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All Creation Sings – Part II – Autumn Beauty

“The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.

All your works praise you, LORD.

My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.”
Psalm 145:9,10 & 21

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Article at Beliefnet.com – Sofia is My Joy

My article Sofia is My Joy is up on Beliefnet.com. The article tells the story of finding out about my daughter’s diagnosis of Down syndrome and celebrates the gift of joy that she is to me. I hope you enjoy it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

All Creation Sings Part I – One Woman’s Offering of Song

The woman’s voice rises. The depth of her soprano strains enrobe the cathedral with a sacred richness. Her raven hair shimmers with the colorful rays peaking through the stained-glass behind her. Face turned upward; her song is an offering to the One she loves, the God who created her to sing.

The verses come to an end. Slowly she looks out to the audience before her, watching as the cathedral fades from her view; a view from the distant past of her mind’s eye. Reality materializes, revealing the small room that’s become her home. She allows herself to be led to her bed where she can sit safely, without fear of falling and injury.

The soloist is my mother. From childhood, she desired to follow in her Nonna’s footsteps. Like her three older sisters, she too wanted to be an opera singer, just like her Italian grandmother. Unlike my great-grandmother, my mother never graced the stage of an opera house. Her earliest performances were as a child at her church in the Philippines, followed by those given at the Officer’s Club at Clark Air Force Base following the allied troops’ victory over the Japanese during World War II. Most of her singing has been in the church, back in the Philippines and here in the US, where she’s lived since her early twenties. While studying opera and fine arts in college, she worked hard to train her voice.

Music has been an integral part of who she is. Even now, music carries her. It enriches her life. Some of the words are now obscured, but the melodies are still clear. Schubert’s Ave Maria comes naturally to her, just like the Panis Angelicus. Every now and then, a song from the forties pops out. Workers that help with her care often tell me how much she loves to sing. “What a beautiful voice she has,” they say. “Did she always sing?”

The simple answer is yes. She was created to sing. It’s in her nature – a nature given to her by God. So, she sings – even when words fail. She makes her offering back to the God that loves her. One day, the melodies may elude her, just as the words do now. Then, laughter will be her song. And after the laughter, in her inner-most being, she’ll be singing sacred arias to the One that can hear her beautiful heart’s song.

Answered Prayer

God answered a prayer of mine. The prayer had to do with an ongoing situation that simply wasn’t getting any better. After numerous ongoing difficulties, I’d nearly resigned myself to expect the worst. There hadn’t been any real resolution for so long. Then two weeks ago, things appeared to get even worse. Funny how sometimes things seem to get worse before they get better. The worse was short-lived, because soon afterwards God answered my prayers in the affirmative. The situation finally had resolution.

When I received the call telling me things had been resolved, it felt like God was smiling down on me. I felt genuinely blessed and grateful – and I was. But in some small way, I felt like I must have done something right; something that moved God to help. The situation had gone on for over a year and I’d begun entertaining the thought that maybe it was me. Maybe I was the reason God wasn’t moving in to help.

Analyzing my role in the matter after my initial bliss at the good news, I could already feel that small internal nudge telling me I was being absurd. I should know better. The situation had been completely out of my control, but not God’s. Years of living this life of faith have taught me God brings the good, just as He allows the difficulties. And He never changes. He’s still God and is always perfectly good, in good times and bad. Often, it’s during those bad times that if we run to Him rather than from Him, we realize just how good He is. His mercy, comfort, strength and healing are powerful and real.

Job is man who God himself describes as blameless and upright. He is a righteous man of whom God says, “There is no one on earth like him.” Yet, he suffered greatly. After his wife instructs him to curse God for allowing his misfortune, Job replies, “Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” He never questions the goodness of God’s character, because he knew God.

Like Job, the apostle Paul also suffered greatly. During his years of ministry, several times he was imprisoned, severely flogged, stoned, shipwrecked and the list goes on. Yet he too, never questions God’s goodness. He also never assumes God must be displeased with him, as he faces the immense trials allowed in his path. It’s all part of the journey of faith and his calling in leading others to the hope that is God.

We’re told in the Bible that faith must be tested. Oswald Chambers said, “Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds.” His goodness is real, no matter what He allows. Resolving God’s goodness in the midst of great difficulty is no easy task. When we do fully recognize God’s absolute goodness, we can confidently face the trials and as a result our faith blossoms and grows stronger.

Trying to understand my role in how God moved or didn’t move was rationalizing and reaching for understanding beyond my human ability. The life of faith isn’t a chess game, where you’re rewarded based upon your deeds. It’s more like a journey of mystery, which adds to the adventure. Faith is the substance of things unseen. I may not understand or see clearly, but God does. God answered my prayer in the affirmative, which to my limited vision, made things easier for me and I am thankful. For the number of times He hasn’t, I know He’s still with me, building me up in my faith and ultimately, seeking good.

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress