The final notes of the hymn reverberated through the church as the congregation took their seats. Hope presided as the chorus replayed through my mind one more time–“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” I quietly nodded to myself. Mom would be so happy to know we honored her request.
Forty-eight hours before, my dad and I gathered at church in an upper room. We spent the time going through the final details and the list of songs for my mom’s funeral. My dad asked, “Are you sure she wanted “Amazing Grace” sung at her funeral. My reply was a simple “yes.” Mom and I had several conversations centered around her final wishes. Singing “Amazing Grace” was one I intended to honor.
There are moments, events, sounds, and words that mark certain occasions. When the memories return, we hear the sweet sounds of what was as we walk into what will be.
Sweet Sounds of Memories
Memories appear in sounds, pictures, places, and events. I love looking at family photographs. I can get lost for hours in the stories that replay as I sort through the photos. It’s as if memories of long ago feel like they happened just yesterday.
For many years, my family vacationed in the same spot. It just felt right. We created memories that we loved to revisit plus made new memories each time we packed up the car to drive to the beach. The place evoked the memories, but it was the gathering of family that sustained them.
Some of my sweetest memories are the sounds that bring me back to where I was and what I was feeling. Baby cries are some of my favorites. Remembering the moment each of my sons entered the world reminds me of two of my greatest blessings. Then there is the voice mail of my mom or dad leaving a message that I kept on my phone for years after they passed.
But God doesn’t call us to live in the past. He calls us to present living and all that we can learn as we soak in each day.
How Sweet the Sound of the Present
Now more than ever I find that remaining in the present helps me to manage the uncertainty that we are living in. Creating touch points that keep us focused on what is in front of us will move us forward rather than staying stuck. Using our five senses is a great way to discover the goodness in our day.
I’ve been reading Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul by Bonnie Gray. At the end of each day, Bonnie provides a Soul Care Trail Note that puts forth a challenge based on the reading. On this particular day, the activity was to engage all five senses as a way to relax. I happened to have a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew in my hands and proceeded to engage in the activity. I loved how I felt at the end of the challenge and have since used my five senses as I take my walks.
I’m not sure if it is the time of the year or if I am more aware, but I am hearing sounds more clearly than ever before. Just yesterday, I heard the soft rustle of several leaves as they made their way in flight to the ground. This is the gift of being present, seeing what is right in front of me, and as I take notice, pausing in gratitude for God’s goodness.
God’s Lessons in the Present Times
Just as I honored my mom’s wish by choosing “Amazing Grace” for her funeral service, we honor God when we stay present to what He is teaching us. God never stops working or teaching even in these “unprecedented” times. We all can find the lessons when we pay attention.
When I became more present to what was in front of me, the colors looked brighter, the smells were more fragrant, the sounds were sweeter, I dared to touch, and the taste was just a sip or bite away.
I err mostly on the side of seeing things first. My visual sense is strong and my eyes notice even the most minute item while walking. But, since “shelter-in-place”, I have taken the words from “Amazing Grace” and embraced “how sweet the sound” of all the things.
A month ago, it was my grandson’s voice as he ran up the aisle in church shouting “Mimi.”
A week ago, it was the squawking sound of a heron as it took off in flight.
Sometimes, the sound is the beep of the microwave or my coffeemaker signaling something yummy is ready.
Fall is quickly approaching. The weather is changing and hoodie weather is upon us. The wind is swishing the leaves and some are making a slow descent to the ground. It is beautiful and God-ordained.
Whether you have noticed any of these things where you live or not, God is waiting for you to take the time to observe and sit in the present with Him. I wonder what will happen if you do?Now more than ever I find that remaining in the present helps to manage the uncertainty that we are living in. #newpost #TellHisStory #linkup #howsweethesound Click To Tweet
The Week Ahead
Let’s challenge ourselves this week to engage our five senses in a way that we notice “how sweet the sound,” how vibrant the colors, the fragrance of fall, the crumpled feeling of a leaf in your hand, or the taste of your favorite fall drink.
Let’s read God’s Word and hear the truth that was written for us.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Psalm 34:8, NLT
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. Psalm 23:6
Photo by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash
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Thank you I needed the reminder to live in the present. I so want to be done with chemo but this is where I am and God wants to be living and learning from him.
Hi Beth! Welcome! Thank you for stopping by. I am praying for strength and for you to feel God’s presence in a palpable way.
