Song Reflections: A Mighty Fortress is our GOD

Story behind the song:

A Mighty Fortress

Fortress

Not a term we use much in these days of cell phones and retweets. Simply, it was a place of high protection.

That is certainly true of our LORD. Physically, GOD is able to protect us. HE can cup his hand over us, and no harm can come. Mentally, GOD is able to keep us protected as well. So often, I pray “LORD, Guard my mind”. Not necessarily from impure thoughts (but, those do come). Guarding my mind from the painful words of others, from the lies of Satan himself, and from my tendency to all-too-oft run my mouth before I think.

GOD as a Fortress

The word “Fortress” appears only 15 times in the King James Version (KJV) Bible.

The first usage of the word fortress in the Bible is in 1 Samuel 22:4. The word translated Fortress is matsuwd (Strongs, H4686), meaning a strong place.

GOD is indeed a strong place, for whatever we may need to run to Him for or for whatever we may need to trust into His care.

We can be sure that we will be safe, our concerns safe, and our future safe. HE is GOD, and HE will fully protect it all in His Mighty Arms.

(LYRICS

A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.

 

 

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Surviving Sick: A Simply gal perspective 

I don’t get sick often. Sure, I might get a runny nose or headache here or there, but rarely do I get truly sick. 

And yet, it happens.

A few years ago, I began to notice certain things I did to help myself survive getting sick. It is my prayer they will be helpful to you. 

Prepare

We all know that you can’t truly predict when you will get sick or how sick you will get. We also all know that it happens. 

This is where the boy scout motto be prepared shows up in my life. 

  1.  I stay stocked up on relief medicine 

I always keep a bare minimum of relief medicine on hand: ibuprofen,  tylenol, bismal tabs or liquid (I prefer tabs), Imodium, and a cough drops.

2. I stay stocked up on (ahem) relief items

Saltine crackers being #1. If I can’t keep anything else down, I can manage to eat that. I keep chicken noodle soup, chicken broth and a few things of Gatorade in my kitchen. 

Outside of food, I try to keep soft nasal tissues, a supply of toliet paper (please do yourself a favor and don’t just buy the cheapest stuff you can find.) and my tablet are my essentials. 

A few other things that also help is to always keep an extra blanket in your bedroom (for ahem..accidents), and keep the garbage can in your bedroom emptied regularly (please don’t make me explain why).

Extend Yourself some Grace

And one day, it will hit. You will find yourself sick.

The biggest tip I can give you is this: give yourself grace. So what if dishes get behind. So what if stay in jammies all weekend. You’re Sick!

I also suggest this: swallow your pride. 

I live alone, and have been on my own for the most part of 3 years. I had to learn the hard way that I needed to swallow down some humble pie and let my friends help me. 

If a friend offers to bring you some Gatorade & you need it, accept the offer. You can always pay the kindness back. 

And Rest. Preach. I was the World’s Worst at not letting myself rest until when I got sick until 2 yrs ago. I had a terrible scare with stomach issues (more than just a virus) and found myself doubling over and trying to clean my floors. My phone rang, and a coworker was checking on me since I had had tests at the hospital that day. It was as if she could see through the phone as she asked “You aren’t trying to clean, are you?”

I realized I was being stupid trying to do So much. 

It goes back to my statement that you need to extend yourself some grace. Not resting probably increased the recovery time for my major stomach issue…and left me weak. 

The Aftermath

My number one routine for after I’ve been sick is to strip down my bed, disinfect spray that booger, and wash my pillows in warm water. 

I also wipe all door knobs, light switches, and remote controls with disinfectant wipes.

The biggest thing I do after being sick is to stock back up for next time.  

What things do you do for sick days?

30 Days of Thanks: Days 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9

Sorry, readers. Technical difficulties here in rural Appalachia can sometimes take MUCH longer to resolve than anticipated. 

Day 5: Granny J

She is saucy and classy, all in one. 

My Granny worked for about 30 years for an area college, but even in retirement she has slowed very little. Up until last year, she was still volunteering for a hot meals program at her church. 

