Same Song, Second Verse

I grew up in a small Baptist church where hymn books were opened every Sunday morning and evening. When we were first dating, my husband often joked with me saying I knew every hymn by heart. Well, I may know the first and fourth stanzas, but the second and third ones are a little more of a reach.

Over the Christmas break, Ron and I attended my sister and brother-in-law’s church. During the singing of one particular hymn, the second verse caught me by most pleasant surprise. The second verse to How Great Thou Art is probably one of the most skipped verses in all my hymn-singing upbringing.

When through the woods and forest glades I wander

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,

And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! How great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:

How great thou art! How great thou art!

~How Great Thou Art, by Carl C. Boberg adapted by Stuart K. Hine

My soul feels most at peace when I am in awe of God’s creation.

I have sat at the base of a waterfall and heard the mighty rushing waters never ceasing. I’ve hiked in some of the most beautiful rock formations in America. I have paddled a kayak in the waters of the gulf and sat in observation of countless sunsets. In each of these settings the thoughts that are provoked are ones of worship of the Lord.

Ron Havasu Falls


Family Hike

Ukraine Pictures (64)

The last pictured mountain is part of the Carpathian Mountain Range in Ukraine; the same mountains that the writer Carl C. Boberg crossed while penning this famous hymn. Ron and I traveled there in 2006.

Rediscovering this second verse of the beloved hymn, How Great Thou Art, is important to me for two reasons. First, this is a song–in particular a verse–which resonates with the Holy Spirit within me. This reflects the sentiments of many Christ followers; we feel closest to God when we are divulged in creation. Secondly, the memories that this verse provokes remind me of the thoughts I was thinking during each adventure. Some thoughts were pure, peaceful, and filled with worship. Others were full of discontent, complaining, or comparison.

It is clear, even in the most ideal surroundings we have choices to make. On what will we focus? Will we choose contentment? Will we choose to approach the Father with gratitude, or grumbling? Will we look at things as they are and see the good, or will we look at situations as we want them to be and see only what is missing?

By far, the fondest memories for me are those in which my inner worship matched the outer grandeur. I revel in the ones in which my thoughts were pure, prayer was on my spirit’s lips, my worship was vibrant, I was enjoying my companions or my solitude, and my thoughts were set on things above.

Certainly, my more favorable memories were when I was acting in the will of God.

This year, we will sing many of the same verses we have sung in years past. The difference in our singing lies with the heart and mind with which we approach the song. There are lessons to be learned and paths to be traveled. May we worship God in His greatness in the forests, by the brook, and in mountain grandeur.


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A Get Away


I am taking advantage of a break from blogging. Carving time apart from the virtual world for a week by “flying” away to recharge, regroup, and rediscover life apart from a computer screen.

Perhaps you, like me, will cozy up with a good book, take time for a walk in God’s creation, or spend more time in meaningful conversation with the ones you love?

Wherever your journey takes you in the next week or two, may you travel closer to the heart of God, grow in communion with Him, and in community with those around you.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

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Our Garden State Adventure Part 2

First, I am unsure which is the greater task, seeing as much as possible of New York City in one day with two preschoolers or blogging about it in one post. Regardless, prior to landing in the Newark airport, this 1994 Pace Picante Sauce commercial is as close as I came to New York City.

Not anymore. Chinatown, Little Italy, Broadway, and Central Park were all on the list as we spent a day traveling New York City with Ron’s godmother, “Momo” and her husband, Sal.

We were treated to the downtown loop of our Gray Line New York double-decker tour. Travel to and from the city on public transportation was the children’s most memorable part. Riding public transportation packed with commuters and complete with a slow drive through the Lincoln Tunnel was our kids idea of a good time in the city. What was not Momo’s idea of a good time was Ron and Emily’s failure to exit the bus when we did. Needless to say, this native New Jersey lady was needing a large cup of coffee when we met Ron and Emily a few floors down in the bus terminal.

Off to a memorable start don’t you think? Look at the worry in Momo’s face. Then note the sympathy in Ron and Sal’s. We all had a good laugh…everyone but Momo that is.

Next we had the pleasure of watching Sal heckle the bus personnel of the New York bus tours to get what he considered a reasonable price. Ron and I snapped pictures and recorded the comical exchange like the “country” folk we felt we were. I will not incriminate Sal by posting the video here. Needless to say, we were pleasantly entertained.

You can see the gentleman in the red jacket followed by Sal and Momo as he convinced Sal to follow him to the bus stop to purchase the tickets.  Cue Picante’s “New York City?”

Now for the shots of a few of our favorite spots. We primarily enjoyed the outward view of the buildings. The vast beauty and variety of the architecture in the city was my favorite part. Manhattan is rich with history and art. To experience it all within one day was a fast paced dream come true.

