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

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.