Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On Christmas Day in the Morning

The Baby we worship today is alive eternally,

both in our hearts and beyond time and space,

the King Who must reign.

~ J. B. Phillips

But where Thou dwellest, Lord,

No other thought should b,

Once duly welcomed and adored,

How should I part with Thee?

Bethlehem must lose Thee soon, but Thou wilt grace

The single heart to be Thy sure abiding place.

~ John Keble

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Word: Promised, Given, Made Flesh

This Christmas season, the reality of the Incarnation has meant more to me than ever before. Perhaps it is simply age, but I think rather it is the needing to know that Immanuel truly is with me in my daily round. When the world goes on its merry way, whirling and humming in its ever moving swirling pattern, it is easy to feel alone particularly when the path of the moment has potholes and boulder strewn between bogs and marshes.

Yet, there are always faithful reminders to encourage, to lift the eyes and the spirit.

"God's with-us-ness means that He has taken our nature upon Him to accompany us as friend and shepherd during the pilgrimage...." so Paul Zahl has written. Once again, footprints.

There is this too, lines from Dora Greenwell's wonderful hymn:

And art Thou come with us to dwell,

Our Prince, our Guide, our Love, our Lord?

And is Thy name Emmanuel,

God present with His world restored?

...The world is glad for Thee! ...And all is well,

And fixed and sure, because Thou art,

Whose name is called Emmanuel!

May our Lord Emmanuel, fill your minds and hearts, Dear Reader, with the assurance of His presence season.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Help us to rise to a fit gratitude

for the over-running blessings

which Thou givest ever,

even to the darkest lot and life,-

the temporal felicities,

the Divine comforts,

the Eternal hopes.

That all things are of Thy mercy,

by Thy mercy,

and in Thy mercy, we thank Thee.

Make us to sing Thy song in the light,

and in the night to touch Thy hand

and be at peace.

~Henry Wilder Foote - 1838-1889

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Met Thomas a' Kempis On This Day's Journey

O Lord my God, be not Thou far from me;

my God, have regard to help me,

for there have risen up against me sundry thoughts

and great fears, afflicting my soul.

How shall I pass through unhurt?

how shall I break them to pieces?

This is my hope, my only one consolation,

to flee unto Thee,

to call upon Thee from my inmost heart,

and to wait patiently for Thy consolation.


How did he know I needed this?
O yes, He knew!
Praise Him.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

That Holy Thing

They all were looking for a king
To slay their foes, and lift them high;
Thou cam'st a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.

O Son of man, to right my lot
Naught but thy presence can avail;
Yet on the road the wheels are not,
Nor on the sea thy sail!

My fancied ways why shouldst thou heed?
Thou cam'st down thine own secret stair;
Com'st down to answer all my need,
Yea, every bygone prayer!

~George MacDonald

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Perfect Endings, New Beginnings

Forty years ago, while a contented wife and mother living the farm life, the Provider came home and announced he was leaving teaching. That was one day. The next on his returning home he announced he had been offered a youth pastor position in a city to the North.

This became a dramatic turning point in what became my pilgrimage. By nature, I am a nester. Roots are put down deeply and quickly. I love the land. All that is wrapped up in the country life is my ideal. At this time in our lives we were happily Mennonite, my parents lived on the other side of our barn, my sister down the road. The children's school was the best of all possible situations. All this to be traded for an uncertain life and ministry with rich city teenager? We went (in my heart- as a Mennonite missionary to the Baptists:) . Long story short: my heel marks can still be seen the distance up Oregon's old Highway 99.

Oh yes. It should also be mentioned that the private life is another aspect of my ideal. The public arena is for the brave, the outgoing sanguine sort of folk, not for those who hear the whispered appeal of the cloister life.

And so it came to pass that life as we knew it was turned on its head. Fortunately, a fixed pattern of devotional life had been established in my early mothering years. This became the most important ballast in my ever-rocking boat through all future storms and seas.

As we went to this new ministry, a passage of scripture was claimed never imagining that my Lord would use that selection, time and again through the years to humble, strip, and shape me bringing me to the place that with David and through tears I could to say "Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother...." I did not yet understand John Donne's prayer to "batter my heart three-personed God." But the learning began.

Now, at the other end of those 40 years, and 8 ministries later, we come to the end of that road. This ending coming about as abruptly as the first. At months' end comes the final leaving a beloved Body of believers by resignation.

We leave this present place after 10 years. This is the longest ever spent in one location in 55 years of marriage. It has been a good and peaceful ministry and blessed in so many ways.

So there is the perfect ending. Now a new beginning.

This new trail will be oh so different, difficult as well, I have no doubt. The Man, the centerpiece of my life and life experiences has terminal cancer. We have agreed that there will be no extreme measures sought. It seems inconsistent to pour caustic chemicals into an already compromised body, and that body, incidentally being the temple of Almighty God's indwelling Spirit. Then too, what does that say to the watching world - a reluctance to see our Savior face to face?

Perhaps these are simplistic thoughts. But we also have before us the perfect example of how the righteous are to face death through the valiant example set by our precious son-in-law three years ago.

Now we shall see what we are truly made is definitely 'show time'. All that we have taught, all that we think we have learned, all we have said we know is now laid bare and on the line. We truly set off into the Unknown. But we are not alone. Our children and grands journey with us as well as friend gathered through the years. Yet that's not all.

