It’s Bound to Be the Lord

It was some years ago when Kevin and I discovered Howard’s Chapel near Desoto State Park. We’ve been visiting Desoto and Mentone, Alabama for years and years but had never seen or heard of this chapel. There was a geocache hidden there and although I couldn’t find the cache, I found so much more…..

It’s proper name is the Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel. Milford Howard built this church as a memorial for his wife Sallie, who died in California. This chapel is a replica of the church where she is buried, which was a replica of a church in Scotland, only this chapel is built into a huge boulder. Milford chose this site out of all his mountain land. He oversaw its construction with the help of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and the locals. He spent every last dime on it. It was 1937 and Milford was 75. He died 6 months later and is buried inside the sandstone boulder.

While all that’s interesting, my story is not really about the history of the Chapel. Remember as kids using your hands you interlaced your fingers and made a steeple with your index fingers….”here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and see all the people”… we opened the doors.

Church service was at 10. We were not sure what we would find but we knew we’d find one person on the third pew on the left. She was the curator at the CCC Museum and she invited us to attend. We told her we were planning on it and she told us we would find lots of hugs, lots of laughter and a good sermon.

Nine wooden pews on the right and eight wooden pews on the left. The words on the rafters from Sallie’s last letter to Howard. “God Has All Ways Been As Good To Me As I Would Let Him Be”

We were greeted with a hardy welcome and given some sheet music since their starting song was not in the hymnal.  “It’s Bound to Be the Lord”.

“drapes the world in loveliness and tints the sky so blue”

“when mother nature is a flame with flaming fall revue, I know a Master made the frame and mixed the colors too.”

I tucked the Xeroxed copy in my pocket.

Next we sang “Glory Glory Hallelujah”. We found ourselves getting choked up.

The message was about being a soldier for the Lord.

They ended our time together asking the Veterans to come to the front to be recognized for Veterans Day. Each were given a $10 gift card to McDonald’s. We said the pledge of allegiance together most of the men saluting the flag while few with their hands on their heart. The preacher asked us to come thank each Veteran after the service, which every single person did. Shaking those hardened hands and looking into those brave faces gave me hope and appreciation.

I saved this part of the story to the end, although it happened at the front of the service… two friends since college now quite matriarch sat on the front row. One, so small and bent walked to the piano. I scooted over so I could watch her hands…. the other in a scooter with both feet in braces, wheeled her scooter near to the piano and faced the church. her face so open. and sweet. she began to sing.

Her voice and then the words soaked into me. I felt my eyes well up. Sitting on the second row, I watched her face. She looked at me. Hearing the words and seeing her body broken. My tears fell.

While the world looks upon me
As I struggle along
They say I have nothing
But they are so wrong
In my heart I’m rejoicing
How I wish they could see
Thank you Lord
For your blessing on me!

There’s a roof up above me
I have a good place to sleep
There’s food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank you Lord
For your blessings on me!

I know I’m not wealthy
These clothes, they’re not new
I don’t have much money
But Lord I have you
And to me, that’s all that matters
Though the world may not see
Thank you Lord
For your blessings on me!

There’s a roof up above me
I have a good place to sleep
There’s food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank you Lord
For all your blessings on me!!

We experience so many things in our life that in retrospect become special memories. Our worship here was special right then and there. We knew we were experiencing something that would leave a lasting impression. Something extraordinary.

My mind keeps going back to this moment. over and over.  When things like this are on my heart, I have to share them. If it touches me, I have to share. I loved the simplistic-ness of this worship. It reminded me of our church growing up with the wooden pews and everyone knowing everyone. When was the last time a worship stayed with me. It’s not often enough.

Laura thought to record a bit of this song quietly from our pew and I share it here so that you can hear their voices as we did.

May you be blessed by these words.







21 thoughts on “It’s Bound to Be the Lord

  1. It has stuck with me, as well! Enjoyed it so much! What a great testimony to the sweet people of Howard Chapel who were so warm and welcoming!

  2. What a wonderful way to bless me as I begin this day. As I read your memories of this place and more so of your experience in the worship service, it brought tears to my eyes too. We sometimes are so comfortable in services that we can forget why we are there. The simple, honest, loving, down-to-earth service that you experienced really does take me back to the way things used to be. Bless you for sharing in such a sweet and spiritual way.

  3. The duet at the end truly was a blessing. The voices were so clear and the lyrics so simple. Do we often thank God for His blessings of a roof over our heads, a good place to sleep, food to eat, for shoes on our feet…for our families and for our clothes but especially for the love of Jesus? Thank you once again for so beautifully sharing the things in your life that touch your heart.

  4. Katey… thank you for sharing! This is a precious story and such a wonderful reminder of what is really important! I just love your heart!

  5. You are one of life’s greatest treasures to me – I know without doubt that our destined friendship was from God, and meant to be forever.
    This is beautiful!!!! xoxoxoxo

  6. Oh, sweet Katey, such a touching experience so beautifully told. Thank you for sharing this. Thanks be to our God for each of the many gifts He has given to you which you so generously share. Love you , Mom

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