My Granny has taught me so much. I can’t even begin to list it all. One of the greatest lessons she has taught me is unconditional love. 

My Granny knows I mess up.  She knows her oldest granddaughter has messed up quite a lot so far. Yet, granny loves me and is unafraid to express her love for her family and friends.

Who in your life has shown unconditional Love?

Day 6: My Maternal Grandparents

My mom’s parents met each other as children. They were married in 1945, and shared together nearly 51 years. My Grandpa passed in August 1996, and my Grandma would pass away in September 2014.

They weren’t a perfect couple, but they certainly did love one another. 

My mom’s  parents are a huge factor in the woman I am growing up to be. They helped raise me until I was about 12.

They taught me many things, about gathering eggs, fishing, gathering murrells, and kindling a fire. The greatest lesson they taught me was of forgiveness. 

Forgiveness is hard in a family. But with Love, it can be possible.

Day 7: Mom

My mom is an incredible woman. I know a lot of people say that about their patents. And I certainly mean it when I talk about my mom.

I know becoming a mom for her at 1st must have been incredibly hard. Mom was only 16 when I shattered the world with my 1st cries. 

There isn’t much with her hands my mom can’t do. She cake make cornbread, lay shingles, rock a baby and still manage to keep a spotless home.

There are a million and two things my mom has probably taught me but the most critical lesson she has taught me so far has been to try to look at a problem from multiple perspectives. 

Day 8: Dad

So I confess..i am 1100% a Daddy’s girl. Always have been. 

All of my life, my dad and I have shared an unique relationship approach where I can take to him about anything as long as I do it respectfully. 

My Dad was my first pastor, and first hero. 

My Dad has taught me a lot about faith and life. Among the millons of lessons he had tried to teach his hard-headed oldest daughter, the greatest lesson has been to be humble enough to admit failures and mistakes. 

Day 9: My Sister

My sister is 6 years younger than me, but I lookup to her.

Sissy is a wonderful wife, mother, and Christ follower.  She isn’t perfect, and I know that. But nonetheless, she’s my hero. I can only hope that one day I can grow up to be half the woman she already is.

The greatest lesson my sister has taught me so far has been that I need to build a community of Jesus loving gals around me. 

Finally able to Dance

I can’t precisely pinpoint at what time the dream began. But it was there all the same. The dream of raising a daughter.

Perhaps some of it stemmed from the fact that my relationship with my own mom has been hard. Or maybe it stemmed from my own childhood of being a tomboy who did know how to wear heals, if necessary. 

In 1999, when I learned I was expecting my heart leaped with thoughts that it would happen. I was magnificently blessed with a tiny brown eyed baby boy in early 2000.

2003 rolled around. Ah, I thought. This time it will happen. The 1st ultrasound came, and the technician was unsure. My amazing blue eyed son was the result.

Mind you, I was very happy. And I love my sons beyond forever. 

Then, the miracle of all miracles came. January 2009, I found out I was expecting again. I was cautious to get my hopes up, and decided just to be content with the result.

Early March 2008, I was scheduled for a first ultrasound. The words came. She is a tiny one, but there she is. 

She? Did the doctor really just say that? I was elated.  I called my family that night to let them know I was pregnant, holding in my heart the amazing secret. 

1 week later, I began feeling unwell and asked the ob doctor if they could see me. Having delivered both of my son’s premature, I knew any symptom was important.

I’ve never forgotten that day. I laid on the table as they prepared me for a 2nd ultrasound. The doctor looked concerned, but I focused more on the screen.

There she was. Tiny hands folded, as if in prayer. And I watched as her heart beat for the last time.

The next day, I would undergo a surgery to remove her from my womb. 

Why, I thought. Why did this happen?

There was so much grief that filled my heart, and a sense of being completely lost overwhelmed me.

In Cosmo or other magazines, they don’t tell you how much your relationship will suffer in the loss of a child. I felt entirely abandoned.

People can say some really mean and cold things during grief. 

You never held her at least. Really?

At least you lost her early. Ugh.

The grief and anger crippled me. March would appear on my calendar,  and I would replay it all over again.