We do have our nails pounded in a Sure Place - the certainty of a Sovereign God, the experiential knowledge of His Faithfulness, the promise of His Presence. We have trusted Him in the past, we can trust Him with our future - He already being There.

Ebenezer...Emmanuel...we are Mercy covered and Grace sustained by His following Love.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will exult in the victorious God of my salvation.

The Lord is my strength and my personal bravery,

He makes my feet like hinds feel

and will make me to walk

[not stand still in terror but to walk]

and make progress upon my high places,

of trouble, suffering or responsibility.

So sang the prophet Habakkuk, and the Septuagint adds "that I may conquer by His song."

And so onward, upward, rejoicing, singing, clinging!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent

"...Ere by the spheres time was created, thou

Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;

Whom thou conceiv'st, conceived; yea thou art now

Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother;

Thou hast light in dark; and shut'st in little room,

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb."

~ John Donne 1572-1631

Friday, December 2, 2011

..And Speaking of Treasures...

Some days bring surprises, serendipitous gifts filled with wonder and delight. Such is the day recently enjoyed in the company of one of my Precious Treasures. My treasures accumulated through the years come in the form of flesh and blood beings. (These are the treasures, incidentally, that last for Eternity. Praise Him!)

This particularly darling girl could truly be added to my amazing grand daughter collection. She reads voraciously, loves Jane A. Elizabeth Gaskell, and God's Word. She loves cooking, baking and eating. She loves beauty in all forms. She loves Nature and travels with a camera. She is sweet, funny, honest and all round adorable. (She also fly fishes with her dad. Awesome!)

This one is also a pilgrim whose path has had challenges that have tested her faith and refined her gold. She is a child of mine, not by blood, but through The Blood.

So, there was a phone call, a setting of time for meeting. This wasn't to be just tea and chat, we have done that numerous times. This was hopefully to give help with a college research paper yet to be written. Neither of us could have known the outcome.

The questions she brought struck an important personal, timely note. The conversation that followed not only gave her material for her writing, hopefully, but gave me opportunity to frame with words, to say out loud, the ways in which I've been lead on my own pilgrim way to this new season, how the Hidden Hand has been revealed in my life through the years, how Life's trials and trails have molded and shaped.

How amazing that just such an exercise was the needful reminder for my own challenging Now.

I can't be certain of possible blessings given to my Treasure, I am only certain of the ones received from her. And I thank our mutual Father for His good gifts.

[I love you my darling girl.]

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hat Pins and Button Hooks

New Zealand essayist/Minister Frank W. Borham (1871-1959) tells the story of a small girl running in from school telling her momma that she has learned punctuation. She goes on to explain that "if you say that a thing is so you just put a hat-pin after it; but if you are only asking whether it is so or not, you put a button hook."

Boreham concludes that sooner or later all life matters are reduced down to these two categories: either "certainties or suspicions".

As I was gathering thoughts on the Christmas account of Mary this morning, I saw this

'reduction' there. Mary had her questions in the beginning - big questions - concerning the things which were angel announced. Yet, as understanding came to her, the certainties grew larger and were seen more clearly as the questions were answered and faded away.

Mary's certainties included a settled trust in Her God and with that who she was in His sight and plan.

All this becomes a comfort to me that the really big things are represented by hat pins. My certainties in my Faith-walk outweigh my fears or speculations, they are 'stuck in'. The things that can either wait or be put aside by button hooks.

My faith is the assurance of things unseen. I can embrace the "Glorious Impossibles" in the birth account of the Christ child. I can and do cling to the merits of my Savior's cross, and the strength and mystery of His risen power. There is the certainty of the goodness and mercy that follows me all my days. Oh, and so very much more.

In these simple truths of pins and hooks, is security from the unsettling issues of my life. Here, like a little sparrow in the sight of my watchful God, I can build my nest and find rest.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Retrospective

Family gatherings..just the words conjure up thoughts, memories, all sorts. Our family Thanksgivings have been the one holiday we gather together. In times past, each family unit has someone involved in ministry making a Christmas feast difficult, nay impossible. So Thanksgiving was chosen for the yearly coming together.

Generally too, it has been at least a two day affair. Each member must come with a name and occupation chosen for the time. [think: clever, silly, downright daft but never serious]

Each family unit also must come prepared to perform some talent [ very seldom serious].

When it comes to cooks in our clan, there is nary a clinker. Always the food is too good and too plentiful. Conversation flows constantly, laughter erupts frequently. We enjoy each other, the youngest to the eldest, back and forth and all in between.

But with all the changes that have or may take place there is one constant.

Following the giving of thanks, as we stand circling the table and still holding hands, someone leads out in the singing of Thomas Ken's wonderful words of the doxology. This is sung slowly, meaningfully and in full harmony.

Through the years it has become more precious. It has become the family anthem sung together in times of sorrow as well as in times of joy.

It is lovely thing, the way simple things 'just happen' and so become meaningful traditions to carry on through all generations.

Praise Him!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Thou that hast given so much to me,

Give one thing more, a grateful heart...

Not thankful, when it pleaseth me:

As if Thy blessings had spare days:

But such a heart, whose pulse may be

Thy praise.

