep in the stroller, or exploring a canyon, or sitting at the park while they excitedly climbed and chased and played. It was the afternoon feedings that brought stillness to my soul and caused me to slow down. As my children are now all in the school age years, I am noticing this phenomenon of how fast the years go by every time I stop to observe how tall my children are – they are growing up fast! Each one so precious, so loved, such a treasure! I want to take it all in. I want to observe every special moment and lock it into my memory. I want to walk slowly, read aloud, and drink tea. My kids are all tea drinkers… that makes my mama heart happy.

I’m taking a break from writing on my blog for a while. We are about to enter into another season of transition as a family and it is time to put this little writing space to rest for a while. But before I go, I want to share four resources that have really blessed me lately. I hope they bless you too!

First, this video called “Godspeed: The Pace of Being Known

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Second, this little classic book I read when I was just 19 years old. Andrew Murray’s little book on Humility is a treasure and was part of our discipleship training that I was a part of when attending His Hill Bible School in Texas many, many moons ago. This is by far the most incredible teaching I have ever read/heard on the much needed topic of humility. (A paperback version can be found here).

Third, this podcast on Identity by Journey Woman. This is an episode I will go back to often as the struggle to put our identity in Christ and not the things of this world is a battle we face every day, and we need these truth reminders every day.

Fourth, the podcast Emotionally Healthy Leader is an excellent encouragement for anyone wanting to live an emotionally healthy life.

In Christ alone,
Jen

Discipleship · Music · Rooted in Christ · Testimony

The Year of the Red Sea Road

Its almost magical, that week between Christmas Day and New Years. The kids enjoying their new toys, winter hikes with the family, sledding on the back yard hill with friends, celebrating my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, twinkling lights and taking stock of the year behind, while setting our gaze on the year ahead. It is almost sacred as we take time to reflect, rejoice and celebrate what our good Father has done in our hearts, our minds, our family, our lives in the past year.

As I open the pages of my new monthly planner, and sketch out the timeline of events, work, schedules, studies that are on the list to work towards this year, my heart is grateful… and dependent. It is dependent on the “I AM”, the LORD, to sustain us, to move us forward in His will, in the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do. It is always about Him, and never about me. It is always His work, and my joy to receive. As I commit these plans to the Lord, He leads me to a theme.

Over twenty years ago now, when I set off on my own, a young adult spreading her wings wide to land in the hills of a small town called Comfort in the rolling bluebonnet-laden hill country of Texas, the Lord began impressing on my heart different themes for the two semesters I was at a Discipleship Bible School. It was amazing to see how God used those themes in my life and to form me. Other years, I have had perhaps a word or theme. As we enter our final semester at seminary, I reflect on the themes God has laid on my heart and look forward to this year’s theme!

When we arrived here in 2015, the theme was that of The Good Shepherd. That theme actually rolled over into 2016 as well. 2017 has been the Year of Stepping Stones as we continued to take steps of faith in various directions to see where God is leading us. Some doors closed, others opened wide, and others are in waiting. I completed my first year of work as a Birth Doula attending 8 births and assisting women as their labor coach. I wrote a piece on Planting Seeds of Wisdom in our Children’s Hearts and a biographical piece called Soul Into Blossom: The Life and Work of Lilias Trotter, in the print issues of Deeply Rooted Magazine (Issues 11 & 12), as well as a piece on Building Intentional Friendships for Family Life Canada. My husband wrote and recorded a full length album with a collection of friends called Gateway Hymns. One of the songs won a song-writing competition and was recorded by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project featuring the voices of Josh Garrels and Liz Vice. Meanwhile, my husband has been continuing to work towards his Mdiv degree after a decade of pastoral ministry. Our children have been growing by leaps and bounds  in so many areas of their lives. It has truly been a year of Stepping Stones.

As I look toward 2018, the Lord has led me to a song this year. Red Sea Road, written by Ellie Holcomb, Christa Wells, and Nicole Witt, speaks of letting go, all to follow Christ in where He is leading us. In God’s Word, we are called to speak truth to our souls, and especially in the Psalms, to sing to our souls. This is what this song speaks to me in this season of transition. In five months, we will, Lord willing, be packing up our earthly possessions to be transplanted into our next location of God’s calling.