2 years turned into 5. And I began to learn that not only did I lose a baby that rainy March day, but I lost my ability to safely bare a child again.


 A simple brick, and a few appointment cards are all remain 8 years later.

January of this year, I was sitting in yet another Sunday morning church service. And the Pastor began to preach on Ecclesiastes. 

A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to Dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4, NASB)

I had wept long enough. I had mourned long enough. I was never going to be able to get back the little girl I lost. I was never going to have the dream of raising a daughter of my own.

So, I began to Dance. I began to think on how much sweeter Heaven is because of that little one. I began to think of how tremendously blessed I am to have my incredible sons. I began to think of her loss differently.

I will never forget her. I will never forget that I did carry her in my womb. I will never forget that she was and is real. 

Rambling towards 40

Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows. ~Michael Landon

40. In just a bit over 6 months, I will resign from my 30s and turn the big 40.

More than the lists of things that I could have or should have done up to this point, I think of those along the way who will never embrace 40. Friends and family whose casket I watch be planted into the ground.

Many people waltzing towards 40 will make a to-do list of things they have always wanted to do. A 40 things by 40 kind of thing.

But what if 40 doesn’t come?

We forget sometimes the fragility of life until we look at another persons life..but rarely look at our own.

I don’t want my life to be a constant procrastination of things that I will do someday. One day, tomorrow will not come for me. Could be tomorrow in fact..we don’t know.

Lord, help me to redeem each day..to remember that adventure and joy and blessings can be found in the gift of each new day You grant me. 

When Life takes the foreground 

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. 

My Real non-blogging life consists of working for a government contractor. Our busiest time is the last 2 months of the year. 

Add to that some health concerns and just day to day stress…I have had to focus for just a few days on taking care of me & Joel the Brave (my cat). 

Lend yourself some grace sometimes to put aside all of the non essentials and just be still.

Be still and know that HE is God.

Be still and know that HE is God and that He is good. 

My Elohim

I am currently doing a Bible Study on the names of God, in which each week focuses on a different name. At the end of the study, I intend to do a comprehensive book review of the study. Each Saturday until then, I want to share a little with you my journey of the study each week and what it has taught me.

The book is Praying the Names of God, Ann Spangler (2004). My week one study has been on Elohim.

Elohim: Creator

Elohim is simple, Creator. We can read the account in Genesis on how God created all that we can see (and even that which we cannot..such as the microorganisms that live on the human skin.)

Perhaps you are not a Genesis Chapter One Christian, and believe in a partial evolutionist creation, evolution, or some other theory of how we got all of this galaxy. I am not here to argue with that; I will merely state that I believe firmly that GOD created. That is good enough for me.

Digging into Creation

The book Praying the Names of GOD does not have a study on the weekends, which has its perks and faults. I used my time this morning to mull over the Word of GOD and look into how creation is mentioned in the Bible.

Having used an NASB translation Bible, my search numbers are based on the NASB translation:

  • create: 5 times
  • created: 44 times
  • creation: 14 times
  • the words ‘GOD’ & ‘made’: 161 times (not all reference creation)

The Word in Genesis 1:1 for created is bara, (Strongs, H1254), which can mean

“to cut, to carve out, to form by cutting” (Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon)

HIS handiwork

Nature is a great part of how GOD wired me. I love being in the mountains, and seeing the shapes of the rocks and hills. My grandmother even told me once that there was even an old tale in the Appalachian mountains that the ridges were actually created by God Himself taking HIS hands and cupping them a certain way.

All of it, HE created.

And HE created me.

I struggle with self-worth, a byproduct of having been in some very difficult relationships. I look at the freckly girl in the mirror, and cringe a bit. But you know what? That feisty green eyed girl I see in the mirror is also formed and fashioned by GOD’s own hands.

My Lesson of the week

I have never taken a close look at the meaning behind the word for create in Genesis 1:1 until this week. To carve- those words snagged me, causing me to stop and reflect.

The great ELOHIM, HE carved me out for a purpose. HE is a mighty, powerful GOD- HE could have made many other things, and we all know HE has certainly made much prettier ones. But HE carved me- HE created me.. for this place, for this time, and for HIMSELF.