~George Herbert


Photo: Jaclyn Louise Peterson

Monday, November 21, 2011

Changing Course

It was 40 years ago, minus one, that Himself came home and announced that he resigned his teaching post. The very next day he came home announcing that he had been offered a position as a youth pastor.

Yesterday morning Himself again came home and told me that this was the day the men of his board felt that his resignation from the pastorate should be given to the congregation.

So you see, Dear Reader, there has been yet another dramatic change in our lives. It is not one of falling into a dark abyss - that was the first time. This is more a re-routing of the journey.

Much is and will be changed. My posts will reflect this. Looking back does not reveal a life of chance but rather Providence - the Sovereign God's Hidden Hand - moving us through each day of that part of the journey. Bear with me as in this journey ahead I share frayed rags and pieces of thought that make or will make whole cloth.

For this new phase, I'm sustained by the fact of the nearly-here Advent season and the reminder of Immanuel - God with us. Isn't that grand? The God that has led in the past is still with us guiding the future days. Ebenezer!

For today I am leaning hard while embracing all the pain and puzzlement of the Eternal Now and the uncertainty of future days.

Today's Psalter reading begins "Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name...sing to of all His marvelous deeds...."

That's a good thing...always is, was and shall be.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Day

Joy is a victory signal.

It is the quiet confidence that what God has begun

He will accomplish


He is in charge of the details of our lives.

~Joseph C. Aldrich

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shaky Hands and Eternal Truths

Written in spidery script in the flyleaf of my mother's New Testament, a last companion of her last days, is written two lines of a hymn. The lines ring Truth. This Day I simply needed to find the entire hymn. Oddly enough it is not included in any hymnals on my shelf. Blessings on Google who came to my rescue.

Thou art my Rock, O blessed Redeemer;

Thou art my Refuge where I may hide;

Thou art my Rock to shelter and bless me;

Ever in Thee I safely abide.

Thou art my Rock, O blessed Redeemer;

Thou art my Rock when trial is near;

Thou art my Rock when sorrow is smiting.

Thou art my Rock; why then should I fear?

Thou art my Rock, temptations defying;

Thou art my Friend unchanging and sure'

Wholly on Thee my soul is relying.

Ever to keep me faithful and pure.

Thou art my Rock. when kingdom and nation,

Ruler and crown, have crumbled to dust,

Thou shalt remain my Rock of salvation-

Rock Everlasting, Thee will I trust.

Thou art my Rock, O blessed Redeemer;

Thou art my Friend and Thou art my Guide;

Thou art my Hope, and Thou art my Savior,

Thou art my Trust; In Thee will I hide.

Deep and heart felt gratitude is mine to a faithful Christian mother as well as to a faithful fellow pilgrim. These two left records of their Trust in The Rock that is the Rock of my life as well to encourage me,for such a time as this.

The hymn was written by Carrie Elizabeth Ellis Breck, 1855-1934.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Reason For Thanksgiving

From these treasures, many more have been added. These, a joy and delight from early days has only increased. We, the Vicar and I, speak often of how very blessed we are. The original four have increased the tribe 22 times.

We could not have imagined the rich joys to come,

to bless us all our days,

to warm our hearts,

to strengthen our spirits,

to lighten burdens,

to grace and ease the journey.

With all the gifts and abilities included, has come the gift of laughter.

Laughter in hard times must be among the greatest gifts of all.

Oh so very much to be thankful for at this season.

"So what is our hope or happiness

or our victor's wreath of exultant triumph

when we stand in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?

Are not you?

For you are indeed our glory and our joy!

~ I Thes. 2.19, 20, Amp.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ah, Peace

It has been the pattern of my life, the ways of the Father with His child. Always, before a change in course, a mountain to climb or perilous events coming, the Lord has prepared this heart ahead of time. This has taken different forms to be sure. Often it has been through His Word, or the writings of others. Sometimes by something said by another in conversation. My thinking is that, at least in part, it is because He knows how I dislike surprises!

Regardless of His reasons, I'm so very thankful that in His mercy He has done it.

Recently I came across the thought in an old record concerning our Lord's bequeathment to his disciples and so to us as well. Christ's last will and testament, His bequeathment to His beloveds was His peace! The peace that kept Jesus as He faced Gethsemane, the cross and His earthly end, is the peace that will keep us. It's a promise! It is a peace that gives rest amid the constant changes of life and certainly through all the uncertainties of our earthly pilgrimage.

"Peace I am leaving behind for you.

Peace which is mine I am giving to you.

Not such as the world gives, do I give you.

Let not your heart continue to be agitated

neither let it be fearful."

John 14.27,28 , Wuest trans.

That scripture immediately sends the mind back to Isaiah's statement in chapter 26. "Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee. So trust in Him forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock, the Rock of Ages."

Imagine! In an imperfect world, in my imperfect nature, I am granted perfect peace.

And this peace is absolute, through absolute trust in my immovable, everlasting Rock.

That, Dear Reader, is the good news for This Day, for any day as a matter of fact.


Photo of our precious lad by Julia Valovich

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stirring it up

Stir up we beseech Thee, O Lord,

the wills of Thy faithful people,

that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,

may of Thee, be plenteously rewarded;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So reads Bishop Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer collect read for this Sunday.

All our actions have a point of origin and when it comes to our will, it is clear that what we will, we do if at all possible.