 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. Exodus 13:17-18

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. Exodus 13:21-22

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14

 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Exodus 14:19-22

The Lord led His people along the Red Sea Road, the path He made before them, to lead them and give them victory. God calls us to follow Him, and that requires a cost, indeed the giving up of one’s own plans, desires, and expectations. But it is in the letting go of our lives that we find them, it is in saying with Jim Elliot, missionary to Equador, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.”

So we’ll sing to our souls, we won’t bury our hope
Where He leads us to go, there’s a red sea road
When we can’t see the way, He will part the waves
And we’ll never walk alone down a red sea road – Red Sea Road, Ellie Holcomb

As we continually surrender our lives, we know our hope is not in the things of Earth, our hope is in Christ. With our hope in Christ, we are able to let go for we have found our true home, it is Christ Himself. May we always be willing to let go of things we were never meant to keep in our grasp, so that we may live free in the will of God and trust His perfect leading.

Our eyes are fixed, Oh Lord, on You. Our gaze is set directly forward (Proverbs 4:25). You have led us to the Year of the Red Sea Road.

Where He leads us to go, there’s a red sea road – Red Sea Road, Ellie Holcomb

 

Christian biographies · Rooted in Christ · Testimony

Our Redeemer is Writing A Story

It was February 6, 1917 in Orenburg, Ukraine, when a young single woman went into labor and gave birth to a baby girl. She named her Eleanor. Her name meant “sun ray, shining light” and that is what she was. Eleanor brought sunshine and light to a very dark world and a bleak existence. Her birth mother raised her the best she knew how to on the streets of Orenburg. She was what they called a “waif”.

During this time, laws were almost non-existent and adoption was a much easier process. At some point during the next few years, a Christian couple adopted her as their own. They also adopted a son. I’m sure Eleanor’s birth mom was relieved and thankful that her daughter would be provided for, with food, a safe and warm home, a chance at education, and a better life. As her daughter left with her new family, this young woman knew she would probably never see her again. And Eleanor would never know her father or see her mother again. But she would know what it was to be adopted, what it was to be loved, and what it was to have the narrative of her life story take a very miraculous turn.

Who is the author and finisher of my faith, my redemption, my adoption as a beloved child of God? It is Christ, full of self-sacrifical love poured out for me, for you. His Word is His message, given in love for you. The Holy Spirit is your comforter sent to seal you, walk with you, and bring truth to your mind and heart.

Your story began before the foundation of the world when you were chosen to become adopted as sons and daughters of God. Your story is intertwined with God’s narrative through the Old Testament, through the 400 silent years between the prophets of God and the coming of Christ, the Prophet, Priest and King. Laced through all these generations is the promise that your Redeemer is coming. He was coming for a people. He was coming for you. If you are in Christ, you are a part of that people.

Our life stories are filled with brokenness and sin, of our own doing and the doings of others. Wounded by words, actions, and inaction, or struggling with sickness and disease, we at times feel like our lives are a narrative we’re simply trying to survive. We fight for joy and we fight the lies of the enemy. A million types of pain, suffering, and brokenness around the world threaten to undo us.

What will it look like when we get to the other side, where the lion will lay down with the lamb, and where we can rest under the shade of the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations? You will hear the ending of your story, your final opus. And guess who will be speaking.

The Way, the Truth and the Life will be speaking. Jesus, Himself, the One with nail scars in His hands will speak restoration into the broken pieces of your story. Your past is not who you are and your wounds are not your identity. If you are in Christ, your identity has been bestowed upon you from the Giver of Grace.

“We will feast in the house of Zion, we will sing with our hearts restored.” -Sandra McCracken

Your finished story will include a redemption so complete, so whole, every wound healed, every false and hurtful word erased, every disease vanished… our hearts restored. Every false assumption or accusation will fall powerless to the ground. Every mocking voice of judgement will be silenced, every misunderstanding brought to the light… our hearts restored.

This hope of future glory should shape the way we live in community today. Hope helps us to dwell in the land of the living because it points us to a future reality where we will love perfectly and be loved perfectly by others. It helps us to have grace and forgiveness for others, because we know they too will be made whole, if they are in Christ, and their stories will have redeeming love written across them, as well.

