Psalm 23 was one of the first passages of Scripture that I memorized as a girl. I have always loved it and refer to it often. Right now I am reading through the Psalms in my daily devotions using the Message translation. The language is beautiful for reading for enjoyment and meditating on the meaning.
"God, my shepherd. I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
You find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your Word, You let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I'm not afraid.
Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure."
I can't help but think of this beloved Psalm when we drive by this scene on our way to our land in Cowee Valley, NC. What a blessing God has given us - like He promised in His Word.
One of my favorite recitations by the famous bass singer, the late J.D. Sumner, (who backed up Elvis Presley) is about Psalm 23. It tells of a brilliant orator who was speaking in a vast concert hall. His last selection was the 23rd Psalm. He delivered it with eloquence, perfect diction and dynamics, and the audience broke into applause at the conclusion. Then he asked if anyone else wanted to quote the same Psalm. An old preacher agreed. He slowly stood to his feet, bent over with age, and with a raspy voice began. "The LORD...is MY...Shepherd." Filled with awe and emotion he quoted the entire Psalm. At the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the concert hall. The preacher sat to silence. The orator looked at the audience and said, "You reacted to those two renditions in very different ways. The reason is because I know the 23rd Psalm. And he knows the Shepherd.
The Amplified Bible is my favorite translation of the last verse:
"Surely, only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord, and His Presence shall be my dwelling place."
I'm so glad that I know the Shepherd and dwell every day in His Presence.
Since both my mom and my daughter are in Heaven, I don't do much to celebrate Mother's Day. But I wanted to post this photo again of my "adopted family." I am so blessed to have these kids in my life. They call me Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma, Aunt JA, and even just Jeannie. I am so grateful for my family, kids and grandkids of dear friends, and these special friends and former students of Stacie's. I love you all. This collage sits in my Kingdom Corner to remind me to pray for you every day. And I do.
I also want to say Happy Mother's Day to Den's stepmom, the only mother-in-law I have ever known. Doris McPhail is a precious lady, and she loved taking care of her granddaughter, Stacie. This photo is fuzzy, but one of my favorites.
Love on your moms, your daughters, grand-daughters, and nieces today. Celebrate the women and girls God has put in your life.
With Mother's Day coming up soon, I wanted to feature some special ladies, and our get-togethers, which I have thoroughly enjoyed the past few years. Bev Entz, a dear friend of my mom's from way back, and her daughter, Kerri Sasnett, both live near Charlotte, NC. Bev and her husband, Jim, were missionaries in New Guinea with Wycliffe Bible Translators. When Kerri married Todd, the son of missionaries to Brazil, followed the same call as their parents and have spent their married lives serving with WBT and the Seed Company, both overseas in Cameroon, and now at headquarters.
Several years ago, we began a tradition of meeting in Concord, NC, for lunch at Cracker Barrel. Several times we added antiquing afterward at The Depot. It has been a joy to keep up and spend time with Bev and Kerri while we've lived in Hickory. Mom and Dad were big missionary supporters and they passed that on to me, for which I am grateful. Mom always taught me that being part of getting out the Gospel by sending others, is as much a calling as being a missionary. Bev is retired, but Dennis and I are honored to be on Todd and Kerri's team as partners in prayer and support, just like my parent's were.
At our last lunch a few weeks ago, Kerri presented me with a copy of a New Testament in another language that had just been translated for the first time. It amazes and humbles me to think that while I have multiple Bibles at my fingertips, some peoples have never seen or heard God's Word in their heart language. I love being part of making that happen.
When we move, we will not stop our lunches and antique shop visits, just change the city where we meet. I know my mom smiles in Heaven every time we get together.
Another missionary that I don't see as often is Janet Roudybush McClanahan. My parents supported Janet when she first went to Brazil many years ago. When Dennis and I married, we joined her prayer and support team. We keep in touch by email and Facebook, but it's been several years since I've seen her. That is mostly because Janet, now in her 80's, is still serving the Lord in Brazil! She's been in the US for a few months for medical reasons, but she will be back on her mission field soon. This photo was taken right before Mom moved to NC with us back in 2002 or so.
I am thankful to have theses precious ladies in my life. If your mother is in Heaven today, I encourage you this month to reach out to her friends that may still be here, and wish them a Happy Mother's Day. You will both be glad you did.
J.A. McPhail is the author of five books, has been married to Dennis since 1974, enjoys living in the North Carolina mountains. and is an avid collector of books and book related stuff.