The good bishop, I believe, is reminding us to focus on the use of our will in faithful and fruitful efforts. O how we often stumble at these points. In the Church, stirring up strife seems to be a major 'spiritual gift' rather than stirring up to good ends.

The apostle Paul reminds young Timothy to "stir up - rekindle the embers, fan the flame and keep burning - the gracious gift of God...." [ II Tim. 1.6, Amp. trans.]

That's the thought for This Day on the spiritual front.

On the purely temporal front, in High Church tradition, this is "Stir Up Sunday".

Certainly a reference both to God's power and to man's will.

It is also a reminder that it's time for members of the household to set about taking turns stirring the Christmas pudding in preparation for that feast coming soon.

May we all go forth stirring This Day.

Friday, November 11, 2011

When morning gilds the sky,

My heart awakening cries,

may Jesus Christ be praised.

This was just such a morning with just such a gilded sky.

Praise Him!


Photo by Jaclyn Peterson whose joy infects our hearts, our souls, our lives.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


'Kid-bits' is my own coinage for those fragments of joy, either acts or words, that come from the children. Most often these days, these are left by the Great-Grands. These are the sweet things, often so tiny or brief in themselves yet they leave an awe trail. These cause ponderings,
and sometimes beyond the delight great spiritual truths are seen.

Our Little Lad is most often very much a man of action. From his greeting as he enters the door, there is a path of activity that resumes from his last visit. But he is also given to quiet in both his play and his person.

A favorite point of action, and one for which he is always reprimanded, is that of scaling the sofas and walking their ridge. This is easy and made fun by the fact that they do not sit against walls.

This last week he was lying, his small person spread the length of the love seat. He was still, contemplative, looking out the window. Momma spoke, reminding him that was forbidden territory. Laddie turned and quietly said: "I'm waiting for *Truck". Equally quietly, momma left the room and made a phone call to the one awaited.

The thing is, the Lad had no way of knowing if Truck would come or not. He only knew that often he does come. Laddie was waiting in quiet anticipation. [In response to the phone call, Truck did shortly arrive.]

Pondering this scene reminded me of all those scriptural admonishments to wait on the wait for His wait for the Holy wait for His appearing. Most often the waiting meant is that of quiet, hopeful anticipation.

As adults we must fill all our moments with busy and alas, busy drives away quiet and anticipation. Busy sidetracks, busy clutters.

Lord, may we re-learn quiet. May we be willing to settle down, looking out the window as it were, in anticipation of your presence in our lives that we may not miss the blessing of the arrival!
*Truck was the title given to the Patriarch of the clan. This is the second generation to call him so.

The lovely photo was taken from the BBC some time ago. How I wish I remembered the name of the photographer in order to give proper credit. But I do thank him or her anyway.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Our Renaissance Man

We have been so blessed. Four amazing children have been added to us by adoption through marriage. One of these is celebrated and honored today.

He is a brilliant man of parts:

an Eschoffier in the kitchen,

an Edison in all things electrical,

a cinematic Fellini,

a technological genius.

He is the High Priest of his home, loyal in his friendships, a man of integrity, a pragmatist in the best sense. He is generous in his hospitality, in his humor, a gentleman and gentle man. And all his accomplishments (those listed and many more) he wears with an easy grace, in most honorable fashion.

There is so much more that could be written regarding the ways in which he brings joy not only to our lives but to those of others.

Here is a man shaped on the anvil by Life's hard blows. Here is an overcomer in the truest sense of the word. Yet his heart was never hardened, only his resolve to carry on.

Blessings on you this day, our dear son-in-law.

May you continue to enrich and enhance that corner of the world in which you dwell, work and serve.

You are delighted in and very much loved.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Classic Juliana For An Autumnal Sort of Day

Juliana (or Julian if you prefer, which I do not:) Was born c.1373. It is said that she lived to be 100 years. Her writings, sometimes difficult for our twenty-first century sensibilities, are nonetheless rich with spiritual wisdom for any age and time. Today's offering is one of those sweetly filled with charmingly antiquated words and phrases, yet chuck full of Eternal Truth. Just right for seasonal gathering and storing up for winter days.

"He showed a little thing, the quantity of a hazel-nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as meseemed, and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereon with the eyes of my understanding, and thought, 'What may this be?' and it was answered generally thus, 'It is all that is made.'

I marvelled how it might last ; for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding,

'It lasteth, and ever shall;

For God loveth it.'

And so hath all things being by Love of God."

In this little thing I saw three properties.

The first is, that God made it.

The second, that God loveth it.

The third, that God keepeth it.

For this is the cause which we be not all at ease of heart and soul; for we seek here rest in this thing which is so little, where no rest is in; and we know not our God that is all Mighty, all Wise, and all Good, for He is very rest.

God will to be known, and it pleaseth Him that we rest in Him

For all that is beneath Him, sufficeth not us."


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Where Have I Been, You May Well Ask?

This wallaby is the perfect metaphor for these past weeks. Stranded, confined, limited, solitary yet with land and freedom in view, just a bit out of reach!

As this part of the journey was traveled, as dreaded events were looming dark and large, there was once again, "room for fear to move".

Fear is such a crippling emotion. It has such octopusian tentacles that snatch and grab and squeeze the life out of the soul and spirit.

Fear, for one who knows her Guide, also spreads guilt. Isn't fear an indicator of distrust? Of unbelief? Or perhaps it is just a glaring symptom of blithering, unstable humanity.