I long for that day, when I see Jesus face to face. I’ve daydreamed about it over and over these past forty years. For now, I pray and I long. My grandmother, Eleanor, is with Christ, in His presence. Her beginning was filled with brokenness and without hope in this world, but the Redeemer came and rewrote her story. As she lay on her bed in her final hours, her grown children, Christ-followers, surrounded her bed and sang hymns of worship to our Redeemer as she breathed her last and went home to be with the Lord. Her heart restored. Our confident hope as Christians is that one day, He will hold each of our faces in his wounded hands. He will look into our eyes. Our Redeemer will write the end of the story… and it will be only the beginning.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-5

Music · Testimony

Wait for You {Part 3} ~ Be Thou My Vision

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This is part 3 in a series titled, Wait For You, based off of my album of the same name released in 2005. This collection of original songs was written over a period of 10 years and were glimpses of my story up until that time. To read Part 1, click here. To read Part 2, click here. 

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6

I sat in my cabin with journal and pen in hand. It was my free time and my cabin of girls were all out enjoying the various activities on their schedule. I was eager to spend time alone with God, to pour out my prayers to Him in my journal and really seek Him intentionally. I desired to spend that time alone with Jesus, in His Word and to pour out my life for Him. I was 16 years old and had one more year of high school left before I embarked on the next phase of life… adulthood! All I wanted was to live my life entirely for Jesus, serving Him in His church, His people, sharing the gospel, going wherever He would lead me and serving in whatever capacity He had for me. As I wrote in my journal, I prayed very specifically three key words that changed my life in very difficult and wonderful ways. I wrote and prayed the words, “Lord, break me.”

My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace;
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God
~Frederick Brook

Anyone who knows the Lord Jesus knows that He is a loving and gentle Good Shepherd. Those who truly know Him, also know that He will work all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). This is not some trite pat answer to suffering, but the very Word of God, given to us, in love, from the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe. Its not meant to be a bandage for the wounded soul, but to actually bring healing and life and get to the heart of how we think and how we live. God’s Word is living and active. It is the healing Word.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

That summer, I worked at camp for almost six weeks with one week break. I was utterly exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually. We had prayed for campers, led activities, Bible studies, prayer times and had so much fun! But it was time for a break. In my sheer exhaustion, my moderate struggle with anxiety became overwhelming and I spiraled into a dark depression, even to the point that I thought God had left me.

I finished off the week and made it through only by God’s grace. I came home depleted and burned out. My parents wondered what had happened to their happy girl. It was hard to continue on week after week as well-meaning people sought to offer help, counseling, and encouragement. But I wasn’t getting better. This was heart-wrenching for my parents and they became my health advocates and pursued Christian counseling for me. I tried to make it through my final year of high school. It was the Lord who walked those school halls with me, as I continued to share my faith in and out of the classroom. I was determined that the enemy of my soul would not win this battle, but that all glory would be given to my Redeemer.

During that year, I experienced the darkness of depression, the dark night of my soul. Spiritually, I felt like I was living in a cloud. But there was a small glimmer of hope that I held onto. I hung on to my belief, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God exists and that He loves me. I knew that somehow He would help me overcome this depression. So I became a warrior of faith in my heart. I may have been quiet on the outside, but my faith was unshakeable. I felt a strong passion to debate atheistic teachers in my high school who expected the students not to challenge their world views. So I stood firm and unashamedly stood up and spoke truth into a spiritually dark school, confounding teachers, and causing them much frustration. I know that God was at work and I may never know the outcome of my witness until I get to Heaven. When I had the chance to speak publicly in my class, I chose to share about the love of Jesus and how He carries us in our brokenness. Students paid attention and listened. Some had tears. No matter how much I suffered from depression, I was determined that God would receive all the glory.

