Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Have Raised My Ebenezer

COURAGE..."E" The Last Letter Of The Word COURAGE
E = Ebenezer
The definition in Webster's New World Dictionary is this:
Ebenezer: of the Hebrew language meaning 'stone of help'

"Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying , Hitherto hath the LORD helped us." (I Samuel 7:12 KJV)
The last letter in the word courage is E and for this letter, though there be many words I could choose, I must choose the word Ebenezer because of what the word Ebenezer means in Hebrew.
Without the 'stone of help', the 'solid rock' to which Christ Jesus is referred, I could not make this journey towards attaining courage at all.

One of my favorite hymns from the time I was a very young girl mentions the Ebenezer and raising it towards God.

Here are the words and a little history about this hymn I remember from my childhood so well and that I love so much.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is a Christian hymn composed by the 18th century Methodist pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson. In the USA, the hymn is usually set to an American folk tune known as Nettleton, composed by printer John Wyeth, or possibly by Asahel Nettleton. Robinson penned the words at age 22 in the year 1757. In the UK, the hymn is also often set to the tune Normandy by C Bost.
Since its origination, this hymn has since been revised and now appears in modern hymnals as the following (and how I first heard it as a young girl.)

1. Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

The original text of the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" as written by Robert Robinson in 1757:

1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise his Name, I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

2. Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I'll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

3. Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

4. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

5. O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Though I first heard as the second version, I prefer the full first version as penned by the original author. This hymn I first heard when I was about nine years old and I have always loved it....the beauty of this hymn speaks of the mercy, grace and help of God, it also offers hope for the wandering stranger...rescue from tells of an endless day that is coming soon when we will be free of the chains that bind us to this world. It talks of raising one's Ebenezer, where by the help of the Lord I've word for the letter E is Ebenezer ~ Stone of Help.

After all, how can I, a mere human with my many failings, gain courage without my own Stone of Help...My Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, to anchor me when the winds of doubt and fear toss me about trying to tear me away from my journey back to living again...and my endless quest for COURAGE.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gales and Ghostly Galleons

Facing the REALITY of what has happened reminded me so much of being tossed on the sea in the midst of gale force winds...and after much thought
I've finally narrowed down my search for a word beginning with the letter "G" that represents the word COURAGE for dissecting that word letter by letter.
I've finally come up with a few - There was no way I could stick with one on this letter. So here are my choices for the G in COURAGE.
I know to some I may sound like I've gone off of my rocker, but since I couldn't decide which of these words meant the most towards gaining courage to me, I want to try and use them all...
First of all I need to GO, literally GO far away from the place in my heart and mind that has me bound, I need to get the Gumption to Grab a hold of that tiniest GLIMMER of GOODNESS and hang on to it tightly as I can while I run the GAUNTLET of my past failures, insecurities, tragedies, and losses to actually GRASP for that GLIMMER of the GOLDEN light of hope, that will GUIDE me towards that GLORIOUS GARDEN of beauty and GENEROSITY, where I can use a (hopefully) Green Thumb, with which I can GENTLY cherish each new plant which to me symbolizes the GOOD things that can GROW within me. The GENEROUS things, the GOODNESS of GOD in my life which so desperately needs a chance to GROW, choking out the desperate tragedies that have happened during my life thus far.
While lately it seems as if I'm drifting wildly with every GALE force that strikes my GALLEON on the High Seas of life, right now...I must simply GIVE over the command to the Master, while I rest in peaceful repose, GAINING strength for my journey on towards courage and GAZE towards the horizon of hope - no our family will never be the same again...we will never be "normal" again because of what has happened to our Sweet William...but it is my hope this year, to seek the courage to find a "new normal" and be able to face the future with open arms, instead of with fear and trembling... A new future of learning to love life, laugh and enjoy living again, while I re-gain the unshakeable faith in 
The Master Sailor.
Writing only © 2010 Susan Reynolds
Please see photo credits below:
Photo Credits to Peter Marks
(p.s. Thanks for letting me use your wonderful ship photo UP!)
This photo of the ship is not taken by me and I know it is not showing a Galleon in Gale force winds, but by adding the darkness surrounding the ship, with the Glimmer of brightness behinds it, I feel like it GIVES me hope that I can GRASP onto the proverbial ropes so to speak and hold on for dear life.
The bold red color of the sails also reminded me of the tragedy in my life, but also of the blood of Jesus Christ that washes away all of my reminds me of a Savior that is willing to offer me not only the gift of salvation, but also the gift of saving me from my self.
I've added a few filters to the original beautiful ship photo that was taken by a close friend from my photo club, Peter Marks, a native of Great Britain now living across the pond in the good old U.S.A. All credits for the photo go to him. Thank you so much for allowing me to use your photo U.P. As I stated, I just added the darkness of a night storm type feeling with that GLIMMER of Bright Hope in the distance.
That GLIMMER of GOODNESS and Hope is my GOAL
towards learning to live a life filled with COURAGE.
Here is Peter Marks original photo of the ship with the beautiful red sails before I added the other effects...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No G for Courage Yet, Just plain Gladness