Defined, fear is "a painful feeling of impending danger, of evil, of trouble". That pretty much sums it up what I was feeling.

The Parson, you see, was eagerly going forward to yet another major surgery. Not needful in the sense of overall health, rather for personal comfort. All that was in me cried 'STOP'. But we went forward through endless appointments and all that goes with it. Fear mounted and tongue biting became the rule of the day.

Then, Himself said one morning "I've not said anything, but I've real misgivings about all this". God be praised! And all the pent up thoughts came pouring past that bitten tongue.

Marvelous, this. The Hidden Hand working quietly in spite of my fear storm. The answer to all those panic prayers given in gentle surprise. And a dear daughter reminding me "Hmm. The I Peter 3 principle."

For This Day, this stranded wallaby is safely, happily - no joyously - on firm land once again. I'm not so naive to think that there will not be unsettling events and times of stranding ahead. But once again there is the reminder of a merciful Sovereign God at work in our lives.

Lo, we can tread rejoicing

The narrow pilgrim road;

We know the voice that calls us,

We know our faithful God.

~Gerhardt Ter Steegen

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Special Day Today

When the children were young, four blank 3x5 cards were selected. On each were written specific hopes, dreams and imagined needs concerning the character and personality of their future mates.

One of the lovely aspects of old age is to look back down the years and see how our faithful and Sovereign God has answered prayers, and those specifically. There have been direct answers to direct requests. There have been those requests that Grace has denied.

Then there are those surprises, where in one case, my request was switched from this daughter to another. (But yet, the story is not yet over, is it?:) Of course the most amazing thing which should never surprise but always does, the way in which prayers have been answered above and beyond what we could have imagined by our limited and faulty minds and vision.

Today there is an anniversary. It is not yet quite one of those that is stated as a significantly marked and celebrated one. Yet again, in this day and age or any age for that matter, solid, stable, loving marriages are of great significance and each year given is a year to celebrate in every way.

I am so grateful for the young woman that the Lord by His own surprise methods, brought into the life of the son of my heart. Did she measure up to my carded requirements so long ago? Oh my. Beyond the beyond. Forgive, Dear Reader, a silliness but like Mary Poppins, she is "practically perfect in every way."

These two of my Beloveds have not had an easy journey. They have weathered unbelievably harsh storms. Their challenges and testings have been such as to bring tears to the eyes from the heart whenever spoken out loud. They have lived through 'crucible' years. But as Job knew, from the Refiners Fire comes pure gold, and a love of the finest, truest, shinning sort.

So This Day I find my heart rejoicing with thanksgiving, first to my God who hears a mother's prayers in the form of an amazing daughter-in-law, and to Them for their example of lasting love before the watching world.

Happy Anniversary, Jeff and Suz-our-zanne.
With much love and continued prayer for your years yet ahead.
May they be blessed beyond all imagining.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Generation Connection

...sometimes joy, sometimes seriousness. Life calls for both, doesn't it?

Perhaps it has always been so, the older members of the clan finding threads of family color repeating in succeeding generation. It is a pleasant diversion this viewing of connecting threads. At times, it is in the facial similarities. There is always that game to play it seems. But the repeat patterning of temperaments, of developing character in the young that echos those passed into family history, that is the real game.

Today's family 'snapshot' is that of one of this newest generation juxtaposed against an afghan crocheted by the little ones great-great-great-grandmother. (Of side interest perhaps is the fact that their given names are of similar origin).

The afghan, a fragment of my childhood was created by my maternal grandmother. This afghan has always delighted me. It is not at all of the shades of color I'd have chosen. But its boldness reflects the character of Grandma. No, she was not bold in the dominant, outgoing or outspoken sense. Rather, she was bold in her courage, her unending ability to go through great difficulties that presented themselves in her long life.

From a human perspective, much that she faced throughout her life could be declared 'unfair'. Yet Grandma faced each dark thread squarely, chose the course of her action and went on with a quiet joy. She was a woman of no nonsense strength balanced by immeasurable grace. She came to faith in Christ as an adult and never looked back. All that she was, all that she chose, all that she did was governed by that fact.

Truly her life was a handsome tapestry of balanced beauty. It took all shades, all colors to produce the final record. Grandma was an overcomer of the highest order. She was also my best friend.

This little one pictured before this ancestoral fragment has already shown herself to be one of this overcoming tradition. This child "with the humming bird heart" has already gone through open chest surgery with a stoicism that was astounding. She is a serious child but also a child of joy both in the exhibiting and in the giving.

How deeply moved I always am by this present day one and her connection with the long gone but remembered dear one.

What delight Grandma would have taken in her, as do I.

So for Today I am feeling so blessed to be marking the place at the center of their lives, holding on, if you will, to the thread of the larger tapestry that connects them.

That's what family is all about after all, isn't it, a tapestry of connected threads of assorted color and hue?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Birthday Thoughts

With heartfelt thanks to Isaac Watts:

God of my childhood and my youth,

The guide of all my days,

I have declar'd Thy heav'nly truth,

And told Thy wondrous ways.

Let me Thy power and truth proclaim

to the surviving age;

And leave a savour of Thy name

When I shall quite the stage.

The Lord supports our tott-ring days,

And guides our giddy youth;

Holy and just are all His ways,

And all His words are truth."

