Rejoicing In Song: I Will Sing

Last month, when I wrote about my song for the month, I also went through my calendar and added a post title to each song, each one starting with Rejoicing In... When I sat down to write this post and read the title, "Rejoicing In Song" a verse came to mind...

Psalm 137:4 How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

Psalm 137:4 How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

For the past week, I've been living in a strange land indeed; completely unfamiliar territory. I woke up Monday morning, excited to see one of my sons off to start a new job. I went to bed that night with my mind spinning with the word Leukemia. Two days later we had a diagnosis...our 5 year old granddaughter has B-ALL Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, with chemo treatments expected to last 2 1/2 years.

How shall we sing? By remembering the Lord; His mercy and grace, His comfort, His love, joy and peace, His glory, His victory, His power, His wondrous works.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I had no idea at the beginning of the year why God led me to choose a verse about rejoicing in Him, or why I chose a song of praise for each month, or why I chose a word or phrase to focus that praise, but I can see now that this is what I will need to carry me through...a reminder to always be looking to my Lord and Saviour, trusting in Him and holding tight to His hand; telling of His wondrous works and glorying in His name. 

My song for this month:

I Will Sing

Jesus sought me and redeemed me with His precious blood.
Forever I will sing His praise.
I’ll rejoice, for Jesus loves me and abides in me.
I will sing of His mercy and grace.

Yes, I’ll sing of the mercy and grace of God;
of His comfort, His love, joy and peace.
I will sing of His glory, His victory, His power.
I will sing till He comes back for me.

When I’m walking through a valley, Jesus takes my hand,
and guides me to the pastures green.
Then He leads me by still waters, and restores my soul.
Of His comfort and love I will sing.

Yes, I’ll sing of the mercy and grace of God;
of his comfort, his love, joy and peace.
I will sing of his glory, his victory, his power.
I will sing till he comes back for me.

I commit my way to Jesus, and I trust in him,
for He will always meet my needs.
God’s peace keeps my heart and mind through Jesus Christ, my Lord.
I will sing of His joy and His peace.

Yes, I’ll sing of the mercy and grace of God;
of His comfort, His love, joy and peace.
I will sing of His glory, His victory, His power.
I will sing till He comes back for me.

The creator, precious Saviour, Jesus Christ, my Lord,
the Lamb of God, the King of kings.
I will tell His wondrous works, and glory in His name.
Of His victory and power I will sing.

Yes, I’ll sing of the mercy and grace of God;
of His comfort, His love, joy and peace.
I will sing of His glory, His victory, His power.
I will sing till He comes back for me.

I will sing.

Psalm 23:2-4 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

To listen visit Lyric Devotions

Refacing a Fireplace ~ Using Scrap Plywood

This was a fun and inexpensive way to update our fireplace.

Last spring we started some inside renovations on our 1960s house. 

The first room we tackled is what we call the den. At one time this room was a bedroom, but a previous owner installed a garden door and a fireplace and opened the space up to the living room. It’s now the way we enter the house. Although our main goal was to upgrade the insulation and install drywall, as is often the case, the project grew once we got started.  

Fireplace Reno In 1960s House

We ended up redoing the front of the fireplace as well. 

Previously the fireplace was just covered in the same painted panelling as the rest of the room. Since we removed all of the other panelling in the room, we just kept on going and took it all down. We discovered there wasn't even drywall under the panelling on the fireplace, just the wood framing.

Original panelled Fireplace

The next job was deciding what material to use to replace the panelling. 

After considering a few options and looking at a lot of ideas I decided to do a reclaimed wood look using some plywood scraps and leftover paint...

DIY at its finest!

My husband had saved a bunch of scrap plywood, 3/8 thickness. It really wasn’t useful for much of anything, so I figured it was worth a try to see if I could do something with it. Brian cut the plywood into various lengths at 3 1/2 inches wide. He then sanded it and bevelled the edges a little.

Sanding and bevelling plywood scraps

In the meantime, I sorted through my collection of stains and paint and chose a few I thought would give me the look I was going for; ivory, grey, and two shades of blue.

Four Colours for reclaimed wood look

I started by putting a dark stain on all of the boards. Next, I experimented with the paint colours. I ended up brushing the paint on and then rubbing some off with a rag. I did several boards in each colour then decided to do some with a combination of all of the colours. You can see how I did that in the picture below.

Creating Reclaimed Wood Look

Once The boards were all painted and dry, I set them out on a table to arrange the colour pattern before putting them on the wall.

Reclaimed Wood Look

We had already covered the framework with a sheet of plywood so Brian was able to use a brad nailer to secure the strips.

Reclaimed Wood look Fireplace Face

Brian cut a few more strips of trim to use on the edges and I painted them using the same method. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I like the way it turned out, and it was so satisfying to be able to do the entire project with material we had just sitting around! 

