Then Sings My Soul!

It is so easy to take family for granted. They’re there. All the time. Or so we think, until they aren’t. But all of us will one day die. Only God knows when that will be, and His timing is truly perfect. But as I’ve watched my grandmother age, particularly over the last couple of years, I know with keen sadness, and yet with eagerness for her, that her time is coming soon when the LORD will take her home. She is almost 95 years old, and a couple of strokes have wrecked havoc on her once-sharp mind, leaving her often confused and uncertain, sometimes not knowing who we are. But God in His mercy has given her peace. We were singing hymns tonight as a family, something we used to enjoy more frequently when we all lived in the same house or were all home more in the evenings, but this was done specifically for Grandma, since she has been requesting it lately. I wasn’t particularly eager to sing and play the piano tonight. I was tired, and had a lot to do getting ready for another marathon week. We sang some old favorites, each requesting those which we remembered first or found first as we flipped pages in our hymnals.

“Oh, Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed…” we sang together. One of my favorite hymns. Oh, heavens, one of my favorite hymns. Dad’s warm baritone blended in imperfect sweetness with Sarah’s and Mom’s harmonies. I always love hearing our little family chorus.

Then I glanced up from my place at the piano. There was Grandma, her frail body and grey head bent over the hymnal, holding it firmly in her twisted, weak hands. Her lips, which often betray the confusion in her mind or tremble in the infirmity of age, were perfectly shaping the words of this wonderful hymn. I couldn’t hear her, since she was across the room from me, but I know she was singing. My eyes filled and I could hardly choke out the next words:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And lead me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow with humble adoration
And then proclaim, my God, how great Thou art.
Hymns have a way of piercing my heart in its hardness, and of reminding me of those things that truly matter, even when my mind is distracted and out of sorts. To see my Grandma, who often cannot carry on a coherent conversation anymore, joining us in singing praises to God brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful picture of how God renews the soul, even as the body wears down and wastes away.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16
Our world spurns age. Age is something to be avoided, like a disease, but a disease that everyone ultimately succumbs to. Age is something to be ridiculed, and dementia and frailty are things to be mocked and despised. Age is feared, desperately. Physical signs of age are causes of embarrassment and distress. And if I’m honest with myself, I fall into this thinking, valuing youth more than I should. How contrary to Biblical admonitions, and how contrary to truth. For those who have placed their hope in Christ Jesus, those who are oldest are most likely the closest to seeing Christ face to face. Not only do the elderly among us deserve our respect for obvious reasons, but even in the infirmities and sorrows and pain that come with age, Grandma is in an enviable situation: one day soon, likely much sooner than I, she will stand in the presence of Christ. And even though a lot of what goes on around her isn’t clear to her, it is clear to me that Christ is clear to her. Soon, He will be even clearer.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.
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Botanicals | Stiffstem Flax

Linum rigidum, or yellow or stiffstem flax, took its rank as a new favorite. Flowers that I rarely see often are the ones to qualify as favorites. It is clearly a relative of its more prolific cousin, wild blue flax, which has long been a favorite of mine – I love how the sunlight lights up the petals along the roadways, turning each blossom into a little blue glimmer on a sunny day. Yellow flax is not nearly as showy, almost disappearing among the array of other bolder yellow flowers this time of year, which is part of what made it so fun to find.
IMG_7582eCreation is so beautifully marked by patterns of similarity and differences. Evidence of a Creative Design behind all of this world.

Botanicals | Breadroot Scurfpea

Pediomelum escelentum, or breadroot scurfpea, is one of those understated and overlooked flowers. The drab green-grey petals and the drab lilac-colored petals are sure easy to miss. But even with its drabness, there is a beauty about it.
IMG_7595eNot all of God’s creation is stunning in its aesthetic. But the uniqueness alone points to a creative God.

Botanicals | Sego Lily

This was a delightful find. I haven’t seen a sego lily in two years, I believe, and was thrilled a couple of afternoons ago to find that one of our meadows was scattered with them. I went back this afternoon to get pictures of these beautiful, strange flowers. Calochorus nuttallii, the sego lily, is one of two very similar species of lily, the other being the Gunnison’s mariposa lily, calochortus gunnissonii.    “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:27-29

Botanicals | Shell-leaf Penstemon

Penstemon grandiflorus, or shell-leaf penstemon, is the largest of the pentstemons, and consequently is easy to spot along the road, where it is blooming profusely this time of year!I love seeing whole hillsides covered with this beauties! I’ve found these photograph best not in full sun, unlike a lot of other flowers, due (I think) to how fleshy their leaves and petals are. While other flowers take on what I like to call a “stained glass effect,” because shell-leaf penstemon has such thick petals, the light doesn’t shine through it well.

Botanicals | White Milkwort

This understated little plant, polygala alba, blends in with the grasses and can be difficult to spot.  I found a few clusters this morning in some open, sparse areas alongside a road. Don’t confuse it with its relative, seneca snakeroot (polygala senega). For a year or so, I had seneca snakeroot identified as white milkwort, until I finally decided both couldn’t be milkwort and needed to just figure it out. Thanks to the book Plants of the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains, the mystery was solved.