Hatfield and Wilberforce

William Wilberforce, 1759-1833

Mark O. Hatfield 1922-2011

Two men of different centuries, of different countries but one in calling and evangelical faith in the Living God.

'Statesman', 'Man of Honor', 'Man of conviction', are not common phrases these days in speaking of men in the political arena. Yet these two men, aside from their professions had another thing in common, that of standing against the popular opinion on issues that mattered.

Both sought the common good of common man from a spiritual perspective.
Both suffered the pain and wounding of 'the slings and arrows' of those who stood opposed.

While I am in no way a political creature, I am drawn to accounts of those lives lived with integrity and Christian authenticity.

You, Dear Reader, can seek for yourself concerning the record of these two lives.

I only want to place two quotations from Senator Hatfield before you, quotations that for me sum up the life of this one now gone from our scene.

"If Christians in political life cannot be witnesses in [the] most basic manifestations of the living Word on a day-to-day basis, then the whole concept of public service is a is a deep desire of my heart to be a reflection in the flesh of the living Christ...."

Hatfield compared his Pro-Life stand to Wilberforce's stand on slavery.

"I am persuaded that the parallel issue in the twentieth century to slavery in the nineteenth is this very cluster of issues that flows from our present day manifestation of the 'grand malady':selfishness...How is it that we dare commit the sin of the ultimate idolatry of seeking to rob the Creator of His creation...Only focus on self to the exclusion of all others could possibly bring us to this disobedience."

History judges openly the lives of those lived in the open. History is not the final, nor always the correct judge in such matters. But all must stand and give an account of the life lived before The Great Judge of Heaven.

There is no doubt in my mind that in the case of both these men He will say "well done, good and faithful servant."

[quotations by Sen. Hatfield from his forward to Real Christianity by William Wilberforce, pub. Multnomah Press, 1982]

Monday, August 8, 2011

Borrowing Nehemiah's Blessings

During the long days and longer nights of the Parson's recent recovery, there was no time or energy to ponder great truths. There was not even time to bathe in the Word. All was sips from the Stream, quick reads of the Psalter. But mostly it was fragments of Truth that came to mind. These became precious. They encouraged, brief as they were. They continued to break through my thoughts coming at very needful moments.

The two phrases one from Deuteronomy and one from Nehemiah's journal were 'as thy day, so shall thy strength be" and "the joy of the Lord is thy strength."

The word 'strength' has continued to haunt me. It brought me through that wilderness and yet I wanted more. So this morning I dug a bit deeper.

I remembered that the first was part of the blessing given to the tribe of Asher, [Deut. 33.25] and it is a most amazing promise. But Nehemiah has always been a hero so to his account I went. The cupbearer to the King turned engineer/architect was a man who knew about the stress of duty, of Life. And as he wrote his daily story before his God, he spoke often of strength and experienced God's hand in his life enough to become an authority on the subject to my mind anyway. He clearly knew his source, the God of all Strength and with that came the certainty of his faith enabling him to encourage others. [Neh. 1.10]

The Hebrew word here carries with it the idea of binding, the bonding together that makes all firmer and stronger still. "Then I told them the hand of my God which was good upon me..and they said: 'Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work.' [2.18]

Nehemiah, as we too, found difficulties in the way that can deplete strength. It is 'rubbish' as the AV calls it. What constitutes rubbish? Anything that interferes with getting the task done, and I was thinking boulders, . Looking it up in the Hebrew it states it is only "dust, ashes and etc." Seems easy enough to sweep aside, to get through. And yet, isn't is just that, the small things that break our focus and cause us to break stride? To lose heart?

Then Nehemiah encountered the ubiquitous 'they', the naysayers that come along and plot and undermine. At such times I try to remember the line from Amy Charmichael "they say? let them say!"

Good counsel but sometimes hard to employ. Then the workers prayed "Now therefore, O God, strengthen our hands." Again a calling out to God to bind with them and so strengthen them enabling them to finish the job at hand.

It is when the task was completed that the promise "the joy of the Lord is your strength" was given. What came for Nehemiah's wall builders was weeping at the reading of the Law. So came the admonition: "Go your way...for this day is holy to our Lord; and be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold." [8.10 amp.] So often at the end of a task there is the conviction, false or true, that all was not done as well as it might have been. There is often a sudden attack of the What-ifs and If-onlys. When what should take place is merely going on the way in joy.

The last words of this very personal journal written before a very personal Almighty God is as follows, again from the Amplified translation: "O my God, earnestly remember me for good and imprint me on your Heart!"

When all is said and done,when I come out of any wilderness, or to the end of any difficult task I can plead Mercy for the efforts done, feeling confident that I truly am imprinted on my Father's heart who weighs my efforts and lifting them out of the dust and ashes.

Praise Him.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Picture and the Reality

Edinburgh Castle may not be everyones dream picture of a castle, but it is mine. I have been there. I have walked in through the guarded gate, I've walked freely through its open spaces, into the ancient sequestered chapel, looked over its secure walls to the city of the world below, seen the stores of provisions and the weaponry that provides protection.

That was the picture that filled my mind last evening when I read the Psalter in its old translation.

Psalm 31: "In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust; let me never be put to confusion; deliver me in Thy righteousness.

...and be Thou my strong rock, the house of defence, that Thou mayest save me.