Reclaimed Wood Look Fireplace Face

DIY Fireplace reno

You can see the full room and fireplace reno on this video:

Check out our series: 1960s House Renos 

Rejoicing In Isolation: I Will call On You

Psalm 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:11

At the beginning of January, I chose my verse and word for the year. 

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say rejoice. 

Of course, my word is Rejoice!

Unfortunately, just a week later, an 'unnamed' illness got into our home. With five people in our house, in spite of doing our best to stay away from each other, we all eventually contracted the virus and I ended up isolating for about a month. I generally spend most of the winter indoors anyway, so staying in our house really hasn't been that bad. Thankfully, we had fairly mild symptoms. It was everything that came with it that made it husband having to miss work, my son having the start date for his new job delayed, the way people responded...these were just some of the stresses.

I'm not sure why I decided to do this, but when I chose the word 'Rejoice' for the year, I went through my songs and found any that related to praising God or rejoicing. I took my calendar and wrote the title of one of these songs at the top of each month. 

For the month of February, I chose "I Will Call On You."

In joy I will praise you; in peace I will worship you.
In all I will call on you, my Saviour, my Lord.
In sadness I will cling to you; in turmoil I will rest in you.
In all I will call on you, my Saviour, my Lord.

When things go awry in this world of sin,
I’ll look to you for your wisdom and strength.
When all is well, and I have peace within,
I’ll look to you with love and devotion.

In truth I will seek you; in faith I will follow you.
In all I will call on you, my Saviour, my Lord.
In doubting I will turn to you; distressed I will trust in you.
In all I will call on you, my Saviour, my Lord.

When lives all around are filled with such pain,
I’ll look to you for compassion and grace.
When prayers are answered; loved ones born again,
I’ll look to you with thanks and with praise.

In love I will serve you; in hope I will wait for you.
In all I will call on you, my Saviour, my Lord.
In gladness I will give to you; obeying I will live in you.
In all I will call on you, my Saviour, my Lord.

I'll call on you.

I guess I knew I would need reminders to rejoice throughout the year!

In the past, I've found that God tends to use my own song lyrics to speak to me and of course, this time is no different. One week into February and the weather outside is frigid, so even though I'll be free to venture out, I think a drive around town will have to suffice for now! But I'm reminded by these lyrics and by God's word that I'm to rejoice in the Lord at all times, no matter what circumstances I find myself in.

Philippians 4:11,13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am , therewith to be content.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

You can listen to the song and read the story behind the lyrics at Lyric Devotions.

My Verse For 2021~~~Philippians 4:4

I was listening to a devotion from Philippians a few weeks ago when I found my verse for the year. 

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 

Philippians 4:4

There was no big revelation or deep thought process, just the knowledge that when I praise God and rejoice in Him everything else falls into place. Philippians has always been one of my favourite books of the Bible and I've been spending more time there lately, often listening to an audio version while doing things around the house. 

I always enjoy reading Spurgeon's messages. Today, I thought I'd see what he had to say about this verse. I think he expresses far better than I could what we can learn from Philippians 4:4.

I've taken these excerpts from one of his sermons, Joy, a Duty.

"Further, brethren, notice that the apostle, after he had said, "Rejoice in the Lord alway," commanded the Philippians to be careful for nothing, thus implying that joy in the Lord is one of the best preparations for the trials of this life. The cure for care is joy in the Lord. No, my brother, you will not be able to keep on with your fretfulness; no, my sister, you will not be able to weary yourself any longer with your anxieties, if the Lord will but fill you with his joy. Then, being satisfied with your God, yea, more than satisfied, overflowing with delight in him, you will say to yourself, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance." What is there on earth that is worth fretting for even for five minutes? If one could gain an imperial crown by a day of care, it would be too great an expense for a thing which would bring more care with it. Therefore, let us be thankful, let us be joyful in the Lord. I count it one of the wisest things that, by rejoicing in the Lord, we commence our heaven here below. It is possible so to do, it is profitable so to do, and we are commanded so to do."
"You are commanded to rejoice, brethren, because this is for your profit. Holy joy will oil the wheels of your life's machinery. Holy joy will strengthen you for your daily labour. Holy joy will beautify you, and, as I have already said, give you an influence over the lives of others. It is upon this point that I would most of all insist, we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord. If you cannot speak the gospel, live the gospel by your cheerfulness; for what is the gospel? Glad tidings of great joy; and you who believe it must show by its effect upon you that it is glad tidings of great joy to you. I do believe that a man of God—under trial and difficulty and affliction, bearing up, and patiently submitting with holy acquiescence, and still rejoicing in God—is a real preacher of the gospel, preaching with an eloquence which is mightier than words can ever be, and which will find its secret and silent way into the hearts of those who might have resisted other arguments. Oh, do, then, listen to the text, for it is a command from God, "Rejoice in the Lord alway!" "

You can read the full sermon on the Spurgeon Archive site, Joy, a Duty

Many years ago, I started out to write a song called, A Reason For Joy, but it took a slightly different direction and became, My Reason To Sing. Still, the sentiment is the same and I thought it was a fitting song to begin the year with. 