W've been trying for hours now and I've hit a writer's block I think because there is just so much going on with us right I worked on other things...
Will come back to the G in courage tomorrow...well...later today, since it's already the wee-sma hours of today...I truly never know whether I live in the past, present or future when my days all run together like this...My day never ends so I'm living in your yesterday, yet it's my tomrrow and where in the world did today go? I get rather irrational and vague when sleep deprived.
But need to add a photo since it IS a photo blog...
I'm so thrilled and thankful that my beautiful sister
and best friend in the whole universe is finally coming
home from her stint in that foreign country of Arkansas.
I love you sis...more than you'll ever know!
Does it count if I'm GLAD she's home....
No that's not's just good old gladness!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Abolishing And Annihilating Anger

Learning to find courage is a long and
difficult process for me. The last
two segments on using the R in courage
for reality and facing the reality of what
really happened put me out of commission
for a long while. I've still not quite yet
recovered and don't know if I ever will.
But facing the reality of it all also means
facing the anger that came with
William's accident...the lies people told
about him, the injustice of it all, the
CHP officer that did not stop him when
he stated clearly in the news report that
the car was weaving & that he called in
for another officer to check it out....
For goodness sakes, what are officers of
the law for if not to pull over weaving
drivers? He could have been having a
seizure, a heart-attack, a stroke, or
anything, but he had only fallen asleep
at the wheel, but the CHP officer
did nothing....NOTHING to stop him. 
If he son would still be 
alive today. (Someday, maybe I will 
have the courage to find the officer 
who did nothing & ask him why????) 
By the time the second officer was
dispatched there was no sign of the blue
Camaro...of course only son was
already submerged under 8 feet of icy
cold water in a December storm - where
he was the whole time during the four
heart-wrenching days of searching.
Talk about anger....My heart is exploding
with anger as I write these words...
especially when I get asked if he was on
drugs or drinking at the time?
NO! NO! NO! NO!NO...
William was not drunk or on drugs...
He had never, ever been in to those vices.
My son was a health freak...all they found
in his stomach was oatmeal and banana.
So much for the drug and alcohol theory.
The toxicology screens were all negative...
So there, it's out there for the world
to see whether they want to acknowledge
it or not....whether they want to believe
lies or the truth.
I had to delete the original part of this post
that was in the place of this bold print
due to causing only more of the 
deepest heart-ache I have ever known
and causing me to digress back
into the depths of blackness
of such intense anger and despair yet again.
So I will continue leaving out the original paragraph.
William had merely fallen asleep at the wheel
on his 45 minute long journey to work after
putting in 3 intense hours of working out 
at 24 Hour Fitness late the night before,
 after working his regular full 
time job that day
on top of his college classes.
The anger is so great at times that I know
without a doubt, I MUST
face it and rid myself of it because anger
is like a poison...a cancer that eats away
at you until you are left withered & dead inside,
with nothing but anger to offer the world,
which is in such need of peace and harmony.
So for me....The A in COURAGE represents
Anger - Abolishing That Anger
before it Annihilates me in its
quest to destroy our family through
this disaster.
But, in the mean-time...I am trying
hard to live for my beautiful daughter,
Charlotte & my wonderful husband, Matt.
They have had enough tragedy in their
lives....of this I know only too well.
I love you two with all of my heart and soul

