Category Archives: God Saw And it Was Very Good

31 Days of Beauty in the Psalms: Psalm 113:1-3

Today is day twelve of the 31 Days of Beauty in the Psalms series.

Praise ye the Lord, ye servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun
to the going down of the same
the Lord’s name is to be praised.
Psalm 113:1-3


31 days. 31 photos. 31 scriptures.

Go here to see the whole 31 day series.


The Culture of Beauty in Our Home

My oldest daughter is a 10th grade English teacher in the Washington D.C. area.  Amy is spending some of her summer vacation here at home.  She graciously offered to guest post for me today.  I didn’t know what she was going to write about until it was finished, and of course, I cried. I hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit more about our family and the culture of beauty in our home.


The Culture of Beauty in Our Home


by Amy Nicholson

I’ve always thought of our home as the one described in Little Women:

December snow fell quietly without, and the fire crackled cheerfully within. It was a comfortable room, though the carpet was faded and the furniture very plain, for a good picture or two hung on the walls, books filled the recesses, chrysanthemums and Christmas roses bloomed in the windows, and a pleasant atmosphere of home peace pervaded it. ~Chapter 1, Louisa May Alcott

The Culture of Beauty in Our Home
Our home is well-worn and threadbare, but there is beauty hiding beneath each afghan, dust jacket, and jar.  This has always been important to my mother.  She takes great pride in her “scapes” as we call them–or tiny arrangements of mementos and objects in a pleasing pattern–preferably in small alcoves where one might stumble upon them with a smile.


The Culture of Beauty in Our Home

Just as in the March home, books invade every possible nook and cranny here.  One time, as a young girl, I was in charge of entertaining a friend of the family’s son for an hour or two.  He was in awe at the number of books we had in the house.  I was alarmed. This poor child has no books?! I immediately sat down and commenced reading to him for the remainder of his visit.  Later, the boy told his mother that we had read for an entire hour. She chuckled, saying, “We have the Bible of course, but reading is not a big deal in our house.” Mama graciously tried to conceal her sad eyes.

The Culture of Beauty in Our Home

My mother instilled in me a respect for art at a young age.  When I was six or seven, we were waiting in the checkout line at the library.  There was a large statue of two men wrestling carved in a Greek or Roman style.  I think every child had the urge to touch those smooth stone muscles or those wavy heads of marble hair. One didn’t see art like this every day in rural Ohio, after all. When I reached out and felt the cool statue, Mama exclaimed that I must never touch artwork, but only, “Look with your eyes.”  She wasn’t mad, only embarrassed that the librarians might see and think that we hadn’t the proper respect for art.  From that day forward, I would shake my head like a grandmother at any child I saw touching that statue. They didn’t know that it was ART and not there to be touched. Silly children. 

The Culture of Beauty in Our Home

I can’t count the times we stopped to look at wildflowers or a curious piece of architecture.  We were always on constant alert for something interesting to point out to each other. When driving, we would do this by tapping on the window 3 or 4 times. Mom and Dad even use their wedding rings to add urgency to the cause of an especially pretty sight.  “Click, click, click. Everyone look out my window.”

One day, we were riding along and Mama stopped the car abruptly and pulled over.  In hushed tones she directed my attention to a nearby field where a cow was in labor. We both stared in amazement as a hoof stuck out of the cow’s body in slimy wonderfulness. Soon, as Mama was telling me how incredible it was that we could see this, a slightly annoyed farmer told us that the cow was delivering the calf backwards, and he needed to take her to the barn. We mumbled apologies about “the wonder of the thing” and “that we had just wanted to watch.” Then we quickly got back in the car, and drove off.

The Culture of Beauty in Our Home

It’s interesting to think about the thousands of little moments that form a young mind’s opinion of the world.  As a girl, I was a careful observer of my mother’s reactions. I paid special attention to how she behaved when she was happy, embarrassed, or tired. I found that my mother always acts according to a certain code.  This set of rules is based on what will be the least invasive to whatever is lovely in a given situation.  One must keep Grandma’s bowl because she made the yummy cookies with it, not because of any practical use it might have.  One must smile at those around you because it will brighten their day.  One must never touch a statue because, if everyone did so, it might wear away.  Whenever I come home, Mama’s lovely set of rules brings that “pleasant atmosphere of home peace” to each comfy room.

Beauty is seen, but more importantly, it is treasured and appreciated.


Sharing at:

* #Everyday Jesus * Thought Provoking Thursday * Thrive at Home Thursday * Grace at Home * * Say G’Day Saturday * Life Through the Lens * So Much At Home * Friendship Friday * Teaching What is Good *

The Beauty Of Music

the-beauty-of-musicA guest post by my husband, Ed Nicholson

Are you a music lover? I have always loved music. In one of my earliest memories, I am sitting in our neighbor’s flower bed singing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” I must have been singing loudly enough for Mrs. Miller to hear me, because she told my mom about it. When I was seven years old, I inherited a clarinet from my brother and I joined my elementary school band. It was a wooden clarinet, not like the cheaper plastic models that are often sold today, and I loved that thing. Even though Benny Goodman’s glory days were drawing to a close back in 1976, I harbored a hope that the instrument would be considered “cool” again someday. That day never came. Chicks just don’t dig clarinet players. Or maybe, I was just a geek. But, at any rate, when I entered middle school, I made the switch from clarinet to guitar and I haven’t looked back.