Good morning, Mary, engaging with the 5 senses helps me live in the abundance of Christ, too. As I read your words, I get the sense of your fullness in Him, living in the given moment. It is beautiful how you described time “slowing” yet in the slowness we soar. Thank you, Jesus, for Your Living Spirit working to connect us across the miles and draw near to You.
You are a dear friend, Julie! God has been patient with me during this season as He has so much to teach me. I am convinced that busy is the enemy trying to distract us. I am thanking God too for how He has connected us.
Thank you for this post and the tips. I especially loved “God is waiting for you to take the time to observe and sit in the present with Him”. I hadn’t thought of it like that before. I’ll make sure not to waste His gift of enjoying the present.
You are most welcome. It is reassuring to know that God just wants time with us. I am with you as we both work to making the best of our time right now in the present.
Mary, after about nine years in our house, we recently put in a sliding screen door that goes out to our deck. I love keeping it open when the weather is cool enough or when it is raining so I can hear the rain or the birds or the wind chimes. It’s so peaceful and comforting! With so few places to go these days, it’s nice to be able to enjoy the sweet sounds of nature, maybe like never before. Thank you for this challenge to pay more attention to all FIVE senses …
I can just imagine how peaceful it is to have your sliding door. I love it when I can open up my windows to bring a little of the outside in. Enjoy the beauty.
When the present feels too hard I often long for the past. I needed this message today.
We know what to expect from the last because the story has been written. When we stay present, we are forging new ground. Thanks for being here.
Toward the end of this summer, the sound of the crickets and cicadaes reminded me of summers spent at our family’s lake house in the hills of WV. I remember lying awake with the windows open and those same sounds lulled me to sleep. The sounds remind me of good days spent in my youth. I love your call to be listening to our present and gathering sounds that stir our souls with joy and wonder. Beautiful!
Thank you for sharing your sweet summer memories. I bet family time at your lake house was amazing. I pray we give ourselves the time to listen for the sweet sounds God has prepared for us.
Mary, after a few days on vacation in a place I’d never seen before, I became more aware of how my five senses were processing the experience. I marveled at the different plants and trees, breathed in the freshness of clean smelling air, tasted the satisfaction in a granola bowl filled with unique flavors, heard the soothing sound of ocean waves caressing the shoreline in foamy wonder, and felt the gritty exfoliation of sugary sand upon my bare feet. Until I read your post, I had not thought of bringing home those new sensory habits! Thank you for the challenge to do so. Now, instead of being sad to leave the beach behind, I’m looking forward to the touch points God will use to show me more of himself right here at home.
Brenda- I’m so excited to see you here today. I followed all of your vacation adventures on Instastories and I loved them all. Thank you for sharing how you used your five senses on your trip. Thanks for being here.
What a beautiful post Mary! Though I don’t know what a Pumpkin Cream cold brew is?
Love the challenge too!
Thank you, Jennifer. A pumpkin cream cold brew is a coffee drink from Starbucks. If you like pumpkin, you will like this.
I love this – and I needed this prompt – I’ve been in the middle of “too much” – and I need to figure out how to wind down to “just right” – and to savor, like you said, “the gift of being present, seeing what is right in front of me, and as I take notice, pausing in gratitude for God’s goodness.” – I think savoring what God has in front of me is a definite five sensory way of living! I needed this reminder that this is the direction I need to be heading!
You’ll have to let me know if you figure out “just right.” I agree that savoring what God puts in front of us is a beautiful way to remain present and engage our five senses.
What a fun challenge! We’ve been going outside in the mornings to write haiku for two of my English classes. I can’t wait to see what the kids came up with–most of mine were about birds… 😉
I love writing haiku. That sounds like a fun challenge for your students.
I’m making chili this chilly afternoon and I was very dissatisfied with the taste – so I got out some more seasonings and spiced it up! My sense of hearing is not like it used to be due to a severe case of tinnitus – I know I miss so many sounds – the hoot of an owl, the yip yip of nearby coyotes, and other sounds. I try hard to notice everything around me. Children help with this too!
You live in an awesome spot to really use your five senses. I hope your chili tasted good. 😉
I have loved “Whispers of Rest” and read through it several times also. There is so much to be gleaned by pausing and taking those moments to rest with the Lord. He is so present in days, but if we rush through them, we miss so much. Just this morning I noticed the leaves outside our windows were changing and falling so beautifully on this first day of Fall. It is as you say, God-ordained. Blessings to you this week!