...and to my William in
Heaven....I wish I could hug you again
and tell you how very much I love you
and always will ~ I am forever proud to
be called your Mum....xoxo to you
in Heaven, Sweet William.
© Susan Reynolds

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Doing The Deeper Work

Photography Challenge from the SOAR Forum form January, 2010.
It's taken this long for me to get up the nerve
to do this because I must say this was indeed a
challenge as I'm far more comfortable behind the
lens than in front of it.
My self-portrait: This was completed using just the

light from one candle. I used the dark colors and
minimal lighting, because that is the way I feel
more comfortable - in black, in the darkness, away
from others, alone with my intense emotional grief
and very real physical pain.
I've pretty much stayed home since my car
accident in March 2007, except for doctor
appointments and such unless my husband or
daughter can drive me.
I've been "in hibernation mode" since my son's car
accident in December of 2005, thus the significance
of the heart pendant necklace with my son's picture on it.
Being put on disability in '07 after my own accident,
which also caused me to lose a the best job I ever
had. It caused me to have to stay at home...alone
more than ever, has caused me to become
a recluse. I am very self-conscious, have
always had very poor self-esteem and also have a
lot of self doubt about my photography skills...let's
just say those negative voices are
never quiet in my mind.
After taking the leap of faith and participating
in the SOAR Scholarship in December of 2009, I
made a pact with myself to try and learn how
to live come out of the darkness of
that horrible black depression since my son's
death, and try to step back into the light of
day....while conquering my fears of failure, learning
to embrace courage and quit being a recluse.
I'm headed in the direction of the light - to
escape the darkness that surrounds and suffocates
me...and believe me when I say, it has been a
difficult journey, but a necessary one.
I need to find a "new normal" since nothing can
be the same after losing my only beloved son ~ He
would want me to get out of this darkness and
into the light...this is my goal in 2010 - to gain
the courage to learn to live again.
My object: An old battered trunk, bound with
heavy chains and secured with a heavy
lock...but also there is a key there that can open
the trunk. This photo is also shrouded in darkness.
To me it represents how I have had so much
tragedy in my life, in addition to the heart-breaking
loss of my son...that I feel as if I am bound up by
heavy chains in a very dark place. Not only is my
life being smothered by the shut-in feeling, but the
lock and chains feel like it has my creativity stifled 
while my desire to do things other than hide from
the world in my heartache and pain, was lost and
buried forever when  tragedy struck and we had
to bury our beloved 19 year old son.
Yet, I believe, I hope, that the significance of
the key in the photo is showing me that there is a
method of escaping the locked in feeling. I just
need to be strong enough to pick up that key, put
it in the padlock and turn it so that lock may
be opened, the chains can fall away and I can
be free of the things from my past that have held
me down....If I can just get that to that key and
unlock the chains....I will have the opportunity to
reach for my dreams and soar like an eagle.
Later today, I will be continuing on with my
studies of the word, COURAGE... dissecting
it letter by letter in my quest to find what it
really means to have true courage in my new
journey towards living again.
© 2010 Susan Reynolds
P.S. This was an especially insightful experience
since we used this Photography Exercise for
our first Meet-Up of the SOARority Sisters of
Northern California, learning what our photos
looked like and how they made others think
   and feel about what they saw in the pictures.