I have an appreciation for a wide range of musical genres. I like classical, especially pieces from the baroque era, big-band, jazz, country, rock, polka, etc. And it’s not just me – my whole family loves music! I’ll bet yours does, too. It’s common to all cultures. Isn’t it interesting how music seems to permeate the planet?

Our oldest daughter played violin for a while and hopes to get back to it when her life offers her some more leisure time. Our youngest girl can memorize the lyrics to any song after a single hearing. At least it seems she can. She also plays the guitar. Our son plays the piano and is a huge, and I mean huge, movie soundtrack fan. I can always tell when he has hijacked my Pandora account because John Williams, Danny Elfman, and Hans Zimmer stations will pop up in my music feed.

Even Elizabeth, although she is the family member with the least musical talent (love you, hon) is still deeply musical. Whenever we are in public, say at a nice restaurant, and there is music playing, her shoulders will begin moving in a little pattern. As she looks over the menu, her left shoulder will go down as her right goes up. Then, the right one dips and the left one rises. Soon, they are see-sawing back and forth to the beat, and her head begins to bobble about.

“Elizabeth, dear” I’ll say, we are in public!

That only stops the dancing for a few seconds. Especially if they are playing pop tunes from the eighties. I guess you can’t put a tight enough lid on that kind of joy. It will find a way out.


And that’s the point. Music brings joy.

Especially music offered to God in praise. 

We have been able to attend a couple of old-fashioned “hymn sings” over the last year at a small country church near our home. There is a music leader, a pianist, and a bunch of folks shouting out what number they’d like to sing next from the hymnal. If you’ve never been to one of these hymn sings and you get the opportunity to go, you should. It’s a beautiful, joyful time of worship.

I also love to see my family worship God during our more modern-styled church services. My son, a typical teenager not quite yet at ease in his own skin, will often launch into a sort of “air-drumming for Jesus”  when the music starts. I have tried to gently caution him on not drawing too much attention to himself, but it’s that hard-to-contain joy at work again. He can hardly help it. As for Elizabeth – why she puts on mascara before church, I’ll never know. She regularly sheds tears of joy during worship and ends up looking like a raccoon. Sweet girl. Actually, I’m not much better. I don’t wear mascara, but I do well up with tears at times. Easter worship had me bawling. I was overflowing with joy. Literally.

Some thinkers have wondered why God demands praise. I have read that C.S. Lewis, before his conversion, used to wonder about that. As if God was insecure and needed to be constantly affirmed by His creation. I think Lewis later realized that God demands praise because He is the Summum Bonum – the Highest Good. The Creator, as the Highest Good, must call his creation to worship Him. It’s not much different than a parent telling his child to follow after, to love, to value, to worship that which is true and noble and just and holy. It’s just that in this case, those terms all describe God Himself. What else could He tell us to worship but Himself? It isn’t as if love or loyalty is hiding out in space behind Jupiter. No. All of the truly good things that exist have their existence in God Himself. He, as the Highest Good, has the right to lovingly direct our thoughts back toward Himself. It’s simply proper–and it’s powerful. When you combine the power of this proper worship of man for the Highest Good with the power of music, things can get seriously intense.


I have no doubt that this intense worship blesses the Lord. Surely, He is blessed with our praises. But God is a sufficient being. He does not need our praises to fill up some lack in Himself. God could exist just as blissfully as He has from eternity past without the feeble praises of lowly humans like me. After all, each of us is a broken instrument, like this old violin. But maybe He knows what those offerings of praise will do to us when we lift them up.  I’m not suggesting that we praise God because of what we will get out of it, but there is an undeniable benefit to us when we worship Him. There is just something about worship that aligns us with what is holy, and we need that alignment again and again.


Look at these scripture references to songs of praise, and while you do, consider what I said about His sufficiency. God may love these songs, but He does not need them. I am suggesting that we love these songs and we need them.

Psalm 33:3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.

Psalm 40:3 And he has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God: many …

Psalm 96:1 O sing to the LORD a new song: sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Psalm 98:1 O sing to the LORD a new song; for he has done marvelous things: …

Psalm 144:9 I will sing a new song to you, O God: on a psaltery and an instrument …

Psalm 149:1 Praise you the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, and his praise …

Isaiah 42:10 Sing to the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, …

Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, …

God chose to make us in such a way that we learn through our senses, reasoning, and even emotions. Music, especially singing, involves all of these, and worshipping through music strikes a deep place in the human heart. God gives us a new song to sing back to Him so that we can understand our proper place and His ultimate goodness. Worship allows us to partake in that overflowing joy that can’t, and shouldn’t, be contained.

Can God be whole without that receiving that praise?

Can you be whole without offering it?

5/21/2014 Eddie Nicholson


Sharing at:

* Encouragement Homemakers * Three Word Wednesday * Life Through the Lens * Tell His Story *

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