In Genesis 50:20, Joseph speaks to his brothers of their harm toward him. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” In the same way, I am convinced that the enemy of my soul meant evil against me through this depression, and yet God who is in complete control of the circumstances of my life, meant it for good. Therefore, I have peace that God in His sovereignty uses the struggles and trials of a Christian’s life for His ultimate purpose and our ultimate good, though we may not understand the reasons at the time. This is what my mother taught me as I went through this journey of depression. This is how she pointed me to Christ through one of the hardest times of her life, because seeing your daughter go through a heart-wrenching, paralyzing and unexplainable depression is one of the hardest things a mother could possibly go through.

A year after my graduation, God had done much to rebuild and restore me. I had plunged into God’s Word in a way that I never had before. I searched the scriptures for my identity and eternal security… Christ Himself. It was then that I enrolled in a discipleship school in Texas and spent a most amazing year being saturated in God’s Word five hours a day, five days a week. It was an amazing adventure with God. We went to San Luis Potosi, Mexico for a short term missions trip. While there, we visited a potter’s house. The leader took us through the entire process, step by step to see how one piece of pottery is made and formed.

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The spinning wheel moved in constant motion as the clay formed in the potter’s gentle hands. The potter was making serving bowls. Once fully formed, he gently placed it on the drying rack to harden. It must be completely dried because any hint of water will expand under the intense heat of the kiln and cause cracks or explosions. Once it was dry, the Potter moved the vessels to the kiln room, a room of bricks and intense heat. I looked into this brick furnace where broken pieces of pottery lay scattered everywhere. Here, the heat can reach such high temperatures that many pieces simply crack and burst in the pressure. Once removed from the kiln, it is strong enough to handle to glaze. The glaze is prepared very carefully using specific recipes, consistent measuring, and careful application. Each bowl is different and unique. So much care and time and thought goes into each piece. The pieces are eventually ready to be put back into the kiln. During this process, the glaze turns to glass, it is completely transformed. When the bowls come out, they are complete. Our tour guide took a beautiful bowl, held it in his hands and told us that just as this piece of clay was molded by the hands of the potter, so we are molded by God, shaped into the vessels He wants us to be. We are put into the fire to test us, to strengthen us. Then we are decorated by His beauty and His righteousness. We are put back into the fire for more strengthening and transformation. God molds us.

Then, the tour guide did something that shocked us all. He opened his hands and the exquisitely fashioned vessel fell to the ground shattering into a hundred pieces. He exclaimed, with tears in his eyes… “then God breaks us”.

I stood stunned in that little Mexican store, heart pounding. This wasn’t just a tour of a potter’s house, this was a life lesson, a parable that touched the core of who I was and what God had already done in me. I will never forget that day. His final point was that God gathers up all the shattered broken pieces and puts us back together again, reshaping us, and lovingly transforming us to be vessels for His glory!

It was also during that year at Bible school that my heart grew to desire overseas missions work, living a life of worship and ministry in the church. I was even ready to go into a jungle to share the gospel with unreached people groups or to Russia to share in a friend’s ministry. I was ready to go wherever and whenever God called me. God gave me a desire to be like Anna, the prophetess in Luke 2:36-38, who lived and ministered in the temple day and night.

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher… She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

It was also during this time at Bible school that the hymn, Be Thou My Vision, became my life song. This hymn was word for word, my heart’s desire.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art –
thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father, I thy true son;
thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight;
be thou my dignity, thou my delight,
thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tow’r;
raise thou me heav’n-ward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
thou mine inheritance, now and always:
thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

~Translated from the Old Irish hymn by Mary E. Byrne

For those who have never experienced the darkness of depression, it is hard to empathize and understand what the sufferer is going through. For those who do recover, partially and even fully, it is still a battle. When my grandmother was in her elderly years, she said to me one day, “There are many battles in this life.” Her statement was profound. Her faith was strong and steadfast in her Redeemer. On the day she died, she was surrounded by her living children as they sang hymns to usher her into the arms of God.

It was in the valley where I learned to give the sacrifice of praise. I learned to worship Him in the midst of suffering. My desire was to become wholly His and His alone. It was through those difficult seasons that the Lord drew me to Himself, and restored me. With His hands to carry me and His love to heal me, my response to this was to sing in worship of Him all the days of my life.

At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him…Watch where God puts you into darkness, and when you are there keep your mouth shut. Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? Then remain quiet…When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.”
~Oswald Chambers