First up…the Empire State Building.


Followed by a quick visit inside Macy’s for some Starbucks and people watching. My personal favorite were the men turning over every price tag in the handbag section as they trailed their wives.


We traveled in the bus top for a few blocks and I was smitten with this store, but did not request to stop. Can you say NERD?

We accidentally missed the exit for China Town so we proceeded to the site of Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower. Freedom Tower reached its 100th floor during our visit. On the way we passed one of my favorite buildings, the Flatiron building. It is built in the form of a triangle and so named for its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron.

Much to Momo’s dismay, we turned around and walked the 10 blocks back to China Town as the bus only travels one direction in the loop. On the way we stopped and viewed the outside graveyard and architecture of one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan, St. Paul’s Chapel.


Next stop. China Town! Joshy’s most memorable portion aside from the city bus ride. He called out the next day as we were driving through New Jersey, “Look mom, China Town!” I am not sure what he saw, but it reminded him of China Town.

Sal persistently pestered Momo by attempting to cheaply purchase a Rolex in China Town. One such attempt ended in a standoff for my camera. I was filming Sal’s transaction when the store clerk quickly informed me that no photography was allowed. To which Sal whispered, “She works for Immigration.” As the gentleman’s temper grew, I deleted the portion of video in-front of him. No, even that would not suffice. He came toward me and said, “I know how you people work!” To which Momo quickly told me to get out of there.

Sal, Sal, Sal, I cannot believe you would try to get me into trouble all for a Rolex. Immigration!

It was time for lunch in Little Italy.



We ended our tour at Battery Park, Central Park, and the final stop before loading the bus home…the M&M store.

This stood in the entry of one of the World Trade Tower’s and now is a monument in Battery Park.

The view of Lady Liberty from Battery Park.

Our 20 minute tour of Central Park. My desire is to one day return to the city and spend an entire day in Central Park.

Two 2 pound bags full of M&M’s, not to mention, $34.00 later,  and we were purchasing a bus ticket back to Elizabeth.

The following day we visited Liberty Science Center and Liberty State Park were we viewed this final shot of the city.

Thank you Momo and Sal for this wonderful adventure!


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Our Garden State Adventure Part I

Perhaps you live in the same town in which you were born. Likely, you do not. Ron was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, earning him the name “Florida-Yankee” from my father.  A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of traveling to Ron’s hometown where we listened to snippets of past events that shaped my husband into the man he is today.

Hearing Ron describe the way things were I sensed a chapter in his childhood unfolding before me and a glimpse into the boyhood of my man.

Driving through town we came to the schoolyard of Ron’s earliest childhood education. The children and I kept pace with him as he talked of a flag that his father had donated to the school, his school day routines, and one incident in particular:

Little Ronnie’s mom came to pick him up after school. Not noticing the paper he proudly held bearing an A, his mom became quickly mortified to find that he had spent the day with his shoes on the wrong feet. As promptly as dismissal, his mother spared no time in correcting the blunder. As soon as he and his brother were piled into the family’s red Pinto, poor Ronnie changed his shoes returning them to the proper places.

It may be that memories of shoestrings abound, however the pictures of the donated flag made the photo album.



Looking at the flag once more, I pondered how our Garden State journey had only begun but the memories we traveled spanned a lifetime.

More to come…

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What I Am Reading Wednesday

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!~ Emma Lazarus

This week we are preparing for our spring break trip to New Jersey and New York City. Our book basket is filled to the brim with books which reflect our future travel. Here are some of our favorites from the week.

This wonderfully illustrated book is full of an easy-to-follow story line as well as chalked full of wonderful facts on the bustling city of New York. It captured both the children’s attention levels and kept them throughout the story.

A beautifully illustrated story of the construction and journey of Lady Liberty from Paris, France to New York.

Miffy loves NYC and our kids loved Miffy as well as the real-life photographs of many monumental sites throughout New York City.

Here are a few I would recommend on New York for children second grade and older.

Laugh if you will, but this is where I am getting my factual background for our trip up to the top of the Empire State Building…or at least the observation deck on the 86th floor.

Emily continues to move through the Little House Series. Currently we are reading

A poem that Ma wrote in Laura’s autograph book is one that I desire to commit to memory.

If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,

Five things observe with care,

To whom you speak,

Of whom you speak,

And how, and when, and where.

Today we read chapter 17, Name Cards.  Our eyes widened and lips turned upward in a smile when to our delight, Almanzo asked Laura to go for a ride in his enviable buggy behind the beautiful Morgan horses, Lady and Prince. Ah, romance!

Joshua currently enjoys reading

We are working on learning his colors. However, he most enjoys making the animal noises.

I am continuing to read

That is what we are reading this Wednesday, and you?

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