Home is Where Your Story Begins

October 15, 2009

Songs to Live By

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 10:48 pm

When my Aunt & Uncle, Gus & Olive Cope, celebrated their 50th anniversary, they were interviewed for the local newspaper.  Typically, one of the questions they were asked was “what is your secret to such a long marriage?”  My Uncle replied that what always got them through was a prayer and a song.  That pretty much summed it up.  Life wasn’t always rainbows and roses on Brownstown Hill.  But, as far back as I can remember, there was God, there was love and there was a song.

 My kids know that PapPap has a song for everything.  Say something and he’ll start singing a song that goes along with it.  When we were in Fayette City recently, we spent the night with the Andersons.  God bless church family who will open their homes because there was no way all forty-five of us (if I’m counting correctly) would have fit in that tiny 3 bedroom, 1 bath Cape Cod on the hill.  Gillian wanted to know, “do all Pennsylvania men sing a lot?”  I guess Ken was singing just like she had always heard PapPap singing.

 Seventeen years after that milestone anniversary, even my aunt’s funeral was filled with songs.  Reverend Cinelli used them as examples when he spoke.  We sang hymns.  Becca sang a solo at the church and Mrs. Cinelli sang another one at the cemetery.  These songs, and more, have been playing in my head for over a week now.   They have planted several questions in my heart, causing me to pause and reflect on how I live my life.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you’re happy and you know it then your face will really show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

 As kids in Junior Church at the Fayette City Christian & Missionary Alliance Church, we loved singing this song.  After we clapped our hands, we would stomp our feet, shout Amen, stand up, and sit down.  As an adult, I know that happiness is a fleeting emotion.  Joy, on the other hand, is lasting.  We had a song for that, too. 

Jesus and others and you
What a wonderful way to spell joy
Jesus and others and you
In the life of each girl and each boy
J is for Jesus for He has first place
O is for others you meet face to face
Y is for you and whatever you do
Put yourself last and spell joy

 Question 1:  Are you spinning your wheels in pursuit of happiness or have you found joy?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine 
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Question 2:  How shiny is your light?  Are you letting it shine all over [insert hometown here] or would your fellow Christians rather you hid it under a bushel?  Do you let Satan blow it out during times of trial?

 Think about it seriously for a minute (or two or three).  How do you act under pressure?  What did you do the last time someone didn’t do what you wanted them to do (especially if they didn’t do that something because you didn’t make your wishes clear to them)?  Times of adversity don’t give us an excuse to act less Christ-like; they are a reason for us to act more Christ-like.

 How about even when things are going good for you?  What do you do when you see someone else who is struggling?  Maybe you can’t help them financially, but I bet there’s something you can do to ease their burden.  That’s what being a part of the family of God is all about (and there’s a good old 70’s Mahaffey Camp chorus popping up).  We are supposed to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.  What, you say they are your family-family, too?  Then you have absolutely no excuse.  God places even the solitary in families so that we can be there for one another.

 I could go on for pages, listing hymns and choruses I grew up on.  Sunday mornings were most always for preaching, but Sunday evenings were the best because we sang more.  Sometimes we even sang for the entire service.  We’d pull those old blue “Hymns of the Christian Life” out of the pew holders and start to sing.  As soon as we were done with one song, someone would call out another number and we’d be singing again.  Even now, years later, I associate certain hymns with certain people (and certain numbers with certain hymns).  “309” was Rev. McNeal, I Come to the Garden Alone.  Mom’s favorite was “240”, I Love to Tell the StoryMy Anchor Holds, “251” was my Dad’s, called out from the first pew in the overflow section since he was an usher.

 Questions 3, 4 & 5:  Do you take time alone with God daily?  Do you love to tell the story of Jesus and His love?  Are you anchored in the solid rock of Jesus? (and that solid rock is “118” My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)

 These were the songs we lived by.  We marched up front to put our building fund offering in the chimney of the little house to Onward Christian Soldiers.  We came forward to repent at the altar to Just as I Am.  But they weren’t just words and notes.  We meant what we sang.  Just like you shouldn’t take communion unless your heart is right with God, we were taught that you shouldn’t sing it unless you meant it. 

Question 6:  Do you walk the walk or do you just talk the talk?  One of my favorite sayings is “Preach the gospel daily.  When necessary, use words.”

 Now I’m not saying we were perfect—far from it.  Ever have roasted preacher for Sunday dinner along with your roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, and jello salad?  You know you have.  Last Wednesday at the funeral dinner, Paul David said, “You know what Christians call gossip, right?”  I promptly replied, “Prayer requests!”  My point in all this rambling is not to be a Pharisee standing in the middle of the temple praying loudly (in other words, look at me how holy I am).  I just want to share with you what I’ve been reflecting on this past week.

Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart be lonely
And long for heav’n and home
When Jesus is my portion
My constant Friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me

I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
For his eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me

In the quiet still of the chapel at the cemetery, Mrs. Cinelli stood and sang this song so clear.  Becca Cope Deming looked at me and said, “Listen, Pap is singing.”  Sure enough, he was.  He had just lost his high school sweetheart, his wife of 67 years and he was singing.

What’s the secret to a long marriage, to a life well lived?  Apparently it’s a prayer and a song.


LEGAL STUFF:  I don’t know who wrote the words to the children’s songs I’ve quoted.  They are just in my head.  The hymnal I grew up on, and still have a copy of on my bookshelf, is “Hymns of the Christian Life”, copyright, MCMXXXXVI by Christian Publications, Inc.  The hymn I quoted, His Eye is on the Sparrow” is (according to said hymnal), copyright, 1934, Renewal by Homer A. Rodeheaver, Owner.  Words and music by Mrs. C.D. Martin and Chas. H. Gabriel (I can never remember if it’s the person who wrote the words on the left and the tune on the right or the other way around).


1 Comment »

  1. Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.

    Comment by Savannah — October 17, 2009 @ 10:41 am | Reply

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