This Our Hymn of Grateful Praise

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,

For the love which from our birth, over and around us lies;

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise. 

Every morning when I get up and look out my window, I am awed by the beauty around me. The mountains forever call my name and the hues of the bright trees catch my breath. When the sun sets, I again am amazed. Our God is the great God of creation.


For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night,

Hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light:

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise. 

As much as I love the season of spring when all is new, as much as I love the mid-day sun when all is bright, every hour has its place and purpose. No matter the season or time of day, I am thankful for the plan God has for me and how He is teaching to be here now.


For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child;

Friends on earth and friends above; for all gentle thoughts and mild:

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise. 

I am incredibly thankful to be with my family during this season of life. I have missed them so much and am glad that I can be present as a daughter and sister. The friends God has placed around me and around the world are treasures to me. For the friends who are near, and far, and those who have gone ahead of me to eternity, I must thank God for His gracious gifts to me for the time I had them close.


For Thy Church that evermore lifteth holy hands above,

Offering up on every shore her pure sacrifice of love:

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise. 

I cannot even begin to describe the great mystery of Christ and the Church. I do not understand why Christ would sacrifice Himself for her that we could have fellowship with Him. Neither do I understand how He allows us this incredible communion amongst each other and how the church can come together out of its many diverse parts to bring a song of praise. He knows that we need this kind of community.


For Thyself, best gift divine, to our race so freely given; 

For that great, great love of Thine, peace on earth and joy in heaven;

Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise. 

Best gift of all, the Giver. Thank You that we can know You intimately and that You are the source of all peace, joy, love, and hope. All that is beautiful and good comes from You. To You be glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.


For the Beauty of the Earth text by Folliott S. Pierpoint

First three photos are mine of Thanksgiving 2016. Fourth photo is Carola Venega’s of part of the Church in Mexico.


Barn Dance

Yes, I am very cold right now. Yes, I wish I could be enjoying the perpetually mild climate of Guadalajara. Yes, a Virginia barn dance is worth it all.

This weekend, a couple friends asked if I wanted to go to a barn dance out in Amelia. I had never heard of Amelia and an hour and a half was a long drive, but I am so glad that I decided to go for this outing. The three of us bundled into the car on the very crisp, windy Saturday before Thanksgiving and enjoyed the drive. We passed fields full of hay bales, quite a bit of picket fencing, and dozens of little country churches, rustic barns, and white farm houses.

The wind was chilling, but we walked in and around the silos and barn as the sun was setting. The smells told you this was a working farm, not just for the tourists. Their cows were out in the next pasture over (probably wishing their owner would put them in the barn already). After the sun set and we could not longer enjoy the views of the farm, we went up into the barn loft for dancing. The loft was wide open, with hay bales pushed against the edges for seating, two quilts hanging from the far wall, and a string of white lights going around the ceiling. That was all the decor it needed.

I knew many of the dances already including the Virginia Reel, Trenchmore, Harper Ferry Quick Step, Posties Jig, and the Snowball Reel. Though I only knew the two girls I came with, we had no problem fitting into the warm, inviting crowd of plaid, denim, and cowboy boots. It was nearly impossible to lose the beat as 100 people or more clapped and stomped in rhythm on the wooden planks.This is the kind of event that is so suited to the environment, it would be hard to recreate anywhere else. I’m glad that I was there at the right moment.

Photo by Leanna Branner