Taste and See the Lord is Good!

In celebration and in honor of what God has done in healing my mom from the injuries she sustained in her fall a year ago, I wanted to focus on Psalm 34 for our Psalm Saturday edition this week.

David penned Psalm 34 after he escaped from Gath. We see him reflect on God’s goodness, praising the Lord for His faithfulness in delivering His people from trouble. David exults the Lord and calls on all God’s people to lift up praises to Him.

As a believer, I wonder how successfully I live out verse 1. Do you? It’s one thing to praise God when things are good, but as I’m sure you’ve experienced too, it can be difficult to remember to continue praising the Lord during a storm.

We can trust that God hears and responds to our prayers because David reminds us here, as he does so many times in Psalms, that he has personally experienced the Lord answering his cries for help in times of great distress. In our 21st century culture, overrun with busyness and overwhelmed by noise, it may be hard to see, hear, and taste God.

Yet, He is there.

Mom falling and breaking her ankle in multiple places came on the heels of saying farewell to my friend Mark, a beloved and godly man who modeled Christ for so many of us. Emotionally it was a dark time whose clouds I feel I’m just now emerging out from under.

Today, I’m overjoyed that Mom is completely healed and that the Lord continues to bless her, love her, watch over her, and care for her. She is a blessing to a ton of folks, including me. Her joyous spirit remains strong and vibrant, showering love on all those who know her. She is a faithful friend. She has a kind heart and is thoughtful of others, calling them on their birthdays, sending them cards on special occasions. She is determined and resilient. A lifelong learner, she continues to work on her craft as an artist. She loves people and she loves the Lord.

Yes, taste and see that the Lord is good. Indeed, He is.

Psalm 34 New Living Translation (NLT)

A psalm of David, regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away.

1 I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.
2 I will boast only in the Lord;
    let all who are helpless take heart.
3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
    let us exalt his name together.

4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
    He freed me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
6 In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.
7 For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
    he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
9 Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
    for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
    but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
    and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
    that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
    his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
    he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
    but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
    not one of them is broken!

21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
    No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Psalm Saturday

For my upcoming birthday this year, I’m asking for donations to Trusted World. I’ve chosen this nonprofit because I know their CEO personally and I know that the TW team will put any funds raised to excellent use.
I believe in Trusted World’s mission and I hope you’ll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me. Every little bit will help me reach my goal.

If you’d like to donate you can do so here.

 

My Mom is my Hero

My Mom is my hero. She recently celebrated her 80th year walking Planet Earth. Her journey hasn’t always been an easy one. Truthfully, it has been filled with extreme difficulties starting with fleeing her childhood home ahead of the advancing Russian Red Army. She hadn’t turned six years old before she watched her mother and grandmother pack up their belongings–except for the valuables they’d buried in the backyard–and attempt to catch a train to Berlin. By the time she turned seven, she had survived a World War. She was a happy girl, in spite of living the life of a refugee, with no place to really call home. Her youth was filled with hardships, but she kept her spirits up, and somehow through it all, managed to hold on to her innocence.

Mom met Dad at a church camp one Summer. She loved him instantly and hoped he would be the one God intended her to marry. And get married they did, but not until after they buried her future father-in-law, who died a hard death from a combination of cancer and other ailments. She stood by my father’s side as he grieved the loss of his dad and looked after his mother. Like me, my Dad grew up an only child.

They got married and lived in small apartment hosted by the owner’s of a small café and inn in a tiny German town near Lake Constance. From their they moved to Switzerland because the jobs were more plentiful, due to a burgeoning economy. When I was born they met some friends at the hospital who would later invite them to come to America, continuing my family history of migration.

The Bantaus

When we came here, neither of my parents spoke English. Like me, they had to learn. And learn my Mom did. She adjusted to a new life in a new land, leaving behind her parents, siblings, nephews and nieces, and friends. Marshall, Texas was a hospitable place, but not one used to foreigners. Certainly not Germans.  But Mom, who has displayed an incredible friendly spirit through her life, made friends quickly. The list of people who helped her adjust to her new home is long. You simply can’t make it in this world without a good support network.

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As a young lady, Mom was a beautiful, gregarious soul who never met a stranger. This continues to be true today. Mom makes friends, through church, through community outreach, and through her artwork. Though life has thrown her more than her fair share of challenges, Terri and I have witnessed my Mom rise to the occasion, exemplifying what it means to be an overcomer. Through it all, I’ve seen her faith blossom and her love for people grow. That ain’t easy in this world. That’s why Mom will always be my hero.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have been blessed to raise children and who have been a blessing to so many. You may not always realize it, but you have had an incredible impact on more people than you can ever imagine.

God bless you all.

Mom is my Hero

Going Home and Making Memories Celebrating Mom’s 80th Birthday!

After kick starting the week by diving headfirst into my courses as I begin my final semester of graduate work at Amberton University, I reflected on the extended weekend celebration of my Mom’s 80th birthday. What a tremendous time honoring a life well-lived!

My Sweet T and I surprised Mom at Thursday night’s Spring Event at the Marshall Arts Center. If you’ve not been to Marshall lately, you’ll be surprised to discover the thriving arts scene that continues to blossom thanks in large part to the efforts of the Arts Center and local artists helping get the word out about the work they are doing.

After the Art Show, we popped over to Pietro’s, a new Italian restaurant located on Austin Street in Historic Downtown Marshall.  Superb food and excellent service topped off a great evening out on the town. During our time in my old hometown, we were excited to find a vibrant Downtown area bustling with people and activity–a site long overdue in this historic East Texas community.

We spent Saturday afternoon partying it up at the Dinner Belle on Grand Avenue. The home-cooking dished out by owner April Ridgeway-Hamblen and crew has totally transformed a building that was once  home of the local Dairy Queen. The service is down-to-earth humble and friendly and the food is tasty and reminds you of Southern home cooking once served at the family dinner table.

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After our time with friends at the Dinner Belle, we capped Saturday night off with a visit to Second Saturday and a tour of the old timey cars and local shops. Several shops were open to the public, showcasing their wares ranging from original items to antiques. Again, we were happy to see the life filling the streets of Downtown Marshall.

Sunday morning, we went to church at Summit Methodist–Mom’s home church for almost ten years now. I had the honor of teaching Sunday School that morning, which is always a privilege and joyous experience. We explored how God’s Word teaches us how to pray through an examination of the Apostle Paul’s prayerful words in Ephesians 1:16-19.

Through it all, Mom had a big, happy grin on her face. Her friends shared stories of how they met or funny anecdotes involving my Mom or one another. My Mom has done remarkably well since my Dad passed nearly 10 years ago. A big part of that success is due to her faith and her art,  her friends, and her church family. The little girl who fled Danzig, Germany during World War II as a war refugee has come a long way.

The next time you’re out in East Texas, stop in Marshall and checkout the little town that is thriving. Having grown up there, it’s great to see the signs of revitalization taking place in my old hometown.

East Texas Memories