My Reason To Sing

© Deborah Bolack 2003
BIAB Rendition
(ignore glitch at end!)

God laid the Earth’s foundation,
and set the world in its place;
raised up majestic mountains,
carved valleys, and spread out the plains.
God made and garnished the heavens,
 and set the stars in the night;
designed the morning sunrise,
bestowed on the world his light.

And yet he thought of me,
with a love that spans all time and space.
Yes, created me with a special plan for all my days.

God sent his Son to save me,
forgave me all of my sins.
He gave his word to guide me,
his Spirit to dwell within.
God made my heart to hold him,
before my life had begun,
Then gave me breath to praise him,
and whispered, “There’s songs to be sung.”

And now he lives in me, and he gives me a reason to sing.
Yes, abides in me; my Creator, my Saviour and King.

To God be the glory, he is my reason to sing!
My reason to sing!

Yes, HE is my reason to sing and my reason for joy!

And so I start the new year with no resolutions, no big plans, no set goals. I step into 2021 with nothing more than a desire to rejoice in my Lord and again I say, Rejoice!

Reflecting On 2020


2020 Review

1. What were the highlights or accomplishments of the past year?

  • I guess the biggest highlight came right at the end of the year when Brian left his position as Maintenance Manager at the hotel to take the job of head Custodian at the school here in town. It should be a little slower least once he has everything on his to-do list completed, possibly by next fall! haha
  • With covid causing layoffs at the hotel, Daniel went in search of a new occupation and found it at Alternative Landscaping. While others collected CERB or EI, he worked from spring through to fall when he was again laid off. He's looking forward to going back in the spring.
  • Springtime brought more family to our new town, with Dennis and Dana deciding to move here as well!
  • In July we had a visit from our daughter in law, Naomi and the grandkids, as well as Naomi's sister. We all enjoyed a nice get together at Dennis and Dana's home, but missed seeing Lorne.  We were thankful for the summer reprieve from covid!
  • During a summer teen day camp, one of our granddaughters accepted Christ as her Saviour. That's a highlight worth mentioning! 
  • In the late fall, Jeremy moved back to Manitoba in preparation for a new job at a gold mine in Snow Lake MB,  starting in January. It's a 2 weeks in and 2 weeks out job so we're looking forward to having him's been a long 2 1/2 years of him living in Nova Scotia!
  • Another year end highlight was our son Justin getting engaged to Ruth, a wonderful lady and welcome addition to our family, as well as news of a new grandbaby coming in May 2021.
  • It seems the highlights all came at the end of the year. Justin started a course in taxidermy in December and hopes to start his own business when he's done. He also has the opportunity to use his videography skills doing some work for the college.
2. What were the major themes of the past year?
  • The main theme of 2020 has been dealing with Covid 19. For me, life has not changed a lot except that for most of the year we've been doing online church because we aren't able to gather.
  • Change seems to have been the other main theme for our family, location and church. Besides those listed in highlights, our daughter Nicole ended her stint in the banking field and returned to healthcare. Two grandkids also started new jobs. Although we haven't been able to attend church much since summer, we've been enjoying online services.  
  • And everyone would be surprised if I didn't say renovations! I'm not sure we've had many years when working on a house wasn't a theme. haha, We managed to complete most of the projects we wanted to do here...adding insulation and drywall, getting rid of a lot of the old panelling. What can I say? we love working on houses! 

3. What disappointments or regrets did you experience?
  • I don't think disappointment or regret are the right words, but losing Mom in February was a difficult time. I miss her terribly, but I know she's home with our Saviour and one day I'll see her and Dad again. I can picture her there enjoying the most beautiful gardens and her very own waterfall.  
4. What was missing from the past year?
  • For most of the year....spending time with friends and family and attending church.

5. What did you learn from the past year?
  • This probably sounds strange, but I realized how little my life was changed when covid caused us to have to keep our distance from other people. Of course, I missed spending time with my family, but much of my communication with people is via text and the phone. For so many years my time was spent caring for was easier to just stay home, and I got used to that. I know the same thing happened to Mom until it got hard for her to leave home. I know I have that tendency and it's something I need to be aware of and work to overcome. I need to make the effort to get out in our community and meet people, and to be more connected. Something to keep in mind when the covid restrictions are lifted.

It would be nice to think that when we awake on January 1, 2021 everything will be changed and we can all go on with life, covid19 just a bad memory, but it's going to be a while before we're out of this. And will life ever return to the way it was? Probably not...and maybe that's not a bad thing. God has allowed this situation; surely He has a purpose or many purposes. He has a plan for each and every life and uses such circumstances to bring about His will...drawing the lost to himself, calling the wanderers back, giving opportunities for growth and learning to all of us. 

The only question is, "What does God want to do in my life as 2020 comes to a close and I step into 2021?'