For Thou art my strong rock, my castle; be Thou also my guide, lead me for Thy Name's sake..for Thou art my strength."

What a blessed reminder that my Castle, like that of Edinburgh, rises out the of the strong rock on which it is founded. This, a picture of the protected fortress to which I can run in times of distress, where I can in safety look down on all that is threatening, the quiet 'chapel', in which I can pour out my heart and offer my praise- all this is mine and I have found "In Thee O, Lord".

In God alone is my store of provision, my battlement of protection, my righteousness and salvation. All this as I trust in His name.


Friday, August 5, 2011

The Amazing World of Blogopia

When I began this adventure in writing it was because of a grand-daughter's pleadings. It never ocurred to me that I would be blessed by the occasional reader stopping by even from another part of the world. Mine has truly become a small world indeed.

My blogs title and the accompanying poem by Sir W. Raleigh were selected because of the imagery of pilgrimage to be sure. But it was also a favorite of my mom's as well as mine. My initial introduction to it was through the writings of Frank W. Boreham who has been a companion through many years of my journey.

What I failed to do when I began blogging - and here comes the good part - was to give details about the individual aspects of the pilgrim as Sir R. mentioned.

Recently, a charming young woman - English but blessed to live in France - stopped by my site and then on her own blog beautifully wrote what I had failed to. So Dear Reader, I encourage you to visit her. You won't be disappointed. Her blog is charming. She is, as you will discover, a very gifted and delightful lady. She will enable you to fully appreciate what we pilgrims carry on our journey. [you will need to scroll down to her July 30 post entitled "Pilgrimage II".

(She even reads Brother Cadfael, another personal favorite:)

Happy Reading.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

For This Lord's Day, And Every Day

My God, my King, Thy various praise

Shall fill the remnant of my days;

Thy grace employ my humble tongue

Till death and glory raise the song.


But who can speak Thy wondrous deeds?

Thy greatness all our thoughts exceeds.

Vast and unsearchable Thy ways,

Vast and immortal be Thy praise!

~Isaac Watts on Psalm 145

Friday, July 22, 2011

Red Currants, Old Linens and Babies

It's facinating how at times tasks, events and memories spin together forming connecting threads, past to present.

The red currants are full and ripe, picking is in process. With that always comes memories of momma.

I grew up in my own Eden, where the fruit of all trees and plants were allowed. Except one. There was one small red currant shrub. It was down the path to the wooden platform where the merry-go-round clothes line stood. That shrub was momma's prize. It's fruit was forbidden to all passers-by especially children. It was treasured and guarded with a fierceness of that which guards the Crown Jewels. In later years, on another farm, was another red currant. It too was guarded with the same sure intensity but this time from the maurading grand children.

So now, I'm picking my own red currants and wishing momma the crop hanging so bountifully that guarding is not required. In fact, gleanings will be left for the birds but also for the great-grand lad who loves to pick and eat the gleaming fruit.

Now about linens. In the present chosen task of simplifying, down-sizing our life, one has been gathering, sorting, selecting the best and favorites of my long-held stash. Old laces and linens "are my one weakness." On some of these fabric treasures stains of differnant sorts could be seen. So what's to do? Thoughts, at once go back to my Grandma. I see her standing over the hot, boiling kettle on the green wood stove. She is stirring and perspiring in order to ultimately have gleaming white linens of which a woman can be proud. And that was only step one.

From that process came the washing carefully, no bleaching please, only gentle castile soap allowed. After rinsing and wringing, the linens were carefully spread on the grass. Sun and chlorophyl combining to work the final magic.

Oxyclean and soft soap allowed me to skip Grandma's process - all except the spreading on the grass for the day. And yes, Dear Reader, all spots were gone, all glistened white enough to make Grandma proud.

Then there is the item regarding babies. This a particularly joyful note.

This week, our clan has been blessed with the safe arrival of yet another wee lass. Her coming makes four great-grands for us. All tied up in the splendid emotions of this is the fact that she, with nary a thought on her part, awarded grandmother status to my youngest, my baby. That alone is cause to ponder and in fact has indeed been pondered much these last few days.

With her coming, my thoughts went to my own dear daddy. How delighted he would be to see my great-grands, my grands too. How he treasured my own little ones. The remembered memory is him with my four Littles gathered on his lap, surrounded by his big arms. He was a generous sized grandpa and my little ones were all lanky and long-legged in the early years of his living next door. He could hold all four at once. On those occasions, after all were settled there were stories told. Daddy was not only the lover of these children, but the consumate story teller.

These vingnettes have all been part of this week's life and thought. Varied and seemingly disconnected they concern not only connecting memories but the three pillars that structured my childhood.

What's that? Three pillars are not enough to establish structure. No, not only three. There was a Fourth, unseen, acknowleded, followed. And so He remains, the essential Pillar of our growing family to this day. He brings all together, He connects the threads of our varied lives and weaves the fabric of our Life's tapestry.

"Lord, You have been our dwelling place

and our refuge in all generations.

...even from everlasting to everlasting

You are God."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wilderness Thoughts

A wilderness defined is a solitary region, untilled rough country adapted only as pasture. So this is where we have been in all its imagery.

We are now, thanks be to our faithful God, on the far side of the wilderness. Yes, there has been a coming out. There are no naive thoughts about this being our last wilderness visit. Wilderness experiences are a part of pilgrimage. But with each visit new insights are gained, new strength given, new growth realized.