Pausing and resting provides space for the God perspective we need. I know it has made a difference with me. I love that you have leaves changing already. I’m looking forward to it here.
I think one of the reasons I love going to the lake to enjoy whitespace is the fact all 5 senses are employed: the sight of the beautiful water, the sound of the geese and rustle of the leaves, the touch of the breezes on my skin, and taste? Well, there is always sweet tea in my cup!
“But God doesn’t call us to live in the past. He calls us to present living and all that we can learn as we soak in each day.” Amen! Thank you for this reminder. I needed it today. And thank you for hosting too.
Wishing you an incredible THursday!
Hi Jed! It’s such a gift when God sends us reminders through others’ words. I hope you are having a wonderful week.
My precious mother-in-law passed away a little over 2 years ago. We sang Amazing Grace at her funeral too. I can seldom sing it anymore without weeping.
I enjoy taking my morning devotion time on the patio, for the very reason that being outdoors causes me to really notice the sights and sounds of this beautiful world. I like to record those things in my gratitude journal.
Blessings to you,
Patti @ Clothed with Joy
Amazing Grace is such a beautiful song. I love that you sit outside for your morning devotion time. What a blessing!
Wonderful challenge, Mary! It’s one I often must remind myself of. There are “pennies from heaven” tossed all around us. It’s us to us to pay attention so that we don’t miss them!
I like the pennies from heaven analogy. It’s the thought of what are we paying attention to. Thanks for being here.
I have gone through Bonnie’s book a couple of times! I remember that chapter well. Writing description is my favourite tool that requires all 5 senses to be firing. When my imagination places me in a place that I transpire to paper, I am fully present in that experience even though it not really happening! Yet, to even imagine the senses then I must have a reference point of when I was fully present in present. I think I need to get writing more! May you continue to enjoy Bonnie’s book and hear sounds that bring you joy throughout your day.
I will continue to savor Bonnie’s book. Thank you for sharing how descriptive writing helps you to use your five senses. I’m thinking you notice a lot when you are discovering your breathing spaces, too.
What a beautiful challenge! I agree with Michele, perfect for a new season!
Perfect for a new season and for the season we are in now. I’m finding I need to grab onto the present to stay focused as I move forward.
I love your post. Thank you for the encouragment to use our five senses. I have been loving the present moment with all the beauty of the leaves turning. However, I don’t notice my other senses in the present often enough. Thank you for the challenge. My eyes welled with tears as you mentioned those first cries. I do remember. Thank you for the prompting. I also can remember the first time mama was spoken.
Thank you for reminding me of the first time I heard the word, “Mama.” What a sweet sound. There is a greater awareness when we engage all of our senses. It is definitely harder to do but worth it in the end.
Ahh, Mary, this is beautiful. Sit with Him in the present . . . that’s my one word for the year: Present. God’s taught me a lot through this word, and this post is such a reminder to be aware of my Father in each moment of my days.
I will engage my five senses this week. Thanks for the exhortation!
I love that your word of the year is “present.” Who knew how important that word would be as we moved into the month of March. I can only imagine how much God has taught you. Blessed as always to have you here.
Listening to sounds is actually a wonderful spiritual discipline, Mary. And definitely a way to help us stay present in the moment. As much as I don’t like hearing ticking clocks (a pet peeve, ha), even that can bring me back to the present moment, where God is. Thanks for sharing this encouragement today.
Good to see you Lisa! I agree that some sounds can be annoying, but when we put that aside, if it reboots us to the present it is worthwhile.
Autumn – just the right time to engage your senses as there is so much to hear, see, and smell! I loved Bonnie’s book when I first read it. This may be just the time to pull it off the shelves. I so appreciate the reminder!
Bonnie’s book has been a blessing during this season. I am going through it and savoring it. I really resonated with the challenge to use my five senses.
Paying attention to our senses is a good way to corral our attention to the present. He gives us sweet memories to visit, but He wants us to dwell in the present with the future in mind.
You said it well. God gives us the capacity to recall memories, but desires for us to move forward into deeper relationship with Him.
This is the perfect season to take your 5 senses challenge. Happy first day of autumn!
It is and I didn’t realize how perfect at first. I took my own challenge this morning as I walked.
Oh I love this! Being in the present and being aware of the ways God touches all of my senses.
So do I. It’s helping me as we walk through this weird season. Thanks for stopping by.