Archive for category TMI

A Song for Today

Music possesses the mighty power to leave a lasting impact on our spiritual lives. Recently, I read about the background of the well-loved hymn, How Great Thou Art. Like many, this song is a special favorite because of its message and majesty.daldorch valley a

Whenever I see this picture, I feel an emotional stirring in my soul and sometimes tears come to my eyes. Certainly, it is not because of the dramatic visual impact of this photograph! After all, this is a digital scan of a Kodak slide taken almost 35 years ago by a young boy with a 25 year-old Ansco camera. The color and quality is poor, at best, even after being retouched. (Slides don’t hold up as well as you might think). Yet, the strong feelings have more to do with the occasion associated with  this slide.

I remember as a 13 year-old boy spending my summer in Scotland working on a construction project with Teen Missions International. After several weeks of separation from home and family, long hours of laying bricks and digging trenches, and cold, drizzly weather, I was feeling low physical and emotionally. I took a walk late one afternoon to explore and was talking out loud to God about what I was feeling.

About that time I discovered this wonderful vista of the River Ayr winding between the rolling hills. Having been raised in Florida (elevation 15 ft.), hills and mountains of any size seem especially majestic. Combined with the emotion of the moment and the spiritual impact of sincere prayer, I felt an overwhelming impulse to sing. The only song that seemed right was How Great Thou Art. It has always captured for me the goodness and greatness of our God and still reminds me of the wonder of those moments alone with Him.

The psalmist sang that the Lord had “put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 40:3)

No one was around to see or hear me out on that hillside in 1980. But our day-to-day purpose as God’s children should be that others are seeing the evidence of His presence in our lives. They should be hearing our mouths filled with praise and thanksgiving for what He has done. It is not always accomplished by singing a hymn, although that is a wonderful privilege of our personal relationship and a vital component of our corporate worship. Rather, every word that comes out of our mouth should reflect our Savior. Even the countenance of our face can reflect Him.

What will your song be today?

Memories of Ayrshire

In 1980 I spent almost three months with a team of teenagers just outside Catrine, Scotland. Our work included building a block & brick kitchen and dining facility for Teen Missions at Daldorch Estate (which is today a home for autistic children). I have often wondered if our dining hall is still there and being used. It was a great experience that I repeated by traveling to Italy in 1983. Throughout the years, my wife and I have led many teams to various parts of the world to work alongside some of God’s greatest servants and our greatest heroes – missionaries.

I celebrated my 14th birthday in Scotland and learned a great deal about the Lord, the world, and life in general. I have determined that in some ways my first Teen Missions experience was a rite of passage for me. As a team member I became accountable – to carry supplies, to wash my clothes, to dig a trench, to lay blocks. I was responsible for myself and others. 28 1/2 years ago I had my friends write their names and addresses in a small book so that we could “keep in touch” when we returned home.

While cleaning recently I found that book and fondly flipped through the pages of names and numbers. Yesterday converting some slides to digital format I tried remembering names and faces. A quick internet search turned up a few interesting leads…and then a Google hit read “Deb Pugh/Heather Duffy.” This was no coincidence or mistaken identity. In my mind these names could only be connected in one way – Scotland 1980. A link and a jump later, I received the confirmation I expected – including a photo.

The challenge has begun. A few more names led to a few more leads. We’ll see what the wonders of the internet hold for reaching back and connecting with a bygone day. To my teammates from Scotland Dining 1980 I say “Thanks for the memories.”