What was evidenced this time was the awareness of the constant presences of my Lord, the continual feeling of being wrapped securely in a downy soft prayer coverlet and the peace that it brought.

The early days were, for want of better words, frightening, horrific, awful. The Man Himself always experiences a form dementia after anesthesia. This time was beyond past experiences. There were exceedingly long days and longer nights where I stormed into the Father's Throne Room in very unseemly fashion, continually. Then, when I came to the place of saying 'if this is my portion the rest of my days, I will accept and trust You.' Following that came many hours of uninterrupted sleep. In the morning following, clarity of mind and a settled peace was given to Himself that was astounding.

The days since have been a sweet challenge, trying to find the right foods to delight and fatten one who in the best of times is no foodie, to somehow strengthen a very weak body. We are gaining on it. There has been - slowly by slowly - a return of strength and ounce by ounce a weight gain.

While still not yet behind the pulpit, week day mornings have been put in at the office for a week now. And yesterday, a visit to the Holey Land with his golfing chum. The report was that both played badly, but 9 holes were finished.

So what specific wilderness thoughts?

During the early days especially, the hymn that came and continued to stay was "The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want", the Scottish Psalter version. Truly the 23rd Psalm is everyone's earliest favorite. For it to return, after all these years in such tender force was precious. The promises of protection, provision, of a "future and a hope" truly carried me and companioned me through the rough country of that solitary region. So for now:

"Who is this who comes up from the wilderness

leaning upon her beloved?...

This is my beloved and this is my friend...

His banner over me is love...."

Always is has been, always it shall be.

Praise Him.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"The son said that his Father's desire was to deck His priests with health and joy and vigor. A wilderness experience did not seem to be His choice for them, and yet for many the wilderness was appointed...

Then the Comforter brought to his mind words about his Lord's sojourn in the wilderness...and he saw that no child of the Father was asked to walk where the footsteps of his Lord were not clear on the road.

He saw also that there always was a coming out of the wilderness....

No dwelling place was ever built in any wilderness for any child of God."

These words left as waymarkers by Amy Charmichael so long ago, have been quietly, repeatedly ringing in my ears these last weeks. A "coming out of the wilderness" - what bliss.

We are now on the sunny side of the recent wilderness for which we thank our God.
Of the many things learned in these weeks, most clear is that all wilderness experiences are to test our mettle [an allusion to the temper of the metal of a sword blade..quality of honor, fortitude, ardor..see courage:) Eng. dict.- smile face, mine]

Well, our mettle/metal has been tested, and while often we have been found wanting, the Faithfulness of our God?, never. Then too, the continual prayers of the saints on our behalf have graced our days in ways beyond telling. We are humbled. We are most grateful.

Just as we continue on the other side of our wilderness, others of our family are facing wilderness times ahead. Fortunately for all, the promises of God are not depleted by the usage.
He will continue to show Himself mighty on behalf of His children who call on Him, who trust in and rest on Him.

Praise His name.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Real Christianity consists in






and a Faith which produces a sublime disregard

of human events.

~Thomas Dudley Fosbrooke,

Vicar of Walford, 1843

"... a sublime disregard of human events."

A noble thought for the day from the good Vicar!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Days Of Lead

Lead: heavy to lift, lack-luster, darkish.

The feet are leaden. The days and nights as well. The spirit doesn't soar too high.

Blessings are noted. Truly.
These, the prayers of others,
the thoughtful and loving ministrations of daughters,of grand daughters.
The garden's beauty just now also fills the dark hollow places of the soul.

Looking, thinking about this lead, this word, made me realize it is just like another English word with a different pronunciation and very different meaning. And in that word there is hope.

Another penned the words long ago but they are also scribbed on my heart.

All the way my Savior lead(s) me,
What have I to ask besides?
Can I doubt His tender mercies
Who through life has been my guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell,
For I know whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

I am comforted.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rejoicing with those that do rejoice!!

Our beloved sailor is home from the sea.

All glory to God and praises loud resound!
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds you so much dread
are big with mercy and shall break
in blessings on your head.
~Wm. Cowper

Just the word 'oncologist' strikes terror. I hate to admit it, but there it is. How humbled once again by the Mercy that breaks in blessing. How could we have even imagined, that once again our great God would place in our pathway one of His choice servants 'for such a time as this'?

On noting the 'pastor' on the occupation line of the medical form, this dear man began to address all things from that blessed eternal perspective that only God's children understand.

Item by item he addressed our fears and answered our questions before we spoke of them.

Still, the fact is that tomorrow a kidney surrounded by a cancerous mass will be removed.

The fact remains that this is serious surgery with a long recovery time.
Admittedly, there is an element of dread here too.
We're speaking of a most impatient patient!

Yet, today while I won't say there is a lightness of bouncing spirit within, there is certainly a complete peace. Too, the spirit within is greatly humbled by New Mercies strewn on today's pathway.

My only puzzlement is the glaring fact of my own doubt. How could I have imagined such abundant grace given? And why did I not expect it from the Hand that gives only good things?

Look closely, Dear Reader - on my forehead is imprinted this day: "O ye of little faith".

With heart-felt thanks to all of you for your continued prayers as our journey continues.