As I shared earlier in the week, GOD did not create me to be my mom or my sister, or even one of coworkers. HE carved me out of saucy handworking people, with deep grains of prayer warrior running within.

Carving takes great care, and attention to detail. Did GOD look down years ago, and say “just a bit more dimples…there, perfect”? I do not know. I only know that I am HIS creation, and through the study this week, I have begun to see myself more in the light of being HIS creation.

 

Share and Save: Saving The Shots

Fire. Flood. Moving. Divorce. Death. Age.

There are a lot of reasons that a photograph may become destroyed. Sadly, many priceless and irreplaceable memories are lost simply due to human failure: failure to share and to save.

SAVE YOUR PHOTOS: Old Stuff

September is save your photos months (source: http://www.saveyourphotos.org/).

First, let’s look at the age of analog. Non-digital photos.

Somehow over the last 10 years, I became the unoffical currator of family photos. When a family member passes away or an old family photo is found, some how it comes to live with me.

The first thing I do is Scan it and back it up digitally. Older photos printed on non-acid free paper can fade, and even become easily damaged. Scanning the photos allows me to have a digital copy of a photo that may, in another 10 years, be gone.

The second thing I do is to identify and document who the photo is of and what I can find out about the photo. I cannot adequately express how priceless this information can someday be… so I’ll share the example:

grandpa joe

This is a family photo. Now, if I handed this to my brothers (who are 12 and 18 years my younger), would they know who is in this photo or why it might be significant? Probably not. Unless, they saw my documentation of the photo:

The toddler in the bicycle basket is my dad, born 1957. Standing directly behind him is my Great-Grandfather Joseph Mills, who died September 14, 1966.

Without such facts being written down, it is likely this knowledge would disappear within a generation of myself.

Take the time to ask family members to allow you to scan and save old photos. Scan them all, even if you are not sure that it is a good photo of the person or if it doesn’t seem significant. You may never know if it may be one of the few photos of that person that may exist.

Case in point: My Paternal grandmother had a little sister that died around the age of 8. Until just a few years ago, it was thought that there was only one photo of the sister that existed. Until, a distant cousin passed away leaving me a small box of photos. Among those, was one photo that left me speechless.. a slightly blurry photo of my great-aunt taken just weeks before she tragically died. I scanned the photo, and took a copy to my grandmother. Even my grandmother had never seen the photo, and stated that before that time only one photo was known to have existed of her precious sister.

Save Your Photos: New Stuff

Over the last ten years, we have certainly seen an influx of digital photography. We are in a society that we are often snapping photos with our cellular devices and taking hundreds of photos with a digital camera.

But what then?

About 5 years ago, I dove into the world of pocket scrapbooking. I’ve always been a memory keeper, clipping articles and saving things. In my pocket scrapbooking, though, I began to see just how rarely I shared what I took. 

So, I began to do a few things:

  • Weekly, I sort through my photos to weed out duplicates and bad photos
  • Monthly, I back up my cell phone photos onto my computer
  • Quarterly, I back up my digital files onto my external drive
  • Twice a year, I burn my photos onto two sets of cds..one for at home and the other for the safety deposit

Let me add one additional thing..

SHARE 

SHARE the photos you take with family and friends. Send them in texts, post them online, print them and mail them to a loved one.

Why?

Because some times, it may be the last picture.

A few years ago, I ran into a friend of my dad’s while I was traveling. We talked and before I left, I snapped a quick selfie. I messaged it to my dad’s friend and to my dad.

Six months later, I attended their funeral. The picture I took of the two of us was one of the last pictures taken before their sudden illness. 

 

Furbaby Friday: Si

Si is unlike any other yorkie I’ve ever encountered. He loves unconditionally, but protects his hooman (my best friend Sandy) with diligence. 

Recently, I got to spend most of the day with Si at a local festival. I was awed at how well he handled the crowds. 

Si has also become the unofficial mascot for my youngest son’s sports teams. Don’t be surprised if you catch Si on the sidelines this fall.